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December 31 2016 7 31 /12 /December /2016 16:43

50 years of Star-Trek in television is a remarkable for the whole mankindOn 8th September 2016 time has come: Star-Trek – or how is it called in German „Raumschiff Enterprise (Starship Enterprise) has celebrated its 50th anniversary. On 08. September 1966 the series was primarily aired in the United States. And though I haven't managed making my tribute on time, on the anniversary-day – this I just did in German – I wanted to write it this year also in English at any costs before the anniversary-year is over.

 

But let's go into medias res:

After a very mediocre start and it's end in 1969 the series saw an enormous popularity-boost in the 1970s - and is until today one of the historically most important television-series ever.

 

Up to now beside 7 (soon 8) television-series and so far 13 cinema-movies many computer- & video-games, books, Internet-media as well as countless franchise-products were created.
And the effect of the unique phenomenon „Star Trek“ goes far beyond it's core-function as an entertainment product into almost all areas of life.

Star Trek TOS (The original series) – the old Enterprise

Actually, the series was supposed to start already in 1964, at the time a pilot-movie (The cage) was filmed with mostly different crew. Captain at that time was Christopher Pike, portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter. And Spock has played a rather minor role.

 

Since this concept was too intellectual and too little action-packed for TV-station NBC, the series creator Gene Roddenberry revised script and crew. In 1966 William Shatner got the role of Captain Kirk – and together with the Vulcan Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and ship's doctor Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) the core team of the series had been formed.

 

The series itself I see quite ambivalent.
On the one hand, it stands for values such as tolerance, openness for the New and enlightened spirit of research.
On the other hand at the same time also for 1960s- and Western-mentality: Hitting & shooting BEFORE thinking and a Captain, no woman can resist. In addition also the scripts are partial shallow, gappy and implausible.

 

However the series has great charm and appeal:
The blend of yearning for the space and for a positive future paired with moral values and action but also trashy elements are simply fascinating - as Mr. Spock would say.

Star Trek TNG (The Next Generation) – the new Enterprise

Although there 3 further ships with the name Enterprise and a round of 80 years between the Original Enterprise NCC-1701 and the NCC-1701-D, „Next Generation“ is the 2nd real series in the Star Trek universe.
The Next-Generation of 1987 in many aspects is different than the original series. And – in my eyes – in almost all respects better. It starts with the Captain: While predecessor Kirk is a swashbuckler and a womaniser, successor Picard is a mature intellectual and in addition for many people a moral-authority.

 

Generally TNG is very well done, thrilling, action-packed and morally demanding.
This great composition set a new benchmark hereafter created a boom of fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, mystery) in the early to mid of 1990s and to me still belongs to the 3 best science-fiction-series ever.

Star Trek DS9 (Deep Space Nine) – dark, stationary and captivating

Even before the Next-Generation moved from television to cinema in 1994, in 1993 it's successor Deep-Space-Nine started. And trek-series number 3 kept the extremely high level of Picard and Co, but yet made a lot of things differently:

 

For the first time the Star played Trek not on a starship, but on a space-station. Commander Sisko was a single father. For the first time a big war was shown in the Star-Trek-universe and in general the whole series was set atmospheric dark

 

Still today particularly outstanding in DS9 are the many and well elaborated supporting-characters and especially the long, ample, interrelated story-arcs. Therefore, together with the TNG, and Babylon 5, to me it belongs to the 3 best all-time SF-series.

Star Trek VOY (Voyager) – far away from home

Due to the success particularly of Next-Generation, but also of Deep-Space-Nine, the studio Paramount in 1995 decided to start a 2nd trek-series, parallel to DS9. To prevent these 2 series, ongoing contemporaneously in the same serial-universe getting in each others way, the Voyager was „shipped“ to the other end of our galaxy, to the 75-years away delta-quadrant.

 

Voyager is definitely a good science-fiction-series that is atmospherically much brighter than Deep-Space-Nine and in many ways similar to Nex-Gen. Apart from some wear and tear – stories are told again, we already know from Star Trek – compared to TNG & DS9 it often is made in a rather lacklustre way.

 

Voyager initiated both, the peak of the Star-Trek-mania in 1996, but also it's big downturn around the year 2000. Nevertheless me just like many other fans definitely don't want to miss the 4th trek-series.

Star Trek ENT (Enterprise) – the vanguard as rearguard

After Star Trek's success significantly subsided in the Voyager-era, in 2001 the series creators decided to completely reboot the franchise. And so 5th series "Enterprise" (ENT) does no longer play in the 24th century like TNG, DS9 & VOY, but in the 22nd century about 100 years before the original Enterprise (TOS).

 

The series itself, similar to Voyager, achieved a good overall-level, is well made and exiting. Nevertheless it's unable taking it up with the best Star-Trek-series and quality is highly viable. In my opinion the series highlight is season no. 3, dealing for 1 whole year with the well elaborated Xindi story-arc.

 

Enterprise, among other issues, deserves criticism especially for it's partly violent and sometimes even unethical approach of it's characters – something for certain influenced by 9/11.

 

However, it is exciting to see what happened in Star Trek BEFORE the "United Federation of Planets" (UFP) creation.

Wrap-up to Star-Trek in television

I don't want to hide the fact, that in addition to the mentioned 5 series (with real people) with Star Trek TAS (The Animated Series) also a short-lived cartoon-series created in the 1970s exists.

 

After the true start in 1966 Star Trek has managed something that – with exception of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond – probably no other entertainment-product ever has: To remain popular for 50 years and to successfully continue its history in cinema as well as (again from 2017) in television.
And 100% deserves to be!

 

Star Trek is exciting, fascinating and at the same time morally and intellectually demanding. Thus all the best for the future, perhaps for another 50 years!

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June 8 2016 4 08 /06 /June /2016 22:45

Star-Trek celebrates 50th anniversary soon2016 is the year the first USS Enterprise-NCC and the entire Star-Trek-universe celebrate the ultimate anniversary: The probably most influential science-fiction-series ever gets 50 years old. And today it's exactly 3 months until anniversary-day.

 

And not enough the 50th anniversary:

With the 3rd movie of the current timeline, introduced by J.J.Abrams, and next year with an upcoming television-series on CBS really a lot is just happening in the trek-universe this years.

However, in 2016 I've posted not a single Blog entry yet.

 

But it's quite simple:

The 1st half of the year 2016 in terms of entertainment-issues I have focused on the "Life-on-Mars" and "Ashes to ashes" serial-universe.

In the 2nd half of the year however I will create 3-4 entries about Star-Trek:

  1. On 8th of September on the occasion of 50 years of Star-Trek, of course, an extensive appreciation of both, the original series wit Kirk & Spock as well as Star-Trek as a whole.

  2. Almost 2 weeks later, on 20th of September Trek series no. 5, Enterprise, celebrates its 15th anniversary.

  3. Then it is important to shed light on the different political aspects of Star Trek.

  4. And maybe I'll make another article, for example, about new series upcoming in 2017.

So, science-fiction-buddies and especially all Trekkies/Trekkers can look forward on some new content in my blog.

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January 16 2015 6 16 /01 /January /2015 00:00

Star Trek Voyager just turned 20 yearsAppreciations for important science-fiction series have something of a tradition for me.
After the two Star Trek series "Next Generation" (TNG) and "Deep Space Nine" (DS9), as well as "Babylon 5" and its spin-off "Crusade" it's "Voyager" (VOY) to celebrate a big anniversary now:
Exactly 20 years ago on January 16th 1995 it has flown on television screens for the first time in the United States.

 

In contrast to "Deep Space Nine" or "Babylon 5" I was really keen to see more of Star Trek and to get known with the much anticipated successor of the new Enterprise, that from 1994 on only continued to fly in the cinema.
 

Voyager for certain does not belong to the very best but for certain belongs to the really good science-fiction series.
It co-initiated Star Treks peak of success in 1996, but also the strong downturn of Star Trek from around the year 2000 on.

 

Voyager takes place in the same universe and at the same time as TNG & DS9. But not at the same location, the ship together with a Maquis fighter is carried to the delta-quadrant by the "Caretaker", a very powerful being. There the Voyager is dependent on its self and even at top-speed is around 75 years away from home.
 

This scenario, where the story takes place secluded from home and largely without the rest of the Federation distinguishes Voyager from all other Star Trek series.
And dealing with this new, difficult situation, where things taken for granted are no longer available and you have to struggle for survival, especially makes season-1 very interesting for me.

 

Despite the stand-alone scenario, it is a proper Star Trek series which offers not only excitement, fun and action, but also attaches great importance on values like tolerance and moral integrity.


The Voyager is also much brighter than Deep Space Nine, is visually reminiscent of the Enterprise-D.
The character composition is very well made – independently from the question whether you'd have to shape it as politically highly correct as it has been shaped.
Janeway, the first female Star Trek Captain, the native-American Ex-Maquis-Insurgent and first officer Chakotay, the Vulcan security-chief Tuvok, the half-Klingon Ex-Maquis-Chief-Engineer Torres, the holographic doctor, later also the ex-Borg "Seven of Nine" and all the others provide a blend with a lot of tension, humour and variety.


However there are also several points of criticism:

  • The character of Captain Janeway has very large discrepancies, particularly in referring to her own values. On many occasions she has hyped up the values and ideals of the Federation into the sky and vehemently has demanded compliance by the crew to these. At the same time it was herself making decisions which were morally questionable (e.g. the back-splitting of Tuvix, the hybrid-creature of Tuvok and Neelix) or even contradicted the federation-laws (such as her personal hunt on the USS Equinox).
  • In contrast to its 2 predecessors the quality did not improve from the 3rd season on, but it droped sharply in the 2nd season and then was again considerably better, but fluctuating.
  • The character of deputy chief-engineer Joe Carey, who always participated in exiting episodes of the 1st season, later is almost irrelevant. That displeases me, because potential excitement had been given away and even some absurd situations arised (E.g. "Seven of Nine" substituted Torres as chief-engineer, although Carey still were on the ship).
  • In contrast to TNG & DS9 there was a strong discrepancy between the beginning and the end of the series, which makes VOY inhomogeneous. While the Caretaker and his partner play a key-part at the beginning of the show, the Borg play the decisive role at the end of the series. The Borg were introduced in the serie's third season for quota reasons.Seven of Nine is one of the best elaborated Star Trek characters ever


But it very clearly has to be said that the character "Seven of Nine", introduced with the Borg story-arc, has much more to offer than large and clearly visible bosoms. It's one of the best developed characters in the entire Star Trek universe. The "becoming-a-man" of this Borg can easily measure even with Data's "seeking-for-humanity".
 

Conclusion:

Voyager is a really good science-fiction series that I have really liked at it's first appearance and I still really like today. Despite significant weaknesses, I would not want to be without it and even today see the show as enriching to me.
If it hadn't to measure with it's 2 outstanding predecessors "Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine" VOY would even be a remarkable piece of television.
In this sense once again congratulations on this anniversary!

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September 28 2012 6 28 /09 /September /2012 21:45
25 years of Star Trek - The next generation (TNG)
A quarter century of Star Trek TNG

On September 28th 1987 the 1st episode of "Star Trek - The next generation" (TNG) – in German-speaking countries "Raumschiff Enterprise – Das naechste Jahrhundert", has been on air in the United States. Around 21 years after the original Starship Enterprise it’s successor had taken over command in the Star Trek universe.

And this event now is almost unbelievable 25 years ago.

 

I must confess that I am a science-fiction fan. Especially the Star Trek universe is very exciting in my eyes. I've seen the first episodes of the new spaceship Enterprise around 1990 when I was staying at my aunt in the summer holidays. At that time my parents did not yet have satellite television. It took until 1994 when the series really started for me.

 

The next generation to me is the best of all Star Trek series. And it was TNG that has lifted the pop-cultural phenomenon "Star Trek" to the peak of success in the 1990s and that has pave Star Trek’s way into the 21st century.

 

On the fascinating stage of space Star Trek shows characters that are experiencing exciting adventures with a pinch of humor and thereby promoting peace and progress.

The next generation stands also for high demands:

The claim always to deal with social, scientific and political issues under the highest moral considerations.

 

Especially Captain Picard does refer to this claim. A school-mate told me in the 1990s that Picard to him is a kind of moral authority.

In addition to the captain Data stands out of the ensemble. The Android who wants to be humanlike is a very popular character and an ingenious whizz kid.

Also Commander Riker has had many good moments with his rather loose manner.

Together with Deanna Troi, Worf, Dr. Crusher and Geordi LaForge the result is a great ensemble of actors.

 

A further component of success is the large pool of well elaborated, recurring minor characters. And these are not only embodied by good but often also by well-known actors. A movie star like Whoopi Goldberg does not volunteer for a supporting role at any TV-series.

 

A very high level at the characters make-up, special effects and scripts completes the basic recipe of success.

 

However, it must be said that the series has had to develope:

Season 1 has reached only a moderate level almost across the board. The series often was a "rehash" of original Star Trek too much and had too little profile of it’s own.

That has improved already with the 2nd season and up from the 3rd season the new Enterprise has hit top form.

 

TNG’s popularity has lifted Star Trek to the peak of success in the 1990s: in addition to a TV-sequel with 2 further series ("Deep Space Nine" and "Voyager") from 1994 to 2002 the new Enterprise has continued it’s journey also on the big screen.

 

In the 2000s the great success for the "Next Generation" as well as for Star Trek as a whole has been over.

The 2009 Star Trek movie with a new Kirk and a new Spock however has been appealing to many people. It’s storyline takes place in a completely distinct universe and in addition around 100 years before the Next Generation.

 

10 Years after the new spaceship Enterprise’ last journey and 13 respectively 11 years after the end of "Deep Space Nine" respectively "Voyager" from my point of view it’s highest time that the adventures of this time line find their continuation on the TV-screen.

 

For not “burning-out” Star Trek I have in mind not to run a new series but to make 1-2 90-minute two-part TV-movies every year.

Old, well-known characters from TNG, DS9 and VOY could perform as well as new characters.

As title "Star Trek - 25th Century" would be perfect.

 

But how much ever I like Star Trek – it still entertains me and stimulates my mind – I also have to emphasize one thing very clearly:

Star Trek and science-fiction in general is not reality, it is an illusory world.

And nobody should escape reality by going in an illusory world.

 

We are living in turbulent times, facing many threats: financial crisis, environmental problems, increasing anti-democratic tendencies.

And if ever there shall be a positive future like the one on the new Enterprise, all of us have to commit engagement in our private-lifes as well as in political and social issues.

In this sense: "Engage" - for the next 25 years.

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