It was 45 years ago today that the Starship Enterprise first flashed across our television screens. I was too young to watch it back then, but when it hit syndication I was instantly struck. Yes, I am a Trekkie. No question about it.
I’ve met most of the original cast and the great majority of those who appeared in all the subsequent reincarnations of Star Trek. The only major cast member from the original series that I never got to meet was DeForrest Kelley (Dr. Leonard McCoy).
The late James Doohan (Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott) was always one of my favorites. He spent lots of time with the fans at Star Trek conventions, and always answered questions with a blunt, direct answer – even when the answer was highly critical of fellow actors such as William Shatner (Capt. James T. Kirk).
But, my all-time favorite original series cast member has to be George Takei (Mr. Sulu). George always is a delightful guest on the convention circuit. He loves politics and having a grand discussion about anything. He loves meeting Star Trek fans and reminiscing about the days on the original show. And, I think George has the best stories about the Trek motion pictures that followed. I always hoped for a spin-off series revolving around Captain Sulu and the USS Excelsior, but that never happened.
An episode with guest star Joan Collins entitled “City on the Edge of Forever” is often cited as the best one made from the original series. Actually, that one is on my least favorite list. I liked the episodes that took place on ship. I liked watching the futuristic technology in play. I liked phasers, photon torpedoes, navigation tricks, warp drive problems and figuring out just how a dilithium crystal actually powered the ship.
Episodes like “Balance of Terror” were good TV for me. “Obsession” was another great one. And, of course, “Doomsday Machine.” For a true Trekkie, I need not explain those particular episodes. For a non-Trekkie…well, they’ve stopped reading this article a few paragraphs back.
Like everyone else, I really enjoyed Star Trek: The Next Generation. But, my all-time favorite captain was Katherine Janeway from Star Trek Voyagers. She was a powerful woman who didn’t have all the answers, but did her best in the worst possible scenario. And, in pure Trek fashion, she prevailed in the end. She brought the crew home.
I never got into the Star Trek Deep Space Nine series. In fact, I only watched a couple episodes ever. Something about Star Trek for me is that it belongs on a ship, not on a space station.
Enterprise rocked! The writers made a critical mistake by doing long story arcs that lost viewers and confused new viewers. And, Chief Engineer Charles “Tripp” Tucker, played by Connor Trinneer is, without question, my absolute favorite Star Trek character of all time. Every fan – every viewer – could simply relate to his character on so many different levels. He is one of the actors I’ve never met – yet. But killing him in the finale – really? Was that really necessary? Did Tripp really die? I’d love to see just one more episode to get that answer. I may not like it though.
All this brings me to last year’s release of Star Trek, with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto playing the lead characters. Simply amazing! Pine as a young Captain James T. Kirk and Quinto and a young Mr. Spock were the perfect new page for a whole new generation of Star Trek. I’ll be there next year on opening night for the next installment. And, if they need an extra, I’m there.
“These are the continuing voyages of the Starship Enterprise…”
Yes, they are. And they will be for decades to come. Live long and prosper.