I’ve always liked Star Trek, though I wouldn’t call myself a Trekkie (and definitely not a Trekker). I enjoyed watching the show, from TOS (The Original Series) to TNG (The Next Generation) right through Enterprise. I liked the optimism and overall humans-will-do-good emphasis of the show, an attitude that carried on through all the various incarnations, thanks to Gene Roddenberry’s vision.
My level of fandom is somewhere above geek-fan but well below attending-conventions-in-costume. I can discuss its future ‘history’ well into the 24th Century but I don’t know a word of Klingon. I subscribe to the Odd-Even Theory about the TOS movies (odd ones are bad movies, even ones are good) and I was apprehensive about the 2009 reboot, not from extreme loyalty to the original cast but because I was afraid they might screw it up so badly that there would simply be no more Star Trek, that the Enterprise and the Federation would simply fade away over time, relegated to the occasional rerun on one basic cable channel or another.
I felt that the reboot did a pretty good job of approximating the Star Trek I liked. Sure, the pseudo-science was pretty bad (A red liquid that makes black holes? And as for the physics of the Enterprise’s escape from one such black hole…you could barely hear the end credit music over the hum caused by Newton AND Einstein spinning in their graves) but let’s face it…science in Star Trek was always just a McGuffin. “Technobabble” was pretty much a staple of any of the series.
It was the characters I liked. I never had long conversations about the prevalence of M-class planets or the ubiquitousness of funny-foreheaded humanoids or just what-the-hell is a “gaseous anomaly”…but I could go toe-to-toe for many many minutes on who was the better captain, Kirk or Picard, or why I’d rather have Bones as my physician than any of the others. Scotty always did pull the rabbit out of the hat, Chief O’Brien managed not to strangle the DS9 officers weekly, and Worf could be counted on to growl some Klingon proverb like some low-voiced fortune cookie. I even managed to forgive the invention of the Holodeck–providing the opportunity to recycle cheap standard soundstage sets–although I came close to abandoning Voyager in the Delta Quadrant when it became the “That 7 of 9 Show.”
So yeah, I liked the reboot. The basics of the characters stayed mostly true to their long-established roots. Kirk was brash, even foolhardy…Spock was all hot human emotion channeled through Vulcan logic….Bones, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov (complete with awful accent!), even Uhura (hot for her alien teacher? OK, I’ll allow it). Updated effects, more exciting scenes, annoying mystery light flashes (seriously, who’d be able to think on that glittery Genius Bar of a bridge!)…all these were secondary to the fact that the characters get a chance to live on, reinterpreted for a different age.
That’s the key to truly great stories, I think–that they can live on, no matter the time or the setting. You could put Kirk et al on a 17th Century pirate ship and we’d recognize them. Same with Picard’s crew on, say, a WWII battleship. People have been reinterpreting Shakespeare for centuries and we still respond to the stories. Imagine if we’d stopped after Olivier…no Branagh’s Henry V or McKellan’s Richard III or Gibson’s Hamlet (OK…we could do without that last one, but you get my point).
So let’s give a cheer for the reboot, whether it’s Star Trek or Spiderman or Batman (let’s not forget that the recent Nolan-Bale Dark Knight is a reboot of the Clooney nippled-Batman franchise). Done right, they can be good, even awesome, and keep alive beloved characters and stories. I just hope I live to see the rebooted Star Wars prequels where they spend more time on Anakin’s descent into the Dark Side than on badly-stereotyped aliens and galactic economic politics. Of course, Lucas probably has a team of lawyers armed with real turboblasters and TIE fighters to prevent that for a hundred years after he’s frozen in carbonite or something.