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Creation Date: March 1st, 2010 06:15 PM
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In Moot Member Blogs Why I love classic Star Trek Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #61 New March 21st, 2016 06:07 PM
Simply put classic Star Trek is excellent drama. Thematically it's a police show, it's a medical show, it's an action adventure show, all of which addresses our own ideals pitted against our own personal condition.

Are you really well enough to make life and death decisions? Has some traumatic event forced you and your crew to take matters into your own hands to address come crisis? What is that crisis, and are you capable enough of tackling it?

TNG doesn't do this, or rarely did. Ditto with Voyager, DS9 and Ent. They were about pop psychology and topics dujour.

If you look at Shakespeare you'll note that there is a parallelism of sorts in terms of classic social themes with Trek. If we go back further to Greek drama in the ancient Greek polis, themes become more interpersonal; i.e. what is your relation with the gods, and not so much what is your stance on what to fight for.

Ergo Trek and Shakespeare are beyond looking at the self through supernatural lenses, but reference that material for the purpose of propelling more advanced stories.

Growing up there were tons of detective shows; Barnaby Jones, Cannon, Monday Night Mystery movie and so forth. Those shows go forward with presumption that a criminal act is bad. And addresses the motivation in terms of solving the crime, and perhaps briefly looking at right and wrong, good and evil.

Classic Kirk and Spock Trek went beyond that, and said "Hey look, this person or alien or thing is trying to fight back because of X, in spite of Y happening to these other people..." That was something that TNG+ and no other show I know of, did. Not one.

Well, okay, that's not entirely true, but it was classic Trek's mantle to do it every episode. "The Gamesters of Triskilion" looks at the societal factor of using "professional sports" as amusement, and the justification for the violence by way of racist ideology. Watch that episode again, and witness Kirk ferret out some extreme racist views on the part of the three Gamesters. It's all very allegorical, but if you listen to the dialogue you'll note some very striking parallels between gladiatorial games, the justification for them, and today's modern pro sports and how the owners of today's teams talk about their athletes. Some of that sane language and foul racist illogic is repeated in "The Cloud Minders".

Shakespeare is more interpersonal, but unlike Greek drama, is not personal per-se; i.e. we don't follow a single character through a story of self discovery and fullfilment, but we can sympathize with Shakespeare's characters as they go through their stories that can serve as an example not just to a single reader, but to a whole audience and other societies at that time and in the future.

Again, Trek. "The Doomsday Machine" tells of a titan like computerized planet destroying monster roving the galaxy, and perhaps even the local galactic cluster, destroying worlds, chopping them up into rubble and "digesting the debris for fuel". You won't get that anywhere else but in Trek. A massive machine "with a maw that could swallow a dozen starships!" on a planetary destructive rampage. Who built it? Why? Eh, there's been some fan fiction written to address those points, but the primary theme isn't where it came from, it's how are we going to deal with it today?! Something of such a monstrous size and power, killing billions, if not trillions of intelligent, self aware, sentient and sophont life forms like you and me, making any planet's historical world wars or mass murders or suicides look like Sunday picnics, is about to kill yet again, and wipe out another civilization. The plot takes over, and we get a victim of this machines destructive path at odds with the Enterprise's first officer. The madness, in the form of Commodore Decker, leaves, and sacrifices himself to show a method of how to destroy the planet killer. ... highly thematic. Madness bringing about not only it's own destruction, but the thing that drove it mad in the first place, and, thereby, illuminating the way to bring the slaughter to an end.

Only Trek.

Trek goes on to deal with sexual themes, murder cases, psychiatric "state of mind" themes, and what it means to be loyal to a friend verse a machine. And there are more. Plenty more.

No other TV show did what it did. Take unsolvable mysteries, take hard principles, and put them and push them to the absolute imaginary extrapolative test.

You could not get this from "Family", not from one of the popular police shows, not even from something like "The Outer Limits" or "The Twilight Zone", and rarely from a situation comedy like ... pick your poison ... "Two Broke Girls", "Eight is Enough", "My Three Sons" all the way back to "Ozzie and Harriet".

If you look at all of the sum total of police shows, from Dragnet to today's Blue Bloods, what you mostly see and find are personal dramas mixed in with the plot. It's basic stuff. Even "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", the precursor to classic Trek, is fairly prosaic for all of its explorative themes. In short, it's no Star Trek, and by that I mean classic 1960s Trek.

The people who formulated that show (and it wasn't Gene Roddenberry all by himself ... no way, not on a long shot) did what the creators of TRON said; throw a cinder block on the gas pedal and drive where you think you ought to be going.

They took a very Founding Father's perspective on not just science fiction, but to TV and entertainment as a whole. I think it's why we classic fans can watch that show time and again, from birth until the grave.

The sets are campy, the original SFX are passing to poor at best, the costumes are a bit loud, but wow, the story and dialogue, and even the tension in the drama and action resound like no other show or movie I've seen since.

I will continue this diatribe in another blog installment.

"Star Trek Lives!"
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RSS Feed 3 Responses to "Why I love classic Star Trek"
#3 April 7th, 2016 02:30 AM
Blue Ghost Says:
Essentially all cop shows go on the premise that all crime is bad in some form or another. Twilight Zone, in my opinion, ventured into punishment, or the best outcome for people who have transgressed, and to get them to shape up. The Outer Limits, on the other hand, was a scifi show that was the polar opposite of the Twilight Zone; showing favorable outcomes. Police shows are essentially there to keep people on their toes, and to act as a bulwark against lawlessness by exposing plots in a story presentation to the public. Does that make sense?
#2 April 6th, 2016 08:07 PM
Blue Ghost Says:
I did like The Twilight Zone, but it seemed more like an existential crime drama, even though it had a lot of sci-fi or alternate reality. The main characters always seemed to get some kind of comeuppance, and I think that was intentional. We don't know what they did (mostly), but we know how they wind up. Adam-12 and Dragnet; very true. I'll try and think about it more, and comment more later on.
#1 April 6th, 2016 07:21 PM
Again, I disagree. The Outer Limits and the Twilight Zone also made a person stretch their minds to explore who and what they were, and in some ways as a straight up episodic show with no central cast they could do some ideas better. And of the cop shows let us not forget that both Adam-12 and Dragnet were mostly retellings of actual events so not exactly like the "writers" could do much with what they had. But yeah, the rest is pretty much crap.
 


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