Space . . . the final frontier.
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise,
it's five year mission:
. . . to explore strange new worlds . . .
. . . to seek out new life and new civilizations . . .
. . . to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry, a young pilot who became enthralled by the potential of television and quickly abandoned his career to write for the small screen. He wrote for a number of shows and was eventually hired as the head writer on the popular series "Have Gun, Will Travel". In an attempt to play on the popularity of one of the most popular western television series of the time, Roddenberry originally pitched Star Trek as a "Wagon Train To The Stars". The networks felt the pilot, featuring an almost completely different cast, was too cerebral and would not air it. The networks also claimed that the public would not be able to accept the notion of a female first officer (played by Roddenberry's wife, Majel Barrett). The show was completely reworked. Captain Christopher Pike was replaced by Captain James T. Kirk, Majel Barrett was demoted to Head Nurse, and every other character was changed with the exception of the Enterprise's science officer, Mr. Spock, who was promoted to the position of first officer. The reworked cast was approved and the show was picked up by Desilu Studios.

James T. Kirk...... William Shatner
Mr. Spock.......... Leonard Nimoy
Leonard McCoy...... DeForest Kelley
Montgomery Scott... James Doohan
Hikaru Sulu........ George Takei
Nyota Uhura........ Nichelle Nichols
Pavel Chekov....... Walter Koenig (joined at beginning of 2nd season)
Christine Chapel... Majel Barrett
Janice Rand........ Grace Lee Witney

Star Trek told the story of the voyages of the Federation Starship U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701. Under the command of Captain James Tiberius Kirk, its mission was principally scientific, though the Enterprise and her crew were regularly called upon to perform in a more militaristic capacity. What made Star Trek truly special was the way in which it unblinkingly tackled sensitive social issues. The "cerebral" attitude which caused it to be rejected in the first place proved to be the show's greatest strength. During a time when civil rights were hotly contested in the public forum, Star Trek aired an episode where a race was divided against itself, where the inhabitants of one side of the planet (who were white on the left side of their faces and black on the right) were perpetually at war with the inhabitants of the other side of the planet (whose faces were white on the right and black on the left). The show featured a very multi-ethnic cast, even going so far as to include a Russian navigator at a time when Cold War tensions were at their peak.

Star Trek was a show about ideas. When it wasn't addressing important social issues, it took on the limits of authority and regulations with Kirk's regular flaunting of the Prime Directive, or asked what the world would be like if Adolf Hitler and Germany had won WWII when Kirk, Spock and McCoy were flung back into the late 1930s by the Guardian of Forever. While Star Trek was not always high drama, and was not always the pinnacle of thespian perfection, episodes like "The City on the Edge of Forever" and the positively Shakespearean "The Conscience of the King" stay with any who watch them because of how well the show brought important concepts to the forefront.

Also key to the success of Star Trek was the relationship between Kirk and Spock. Roddenberry's decision to keep Spock as a principal member of the cast proved a crucial one. Without the regular spats and quarrels between the two main characters as well as the tales of the great ends to which they went for each other, much of the show's dynamic would be painfully absent. Their deep and abiding friendship produced some of Star Trek's most memorable moments such as the end of the episode "Amok Time" and Spock's death scene in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan".

But don't get me wrong, Star Trek was not without its fair share of action and adventure. Hardly an episode went by where Kirk did not get into a fistfight with a fearsome Gorn, wooed a beautiful, exotic, green Orion slave woman, destroyed a mighty energy being's power source and witnessed the gruesome deaths of a red-shirted ensign or two. Traveling from planet to planet across this half of the galaxy, one cannot help but get into scraps with Klingons, Romulans and Talosians along the way. Such colorful supporting characters as Montgomery Scott, the resourceful Scottish engineer and Leonard "Bones" McCoy, the irascible chief physician made further sure that there was never a dull moment.

Star Trek did not last long in its original incarnation, going only 3 seasons and 79 episodes from 1966-1969. However, upon its cancellation, Star Trek's popularity skyrocketed. It was more popular in syndication than it ever was while new shows were being produced. The Star Trek universe has since expanded to include 4 spin-off series, an animated series featuring the original cast, 10 feature films, countless books and comic-books, yearly Star Trek conventions and has insinuated itself into popular culture. It is not uncommon to hear the phrase "Kirk out" in modern parlance. The green, tentacled, bug-eyed aliens in The Simpsons are named Kang and Kodos after two particularly fiendish Star Trek baddies. The first Space Shuttle was named Enterprise after NASA received truckloads of letters from the show's ardent fans, who came to be known both derisively and proudly as Trekkies or Trekkers. The list goes on. Love it or leave it, Star Trek is here to stay.

For more on all things Trek, head on over to The Star Trek Project, compiled by the inestimable General_Wesc.

The Star Trek Encyclopedia
Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek by Dave Marinaccio
but mostly, my head. Yes, I'm a geek.

Star Trek was the codename of the Apple Computer project to bring the Mac OS to Intel hardware. The obvious reference is "To boldly go no where no man has gone before". The success of this project was surprising, as they got it to boot the Finder and a couple of apps with only a re-compile on Intel hardware. The reaction at Apple was that of disgust and amazement. Roughly quoted, I remember hearing: "The engineers were astounded. There it was, their precious OS running in the land of the enemy. Project Star Trek had succeeded... and no one knew what to do next."

Well they did, because the project got canned very quickly, and has not seen the light of day since.

Computer strategy game, written in BASIC, in which the Enterprise (represented on a grid by an 'E') hurtled at warp speed from one solar system to another (stars represented by a '*') and engaged in pitched battles with Klingon warships (helpfully designated on the map by a 'K'). Graphics be damned, this thing held my attention for hours at a time back in the early 1980s.

There was also a text-based Star Trek battle game written during the same period in which you could issue simple commands to your crew and receive status reports every round. This game actually managed to be pretty exciting. Its main attraction (for me, at least) was that if you were really on the ropes with no hope of victory, you could initiate a self-destruct sequence and blow both your crippled vessel and your enemy to Kingdom Come. Yee-haw!

Star Trek the eleventh Star Trek film was, as promised by director J. J. Abrams (Alias, Lost), a reinvention of Star Trek. Being a prequel, it risked messing up continuity (something Trekkies are obsessed with, and something for which I can never forgive Brannon Braga and Rick Berman). This film took that risk head on by intentionally throwing away most of canon and creating a parallel timeline. It differs from Voyager, though, in that they didn't press the reset button at the end of the film. The universe has changed dramatically, and everything you know is wrong. I'm okay with that. Sometimes things end, and it's sad. At least they didn't end like the last half of the Star Wars series. (That was just a relief, really.) This is a rebirth.

XI begins with Kirk's birth (And his father's death saving him. (And POOF goes the known timeline. George is dead?)) We see some of him and Spock growing up on their respective worlds, before Pike prompts a rebellious Kirk to join Star Fleet. Kirk quickly befriends the immediately recognizable Bones (the casting and dialogue in this film is amazingly apt at times--Roddenberry and Kelly would be proud). He makes an enemy of Commander Spock, but a crisis sends all cadets off on a mission.

Sensors are picking up spoilers ahead. Recommend taking evasive maneuvers.

Here's the thing: In the 'normal' (post-Nemesis) timeline, Romulus had been threatened by a supernova. The Spock of that time (hereafter referred to as Spock Prime) had promised (and attempted) to avert the disaster by creating a singularity using red matter, but was too late. He and a Romulan mining vessel were sucked into the past by the black hole. The Romulans, headed by Captain Nero arrived twenty-five years before Spock Prime, and killed George Kirk (who died heroically helping the crew + his wife and newborn son escape). Nero awaited Spock Prime's arrival and then captured him, dumped him on a nearby planet, and attempted to destroy Vulcan.

Numerous Federation ships arrive, but thanks to Sulu's inexperience, the Enterprise arrives late, and thanks to Kirk's epiphany (lightning storm on Vulcan? Same thing killed my father--it's a trap!) they're prepared for battle. They arrive at Vulcan to discover all the Federation ships destroyed and a giant drill boring a hole toward Vulcan's centre. Pike is forced by the superior Romulan ship to board, becoming their prisoner, while Kirk and Sulu (and a third person who just so happens to be the only one in red--you know how it is) spacejump to destroy the drill. Alas, though, it has reached the centre, and the Romulans are able to cause a singularity to form, destroying Vulcan (though not before Spock beams down and saves much of the high council, including his father but just failing to include his mother).

(At this point, the timeline has moved from slightly shifted to obliterated. Vulcan has been destroyed and Spock estimates that only 10 000 Vulcans remain, noting that he is now a member of an endangered species).

The Romulan ship heads toward Earth to destroy it next, and Kirk wants to chase them. Spock, however, insists upon making rendezvous with the rest of the fleet (subspace communication is down). Kirk argues and beats up some security officers ordered to remove him from the bridge, so Spock has him sent off the ship in an escape pod. Kirk finds himself on an M-Class planet that the pod informs him is unsafe and to wait in the pod until rescue arrives from the base a few kilometers away. He instead heads out into the snow and is chased into a cave by a fearsome beast. Spock Prime rescues him and performs a mind-meld to explain what I explained a few paragraphs ago.

Kirk and Spock Prime go to the Federation base and meet Scotty. They use Spock Prime's knowledge of future-Scotty's teleportation formula to beam Kirk and Scotty aboard the Enterprise. There, Kirk proves that young Spock is emotionally compromised by the loss of his planet and his mother, and Kirk assumes command, ordering a pursuit of the Romulans.

The Enterprise (stealthily) arrives to find Earth being drilled much the same way that Vulcan was. The Romulans' shields are down, so Kirk and Spock are able to beam aboard and Spock flies Spock Prime's ship (which was in the Romulan's shuttle bay) to destroy the drill and Kirk rescues Pike. They are all successfully beamed away just before both future ships are destroyed by the remaining singularity-causing red matter (with some help from the Enterprise' weapons).

With Earth saved, Kirk is granted captainship of the Enterprise, Spock asks to be his first officer, and they fly off to boldly go, along with the rest of the team.

Was this a film for Trekkies or Non-Trekkies?

This film was very accessible, I would say, but offered a lot for us Trekkies, and not just the occasional catchphrase. As I noted above, McCoy was written (and portrayed) so well that I knew him in maybe two lines, and subsequent lines made it slightly more obvious ('One tiny crack in the hull, and our blood boils in 13 seconds.') and then blatant for any non-Trekkies who hadn't gotten it yet ('I have nothing left except my bones').

Sulu knows fencing. Spock has and always will be Kirk's friend. And who can forget: Kirk: Who was that pointy-eared bastard? Bones: I don't know, but I like him.

I noticed one or two continuity errors (yes, continuity still means something), but they were trivial and nothing really new.

Overall, as a Trekkie, I loved the film, and I believe non-Trekkies would enjoy it as well.

Preface, only at the end instead of the beginning

As I just got back from watching Star Trek XI at the IMAX, this section may need updating once I've mulled over the film for a bit, but I'll attempt to node how I feel about this film now, before doing anything else.

Remember Generations? The passing of the torch: TOS is over and TNG now has its day on the big screen. If you were very much a TOS fan, it was perhaps a melancholy experience, but it could have been worse. With XI, it's worse. (But not a worse film. It is a much better film than VII, so don't fear for that. XI is awesome. It's just more of an ending than Generations ever was.)

The feeling is perhaps more akin to Serenity. After what happens in Serenity, Firefly can't come back, not as what it was. Things changed in that film, forever. They took the sky from us (and it was amazing).

Star Trek has now been reinvented. I take heart in the fact that it was reinvented superbly, but this doesn't change the fact that pre-XI Star Trek is finally over.

Due to the epochal nature of this film, I consider it perhaps the most important film I've seen. Certainly of all the Star Trek films. Like it or hate, it changed things more than VI or VII ever could have hoped to. Goodbye Star Trek. We're in a strange new world, now.

EDIT August 2, 2017: Fucking Discovery. gdi. Damn it to hell.


Released Midnight, May 8, 2009 morning.


A writeup without spoilers


The year is 2009 and the Star Trek franchise has been kicking at its heels for the best part of a decade. Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek Nemesis were all let-downs to a greater or lesser extent. Nobody seems to want to know. How do you make Star Trek profitable and popular again? What is the shot in the arm that the franchise needs? Put yourself in the position of a hypothetical man in the street - a man who knows nothing about Star Trek except for the one with the whales and The Trouble With Tribbles - and ask yourself what would make you want to see a Star Trek movie this summer.

Obviously, you want to see what warp drive, phaser battles and transporter beams look like through the lens of twenty-first century special effects technology. You want to see what the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, the biggest, slickest, most shiny and powerful ship in the United Federation of Planets, looks like, inside and out, in the imagined future of 2009 as opposed to the imagined future of 1969. You want to see new uniforms that aren't just long-sleeved T-shirts, a bridge that's not made of cardboard, an engineering deck and warp core that weren't built on a shoestring budget. You want to see the gorgeous and genuinely hopeful science fiction future that The Original Series was always promising, and you want it in high definition IMAX.

But all of that is a given. That's the most basic expectation of any science fiction flick this year. What do you really want?

Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Chekov, Sulu and Scotty.

And, unfortunately for you, this is the Next Generation. Nemesis, the chronologically latest Star Trek to date (barring time travel), took place about 85 years after the events of The Original Series. Kirk himself has been dead since 1994, and the remaining original cast are very old indeed or dead, both in canon and reality. This is the era of Jean-Luc Picard, Benjamin Sisko and other heroic figures of whom the average man in the street has never heard. Which means that this has to be a prequel. It has to be set somewhere in established Star Trek history where we haven't looked before. Which raises another problem: continuity.

Star Trek: Enterprise, set roughly 150 years prior to The Original Series, was a noble effort at a prequel. It was even genuinely decent television for its third and fourth seasons. But the simple retcon that the NX-01 had ever existed, that there had been a starship Enterprise before the starship Enterprise, was difficult enough to swallow, and there were many more contradictions besides. The fans hated that! To create new classic Star Trek, you must also achieve the impossible: you must feature fictional characters from a fictional universe which has been subjected to possibly the most intense scrutiny of any fiction ever, and you must not contradict anything has gone before, lest you disrespect established canon, and thereby alienate the devotees of that canon.

How can you have tension when the viewer knows that every character will make it, because they appeared in TOS? How can you be creative in telling a story, when the rules about what is or is not possible and what can or cannot happen are so punishingly restrictive? Certainly, it would be possible to make that movie, but to make it a good movie? Well...

...that's the great thing about science fiction.

Especially the Star Trek movie franchise.

It has certain... shall we say... loopholes.

Star Trek achieves the incredible achievement of rejuvenating the Star Trek franchise, re-establishing all its greatest characters, and opening up limitless possibilities for the future, all while containing all the fun (if frankly uncomplicated) action, drama and character development that a modern movie-goer could expect from a shiny explosive summer blockbuster, and being absolutely faithful to and respectful of past history and still being a really good movie.

The music isn't great. There's no hard story: this is not "Duet", "The Measure Of A Man" or "The City On The Edge Of Forever". There is a lot of lens flare; the future is dazzlingly widescreen. Questionable-science-papered-over-with-questionable-technobabble has been replaced with mere unexplained questionable science, which is arguably a step backwards. And no, black holes do not work that way.

Who cares? This is the best thing-labelled-"Star Trek" that there has been for ten years. It is, by a street, the best that Star Trek has ever looked. Star Trek is back, and the gauntlet is laid down, both for the new fictional James Kirk and director JJ Abrams: match or exceed the legend that preceded you. And there's never been a less foolish time to be optimistic.

In a nutshell, the 2009 Star Trek film, directed by Lost's J.J. Abrams, did about as good of a job it could do at the task handed to it. Ever since 1994's Star Trek: Generations which was the end of the movie series with the original cast, the entire franchise has jumped the shark, it's been on a downward spiral. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (arguably one of the best written series as a whole) jumped ship in 1999. Star Trek: Voyager took off in 1995 and finally came home in 2001, an ending barely noticed by anybody not a real hard core Trekkie. The "Next Generation" movies with Jean-Luc and the gang were pretty good, First Contact being the best of them, but they didn't generate any new Trek fans and annoyed most of the ones that already existed, especially Insurrection. Those ended in kind of a weird and unceremonious way in the next film, which pretty much also ended the whole thing. That was and apparently is the last we'll see of that canon timeline.

And then there was Enterprise...

...or... Star Trek: Enterprise...


So what's Rick Berman and Co. supposed to do? They've sent Picard, Riker, LaForge (not Data) and the Enterprise-E on their merry way, the whole franchise is in stagnant, shark-jumped waters, and most Trekkies have either been desperately trying to remain loyal by reading non-canon novels or rewatching old stuff on DVD, or have actually blasphemed and moved onto other Sci-Fi endeavors like Babylon A.D..

They needed to reinvent the franchise, something that the Enterprise series tried and failed to do. It had its moments, however, but it created more problems than it solved. They needed something more than a lukewarm television series on a failing network like UPN. What they needed was a new Trek feature film, a summer blockbuster type of film, not only a good Trek film but a good movie in general that would attract new fans, create a new generation of Trekkies. The franchise desperately needed a reboot, something fresh, and something to boldly go where no Trek film or series had gone before (for good reason): "Young Kirk and Spock." And now you have the simply-titled Star Trek.

This was extremely risky, more so than strapping on a space suit and jumping out of cargo bay while your ship is traveling at warp 9. Tinkering with cadets Kirk and Spock and the established gospel backstories is... well... you might as well be a church trying to rewrite the story of Jesus. What they needed to pull it off was a really good story (not necessarily a TotallyAwesomeGreatLife-Rethinking story) and they had one. They also needed superb casting, which they had (especially the guy playing young "Bones" McCoy). They needed a fine director, something Abrams was up to the task for. But, most importantly, they needed some vestige from the original franchise to hold the hand of the hard core Trekkie to ease them into this potentially traumatic cinematic experience. The new movie had this as well, using probably the most recognizable figure from Star Trek.

And guess what? At least in my humble opinion, they pulled it off! The Star Trek people bet their last few chips, ended up with a royal flush and took the kitty.

"Captain, sensors are picking up Spoilers ahead!" "Evasive maneuvers, ensign!"

Before I actually watched it, I thought 2009's Trek would simply be a movie about young Kirk and Spock in Starfleet academy, how they met, how they met Uhura, Bones, Scotty, and the rest, and I thought it would go from there and possibly just rehash all the Original Series stuff with better special effects and technology that's 2009's version of the 22nd century and not 1969's, and I had thought that that wasn't so bad of an idea. But I was wrong. Delightfully wrong. They had an even better idea.

Many things were clever about this film, even the title "Star Trek" (remember the first film's official title was Star Trek: The Motion Picture). I can imagine a board room discussion about it ("Whaddwe call this, um, 'Star Trek: Young Kirk and Spock?'" "How 'bout, er, 'Star Trek: The Beginning?'" "Hey guys, how about simply titling it Star Trek?!") What was most clever was they "rebooted" the franchise, how they are introducing a new story of its beginning without giving the old one the proverbial finger.

The plot isn't that complicated: Captain Nero, a pissed-off Romulan from sometime after Nemesis, travels back into time through a black hole that was created by none other than Ambassador Spock (indeed played by Leonard Nimoy) using a black-hole creating... thingy... attempting to stop a supernova threatening to destroy Romulus. Spock stopped it, but failed to save Romulus, which is what put Nero into such a snit, and succeeded at sending his and Nero's vessels into the black hole. The movie begins with this much-advanced (and friggin' huge!) Romulan ship making Swiss cheese out of a starship with Lieutenant George Kirk, Captain Jim's father. The screwing with the original timeline begins when Kirk Sr. dying while ramming his little ship up the Romulan vessel's fundament, leaving Kirk's mom a single mother, who gives birth to the Trek icon aboard an escape pod. Using scenes from the early days of Kirk and Spock, the movie fast forwards a few decades to their academy days where they meet Uhura, Bones, Chekov, and end up aboard the Enterprise, commanded by none other than Captain Pike (which only the hardest of the hard core Trek fans will appreciate).

Captain Nero, well-played by Eric Bana, still pissed, and still time-traveling, decides to do the unthinkable: not only to attempt to destroy Vulcan, but actually doing it! Taking out revenge on somebody by destroying their entire home planet, making both the young and old Spock watch while doing it? Darth Vader would be proud. But, as the young Spock, unaware that his older self is lurking about, beams the elder Vulcans, including his father, but - oops! - just missing his mother, before the entire planet implodes, I couldn't help thinking: OK, surely they'll travel back into time and fix this! Right? Right??

Nope. Not this time. It was at this point that the purpose of the film began to dawn on me. A new Star Trek universe was being birthed, right before my eyes, one where there are only about 10,000 Vulcans and no Vulcan, a fatherless Kirk, a motherless Spock, and where any officer wearing a red shirt is sure to die first (oh, wait, that's one thing that doesn't change in this movie). In a brilliant way, they are rewriting the history of Trek without rewriting it. In other words, they're cheating, like Kirk did in the academy in this film with Spock's impassable test. But they're cheating in a good way. To prevent heart attacks in the theater which might've killed many overweight, middle-aged Trek fans, they introduced a new timeline without beaming away the old one. Using the new thinking on fictional time travel, as opposed to the old way where when you change history and create universe-destroying and audience-confusing paradoxes that necessitate acrobatic scripting, instead of changing history they created a new one, an alternate timeline. The old one exists somewhere out there, still, in the multiverse, where the Old Spock came from, where he will continue to be from as we trek into this new story.

Old Spock, by the way, would help Kirk take command from Captain Spock - left in charge of the Enterprise when Pike was forced to board Nero's Bigass Ship, help young Scotty board the ship and take his rightful place as engineer, which would end up helping the Enterprise save the day as usual, stopping Nero from making Earth another planet salad like he'd done with Vulcan. Nero - still as pissed as Rush Limbaugh during Obama's inauguration - is sent along with his ship, in pieces, back through another black hole, probably never to be heard from again, like the 2003 Hulk movie Bana had also starred in. Kirk, who had gotten in trouble by cheating Spock's test and had been threatened with disciplinary action by the Academy, instead receives a commendation and retains command of the Enterprise, setting up probably many sequels.

Cue Old Spock narrating the "Space, the final frontier..." speech, the Enterprise warping off into space, and fade to credits: a nice bow to put on this early Christmas present we've been handed by the Star Trek Powers that Be.

This was a good movie. While I was not as cynical as a lot of Trek fans about the last couple of movies (i.e. I enjoyed them) I think we can all agree that this was the first Star Trek film in decades that was truly a good piece of cinema in general, and not just a good (or bad) Star Trek film. Even non-Sci-Fi people (like most of your wives or girlfriends or sisters) will enjoy this movie. I have not gone out and actually polled people but I suspect it has achieved what it'd set out to do: excited old fans about Star Trek again and create new fans. Gene Roddenberry is probably not turning over in his grave. I'm sure it made some as pissed as Nero was, but I believe those to be in a minority. And to those people I say this: you have to admit, the Trek people had run out of options. They had to do something like this. It was time to stop beating that dead horse and birth a new one. Even though there had been some talk of a Deep Space Nine movie - and it definitely looks like we'll never get it now - Nemesis ended it all. We needed to begin anew. And, again, they did it while preserving the old, which we can theoretically revisit someday if we want (I mean, come on, it's Star Trek). Visit this new life and new civilization. Embrace this new journey, boldly go with it where no Trek film or tv show has gone before. Appreciate the 2009 movie for what it is and what it's doing. Fall in love with Star Trek all over again.

I have.

Star Trek
Release Date: May 8, 2009
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Running Time: 127 minutes
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Starring: Chris Pine (young Kirk), Zachary Quinto (young Spock), Leonard Nimoy (Old Spock), Eric Bana (Nero), Bruce Greenwood (Pike), Karl Urrban (young Bones), Zoe Saldana (young Uhura), Simon Pegg (young Scotty), John Cho (young Sulu), Anton Yelchin (young Chekov), Ben Cross (Sarek), Winona Ryder (Amanda Grayson - Spock's mother), Chris Hemsworth (George Kirk).
Rating: PG-13.


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