Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Little Bit of Star Trek

August has arrived in force at last, and a sultry summer Sunday begins a new week. The past one was incredibly busy for me, with work devouring more than its normally allotted time. So in spite of it sitting in my player day after day, it took me until tonight to finish off the last episode of Star Trek season one.

The original has always been my favorite of the Star Trek series, and the first season is packed fairly solid with good episodes. And yes, I'd seen them all before, though not quite like this. This time around, I'm watching them in quality beyond what the makers of the show could have dreamed at the time: 1080p. The remastered, reworked, re-special-effected episodes are almost shockingly good looking. Listening to the commentaries and watching the new special effects, it's obvious that this was a labor of love by people who wanted to pass on a show that affected them deeply to a new audience. The care taken to preserve the sixties style in the new effects, even the quirks, shows a great reverence to the show and a deep respect for the fans.

Given how familiar the show is to me, and its age, I was expecting to be able to revel in the aspects that should inevitably seem campy to my supposedly more sophisticated eyes. I was expecting to see the relatively primitive make-up and effects of the time for the stage dressing they were. William Shatner's performance as Captain James Kirk has become such a part of the shared culture of sci-fi that we are more familiar with the exaggerated parodies than the original. And the other characters have become equally iconic. To my surprise and, frankly, delight I find the show holds up tremendously well for me. It's nice to watch the performances again for what they were. Shatner, Nimoy, Kelly, and all the rest took the writers' words and gave them a reality that still resonates. And for a brief moment, I can give in to the story and be just as captivated now as I was as a kid.

But I am older now, and inevitably I see things differently. Instead of focusing on cool ships, energy beams, strange aliens, and exotic worlds, I now see the things that Star Trek showed that were truly rare. Duty, honor, trust, respect, friendship, and ever fleeting love: these are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.

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