I hurt my back last week. I've been told to spend as much time on my back as possible, which suits me fine as it hurts to do anything else. So I've been watching a lot of tv (whole seasons, on my laptop) and surfing a lot of web. At some point I got interested in Star Trek, of which I was a serious fan in my preteen years.
I never really got into The Next Generation, saw only a few Deep Space Nines, and I literally have never seen an episode of Voyager or Enterprise. But I know there are still a lot of big geeks out there who still get hot and bothered by it, so I decided to check it out. I downloaded a bunch of key episodes. Here's what I learned:
Star Trek is boring. Sorry, it is. Terrible, uninteresting dialog. Awful, unconvincing (yet strangely requisite) fight scenes. Technobabble. Not just here and there, but everywhere, sometimes whole plots built around technobabble. Vast interstellar continuity and backstory, most of it tear-inducingly tedious. And, I was surprised to find out, tons of time travel and alternate universe stuff.
Let me speak for a moment about alternate universes. I love 'em. Especially the nasty ones. Things gone wrong. Horrible dystopias. Good characters gone bad. A favorite original Star Trek was the "mirror universe" episode, where (most notably) evil Spock has a beard. And time travel? Great stuff, grabs me every time.
So please understand that it comes from a deep respect of the genre(s) when I say that post-original Star Trek's idea of time travel and alternate universes is as tedious and formulaic as the rest of the series. For one thing you apparently can't so much as spit in the Star Trek universe without being thrust into the past. But don't worry, because all you need to do is reroute the nucleic transformers and you're home, with all your problems solved.
My guide through much of this was Memory Alpha, a wonderful Star Trek wikipedia. And I learned something important. Talking about Star Trek stuff is actually pretty interesting. Reading episode summaries can be a little engaging. The Star Trek universe is very promising. It's just the actual episodes that suck.
I have to admit, I'm ruined. By Joss Whedon and, lately, Ron Moore. Want to see some great alternate universe stuff? Watch The Wish from Buffy. Want to hear how real people talk in space? Listen to dialog in Firefly. Want some great technobabble? Sorry, hardly any to be found in Battlestar Galactica and Firefly. And that's because good storytelling is about characters and stories. And Star Trek can't seem do either.
So it's off the air, and I'm sad. Not because it's off the air, but because it should be off the air, just like an old dog should be put to sleep. To put it - and us - out of our respective miseries.
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