I’ve always liked Star Trek. My older sister and I always used to watch when it was on BBC 2 in the evenings, and I’ve always been fond of it. Deanna’s relationship drama with Worf and Riker in The Next Generation was always entertaining, and it was my introduction to the amazing-ness that is Patrick Stewart – and the less-than-amazing-ness that is Wil Wheaton. Deep Space 9 and Voyager furthered my love for Star Trek as I saw real depth and drama in them, and warmed to all the characters. The style of the show is also very important – the music, camera shots, the slight stiffness and formality of the whole thing coupled with the human (and sometimes non-human) emotion and character that runs through it.
My fiancé Dan and I have just started watching the first season of Enterprise, and are planning to work our way through every season of each incarnation of the show – a long task, but worth it. I’ve never seen every single episode, and Dan has never watched it before now but always wanted to; and luckily he likes it! Enterprise is a wonderful thing – a continuation of the style and format of Star Trek, but closer to our own world. I love the screens and keyboards that look like they could be ours, and the little details like the fact that the crew’s jumpsuits look a lot like something our own soldiers and astronauts might wear. The connection to Earth also feels stronger, and Captain Archer records the date in his log in our format, which is really nice and familiar. It’s also quite nostalgic as the viewers know more than the crew, i.e. how things will turn out and who certain species are. Last night we watched the episode ‘Acquisition’ where the crew first meet the Ferengi, which was great anyway but also fascinating as we know all about them and the crew are just making contact. We also watched the episode ‘Oasis’ that featured a character played by Rene Auberjonois who of course we know as Odo from DS9, so that was a great little throwback.
I love Star Trek partly because it is just so familiar to me (and thus quite comforting) but also because, the more I watch it, the more I see and appreciate the compassion and understanding it demonstrates for these people, exploring the sometimes terrifying expanse of space, and the joys and difficulties of this experience. Yes it is science fiction, but sometimes it feels like any other drama on TV. The fundamental basis of it – humans in space – means that there is always a connection between Earth and humanity and the futuristic sci-fi side of it. There is always someone or something you can relate to.
There’s also the question of female characters. Voyager is the only show to have a female captain, but all the series have at least one ‘strong’ female character who is just as tough and capable as the men (even the original series had Uhura amongst the rampant misogyny). In Enterprise there are two fantastic female characters on the bridge – T’Pol and Hoshi. The fact that T’Pol is both high ranking and a Vulcan means that she is centre stage in many episodes and this is great – even if she does have to wear the obligatory catsuit for ‘attractive women’ (see Deanna Troi and Seven of Nine). Hoshi is inevitably the Communications Officer/Translator, but this means that she needs to be right in the action a lot of the time, and she gets to go on lots of missions. I also like her role as we get to see the Enterprise crew trying to communicate with alien species and the diplomacy and compassion that is involved. You see how pivotal her role really is.
Star Trek is a rare thing, and should be cherished. I was very pleased to hear they are making a new TV series, set to air in 2017, but apprehensive given that it comes after the new films by J.J. Abrams – which are nothing like the various TV series. The new films are ok, but they are definitely not in the distinctive Star Trek style and have a very different look and feel; I get why this is necessary, but I hope that the new TV show is more ‘traditional’ while still being modern and relevant.
I am actually really excited to go through every Star Trek series, and am very much looking forward to revisiting DS9 and Voyager in particular as they are my favourites (at the moment – Enterprise is catching up). Not only are there loads of episodes to watch, there are worlds to explore and about a gazillion characters to get to know – can’t wait!
I want to finish with this great article from Bustle about Uhura in the new movies – relevant now and to the previous TV series. Here’s hoping for some amazing and positive female characters in the new TV series.