The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Where's Captain Kirk?

I’ve never quite managed to be a Star Trek fan. My problem is this. I love the early stories, where they ‘seek out new worlds and civilisation’ – basically, the stories from the original show where they visit a new planet, answer a distress call or encounter something sinister and blurry in space are the good ones. But I can’t abide the stories where they’re not ‘boldly going’ – when they’re running errands for the bloody Federation, going on diplomatic missions, or falling out with the Klingons, the Romulans or those unlikely-looking blue fellas.

Which is my problem with the 80’s and 90’s Star Treks. Apart from a few stories with the Borg where it looked like the people making it might possibly have a clue what they were doing, it was all about them dealing with relatives coming aboard, or Data learning what it is to be human, or playing Sherlock Holmes on the holodeck, or discussing their problems with Whoopi Goldberg in the space bar, with every episode ending not in a dramatic climax but in a tedium of geekobabble. And, where the original show had strong, well-defined and flawed characters, all the latter series’ characters were just a list of Starfleet Qualifications and were about as exciting as a school trip to see how cardboard is made. For me, you see, Star Trek is action adventure.

Which, brilliantly, the new film got right. It’s surprisingly exciting. It’s a little bit disconcerting to have some of the old characters played by good actors for a change – and to have Scotty played with a proper Scottish accent. Okay, so there’s a massively convenient plot co-incidence at the half-way point but it actually does what your man says it’ll do during the opening titles.

J J Abrams has fixed Star Trek.


  1. Just an opinion:
    Original Star Trek = decent sci-fi.
    All subsequent series = Eastenders in space.

  2. I think what we really can't stand - or admit - about Trek is that it does "Time Travel" consistently well. Better, in fact, than lots of time-travel shows. I mention no names.

    But for me, it's at its best when it's Hornblower / Biggles in Space. The fewer non-corporeal entities, socially relevant allegories and musings on the nature of existence, the better. The more explosions, pseudo-militarism and wormholes, the better.

  3. If only 80's Star Trek had the pace and character of Eastenders. It was more like Triangle.

    Not sure I agree with Rob about time travel. Yes, there's The City On The Edge Of Forever, and that episode of Deep Space 9 where they go back and meet the tribbles, but on the other hand you have All Our Yesterdays, in which Spock becomes all emotional because they've travelled back in time to an era when Vulcans had emotions. Er, right.

  4. Yes, Abrams has fixed it... mostly. Apart from the plot, which was exactly the same as the last Star Trek film Nemesis:

    "Evil bald wronged Romulan seeks revenge and wants to destroy Earth with his big scary dimly-lit spaceship which extrudes a big scary weapon."

    And for me, this wasn't the clean sweep I expected. Still too much old Trek hangover. No need for Nimoy at all. Oh well perhaps the next film will ditch the baggage.