The Geek Life: The Star Trek Train -

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The Geek Life: The Star Trek Train

Where does one hop on?

By Robert T. Trate     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”

Guide to being a New Trekkie

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?

Guide to being a New Trekkie

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.

Guide to being a New Trekkie

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.

Guide to being a New Trekkie

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.


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Redshirt1 1/4/2012 8:08:57 AM

 I never really understood the idea that you had to be either a Star Wars fan or a Star Trek fan.  I am a science fiction fan.  I like Star Wars, Star Trek Bablyon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and a slew of other science fiction.  Are all epidodes great, no of course not.  However, that doesn't change the fact that there is a lot of great space stories out there.  Expand your horizons and check out what you are missing.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

millean 1/4/2012 8:35:30 AM

Let's look at the following:

  • Star Trek vs Star Wars
  • Marvel vs DC
  • 2D movies vs 3D movies vs IMAX

That is how everyone always seem to think of these, as competition.  I prefer to think of them more as choices.  I have my usual preferences, but that doesn't mean I have to hate one to like the other.

EagleManiac 1/4/2012 8:50:53 AM

I also have never understood this need to seperate fans of Star Wars and Star Trek. I too like them both and I too enjoy watching the movies and TV series episodes.

Both are completely different types of Sci-Fi, and both have their place as entertainment.

jedibanner 1/4/2012 8:58:03 AM

Super great article and hooly crap, I have so much to write cause a billion things are going through my head.

But I won't but will say this:

- I think it makes sense that some generations will go one way either in Star Wars and another in Start Trek adoration for one reason and one reason only: How each of us were affected by it either when we were young or shortly after.

- I grew up as a ''Star Wars'' kid and nothing else...I couldn't care less about Star Trek and never, ever liked the original series (yes, I said with it). BUT, once I grew up, I ended up watching one episode of Deep Space Nine on TV and was hooked like crazy and now own ALL seasons of Deep Space Nice. I liked both genre but in my own way and many of us do it also differently.

- But there is a difference between both ''genre'' and it's ok to like only one...I wouldn't go so far as to never cross the line and never watch one or the other but it makes sense to like SW or ST.

- Without opening the whole debate of the new ST's, I think they are bringing in way more people who didn't like the old 60's series and now are custom to what Star Trek is and what they brough. YES they are good, YES they are close to what was initially protrait in the original and YES the new ones makes sense (these statements will open the debate again won't it??? Darn....) and are inititating new people to the world of ST just like the SW Clone Wars cartoon are reviving fans with how series 1-3 SHOULDV'ED been made because it's really good.

Expending our horizons sometimes is not always the best thing to do in my mind, I know what I like and don't like. if someone tells me ''try this'' just for fun, I'm willing to bet I won't. I'm enough of a geek today that's it's easy to find out what is out there, what's it about and get some sample from the web to get a taste for it before wasting hours and hours of time on something we should like yet we don't.

But trying something is also good sometimes, it's how I discovered Lost.

StarlightGuard 1/4/2012 9:23:50 AM

Get on with either TOS or TNG, get off after Voyager and before the reboot. Simple.

EagleManiac 1/4/2012 9:55:50 AM

I became a big "Trek Fan" thanks to TNG. I liked TOS, and my favorite TOS movie is The Motion Picture, but TNG was the thing that really turned me into a "Trek Fan"!  Star Wars has been a part of my life since 1977, when I was 11, and saw the first film and was/have been hooked ever since. I became a "bigger" Star Wars fan, but I never stopped liking or enjoying Star Trek. Now, I did like Deep Space 9, but Voyager and Enterprise were not real good, IMHO.

As far as movies go, I feel that the Original Trilogy for Star Wars was FAR better than the Prequel Trilogy, with the only exception being Revenge of the Sith, which was just about as good as the OT films. Empire is quite possibly the greatest sequel ever done, and one of the best movies ever made. RoTJ was good, but I think RoTS was a better film, over-all, and no silly Ewoks! TPM was OK, and does have the best Lightsiber Battle of all-time, Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon vs. Maul, but AoTC pretty much sucked!

Star Trek has more films, but I think there are also fewer "Great Films" in the list. I LOVE The Motion Picture, Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, and First Contact. Undiscovered Country was good, but not great. I absolutely HATE Voyage Home, Final Fronteer, Generations, Insurrection, and Nemesis. To me, those are all BAD films, with very little redeeming qualities. A LOT of you pick WoK as the best Star Trek, but I have always loved TMP because it felt so much like "Star Trek", and I loved the whole "V'Ger Cloud" sequence! Also, Jerry Goldsmith's music is fantastic!!

But, I will say, I don't hold either franchise above the other. They're too disperate to really compare, and both offer so much as entertainment that I simply enjoy both!

OmegaDean 1/4/2012 10:26:14 AM

Well I'll bite... I personally love and hate both Star Wars and Star Trek.  Most of my hate come from poor writing and poor execution of wonderful ideas.  Eagle maniac I will agree with you on your bad film choices for the trek universe with the exception of the Voyage Home.  Star wars feeds one aspect of my geekdom where Star Trek gives another.

Over all I did not like the re-boot with the exception of Karl Urban's performance.  I felt that the JJ Abrahams did "Star Wars" the film too much for my taste.  So I do just look at it as an alternate universe and enjoy from there.  I think that over all one should look at each universe as its own and enjoyed as such.

middlerealm 1/4/2012 10:40:05 AM

 Agreed. First and foremost, I'm a Sci Fi fan. Star Wars and Star Trek are equal in my eyes. Its unbelievable the number of friends who have outright fell out with me for defending Trek over SW in a stupid discussion on 'which is best'. They are both great to me!

EagleManiac 1/4/2012 11:11:49 AM

Omega, I forgot to include JJ's Star Trek as one of the good ones. At first, when it was announced what he was doing, basically a reboot, I was VERY against it, and skeptical. After I saw it, on DVD, I actually became a pretty big fan of it. I liked it a lot! Urban's performance was awesome, but I give Pine's "Kirk" high praise as well! He kept the bravado, swagger, and cockyness, but also added a much better "acting quality" to it than The Shat's version. A ot of "Trekkies" dissed it, and hated it, but I felt, after the last two TNG films, Insurrection and Nemesis, were such horrible films, and had pretty much destroyed the franchise, JJ's take was fresh, fun, and enjoyable. Sure, there are plot-holes, some character changes, and some "visual weirdness" but over-all it was still a good reboot. I am awaiting the second installment!

I feel the Star Wars Prequels could have benefited from better scripts and directing. They had great potential, and a lot of good/great actors, but Lucas' direction sucked. Also, Jake Lloyd just plain STUNK as Little Annie. Also, I think Lucas would have been better off ditching the "origin story" of Vader, and simply START with Revenge of the Sith as the first movie, then flesh out and extend the Jedi Purge in the second film, and then set the "rise" of the Empire in the third film. This way, we wouldn't have Jake Lloyd's horrible acting in TPM, and the silly "love story" in AoTC. Also, it would follow more of the Original Trilogy "themes" by having the first one play much like A New Hope, then the second one be the dark sequel, but then the third one be EVEN darker with the Empire coming to power, the Jedi finally being purged, and the Rebels forming and defying the Empire. That could lead right to the opening scene of ANH and would have made a better Prequel Trilogy than what we got, IMHO.

invisioner 1/4/2012 11:40:45 AM

at least the battle of Lost in Space and Star Trek fans died decades ago... : P

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