For those of you who may not know much about this American federal holiday, it was founded to celebrate the first president of the United States, George Washington, and it falls on the third Monday in February, despite the fact George Washington's real birthday is February 22. It was celebrated the 22nd up until 1971, when holidays were switched to Mondays thanks to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
(An aside: For some reason, all of my posts on Science Fiction in 2012 have fallen on holidays. Ah well.)
As you may know, I started out 2012 by watching Star Wars: The Original Trilogy; you can read my posts on it HERE. Having done that, I thought about watching the Prequel Trilogy but decided I wasn't really desperate to do so.
Instead, I decided to try Star Trek. Reasons:
1. I knew very little about it, having only watched a documentary on Science Fiction TV shows, probably around a year or so earlier. They interviewed William Shatner (Captain Kirk) and other people I don't remember. Oh, and I do vaguely recall watching Reading Rainbow with LeVar Burton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) back when I was around seven or something, where they showed off the set. But that was a while ago.
2. As with Star Wars, I wanted to find out what everyone (well, almost everyone) seemed to be a big fan of.
So I took out the first DVD in The Original Series: Season One from my library and watched it the weekend before last. The first disc had The Man Trap, Charlie X, and Where No Man Has Gone Before, and I played all of them with some interest.
The first thing I noticed is that the episodes are all predictable. They basically follow the formula:
Strange people/aliens/what-have-you arrive --> the USS Enterprise runs into trouble --> one of the characters teleports ("beams") up or down to try and fix the problem --> some unimportant and occasionally nameless crewmembers meet a terrible fate and the situation reaches crisis point --> the problem is resolved by some plot twist and the Enterprise moves off to the next planet.
You can't really call the plot(s) spectacular, though they aren't as guessable as they could be since all the details of the enemy are withheld until that final twist. It's not a particularly bad formula, and I expected it.
I didn't know what to expect of the characters. I knew of Captain Kirk, of course, and Spock stuck in my mind before because I think he looks like an elf. The others were new to me; namely McCoy, Sulu, Uhura, and Scott.
First, I have to say, for a television series produced back in the 1960s the fact that there are Asian and African-American characters--female African-American characters--right up there with white male protagonists is impressive. I'm further glad that they have women in significant roles; even these days female characters in SF are often secondary, tertiary, or just background noise (which never fails to irritate me). And while I can't say I absolutely love any of those said Star Trek characters, the crew dynamics are interesting, as is seeing how the characters respond to different situations.
With the setting, the technology was klunky, the special effects were fairly unspectacular, and the aliens/reasons for the Enterprise's troubles were either humanoid or a bit implausible. And all the "new worlds" (how can you call them "new worlds" if the Enterprise goes around visiting planets already inhabited by people?) were Earth-like.
But my overall opinion of Star Trek? I liked it. Quite a lot. I went and watched another three episodes last weekend (The Naked Time, The Enemy Within, and Mudd's Women) and I still was happy to see them, though I could no longer call the series something new. I plan on continuing to watch through the rest of TOS: Season One, and then on to Two and Three.
I think Star Trek: The Original Series is fun. No, you can't take all the elements seriously, yes the plot is predictable, no it's not up to today's standards or culture, and heck there are repeating elements just in the six episodes I've seen, but I'd recommend it (so far).
Have you seen any of the Star Trek series/movies? If so, what did you think of them?
And if you haven't, do you want to watch Star Trek? (In that case, I commend you for not watching it. I know I just jumped onto a rather sizeable bandwagon.)
-----The Golden Eagle