Space. The Final Frontier.
Forty years ago today, a little under six years before I was born, Star Trek took to the air for it’s original three-year run before being cancelled. It would spawn off an animated series, comic book series, toys, four spin-off television series, 10 movies, and more parodies than you could shake a tribble at.
I honestly don’t know the first time I watched Star Trek in any form, though I’m relatively sure it was TOS (The Original Series). I know I was an addict for the entire run of TNG (The Next Generation). From there, I progressed to DS9 (Deep Space 9), Voyager, and finally the too-short-lived Enterprise series. Following TNG, my addition tempered and waned, especially as many of the episodes seemed to have lacklustre writing and stints of not-so-great acting. (Yes, it can be argued that none of the series had great acting as a whole. Particularly when it comes to asking what … have you done … with … Spock’s brain?!)
“Trekkie.” The word evokes four possible responses: Laughter, ignorance, revulsion, acceptance. Some know what a trekkie is and merely laugh at the idea. There are those who have no idea what a trekkie is. There are those who do know and thoroughly object to being considered a “trekkie”, staunchly preferring “trekker”. And there are those who like the idea (and the connotations) that come with the epithet.
I was a trekkie. (Note the past-tense.) I considered those who wanted to be called “trekkers” to be far too pretentious for their own good. I was all for the campiness, the humour, the perceived silliness that comes out. I went to Star Trek conventions (two, to be exact — one in Toronto and another in Buffalo). I had the pins, knew most of the characters, all the TNG episodes, could recite most of The Wrath of Khan by heart. And I wasn’t ashamed about it, either.
Somewhere along the line — once I’d graduated university, it seems — I’d began a long, slow decline in my trekkiness. Today, I’d consider myself having turned my card back, no longer allowed to consider myself one amongst the crowd. “Reformed”, “ex”, “former” — pick a euphimism. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Star Trek in its various forms (although Voyager’s “reset button” habit still ticks me off), I just don’t devote a significant portion of my brain to it anymore. I’ve got a variety of other things to cram in there.
Like generally useless trivia. It’s part of being a know-it-all.
But you have to give Star Trek something. Despite all the wacky behaviour with fanatics, the show has done a surprising amount of good. Well, maybe “good” is subjective. It breathed life into the entire nearly-dead science fiction genre and gave rise to Star Wars, among other things. It also kindled new interest in science itself, creating several generations of scientists, physicists, explorers, and astronomers.
The creator is gone. Gene Roddenbury died when I was in university. DeForrest “Bones” Kelly followed a few years later. James “Scotty” Doohan passed into the final frontier last year. Forty years takes its toll. They may be gone, but the legacy will live on. Maybe even to the 23rd century.
Live long, and prosper.