I have mixed feelings about a new Star Trek TV series

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Seven years ago I would have been beyond excited for a new Star Trek TV series, like the one just announced by CBS due to premiere in January of 2017. When Enterprise was unceremoniously cancelled in 2005, despite having hit its narrative and creative stride in its fourth and final season, I gave up hope of seeing Star Trek on TV again in my lifetime. For eighteen straight years, almost all of my childhood, Star Trek had been a staple with at least one or two series constantly on the air, and facing a world without Star Trek in my living room was a depressing prospect. So the me in the period of 2005-2009 would have been thrilled with today’s news. But the reality is that I’m filled with some strongly mixed feelings about the news, despite my undying love for (almost) all things Trek.

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Star Trek IS Political, and That’s the Way I Like It

James T Kirk

The 2016 US Presidential race has already devolved into something of a circus, and while I generally stay out of politics on this blog a recent article about one of the potential candidates caught my eye. Republican Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative, recently did an interview with New York Times magazine where he talked about his preference for Han Solo and Spider-man, but what really stood out was what he had to say about Star Trek. Cruz has mentioned being a Star Trek fan before, and it wasn’t a surprise to hear him say he prefers Kirk to Picard, but he went on to make some very incorrect claims about Star Trek that came to the attention of none other than Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. But before we get to Shatner’s response, here’s what Cruz had to say:

You’re also a fan of ‘‘Star Trek.’’ Do you prefer Captain Kirk or Captain Picard? Absolutely James Tiberius Kirk.

Well, that goes with being a Kirk person. It does indeed. Let me do a little psychoanalysis. If you look at ‘‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’’ it basically split James T. Kirk into two people. Picard was Kirk’s rational side, and William Riker was his passionate side. I prefer a complete captain. To be effective, you need both heart and mind.

I thought your critique might go in a different direction, because ‘‘Next Generation’’ is more touchy-feely in its politics than the original. No doubt. The original ‘‘Star Trek’’ was grittier. Kirk is working class; Picard is an aristocrat. Kirk is a passionate fighter for justice; Picard is a cerebral philosopher. The original ‘‘Star Trek’’ pressed for racial equality, which was one of its best characteristics, but it did so without sermonizing.

Do you have a suspicion about whether Kirk would be a Democrat or a Republican? I think it is quite likely that Kirk is a Republican and Picard is a Democrat.

Although Cruz is certainly welcome to prefer Kirk to Picard, there are several things very wrong with his assessment of Star Trek. Continue reading

Favorite Moment – Star Trek: First Contact

Welcome to “Friday Favorites” which highlight some of my favorite movie-related things.

Star Trek: First Contact is without a doubt my favorite Star Trek film, even over Wrath of Khan.  I’m well aware that I have a bias towards the Next Generation crew, but there is so much in First Contact that makes me pick it over the other 10 films.  It has a great screenplay by longtime Trek writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore, which gives all of the characters moments to shine and shows an intimate familiarity with the universe.  The same goes for Jonathan Frakes, who directs the film with a light touch that can only come from years of working with the same cast and crew.  It has some of the best action of the series and a great villain in the Borg.  The non-TNG cast are great, especially James Cromwell and Alfre Woodard.  The effects are a huge step up from previous efforts and the new Enterprise-E is gorgeous.  Beyond all that, the film has some interesting ideas both about our past and our future.

There’s one moment that really cements the film in my mind, but it requires a bit of plot background.  Continue reading