Monday, May 11, 2009

To See or Not to See — (It's Only a Movie)

I read a couple of reviews of the new Star Trek movie over the weekend. Although I rarely go to movies, part of me would sure like to see this one. It sounds like it would be great if you liked the original Star Trek series.

Back when I was a kid I used to watch Star Trek on TV, especially in reruns. I was never a Star Trek aficionado. I couldn’t tell you the plots of all of the episodes, I didn’t know anything about the actors’ lives, nor did I own Star Trek paraphernalia as did a few of the really weird kids at school. (One girl in high school carried around tribbles and a toy communicator in her purse.)

But a Star Trek episode was often a good way to waste an hour, especially given what was usually on competing channels at the same time — talk shows, game shows, inane dramas, and silly sit-coms. We could only get three channels back then and home video equipment was still years away.

Having seen Star Trek reruns many times during my couch potato years, there were some episodes that I really liked — where they ended up in a 1920s mob environment, where they went back to 1969, where they were in a Roman gladiator world, and where they had an old western shootout (hmmm, I note a pattern here) — and episodes that I quite disliked — where they dealt with this powerful brat named Charlie, where kids on the ship had an evil imaginary friend, the planet killer thing, and the episode called The Empath. (I just hated that one.) Most episodes were forgettable of themselves, although, they reinforced the basic patterns of the series. (“He’s dead, Jim!”)

Give me a break; I was a kid. I haven’t seen most of these shows since then. Maybe I’d have different opinions if I were to see these episodes today. But I rarely sit down to watch TV, so that’s not going to happen.

Years went by and I found myself regularly watching the Next Generation series. More sophisticated, to be sure. Not nearly as much brute force involved. Not bad, though. Then came DS9 — the show that got stranger and stranger by the episode. Life was changing for me then. I pretty much quit watching TV at all, so DS9 (thankfully) went by the wayside for me. I saw parts of a couple of episodes of Voyager, and thought, “What the …?”

This new movie, it seems, recaptures some of the best elements of the original series. But apparently it captures some of the worst elements as well.

Last Thursday my son had to work late at his job at a movie theater because they were showing a preview of the recent Star Trek movie. He later described for me the crowd that turned out to see it. The people that were decked out in Star Trek uniforms, he claimed, were almost uniformly “very fat” and “old” (meaning middle aged). “These were grown people,” he continued incredulously; “Dad, it was pathetic.”

Although I’d like to catch the movie, I suppose that it will be like countless other movies I have thought about watching over the past few years. Somehow I will never find time to get away and watch it. There will always be more important things going on. Then it will be out of theaters and released on DVD. Even then I probably won’t even bother to rent it. Who has the time? (Which is just another way of saying that it just isn’t very important to me.)

Besides, past experience has shown me that I usually don’t see things the way most movie reviewers do. What turns their crank doesn’t turn mine and vice versa. No disrespect intended. We just have different motivations.

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