On this day in 1966, Star Trek debuted on television. I remember my brother was really into it. The only episode I remember seeing was doubtlessly a rerun of “Arena.” This was where Kirk is forced to fight some reptilian species known as “Gorn.” It is some kind of trial by combat thing, where Kirk shows he is a Good Guy™ by refusing to kill the Gorn when he has the opportunity. It is one of the silliest episodes of the first season.
When I was older, I became friends with Will who was a Star Trek fanatic. In junior high school (middle school now), he wore a Star Trek shirt. It seems like he always did, but that can’t be correct. Regardless, I still wasn’t that into the show. To be honest, I’ve never really been into science fiction. What finally made me take Star Trek seriously was my first wife, who was also a huge fan.
That was during the first years of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I don’t even much remember it. I must have liked it. I may be a terrible romantic partner, but I am good at embracing whatever my partners are interested in. But TNG made me appreciate the original series (TOS). TNG was just too perfect — everyone was so well adjusted. Who thinks that is a good idea for a drama?! Spock and Bones might have had ridiculous arguments and pathetically developed characters, but at least they disliked each other!
And I came to appreciate Kirk as a Romantic hero. TNG is everything that conservatives (wrongly) claim liberals want in society. But the truth is that it mightn’t be such a bad thing in society, but it’s damned boring on the screen. And it ended up with the episodes being more like puzzles than plays. There was always some perfect trick that would make everything work out. And after a while: who cares!
Today, I like Star Trek for what I originally didn’t like: it is cheesy. And it was at its best when it was doing comedy. “A Piece of the Action” is probably my favorite episode, because it is so clear that they are all in on the joke. And that is something that has been sorely missing since then.
Happy birthday Star Trek!