Sunday, June 15, 2014

Star Trek: Starting point

First off: anyone interested in Star Trek specifically or in my upcoming TV show posts generally should take a look at this post. If you don't care about Star Trek, skip right to the end.

That said: let's talk about Star Trek.

Folks, I've got a terrible confession to make: I don't think I'm going to like Star Trek.

My uncles love Star Trek. We had some of their old stuff in the basement, and growing up it was probably the only stuff I would bypass every single time I was looking for something to do. I remember drab teal and gray backgrounds, bland-looking people in bland-looking shirts and black pants, and some pictures of a thing that didn't look like what I expected a spaceship to look like. This was all art, granted, but none of it looked interesting at all. Even the pictures with aliens in them were just "this one is blue" and "this one is green." I might just have been too young to understand the appeal, or it might be right out of a different time and I'm too young to get it... I don't know. One way or another, I'm trying to come into this one with an open mind, but I do have a preexisting bias that says that this is booooooooooooring.

Here's what I know about Star Trek going into it:

• There's people on ships. They wear boring uniforms which are blue, red and yellow because primary colors were the style.

• Their ship looks silly. I don't remember how, exactly.

• Aliens look like people who fell into a vat of dye.

• The special effects, if any, are going to look bad and I'm going to have to cut them a lot of slack.

• They're going to boldly go to outer space. English teachers are going to boldly get angry about that.

• There's a guy named Kirk and he is a Captain. I will call him Kirk the Captain, because I am contrary.

• When I was very young I saw an episode where a guy had his head scratched or something and he was all metal and flashing lights inside. I don't know if he was a robot in disguise or turning into a robot or what but I remember it being something like that.

• The ship's doctor isn't real and it's a secret? or something.

• The show is very progressive.

...and that's the lot. I'd love to say I'm excited for this, but at this point from what I have to go on it doesn't sound like that great a thing. Still, I'm a persistent sort of guy and I've got a lot of free time to kill, so here we go.

Now for the part I said everyone should stick around for, and get your comment pens handy: setting up a format for TV responses. I don't think I can or should do two posts per episode; that will bog down quickly. What Roomie and I originally had in mind was that I would do the standard two posts for the first and last episodes of a season, and do a "second thoughts" format post for all the rest. However, since it's really for all of you that my output matters, I've decided to put it to the comments. Is the plan above generally good, and would you prefer to see episodes be first impressions or second thoughts in style? Leave your opinions in the comments here or on the RPGnet threads and we'll get them. Thanks all! :D

Time to boldly go annoy English teachers some more.


  1. I think, if you're committing to watching whole shows (which, I fear, will eat up time that you could be using to build a broader-but-shallower knowledge base and then delve deeper as you will) that your current plan seems good.

    But I really, really, really think what you should be doing is watching a few best-of or foundational episodes, treating them like a movie, and maybe revisiting the shows at your own pace rather than making them part of your project.

    Incidentally... you are so not prepared. And I think you'll like Star Trek more than you expect to, as long as you remember that the original series is the first thing you've watched here that predates the huge sea-change in special effects that was Star Wars and so visually it's going to be a big step down.

  2. For watching the original Star Trek, know that the episodes were aired somewhat out of their intended order by the network, and thus it's a bit off on the DVDs too.

    This doesn't really matter much except for the first episode. The actual pilot episode was "Where No Man Has Gone Before" which I believe was the third aired. You should watch that one first regardless of where it's placed.

    As for the format, I think a post for each episode would be a good idea, but if not, maybe one post for every five episodes would be better, enough to cover the highlights for a few at once, but covering a whole season at once is probably not a good idea.

    1. Looks like I already got past you on this one; The Man Trap was first on the disc, so first it did go. I'll note that when I get to the other episode, though.

  3. Regarding progressivism, 60s Star Trek will not look all that progressive compared to the 21st century. However, in the 60s it was really controversial and it should be appreciated in that context. Try comparing it to some of the other stuff your grandparents have from that era for example.

    Same goes for the visual effects: kind of dated now, but very good for the time. Although there was a remastered version in 2008 that improved on them, kind of like what was done to Star Wars in the 90s.

    1. Yes, very much like what was done to Star Wars, and I wouldn't call it an improvement.

  4. I'm not sure you're going to like Star Trek either, at least the original series. The show is dated (and as mentioned pre-dates the ILM special effects revolution). TNG might have been a better starting point for you (altough I'm partial because TNG was my first in-depth contact with Star Trek).

    It is probably better to see a few episodes to see if you you enjoy it and to get a cursory knowledge of universe and later revisit the series if you so wish. Forcing yourself to watch it if you don't enjoy it won't be any fun.

    Also the show is rather progressive for 1968. 46 years later it is rather quaint.

  5. Honestly, you've been on a roll with all these great movies and there's tons more to come. Personally, I wouldn't bother with Star Trek at the moment, especially if it's the original series. They're good for what they are, but they can certainly wait. If you need to sit down and digest something more slowly (to take a break from the constant awesomeness you've been experiencing), there are much better, more modern shows to do that with. Star Trek can wait.

    1. Star Trek is pretty short; I'll be doing them concurrently. I find two movies a day a bit much, but I didn't mind an episode of Star Trek just now and I'm pretty sure I can manage. If the two conflict, I promise that movies will beat TV.

  6. (apologies for leaving so many comments here, I'm a real Star Trek nerd)

    OK, going by the first comment, I think watching a smaller number of "critical episodes" might be a good idea. I'd recommend, in this order:

    Season 1:
    Where No Man Has Gone Before
    The Naked Time
    Balance of Terror
    The Galileo Seven
    The Menagerie
    Tomorrow is Yesterday
    Space Seed
    Errand of Mercy
    City on the Edge of Forever

    Season 2:
    Amok Time
    The Doomsday Machine
    Mirror, Mirror
    Journey to Babel
    The Trouble With Tribbles
    The Ultimate Computer

    Season 3:
    The Enterprise Incident
    The Tholian Web
    Day of the Dove
    Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

  7. "I don't think I can or should do two posts per episode; that will bog down quickly. What Roomie and I originally had in mind was that I would do the standard two posts for the first and last episodes of a season, and do a "second thoughts" format post for all the rest."
    Not a bad idea but picking 2 or a different number of episodes you like or hate specifically would be better than getting stuck in a strict first and last episode format in a TV series thing. The very first and very last episodes of a whole series should get special treatment though.


  8. It needs to be said: I think you're jumbling up several different Star Treks here. There's the original show from the 60s, then there's The Next Generation from 1987-1994, and three other shows, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. Without spoiling, several of the things you're describing sound like they're from those later shows, which were actually very different from the original show in many ways.

    It's cool that you're watching this show and it IS a cultural touchstone, but really there's only maaaaaaybe 1/2 of the episodes that are really good or that you need to watch to get the general idea. I'd say the ratio is even lower for all the later series except the generally-excellent Deep Space Nine, and even that has a lot of filler.

    On the other hand, it's cool that you can watch this show with somewhat fresh eyes. TV has changed so much in the last two decades, let alone since the 60s, that most people who sit down to watch the original show find it boring and cheesy and dated.

  9. The original Star Trek is really old and it's going to seem pretty... well, bad. The Next Generation is great though (after the first two seasons, which were more similar to the original series and mostly not that great).

  10. I'm going to make a radical suggestion: write as much or as little about a given episode as that episode prompts you to write. If you watch four or five episodes of a show and think "that was okay" but don't have much more to say, it's fine to not say anything and just wait until you hit an episode where you're inspired.

  11. Star Trek's fine and all, but if you really want a show that'll make you yell at the screen (in a good way) check out Babylon 5. There is no filler and the dramatic tension only builds across 5 seasons.