Favorite Star Trek
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Join Date: Dec 2007
02-07-2010, 04:38 AM
I like the original series the best. And although to some extent that might be my age exhibiting a bias, I do think that the original series is admirable for being demonstrably more than the sum of its parts, in that it used the vehicle of futuristic science fiction to examine issues of the then present. Thus Kirk's Enterprise was a vehicle of discoveries and exploration in a very real sense, as well as a fictional one. And one that was not afraid to question itself either.
From the issues of equality for women, and racial discrimination, to the Prime Directive's allusion to the politics of intervening in the cultures of, most notably at the time, Vietnam, the original Star Trek series dared to question the morality of foreign policies and how we conduct ourselves with aliens and different beliefs that we encounter for real. It is no coincidence that the Enterprise's captain had the same initials as the then-recently assassinated president of the United States, made more obvious by the inclusion of a middle initial in Kirk's name, aping JFK. The exploration of Starfleet was an allusion to the bright hopes that Kennedy had wanted, and when it all went awry in south east Asia, such problems had a vehicle by which they could be openly discussed, albeit allegorically, with the Prime Directive. This was clever stuff.
That is not to say other incarnations of Star Trek have not done this, for example with TNG's Worf representing the warming relations with the former Cold War enemy that had been the Soviet Union that the Klingons had represented in the original, but the show that did it first, when censorship constraints were more likely to prevent it happening on TV, will always be the vanguard of such courageous screenwriting. Thus what I admire in the pioneering stories of Star Trek, is reflected in my admiration of the production values. Truly a programme that was prepared to boldly go places.
An interesting side aspect of this, is the Animated Adventures of Star Trek, made just a few years after the main show was canceled, but at a time when the programme's success had been assured by reruns in syndication. Unlike many animated variants of TV shows, the Star Trek version featured the vocal talents of most of the original cast alongside the writers of the TV series, as well as a large portion of its original production crew, thus retaining the soul of the original show in large part. Despite the notion of an animated version ostensibly appealing to children, this nevertheless meant that it had a cast and crew that pushed the boundaries of what could be done, again bravely tackling issues that any other animated series would not dared to have gone near, and as a result, refusing to be patronising to what was clearly going to be a largely youthful audience. So this again was in the best tradition of writing that is as challenging as it is inventive.
Thankfully, such traditions of boldly going, have largely continued in most incarnations of Star Trek, with Sisko's African American commander and Janeway's female captain, so despite my preference for TOS, I can well understand it when people find much to like in those shows too.