Thursday, September 8, 2016

Star Trek's Golden Anniversary

(Star Trek 50th Anniversary Video One)
Star Trek is "...boldly celebrating 50 years of...television, movies and more." 

I think I watched the very first episode, The Man Trap, when it premiered 50 years ago today, but I didn't know the name of the show back then.  All I recall from that vague, and half-century-old traumatic memory was that the salt vampire scared the bejeezus out of me.

(The Salt Vampire--giving Trekkie kids nightmares since 1966)
It wasn't until I was in junior high school, that I started watching Star Trek regularly, a few years after the series went into syndication, thanks to my friend Stephen who told me about the show.  I was hooked after watching the first episode, which I'm sure wasn't about the Salt Vampire.  Stephen and I would talk about the show during our walks home from school.  After we parted company for the day, I practically ran home in order get my homework done, and not miss the opening credits of that evening's episode.

Yes, I was--still am--that nerdy.

I even watched the The Animated Series when it aired on Saturday mornings, though I considered myself "too old" to watch cartoons.  Fortunately, I got over the teen-angst attitude, and got back into watching animated shows--with a vengeance.

Anyway, the Star Trek "revival" started to achieve orbit as the 70s came to a close.  First, with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and for us wargamers--Star Fleet Battles (SFB).

(The latest version/successor to SFB:  Federation Commander)
Since those days, the Star Trek franchise has been cruising along at warp speed, with four spin-off TV shows, and another one due out next year; along with a dozen more feature films.

Some of these were sensational hits, like The Wrath of Khan...

 ...while others, such as The Final Frontier were near-franchise killers.

Fortunately, The Final Frontier wasn't the final frontier for Star Trek, as The Next Generation movies attempted to go boldly were no movie production had gone before--until Star Trek: Nemesis.

Now we're in the era of the "Reboot Films" which have have been well-received, for the most part.

Here, I'll pause to admit two things:

First, I'm one of those in the minority who wasn't crazy about 'Trek Into Darkness--the Wrath of Khan Redux.  I thought it was too early in the rebooted story arc to have a "Ship Out of Danger" scene.  Kirk and Spock didn't have anywhere near as much time together as the "prime" characters did to form this kind of bond.

Second, I haven't gone beyond my own normal routine to see Star Trek Beyond.  Fortunately, it's still playing in theaters, so there's still time to save my "Trek Cred."

The Star Trek 'verse doesn't merely consist of TV shows and movies.  The Expanded Universe (EU) is chock-full of books, games, webisodes, and music (We Just Make Some Sh*t Up).

Star Fleet Battles (SFB) was an extremely popular when it first came out, and Amarillo Design Bureau (ADB) is still producing SFB-related products.  I'm so heavily invested in SFB, that I don't have any shelf-space for the newer Attack Wing game.

Most of the Star Trek novels are pretty good, but I haven't read one in over a decade, mostly because I want to read stories about characters other than the bridge crew of the USS Enterprise.
I also have a few Star Trek computer games, I'm too prone to motion sickness to actually play them.  But I haven't gotten rid of them either.

Star Trek gaming isn't limited to ship-to-ship combat.  The first Star Trek tabletop role-playing game (RPG) was produced by FASA until the early 80s.

Subsequent RPGs seemed to pop up every decade or so, first by Last Unicorn in the 90s and then Decipher in the early 00s.   My favorite, which I haven't played yet, is another ADB product...

(Starfleet Games, Prime Directive Index)

Despite these publication efforts, along with the legion of Star Trek cosplayers...

(Cosplayers wearing non-standard uniforms, exploring a familiar "strange new world" in The PRF, TOS Star Trek Corset)

...and crossplayers...

(Image:  Analysis Mrs. Spock? by Bellcrius)

...I'm under the impression that the "...galaxy far, far away..." is a more popular setting than "...the final frontier..." for tabletop RPGs.

Maybe the companies that produced/are producing Star Wars RPGs have a better marketing strategy.

Or maybe gamers prefer to imagine themselves as Jedi Knights, or scoundrels with a "...good blaster..." at their side, rather than a playing a doomed Red Shirt.

Regardless of the competition from Star Wars, Star Trek has been more than entertainment--it's been a cultural phenomena.

Of course, not everyone likes Star Trek.  My second ex-wife thought the show was sexist.  I'm not sure what gave her that impression...

...okay, maybe the original series went overboard on the fanservice, especially with the stripperiffic women's costumes.

Despite being the "Mad Men of sci-fi," Star Trek was ground-breaking.  The episode, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield for example, was a black-and-white allegory about racism.


Meanwhile, back on 20th Century Earth, the show hit racism head-on.  The episode Plato's Stepchildren featured TV's first inter-racial kiss:

First, however, there had to be women on board the Enterprise for Kirk to make out session with one of them.  Oh sure, the skimpy uniforms worn by female crew members make them seem like the first in a long line of Bridge Bunnies.  But portraying women serving in critical areas of a military vessel was unseen in pre-'Trek movies and TV shows.

Then there's the plethora of gadgets we use today that can trace their origins, and inspiration to the devices used on the show.

Doesn't this look all-too familiar now?

(Image found on the Communicator's entry in: Wikipedia)
Thanks to Bluetooth technology, WORKING cellphone communicators are now available.

Star Trek hasn't been, nor currently is, perfect.  Even us fans love poking fun at the tropes spawned by the show.  That's why every Star Trek fan I know, including myself, love the movie
Galaxy Quest.

(Galaxy Quest in TV Tropes)

The film is an Affectionate Parody of Star Trek, making it one reason why it's on Screen Crush's 25 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the Past 25 Years List.  Some fans even consider Galaxy Quest a bona fide Star Trek film.

Affectionate parodies aside, Star Trek hasn't shown any signs of slowing down to sublight speed anytime soon.

Even my second ex-wife was nice enough to buy me one of my favorite colognes for Christmas...

(The cologne can still be found on, but sadly with a different bottle)

...I laughed every time I looked at the bottle, (yes, I actually splashed this stuff on), and still smile looking at the image of it.

For those who want to get involved in the 50 Year Anniversary festivities, check out the Star Trek Events that are taking place world-wide.

(Image from:  The Trek Collective, Comic Previews)

Live Long and Prosper.

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