Monday, 29 July 2013

Star Trek memories, part one

After recently seeing “Star Trek: Into the Darkness”, the latest “Star Trek” movie in the theatre, I was flooded with all sorts of memories, and realized how much has changed over the decades.

One of the first Star
Trek books I ever read
The first a series of novelizations
of the Star Trek animated series
Book ‘em
"Star Trek" was cancelled four years before I was born, yet from an early age, I was fascinated by it. There were no reruns airing on peasant vision when I was young. My only exposure to the world of "Star Trek" was through books, primarily bequeathed to me by my brother and sister when they left home for college.

There were books authored by James Blish (at left), which were novelizations of episodes of the original series, and Alan Dean Foster (at right), which were novelizations of the animated series. However, the book that really piqued my curiosity was “The Making of Star Trek” by Stephen Whitfield. It appealed to my interest in history, the writing and production of television shows, and "Star Trek" itself. The book contained dozens of inter-office memos about the creation of the show, and the various struggles it had. It introduced me to characters such as Matt Jeffries, the art director responsible for all the props, sets, and special effects.

A very good book
going behind the
scenes of "Star Trek"
An interesting look behind the
scenes of one of the most famous
episodes in "Star Trek" history
Then came another behind the scenes book, “The Trouble With Tribbles”, which focused in on one of the most popular episodes of "Star Trek". It was written by David Gerrold and took me through everything he did that ultimately led to the production of “The Trouble With Tribbles”.

Both these books inspired me to want to be a writer, a television writer back then.

Show time – finally
It happened while I was on a sleep over at Joe Darveau’s in Coaldale. I had read it in the "TV Guide", but it was often wrong, or I misread the channel, because there were so many listed that we did not get on peasant vision. But there it was, on CBC on Saturday morning: "Star Trek". The episode was “Mudd’s Women” and I will never forget. During that same period I also saw “The Corbomite Maneuver”, “Wolf in The Fold”, "Conscience of the King", and others.

When I went to spend a couple weeks in Brooks one summer at my cousin Fred’s, “Star Trek” was on cable TV every night. I caught a few more episodes, from season two, at that time. But alas, again I had to return home to peasant vision where CBC was no longer airing "Star Trek".

Poster for "Star Trek:
The Motion Picture"
Movie first
A really odd thing is that I saw a “Star Trek” movie long before I ever saw a complete episode on TV. Sure, I had seen bits and pieces, and read quite a bit. But now, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was opening at the Paramount Theatre in Lethbridge, and my sister was taking me.

When we got to the theatre in downtown Lethbridge, there was a line more than a block long. Right at the front were my cousins Garry and Doris. I thought to get their attention, but wanted to get in line as quickly as we could. (The next time I saw Garry, he said I should have called him. He would have said, "We've been waiting for you." I never even thought about butting in line).

The line moved quickly, and we were finally in, only to discover the unforgiveable had happened: they had started the movie without us. The theatre was half full, people were lined up for a block, and they still started the movie. We had missed all the previews and the first five minutes, which was pretty important because that's where the villain is introduced.

The thing I remember most about "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was the lasting impression I still have: there were too many special effects. It was boring in places. There were long stretches where the Enterprise was just floating inside this space cloud.

I think I was a bit too young still, because the movie lost me in a couple places, or so I thought. When I got older and saw it again on network TV, I realized I had understood the plot in the first place. It just wasn't that good. However, I did change my mind about some of the special effects. It was still pretty cool seeing the Enterprise in dock while Scotty toured Captain Kirk around it. Then, when Kirk assumed command to confront the danger to Earth, one of the best scenes is still seeing the Enterprise zoom past the planet Jupiter, giant red spot and all.

Still, the movie was savaged by critics and fans alike. If they were to make any more, they would have to be a lot better. They could not keep living off the insatiable appetite of fans who had not had a Star Trek fix in more than a dozen years. They had to have an engaging, entertaining, dynamic, action-packed movie.

Boy did they deliver.

No comments:

Post a Comment