Live Long and Prosper

There are a lot of you out there who like to think that you are original trekkers. Not so. You had to have been a Palladin fan first. You had to have grown up with a lot of corny westerns like The Lone Ranger and Gunsmoke so that when Have Gun, Will Travel came along you recognized it for what it was: a morality tale wrapped in the guise of a western that featured tight dialogue and well-crafted scripts. You had to have been disappointed when Palladin’s lead actor Richard Boone’s next project – a repetoire company doing a series of television plays – was rejected in favour of Hawaii Five-O.  You would have to have recognized the divine providence involved in Boone’s best writer, Gene Roddenberry, leaving to do a morality tale wrapped in a space epic instead. That is how Star Trek was born, and I have been a fan from the beginning; watching every show, and delighting in the interplay of personalities and the subtleties of social criticism that it offered.

But here’s news: I never liked Kirk. He was a self-important pompous ass, as was (and is) William Shatner. I liked Spock: his cool reserve, his ascerbic wit. I liked his insight into the human condition. I liked the fact that Leonard Nimoy didn’t like Spock, and tried to distance himself from his alter ego (famously declaring “I am not Spock!”). I liked it that Nimoy refused to get involved in the excesses that Star Trek later indulged in, such as Star Trek: Generations, which managed in one show to make a travesty out of all the iconic material that Star Trek fans had spent a generation (there’s an irony worthy of a Vulcan) investing in the show.

Of this new show Nimoy says “These people, the makers of this film, awakened in me the passion I had when me made the original film and series. [Star Trek] went off in a direction that I didn’t relate to very well, that’s the simplest way to put it. I was put back in touch with what I cared about, what I liked about Star Trek.”  Me too. What  all the spin offs of this series failed to realize, and what Abrams recaptures, is the chemistry in the original characters. They are in fact living out Richard Boone’s original concept: a repetoire company of well-loved characters playing out a series of original scripts, comfortably the same, and endlessly new.

The show is great, and if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it. It is the best in the series since The Undiscovered Country, and I don’t mind that Abrams has allowed the characters to morph slightly and develop elements that were not there in the original series, any more than I mind different interpretations of Lear or Willy Loman. However, I must admit I blanched a little when the elder Spock – who  incidentally brings the same unspoken gravitas to the film as he did throughout the series – wishes his younger incarnation “Good Luck.” Ouch! Is it too late to reshoot that scene?