Friday, May 13, 2005

My Reflections on Star Trek

A lot of what I do here in my blog and in my life came from watching Star Trek. I don't consider myself a Trekkie and you'll never see me dressed up with pointy ears, but of all the influences in my life I can think of none better than Star Trek. If anything for the morals and values I've gained.


To me Star Trek is not just a television show. It's not about Klingon's and Romulan's and how the Captain is going to out wit them this time. It's not about warp drive or hand phasers. It's not even about space exploration like the title implies. It may be a bold statement, but I don't think Gene Roddenberry wanted it to be about these things either. It's simply about humanity.

Bizarre that a story that takes place in the future filled with aliens would be about humanity, but when you step back and look at the big picture it makes a lot of since. Roddenberry told us a story about a future where we don't worry about things like war (at least on Earth), hunger, or even money. Economics without money...that's a concept and a half. Even the aliens are humans. They're humans that lack something and in the process of finding it gain something more. Spock put it best in Star Trek VI, "We must have faith that the universe will unfold as it should." Faith? Spock is that logical? I don't think so, but it was Spocks missing link. It was the balance between his Human and Vulcan side. Data, the android from the next generation, turned out to be one of the most human characters of them all. In his search to discover humanity he showed us all what we lack as humans. Simple things like compassion. Data made it so painfully obvious how simple and "logical" it was to do the right thing in out day to day activity it's a wonder we don't all do what's right all the time.

The Trek universe is a nice fantasy, and I believe it is a realistic goal for mankind. Television and movies make it easy to get a point across to others I only hope Roddenberry's message doesn't get lost. I'm disappointed Enterprise will air it's last show this evening. Out of all the Trek series I believe Enterprise was one that really went back to what Star Trek was all about. Deep Space Nine was the soap opera set in space. Voyager was Lost in Space. The Original Series, Next Generation, and Enterprise all had something fundamentally in common; what it is to be human and how we can make the future better together.


Note: In writing this I learned openoffice.org's spell checker knows the word Klingon.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You must not have watched many of the latest Star Trek spin-offs and forgetting many of the TNG and TOS episodes.

TNG's first three seasons were crap. The later seasons really were aimless. Yes, TNG popularized the one hour drama, the ST universe and all that. But TNG is not ageing very well.

TOS... came out way too long ago to really critique it with a modern eye.

Deep Space Nine had a slow few initial seasons. Then the series really unweaved a very large epic plot combining galaxy wide war, religion, characterization, on a very rich universe that's never been seen on TV before. Even the occasional secondary characters (such as Garak, Dukat, etc.) grew into characters and roles that dwarfed the regular actors on ENT and VOY. Forget the two episode "to be continued" model ST always used, DS9 adopted a 10 episode continuation model. To say that DS9 is a 'soap opera' is like a non-ST fan describing ST as "just a space show" when we know it is much more than that. Out of all the series, DS9 has the most intense fanbase online. Even a main talent of DS9, Ron Moore, would go off and remake Battlestar Galatica which is pulling away all the hardcore ST fans.

Voyager was intentionally made episodic (reset button) to contrast to DS9's long weaving arcs. Voyager is best described as "Star Trek Lite" or even "TNG: Part II". Whereas DS9 has a more hardcore intense audience, especially in the states, Voyager has a much more broad, more international audience. The show did have many bad episodes, but many good episodes ("Scorpion" was better than TNG's "Best of Both Worlds"). The problem with Voyager of course was the 'reset button' and that the show generally had no direction. But the show did have extremely high production values, its make-up, effects, musical scores outdoing most movies. DS9 has been described as "ST hardcore" whereas Voyager is "ST lite" with TNG being the "standard".

But Enterprise took the 'bastard' title away from Voyager. If there was any 'nothing' show, it was Enterprise. Set as a prequel, instead of using the strengths of its time period, we got the Temporal Cold War (WTF!?). Seasons 1 and 2 went absolutely nowhere and were awful. By then they realized they had a problem. So they tried putting in long sweeping story arcs in mimicry of DS9 in Season 3. The problem with that was that Enterprise's charactes are so hollow that there was no emotional intensity and they were delegated to the sidelines rather than be full participants. And the season ends with time travel (again!?) and nazis (again!?). Finally, the producers allow Manny Coto to direct the writing content of the show and Season 4 ended up being what Enterprise should have been all along. But it was too little, too late. With a weak captain (Archer is the weakest captain in ST), a prequel that is inconsistant with its universe (discovery of the Borg? Xindu attack Earth?), no direction at all in the series until season 4, it is no suprise that fans abandoned Enterprise. The show should have been canceled at the first season. It would have if it didn't have the Star Trek name.

The only people who like Enterprise are those who haven't fully seen Deep Space Nine and Voyager. In terms of story quality, acting quality, and universe consistency, it isn't even a contest.

There is a reason why the spin-offs lasted a full 7 seasons and why Enterprise barely scraped 4. Berman and Braga, the main producers, reveal how awful they are in the very last episode (which hasn't aired yet as I write this). Watch how they treat 'Enterprise' in that very last episode. What a joke! It makes Endgame look good!

This is why the actress that plays T'pol said about the final episode: "I don't know where to begin with that one," she recently said of the finale. "The final episode is ... appalling." They then censor out the next comment as the papers cannot print her cuss words that color her opinion on how Berman and Braga ruined Enterpise (and she is a die-hard ST fan unlike the other actors).

Rabenstrange said...

Personally, I like Babylon 5 alot better than Star Trek.

Unlike Gene Roddenberry, Michael Strazinsichy understands the concept of a long term coherent plot.

James said...

Dear Anonymous,

Did you even read my post? I'm not talking about the different story lines. As a fan I like DS9 (not Voyager lol) but it lacks something TOS and TNG had. I'll be the first to agree the first few season of TNG needed a little more direction but at least it kept with Roddenberry's ideals. Personally I enjoyed Enterprise with the exception of season 3 and that time traveling cold war thing. I can see how many Star Trek fans disagreed with the methods the writers used in season 1 and 2. I was actually looking forward to more stories with content...at least they never bounced graviton partial beams off the main deflector dish.

In any case, the over all point of my post was to give a little tribute to the end of one of the few things I feel made my life better. Not to debate Trek. If you want to debate Trek I'll meet you at Denny's and you can buy me coffee because in the end I think you'll see our opinions are very similar (biased on your opinions I have a pretty good idea who anonymous is).

-James

Agatha said...

Raben,

You totally brought up Babylon 5 out of the blue like I did with him earlier while watching the final episode of ENT.

I see why they made the episode as they presented it but in my opinion it was still lacking, including the brashness of Trip's deathscene. The episode, sitting here after watching it, made me wonder if they completely botched the last episode due to time constraints or from pressure that the series was ending. In either case, I think they could have done more for it than how it was designed to end.

James had me watch the entire series from the initial episode to the last one that aired today just so he would share it with me, I'll admit it was different than I thought it was, I still haven't been able to get out of the Quantum Leap impression whenever I see Captain Archer.

Anonymous:

I believe you are falsely accusing the ENT characters of being shallow and I cannot see why. As I've been shown all the episodes, I can tell you from what I've seen that the characters did develop their own depth and filled in certain loop holes. But, this is only known to be since I have a particular fan telling me all the little fillers while I watched the episode because how happy he was to share his enjoyment of the series. The only character I truly enjoyed was Ensign Hoshi Sato.(Forgive me if I spelled it wrong.)

PDGorath said...

Just to make sure this is clarified, anonymous is not me.

now, with that out of the way, I do have to say that I almost wholeheartily agree with that anonymous poster with the acception of Archer being the most pansy commander of all. Best to Worst IMHO

Kirk
Sisko
Picard
Archer
.
.
.
Janeway

I deliberatly left the spaces so future trek captains can be addded in there.

Garak, Dukat, even Vedek Bareil, did have more substance to them then most of the characters on Enterprise, I mean how much did re really know about Reed and Trip? Trips sister was killed by the Xindi and Reed was a former black ops agent, thats really all I can think of. thats not much to know about two of the Main characters out of four seasons.

James I am aware that this was not the basis of your post and I am in no way bashing any of the series, I like them all (even some VOY) but I wanted to put in my 2cents

PS. Star Trek lite, now thats funny

Rodry Logan said...

Hehe, you should have known that posting an article on Trek would bring heated debates! Wow. Comments, on comments, on comments. Interesting. I can understand how some felt odd about DS9, because the entire mood was set differently. The sets were poorly lit, making them dark and forboding. The characters were visibly putting up bright, cheerful fronts and hiding the deeper, more ominous undertones. Archer was not the weakest captain in the ST universe, though he gave that impression. The actor often looked as if he were a little boy seeking guidance from his mother, however, that was not the fault of the script, but the actor. All of the ST series' contributed something to the ST universe as a whole. Ent had issues because there is only so much that can be done without warping the original history. Unfortunately, there was significant warping (no pun intended). Yet, even with with the distortions, ENT added more to the whole franchise. I think that is what is truly important. Many people have many preferences and tastes. ST has evolved to cater to many of those tastes through the creation of different spin-offs. The different styles of the different spin-offs is simply to reach a broader range on people, therefore, not everyone will like everything. As for Babylon 5, I liked it just as much as ST, but for different reasons.

Rodry Logan said...

James, I think I should mention that you probably meant "based on" not "biased on". I noticed this slip in a couple places. I'm sure you don't want to be "biased on" someone's opinion. Just thought I'd mention it.

James said...

Rodry,

That is true my spelling sucks a lot, and although I've gotten better at using the spell checker some times there are words that escape me. Grrr!

James