Just like Star Wars, I first watched Star Trek on our old VCR. We had tapes of the first 3 movies. I didn’t watch any of the original series, and by the time we had cable The Next Generation was already over.
The Star Trek: The Motion Picture movie was astounding to watch as a youngster. I hadn’t seen, let alone heard of 2001. For me TMP always had and always will be my definition of “grand science fiction”. Did my opinion change much when I did finally see 2001? Not really. Not that I didn’t think 2001 was awesome. I could appreciate how in the 60s that movie must have been even more mind-blowing. But it’s generational; Star Trek: The Motion Picture is my 2001.
I watched the first Star Trek movie pretty often, and watched Wrath of Khan and Search For Spock almost as frequently. There was no doubt that Khan was a great villain, despite never meeting Kirk face-to-face in the movie. Compared to the first movie Wrath of Khan is a fast-paced, nail-biting adventure. Instead of cold blue lighting and almost colder characters, the second movie has warm lighting and emotional characters.
I won’t go on and on about each and every film or all the episodes of TNG and Voyager I’ve watched; if inclined I’ll post reviews of certain movies, episodes or series later on. In this post, I merely wanted to express what Star Trek meant to a young kid growing up, and how it became more important as my interests in computers and technology in general have only increased as I’ve gotten older. I’d also like to ponder a bit on the 2 newer movies and how I feel they integrate (or not) into the movies and characters I grew up with.
The later Star Trek movies are still pretty integral to my Star Trek experience, even if I didn’t watch them as often in my childhood. I remember seeing The Voyage Home in theater, and it was so cool to finally see a Star Trek movie as it should be! The humor and light-hearted conflict in this film was a welcome change from the last few movies. I think we had The Final Frontier on VHS as well, but I know I barely watched it a few times. There’s a few key scenes of Kirk, Spock and McCoy that deserve their spot as some of the best ever, but as a film it’s pretty obvious this is the weakest one. Nicholas Meyer returned to the director’s chair for the sixth and final Star Trek movie featuring the original crew, The Undiscovered Country. It’s pretty obvious a talented and experienced director is at the helm for this film, as it’s one of the best Star Trek movies and I was glad to see the original crew end on such a strong point.
I never watched The Next Generation while it was on TV as we just didn’t watch much TV growing up besides what we had on tapes. Later on I did watch the movies that came after The Undiscovered Country, and I did enjoy them even if it wasn’t with the same crew that I grew up with. Once I did finally watch the TV series with Captain Picard and crew I immediately appreciated the intelligence and morality portrayed by this series. Unlike the original series which seemed to tilt a bit more towards action and heroics, this series added a bit more “grounding” that appealed to me. While the original movies would always be my favorite, there was no doubt The Next Generation was my favorite TV series.
Of course, that title is strongly contested by Voyager. While it has certainly received mixed or even negative reviews from other fans, I personally liked the changes brought on by this series. The crew, especially Tuvok, would become as good a crew to me as Kirk’s and Picard’s had become. Overall I may like the TNG crew the most, but I would say Tuvok and Janeway are my favorites from the TV shows.
Like every other Star Trek fan, I was quite excited when news of a new movie began to come out. The trailer only cemented that enthusiasm, of course encouraged by Leonard Nimoy’s voice-over. Once released in theaters, I made the rare trip to the theater to see how well J.J. Abrams had done. So how did he do in my opinion? After letting the initial excitement calm down, I still held the opinion that this was indeed a good film and worthy of its name, even though it was a drastic reboot that so many others had mixed opinions about. It was certainly a needed change for Star Trek on the big screen, and the sequel Into Darkness only confirms that.
So where does (or should) Star Trek go from here? While I’m happy to see it back on the big screen, there’s no doubt that within a few years I’d like to see a new TV series debut. That’s where Star Trek performs the best, taking its time to explore new places, new cultures, and ideas on how we as human can best function in a larger universe.