Shiny Shelf


Star Trek @ 40

By Jim Smith on 11 September 2006

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

Star Trek

I didn’t want the fortieth anniversary of ‘Star Trek’ to pass by without some comment from those of us here at Shiny Shelf.

Of course, it’s quite difficult to find something ‘Star Trek’ related to comment upon these days. The series is trapped between an over analysed and disputed past and an uncertain future. Some ‘Star Trek’ fans must be ruminating at the moment on the difference a decade makes.

Back in 1996 ‘Star Trek’ had two TV series on the go, both of which have their fans, and a terrific movie (‘Star Trek: First Contact’) in cinemas. Those two TV shows also managed to produce, in that year, ‘celebratory episodes’ that harked back to the 60s ‘Star Trek’ with some success (there’s an argument that they’re the best episodes of their respective shows) meaning that all the then-created greats of ‘Trek’ were represented in new material that year.

This year? Well, there’s some naff looking spin-off books kicking about and some interesting fan films are apparently imminent but that’s it for the foresseable. The most recent TV show died a death. The most recent movie sucked. For a major anniversary to pass with no new product is unheard of in ‘Trek’.

It’s worth mentioning, in this context, that something similar could be said to have happened with ‘Doctor Who’. ‘Doctor Who’ is currently the biggest thing on British TV. It’s won more awards than you can shake a stick at and its ratings are massive for UK TV. It’s a staple of gossip columns and excited news reports and its future has probably never been more secure. Rewind ten years and ‘Doctor Who’ is six months after a failed TV movie revival, the rights issues surrounding which are going to keep the show off the air for a number of years. (It had been off the air, that 86 minute disaster aside, since 1989.) Even its excellent spin-off novel series is about to be cancelled. Jon Pertwee, the series much-loved former star and a great ambassador for the series, has recently died. Compared to that particular disaster area, the future of ‘Star Trek’ is positively rosy.

I’m a big fan of both shows and it’s rather odd to me that it seems almost impossible for the two to co-exist in the same time frame. For both to be popular, successful and good at the same time. On the upside, what this means is that I’ve been here before and I know that things will get better for people who are just fans of ‘Star Trek’ alone. What goes around comes around.

JJ Abrams has already made one terrific movie based on a sixties TV show for Paramount and he’s created two of the most exciting and innovative popular genre series of the past two decades. While now might seem to be something a desert for ‘Star Trek’ fans, all that’s needed now is patience.

Good things, we can only hope, come to those who wait.


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