James Duhaan's death reminded me of the personal nostalgic connection I have with the original version of Star Treck. I dot' necessarily like it better, TNG was much more fun to watch, F/x was better, plots made more sense, even the acting was not as over acted, and the logicistcs worked out better. The TNG Enterprise was so much more luxurious than the original, it was easier to fantasize about living on it, or serving on it or whatever. Yet somehow the original show will always mean more to me than any other version, because of its connection to time and place.
The Spartan like nature of decor, the unappetizing food, the rank furnishings, the original Enterprise would be almost a punishment to live on for months on end. The Federation could actually have used service on the Enterprize as a sentence for criminals. TNG enterprise had a coffee shop (I love to sit in coffee shops) and it had a huge window to look out at the stars, replicators that could provide any sort of goodie to eat or drink; from exotic interplanetary chocolate, to the finest aged scotch whisky. The food on the original Enterprise consisted of little colored squares of something, resembling watermelon and maybe some little chuncks that looked like new potatoes. But TNG replicators could whip up anything, from backed Alaska to a pheasant dinner with truffles and holiday's sauce. TNG Enterprise was definitely better, but Rodenberry had 20 yeas to study how he would improve the old one.
And yet, when TNG went off I felt cheated, when DS9 went off I felt relieved (so many plot twists and I was still pissed over the death of Judzea) and when Voyager went off I just said "glad they got home." I never did get into the other one and don't even know if it's still on, but I cried when Scotty died. I can't stand to watch single episode of the original show. I wont watch it to this day, because I'm sick of them. I know every line by heart, I've seen every one so many times, I just can't stand it. I watch 2 seconds, which is all it takes me to know which one it is, I say "O that one," and turn off; but two seconds is all it takes to give me a lump in the throat, and tear in my eye and to wax eqliquent and philopshical about the place of Star Treck in my life and in American society. I don't go to conventions, I don't dress up in costumes, I don't speak Klingon, I don't collect action figures. I guess in that sense I'm a "Trekie" and not a "Trecker." But I love start treck as much as the most ardent fan in his pointed ears and homemade star fleet uniform.
I think the most important thing for me is the connection to my childhood. The semester that Star Treck came on for the first time I was in fourth grade and it was fall of 1966. I was wavering in sometime support, sometime opposition to the war in Vietnam. That was around the time my political sensibilities definitely took shape. Start Trek did not make my poetical outlook, I was already identifying with the protesters. I had already watched the evening news and seen the protests and taken an interest in SDS. But Star Treck definitely helped me decide, it solidified my view around a lot of things that were int he air and in the music of the day.
It reminds me of the family time, my parents were in good shape. My twin and I were sent to different schools that year, so that year I was learning to be myself and not an extension of my brother. I was sent to a private school ran by our Church of Christ denomination. A friend of mine went to that school so I got to car pool with him, and his Dad took us in the morning, and in the evening his grandfather picked us up and took us to his farm (near by) where the father got us from work and took us on to my house and then his.
While whiling away the one hour or sometimes two hour layover we watched Dobbie Gills, Michael's Navy, and even older shows in rerun, such as Rawhide. (Gilligan was in prime time then and Brady Bunch wasn't thought about yet). In fact Beverly Hillbillies were in prime time. My freind Berry was so excited about Star Treck, he has seen the pilot and that's all he talked about that summer was how he couldn't wait for it to begin. The first episode aired I didn't even see it. I really didn't notice, despite my friend's chatter about it. Other things occupied my mind, such as comic books. I couldn't wait for the next JSA-JLA team up that summer.
The first episode came and went I didn't watch it. I just remember my friend Barry talking about it all day. It was so great. I think it was the salt sucking creature. I may have missed the second one too. the fist episode I saw was the one with the parallel earth where the adults died and children raised thsemlves; the on where they went around saying "bounce on the head." After I saw that I was hooked. That's all I though about the next day at school and I couldn't wait to see the next one. If only I had know how many more times I would see it, whatever it was, maybe I would have put off viewing until the 70s. No, there's something neat about having been a fan of the show since that first season. It will always live in my heart as an integral part of my childhood, a symbol of my world view.
I remember the socially conscious episodes and how they reinforced attitudes I was already coming to hold. The one where an alien entity traps the crew of the enterprise below deck and about 40 men fight some Klingon prisoners who have been freed, and all the weapons are turned into swords. At the end the klingon commander (cant' remeber the name of the actor but when I was about 5 he played Chochese in a Western darma called "Broken Arrow"), said "only a fool figths in a burning house." I had no trouble seeing the allusion to the war in vietnam. And the episodes where Frank Gorshen is colored half blak half white, and his nemesis is half white half black. The stupuidity of racism. I remember at the time being moved by these episodes and realizing the values they taught.
It will always be that orignal series that is the show for me, and all the others are just what happened after the time of Krick and Spock, but it will always be that original show that linves in my heart and defines the Start Treck thing for me.