Beam Me Up, Scotty.

This weekend marks another debut of that old, venerable franchise: Star Trek. By that, I mean Star Trek, the movie. Supposedly, this is not a continuation of all (nine) former Star Trek movies. This is a prequal of the original old TV show that aired in the sixties. We get to see the origins of Captain James T. Kirk, pointy eared Science Officer Spock (every one's favorite character in the original), Dr. "Bones" McCoy, et all. Let me say that as, an old Trekkie, I can't wait. I grew up with the series when I was a teenager; and I've followed its progress though all the movies and every TV incarnation including Star Trek: the Next Generation, to Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and the last TV show, Enterprise. I'm a sucker for the franchise.

The series was the brainchild of Gene Roddenbury, a visionary screenwriter and producer. I've enjoyed every Star Trek vehicle and hope someday there'll be another series. As for the movies, some were great, like the second one, "The Wrath of Khan," with an aging Ricardo Montalban, as one critic put it, looking like the world's oldest rock star and trying to conquer the universe. And some of the flics were duds, like the last one, "Nemeses." The only good thing about that effort was that, finally, Commander Riker and Counselor Troi tied the knot. It also had a cameo with Admiral, then captain, Janeway of the Voyager series.

What fascinated me about Star Trek was its view of the future. It was a world that, in retrospect, was a paradise that from time to time was threatened by Klingons (my favorite villains), the Romulans (cousins of the ultra-logical Vulcans), the Borg, and the Dominion (shape-shifters from a wormhole bordering Deep Space Nine). I yearned that such a world would come to pass; especially in terms of their technology. And, in certain respects, that technology has come full circle. In the original Star Trek they had a thingy called the communicator that allowed them to communicate with their ship orbiting in space. Guess what? We have cell phones that allow us to speak to anyone on the planet via signals that are bounced off satellites orbiting the earth. The show also had sliding doors. Well, duh, go into any supermarket or office tower these days and you have sliding doors letting you in and out. Some things, however, were a bit more obtuse. Think of the transporter room where a human could travel from one place to another instantaneously. In science circles it's called teleportation. And I won't even try to explain the mechanics behind that. But the most interesting thing was warp drive. This allowed the starship Enterprise to travel anywhere in the universe. As I understand it, this entails bending of space time. If you can bend space time in front and back of a spaceship, the space-time compression in the back will provide thrust for the spacecraft to move forward at phenomenal speed. Thus you could travel to Mars in, let's say, twenty minutes rather than years. I don't think this is going to happen anytime soon.

Still, my favorite thing portrayed in the world of Star Trek was that there was no money. By the 24th century, humankind had developed replicators that could fashion anything out of thin air, be it clothing, food, drink and yes, cash---so no cash was needed, Everyone had a replicator and everyone was as happy as pig in slop. I doubt we'll ever get that altruistic.

Star Trek was also innovative in another aspect---it aired the first interracial kiss on network TV. Of course at that time you needed a plot to make this acceptable to the viewing public. So the plot went like this: Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and his communications officer Lt. Uhura (Michelle Nichols) have their minds controlled by villainous beings who had the power of telekinesis (they could move objects with their minds). Kirk and Uhura were forced into making out. Back in Spanish Harlem, when our family saw this episode, we roared in approval, we thought it was great. TV was finally affirming something that was happening around us all the time.

So, friends, I'll be on line with the rest of the lemmings to see the newest installment of this priceless entity. Good or bad, I'm going to enjoy this show. Like everybody else I'll stuff my face with pseudo popcorn drizzled with pseudo butter and go where on one has gone before (for the 1000th time).

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