Star Trek Defines The Genre

A little over a year ago I had made the decision to attempt to make it through all episodes of all of the Star Treks.  It was one of those silly decisions based on the fact that I work from home and try to keep something running in the background at all times.  About halfway through the episodes of the original series, I decided I couldn’t handle it.  It was too much.

It wasn’t that I didn’t exactly enjoy them, it was more that they just weren’t really speaking to me and therefore didn’t warrant taking up so much of my Netflix DVD queue.

A few months ago I noticed that they had released all of the Star Trek series onto the Netflix Instant Watch.  I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to toss them back into the queue and watch them leisurely whenever I felt like I could get back into them.

I’ve been busy at work, doing things that make it very difficult to actually have something running in the background, so I’ve been going through them very slowly, but dedicated to getting through the original series at least.  I’ve now only got about 20 episodes left and have come to a giant realization through my current watching of the series.

Star Trek really owns the sci-fi genre.  Looking especially at science fiction tv shows and movies, you’ll see almost all of them have at least small, if not giant, references to plots that occurred within those 80 (I think) episodes.  In fact, many times you’ll see entire episodes of Star Trek remixed to fit whatever the characters within that show or movie were involved in.  It’s crazy to think that this show which almost didn’t exist, and didn’t exist for all that long, has had such a lasting effect on our writers.

Now, one could debate the fact that many things that occur within the episodes of Star Trek did occur previously on Doctor Who, but honestly, the credit goes to Star Trek for how it’s effected our current science fiction media.  Doctor Who may have inspired the writers of Star Trek, but Star Trek is obviously the inspiration for everything that’s come since.

I’ve never been a real big fan of Star Trek.  I used to watch The Next Generation from time to time with my father as a kid, but never really got into it.  In fact, the original series still doesn’t really resound with me like others within the genre.  In other words, I’m much more on the Star Wars side of the battle than Star Trek.  But I can’t help but feel the need to congratulate the original series in its ability to really own its genre.

And now, I’m not talking about the specifics of the show itself.  Most new creators have the common decency to avoid ripping it off that directly.  But the storylines seem to just keep coming back over and over again.

I’d come up with examples to make my point, but my brain is really dumbed down at the moment.  All I can say is, I dare you to watch a few episodes of Star Trek: TOS and not be reminded of something else you’ve seen in recent history, if not several things you’ve seen.

Now, since this post is pretty lame at the moment, I suppose I can wrap it all up into some sort of tidy comment about writing.  You see, the reason that the stories of Star Trek can work so well across the board of the genre is that these stories, although wrapped up in a rather B-movie-style TV show, were very high minded.  They would cause you to think differently about people, religion, government, or even yourself.  In the midst of green-skinned alien women, they were able to actually explore subjects that, I believe, weren’t really even talked about at the time. They dared the public to be accepting of everyone, they believed in the power of women, they really attempted to be forward thinking in all their actions.  All this being done while they had a Scotsman they called Scotty who really enjoyed his alcohol, and a Russian who was there mainly to make you laugh at the way he pronounced his words (and because of his love of stating how everything was invented in Russia).

The show’s not perfect by any means, but had an enormous effect on our popular culture that still continues today.  Of course, that’s made obvious by the amount of crazy Trekkies in the world, but even more so if you just take a look at the stories they told and how many times they’ve been retold since.


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