Star Trek and Me

So I’m trying to get myself back ‘out there’, for various reasons, and I want to get more involved in communities so I’m looking out for and joining clubs and online forums.

If you’ve come to my blog from a forum post, what I’m about to talk may sound familiar to you, as I’m going to use this as a basis for an introductory message on a forum. As part of introducing myself, I thought I’d explain how I came to be a fan of Star Trek and what it means to me…

Well, that’s one of those questions that you think you know the answer to until you actually sit down and go to write your answer! Asking me what Star Trek is to me, is a bit like asking “what does breathing oxygen mean to you”? It has always been there and you’d really miss it if it disappeared!

Star Trek has, literally, always been there. I have memories from early childhood of catching repeats of the The Original Series – I wasn’t born when Star Trek was new but I believe BBC repeated them in the earlyish 80s. I only have vague memories of certain moments but I remember being fascianted with the show.

Video tapes were very expensive back then and well out of the budget of someone whose age was still in single digits! So whenever Star Trek II or III were screened on TV, I remember that being a special event for me and I’d almost always watch them. I was lucky enough to have access to another TV upstairs so I would go to bed but stay up a bit later than usual watching Wrath of Khan or the Search For Spock.

I remember there being a huge fanfare when ‘The Cage’ – the, then unseen, pilot of Star Trek was released on VHS. I remember my Dad getting that as it was a Star Trek episode that had never ever been on TV…AND it didn’t have Captain Kirk in it! I actually still have that tape – I remember finding it strange how it jumped from black and white to colour. The reason was that, at the time, only the black and white copy of the pilot had been found (the full colour version was discovered a bit later on) so they’d stitched the colour footage from ‘The Menagerie’ (the two part Original Series episode that made use of the footage from the pilot – waste not want not, after all!).

I remember Star Trek The Next Generation starting on BBC2 – annoyingly we missed the first episodes and I think the first one I saw was ‘The Naked Now’. I remember discussing Next Generation at the time with other kids at school and we speculated on where Captain Kirk was. I remember one kid thought (incorrectly) that the frozen crew found in ‘The Naked Now’ had been Captain Kirk and crew!

In those days, we only had 4 tv channels in the UK. Yeah! FOUR! And a lot of shows took ages to get here. BBC2 was pretty slow, from what I remember, but around 1991 we got Sky (after seeing it at a relatives house my Dad was sold on all those channels!) and they were showing the latest series of Next Generation!

We used to watch the second showing of it, later in the evening. I remember seeing the uncut version of Conspiracy and being surprised at just how graphic that bit at the end was! They blew that guy’s head off! Naturally, being a kid, I loved that! 😉

One day, in my early teens, I had to go with my Mum to a neighbouring town – I can’t remember the reason but it my Mum had injured her arm and neck in an accident around that time so I suspect that it may have been for something relating to that. In any case, as a reward on the way home – I was allowed to stop off in a toy shop near the railway station and I discovered there were Star Trek TNG toys! These were the Playmates ones and I ended up getting an action figure of Data. I don’t know why but that little guy kicked off a whole new and more intense interest in Star Trek for me. I got Worf on a repeat visit and the rest of the crew followed. I’ve also recently started buying the occasional Playmates Star Trek figure again at conventions as they’re still pretty easy to get in packaged or good condition. I guess we Star Trek fans look after our toys!

I got the Star Trek Encyclopedia when Sky did some sort of special offer on it, if you sent off and bought it from them. I remember reading that thing from cover to cover! I read through all of the episodes and discovered that there was a series of TNG that hadn’t been on TV yet! We were behind! AND the episodes sounded cool! That was season 6, leading into 7, by the way. Around that time, I’d also started a part time weekend job. So I had money! Then I discovered these new episodes were being released on video! I actually got the last two episodes of season 6 as I’d read about Lore working with the Borg and was intrigued… The first two episodes of season 7 followed not long after that.

Tapes were still reasonably expensive then so I could only afford a couple a month (unless they were in sales or I got one as a present). So I started off just setting out to get my favourite episodes, starting with any Borg related ones and then any Q related ones… of course, it snowballed from there. Tapes got cheaper, I got a slightly better paying weekend job… By the time I was at college, I had about three shelves full of Star Trek tapes! In time, I had all of the movies and a mixture of TOS, TNG and was also collecting DS9. It made for a patchy collection – I wouldn’t get every episode until the advent of DVD box sets a few years later, and when Voyage came along, it meant I was trying to collect the new shows at the same time as expanding my collecton of the old ones. I enjoyed every tape I got though and those tapes got many repeat viewings!

I did my first ever Star Trek convention in 1995 – it was the Generations convention in the Royal Albert Hall. It was a birthday treat from my Mum and Dad (who took me there). I saw Michael Dorn and Gates McFadden on stage. I remember being disappointed that I didn’t get to see Patrick Stewart but we had to get home and it was a bit of a Trek to get there (come on, you knew that joke was going to happen at some point in this!). I didn’t complain too much though as I used money saved from my birthday (the convention was a bit later than my actual birthday) and bought a big Captain Kirk Generations figure! My Dad bought me the soundtrack from The Best of Both Worlds and, when I got home, I remember popping into a shop in town and buying Star Trek V on VHS (completing my movie collection) and watching it later that night when I went to bed. What a day that was and I still remember it all these years later! 🙂

Ahh, Star Trek Generations! I remember that summer! That was the first Star Trek movie I saw at the cinema and I remember going with friends to watch it several times over. I was blown away by the spectacle of seeing the Next Gen crew on the big screen. I also remember loving the fact that we finally got to see Picard and Kirk together on the same screen – even if it was only for a short while. I think I must have seen that movie about half a dozen times. I remember my Mum asking me “are you really going to see the same movie again?”.

Things have moved on considerably since then – I now have every episode and movie on DVD and Blu Ray (where applicable). I’ve recently rewatched TOS and TNG and am about to start rewatching DS9.

I’ve met nearly all of the actors that have played the TNG (Jonathan Frakes continues to elude me!), the surviving main cast of TOS and all of the main crew from DS9. I even got to shout with Gowron himself last year! I never ever would have imagined getting to meet these people when I was growing up watching them on TV. Life really is a strange new world sometimes!

One thing that hasn’t changed for me over all of these years is my love of Star Trek. I love all of it – even the new movies. I enjoy those for what they are and regard them as an alternate universe. I’m looking forward to seeing Discovery too. Although there hasn’t been any new Star Trek on tv for a while now, that hasn’t diminished my enjoyment of Star Trek at all. In fact, if anything, in recent years it has strengthened my enthusiasm for it – I’ve been doing conventions, reading books, re-watching the episodes and have connected with fellow fans and made some great friends – all thanks to Star Trek!

I know some people scoff and say “it’s only a TV show” but it really is more than that – Star Trek shows the potential of humanity, if we overcome all of the problems and things that hold us back. I’ve often said that Star Trek conventions – and in fact most Sci-Fi and Comic Cons – should act as a template for resolving differences. When you go to these things, you meet lots of happy people who all have something in common! Maybe the whole world should have one big convention to make us realise that we actually have a lot in common and should spend our time making friends and working together to make great things! I’d buy a ticket to that one!

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