Who’s your favorite Spock?
I ask this question because the latest in the long line of Star Trek movies plays this weekend at the Hyart: “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
I could also ask, who’s your favorite Captain Kirk? Or who’s your favorite Scotty?
There have been five Star Trek television series over the last 47 years starting with the original series, now referred to as Classic Trek, in 1966. I don’t remember watching the series in prime time during the original’s three-year run, but I feasted on the reruns during the 1970s.
When the Next Generation came along in 1987, it was syndicated, and it wasn’t available in Lovell at the time. So it was hard for me to become a big fan, although I grew to enjoy the series as I could catch it, and as local stations began to carry it.
I consider Next Generation to be the second best of the series. It was well written – with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry still overseeing things – and the characters were likeable. The series ran for seven years.
Star Trek fans tend to split on the next two series – Deep Space Nine, which began in 1993, and Voyager, which started in 1995. Both ran for seven seasons. Although it included some familiar characters from the Next Generation, I found Deep Space Nine to be limited by the fact that it was set on a space station instead of the characters racing around the galaxy.
Voyager was harmed by the fact that it could only be seen initially on the start-up United Paramount Network, which was hoping to capitalize on Star Trek’s popularity. UPN backfired and went away in about a year and a half, with Voyager moving into syndication. I enjoyed Voyager’s plotlines and characters, but I think few people saw it, and I’m among about 25 percent of Trek fans who prefer it over Deep Space Nine.
Finally came the very forgettable Star Trek Enterprise starring Quantum Leap’s Scott Bakula as the captain. A prequel to the original series telling the story of Earth’s first voyages to the stars and encounters with Vulcans and other races, Enterprise had potential but never did anything for me, and it lasted only four seasons.
There have also been 12 Star Trek films using many of the characters, and actors, from the television series.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” continues the reboot of Classic Trek begun with 2009’s simply named “Star Trek” with new actors playing the original characters: Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov.
Some Trek purists are upset by the new movies, as if only William Shatner can play Captain Kirk. Interestingly, both Spocks – Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto — appear in the new movies thanks to a time travel plot in the 2009 movie. I find the new characters to be delightful.
Star Trek isn’t for everyone. Some folks love it, some freak out about it as obsessed fanatics and others think it’s the stupidest thing they’ve ever seen. Those in the latter category tend to dislike science fiction in general.
As for the fans, some diehards cling to the original series religiously, some accept the subsequent series and some take whatever they get and enjoy it. Count me in the latter category, for the most part.
Whether you’re an original series fan or not, the new movies are great fun, with lots of action, amazing special effects and wonderful characters – the actors playing off the idiosyncrasies of the original characters.
The Star Trek franchise isn’t afraid to laugh at itself, which is one of the things that makes the series so endearing and long lasting. Karl Urban playing Dr. McCoy is side-splittingly hilarious, for instance.
For me, I like the new Captain Kirk every bit as much as the old Captain Kirk. Chris Pine is brash, handsome and dashing – and for the girls, well, he’s just plain hot. The producers and directors are hoping that the new movies will spawn an entire new generation of fans, propelling the franchise onward for another 50 years.
The new movie just might be my favorite of all the Treks, it is done so well. And so after seeing “Into Darkness” in Casper I will watch it again this weekend at the Hyart. I hope you’ll give it a chance, too.
Phasers on stun!