The Geek Life: The Star Trek Train (Mania.com)
By:Robert T. Trate
Date: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
The Geek Life is a weekly look at what is happening in the Geek Culture. Movies, Comics, Books, Video Games and TV Shows encompass more than just release dates and reviews. This week the Geek Life talks Star Trek.
While doing some freelance editing for a tech savvy web site design company (Neo-Pangea) I discovered a Geek that I had never encountered before. I noticed that one of the employees had a desk covered with Boba Fetts. Thinking this man, Phil, was a kindred spirit I asked if he wouldn’t mind going to lunch with me. Our boss accompanied us and we were off for some much needed down time away from our monitors. Before the conversation got into the prequels, George Lucas tinkering, and the new Blu-rays, my boss mentioned that he had finally seen the new Star Trek movie (please forgive this guy as he works mad hours, has two kids, builds his own steam punk gear, and somehow runs his own company). He said that he liked it, despite the time travel plot holes. Phil then stated he never saw it; he was a Star Wars guy. As the words were still floating above his head I promptly asked what that meant. Phil was a tried and true Star Wars Geek. He had never seen a Star Trek movie or any episode of any Star Trek TV series. This was amazing to me. How could one go through life depriving oneself of such great science fiction? Cut to last week. While discussing the greatness of a few handmade Tribbles a friend of mine received as a gift, Zack, a co-worker, who was listening in, then asked us, “how does one get on the Star Trek train? I think missed it”
Both men are incredibly intelligent and eager to discover some new science fiction. Star Trek, its films, and its four different TV series’ are a beast if you think about it. My first Star Trek memory is seeing Star Trek: the Motion Picture and wondering why this wasn’t as good as Star Wars;kudos to my Dad for taking me to see Star Trek 2: the Wrath of Khan. It was from that point on that I was hooked. My Dad also suggested I watch Star Trek: the Next Generation and, as you can tell, I now work for Mania. I’ll be the first to say that there have been times when I did like Star Trek more than Star Wars and vice versa. One supplied new stories where the other was a movie I watched every sick day. There was a time when Deep Space Nine was as boring as hell but in having nothing else to watch I fell in love with it in syndication. On to the point at hand; how does one hop on the Star Trek train?
Many of us have been in this situation before. However, where it differs for me this time is that these are guys I’m talking about. The usual circumstance is having a significant other, usually a girl, express interest in the Geek stuff we’re interested in. We show them a film, have a prelude discussion of what happened before, and then follow it up with a “wasn’t that great?” This of course is then followed with them watching a few more and wondering if they do or don’t like it at all.
Phil was a complete mystery me. We’re the exact same age and lived in era that was populated by Star Wars movies and toys. Around 1986 the Star Wars train had ended. Ewok adventures are great for the kiddies but not for a 12 year old. I turned to Star Trek to quench my science fiction thirst and have never looked back. High School was great as the original and new series were in constant reruns. Sci-fi conventions were abundant and populated with cast members from each. My advice to Phil was to watch the Abrams’ Star Trek and perhaps Star Trek: 2 the Wrath of Khan. As broad as the new Trek movie was it still had the spirit of the original show deep down. Wrath of Khan, on the other hand, is just a great film. I knew nothing about Khan’s backstory as a 7 year old little boy. I was captivated by this tale of mad obsession. It’s a great story, has incredible music, and is a film that can stand on its own. It does hook you into watching the “Space Seed” episode as well as Trek 3 and 4, too.
As for Zack, I had a completely different take on the how to get him on the Star Trek train. Zack had seen the new Trek movie and was interested in the TV show. My first suggestion was to start at the beginning with “Where no man has gone before” and not watch “The Cage” until much later because he would never understand why Kirk is absent or why Spock is smiling. Though after a few minutes of consideration, I told him to Google search The 10 Best Original Star Trek Episodes Ever (a sampling here). It would be a shot in the dark but at least with enough Google searches he should come up with a few choice episodes.
It’s strange time for science fiction as there is no series like Star Trek on TV. In juxtaposition every single of episode of Star Trek is streaming on Netflix. In being a fan of the shows, I love that I can pop on my favorites and skip over the terrible ones. Yet, being at the mercy of reruns for years, I discovered incredible tiny moments in bad episodes. Plus, I appreciated the writing of the good ones all the more with repeat viewings. Star Trek is a beast to tackle if you are either a sci-fi newbie, a significant other with a curiosity, or just wanting to see what all the hubbub is/ was about. Phil, Zack, second star to the right and straight on till morning… engage.
Robert Trate writes three weekly columns for Mania: the DVD Shopping Bag, the Toy Maniac, and The Geek Life. Follow Robert on Twitter for his for Geek ramblings, Cosplay photos and film criticisms.