Saturday, April 21, 2007
I am about to commit blasphemy, everybody turn away!!!
(I take a deep breath, exhale slowly)
Last week I rented a couple of old STAR TREK episodes from Netflix. I've been chewing my way through old episodes of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and I SPY, so I figured--what the hell. As I sat in my living room listening to William Shatner I squirmed. I squirmed again. Finally, in the middle of a third episode, I shut it off, sealed the DVDs in their protective envelopes, and shipped them back to Netflix.
Don't get me wrong, I love "The Next Generation" and the other incarnations Roddenberry's hucksterism, but the original show is so dated as to almost be unwatchable unless one is doing so as a study in old television shows. Trust me, "Mission Impossible" suffers too, but curiously not as much.
I know some will argue "Star Trek" was unique. "Star Trek" broke ground, it paved the way. Heretic!!!!! Unclean!!!!!!
Okay, stop. Having been around long enough to have enjoyed the original series in their first airings, let me say that we were so hungry for science fiction that we would have watched cardboard cutouts and hairy men in pajamas. It was different in the sixties. Science fiction wasn't respectable, nor were the effects out there developed enough to effectively bring respectable science fiction to the screen. Please don't talk to me about the exceptions...I'm talking as a whole.
Thankfully, there were tons of things to read and there were comic books. If you were around in the late sixties, while you might have been able to watch a few cheesy Saturday matinees, there was little else available in the genre. UNLESS...you read. Thank God for "Childhood End", "Cat's Cradle", "I,Robot", "Dune", "Canticle For Leibowitz", "Foundation" and "Martian Chronicles". And by the way, if you haven't read these works, then you should hang your head in shame and stop pretending to be a science fiction fan. Seriously. I'll wait for those of you to either apologize and swear to correct the situation, or to leave. Go find a Buffy fan fiction website.
They gone? Okay, I'll continue...
So "Star Trek"? It came around at the right place at the right times, and it tried some different things. Unlike "Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits" it gave us regular characters to identify with. But I'm putting things in perspective. "Star Trek"???? Sorry, Picard, it just wasn't magical. The original show developed an aura and a culture. The aura and the culture have survived, but the actual show? Go on, go back. I dare you. Go and watch ten random episodes and then tell me how well this show survived. Watch the episode with the black and white race warring against the white and black race, starring Frank Gershwin. Watch "Mudd's Women", one of the most embarassing displays of schmaltz and drecht. Check out "A Piece of The Action" where the crew has to deal with an alien version of Chicago during the days of rum running and mobster action.
Yes, there were the occasional exceptional episodes, but as a whole...AS A WHOLE.."Star Trek sucked!!!" There, I said it. I'll say it again. IT SUCKED. And, it almost ruined science fiction for many of us at the time. With the genre seeking the monied pockets of the Trekkies, suddenly almost every novel I picked up had a spaceship and a crew going places that no one had gone before. It almost wrecked the genre in the same way the "Star Wars" would later crush creativity with more corporate types putting out one trite copycat space opera after another.
So, having vented my spleen about "Star Trek", and having done so unapologetically, I will slink back to my cave and drink pickle juice. I have a few other sacred cows to attack, but I'll hold off doing so until a later post.