JAY: A fan of J.J Abrams’ Star Trek Universe with little knowledge of the original series.
JOHN: Not a fan of J.J Abrams’ Star Trek Universe but a huge fan of the original series.
THE DEBATE BEGINS
(JAY) When J.J Abrams’ Star Trek first trailer came out, we were both pretty pumped but for different reasons. For me, it was the first Star Trek movie I was genuinely excited to see. For you it was a chance to see classic characters re-imagined. Of the two of us, you were definitely more of a skeptic.
I grew up at the height of The Next Generation so I never got into the original series. You would think I would have been all over Star Trek growing up but I was never interested. Still, I was aware of Kirk and his crew. How can you not be? Whether you love the series or not, you can’t deny Star Trek’s impact on pop culture.
It was obviously the filmmakers goal to simultaneously pay homage to the original series while introducing new fans to characters. This approach worked perfectly for me being relatively new to the Star Trek Universe.
I suppose my question to you would be how you discovered the original series? And what were you hoping J.J Abrams would deliver for long time Star Trek fans like you?
(JOHN) Skepticism is an understatement when it they announced a new Star Trek. A reboot that involved characters so near and dear to my heart. Like yourself, I’ve always been a bit of a trailer junkie and it is in fact trailers and teasers that got me interested in editing as a career path. I’ve always been fascinated how a trailer could take many of the main sequences and dialogue from a film and put them together in a way that still leaves the viewer wanting more.
But how many times have we seen a trailer that looked awesome, only to find the film itself was actually not what we expected? (Personal examples: Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Matrix: Revolutions. True, these are sequels that build upon pre-established characters, but then again, isn’t “Star Trek”?)
The ability to draw people in and often trick the viewer into thinking a movie is going to be awesome (when unfortunately a little too often it doesn’t meet expectations) is what I love about movie trailers. So when I saw the trailer for Star Trek, I wasn’t excited for the movie itself, rather how good they were able to make it look. Add to that the music they used was pretty damned good.
I shall try to contain my inner Trekker from taking over and ranting too much. (Yes, Trekker. I’m not a Trekkie. I don’t dress up.)
I discovered the original series when I was a kid through my dad. He has always been a fan of the original series. During my youth an old TV station called CKVR based out of Barrie, Ontario used to rerun the original series and he would always be taping them on VHS. He would catalog them and keep track of which episodes he had and which ones he still needed.
My Saturday afternoons as a kid consisted of playing road hockey with my dad, then coming inside, eating Kraft Dinner and watching an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series with him. You could practically set your watch to it. In fact, I’ve been told that even before I could really comprehend what I was watching, I used to tell my dad that I wanted to watch “Spock Ship.” This is what I thought the show was called as a toddler. Talk about an early start, eh? The adventures of Kirk, Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew became a part of my upbringing and the characters became almost like family. Almost everyone has a show they look back at growing up and loving. For me it was The Original Series (TOS). So, right there, it is easy to see how I have a very personal connection with the show, the characters, and the actors who portrayed them. They became a part of my Saturday afternoons, right there with my dad, road hockey and delicious Kraft Dinner. (I shudder to think how much of that stuff I have eaten over the years.)
Now, what was I hoping J.J. Abrams was going to deliver for a long time fan like myself?
To not screw it up. To be loyal to the original. To respect what came before it.
The moment I heard that they had the stones to RE-cast the original characters, I lost all hope. Someone ELSE other than Shatner playing James T. Kirk? A different actor donning the ears and bringing Mr. Spock to life? Not possible. Not after all this time. Not after, as you said, the show, characters and actors themselves became a part of popular culture. They are entrenched. There’s no going back.
Want to make a new Star Trek? Fine, do just that! NEW! Create NEW characters! They did it 4 separate times after TOS was over. With the exception of The Next Generation (because that was airing as I was growing up and is practically 1-B to the 1-A that is TOS) I was slow to accept the new series’ each time they came out. But that’s okay. Because even though they were all under the “Star Trek” umbrella, they were also all different and new characters, and if I didn’t care for some of them, that’s fine. It’s not like they are trying to mess with the original. (As a side note, after given enough time and getting used to the new and different characters, I grew to enjoy aspects or all of the more recent incarnations of Trek, those being Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise.)
IF they had cast unknowns as the original characters…IF they had decided not to mess with 701 episodes, 10 feature films, and over 40 YEARS of history…they might have had me. I may have accepted it. They decided against that though. They decided to cast one of the Tremor Brothers as Kirk, Sylar as Spock (I will give them credit, he was the ONE actor who I think actually resembled his previous counterpart), KUMAR’s freaking pot smoking, White Castle craving buddy Harold as Sulu and Shaun/Nicolas Angel as Scotty? Simon effing Pegg?? All of a sudden Scotty is a comedian? Complete with a sidekick?? And yes, you could say “but John, they DIDN’T mess with history, they created an alternate universe!” well that’s almost worse! To me, I’m taking that as a huge middle finger from the creators of this movie. (Spoiler Alert…although to me, it just seems like they were trying to spoil the whole franchise) I’m interpreting that as they didn’t like what had been established and what had transpired beforehand. “Hey, I don’t like what you’ve done here, and because I can’t come up with my own original ideas, I’m going to take YOUR characters and YOUR universe and erase everything and use YOUR stuff to make what *I* wanna make. So there.” So now that I’m playing with your toys, let’s kill off Spock’s mother. Let’s destroy Vulcan. Let’s have Spock and Uhura try and get into each other’s pants. Excuse me?
My real question is why. Why did they have to use TOS characters? Clearly the answer is money. They figure if they are going to “re-boot” the franchise (isn’t there too much of that going on these days? A Spider-man reboot 5 years after the third installment of the previous incarnation premiered?? Are you kidding me? Hey, The Avengers just came out in 2012…lets reboot it in 2013.) Then let’s start at the “beginning” and use characters people know or have heard of and gear it towards young people and get them invested in Star Trek again.
For right or wrong, it worked. The movie did extremely well. It catered to all the people who just wanted to see explosions and sex (well who doesn’t) and slapped the title “Star Trek” on it. Star Trek is “cool” now! “I’m a Star Trek fan!”… Are you? Please, be specific. Are you a fan of ONE movie that came out, or are you a fan of science fiction? The exploration of ideas, concepts, time and space? Things that make you think? Equality, the human condition, political issues? These are the things Gene Roddenberry was thinking about when he created the series back in 1966. THAT is what the franchise was built upon.
So I guess my question to you is, by using the names, characters and setting of TOS in “Star Trek”, are you at all interested in seeing where it came from? Are you invested in The Original Series? Have you watched a single TOS episode or movie? Because if not, then what was the point of using those characters?