shoebox_dw: (peanuts hope)
[personal profile] shoebox_dw
I've been waiting until the flist reactions came in because I was so afraid, given how massive a reboot really was needed, of all the things they might try to 'modernise' TOS. A mad villain with a perpetual deformed grin bent on undermining the Federation was the least of it.

But according to the reviews thus far, it's OK. They did make one huge change, of course, but apparently only to create an alternate timeline. Somewhere, somehow, there still exists an entire planet of people wearing zoot suits led by Vic Tayback. The reason I will probably end up paying good money to see this thing in-theatre is that the creators, judging by their film, seem to believe that too.

That they comprise most of the writing team from Transformers: The Movie surely doesn't hurt. As per that flick, nobody is under the impression that they're recreating the Big Bang - and with Trek, boy the temptation must've been there. Imagine, being handed the keys to one of the great pop-culture franchises - entities -  of the 20th-century and being told have at it. Being known as the people who saved Star Trek. Even I'm sitting here a little awed by the idea, and I have seen the ep where they turned Quark into a woman.

And, y'know, I think they just might have saved it for reals. Because from all reports, as per Transformers, they don't reboot so much as pay loving homage to what worked (like, obviously, Spock) and fix some of the stuff that didn't (like, obviously, the stupid Captain's Dog) and just generally get things back on track. Which is so cool. Because so much of TOS did work, and so much was still to be explored when it ended, and NextGen basically threw it all out in favour of All Hail the Noble Federation Rah Rah Rah.
Now, I loved NextGen for what it was, which at its best was a damn good action-adventure series, and I loved Patrick Stewart especially for forcing past Roddenberry's perfection of the average and making Picard believably noble. Everybody else...well, they hung out on a starship reminiscent of a Comfort Inn lobby for seven years and nobody so much as suggested a repaint. Something always a little off to me about a Trek where the main cast works best as a backdrop/facilitators for the really interesting stuff.

DS9 fixed most of that, and brilliantly in spots, but they had a much different story to tell. Voyager just sputtered along on reputation and technobabble, and Enterprise...best let it lie where it gently collapsed, I suppose.

I cringe a little, whenever I hear anybody going on about Trek's 'vision', and how sacred it is. Because really, very little about TOS was ever coherent in the way Babylon Five or Battlestar Galactica are. Gene Roddenberry had some decent ideas about where humankind was and where we needed to be going, but he also had a space cowboy riding the final frontier with a pretty girl at his side and his fists at the ready. The scripts were intelligent, erudite even, but the execution was sometimes unbearably campy. (Reading the James Blish novelisations - based off first-drafts - well before seeing the eps may give me a sensitivity to that particular phenomenon. Some of the most outre eps were once the most brilliant.)

But the incoherence is precisely why TOS not only worked but became iconic. It had no clear sense of what to be About, so it just went ahead and was about everything - like a certain race of two-legged mammals we all know far too well. Life, the Universe, whatever was on tap that week, Original Trek met it with cockeyed heroism and humour and willingness to throw itself into the philosophical breach. The sheer unbridled humanity of it all has probably never been matched in any dramatic series since.
It was, in short, a celebration of just how screwed up we actually are. The hope lay not in our perfectibility, but in our willingness to try. And at the centre of it all stood a tall, elegant, coolly unimpressed figure able to save us from ourselves whenever needed. Including when we needed to reassure ourselves that we really do matter, which is of course pretty much perpetually. Look! Can't even figure out emotions, the poor sod! Boy, good thing for the galaxy we're out here, huh? Yippy-kay-yay!

OK, yes, I'm one of those annoying Trekkers who can never quite shut up. Short version: There's this new movie. No dog. Lots of Spock. I grok.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-10 07:53 am (UTC)
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] tree_and_leaf
Reading the James Blish novelisations - based off first-drafts - well before seeing the eps may give me a sensitivity to that particular phenomenon. Some of the most outre eps were once the most brilliant

Me too - in my head, Blish is my preferred canon... The special effects are better, too.

ETA: And all the same, I still maintain that Kirk is not a Simple Space Cowboy, but a devious-minded, ambitious workaholic who, were he a Harry Potter character, would so be in Slytherin. Doesn't mean he's not mostly a good guy - I like Kirk, but my heart always belonged to Spock. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Nimoy was a much better actor - he can stand there being theoretically entirely non-reacty and impassive, and you can still see what Spock is thinking (usually "Humans!")

ETA2 Sorry about the deleted comment, a result of incompetence in editing...

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-10 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rj-anderson.livejournal.com
Oh, Kirk is SO Slytherin. You are absolutely and totally right. Not a Gryffindor at all.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-10 10:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shoebox2.livejournal.com
Of course I must bow to you both in the matter of House affiliation. :) But I dunno...I can see Kirk as driven right enough, but devious? He just gave off such a vibe of being satisfied with what he had - which was basically being the ultimate male fantasy. That's why I could never work up a decent loathing for him, even at moments when I knew I should; after all, why shouldn't he enjoy himself?

Now you've got me genuinely interested, actually. :) He was the Captain, he was on a starship, he got all the babes and saved the universe at least twice a week - what's left to scheme for?

in my head, Blish is my preferred canon... The special effects are better, too.

This. To the power of ten. I can still recall the one ep - for the life of me I can't remember the title, but it had primitive tribes warring over a pregnant chief's wife who I think was Julie Newmar.
Anyway, clearly even Blish couldn't totally save this one...but at least on paper, the primitive tribes weren't wearing what looked like fringed lampshades on their heads. I can still recall the thrill of horrified disappointment when I caught that promo.

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