My friend Mia is the bigger Star Trek fan between the two of us. She was the one who introduced me to it first, starting with the original series. We then watched those new J.J. Abrams films, and my exploration of the Star Trek universe only expanded from there.
However, it might be hard for the average person who hasn’t gotten into Star Trek yet to try giving it a whirl. The size of the series can be daunting to newcomers. After all, it spans across television shows, movies, comics, novels, video games, etc. You name the genre, and Star Trek has probably already been there.
Plus, I will admit, it is a bit of an acquired taste. Such concentrated dosages of sci-fi nerdiness aren’t for everyone.
But for those of you straddling the fence right now, here’s just a few things you should know about getting into Star Trek, both the good and the bad!
The main draw for me is the campiness. If you don’t like exaggerated humor or drama, then many of the main Star Trek shows of yore won’t appeal to you.
I for one happen to love the meatball monsters that teleport crew members from their starships onto planetray arenas so that they can battle with an ancient Genghis Khan with Abraham Lincoln by their side.
That music that starts blaring out whenever anybody gets into an absurd fistfight is also imprinted indelibly upon my memory. By the by, the combat is campy too. Conflict is supposed to be super dramatic in the original series, but it just ends up being an experience of futility as you try to stop yourself from snorting in derision so much.
Please be aware that this is meant to sell you on Star Trek,not deter you from it.
There’s something inherently delightful in how aged the show appears to be in all aspects. Simply by drawing you in and making you laugh, the show succeeds in some manner.
Another great thing about the franchise as a whole is its devotion to including as many futurstic devices as it can into the story. Warp engines, phasers, tricorders, holodecks, they’re all unbelievably fantastical.
It’s all so technologically unsound, it’s laughable.
Speaking of laughs, the humor is also crazy hilarious. Conversations that are supposed to be funny follow that “dad” kind of humor, to varying degrees of success. You end up laughing at their attempt to make you laugh more than at the actual joke.
But every so often, when the show is trying to shove that theme of the indomitability of the human spirit in your face, it just…works. Kirk or Picard talking about nobility and compassion just makes you feel uplifted, and you have to actually remind yourself that you’re supposed to be watching this silly sci-fi show just for kicks.
And that’s one of the main reasons why I’d recommend Star Trek. At its core, pushing aside the frivolities and inanities for the moment, it’s about exploring the depths of human nature’s capacity for good. And a show about that can’t be all bad, right?
With space travel occurring in the series on a figurative daily basis, you would think that meeting new aliens would be the highlight of the show.
You’d be wrong.
Only a few of the aliens in the Star Trek series are what you would call classic or iconic. Klingons, Vulcans, Tribbles, and the Borg are a tiny fraction of all the aliens you encounter in the franchise. The rest are either ridiculous, forgettable, or insulting.
I get that budgets were tight back in the earlier shows, but some of these alien designs are beyond absurd. They look like toys you could buy in a dollar store glued together.
So if your story revolves around meeting new alien species and 80% of those species are terrible additions to the universe, you’ve kind of got a bit of a problem.
Another issue is plot resolution. Often, the crew of whatever starship or space station you are on will find themselves in dire circumstances. It’s only thanks to a last-minute solution that they make it out okay. But these solutions are always whatever makes the most dramatic sense. Logic goes out the window. If you need to rescue a stranded colony and your transporter is malfunctioning, god forbid you use the life boats or other smaller vessels at your disposal to pick them up. Let’s just turn the whole thing into a crisis.
And oof, its portrayal of women.
In the early shows (I’m talking the original, The Next Generation, maybe even Deep Space Nine, etc.), they’re all incredibly misogynistic. If the women aren’t background characters, they’re usually eye candy. And other characters (of the male variety) won’t let you forget that.
Attractive females in Star Trek are constantly being complimented about their looks. It’s insane. Plus, you can always tell when they’re trying to imply Kirk is having some kind of magnetic moment with a lady. The music changes, the frickin’ lighting changes, and the stares that’ll pass between the two are anything but subtle.
If you bite the bullet and watch those early shows, you’ll know what I mean.
As I write this, I’m sitting by a coffee table, tip-tapping away at my laptop while Next Generation plays comfortably in front of me on the television. The wind is blowing away outside, adding an extra chill to the autumn air, and I have a cup of warmth next to me in the form of green tea, lemon, and honey.
I have nothing pressing to attend to.
At this moment, Star Trek is absolutely perfect for my mood. It’s mild entertainment for a quiet time, filled with poignancy and stupidity in equal measure.
Which, now that I think about it, is kind of like real life.
I rate Star Trek a live-long-and-prosper.