Star Trek: The Dividing Line, Episode I

by Garv on April 10, 2013

Star-Trek-LogoWe all know what Star Trek is. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has never heard of the show, especially after the Abrams film that came out in 2009.

But there seems to be something that’s common among Trekkies (or Trekkers, or whatever you want to be called – we prefer the term “fans”, as it doesn’t tend to upset people as much). And here at QRE we call that thing The Dividing Line.

Keep in mind that everything beyond this point should be considered a generalization. While we don’t condone generalizations, we’re big fans of the “Do as we say, not as we do” approach. 

For just a moment, let’s pretend that Justin’s opinion matters. Justin is a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He goes on non-stop about Babylon 5 Deep Space Nine. And yes, he’s even mentioned enjoying certain episodes of Voyager.

He doesn’t, however, care for Star Trek: Enterprise as much as the others. His reason? It’s the same reason given by many, many other people who are fans of the shows listed above: It just didn’t feel like Star Trek. 

Then you take myself (Garv). I’m a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I enjoyed Deep Space Nine most of the time. But my favorite of any of the shows that took place after the original series (or TOS, as it’s commonly called) would be Star Trek: Enterprise. Why? It feels more like Star Trek. 

Sometime between TOS and TNG there’s been a generational gap, which has created The Dividing Line. People who grew up and formed opinions of Star Trek based on TOS, like myself, tend to enjoy Enterprise more than those whose first contact (ha!) with Star Trek was TNG. For them, TNG and DS9 are what Star Trek feels like.

TOS was, without a doubt, one of the most influential shows in television history. Aside from the commentary on race and politics of the day, it was the launching point for a thousand starships. Without Trek, I seriously doubt we’d have had Star Wars (God forbid). Buck Rogers would probably have never made it onto the small screen. Battlestar Galactica would have been destroyed by the Cylons without so much as a whisper from Commander Adama.

Sure, shows like Lost In Space may have predated Trek by a couple of years, but nowadays people don’t know the difference between John Robinson and Don West. (If you had to look that up, you’re one of those people.)

Klingons_Star_Trek_TOSBut at its core, TOS was an adventure show. It was a “buddy cop” show set in space. Kirk and Spock against the universe. There were plenty of times that morals were brought into play, like the time Kirk let that chick die by getting hit by a truck. But for the most part, it was about these guys exploring the unknown. Remember when they first encountered Klingons? Those guys, while being a very clear metaphor for the USSR, were still just a bunch of space-baddies running around, stirring up trouble.

It was nearly 20 years before we had our next taste of Trek on the small screen (we’ll get to the movies eventually, but for now we’re going to stick with the tv shows). And when we did, man, had things changed.

Sure, they tied it in well by bringing McCoy onboard. I thought that was a very nice touch. A blessing, if you will, from the old crew to the new crew. But that was where the similarities ended.

The new Trek was less a “buddy cop show in space” than it was a “drama/action show…in space”. There was still plenty of action, especially once the characters and the writers hit their stride. There were some great moral dilemmas brought up – “Measure of a Man“, in my opinion, still stands as one of the best episodes of any show ever. (And if Riker hadn’t grown his beard by Season Two, things might have ended differently!) But this new Trek wasn’t the same old mindless entertainment that had a message you’d realize later on – these moral questions were in your face and oftentimes the center of the entire plot. Which is fine – it worked very well with this cast.

But this subtle difference seems to be the main basis for The Dividing Line. If you grew up in a time before TNG you think of Trek as an action show. If your first real experience with Trek was TNG then you think of it as more cerebral. It’s one of the reasons DS9 was a hit. It had both the action and the intrigue. With Kirk and Spock there wasn’t much by way of political maneuvering. On DS9 there were season-long arcs based on Garek being a former (or current) spy. Different times, different shows. And hey – to each their own.

But they’re all offshoots of TOS – so why can’t we all love each of them equally?

In Episode II of The Dividing Line we’ll take a look at the difference between TNG and Enterprise – and the similarities between Enterprise and TOS.

We’re just going to discount Voyager, if that’s okay with everyone.

Til next time…

Live long and prosper.

 

 

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