A Trek into the Past with Star Trek
With the newest Star Trek movie about to be released, I decided to go back and look at the Star Trek phenomenon in each of its incarnations. I’ve been a fan of Trek movies since I was a kid, and have seen all but the first few in the theaters. I also have loved most of the series on TV. Let it be known, that I am not a Trekkie, but consider myself a fan. What’s the difference? I have not seen EVERY episode ever made, but respect and am intruiged by the lore and universe that has been created.
I AM really excited about the new movie, as I believe JJ Abrams has given a new light to the Trekverse, and gained the respect of people who were not fans prior to the 2009 reboot/sequel. What I love is that although it rebooted the whole universe, it did it through time travel, so that all of the prior movies did happen albeit an alternate timeline. Fine by me. If it blatantly disregarded the past 50 years of story telling, I’d have been angry. Let’s take a look at the series first.
STAR TREK THE ORIGINAL SERIES: Gene Roddenberry had several attempts, but finally hit the mark with this series. It brought William Shattner as Captain James T. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Commander Spock, DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy, James Doohan as Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura, George Takei as Lt. Sulu, and Walter Koenig as Ensign Chekhov in as the main crew of the Enterprise NCC-1701. This ran for 79 episodes and an additional 22 in animated format. While the first episode takes place in the year 2254 AD, the rest of the series revolves around the crew’s five year mission to explore new worlds and life forms (2265-2270 A.D.) After being cancelled with only a short run on network television, this crew gave birth to everything in the Trekverse today. Sure it had its low moments and campy episodes, but for the time it was made, it gave hope and inspiration for a technologically advanced future where racism would be gone, and everyone would be perceived as equals. I rate this series at a 6 out of 10.
STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION: Its 7 seasons took place a generation after the original crew. From 2364-2370, this new crew was welcomed with open arms by a new generation of fans. Patrick Stewart as Cpt Jean Luc Picard, Jonathan Frakes as Commander William Riker, LeVar Burton as Geordi LaForge, Michael Dorn as Worf, Gates Macfadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher, Wil Wheaton as Ensign Wesley Crusher, Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi, and Brent Spiner as Data were the crew of Enterprise NCC-1701-C. New tech and explorations abound, this series showed that even enemies can become allies, and handicaps could be treated. This is the series I grew up watching, and rate it at an 8 out of 10 as a whole.
STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE: Taking a new route with space exploration, this series took place aboard a space station in the Milky Way Galaxy. There was no exploration at all, but it continued to bring in the fans. Criticized by many hard core trekkies, but then welcomed in the end, this spanned 7 seasons (during the years 2365-2379 AD). The difference in this show was that it showed what a war would be like in space. It was a darker take on the mythos that included Avery Brooks as Commanding Officer Benjamin Sisko, Nana Visitor as Officer Kira Nerys, Rene Auberjonois as the shapeshifter Odo, Alexander Siddig as Dr. Bashir, Terry Farrell as science officer Dax, Michael Dorn as Worf, Colm Meaney as Chief O’Brien, Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko, and Armin Shimmerman as Quark. I could not stand this show in the beginning and I dropped it quickly, but toward the end, it regained my viewership for a half season. Based on what I saw toward the end, I’d rate this show a 5 out of 10.
STAR TREK VOYAGER: From 2371-2378 AD, the crew of the USS Voyager tries to make its way home, 75,000 light years away. Also lasting 7 seasons, this series gave us a female captain and yet another approach to the Trekverse. Kate Mulgrew as Captain Janeway, Robert Beltran as Chakotay, Tim Russ as Tuvok, Robert Duncan McNeill as Medic Tom Paris, Roxann Dawson as Engineer B’Elanna Torres, Garret Wang as Ensign Harry Kim, Robert Picardo as the Holographic Doctor, Ethan Phillips as Neelix, Jennifer Lien as Kes, and Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine rounded out the main cast. The crew had to put aside differences in the hopes of seeing their families again, and though tensions were high at times, it was exciting to see a whole new quadrant of unexplored space. I didn’t stick with this show either, but popped in here and there to check it out. My enjoyment level came at about a 6 out of 10.
STAR TREK ENTERPRISE: A prequel to the orignal series, this took place from 2151 – 2155 AD, and lasted 4 seasons. I thoroughly enjoyed this show, as I felt it was very close to the original in terms of hardships and personalities of the crew. It was often criticized for being a rip off, but I did not feel that it was. I DID hate the theme song though, which most people would agree with. The neat thing about this incarnation was that humanity was just beginning everything. They were testing their first real travel worthy exploration ship, the Enterprise NX-01. Scott Bakula played Captain Jonathan Archer, Jolene Blalock was the Vulcan T’Pol, Connor Trinneer as “Trip” Tucker, Dominic Keating as tactical officer Reed, Linda Park as linguist Hoshi Sato, Anthony Montgomery as Travis Merryweather, and John Billingsley as Dr. Phlox made up this fun cast. I’d rate this series at a 7 out of 10, but I’m sure people will disagree because it did sort of stray toward the end, from the format that made it work.
And now, let’s move on to the best part of Star Trek… the movies:
STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE: The original crew have ranked up and return to stop an energy cloud in space. Three years after the end of their five year mission, this begins (2273 AD). Along the way, they find NASA’s first Voyager probe from the 20th century, and realize that it has become a new lifeform. It grossed 139 million dollars, and though I found it to be slow and boring at times, it was still fun to watch. I will only rate this with a 4 out of 10 just because of the slowness.
STAR TREK THE WRATH OF KHAN: In the year 2285, Ricardo Montalban returns as Khan, and he is deadlier than ever. The crew face their biggest challenge yet and Spock dies to save them all. I can watch this movie a hundred times and never be bored. I give it a 10 out of 10. I am still trying to figure out how it only grossed 97 million at the box office.
STAR TREK THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK: Spock’s corpse has been launched to the Genesis planet, and its regenerative structure brings him back to life as a child. An accelerated growth forces the enterprise crew to find him before the whole planet dies along with him. With Klingons back as the main villains, this movie picks up right after its predecessor. Despite a mere 87 million at the box office, it still gains a 6 out of 10 from me.
STAR TREK THE VOYAGE HOME: In 2286, the crew returns to earth to find that a mysterious probe is searching for an extinct species of whales. With only a damaged Klingon Bird of Prey, they travel back in time to 1986 to bring the species back to their own time. Sure, it is silly, and the time travel plot had some people shaking their heads, but this ranks right up there with the second one. The Enterprise NCC-1701-A first appears at the end of the movie. At 133 million box office gross, it gets a 9 out of 10 from me.
STAR TREK THE FINAL FRONTIER: I was worried that this would be the last we’d see of the crew when it was released, not just from the title, but the critical reception. In 2287, the enterprise crew is held hostage by Spock’s half brother. They are to take him to a planet where it is believed God exists. It turned out not to be the case, but its 63 million intake showed that the viewers didn’t really care much. I’ll rate it at a 4 out of 10, but still find moments very enjoyable.
STAR TREK THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY: Tensions are high in 2293 as a Klingon moon explodes, and a peace treaty with the Federation is underway. Sulu now captains his own starship USS Excelsior, and is needed to prove Kirk’s innocence in a heinous murder of Klingons. It made 98 million at the box office, and earned a 10 out of 10 from me.
STAR TREK GENERATIONS: As the Enterprise NCC-1701-B is taken on its maiden voyage, an accident forces James T Kirk to save the crew, and sacrifice himself. 78 years later, the Next Generation crew discovers that someone is destroying suns in the hopes of redirecting a nexus cloud. As the crew works to stop this terrorist, they enter the nexus and find a surprise. James Kirk works with Captain Picard to stop the madman at large. In the end, Kirk truly does die, and the movie torch is officially passed to the next generation. It earned 118 million at the box office and 9 out of 10 stars from me.
STAR TREK FIRST CONTACT: This movie introduces the Enterprise NCC-1701-E, and brings in the Borg as the main villain. The collective travels back in time to the day humanity made first contact. Their mission is to stop it from ever happening, as humans have proven to be a nuissance time and again. The next generation crew goes back to stop the Borg Queen, and Data is shown a whole new world of sensation. With 146 million at the box office, and another 9 out of 10 from me, you shouldn’t miss this one.
STAR TREK INSURRECTION: Picard and his crew in the year 2375, must rebel against a superior officer when they find out he plans on stealing the inhabitants of the Baku planet’s very life force. The most entertaining aspect of this movie is Data malfunctioning. It is arguably the most forgettable of the series, and brought in 112 million. I give it a 3 out of 10.
STAR TREK NEMESIS: In 2379 a clone of Picard is bent on destroying the federation and the real Picard. Dark, useless, and only slightly better than its predesessor. Only bringing in 67 million dollars, and 4 out of 10 stars from me, it was time to let a dead horse go.
STAR TREK: A Romulan commander named Nero travels from the year 2362 back in time to 2233 to destroy Earth and starfleet. Luckily, Ambassador Spock also travels back to warn his younger self and rookie original crew. Bringing in Chris Pine as James T Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Simon Pegg as Engineer Scott, John Cho as Sulu, and Anton Yelchin as Chekov, this movie literally erases all previous incarnations (with the exception of STAR TREK ENTERPRISE) and gives the franchise a fresh new start. It made nearly 386 million at the box office, and brought in new fans as well as old. Definitely one of the best, and a great way to reboot. 10 out of 10 stars from me.
So there you have it. With Star Trek Into Darkness releasing today in the States, I continue to hope for a bright Trek future, and will bring you my review of this new 12th movie once I see it. I hope you enjoyed this look back. What are some of your favorite and worst moments from Trek history?