A Year of Watching Star Trek
This time last year, I was deciding to watch all the Star Trek that exists, most of it for the first time. Watching an episode a day, it would’ve taken about two years. Well, I haven’t watched anything like an episode a day, but I don’t mind. I exchanged speed for depth, and spent a fantastic year with the original series, The Animated Series, the original-cast movies, and now starting The Next Generation. I’ve written almost a dozen posts on various Trek-related topics for Comparative Geeks, but as it’s December, here are some reflections on my Trekkie year and the show so far.
Mainly, I’m impressed by Star Trek’s ideas. There are episodes of the original series that I didn’t like much as a child, so I didn’t watch them very often, but they surprised me as an adult. “Errand of Mercy” used to seem like dithering, and now I love this image of pacifist aliens who intervene when they must. “Metamorphosis” was painfully boring, and still is, but there’s a beautiful gay-rights message hidden inside it. “Is There in Truth No Beauty” seemed irritating, but now Miranda Jones is my role model. Those episodes, and many more, have philosophical conversations as their climaxes and defining moments, and that’s just cool.
Of course, I think as fans we sometimes spend too much time defending Trek as intellectual. It is. But it’s also a good time. It’s funny, it’s ridiculous, sometimes it doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense, and that’s one reason it can be so inspiring. Star Trek is a dream that we want to make a reality, but we don’t have to always be deadpan about it, and that’s awesome too.
This project has spread beyond just watching the episodes, and even beyond writing these blog posts, although I like to bring in as much as I can. I wrote a graduate-level paper on Star Trek props, later adapted into a post on miniskirts and one on computers. I went to conventions and met William Shatner for a couple of glorious seconds. (He wasn’t even the highlight of my first Trek convention… The best part was putting on a uniform t-shirt and then walking into a room where everyone else was in uniform too. I’ve never felt so at home). I read novels, comics, and memoirs. I watched documentaries and followed actors to some very obscure roles. I had friends fill up my newsfeeds with Trek memes, articles, and merch advertisements, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Star Trek is a wonderful place to live.
Looking ahead, well, I can’t wait to finish TNG season one… and then there’s Star Trek: Discovery next summer… Hopefully it’ll be a good place to jump in if you don’t have time to watch absolutely everything!