Sunday, September 30, 2012

GUEST POST: Brian @ Babbling Books Discusses Star Trek (TOS), Part I

Star Trek, especially
The Original Series,
has gathered countless fans
throughout the years!
It has influenced SF writing,
producing Star Trek-related novels,
as well.
Please join me in welcoming
Brian @ Babbling Books,
who has written a very interesting
essay on how this beloved show
has influenced his life.
I will be presenting his fascinating
thoughts in two posts.
This is the first one.
Hope you enjoy!

I grew up watching the original Star Trek series, also affectionately known to fans as TOS (The Original Series). Much more than just a television show that I liked when I was young, the beloved five-year voyage was, in fact, a major influence upon my outlook on life, my viewpoints and certainly my literary tastes. This statement may seem a little odd coming from me. I am frequently negative about television viewing in general.

Granted, these days there seem to be quite a few worthwhile television programs, ranging from cutting-edge comedies to dramas with seriously complex characters and themes, to science fiction shows that challenge and stimulate the imagination and thinking. I emphasize the word “seem” since, due to time constraints and a busy life full of responsibilities and interests, I currently watch no television series. However, based on a little outside observation, as well as opinions from friends whose views I trust, it appears that there is certainly some more than worthy television out there. Right now, in this stage of my life, I just do not have the time.
I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s. Obviously, television was different then. Cable television was getting started and available to some.  However, living in a rural area, it was not an option to my family. Instead, we had around eight or nine broadcast television stations available. Though I watched what seems now to be an enormous number of television shows in my youth, even at the time I recognized that most of it was really unimaginative and uninspiring.

Though Star Trek was not the only television content available to a curious mind, it was a rare diamond in the rough that was an enormous influence and inspiration to many of us who possessed active minds and imaginations. In a way TOS is really a space age Odyssey, with James T. Kirk in the role of Odysseus. That is, it is a rousing adventure that has a lot to say about life and the Universe.

In what seemed like a sea of unthinking media, the original Star Trek series touched upon the meaning of life, love, war, science versus religion, politics, and so much more. Furthermore, the entire idea of conflict was different from that presented by most television and movies of the time. Star Trek was usually not about fighting alien monsters and evil aliens. To be sure, there were space battles, but the encounters were often the result of misunderstandings between cultures and civilizations and were often ultimately resolved, after a spate of action, by talking out differences and by negotiation. Diversity among people, who were often represented by alien races, was championed and not belittled as it was in many other outlets.

Younger viewers of thoughtful and imaginative television of today may ask, “What is the big deal?” In the 1970s it seemed that there was nothing else even close to this coming from the mass media. Science fiction on television and often in the movies was all too often exemplified by a simple-minded “shoot ‘em up, kill the bad guy” mentality. Furthermore, outside of Star Trek and a few other shows that were difficult to find, television rarely took on the big philosophical issues. Star Trek was five steps ahead of the competition. Of course, great stories, characters and very cool ships also helped! It seemed as if it was a special little secret only for initiates; the people who made this series thought like us!  As a result, folks who recognized all of this catapulted TOS into an enormous popular culture cult phenomenon.
(To be continued...)



  1. I used to enjoy this show when it was aired on German TV. Thinking back I couldn't remember one whole story line, I remember episodes. I can't really watch series when they are being aired I'm too impatient. the shows I realy like are like mosntser movies. Only when you watch it all from the first to the ladt episode can you fully appreciate it. So I start watching series much later than when they are aired. But I haven't seen all that many. Six Feet Under is one of my favourites and Buffy the vampire Slayer which is sooo much better than one would think Really dark towards the end.

  2. Hi, Caroline!

    Oh, I LOVE this show!! And you know, I've tried watching the later incarnations of ST, such as The Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine. To me, they're not STAR TREK. I think of them as being just other SF shows that aired later on. I think of STAR TREK as being ONLY the original show. There's just no other cast that I can love as much!!

    As for monster movies, I don't like them. I do LOVE The Twilight Saga, but that doesn't really qualify as horror, since Meyer has a whole different, VERY romantic take on vampires.

    Would you believe I've never watched a single Buffy episode? Well, that's because I have TWO jobs -- one of them a night job, and I usually get home around 10:00 PM. By that time, all the really good shows are over. I really have to try to get some Buffy episodes on DVD.

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting!! : )

  3. I only watch TV shows on DVD. Should you watch Buffy, you will have to be patient. Series I is so so but then it gets good. The love story between Buffy and Angel is really something and later they explore a lot of really deep themes like loneliness and angst but not in a depressing way. And it's a very feminist show. Tolerance being one of the main themes. No horror.

  4. Hi, Caroline!

    Oh, I'll DEFINITELY have to get some Buffy DVDs!! Or maybe check out the show on Netflix, if they have it. I'm VERY interested in that love story!!! I also like the feminist angle. GREAT!! And it's horror? Wow, things are getting better by the minute!

    Thanks so much for commenting again!~! : )

  5. Hi, again, Caroline!

    Oh, I'll DEFINITELY have to get some Buffy DVDs!! Or maybe check out the show on Netflix, if they have it. I'm VERY interested in that love story!!! I also like the feminist angle. GREAT!! And there's NO horror? Wow, things are getting better by the minute!

    Thanks so much for commenting again!~! : )


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