Monday, May 25, 2009

so you've watched star trek... now what?

So happily I notice that Star Trek took third place in box office receipts this week. That's pretty good I think for being out for, what, three weeks now? It even finished ahead of Angels and Demons which opened last week. Looks like this year's Trek movie will be this year's Ironman -- a summer movie that was supposed to do pretty well, but became even more of a surprise hit.

I've been a pretty big Star Trek fan for most of my life. I don't consider myself a Trekkie, but I am a pretty big fan. It's not that I'm not a huge nerd or anything, I just find that Trekkies dwell on Star Trek a little more exclusively than I do. For me there are like 50 other shows that I can't get enough of. I guess I lack the devotion of a true Star Trek acolyte. I must admit, though -- as a fan it's a little sad for me to start sharing what was once an exclusive club with the whole frickin' world now.

On the bright side, welcome World! Now that you saw the movie and loved it, prepare you now to immerse yourself in some pretty sweet old Trek for a wonderful compliment to your movie experience!

I know EXACTLY what you're saying to your computer screen right now:
"But Jon!... I saw the new movie and liked it, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna go back and watch the old show! The new movie is GOOD, and the old stuff is BAD! I know this because I've seen a few seconds of the old show and I KNOW based on
that miniscule exposure EXACTLY what the old show is and how much I LOATHE it!"
Fine. ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE WRONG! Allow yourself to believe you know the facts you don't have.

(Also, if you watch all this stuff I say to watch and you still have the same opinion, you're still actually wrong. I'm sorry, but that's just how it works)

Alright, everyone with open minds who isn't allergic to fun! Watch the following. Trek ho!

The Original Series:

1. "The Menagerie - Part I" and "The Menagerie - Part II"
Here's betting that you didn't know that Captain Pike from the new movie actually was an original Star Trek character and that he actually was the captain of the Enterprise before Kirk. True! Remember how at the end of the movie he was in a wheelchair? That's an homage to this two-part episode (of course his wheelchair was actually far closer to the machine they rigged that soldier guy up to in Metallica's video for "One"). Of course Kirk only took over after they made the one Star Trek episode and NBC wanted to have a more action-oriented captain rather than the more philosophical Pike. That first episode "The Cage" was re-edited into a new story called "The Menagerie" (I'm sure it cut a few costs). I love this episode. We see the differences in character of the two captains through how they face their adversity. It also asks questions regarding perception and reality. Personally, I think the episode really ends on a downer with regards to the human spirit, but you can tell me what you think about that. Oh! and that green chick from the movie? She's in this one! Well... as a slave girl, not the Starfleet Academy floozy.

You can watch this episode (and most others) on YouTube!

2. "Balance of Terror"
For some reason, this is the one important episode that YouTube isn't officially hosting. It's probably the one episode that influenced the movie more than any other. It's this one where we meet the dreaded Romulans in the flesh for the first time. They look like Spock. Loyalties are questioned and a thrilling space battle (which seems more like a submarine battle) ensues -- which pits two very different ships with different strengths against each other. It's sort of like Nightcrawler and Cyclops duking it out. Personally I like the Romulans in this episode more than the Romulans in the movie. They're a bit more honorable and sophisticated. Perhaps those miners from the movie were actually Romulan white trash.

3. "The Conscience of the King"
If I remember correctly, this is my good friend J.R.'s favorite original episode. About a year ago, he was just like you -- he had never seen one Star Trek episode. This one is sort of unique in that the story itself doesn't even need to be a Star Trek story or science fiction at all. It's a simple moral/ethical tale that I find riveting. It's probably closer to Greek tragedy than sci-fi.

4. "The Galileo Seven"
Didn't you love Spock and his cold logic in the movie? Here's one where he's so logical people want to kill him. I'd like to think if I were marooned with Spock he'd be pretty useful. Unfortunately, utility isn't always that fun to live with.

5. "The Return of the Archons"
Here's my personal favorite. I admit it's not actually the best episode ever, but it's totally mine and I've detailed my reasons here.


6. "Space Seed"
This may be the most famous original series episode because it spawned the most famous Star Trek movie: Wrath of Khan (at least until the new movie came along). Ricardo Montalban es muy macho, mas macho than Kirk even. We'll talk about it more when we talk about his movie.

7. "City On the Edge of Forever"
Here's another ridiculously famous one and it's about time travel -- just like in the new movie! Actually, the time travel part is pretty silly, but it's a good set-up for what happens. The new movie makes casual mention of changing destinies, but this episode calls the whole act into question. Sure we all want war to stop, but would you kill an innocent beautiful Joan Collins to make that happen?

8. "Amok Time"
Kirk and Spock are like best friends forever except when the Vulcan mating cycle makes Spock go all wacky. When Kirk and Spock fight in this one, the music is like world famous.

9. "Journey to Babel"

This one is great because we finally get to meet Spock's parents -- Sarek and Winona Ryder, I mean Amanda. Wow, what a messed up little kid he must've been! I'm glad the movie took a look at this. I wonder about how much of our parents we really are. I wonder if some combinations are more explosive than others.

10. "Spock's Brain"

"Spock's Brain" actually is the super-cheesy stereotypical Star Trek that you think you know. Strange alien women steal Spock's brain. It's freaking hilarious.

11. "All Our Yesterdays"
This one isn't super incredible, but it gives further backstory into the Vulcans and that's always a good thing for me. I think Vulcans are great and interesting and wonderful. Remember in the movie how they said that Vulcans' emotions are deeper than humans -- even though Vulcans tend to not show it?

Star Trek Movies

12. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
This movie is a direct sequel to the "Space Seed" episode. The new movie is a blatant RIP-OFF of this movie. It's got a vengeance-obsessed villain from another time, weird bugs that wrap around victims' cerebral cortexes, a new technology that can destroy planets, an inexperienced crew going into battle against another ship, the famous Kobayashi Maru battle simulation and much of the dialogue is copied directly from Wrath of Khan to the new movie. This concept isn't new. They tried doing the same thing with Star Trek: Nemesis back in 2002. It didn't work (perhaps they didn't copy Wrath of Khan enough). Nevertheless, Star Trek II is one of my favoritest movies ever. It's a great movie -- not just a great Star Trek movie. I try to watch it on my birthday every year. Dealing with getting old is one of its major themes. So is personal sacrifice. There's a part that's quite emotional. Trust me. "Of all the souls I've encountered in my travels, his was the most... human."

13. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
This is actually a straight-up comedy. It works because by now, we know the characters so well that they can be given the room to be light. This movie also informs us to be kind to animals and the environment, because if we're not an alien probe will come and kill us.

14. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Freakin' awesome. Those Klingons really get Shakespeare.

The Next Generation

15. "Conspiracy"
This episode is actually a lot more like a made for TV sci-fi movie found on the USA Network. Peoples' heads explode. It's pretty sweet, but not as thinky-oriented as most Star Trek episodes. It DOES, however have mind-controlling bugs like in the new movie (and of course, Star Trek II).

16. "Yesterday's Enterprise"
I'm not putting too many TNG episodes on this list because it's a different crew than the new movie and I'm also really tired. This episode, though, was a huge influence on the new movie. A ship from a different time flies through a hole in space and changes the course of history. Sound familiar? The whole look of the show changed for this episode. It's a bit like an actiony version of "City On the Edge of Forever."


Blogger jaime said...

I guess I have a lot of watching to catch up on cause I LOVED the Star Trek movie! My next venture I think will be Wrath of Khan, then I will try the series out. I'm way excited to see it!

May 26, 2009 9:28 AM  

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