I am still very new to Star Trek. I’m in my twenties so I was too young to watch any of the Star Trek shows when they aired (even Enterprise). I also never had much of an interest in the franchise. I grew up watching Star Wars and, probably because both franchises had similar names, I had the impression that Star Trek was a copy of sorts of Star Wars. I would have probably avoided Star Trek entirely if my best friend had not forced me to watch the movies with her (she’s a huge fan).
However, after watching Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Star Trek: Beyond I realized that they weren’t a rip-off of Star Wars and that both works were completely different. I enjoyed the movies so much that I decided that I needed to watch everything Star Trek, starting with the Original Series.
I have to admit that my experience with TOS was rocky at first. It took me 4 years to watch the first season and I struggled with how dated it felt. Everything from the sound effects to the special effects (or lack thereof), the costumes, the acting and the music felt well, very 60’s and low budget. However, last summer I was in a weird slump after coming back from South Korea. I had difficulties concentrating on books and TV shows that I usually enjoy so, I started watching TOS again and flew through the rest of the first season.
The episodes that I first found formulaic and not that interesting became funny, (for the most part) intriguing and (always) very comforting to watch. Watching the first season took me 4 years but it took me a month to watch the second season.
The show isn’t perfect, some episodes haven’t aged well at all (and to be fair, I’m not sure some of them even were considered good when they were aired). That’s the case of Patterns of Force – the infamous Space Nazis episode (who thought this was a good idea) – or Metamorphosis where Kirk says that “the idea of male and female are natural constants” with a straight face. However, some episodes are quite captivating, I had a great time with Trouble with Tribbles, Mirror, Mirror and The Immunity Syndrome, the latter being my favorite of the season. I loved the way it showed how the crew of the Enterprise is dedicated to their mission, even when the members are exhausted and under pressure. It shows Kirk making some tough decisions that could lead to the death of his crew in order to protect innocent lives. It’s also probably the best directed episodes with some very good shots.
There is something inherently comforting about Star Trek. It is a story about people exploring “new worlds and civilizations” and trying to do so without impacting other cultures. Kirk and his crew are good guys dedicated to their mission (well except in A Private Little War aka the Vietnam War episode where Kirk decides that giving weapons to a group of people is a good idea?).
Some references hint that before the Federation, humanity was almost wiped off the universe because of nuclear wars, yet it still shows that they made it out alive. It’s a hopeful message now and I guess it probably was even more so when it was aired in the 60’s in the midst the Cold War.
Speaking of the historical context of the show, I’m still amazed that they managed to cast a black woman as Uhura, an Asian man as Sulu and that Chekov, a Russian is not a bad guy. The fact that the cast of a show in the 60’s is more diverse that some shows that are produced now is kinda crazy to me.
So yeah, TOS isn’t perfect but it still worth a watch. The character dynamic between the Kirk-Spock-McCoy trio is amazing (I’m especially a fan of the Tom & Jerry dynamic between Spock and McCoy, those two had me laughing quite a bit) and the show hasn’t lost its sense of wonder and hopefulness.
I will definitely give the last season a try, just not immediately. I need a little break from Kirk the Womanizer and his crew. After that, I don’t know if I will watch the old movies or if I will go straight into TNG. All you Trekkies out there will have to let me know if they are worth a watch or not! 😉
Vintage Science Fiction Month is a month-long event celebrating science fiction works published or produced before 1979. The event is hosted by the wonderful Andrea from the blog The Little Red Reviewer.