Sunday, August 20, 2006

Star Trek and the Lighter Side

I thought I would lighten the mood, and perhaps toss a friendlier pitch to the English folks out there by expounding upon something I am sure the English and the Americans can agree upon.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--an American show, but employing the incredible and undoubted talent of Patrick Stewart--aired between 1987 and 1994 (at least in the US it did; I don't know if those dates correspond in the UK) and was extraordinarily successful--so much so that the creators made the mistake of saturating the then-eager market with some sub-standard shows under the same brand name, including Deep Space Nine (introduced sometime around 1992), Voyager (aired 1994) and then Enterprise (who knows when it aired--did anyone actually watch it?). I know, I know, there are probably some folks out there who really like those other series and think they trump The Next Generation, and in some ways, I am sure they did, but they would have never been conceived without the success of The Next Generation to drive the market.

I'm not going to try and tell you why it was such a great show, but you'll find few out there who truly disliked it even if they favored other Star Trek series. The most interesting thing about it to me is regardless of how far forward we have gone in terms of media technology, I am very surprised at how it doesn't look all that dated. That may be just me, and maybe I'm farther behind than I thought. However, the shows are still enjoyable today; no matter how many times you may have seen a particular episode previously, it comes on TV (as some lately have on Saturdays here in the UK) and you think "yeah, I remember this one" and you still sit back and watch it (minus the hefty dose of commercials you get in America).

I remember a few years ago, I was sitting and watching an older episode on my father's office TV while doing some work on the computer. My brother came in on his way out to see some friends. The show had something to do with there being two Captain Picards (Patrick Stewart's character) due to a time shift and the episode very gradually and using perfect timing slowly revealed to us why that was---and it wasn't until the very end that all of it came together. Between commmercials, my brother came in and out to watch, and at the time, although we recognized the episode, we had no idea what was going to happen. He literally put off his friends, acknowledged that he would be late, and stayed around to see the outcome of the show.

Hats off to you, Next Generation, for making fifty minutes in front of the TV into a combination of an interesting story and not a waste of time. If only more shows that come out every year with the flash of amazing battle scenes in space or the melodrama of teenaged sex, relationships and life had the same longevity and were worth a look.

10 comments:

mattmientka said...

I'm certainly no science fiction fan (I prefer serious literature), but I always liked the old-school scifi from the '50s and '60s.

As a kid, I really enjoyed Ray Bradbury's stories. I remember one story about a t.v.-like device one could use to speak to aliens on foreign worlds. There was a catch, the device would connect you to a completely random person, and once you hung up the "phone" you'd never be able to connect with that individual again--so some people refused to hang up the phone....

It seemed sort of like the Internet is now....

Anyway, that captain was certainly an egghead and the writers for that show seemed to prove that you could make some decent art from what is usually a nerdfest.

I'm embarassed to admit that I'm familiar w/ the show and it's characters. It was very popular and I think in the future we'll all be wearing a more modern version of those skin-tight uniforms: the track suit.

Mariesaintmichel said...

Hi Slskenyon,
Your photography is lovely, you have eyes of beauty - and you know what? Star Trek is great and I love Dr. Spock. As the saying goes, everything with moderation, including moderation. If you are not a Startrekker freak who believes it is ALL true and you were part of the crew and is lost in a timewarp on planet Earth now, why not...? I left my answer to your comment there on my blog. Thanks very much and never stop photography!

barista brat said...

*sigh* i miss watching tv in europe. besides the great shows, the lack of annoying commercials can't be beat.

Deepak Gopi said...

I used to watch this stuff simply
to have a glimpse of special effects.
You have got an excellent writing style.Nice blog

Neel Mehta said...

Neat fact: The Next Generation got nominated for a Best Drama Emmy in its final season -- a stunning accomplishment for a syndicated show. Heck, it would be stunning now.

I must admit, though, that Deep Space Nine approached a whole other level in its final season -- remarkable considering it seemed so hit or miss otherwise.

Never watched the other two.

Jen said...

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Historical Wit said...

Star Trek TNG and the origianl Trek episodes were great. Truely groundbreaking stuff. I love both series. At one point TNG was the highest rated show on tv ever. thats why it still has a following. In the late 80's it was all about the sitcom and show like cosby or cop gigs. TNG was fresh becasue it was fantasy that looked good. Still does. Speaking of which, watch Raiders of the Lost Ark again. That movie was shot in 1980. You can not tell it. One of the greatest films ever made. period. Seriously, anytime you get a collaboration between Lucas and Speilberg, its going to be good.

On another note, after commenting on my blog, i have been poking around in your writing and you need to write more. You have a great grasp on the english language and you style is rocks. Best wishes from across the pond. Will drop in later....

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