Star Trek Discovery Fall Finale

I’ve already written about my excitement over the launch of this newest series in the Star Trek franchise. Tonight is the fall finale for Star Trek Discovery, as Episode 9 streams. Because I catch another show at 8:00 Sunday evenings, for one more week, I wait and watch Discovery after the hour long episode is over. The midway point in this year’s season provides the perfect opportunity to post an update about why I absolutely love this Star Trek.

Sunday evenings used to be my favorite night for television. For nine years, The X Files drew my viewing loyalty. Sunday night I was there, with Mulder and Scully. And while the original Star Trek and The Next Generation both aired on prime time television, the three series following TNG did not, at least not in Joplin. I watched Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise on Sunday nights at 10:30.

I didn’t mind the late hour. Everyone else would go to bed or to their rooms and the TV was mine. I am, and will always be, a Star Trek devotee. I watched it, whenever and wherever it was showing.

Which is why Sunday nights have become my favorite night for television again as Star Trek Discovery claimed that weekend spot. And why it was a no brainer for me to sign up for CBS All Access so that I could watch. That is the only way to catch episodes as they air. The cost for a year subscription was nominal. It is worth it to me.

It is SO worth it to me. I am loving Star Trek Discovery, with a passion that rivals my fondness for the original series. I am fully on board. The episodes are incredibly engaging, with movie quality cinematography, sets and special effects.

The crew is the most diverse yet, and that is high praise because all Star Trek series strive for that quality. The actors and actresses portraying those characters are just as diverse, extremely talented, and for being new at working together, have already developed strong connections with each other.

What I appreciate most about Discovery is that it is an edgier, darker Trek. I’ve only just figured out what it is that causes me to anticipate each episode, and set aside Sunday evenings to join the Discovery crew.

In the Star Trek timeline, Discovery’s events take place ten years before Captain Kirk steps onto the bridge of the Enterprise. By then, the starship functions as an exploratory vessel, charged with keeping peace in the universe and discovering strange new worlds as they boldly go.

Discovery is a war ship. The Federation is at war with the Klingon Houses. They aren’t boldly going on discovery missions so much as they are trying to survive and safeguard the universe. And here is what I am loving. This is a time of expansion and growth for the Federation. Captain Lorca doesn’t always take the moral high ground. He is a warrior more than a diplomat. He is a strategist, and he and his crew will do what it takes to win peace for the Federation.

Each crew member has his or her struggles. Michael Burnham, the series main character, is a mutineer who faces a life prison sentence. Tilly is full of doubts about her abilities. Lt Stamets wavers between snarkiness and self sacrifice. Saru is hardwired to feel fear every second of his life. These people…humans, non humans, androids…are in the process of becoming. It’s not always pretty. It’s messy and dark sometimes and gritty. But it has the ring of truth, of authenticity. That’s how lives…and organizations and Federations…transform. And that is what Discovery is all about, growth and transformation.

I can identify with that process, as can we all.

In Discovery’s time, we are seeing the huge shifts that take place in the universe that usher in the time of Kirk, Spock and Dr McCoy on Enterprise. For me, it is a journey worth taking. It gives me hope that fiction and fantasy aside, humanity is capable of making these same huge shifts that will ultimately bring about a different universe…or a different Earth at least. And like Discovery’s trek, ours can be just as gritty and edgy, and oft times it is fraught with perils.

We have to boldly go though, into that future, and we will figure it out as we go.

Star Trek Discovery returns for the spring season on January 7. I’ll be waiting…

To Boldly Go

Today was one of those days where I repeatedly came across something. Without specifically looking for it, Star Trek popped up over and over…on a TV commercial, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. I opened my Amazon Video app to check the availability of a movie my daughter recommended, and Star Trek was featured. Not the most recent films in this long lived franchise, but the three seasons from the original series and the early movies. 

Granted, there is a new release, Star Trek Beyond, playing now in theaters. I’ll see it this week. And this year is Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. And…a new television series, Star Trek Discovery, premieres January 2017. However, today, my awareness was pulled again and again to this campy sci-fi phenomenon. 

I gave in to the taps on the shoulder. And happily so. I am a Trekkie, and have been since age 14. As an eight year old, when the series premiered, the show was a bit too intense for me. I watched the second episode, Charlie X, and it scared me. Six years later I caught the series in syndication and I was hooked. Hurrying home after school each afternoon, I’d catch the next episode. 

Five TV spin offs, an animated series and 13 feature length films later, I’m still a devout fan. I’ve faithfully watched every series and movie. And when I was in between episodes and films, I read Star Trek novels. At one time I owned a couple of hundred paperbacks chronicling the continuing adventures of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. My family can verify that along with the usual fan momentos, I also had in my collection an Enterprise telephone, life size cardboard standees, and a set of Vulcan ears that slipped over my own. 

With great pleasure, I settled back this afternoon and watched episode one from the original series, The Man Trap. Although I’ve seen every episode many times, it’s been several years since I’ve watched anything from the television series. Being familiar with the story left me free to see with fresh eyes and a perspective that has shifted since I last viewed Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy, affectionately known as Bones. 

I was enchanted, again. I know the sets and special effects are not up to today’s  standards. And the women wear short dresses. And William Shatner is dramatic as Captain James T Kirk. But c’mon…it was the 1960s. The stories and concepts were way ahead of their time. The gadgets and science of Star Trek inspired future technology. The cast was multiracial and multicultural.

Watching today, with a tender smile, I loved it still. Why? Because of the relationships and friendships. Kirk, Spock and Bones form an unbreakable bond that continues across time and the galaxy. If one is present, the other two are near by. They journey with each other. Protect each other. Challenge each other. Sacrifice themselves for the others. That strong friendship inspired me as a teen and continues to today. It is unconditional love, respect and trust, combined. 

The half human, half Vulcan character Spock, portrayed by Leonard Nimoy, captivated me the most. His struggles with his humanity allowed me to learn more about myself. His attempt to keep his emotions tightly under control was of particular interest to me as I attempted to do the same. Although I was okay expressing positive emotions, and Spock was not, we both clamped down on the negative ones. Our shared journey was to discover how to live with the rawness of powerful emotions that threatened to overwhelm. I was horribly sad when Leonard passed away last year. And grateful to learn today that a documentary, For the Love of Spock, created by Leonard’s son Adam Nimoy, will be released this fall. 

I’m glad that today I was reminded of just how important Star Trek has been in my life. In many ways, the impact was much deeper than just me being in the fandom. Star Trek has shaped my life, and taught me to reach, to expand, to grow, and yes…here it comes…to boldly go. 

I am thrilled to celebrate 50 years of Trek. I look forward to future films and TV series. As I was saving pictures for my blog post, my grandson Dayan texted to ask if I was aware there was a new Star Trek series coming out. He had no idea I’d been immersed in the franchise all day. It was the final attention getting tap. Dayan introduced me to Doctor Who. It is time for me to introduce him to another long running series. 

Live long and prosper, Star Trek.