Born in 1962, I was almost too young to really appreciate Star Trek by the time it had run its course from 1966-69. Seven years old, and Star Trek had been cancelled.
My first memories of watching Star Trek are in the basement on Saturdays. It might have been a black and white or maybe a fairly primitive color TV. I can’t remember. What I do remember, though, is that the picture was pretty snowy. So it could have been a Buffalo NY channel. Or possibly a Hamilton ON channel. A snowy picture wasn’t uncommon back in the 60s and early 70s—if a household didn’t have cable, that is.
Even though the picture was fuzzy, I was captivated by Trek‘s faraway ambiance. It was low tech, for sure. But very high on the imagination. And that’s what really counts in storytelling, sci-fi or otherwise.
A few years later, the show came back as daily reruns. My friends and I would watch Trek, almost like an after school congregation. Sometimes we’d watch two episodes a day. The reruns were that popular.
One of my favorite childhood episodes took place on a planet similar to Nazi Germany. Another great episode saw Kirk being accused of witchcraft on a planet similar to Earth’s European Middle Ages. And then there was Trelane, that Renaissance spoilsport who played the harpsichord, mostly concerned with his own pleasure.
There are several other outstanding episodes. Some explore the notion of parallel universes. Others, the merging of fantasy and reality. And others, the pitfalls of gangland violence or hippie idealism. But my all-time favorite, “City on the Edge of Forever,” won a Hugo award.
In this episode, Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy (Bones) travel back in time through a doughnut shaped portal to America’s Dirty Thirties. Kirk falls in love with the beautiful and insightful Edith Keeler. Unfortunately, she dies at the end of the episode. So Kirk must return to the Enterprise, to his own time, and suppress his feelings in order to command the starship.
It was a brilliant episode about time travel. One of the first to blend metaphysics and human emotion.
As for Leonard Nimoy, he was forever clever, funny and played the role of Spock perfectly. Jolene Blalock, who expertly portrayed the Vulcan T’Pol in Enterprise, once said that Nimoy was a hard act to follow.
Spock was groundbreaking because he was, perhaps, the first ET on TV with a full personality. As a self-proclaimed Vulcan, he was also half-human, a being who’d been taught as a boy to bury his emotions. That’s what Vulcans did. But the inner conflict was always lurking, just waiting to rise to the surface.
Despite his apparent rationalism, Spock would fall in love. He’d be reckless. He’d exhibit great valor. And when teased by Bones and Kirk, Spock would coolly rationalize his underlying emotionalism, in true Vulcan style.
Nimoy certainly was the man for the job. He played the innovative, complex character of Spock to a T. So Mr. Nimoy, thanks for the memories. And to you in the next life:
LIVE LONG AND PROSPER! 🙂