As I pointed out in my other guest post, when you live with someone having her year of Star Trek, it’s your year of Star Trek, too. I didn’t watch all 726 episodes and 12 movies along with AshleyRose (watching 726 episodes and 12 movies in a single year would just be crazy, right?) but I did see several of them. Due to the nature of my job, sometimes I’m gone long hours and sometimes I’m home 24/7 for weeks at a time. That means that my viewing was pretty spotty. Long gaps followed by intense bursts of watching everything (or nearly everything) AR watched. Now that we’ve finished Enterprise, I’ve been reflecting a little on how my year of Star Trek has impacted my feelings toward each series.
The Original Series
While AshleyRose was watching TOS, I was busy working, so I didn’t see too many episodes. What I was most struck by in the episodes I did catch, though, was that, especially in the early ones, William Shatner is not a bad actor. He does ham it up a little (and more so as the years go on) but, honestly, he could be pretty damned good at times. We’re so used to people doing those over-the-top impressions of Shatner (including, I think, Shatner himself) that we don’t realize he could act.
The Animated Series
When I was growing up, we didn’t have every television show ever made available to us whenever we wanted to fire up our computer machines or whatever you kids are using nowadays. Back then, all we had was a thing called a Viewmaster (Google it on your computer machine and then get out of my yard.) I owned one (that, as I recall, I had to walk up hill in the snow to buy .) One of the sets of discs I had for it was from Star Trek: The Animated Series. I longed to actually be able to watch that show. I loved Star Trek and I loved cartoons. It killed me knowing that a Star Trek animated series was out there but I had no way (beyond a cheap, plastic toy that would show me a few stills) of seeing it. Fast forward to my year of Star Trek. Through the wonder that is Netflix, I could watch every episode. I ended up just watching one. It didn’t do much for me. I know I should give The Animated Series another chance. If little me could be here now, he would be so disappointed in me. And also freaked out and excited by being able to watch every television show ever made whenever he wanted to. And also thrilled by computer machines. And deeply sad that the flying car never happened. Deeply, deeply sad. The future ain’t what it used to be.
The Next Generation
I found TNG in the middle of its original run and rediscovered my love for Star Trek. This show helped me through some tough times back then and, in part, inspired me toward the career I’m in now. As a matter of fact, I pretty much started this career working on the very Paramount sound stages on which they shot nearly all of Trek and, later in the year on a different project, I spent a couple of weeks working closely with one of the TNG cast.
I didn’t get to watch any TNG with AshleyRose this time around. I was too busy on those stages and with that actor. It’s just as well. I can’t judge The Next Generation anymore. I’m too close to it. TNG is magical for me. Always was and, now, even more so.
Deep Space Nine
During the initial run of DS9, I watched for a couple of seasons, got very tired of Bajoran politics, drifted away, then came back to find that the show had improved. This time around, I saw the episodes I missed. Some I loved (“The Visitor,” “Little Green Men”) some I hated (O’Brian in screwed up brain prison, that one where Molly falls in a hole then comes out all grown up and feral) but over all, I was surprised by one thing: How much undue credit Avery Brooks gets as a great actor. Don’t get me wrong, I love him. I’m not trying to run Brooks down. But, people, come on. Take a look at him on any episode of DS9 then go back and watch Shatner in an early episode of TOS. Shatner was as good or better. That’s not an opinion. That’s a fact.
I thought I’d watched Voyager back in the day. I mean, I did for a few seasons, until the local channel that carried it stopped. I knew there were episodes I missed, but, overall, I thought I’d watched it. I walked around for years talking about how I thought it was the weakest of the Star Trek series and how I didn’t like Neelix and blah, blah, blah, blah-freaking-blah. Turns out, I hadn’t watched Voyager at all. Oh, I’d seen lots and lots of episodes, but watching it all together like I did this time made me really appreciate it. Even Neelix. Especially Neelix. And Janeway. What a badass. Seriously. Not all episodes were winners of course, not close (this is the series that had “Threshold,”) but I was one of those people who thought DS9 was art and Voyager was crap. Boy, was I wrong. I’m really glad I gave it another chance.
I love this series. I love Archer and Trip and T’Pol. I love the wide-eyed wonder. I love the way everything in space can kick their asses but they boldly go out there anyway. I love the title sequence, with its footage of Chuck Yeager, Amelia Earhart and Alan Shepard. I even love that theme song (before they ruined it by trying to jazz it up in season three.) But, what I love most about Enterprise is that it was the series that helped AshleyRose and I get together. We’d met a couple of years earlier at a play audition (our first words to each other were the balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet) and I’d recruited her for a short film I was making. That led to a late night phone conversation in which a passing reference to Enterprise was made. She had no idea I loved Star Trek. I had no idea she did. Had we not geeked out together my life might not have changed in the very best possible way.
Which brings me to most important thing I’ve learned this year. If someone says to you, “It’s just a TV show,” (even if it’s ol’ BillShatner himself doing the talking) tell them they’re wrong. Star Trek isn’t just a TV show. Star Trek is common ground. It’s shared history for us fans. It’s a connection between people who might otherwise never connect. That’s important. Don’t let anyone every try to make you feel otherwise.
So, give the episodes/series you didn’t like so much another shot. Reevaluate the ones you loved. Have your opinions, share them, debate them even (you probably want to debate my Brooks/Shatner acting evaluations and my love for the Enterprise theme song right now,) but, above all, be nice to each other. We’re all part of a kind of far-flung family, us Trek fans, and it’s one to which I feel very happy – and lucky – to belong.