In case anyone managed to miss it, we’ve got a first look at the new Star Trek series!
So, it’s not actually a first look at anything that’s been filmed, because filming hasn’t started and I’m pretty sure they don’t have a cast yet, but they’re trying to get us amped up about the look and feel of the new show with this.
And, uh, it worked on me. As I said on Twitter last night:
— Katherine Jay (@stompydragons) May 18, 2016
Yeah, apparently I’m easily caught. At least with Star Trek. Swirly stuff and a logo, with a few notes from the theme music, and I’m squeeful. The swirly stuff was very, very cool, though. If that’s the quality of the effects we’ll get, I’ll be thrilled. Star Trek with really amazing shots of space and meteors and so on? Sign me up!
Obviously, Star Trek isn’t all about the effects. In fact, I’d say it’s the least important part overall. My first experience was the original series, which wasn’t quite as cardboard-and-chewing-gum as Doctor Who, but still wasn’t anything when I compared it to shows like Battlestar Galactica.
(That’s my reference point. I watched Star Trek for the first time in repeats in the 80s, when I was a kid, and repeats of original BSG were on at the same time so I knew what good effects looked like.)
What I loved about Star Trek was the sense of hope. The idea that, in the future, differences like race and gender would no longer divide us. That everyone had what they needed, and people were free to pursue dreams of science, exploration, and creativity because the daily grind of scratching out a living to earn enough food and shelter wasn’t a thing any more.
I fell in love with IDIC: Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination. With the Utopian ideals of the Federation.
No, those ideals didn’t always play out. As I grew older and the new series were added to the continuity, I became aware of the ways that the people fell short of their ideals. If we were going to be so enlightened, why did we have that irrational hatred of Klingons and Romulans? What I loved as I matured was the stories about trying to live up to that ideal, even though they fell short sometimes. Exploring that was as interesting, to me, as anything else they did.
This may explain, partially, why my favourite Star Trek series ended up being Deep Space Nine. Politics in space. Religious divides. Epic stories. People trying to do their best, to hold to their ideals, in the face of forces they can’t control and people who don’t have those old Federation values. DS9 was the show that hit the same centres in my brain as Babylon 5 and The West Wing: it admitted the world was complicated and tried to navigate a way through that, while still being hopeful.
When I wanted a simpler, pure Trek show, though, it was always TNG for me. That was the show that did all the things I originally fell in love with Star Trek for: people trying to walk the Utopian walk and exploring space. One of the reasons I enjoyed so many of Worf’s Klingon politics episodes is because there was always an element of trying to learn about and function in society that’s radically different without imposing our ideals on it. The Spock and Romulans episodes hit a lot of the same places. Picard is my favourite captain because he always tried so hard to be a good man and solve a problem without resorting to phasers, and he felt the failure when fisticuffs ends up being the only way.
(I could also rave forever about The Borg, and Guinan, and the found family feel to the bridge crew, but I’ll save that for another day.)
As much as I enjoy the current crop of films, and I do, I’ve been hoping we’d get a new show for a long time. The films provide plenty of action and excitement, but they can’t do the more thoughtful stories that are the core of what makes Star Trek (all of its incarnations) so good. That’s probably why the a bit of swirly stuff and a logo got me so excited: I’m excited about the possibility of what a new TV show could do, and hopeful that the producers understand the soul of Trek. Hopeful that they’ll tell stories that push the envelope, explore new worlds and new possibilities, and make us fall for new characters the way we fell for the original crew.
That tiny bit of footage gave me hope, which is what Star Trek always meant for me.