I turned off the first season finale of Enterprise, and to my modest surprise, didn’t turn it on for season 2. Didn’t realize I had until a few weeks into the next season… and I found that I didn’t miss it.
That’s when I thought I was done with Star Trek (the franchise), you see. I can recall exactly how I felt. The episode didn’t interest me. The series hadn’t hooked me. The characters, the dialogue, and the sets: flat, repeated, and grey. There was nothing to it. Nothing to keep me watching. Nothing new or compelling.
I grew up on Next Generation, and the original Trek movies (and am completely in the tank for late season Deep Space Nine)… one of the heydays of the universe, I think. The characters and writing was strong, and original, and new and exciting and compelling.
Over time, that changed. The series’, the movies, the media that were being pumped out, grew worse, retreaded, and hit the low with Enterprise, which limped through four uninspiring seasons, mostly so Paramount could get it into syndication. I loved Trek… it killed me to watch it die.
You can imagine my skepticism when I heard about a new Star Trek movie, after the mediocrity that was Insurrection and the disaster that was Nemesis. I thought it needed time… time for new ideas to flow, for a new team to take over Trek, and bring it in a new direction. But it’s not the nature of business to not try and earn money from a property, and so, production went forward.
As the movie was made and trailers were released, I made the progression from cynical to trying-not-to-get-excited to all-out-fanboy, and as such eagerly awaited seeing the movie with my brother, and buddies Greg and Ryan. But the foreboding, the cynicism that had crawled in during recent movies and series still remained, warring with my excitement. I wanted this to be good. I NEEDED this to be good. I wanted Trek to be relevant again, and not the sole property of we geeks who poke and probe every little detail, to the point that it alienated most people.
It was all that. Oh my goodness, was it ever.
Star Trek (the movie) was EXACTLY what it needed to be. It was epic, it was fun, and it tore down the barriers that kept most people away from the franchise. The characters were fun, and people we could relate to. The action was good, and the plot kept moving. It wasn’t afraid to be funny, or sexy. It was self-aware, and reveled in it- something Trek (back to the franchise) has never been accused of doing. It even cussed (shocker!). Sure, it was sci-fi in the future, but it didn’t get bogged down in it- something Trek has OFTEN been accused of doing. But it was also faithful and respectful of the original universe.
It wasn’t perfect. I could poke holes in the plot and the logic and what this did to the universe and some of the things characters did for a while. But why would I do that, when this movie did exactly what it set out to do? It modernized Trek, brought it into the 21st century in it’s writing, characterization, and presentation, and made it relevant again. And while the plot wasn’t as deep as some Trekkies would like, it shouldn’t have been- not for a “reboot” like this.
Star Trek is all about new life and new civilizations… and any good explorer knows you don’t find new life by going to the same places you did before. J.J. Abrams and the team that made Star Trek (movie, again) knew that, and I applaud them for the great job they did with this movie, and the life it will give a previously dormant franchise.