New Project--To Boldly Go

I have tried, with almost no success, to broaden the focus of this blog to include topics other than religion.  Don't get me wrong--I like talking about religion very much.  But I like a bunch of other things as well, and I want to have a more diverse set of topics to write about.  The question, of course, is what to write about.

In the last couple of months, I have been getting in closer touch with my inner nerd.  He has always been there, but for a while I have tried to keep him under wraps.  I am a serious person, and so I need to put that stuff aside, or at least keep it hidden.  Well, the hell with that--no one cares, least of all me.

But, here's the thing: there are major gaps in my nerd-dom.  The world of nerd-dom is basically binary--one is either a Star Wars person, or a Star Trek person.  I always viewed myself as a Star Trek person, but the truth is that I am a faux-Star Trek person because I haven't watched much of the prodigious Star Trek corpus.  There have been five Star Trek TV series--the Original Series from the 60s, the Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, and Enterprise.  I've watched all of the Original Series episodes (though, it was a long time ago), most of Next Generation, bits and pieces of Voyager, a little bit of Deep Space 9, and nothing of Enterprise.  That unacceptable, and I intend to fix that.

So, I'm going to try to watch every episode of every Star Trek TV series, starting with Enterprise and working backward chronologically, and write about it.  My goal is four episodes a week--about 3 hours of content--and on Mondays I will write some thoughts about one or more of the episodes.  Season 1 of Enterprise is included with Amazon Prime Instant Video, if you would like to follow along.  Next week's episodes are:

  • Broken Bow, Parts I and II (the Pilot)
  • Fight or Flight
  • Strange New World

Before getting into Enterprise, some general thoughts on Star Trek.  It's really a brilliant thing if you think about it.  On the one hand, the show in its various incarnations has always tried to explore philosophical and political ideas, and portray a positive, multi-cultural vision of the future.  On the other hand, it has awesome space ships and shooting aliens and Captain Kirk having sex with random space babes.  Because both parts are present at the same time, one can appreciate Star Trek on a thoughtful, progressive level, while also getting that action-adventure fix.  I think that's the real genius of Star Trek, and the one thing that the J.J. Abrams movies--which are incredibly entertaining action-adventure films--have lacked.

The Star Trek TV shows are also deeply products of their times.  The original series is very clearly a product of the late 1960s.  Topics like racial harmony are often discussed, often in a very over way.  I remember one episode of the Original Series in which there were aliens that were divided between those where the left side of their face was white and other side was black, and those where the right side of their face was white and the other was black.  It was not particularly subtle.  On the other hand, Captain Kirk was constantly screwing around with--literally and figuratively--the cultures he encountered in the name of progress and enlightenment.  And, every female crew member wore a mini-skirt, which is an interesting uniform choice.

By the time you get to The Next Generation in the late 80s/early 90s, the Captain Picard is constantly talking about process and rules and the Prime Directive of not interfering with other cultures.  In early seasons of The Next Generation, the crew of the Enterprise could be mistaken for a faculty meeting at a liberal arts college.  Plus, everyone was now wearing unisex spandex jumpsuits (except Counselor Troi, in an obvious bit of fan service).

Enterprise comes at a very interesting time.  The premier episode debuted on September 26, 2001, and the final episode was aired on May 13, 2005.  That was a very weird time, especially the first two years.  People, especially younger people, may have a hard time understanding how scared everyone, and I mean everyone, was after 9/11.  In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, there was a sense that everything was going to be different--that we as a country were going to go through fundamental changes, on the order of the changes that occurred immediately after Pearl Harbor.  Over time, it gradually dawned on people that things really weren't going to change all that much for the vast majority of people, which itself was kind of weird and disorienting.

Anyway, I am interested to see if any of that is reflected in Enterprise.  The First Season would already have been written and shot pre-9/11, so if there is a change in tone, it would come in Seasons Two and Three.


Erin said…
I reject your Star Wars/Star Trek binary, sir! I consider myself to be a fan of, and skeptic of, both series. Some of the series work in arcs, so I assume you mean backward by series, not by episode, right? I watched Enterprise in its original run and will be interested in your thoughts. I never did get around to Voyager, so perhaps I will join once you start that series.

If you ever really want to get your nerd on and discuss epic fantasy series (though with GoT mainstream, perhaps that portion of nerd culture is now appropriated)let me know.

Re Star Wars, after Episode 1-3, I am looking forward to Disney taking over for the final three movies. I trust the crowd sourcing of nerds at Disney much more than Lucas at this point.

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