Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bless Me Father Roddenbury, For I Have Sinned...

I remember when I was about 6. Messing about in the living room, mum in the kitchen I switched the TV channel from the boring news to BBC 2. I sat watching fascinated by two men in pyjamas attacking a lump of reddish brown rock with laser guns. Later wisdom would teach me that this was the Horta from Star Trek The Original Series episode “The Devil In The Dark”. It was my first experience of Star Trek and it wasn’t long before I sat and watched the Wrath Of Kahn. A few years later The Next Genration debuted and I was hooked – I was a Trekker.

Flash forward to 2001 and (Star Trek) Enterprise arrives. The very talented Scott Bakula is the perfect choice for captain and I’m looking forward to another crew and another exciting voyage…. Sadly the excitement never arrives. Apart from Captain Archer the characters all seem boring and 2D. T’pol is just plain annoying without any of the character strength that made Seven fascinating in Voyager. Worse still is that none of these characters really seem to be happy there. Gone are the bold brave explorers from the other Starfleet ships – instead we have a bunch of nervous tykes scared of what is around the next corner. These are meant to be heroes, role models even. Archer sometimes manages but the rest seem reluctant. I try and try to get into it reminding myself that TNG & DS9 took a while to hit their strides but it just doesn’t happen. The final nail in the coffin is Star Trek Nemesis. A weak remake of The Wrath Of Kahn where the writer & director seems to have failed to get a grasp of any of the characters I have loved for the last two decades.

It’s the first time a new TV season has started without any new Star Trek since 1987. A few years ago I’d have been devastated but now with my beloved Star Trek DVDs keeping me company (every single Star Trek ever… except Enterprise of course) I’m actually not bothered it’s actually woken me up to what else is out there. For starters we’ve had the excellent Doctor Who. Sheer brilliance and I’m eagerly awaiting David Tennant’s ‘Christmas Invasion’

There’s Lost on Channel 4 (well it seems more like an hour of adverts with a bit of Lost every now and then!) – and I’m hooked. What’s a polar bear doing on a tropical island. How does a wheelchair bound man suddenly develop the ability to walk? What’s that French radio broadcast? Who is the mysterious man in a suit that is being spotted?

I’ve also discovered Sci-Fi Channel’s excellent remake of Battlestar Galactica. I detested the original – far too garish but this is sheer genius. It’s how Enterprise should have been, gritty, realistic but above all engaging and intelligent. No dumb technobabble and genuine raw emotion the commander is not afraid to speak his mind and tell the crew how he feels (“Get out of my office while you still can…”) much more interesting that the reserved Starfleet officers.

This summer we’ve had Batman Begins and War Of The Worlds, two absolutely gripping SF films, not to mention Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, the forthcoming King Kong. And of course there’s the excellent Half Blood Prince Potter continuation.

So other Trekkers out there fear not. Take off your Federation Blinkers, stop the TNG DVD you’re playing and take a look at the hoards of new Science Fiction that is being produced. Perhaps life without Trek isn’t too bad after all…

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