Now THAT was a STAR TREK DAY…I am SO excited now to be a fan!!!! (editorial)

What a difference five years makes!!

No, you are not accidentally reading yesterday’s blog where I compared the anemic celebration of Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary with the announced “Star Trek Day” livecast and events scheduled for the 55th anniversary. In that blog, I asked whether NO Star Trek really was “better” than BAD Star Trek? And honestly, I thought the answer was obvious…so much so that I worried that folks on Facebook would make fun of me for writing 2,210 words on a question as easy as “Is the sky green?”

Man, was I surprised!

Nearly a thousand views of yesterday’s blog, and every few seconds another “DING!” from Facebook where someone added a comment in one of the dozen or so groups where I posted a link. While many folks agreed with me that even low-quality Star Trek provides room for improvement (and CBS Trek HAS been improving)., others passionately disagreed. They felt angry and betrayed, insisting that the sacrifice in quality isn’t worth it. Star Trek needed to remain pure and true to GENE RODDENBERRY’s vision. And if it didn’t, if Star Trek simply became “bad TV” (which they felt the new shows were) then better to have no Star Trek at all…if forced to make that binary choice.

I almost couldn’t believe how many fan still felt so thoroughly negative about the newer Star Treks. Frankly, it kinda brought me down as the day went on knowing how many fans would really choose to have no new Star Trek at all over at least something…no matter the quality. By the time the Star Trek Day livestream started, I was almost too bummed to watch it.

In fact, I started out NOT watching it because I had to pick up my son and drive him home from Robotics. By the time we returned, the first half of the online event was already over, but I noticed folks posting all over Facebook, excited about the characters joining the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise under commad of ANSON MOUNT’S Captain Christopher Pike on in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Perhaps you saw the following…

Now, I did shudder a little at the Andorian/Aenar make-up—assuming that’s what he is. But despite being somewhat different than established canon, it still looked pretty cool (WAY better than first-season Star Trek: Discovery Klingons). And I’m not sure yet about those uniforms. On the other hand, being able to see a younger Nurse Chapel and Cadet Uhura is intriguing to me. It’s a bold move, and not entirely outside of the realm of canonic possibility. We’re at a time now when Kirk is likely already serving aboard the Farragut (in his early 20s), so if Uhura is a few years younger than that, it works. As for Dr. M’Benga, he could totally have been on the Enterprise at that point. And there’s a crew member named La’an Noonien Singh? KHANNNNNNN!!!!!!

But wait! What was this emotion I was suddenly feeling? Oh, yes…excitement!

The excitement built when I finally watched the trailer for the new Nickelodeon children’s series, Star Trek: Prodigy, debuting October 28. I’m not ashamed to say that my enthusiasm level for this show started out somewhat muted. I was going to give it a chance because I’d actually rather enjoyed the various Star Wars animated “children’s” series: Clone Wars, Rebels, and The Bad Batch. The animation quality of Prodigy looked to be at least equal to, if not better than, its Star Wars counterparts. And let’s face it, if Prodigy didn’t look awesome, kids today wouldn’t give it a second look because there is SO much else out there screaming for their attention. If we want there to be a “next generation” of Trekkers, we need them to watch this show.

So going into Star Trek Day, I suppose you could describe my mood as cautiously optimistic when it came to Prodigy. Then I saw the brand new trailer…

Wow! That looked totally awesome! I mean, it’s nowhere near “traditional” Star Trek. Aside from the starship Protostar and the Captain Janeway hologram, there won’t be much (at least I don’t think there will be) of the United Federation of Planets and Klingons and Romulans, etc. But let’s see where it goes. Color me very intrigued and now much more optimistic than cautious.

After viewing those two trailers, I tuned into the live event and began watching while the Star Trek: Lower Decks cast was on the stage, and I was truly impressed by how much of a “family” they seemed to be. They obviously love their characters, their show, their show-runner(s), and working together. And MIKE McMAHAN was just as giddy as could be! Let me tell ya, folks, that guys is a fan with a capital F-A-N, and in many ways, I now am starting to think of Lower Decks as a fan film/series. I don’t mean that in the low-budget, non-professional way but rather a true Star Trek fan getting to play in the sandbox and do whatever he wants to with Star Trek. This man is living the dream.

And even though Lower Decks is already nearly halfway through their current 10-episode season, there was enough to show this mind-blowing trailer for the second half…

And just in case you blinked and missed a few things, here are my personal three favorite moments from what was just shown…

Excitement level rising considerably!

The livestream continued with GEORGE TAKEI reading a beautiful tribute to the legacy of TOS…followed by a panel led by host WIL WHEATON (who really did an amazing job!) featuring George with TNG actors GATES McFADDEN and LEVAR BURTON (whose daughter MICA BURTON co-hosted) and ROD RODDENBERRY discussing Gene and their memories of him.

It was at this point that I was hit by an immense realization—one that will seem “Well, d’uh!” to most of you, but it really just washed over me: thousands, possibly millions of Star Trek fans around the world were watching this same panel RIGHT NOW, with me, in their homes or at their desks or wherever. But we were all sharing an amazing moment in Star Trek history, attending together a worldwide Star Trek convention.

Sure, George’s voice sounded gravely (the man is 84 years old!), and I’ve heard his story of meeting Gene for the first time (“Takai” means “expensive,” but “Takei” doesn’t mean “cheap”) at least a half dozen times. But it was the MOMENT, man, knowing fans were all hearing that story just as I was—whether it was new to them or just another loooooong George Takei story—and all laughing together at the punchline, just like we all do in the main hall of a convention.

And then I realized something else even more profound…

When it comes to Star Trek, over the past few years, I’ve lost my view of the forest (Deforest?) for the trees. I’ve been so immersed in Star Trek—fan films, interviews, editorials, blogs and podcasts, debates, collectibles, toxic fandom feuds, and so much rigamarole—that I’ve forgotten to just STOP for a moment and realize what Star Trek is, and how we fans share such a special relationship—I dare say a symbiotic bond!—with the creators of these shows. Despite our frequent kvetching on social media, they know that only fans and creators TOGETHER can make Star Trek a successful legacy. Neither can survive without the other.

There has never EVER in the history of this planet been a phenomenon like Star Trek…not even Star Wars! This franchise has literally changed the world, inspiring both inventors and inventions, scientists and doctors and engineers, artists and actors and musicians, and even writers and filmmakers.

Star Trek went from being a campy 1960s weekly sci-fi show where you could put a stuntman into a hot, green rubber suit and have viewers believe the hero was fighting a giant reptile alien to the death on an alien world. It was silly enough to feature space hippies and drop hundreds of furry balls on the star of the show. It even painted aliens half black and half white to help us viewers take a good hard look at ourselves.

The show could have faded into oblivion, an oddity of 1960s TV eccentricities. But instead, it grew and expanded into a motion picture franchise, three additional TV series that lasted seven seasons each and a fourth that lasted four seasons. Billions and billions of dollars were generated in licensed merchandise, novels, comic books, reference manuals, toys, action figures, models, board games, video games, online games…and I could literally keep writing this paragraph for another 50 lines (but I won’t!).

And look at what’s happening right now. FIVE different Star Trek TV series are being produced as I type this!!! (Six if you count Short Treks, but let’s just say five for now.) Remember when TNG and DS9 were coming out at the same time, or DS9 and Voyager? The previous record was TWO simultaneous series. Now there’s FIVE??? Are you frickin’ kidding me???

And with Lower Decks playing currently, Prodigy starting up in late October, Picard following in February, then the debut of Strange New Worlds followed by Discovery‘s fourth season, we’re looking at a new Star Trek episode from those five different series being released about once a week every week for the better part of the next year! So much for canceling my Paramount+ subscription anytime soon…

And yet some fans would rather there be NO series????? Blasphemy, I say!!!

And as if my excitement level couldn’t go up any higher, the evening’s brand new trailers culminated with the upcoming second season of Star Trek: Picard and the “announcement” that the series had been renewed for a third season. I put the word “announcement” in quotations because fans have known for nearly a year that Picard seasons two AND three were being shot simultaneously, so obviously there will be a season three. But let’s watch the trailer, shall we…?

I’m sure some fans will groan and say, “Time travel…again???” Not me.

While TOS saw Kirk and crew travel back to the “our” present (1960s) twice in TOS and once in Star Trek IV, Picard never did. He went to 19th century San Francisco to meet Mark Twain and 2063 to meet Zefram Cochrane. In fact, Picard was the ONLY captain who didn’t get a chance to time to “our” present (or something close). Sisko and crew went to 2024—three years from now—for the Bell Riots (funny how that episode first aired a quarter century ago when 2024 seemed so far off!). Janeway’s and Archer’s crews also traveled back to “our” present—early 2000s. But Picard never got that chance. Now he does. Fun!

But heck, just having Q and the Borg Queen and Seven-of-Nine along with Picard…it’s just paradise, my friend, paradise…paradise…paradise… (name the episode!).

And speaking of paradise, the event ended with an incredible rendition of Blue Skies sung by the lovely ISA BRIONES (the android Soji) that gave both me and Wil Wheaton chills. If you watch nothing else from the live stream , scroll to the end and watch that. (But really you should watch it all…I’ll be going back to catch the parts I missed.) Granted, Paramount+ hasn’t posted the livestream yet, but one of the audience members in attendance at the Skirball Center event took this video of Isa’s performance…

The entire live show was incredibly well-done, solidly produced, and ran completely on schedule. I’ve never seen any Star Trek anniversary event that was as impressive as this one. Bravo!

Honestly, I haven’t felt this excited about Star Trek in a very long time. So if you want to stand on your soapbox and argue for NO Star Trek, you do you. No one is forcing you to come to the party if you don’t want to. Heck, maybe there’s an alternate timeline out there you can beam to where there is no Star Trek in 2021 and beyond. Maybe you’ll be happier there.

I’m happier here, and I’m staying at the party!

28 thoughts on “Now THAT was a STAR TREK DAY…I am SO excited now to be a fan!!!! (editorial)”

  1. …yeah, no.

    #nutreksucksass – it’s LITERALLY fraud to label it ‘startrek’ (i can taste the bile coming up)(barf) =O

    only the cartoon one is bearable – but as animation goes, it’s pedestrian / forgettable / juvenile?

  2. Well, I won’t rain on your parade Jonathan! I’m cautiously optimistic, mainly about Disco, & SNW. Although, I love time travel, almost any story line, even watched a few recently on Amazon, I’m slightly concerned about Picard. Time will tell though. I’ll especially look forward to your reviews of that show. And do let us know when the link is out for the Star Trek Day replay. Oh yah, the ending song does give one chills. Can’t help but remembering Data. Thanks as always!

  3. I did not immerse myself in the ‘day’. BUT I watched the new Picard trailer multiple times and spotted what I don’t think has been noticed – a rude gesture by Q about 2 minutes in that lasted for no more than I think one frame – 2 seconds and 25 frames in if I’m reading Adobe Premiere Elements right – OK I’m being a full-bore frame-by-frame geek here along with various commentators who have pulled the trailer into pieces to comment. We love “reward the geeks with goodies” elements in trailers.

    Beyond that, what struck me about Picard was the “I’m too old for your (finger snap)” and the cop car driving scene. The first neatly picked up the TNG ending. The second reminded me of “everyone remember where we parked” in ST IV – the humor I wanted in my last posting. It’s the humor that feels just right.

    I also reflected on stars we’ve not seen in the trailer – Brent Spiner and Whoopi Goldberg just to name two. I would not be at all surprised if the assumed most of the time in the 21st century was a head fake. But I’m OK if I’m wrong about that.

  4. I’m happy for you and everyone who is enjoying the new stuff, but I’m still in the no Trek is better than bad Trek camp. If it had gone into the public domain when it turned 50, we’d have the potential for a bunch of different takes on the universe. People could pick an choose what they like and want to consider canon. I like the premise for Lower Decks and Picard season 2, but the execution turns me off. I had hoped Season 1 of Picard would be an improvement from Discovery, since it was going post TNG era as I thought the franchise should have done from the start of “nutrek”. I’ve really tried to give the new stuff a fair chance after I got over my initial disgust with Discovery, but it keeps failing to grab me.

  5. Jonathan, I really appreciate your perspective on these things. I have mixed feelings on the new shows myself, but even then I am stunned at the level of fan negativity. It’s not that there aren’t things worth complaining about (and what’s “worth” complaining about is certainly subjective), but I don’t understand why people seem to seek out articles or even individuals who speak well of the newer shows/movies just so they can blast them with general hatred for anything professionally created in the past 15 years. (Though it’s admittedly not anything new, seeing as this has been going on since at least the eighties…)

    Conversely, they’ll often seem to let a lot of things go when it comes to the fan films, especially those involving the actors from the older shows. (And I mean getting the “spirit” right; mixed production values are understandable.) It sometimes feels more like an “us vs. them” mentality as opposed to genuine thoughtful criticism, with lots of mean-spirited name-calling and occasional gatekeeping.

    Your reviews of both the series and the fan films are a breath of fresh air. You take neither an unrealistically positive nor unrelentingly negative view of either, and you’ve had some interesting insights too. (I loved your breakdown of how the Lower Decks characters match up to fan types last year.) You’re able to keep the optimistic attitude one would hope for for in a fan of an optimistic franchise, but you clearly aren’t wearing rose-colored glasses. You’re able to give solid criticism without acting like a killjoy to anyone who doesn’t agree.

    Please keep it up.

    1. Wow, what a wonderful comment to read right before bed. I am going to share it with a friend of mine who got into a tiff with me when I said I was a “Star Trek liberal” and he was a “Star Trek conservative.” He proceeded to say that I was “obsessed with tribal politics” and hurled a few other insults at me. We’ll be fine, though; we bicker about politics all the time. 🙂

      But like politics and religion, I believe that the problem with Star Trek (and sci-fi) fans today stems from two basic truths about humans in general:

      1) We feel very entitled.
      2) We hate to be wrong.

      Most people are NOT selfless. In fact, we can be very self-centered and believe that we deserve better. It motivates some of us to work harder and others to complain (or both!). But when it comes to government or religion or Star Trek, we feel that our needs should be served. We pray to God or Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster because we worship Him/Her/It/Them and that should count for something, right? Government should fix this or that because we pay such high taxes. Star Trek should be awesome because we deserve awesome for all the time and money we spend on it and how loyal we are.

      We feel entitled.

      As for wanting to be right, that’s totally a human thing. Religions have gone to war over wanting to be right. This country is currently tearing itself apart politically because Democrats and Republicans can’t bring themselves to a place of compromise and acknowledging that maybe both sides are a little right (correct) and a little wrong.

      The problem with needing to be right is that when someone else believes differently, it challenges your “certainty.” Think about religion. If you and those like you believe that only by accepting Jesus Christ into your heart as your lord and savior that you will go to heaven, then a Jew like me creates a conundrum. I’m willing to risk my immortal soul and burn forever in the fires of hell simply because I believe otherwise. Why would anyone possibly make that choice? Why would I risk eternal damnation just to avoid loving Jesus? Is that really so hard? Why would Jonathan choose to take that risk? After all, he’s a smart guy (or seems to be). Why gamble when it’s so easy to just jump ship from Judaism to Christianity? And it’s not just me. Billions of non-Christians—including Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and countless others—will also be locked out of heaven if the majority of Christians (themselves a minority of the world population) are right.

      That’s why many religions try so hard to convert others to their way to seeing things because the more people out there who don’t share that same belief, the more doubt it creates (even in the back and most buried part of one’s mind) that “Hmmmm, am I really right about all this?” Doubt is, of course, the natural enemy of faith…always has been.

      In order to fight that doubt, if trying to convert the non-believer doesn’t work, the “go-to” alternative is to 1) cling to your own beliefs ever more tightly (what those of you who are already typing responses to my comment about doubting one’s religious beliefs are doing right now), and/or 2) vilify the non-believer and cast him out. After all, someone who doesn’t believe as you do must not be a good person, since you are obviously a good person. So you point out all of their flaws, use the “gotcha” whenever possible, call them names and insult them, and maybe even resort to confrontation and/or physical violence. The same thing happens in politics…particularly in the last decade or so.

      This tribalism has been taken to extremes religiously with things like the Nazi Holocaust and terrorist Islamic extremism…and politically with the Civil War, racism and prejudice in America, and even the recent January 6 insurrection.

      A little less extreme has been fans reaction to the newest Star Trek series. But while no one is bringing out the gallows and shouting, “Hang Alex Kurtzman!” the online rhetoric and vitriol has certainly been turned up to 11 and beyond. And why? Because we want to be right; we HAVE to be right! So we seek out those voices who agree with us–in fandom, in religion, in politics. We read the “right” blogs, listen to the “right” podcasts, join the “right” Facebook groups, and watch the “right” news channels. And we complain about and insult the “other.”

      That’s why, for many fans who rail against CBS, the arguments are passionate and absolute, allowing no room to accept the possibility that the new Star Trek is anything other than complete garbage and an insult to all the brilliance that has come before. In other words, they cling ever more tightly to their beliefs and often hurl insults no only at CBS but at any who disagree and actually show some support for the opposite opinion.

      Granted, it’s not everybody…thank goodness! As many hornets as I awakened on Facebook, the vast majority still had better things to do. And not everyone is political junkie or a Bible-thumper. In terms of religion, I’m a “Whateverist” and don’t really care what someone else believes. And I certainly won’t insult someone or call them names for not liking new Star Trek. But to some out there, the need to be right and to pressure others to agree with you, or else be scorned and ridiculed, is very strong. It results in toxic fandom, toxic religion, toxic politics. It’s not pretty, but it is…sadly…very human.

      1. Oh, and I neglected to say… Right with you on really enjoying the new Star Trek Day. They paid appropriate tribute to what came before and showed some exciting glimpses of what’s coming up. I’m not sold on all of it yet, but I’m keeping an open mind, and I’m genuinely excited by some of it.

        It’s funny how many topics can so easily go off the rails these days. Personally, I’m a very religious person, and I fully understand being “evangelical” about the things that you feel are good, valuable, positive, important, and/or helpful, whether it’s a religious belief or a good TV show or even just a strongly held opinion. What I don’t understand is the people who are obsessed with running around shouting “I HATE THIS!!!”, especially when it comes to entertainment. There’s one Twitter account that has been averaging a Tweet about how much they hate current Trek roughly every two hours *for years*. Spending that much time dwelling on how you hate a piece of entertainment just isn’t healthy behavior. There’s nothing wrong with disliking or even hating a show, but people who obsess on that level are just making themselves miserable without any real good coming from it.

        Since the can of worms that is religion is already open, I’ll just add that Philippians 4:8 has a nice principle on this. I’ll leave it as an exercise for anyone who’s interested in that type of thing to look it up.

        1. I looked it up. Pretty appropriate for everyone but the Twitter guy. You’re right in that putting that much energy into hate doesn’t really add anything to the world except for hatred. I wouldn’t be proud of living like that.

  6. Good Grief Jonathan!? If we were looking at a particularly big, nasty, hornets nest, and I offered you a big stick, and said, go over there and give it a good wack a couple times, would you? BTW, I’ll be sitting in the car, with the doors locked!
    Apparently those talks with Alex about leaving politics aaanndd religion alone, didn’t really sink in?

  7. SMDH. Alec I meant. Reference the live stream where he smacked you on the shoulder for injecting politics into the subject. So,instead of a stick, you’re going to take a rake to the massive hornets nest? Rip it open, and hopefully out live the attack? Gluttony for punishment, isn’t what I figured you for? BTW, Jews who believe in Jesus, are considered Messianic Jews. You do know Jesus was Jewish, right?

    1. Yep, Jesus was a nice Jewish boy. Everybody said so. 🙂

      Anyway, I just sorta feel that toxic fandom has parallels in toxic politics and toxic religion. Why not share that insight with the world? 🙂

  8. this fan has 2 problems:

    1. i love (real) Star Trek
    2. i hate fake ‘star trek’ (#nutreksucks)

    as for religion, what u present is a false choice: they are all falsified systems of control
    (fyi – i also love jeshua)

    1. When you speak in such absolutes–not allowing for the possibility that religions more than simply falsified systems of control–aren’t you yourself trying to exercise a certain amount of control over others’ beliefs?

      1. i would admit to attempted ‘influencing’ perhaps 😉

        checkout “Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus” on YouTube, it’s fascinating
        they question existence of ‘jesus’ , which i don’t agree with, but the part about Caesar is dead-on

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