Saturday, April 21, 2007

Star Trek Sucks!!!


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.

36 comments:

Kate S said...

Stew, Stew, how could you?

Ok, yeah, so it sucks NOW. I'll go you one better and say I think the original Star Wars sucks NOW.

But when I saw both things for the first time... magic. As was, get this, Lost in Space. My brother and I used to faithfully sit in front of our small black & white TV and watch those shows enthralled. Now my daughter and I sit and watch them on our large color TV and laugh.

But that's still part of the magic.

Crunchy Carpets said...

Ok...I think you are missing some biiiig stuff there.....

Apart from bad hair and bad costumes....some of those big sci fi writers were contributing to the original.

If you forgive the time when it was made..the quality is FAR superior..production wise.

They paid attention to story lines and characters...they had HUGE attention to detail in how a 'ship' would function and how Starfleet functioned.

You had a far better idea that this was a working society compared to the fake and shallow world NG gave us.

I swear..I would probably end up killing myself if I was in STTNG universe....

They took the utopian aspect too far to be believed in my opinion.

I still think the original was an excellent high quality piece of television..well thought out, amazing writers and people who paid attention.

NG was pretty..but that was about it.

and Kate..you must go and smack your head against a wall to say that the old Star Wars sucks...Return of the Jedi DID suck..but hang your head.

SQT said...

Kate, I agree, how could you? The original Star Wars was the BEST! And it still is; my kids love it.

I watched the original Star Trek in high school and I liked it. I was able to ignore the cheesy sets and the obvious make-up and just watch the show. But then again, I was totally hooked on "V" in high school and I'm not sure it would be any good now.

Kate S said...

Sorry, ladies. It's just that in rewatching, I didn't think the special effects lived up to all the hype that was given them at the time. But in self defense, I did say that the first time I saw it, I was in awe.

Now, my daughter who is not particularly a sci-fi fan, actually likes it a lot, so maybe I can be redeemed somehow? :)

Stewart Sternberg said...

Star Wars is still the holy of the holies. However, I'll address Crunchy:

Yeah, Harlan Ellison wrote for them (whoopee) but none of the giants of Science Fiction, not that I am aware of. I don't consider Ellison a giant, no pun intended regarding his size.

I also don't think they did much to create a real universe. Let's face it, the world of the Enterprise was military chain of command. Not too avante garde. If the show had been on a submarine in the pacific, there would have been the same detail.

I'm not convinced, Crunchy. I knew I would be throwing down a gauntlet here, but I believe if you watch a handful of these shows with a critical eye, you'll start to agree with me.

Some times, we have to allow the sacred cows to be slaughtered. Star Trek's time has come. Prepare the altar, hand me the machete.

Fab said...

I find it difficult watching the original, because it looks to me kind of ... camp? But I thought that's just because I am used to seeing better stuff now. If you compare with other sci-fi shows of the time, they acctually all have that kind of surreal look. It makes you wonder why the original Star Trek made it and others were over before they got started.

cooltopten said...

Both the original star trek and star wars are really good and I think the whole sci -fi genre really would of missed out without star trek , think of how many other shows star trek influenced.I know now it seems a bit cheesy , but in its time it was cool.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

At the time, it was advanced, and what we all need to remember is that it paved the way for better SF in the future.

Many episodes were poor quality, but there were also classics that influenced many.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I think people have been making many statements in support of Star Trek but they aren't supporting their statements. For instance...

Jean Luc..how was it advanced? There was other science fiction on television. I would argue Twilight Zone should be on a pedestal. I would also argue that it wasn't all that popular at the time, that would come later when the science fiction community, starved for attention, took up a new cause to celebrate their elitism. Too many people in the science fiction and fantasy community suffer from the "LOOK AT ME...LOOK AT ME....HEY, WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME????--_SYNDROME" I am terrified that twenty years from now on another message board people will be talking about Buffy in revered tones. You know, I love many old shows, but I'm realistic about what they were. And were not.

Cooltopen...what shows did Star Trek influence? Really? At least Star Wars actually gave us a wretched "Battlestar Galactica", "Buck Rogers" and "V", although that last can be argued against, but if one harkens back to the late seventies, television and film producers were eager to cash in on Lucas' cash cow.

SQT said...

Stewart

I get what you're saying; I really do. But even if you can point a finger and say the show was cheesy and lacking quality, it still had an undeniable effect.

Even if the show was crap (though I don't think it was that bad) I would argue that it opened the door to more sci-fi in the mainstream.

And even if subsequent sci-fi was crap (again, I liked it though) it still created an audience for more to come later.

And if any of us liked later Star Trek incarnations, then we have to give a nod to the original.

Crunchy Carpets said...

Stewart..if ST hadn't been accepted and then popularized..you would have forgotten seeing ANY sci fi on television as accepted by the general public.

That is what it did.

And I do watch with a critical eye..remember ...no fanboy here.

We have also been watching the episodes that have been tweaked with new special effects and because we KNOW the stories so well, and so I do analyze the show from a production sense and not trekkie sense....I still say the quality is superior to TNG.

Let's turn this around and you tell us why you would think TNG is a GOOD show?
And not just comparing it to OTHER Star Trek shows.

So apart from it again being accepted by the mouth breathing general public...what was good?

Skittles said...

I think of the old shows nostalgically but as I sat and read this I knew you were dead on. Even back then I giggled as the crew leaned from side to side to show turbulence!

Stewart Sternberg said...

Where the hell is Alex????

Okay, SQT...CRUNCHY..I think ST had some effect, but I wouldn't go so far as saying that it was this beacon in the night. It had some effect. So did the Vietnam War. If you want to take a trip back to the sixties, the era itself, with Kennedy's emphasis on science and NASA, the moon landing, that's what gave sci-fi a boost. Star Trek came from that. If Star Trek had never broken the surface, then something else would have come along and sparked the imagination.

Consider also these science fiction shows of the sixties...Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, The Invaders, My Favorite Martian, The Time Tunnel, Lost In Space, Johnny Quest, Land of the Giants, The Jetsons, Dr. Who....and then shows that had strong science fiction elements: Get Smart, The Avengers, The Prisoner, The Man From UNCLE,etc....and all thses shows were developed about the same time of Star Trek with none of them necessarily being influenced by Star Trek in any way.

People want to believe Star Trek is important. They need to. Rodenberry fed us a line about how important it was for the last thirty years of his life, and Paramount joined along, as did the fanboys who wanted to feel that they had ridden some special crest.

No, I hold to my original statement...Star Trek was one manifestation of an increase in science fiction in the sixties that was part of the geopolitical and cultural events going on at the time.

Now to address Crunchy, provided anyone is still reading this: is TNG better than ST? I think it was a better show. Was it a great show? No.

TNG had the advantage of people who were far more dedicated to science fiction having imput to the show's themes and plots. During the ST run, Rodenberry has blatantly proclaimed that it was "Wagon Train in space" and that many of the plots and characters followed standard television for the time. The characters of ST while fun are seldom three dimensional.

Can we really say Uhura is three dimensional? Sulu? Chekov? Even Kirk and Bones were not developed...though they would be fleshed out in the films. Sort of.

I think Picard is colorfully and fully rendered compared to Kirk. First you have Patrick Stewart...that alone was enough to win an argument when compared to the halting speech patterns and scene chewing of Shatner at the time.

Then, you have Picard as a traditionalist who has reverence for his heritage. He is also a stern military man who brooks little dissent. He shared Kirk's love for his ship, and also Kirk's love for his crew.

Picard's character bloomed though with the appearance of the BORG. His kidnap and his turning marked a major change in the character.

So let's see...the more careful scrutiny of TNG by sci fans than ST, the character development, the care for the franchise that was lacking in the late sixties....

Yeah, I will say TNG is a step above ST. Maybe two or three steps.

SQT said...

Yeah, where is Alex?

Oh wait, are you saying the rest of us can't argue the point?

It doesn't matter really.

The fact remains that Star Trek meant something to a lot of people. All those other shows mentioned, Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, My Favorite Martian etc. had an impact as well, but not the following. It doesn't matter whether or not it deserved it, it was still there. Maybe it had a lot to do with Rodenberry's propaganda, but that doesn't always have the desired effect anyway.

Star Trek, quality be damned, lasted. There's no debating that Patrick Stewart was a better actor or that later Star Treks were better developed. However, the original made people want more of that show. Something about the premise worked.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Actually, I was hoping Alex would show up not to argue with him, but because I get the feeling he would back me up. Alex usually says some pretty stupid things, so it would take some of the heat off me. He's a great scape goat.

Carl V. said...

Can't join the bandwagon with you this one. I still love watching the old Star Trek episodes. They are nostalgic, to be sure, but there is still a sense of fun and wonder there under the surface that makes them enjoyable.

And the original Star Wars far from sucks. It remains one of the best examples of pure space opera out there and it is timeless. I have friends with little kids who sit and devour the original series, preferring it not only over the newer ones but over lots of other television options. If it sucked it wouldn't continue to have that kind of impact with new generations of kids.

That's the fun thing about the ol' interweb, though. We can all have our own opinions that lead to interesting discussions.

Alex said...

Speak of the devil, and the devil appears.


Since I've been summoned, in my highly tender state (they had Becks on draught last night - it's not my fault!), I suppose I could weigh in here.

I have to agree that, looking back TOS lacks a certain, umm... well, they're just plain absurd. I mean, the episode with the puddle of mud that kept eating redshirts was pretty f'ing pathetic. It's like those horror movies about caves - there's a very simple way to avoid being consumed by a stationary object/geographical feature: don't approach it, nimrods!

Then again, what would scifi be if it forced humanity to abandon its natural curiosity?

However, I still enjoy going back to watch some of the better episodes. I especially enjoy the ones with green alien wenches doing what was considered in the 60s to be dirty dances. Hilarious!

Or anything with Tribbles. You gotta love the Tribbles.

Anyhoo... the point is that, if one is in the mood (usually when spending a lazy Sunday afternoon on the couch), TOS can still be quite entertaining. Yes, you have to suspend disbelief a little more than usual, but we can't expect special effects from 40 years ago to look good today. Some of the plots are a little weak or repetitive - enterprise lands on alien planet, there the crew finds phenomenon x, phenomenon x does not turn out to be what it seems, the crew of the enterprise must overcome phenomenon x in order to escape/save the planet/enable Kirk to take off his shirt and wrestle around on the ground with someone or something - but there were a lot of really creative gems in there, as well.

So, umm... I agree and disagree with Stew. However, I do have to call him a blasphemer.

No language is strong enough to deal with Kate's comment about A New Hope. I'm just going to have to pretend I didn't read it, for everyone's safety.

Alex said...

Stupid things?

Pfft! You're just jealous of my superior taste ad breeding.

Crunchy Carpets said...

whoo hoo Alex!

Just for using Nimrod!

Alex said...

I think mmy diction is still stuck in the late-80s/early-90s. Oh, well. At least I get to use cool words, like bitchin'!

Hey there, Skippy said...

Sorry, what's this "Star Trek" all y'all are talking about?

ShadowFalcon said...

In ways you have a point - the Original series was well at times hard to watch but every other Trek series and movie have been wicked.

Mother Jones RN said...

Say it isn't so. You didn't really mean it, did you? Ok, I'll admit that some the Star Trek episodes were cheesy, and that Bill Shatner was an over-actor, but please don't throw mud on my magic childhood memories. Boo-who!


MJ

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

The original crew didn't have a good episode until Wrath of Khan.

jedimerc said...

TOS did break ground for TV in some ways though, especially regarding the casting and the Uhura-Kirk kiss, but it was cheesy, not doubt, and as I roll back to the syndicated days (I am a bit too young for the original airings... my first experience was actually the first movie, and like Jon mentioned, thank gods for Khan), I can see Stewart's point, heck I can even see the blasphemer Kate's point about Star Wars :)

And perhaps it is the haze of nostalgia, but I am ok with that haze, it takes the edge off of our need for utter realism in science fiction these days (or as close to realism as we can attempt to make it). I mean, the same argument can be made for a lot of things we hold with nostalgic reverence, and so I don't insult anyone, just think of something from your era that you are wistfully nostalgic about and try and be objective... for me, I know Star Wars is campy and cheesy and now, I probably would not like it if it came out as is, but then it made a difference in my life just as many authors did when I was growing up. I enjoyed Jack Vance far more when I was younger, though I grew more attached to Asimov and Clarke as I got older.

I am sure in 20 years we might have this discussion about Battlestar Galactica and Firefly(though we might still be having the discussion about Star Trek too :)

Alex said...

Galactica and Firefly are about as bad as they could get already. At least Star Trek had the odd believable emotion, even if the dialogue was just as bad as the two new shows we're discussing.

Fab said...

It might suck, Star Trek, but it's got everyone talking about it. Pretty impressive.

jedimerc said...

Politics suck too, and no one can stop talking about it as well :) (at least on here we can talk about cool things stinking up the works).

Never underestimate the human need to debate and complain :)

btw, this is why I watched Babylon 5 instead, which yes, like many sci fi shows had its flaws, but what this discussion has shown is our wide variety of tastes, whether we think them good or ill, but that is the beauty of such discourse.

Alex said...

Wide variety of tastes? Pfft! I'm the only one who visits this site who doesn't have his head so far up Joss Whedon's ass, you can't tell where one begins and the other ends.

This should be renamed the Firefly and Buffy Blog.

SQT said...

This should be renamed the Firefly and Buffy Blog

I like Firefly, so what? I don't post about it all the time. In fact I don't post about it all the often.

Man, you get touchy when people don't like the same stuff as you.

Crunchy Carpets said...

Alex..once again, I love you for causing trouble so I don't have to.

Hee..but don't frak with BSG.

SQT said...

Ha! Now he's going to go after BSG.

Alex said...

Well, can ya blame me?

My gods, how many people can be miraculously saved and/or reborn during the course of a single season? Pretty soon the humans are going to need one of those spare body ships trailing their fleet, too, so that the writers have a "reasonable explanation" for all of the dei up in this machina.

And of course I get touchy when people don't like the same things as me. I am the self-appointed arbiter of taste around here, after all!


(p.s. I enjoyed Firefly and Serenity - I just get annoyed by all the fanboy clowns out there.)

Fab said...

And yet you're the one who manages to put said shows into every other post you can.

SolShine7 said...

I agree with Stewart. I'm glad he has the guts to say it.

Captain James H. Sheriden said...

Everyone's entitled to their own opinions. But it could be worse, you could have been watching X-Files, which doesn't deserve to be considered in the SciFi Genre.