Friday, May 17, 2013

A Fistful of Star Trek! (Matt’s Picks)

    J.J. Abrams second Star Trek movie is out this week (see Brad's sadly accurate review), and we Dorks are taking a look at some of our favorite Start Trek memories.  I’ll tell you straight-up, I’m an original series man, as a general rule.  I enjoy Next Gen and yes, I’m the guy who liked Enterprise (except for that danged third season!).  But I’m old school.

5.  There. Are. FOUR! LIGHTS!  Picard just went through his very own 1984 interrogation at the hands of one of the greatest character actors of all time, Mr. David Warner.  And in those last few moments, maybe he too had learned to love Big Brother.  Patrick Stewart acts the bejupiter out of the scene.  Yet another of the many times Picard went through far more than most men should.  Even when he’s broken, he’s not broken.  All the phasers and spaceships in the universe don’t hold a candle to the human (or alien) drama of Trek.

4.  Kirk puts his boots on.  You know, the ones he’s recently been knockin‘.  Look, it’s just a fact of life that one of the things that made Kirk cool was his amazing ability with the ladies, whatever their DNA might look like.  He loved them.  They loved him.  He made great strides in the name of interstellar relations.  Sort of the Federation’s answer to Sir Richard Francis Burton (without the javelin through the face).  On the one side, this is the male fantasy, that women from all over the galaxy want what we Earth dudes have.  But in its pervy little way, it’s also about accepting a whole universe of variety (Giving too much credit?  Probably).

3.  Kirk battles an honorable man.  The introduction to the Romulans featured the great Mark Leonard as the dignified old soldier who must square off with Kirk.  These are two good men, two skilled and wary men, battling because of their situation, not any animosity.  Men who could have been friends, were circumstances different.  It is a sad episode, because the Romulan commander is no villain, and his loss is clearly a tragic one.

2.  “We’ve made too many compromises already; too many retreats.  They invade our space and we fall back.  They assimilate entire worlds and we fall back.  Not again.  The line must be drawn HERE!  This far, and no further!  And I will make them PAY for what they’ve done.”  Picard loses his mind.  And if he has to stand in front of the wave of all-consuming Borg and drive it away by hand, he is more than ready.  All the pent up frustration and rage of a civilized man pushed past the point of no return bubbles up.  He is Ahab.  He is King Leonidas.  He is Beowulf.

1.  Spock makes contact.  Since I was a boy, Devil in the Dark has been one of my favorite episodes of all Trek.  Its message holds as much appeal to me today as it did 30+ years ago.  One of the things that makes Trek great is that it’s more than just us & them.  It’s more than war and strife and hate.  It’s about recognizing differences, accepting them, and learning from them.  The Horta is a hideous monster, a glob of animated mineral, and it’s been lurking in the caves, killing mine workers.  But there is more to the story, and it takes patience and a willingness to look past the surface and see a deeper truth.  I could never point to just one episode and say, ‘this is Star Trek.’  But if I had a gun to my head, this is the one I’d suggest.  If ever there were an uplifting and optimistic story, a look at what we could be at our best, it’s communicating with and understanding the Horta.


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