Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trek RIP, Part 1

Enterprise under constructionAll the trailers I saw for this new Star Trek movie looked exciting. Everybody who saw them became instantly excited about the impending release of this film. Casual fans, hardcore fans, Star-Wars-only fans. Everybody.

Everybody but me.

I was upset. I was nervous and upset.

"It looks amazing," I said, with utter sincerity, "but it's not Star Trek."

You see, I grew up on Star Trek: The Next Generation. As a kid, the original Star Trek usually felt slow and ancient, and when Deep Space Nine came out, I stopped watching after the first few seasons because it was too serious and they never left that gorram space station to go anywhere interesting.

No other Star Trek before or since Next Generation has captured my imagination in the same way, shown me such a hopeful vision of the future, held as much meaning for me, or featured as many characters that I like and can relate to. Although I've grown to enjoy and appreciate all the different Star Trek series, Next Generation defined what Star Trek is for me, and no other fandom--not even Mega Man--is closer to my heart.

Star Trek: Nemesis posterAfter Enterprise got cancelled and both Insurrection and Nemesis failed to live up to fans' and critics' expectations, it was very clear that Star Trek was nearing the end of its life. And by Star Trek, I mean Next Generation. Enterprise could always be renewed (doubtful, though), and a new Star Trek TV series could always emerge, but Next Generation was running out of time.

Nemesis, though a disappointment (or abomination that doesn't exist), did include all the elements of a final conclusion to the series. The only reason to make one more movie would be to make up for the shortcomings and sins of Nemesis. It would be difficult to logically reunite the crew without wreaking havoc with the continuity, but more importantly, the actual actors of Next Generation just kept getting older... and, in some cases, wider. If another movie was ever going to happen, it needed to happen soon.

Every other series (well, maybe not Enterprise) had been neatly wrapped up and given a proper ending, especially the original Star Trek. As I see it, Star Trek VI and Star Trek: Generations provide a satisfying conclusion to the adventures of the original crew, and all the cameos they ever made were handled with respect and integrity. All I asked for was just one more movie--heck, one more episode--that would truly do justice to the Next Generation crew and, for the sake of Worf, bring them the same honor that Kirk and his crew enjoyed.

If Next Generation could end on a high note, I would be fully willing to follow Star Trek into whatever new direction it wanted to go. If they did a teamup movie where Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, and Archer somehow ended up in the same film to resolve some universe-shattering final crisis, I might even be willing to let the entire TV/movie franchise come to a close and live on in novels and video games and whatnot. If they never produced another Star Trek again, or if they went ahead and did a new movie or TV show with a completely new crew of characters we've never heard of before, I'd still be sad for Next Generation, but I'd find a way to cope.

Instead, they made the only move that was completely unforgivable: with 40+ years of continuity (however contradictory it may be) and infinite possibilities of new heroes to follow and new challenges to face, EVERYTHING was thrown out so that James T. Kirk--not Jean-Luc Picard--could have one more adventure with his ship and crew without worrying about pesky things such as logic, continuity, or the age of the actors (or, for that matter, the fact that some of the original actors are no longer with us).

New Star Trek posterThe age-old argument of "Who's better, Kirk or Picard?" was finally settled by Star Trek itself: a reboot of the entire franchise, led by the original crew, could only mean that Kirk is Star Trek, and Picard (along with everyone who came after him) is irrelevant. My most beloved fandom of all time had just slapped me in the face, tossed my childhood into the dumpster, and drove off at warp speed in an antique car with every other Star Trek fan in the backseat, and I swear they were following the road signs toward Star Wars, and I'm positive I saw Uhura lean out the window with her top off.

Perhaps it was an understatement to say that I was nervous and upset when I saw those movie trailers.

Still, I was determined to get to the theater on opening weekend. It didn't matter how pretty, action-packed, and well-done the movie would be; I was going to see for myself exactly how they would disregard and destroy my most treasured fandom.

The truth? They ruined everything. They undid 40+ years of Star Trek. They did nothing whatsoever to give Next Generation the conclusion the crew deserves, and they're taking the franchise in a direction I'm not really sure I want to go.

And I really enjoyed the movie.

I can say with total certainty that there is only one reason why I am not currently ablaze with fanboy rage: the four-issue comic series Star Trek: Countdown, which I wisely read the night before I saw the movie.

As I'll explain tomorrow, that made everything okay.

Well, almost everything.

Star Trek: Countdown trade paperback cover
[Images from]

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