Why We Love STAR TREK

Albuquerque Journal - Parade - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam Shat­ner

As told to Ni­cola Bridges When Star Trek took to the TV air­waves on Sept. 8, 1966, it fa­mously set out on a mis­sion to “boldly go where no man has gone be­fore.” And it cer­tainly did, cap­tur­ing the imag­i­na­tion of mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions of fans and be­com­ing the world’s most iconic sci-fi en­ter­tain­ment fran­chise, an on­go­ing, multi­bil­lion­dol­lar spinoff of TV shows, block­buster

movies, games, books and other mer­chan­dise. Why has Star Trek en­dured for 50 years? We went right to the source: Capt. James T. Kirk of the star­ship USS En­ter­prise. Ac­tor Wil­liam Shat­ner, 85, who starred in the orig­i­nal TV se­ries and in sev­eral en­su­ing movies, was happy to dig back into his “cap­tain’s log.” I think Star Trek, like sci­ence fic­tion in gen­eral, is mythol­ogy. It of­fers a look into the fu­ture that’s writ­ten by imag­i­na­tive, cre­ative artists whose vi­sion may or may not be true, but we don’t know un­til the fu­ture ar­rives. It’s not un­like re­li­gion—we don’t know for sure, but we take it on board.

We ad­here to the mul­ti­ple pos­i­tive sto­ries that Star Trek sug­gests—that there’ll be a fu­ture, that tech­nol­ogy will have got­ten us out of the hole that it had got­ten us into, the fu­ture will be bright and the Earth will still be here. And that’s the fu­ture peo­ple want to em­brace.

Star Trek of­fers a look into that fu­ture. It’s what makes Star Trek en­dear­ing, and en­dur­ing.

Sto­ry­lines That Got You Think­ing

Star Trek was driven by sci­ence fic­tion. It wasn’t Buck Rogers. At its best, it was com­plex. Many great sci­ence fic­tion writ­ers sug­gested story ideas for the tele­vi­sion se­ries. Cre­ator Gene Rod­den­berry had the vi­sion to hire the right peo­ple to tell and dra­ma­tize those sto­ries, and

view­ers were cap­ti­vated.

For ex­am­ple, one of the most mem­o­rable life-forms in the TV se­ries was the trib­bles: small, cute, furry crea­tures. With­out the rules and reg­u­la­tions of na­ture, these trib­bles mul­ti­plied be­yond be­lief and con­sumed ex­po­nen­tially more food, in­di­cat­ing the po­ten­tial of an­ni­hi­la­tion be­cause of over­whelm­ing re­pro­duc­tion, which is what we’re see­ing in over­pop­u­la­tion right now.

At its best, Star Trek tack­led global is­sues and clumped them into sci­ence fic­tion so that some­body might say, “Trib­bles are quirky and funny,” but they had an un­der­ly­ing mean­ing.

The Nos­tal­gia Fac­tor

An­other rea­son I be­lieve we love

Star Trek— and it’s a rea­son I love— is peo­ple come up to me all the time and say, “I watched your show with my par­ents.” There is this won­der­ful el­e­ment of nos­tal­gia at­tached to it.

The Quirky Cast of Char­ac­ters

Of course, we also love the un­usual mix and dynamic of the

En­ter­prise’s char­ac­ters and crew: Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov. The cap­tain was writ­ten as a hero deal­ing with peo­ple or a sit­u­a­tion and com­ing out on top. It was heroic writ­ing, lead­ing-man writ­ing. I was de­lighted to be given the op­por­tu­nity as the cap­tain to be in some

sit­u­a­tions where the char­ac­ter had to deal with un­usual things and had un­usual cast mem­bers who were his friends to aid him. When Cap­tain Kirk ended up with a girl, of course I didn’t ob­ject to that ei­ther!

And there’s ac­tor Chris Pine, who plays Kirk in the lat­est movie in­stall­ments of the

Star Trek film fran­chise, set in the 23rd cen­tury: Star Trek Into

Dark­ness and Star Trek Be­yond [re­leased in July]. He’s tall. Hand­some. He’s won­der­ful! Shat­ner stars in the NBC re­al­ity se­ries Bet­ter Late Than Never, Tues­days at 10 p.m., and his lat­est book, Zero G: Book 1 (Si­mon & Schus­ter), will be re­leased Sept. 20. Set in the year 2050, it fol­lows FBI agents polic­ing es­pi­onage be­yond the Earth’s at­mos­phere.

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