Okay, I may well be the closest to an actual Trekkie/Trekker on this blog. Like all aspects of my life that involve geekery, this one comes pretty much directly from my father. Let’s be honest, much of what we call preference likely exists as little more than random acts of osmosis from the fragmented habits of our parents.
RPGs? My parents started playing them when I was four. I be knighted my first character with the name of Bert and my sister Ernie. My mother promptly tried to kill us with a purple worm at 1st level. Those who have played in any game of mine might consider this insightful.
Classics and pulp? While my house frequently went dark from unpaid electricity bills during childhood, when light could be found the works of Ovid, Caesar, and Plato set nestled beside works of Lovecraft, Tolkien, and Heinlein. My parents’ collection would never bear the weight of unread vanity texts.
Board games? I cut my teeth on Axis and Allies and Blitzkrieg. My first steps into game design involved my father and I tweaking Fortress America in an attempt to make that historic mess of a simulation vaguely fair. We, as so many before us, failed.
I should get back on Trek. My father adored Kirk and company. Between the original series and Dr. Who, I likely spent more time watching television with him than just about any other activity beyond Boy Scouts. One reason for that may well have been that he worked nights and slept days, so catching late night sci-fi provided us a rare chance to do something together on a daily basis.
My first convention was a Star Trek convention in downtown Fort Worth. Dad took Sam (not the Sam of this blog), Jason, and myself. I recall buying a Red Dwarf t-shirt and not a ton more. I’m sure Dad could recite the events of that day in detail. That’s how it goes; feel free to take a Harry Chapin break.
Now, I can recall numerous Channel 39 marathons of Star Trek, complete with dial-in trivia questions. I devoured the original series during these marathons. I knew everything about Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.
Maybe in part because I’m from the rural Southwest, I always adored the angry, emotional stalwartness of McCoy’s sense of determined from the gut justice. I point this out in contrast to Henry’s comment about the secondhand nature of McCoy in the original series. In no way unrelated, I also found Urban’s portrayal the most annoying in the new flick. It felt more façade then inspired re-invention—and now that the thought has arisen within this reflection, let there be no doubt, I found J.J. Abrams new film the definition of inspired re-invention.
Really, it’s more than discovering the crew on the Enterprise anew—and Chekov, Sulu, Uhura, Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Scotty will always be the crew of the Enterprise to me. Some of the true art in this film comes in how the actors who are known quantities disappear. Nero might not be a great villain—there’s really no such thing as a great Trek villain—but he definitely doesn’t scream Eric Bana. And I’m still not sure I believe Ryder was Spok’s mum. Most importantly, Chris Pine and Abrams have rescued the character Kirk from the gloriously absurd satire of Shatner’s legacy. Because of this film, I have hope again that new audiences might understand why some fans take Kirk seriously. Mostly because we knew him before T.J Hooker, Airplane!, SNL, and “I’m Denny Crane.” There actually existed a time when you could view Kirk as legit, when the original crew was legit. Abrams has given that back to a lot of us—and not just those old enough to have written letters in the 60s, but a few of us who had fathers that might have written a letter or two.
I doubt a pulp franchise could ask for anything more. Abrams might not have done for Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek what Shakespeare did for Arthur Brooke’s The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, but I bet George Lucas prays at night someone half as talented as J.J. Abrams will rescue his franchise someday. In a theatre far, far away (Yep, cheapest joke of the post). Since my son and I have a similar connection over Star Wars as Dad and I over Star Trek, I must hold out hope.
Oh, and as far as Trek canon and the new film. I defer to the wisdom of my father who stated, “the original series didn’t follow any canon from one episode to the next. Why should this film?”
No reason at all. It’s too true to the original spirit of the series to care a whit about canon over character.
Now I have to sleep so that I can get enough work done in the morning to slip out of the office by 10:15. My son is dressing up as Neil Armstrong for school tomorrow and will give a speech about the journey from Mercury to Apollo. There’s a family legacy at stake, one with an eye toward the stars.