Prepping For ‘Star Trek: Picard’ – A Procrastinators’ Guide: “To help you prep (or at this point, cram), TrekMovie presents a list of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes that showcase Jean-Luc Picard’s exploits with the Borg and Romulans, plus a few essential Captain Picard episodes that reveal his character. We also include a bonus list of a few Seven of Nine-centric episodes of Voyager.”

Activision, Inc., a leading developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment software products, today announced that it has filed a breach of contract suit against Viacom. …through its actions and inactions, Viacom has let the once proud Star Trek franchise stagnate and decay. Viacom has released only one “Star Trek” movie since entering into agreement with Activision and has recently informed Activision it has no current plans for further “Star Trek” films. Viacom also has allowed two “Star Trek” television series to go off the air and the remaining series suffers from weak ratings. Viacom also frustrated Activision’s efforts to coordinate the development and marketing of its games with Viacom’s development and marketing of its new movies and television series.

(via Lane)

My first response? It’s about damn time! Trek has been going steadily downhill for quite a while now — I’m less than impressed with Enterprise, I’m being told to forego purchasing Voyager, and there hasn’t been a truly good Trek movie since Star Trek VI (First Contact came the closest, but I’ve got some definite issues with it, too). Whether it’s the fault of Viacom, Paramount, or the people writing and controlling the franchise, the fact is that it’s nowhere near where it was — nor where it likely could be.

However, that said — this seems pretty frivolous. Is it really Viacom’s purported mismanagement of the Trek franchise that is causing problems for ActiVision and their Trek-themed games? Or is it that the games themselves aren’t all that good to begin with? I’m not a gamer myself, and have neither seen nor played a Star Trek themed computer game since NetTrek, so I’m not at all in a position to judge the games. I just question whether the downward slide of the Trek franchise is enough of a contributor to ActiVision’s lack of sales to support a breach of contract suit. I’m sure it was one factor, but that much of a deciding factor? I’m not sure.

First off, a confession: I’m a trekkie (trekker? whatever). Have been practically since birth, and it’s all my Dad’s fault. ;) Two years old, sitting on my dad’s lap, watching the original series on television. As soon as the Enterprise zoomed across the screen and Captain Kirk started the famous lines, “Space…where no man has gone before…” I’d be excitedly saying “speesh!” and pointing off into space (which apparently was somewhere behind me and over my left shoulder).

I grew up with Star Trek. I never did get into sewing my own uniform, or donning rubber Vulcan ears or Klingon foreheads, and I’ve only been to one convention, but I’ve got a library of original series technical manuals that I’ve picked up over the years. One of the earlier ones (the Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual) had an alien alphabet printed out, which I dutifully memorized, characters and pronunciation both. Imagine my surprise when I later visited Greece, and discovered that the “alien alphabet” was nothing more than Greek, and I could read every sign around me in perfect Greek. I had no idea what I was saying, of course, but I could read it all, and it’s all thanks to Star Trek.

One summer I was at one of the CTY summer camps that I participated in, and much of the talk and gossip at the time was about this new Star Trek show that was being started. Some “new generation” or something. We were all highly skeptical — after all, we’d all grown up with the Holy Trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and now someone wanted to try to recapture that? Not likely! Our skeptical opinions weren’t helped at all when one of the sunday papers printed a picture of the new crew. That kid from Stand By Me was there (a kid?). The dorky guy from that kid’s “Reading Rainbow” show was wearing a banana clip on his face. The captain…was old. And bald. To top it all off, their uniforms were one-piece jumpsuits, recalling bad memories of the horrid 70’s costuming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture — and they were hot pink! Obviously, the show was doomed from the start.

Needless to say, we were (thankfully) wrong. The kid, admittedly, suffered from some bad writing (but he’s since turned into a pretty damn cool guy). We got used to the banana clip, and it certainly helped that that “dorky guy” was also a well-respected actor in his own right. As far as old, bald captains go — if I can be half as cool (and sexy) as Patrick Stewart when I’m his age, I’ll be doing well! And, thankfully, those hot pink uniforms turned out to be nothing more than bad color in the newspaper.

Since then, while I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the original series, Star Trek: The Next Generation has been my favorite Star Trek incarnation (at least, as far as the TV incarnations go — the Next Gen movies rarely approached the cinematic quality of either Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan or Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, imho).

However, towards the end of Next Gen’s run, I stopped watching TV. Less and less of what I saw on television appealed to me, and commercials were getting more and more annoying, so I just stopped. With three exceptions (the Y2K turnover, the 2000 presidential debates, and the first couple months of Enterprise), I’ve not seen any more television that what I may have wandered into while at friend’s houses. Because of this, I missed the last couple seasons of Next Gen, and have caught no more than the occasional episode of Deep Space Nine or Voyager. I watched the first few weeks of Enterprise, which seemed passable at the time, but then Paramount started releasing DVD sets of Next Gen, and I revised my opinion of Enterprise.

So throughout 2002, I revisited Captain Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D as each successive DVD set was released. It was a lot of fun — I hadn’t seen many of the earlier episodes in years (some of them probably not since they were originally broadcast), and many of the later episodes I hadn’t seen at all. Once that was done with, though, I faced a dilemma. I knew that I enjoyed the Next Generation series enough to buy it all, but Deep Space Nine was an unknown. I’d caught a few of the episodes from time to time, and generally enjoyed what I’d seen, but I didn’t have enough experience to really make a judgment. Fan opinion on DS9 always seemed to be somewhat divided, too, with fairly equal camps lauding it and decrying it.

However, as 2002 approached and I started reading more about DS9 as the DVD release came closer, I started reading more and more people recommending it. Eventually, I decided that I’d at least pick up the first season to see what I thought of it. After all, if it bored me, I wasn’t out too much money, and I’d know not to pick up the rest.

The blood of a trekkie runs deep and true, it seems.

As it turns out, DS9 has impressed me far more than I was expecting. The series, quite simply, kicks ass. A lot of potentially dangerous decisions were made when putting the show together (not least of which was setting it on a space station, rather than a ship), but they ended up working out incredibly well. They were able to create long-lasting story lines that run not just from show to show, but from season to season, political maneuvering and machinations galore, battle scenes that have had me wide-eyed with surprise, and many other touches that have made my introduction to DS9 incredibly enjoyable.

Today, I brought home the DVD set of season four of DS9, and just finished watching the season opening episode, “The Way of the Warrior“. Wow. There’s definitely a jaw-dropping aspect to watching a fleet of thirty-some Klingon ships, from the now familiar Bird of Prey to newer battleship designs — even a few of the old standard D7 class (yes, I’m a geek, I didn’t need to look at that up) — decloaking around the station. Too freaking cool.

The more I watch of this show, the more I like it. The long lasting story arcs have been handled incredibly well so far, and after reading bits and pieces here and there about the Dominion War for years, it’s a lot of fun finally being able to see it unfold in front of me, without knowing what’s going to come up next, or which directions the various players are going to take. The character arcs have been just as strong as the story arcs, too, and Garak (the Cardassian tailor) is quickly becoming my favorite character on the show. His questionable standing and constant banter with Dr. Bashir (“But which of the stories you told us were true?” “Oh, my good doctor, they’re all true!” “Even the lies?” “Especially the lies.”) are wonderful.

At this rate, DS9 may just end up supplanting Next Gen as my favorite Star Trek series.

(Next year, of course, comes the next question. Once DS9’s DVD run is complete, Voyager will start to hit the shelves. I’ve heard far more people decry Voyager as being the downfall of the Star Trek franchise than any other previous Trek creation [except possibly Star Trek V: The Final Frontier]. So, do I cross my fingers and give the first season a shot? I’ve still got about five months to decide, though, and until then, I’ve got just under four more seasons of DS9 to work my way through.)

[Note: This was originally a post to the alt.tv.star-trek.voyager Usenet newsgroup. I’m including it here for completeness. Originally archived here.]

  1. THE MUSIC WAS LACKING BIG TIME! Music is a powerful tool to help a movie have depth, feeling and emotion. The music could have been so much more deep and could have added so much more to the feeling of the movie.

I’d have to watch it again (hurrah for VCR’s) to really make a judgment, but there was at least one instance where it really caught my ear. During one of the shots of the shuttle approaching the borgplex, there were a couple low, twangy notes like someone plucking two of the lower strings on a piano. Caught my ear mainly because the last time I can remember hearing that theme used was in ST:TMP as the Enterprise is making its entrance into V’ger. Visually similar shots (though the one in ST:TMP was much more visually impressive (okay, and about half an hour longer) than VOY:DF’s borgplex entrance), good use of old themes. Which brought another thought into my feeble little brain. In advance, please forgive me if this has been hashed and re-hashed many times over in the past, I just subscribed to these groups after watching VOY:DF.

Has anyone ever thought much of the possibility that the planet that transformed the Voyager probe into V’ger was the Borg home planet, before they got to the point of striking out on their own and assimilating everything that sneezed twice in their general direction? The general purpose seems to be very similar — it’s not that big a step from “learn all that is learnable, collect all the possible knowledge in the universe, then merge with the creator” to the Borg’s assimilation of other species and knowledge bases into their own. Additionally, it was hypothesized in ST:TMP that the Voyager probe had fell through a black hole to this ‘machine planet’, been repaired/reprogrammed there, and sent away. Mix in a little time distortion along with the black hole, and V’ger could have been sent on its voyage back to Earth long before the Borg advanced to a point where they could move out on their own, and still have time to fill its databanks and make it back home. Just a thought…would be interested to hear if others have explored this line of reasoning. Would love to see it explored in a show at some point, but that may just be fanboy drooling (grin).

Incidentally, what happened to all the knowledge that V’ger transmitted to Earth?

And while I’m at it, I suppose I could throw in the Transformers homeworld/Borg homeworld parallels, too…. Are there any? Probably…I’m just blowing smoke out of my ass at this point, but if I can think of it now, it’s probably been beaten to death before now…