by Herbie J Pilato(Continued from yesterday…just like we promised)
Upon viewing any opening sequence of any Classic Trek segment, such as, “Miri” or “Metamorphosis,” one immediately knows one in for an entertaining ride. Immediately, the story and action is set up in the tease, and boom – the opening theme commences and, upon completion of the broadcast commercials, the segment begins to boil. The crew’s on a quest to some mystic or fantastic world. They receive a distress signal, or their journey is disrupted by an alien force who we’re certain at one point will zap at least one of the crew members across the planet’s surface with a resounding bolt.
Trek fans ultimately craved similar segments, and eagerly anticipated small-screen viewings upon hearing of The Next Generation’s debut (in 1987). But after a while, as many critics pointed out, one kept waiting for something to happen. But nothing ever did. Oh, sure, the late, great DeForest Kelley’s reemerged his Dr. McCoy persona from the original Trek for a cameo appearance in TNG’s pilot. And later, Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock and even James Doohan’s Mr. Scott came aboard that new edition of his Enterprise (in episodes, by the way, which happen to be the highest-rated and best-loved segments in Generation’s history); even William Shatner’s iconic Captain Kirk paired up with Patrick Stewart’s TNG’s Captain Picard in the big-screen Star Trek Generations.
But the sacred triad of Shatner’s Kirk, Nimoy’s Spock, and Kelley’s McCoy were nowhere to be seen in their regular weekly TV spot, docked or in flight, on their own beloved Starship Enterprise.
As I have stated in a previous post, no one ever asked for the film series (the second of which, The Wrath of Kahn, is at least superior to the TV sequels), or a Next Generation, or new characters on a new ship Voyager. And Enterprise, the fifth Trek TV series sequel, focused on the formative years of the Federation, pre-Kirk, Spock, etc.
“Trekkies” (or “Trekkers,” which they…ahem, “we” prefer to be called) seemed to be getting everything but what they (we) originally wanted. Trek lovers merely sought fresh adventures for the same wonderful people that they had come to know and adore – on the small screen – in their living rooms, every week.
That’s it; nothing else. Yet that’s precisely what they didn’t get.
Even Gene Roddenbery was displeased with the way Trek developed after the first year of TNG. Rumor had it he was also not fully satisfied with the films (which he wanted to circumvent around the adventures of the Enterprise, and not Kirk and Spock).
In truth, Roddenberry’s true resurrection of his original concept worshiped by millions never came to be (and certainly now, with DeForest Kelley and James Doohan gone, it never will).
Instead, Trek-lovers were treated to unfamiliar Trek sequels, produced from what looked to be a parallel universe (which should have just been saved for Sliders; remember that one?!).
Neither Nine, nor Voyager, nor Enterprise in particular lived up to the name of their legendary older brother. The Next Generation, ignited by Roddenberry was a worthy attempt (certainly in it’s very Star-Trek-Original-Series-esque first season), but after Gene passed away (in 1991), in the long run, TNG just didn’t cut the mustard.In all fairness, Deep Space Nine was a very nice science fiction program (especially upon viewing its last few seasons).
But it wasn’t Star Trek…at least not any Star Trek that Gene Roddenberry had in mind. If Roddenberry-successor and subsequent Trek franchise king and executive producer Rick Berman wanted to create a new science fiction military-bent series about star travels, then he should have done that. But labeling Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise as party to Star Trek was, well, as Bill Shatner once stated early on the Trek revamp era, “a misnomer.”
Even with Kirk split it two (Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard and Jonathan Frakes’ TNG take on being Number One), and a poor-man’s Spock (Brent Spiner’s Data), and a prettier-than DeForest-Kelley doctor (Gates McFadden’s Beverly Crusher), true Trek fans still merely pined for the charm of the original show, which never came into fruition.
But ALL that said – a gift like Stargate SG-I, well…that’s a different (science fiction) story altogether. This wonderful and wonder-filled show not only outshines the TV Trek sequels (including J.J. Abrams revamp of the feature films), along with other sci-fi military classics like Babylon 5 (sorry, Fivers!), but even the Stargate feature film upon which it is based (sorry, Kurt Russell-ers!).
And certainly, there have been other solid sci-fi/academy-like contenders, including: Gene Roddenberry’s very own Andromeda syndicated series (produced posthumously by his wife Majel Nurse Chapel Barrett-Roddenberry) from the early 2000s (though some of the alien make-up was hideous and insulting, and some of the characters, just plain silly); Farscape, which aired on Syfy, was elegant and elaborate and reached a praised hierarchy in certain fandom quarters; the aforementioned Sliders nailed it a few times with imaginative stories (but frequent character-replacements killed any sense of lengthy on-screen camaraderie; it would have been so much cooler of they used a ship, instead of employing the Time-Tunnel funnel effect); and certainly many new sci-fi series takes from today, in general, are astounding.
But none of them, and I mean none of them, ever came close to Star Trek: The Original Series, except….Stargate SG-1 which (even though this show, too, never used a ship; but at least their core portal was stationary, with solid outlets spanned across variant worlds).
Suffice it to say, SG-1 doesn’t disappoint on any level.
The show employed spectacle, fancy, aptitude, humor and adventure, and wrapped it within a neat package that continues soar (in syndication and via DVD) with entertainment and sophistication, displaying a media mosaic of imaginative, fictional disclosure.
What else could any sci-fi TV fan want?
Or better yet – it’s what any true sci-fi trek to the stars (military-based or otherwise) should be!