Star Trek

I just finished watching all three seasons of Star Trek on Netflix.  It seems to be becoming a tradition to record my thoughts when I finish a series, so here goes.

Star Trek was a really great show.  Not every episode was great, but every episode was trying for something.  I’d always rather watch people try and fail than play it safe and be boring.

William Shatner is actually a very good actor.  I can’t understand the criticisms.  Yes, he was often campy.  But, the show was often campy.  In three full seasons and a bunch of movies, there was never a time when his performance was out of place within the show.  A subtle, measured performance would have stuck out as inappropriate.  He nailed it.

Speaking of unfair criticisms, I enjoyed the third season.  People complain about it a lot, but “The Tholian Web”, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” and “The Savage Curtain” are three of my favorites.  I mention “The Tholian Web” later, but Abraham Lincoln floating in space and the people with one black half and one white half are two of the other images that never left me.  As an adult, I can see that the messages were a bit heavy handed, but that doesn’t stop them from being entertaining.

As a kid, I completely missed the casual sexism in the show.  It is a bit jarring now just because the show was trying to be so progressive.  It’s hard to believe that even progressives had such views of women only fifty years ago.

Netflix has the versions with the updated special effects.  I have no problem with the idea of updating, but I wasn’t thrilled with the way it was done.  They only updated the scenes without people, so there was a clear difference between the updated scenes and non-updated scenes.  I found this distracting.  I was also annoyed during “The Tholian Web”.  One of the images that has always stuck with me from watching the show when I was a kid was the Tholian ships building the web.  In the new version, it looks completely different.

The best episode is pretty clearly “The City On the Edge of Forever”.

My favorite episode is “The Trouble With Tribbles”.

I love the relationship between Spock and McCoy.

Spock is, and always shall be, my favorite character.

I really wish Uhura had been given more to do.

I’ve always liked the theme music.  Must be the prominent horn.  It reminds me of Les Jazz Modes with Eileen Gilbert.

I think I’ll check out the animated series next, but I’m really looking forward to Next Generation.

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DS9

I just finished watching the entire series of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  It was wonderful.  I’ve been a Trek fan as long as I can remember.  My mom and I would watch reruns of TOS when I was little.  I watched TNG, DS9, Voyager, and even Enterprise while they aired.  I’ve seen all of the movies.  A few months ago, after talking to a friend, I decided to re-watch DS9 in its entirety.  This isn’t an essay or a review or anything formal.  I just wanted to write down the random thoughts I’m having now that I finished.

Deep Space Nine is unquestionably my favorite Trek.

The cast is amazing, even Nog and Jake.  You worry a little when children are going to be regulars or semi-regulars, but in this case there was no need.  Not only did everyone fully inhabit their characters, but they had great chemistry with each other.  I do feel like Avery Brooks as Captain Sisko and Armin Shimmermin as Quark deserve special credit.

Avery Brooks’ voice makes me jealous.

The relationship between Ben and Jake Sisko is perfect.

No other TV show, except maybe The Simpsons, has such a rich cast of supporting characters.  Garak, Dukat, Weyoun, Zek, Brunt, Leeta, Rom, and Morn are real characters.  And so are the female changeling, Vic Fontaine, Kai Winn, Zyal, and Dumar.  Most shows don’t manage to flesh out their main characters as well as DS9 fleshed out its background characters.

The guest stars are pretty great, too.  My personal favorite was Iggy Pop.  I remember when I was originally watching the show and I saw in the opening that Iggy Pop was a special guest star, I spent the first 40 minutes of the show watching every alien that passed through Quark’s to see if I could recognize him.  And then, there he was, as a Vorta, and perfectly recognizable.  Brilliant.  They also had Wallace Shawn as Zek.  That’s a Princess Bride connection.  Gabrielle Union played a Klingon once.  They took one of the prettiest women in Hollywood (although she was awfully young at the time) and put forehead ridges on her.

DS9 got social commentary way better than any of the other Treks.  At no point did it feel like they were saying, “Hey, look everyone, we cast a black man as the commanding officer!”  Avery Brooks simply was Benjamin Sisko, commanding officer of Deep Space Nine.  The only times the series every went into the showy, look we’re making a point, mode was the Ferengi episodes.  And, let’s face it, you just can’t be subtle when dealing with Ferengis.  The fact that the social commentary wasn’t so obvious made it that much more powerful.

Trials and Tribble-ations is one of my favorite hours of television.  The bit about the crew not recognizing the Klingons and Worf refusing to explain was hilarious.

The theme music is really pretty good.  I have to admit I was disappointed 20 years ago when I first heard it.  I had been used to TOS and TNG which both had rousing, exciting theme music.  They both said, “We’re going on an adventure!”  DS9’s music is slower, more stately, and more ambiguous.  The trumpet fanfare is certainly heroic, but with a sense of melancholy.

When I first watched the show, Sisko’s last scene with Kassidy didn’t leave the same impression on me.  I used to think it was a Frodo and Gandalf getting into the boat kind of scene.  But this time, I really feel like Sisko will be back.  That it is a time of sadness, but he will be reunited with Jake and Kassidy.  When I first watched, I was closer to Jake’s age than anyone else on the show.  Now, I’m closer to the Captain’s age.  It’s a different way of watching.