As a child of science fiction of the 80s and 90s, I’m a huge fan of both Star Trek and Star Wars. I vividly remember seeing A New Hope at a drive-in theater when I was very, very young, and waiting in line outside Har Mar Mall to see Empire Strikes Back on opening weekend. I even remember taking the bus to see Empire Strikes Back at the Highland Theater, and watching it on their second floor screen.
It’s much the same for Star Trek. In school my friends and I would try to one-up each other with Star Trek trivia, and even though I wouldn’t admit it at the time, I was impressed by my friend Jim’s ability to recite Lt. Uhura’s serial number from memory. When Next Generation launched it was one of the most amazing and awesome TV shows I had ever seen, and I made sure to record every episode (on glorious VHS). I also got into the Star Trek ship building RPG and collected tons of books on ancillary extended universe details.
I’m not one of those folks who felt the need to side with one or the other. I love them both. Now, we’ve gotten to experience the reboots of both series, and I feel like one of them nailed it a bit more than the other, namely the Star Wars side. Part of the reason that I say this is from a comment that my wife made to me the other day. She said that the new Star Wars movies, “made her like the series again.” She enjoyed them so much that it helped her regain that connection to the originals (which she was just a bit too young for at the time).
I wish the same could be said for the Star Trek reboot. Although I’ve enjoyed the reboots, I have a hard time calling them Star Trek. They try to re-imagine classic characters with new actors and an alternate timeline, but much of the time I feel like the just didn’t have that same Star Trek feel. Perhaps that’s because Star Trek was always much better as a TV show.
Star Wars is about grand space opera, with sweeping epic space battles and simple dialogue. Star Trek always excelled when it made you think, even just a little bit. Although I enjoyed the classic Trek movies, none of them really captured the essence of what the Star Trek TV show really was. That’s why I’m excited and nervous about the new series that is launching, Star Trek: Discovery.
I’m happy to see Star Trek returning to it’s TV roots (as well as original timeline), but I’m worried about how much things will change in an effort to be “fresh” and “exciting”. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I’d love to see a show that can tackle commentary on our current social issues with style and grace. I realize that nothing will top Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and his stirring monologues on our failings and successes. But, perhaps we can get a bit of the energy and vibe back with a new adventure in the Star Trek universe.