BOLDLY GOING

Hard as it might be to believe now, the first time I saw an episode of “Star Trek,” I wasn’t impressed. It was an episode of the original series called “Catspaw,” which featured an alien that could turn into a giant black cat. It was the second season’s  Halloween episode and it was so cheesy, I didn’t watch another episode of “Star Trek” for years. But a few years later, I gave it another try thanks to the syndicated reruns and this time I watched an episode every afternoon until I had seen ever one. I soon realized that “Star Trek” was the blueprint for one of my favorite storytelling devices, which I call the three guys. The trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. The leader (Kirk) pulled in opposite directions by logic (Spock) and emotion (McCoy). It always works…

I was in college when “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” came out, and I was in line to see it opening night. And while it might have a bad reputation now, at the time my friends and I all loved it. It was great to see the crew back in action. Of course, we didn’t know what action was until the release of the second “Trek” movie, “The Wrath Of Khan”!

By the release of “Star Trek III,” I was living here in L.A, but as I only started covering movie junkets in 1992, I never got a chance to attend a press event for a film starring the original crew. Somehow I even missed out on “Generations,” my big chance to interview William Shatner, although I haven’t missed the interviews for a “Star Trek” movie since, evidenced by the fact the entire “Next Gen” cast has signed my “Next Generation Companion” book. Oh, I finally did get a chance to see William Shatner, even if it was while he was accepting an award for winning the celebrity race at the Long Beach Grand Prix!

Of course, more “Star Trek” came along on TV over the years and I never missed an episode. Some of my favorites included the final season of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” which featured the most seamlessly intricate and exciting storytelling this side of “Lost” (it’s no wonder some of the writers went on to work on “24”) and also the final season of “Enterprise,” when the show finally threw open its arms to the “Star Trek” canon and started basing stories on some of the earlier shows’ legendary plots and ideas.

Which brings us to the movie that opens tomorrow night. I really wasn’t worried about what J.J. Abrams would do with “Star Trek,” as I loved his work on “Mission Impossible III” and I’ve always been one to take a look at something before I badmouth it. I don’t mind if things are changed if it makes for a better movie. And if there’s one thing J.J. has done, it’s that he’s made a great movie (but let me take a moment to say that in the rush to canonize the new “Star Trek,” people are talking down the earlier movies, but some of them are very enjoyable, especially “The Wrath Of Khan,” “The Voyage Home,” “The Undiscovered Country” and “First Contact”).

The new film has done everything right, so much so that I got teary eyed at times, thankful that something I loved was done so well. Great cast, non-stop action and most important, characters that actually have personalities. That last one came from Gene Roddenberry and the new “Star Trek” has smartly carried on the tradition. Yes, I kind of wish Chris Pine had done more of a William Shatner impersonation (hey, it worked for the other cast members), but I’ll certainly accept Chris’ claim that only Mr. Shatner is capable of playing Kirk that way.

So like everyone else who’ll see “Star Trek” in the next few days, I can’t wait for the further adventures of the Enterprise and her crew. I hope that next time around, Chris gets to say those immortal words, “Space, the final frontier…” Although I have to admit, I am a little worried that the producers are thinking about bringing Khan back, as Ricardo Montalban played him so perfectly the first time around.

And here I promised I wouldn’t badmouth something before I saw it. Sorry… and live long and prosper!

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One Response to “BOLDLY GOING”

  1. Flash Says:

    Have my tickets to a show on Saturday – love the Arclight, got the best seats in the house.

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