A Little Star Trek Still Goes a Long Way
Greenbriar would seem no fit place for Star Trek-king, but a past weekend's view of Paramount's recent (2009) reboot sent memory warping back to series' start and more follow-ups than even I imagined were out there. Merciful heavens --- how many programs and movies were spun off that blueprint? The newest Star Trek was fun as expected from trailers and clips. They actually went back to beginnings here --- none of Captain Picard, Deep Space Nines, or alien crew members with off-putting facial appliance. Way-back stories for Kirk and Spock get in parent loss obligatory to all hero backgrounds, super or otherwise. Pace is fast and by numbers. Thank providence there is humor too often withheld from self-serious Treks of yore. Not that I've seen many ... but how to avoid this franchise coming of age from mid-sixties on? Hard to believe it all originated forty-five years ago. I read NBC wanted ST off schedules after a weak first season, and that Lucille Ball single-handedly forced a renewal. Now there's reason sufficient for Trekkers to love Lucy, assuming the tale's true. Which reminds me to bow humbly before fact-checker fans I'd invite to correct gaffes detected here. I admit knowing little beyond random Trek interfacing through youth and briefer sightings since. With such easy access from this phenomenon's start, why didn't I become a lifelong ST devotee?
Maybe it was fast fade I felt the series did after a promising first season. Don't know how those would play after all this time, but certain episodes linger for having impressed this twelve-year-old in 1966. Trouble came with Season Two's opener and Spock flipping out during a Vulcan visit (would his planet have been called "Vulca"?). I switched off that September 1967 night and didn't come back. I guess one reason TV programs never grabbed me was radical change too often imposed between one season and a next, seldom ones for the better. Still, I had friends sustained week to week by Star Trek. One was nearly killed rushing home (for a third season episode) when his bicycle made contact with an enemy vessel from the planet Oldsmobile. Fans bereft over cancellation of Star Trek were sated by afternoon syndication that, among other things, knocked my beloved Wild, Wild West reruns off Channel 12, fanning further indifference, if not resentment, toward Starship enterprising. The lure persisted somehow, though. Trek loyalist Bob Craft of sophomore English brought in a list received from Gene Roddenberry's office, ST's producer peddling refuse off his cancelled series --- props you could mail at minimal cost, 35mm frames mounted as slides --- a bric-a-brac mosaic otherwise bound for dumpsters at Paramount. I actually ordered some of the film strips. Last inspection of these revealed Eastman color turned red as a fox tail, yet I'd imagine some collector out there in Trek-land would regard these still a valued find.
The massive hit of Star Wars put ST back in business, this time at theatres (Star Trek --- The Motion Picture a foreboding 1979 title). Robert Wise directed as though it were Lawrence Of Arabia. They stripped cheesy velour shirts in favor of uniforms nobody liked (a neat thing about 2009's revisit ... the old TV fashions are back). I'd treasure ST---TMP as life's only occasion (so far) of falling asleep in a crowded theatre. Further Star Trek motion pictures were skipped, except for a pretty good one where Enterprisers travelled back in time to Earth in order to save whales or some such and preserve the world to come --- did I get that right? William Shatner bit fan hands that fed him in what I'd still call a nasty sketch Saturday Night Live hipsters concocted for his guest hosting there in 1986. Get a Life! was a kick to fan-boy shins they didn't necessarily have coming ... wonder if Shatner regretted it since. Leonard Nimoy took higher roads and waxed philosophical over Spockamania, reward being invitation to the 2009 party, his performance notable and most welcome among a mostly neophyte cast. Reminds me ... I knew a guy who once chaired the Walter "Chekov" Koenig Fan Club ... that's all, just thought I'd mention it.
Star Trek for Paramount has been a geyser spewing forth money. Is a street there named after Gene Roddenberry? Should be. I'm too tired to look for how many movies and series they spun off Star Trek. Must have been hundreds. The recent one had reverence for the franchise's history. All the old characters were back minus ones I cared less about (Picard and company again). Nimoy/Spock is introduced as though he were God's voice and co-players were receiving the tablets. Somewhere I read that Shatner was aggrieved over being left off guest rolls. Guess that's what he gets for wearing a clown nose for so long. My friend Norman Stuart, onetime book and video reviewer for the old Movie Collector's World, proposes that Shatner's Captain Kirk was a knowing send-up of pulp heroics that pre-dated Airplane! spoofers Leslie Neilson and kin. Maybe it's time we reassessed droll comedy that's been Bill's schtick-in-trade right from beginnings. It'll be interesting to see how Paramount builds on this latest of ST incarnations. Do these youngsters have a decade or more in their Trek kits? Surely fans have, though I'm wondering as to numbers still committed. With ability to enter one's own video gamed Star Trek and fight Klingons close-up, where's attraction of seeing it done on a flat movie screen? (or even a 3-D one?)