Thursday, September 08, 2016

Fifty Years of Favorite Star Trek Moments

On this very night fifty years ago - Thursday, September 8, 1966 - an episode of a new science fiction television show beamed into American televisions for the very first time. When it was cancelled just three seasons later, nobody involved suspected that Star Trek would become the beloved cultural juggernaut that it has. While I've enjoyed all the different versions of Trek over the years, a large proportion of my personal favorites, no matter the decade, seem to involve the original crew:

1966 - 1976: "A Piece of the Action"

It might be the vaguely Pulpish aesthetic, but I've always considered this my favorite of the Original Series episodes, even over classics like "The Trouble with Tribbles" or "The Doomsday Machine". The somewhat madcap, zany comedy is probably another huge factor, especially once Captain Kirk starts getting into the spirit of things - the "Fizzbin" sequence never fails to elicit a chuckle. The aftermath of this episode also provided the basis for the final level of a Star Trek NES game I played quite a bit of as a youngster, which increased its cachet considerably.

1976 - 1986: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

There's a long-running joke in the Trekkie fandom that only the even-numbered Trek movies are any good. While this hypothesis has taken something of a beating lately, back during the Original Crew Movie era
"Computer? Hello-o, Computer!"
it was basically spot on. Even though it's basically the comedy episode of those movies (with a vintage 80s save-the-whales moral, to boot), The Voyage Home is still largely memorable for its best moments, such as "Nuclear Wessels" and Scotty shouting at an Apple desktop. It also provided a fitting ending to what might be called the "Khan Trilogy", which started with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and managed, along the way, to both destroy and restore nearly everything familiar to our favorite space explorers.

1986 - 1996: "Relics"

Of the original crew, Scotty has always been a favorite of mine, so I've always appreciated that he was one of the characters that got to come forward to the Next Generation era. While this particular episode has its share of levity (such as Data trying to play bartender for Scotty and echoing one of his own lines back at him), it also has a fair bit of melancholy as Scotty processes his temporal displacement. Happily he shakes it off by the end of the episode and goes back to being his normal self.

1996 - 2006: "Trials and Tribble-ations"

The thing I most enjoy about this Deep Space Nine episode is how they were able to seamlessly integrate the DS9 cast into the footage from the original "Trouble with Tribbles" episode (and also "Mirror, Mirror", for the conversation at the end between Kirk and Sisko). Since I've started watching The X-Files for the first time, I'm also amused that the names of the Temporal Agents, Dulmur and Lucsly, are near-anagrams for Mulder and Scully.

2006 - 2016: Star Trek

Whatever the faults of the followup might have been, in my opinion this soft reboot really captured the spirit of the Original Series. Sure, it has some faults of its own, such as the pacing issues of Captain Kirk's career (not to mention the whole "Jimmy Kirk: Beastie Boys enthusiast" thing, although that was at least partially redeemed by Star Trek Beyond) and the iStarfleet aesthetic, but the characters were spot on, and even today the remastered classic end credits make me tear up a little.

2016 - 2066: ?

With a new show in development it's obvious that we haven't seen the end of Star Trek history just yet, but will it endure another fifty years? According to First Contact we're due to have WWIII during that time, so maybe not. Even so, if there's one thing that we can learn from Star Trek it's to never stop striving on, or to put it another way:

". . . to boldly go where no man has gone before."

No comments: