While doing some freelance work for a tech savvy website design company, I discovered a Geek that I had never encountered before. I noticed that one of the employees had a desk covered with Boba Fetts. Thinking this man, Phil, was a kindred spirit, I asked if he wouldn’t mind going to lunch with me. Our boss accompanied us and we were off for some much needed down time away from our monitors. Before the conversation got into the prequels, George Lucas tinkering, and The Force Awakens, my boss mentioned that he was excited for the new Star Trek movie. Phil then stated he no interest in it; he was a Star Wars guy. As the words were still floating above his head, I promptly asked what that meant. Phil was a tried and true Star Wars Geek. He had never seen a Star Trek movie or any episode of any Star Trek TV series. Adamant, I pushed the issue further and finally got him to ask, "What episode would you recommend I watch?". Now, cut to another conversation from the previous week. While discussing the greatness of a few handmade Tribbles a friend of mine received as a gift, Zack, a co-worker, who was listening in, then asked us, “how does one get on the Star Trek train? I think missed it.”
Both men are incredibly intelligent and eager to discover some new science fiction. Star Trek, its films, and its four different TV series’ are a beast if you think about it. My first Star Trek memory is seeing Star Trek: The Motion Picture and wondering why this wasn’t as good as Star Wars; kudos to my Dad for taking me to see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It was from that point on that I was hooked. My Dad also suggested I watch Star Trek: The Next Generation; so it all fell on him my love of Trek. I’ll be the first to say that there have been times when I did like Star Trek more than Star Wars and vice versa. One supplied new stories where the other was a movie I watched every sick day. There was a time when Deep Space Nine was as boring as hell, but in having nothing else to watch I fell in love with it in syndication. On to the point at hand; how does one hop on the Star Trek train?
Many of us have been in this situation before. However, where it differs for me, this time, is that these are guys I’m talking about. The usual circumstance is having a significant other, a girlfriend, express interest in the Geek stuff we’re interested in. We show them a film, have a prelude discussion of what happened before, and then follow it up with a “wasn’t that great?” This, of course, is then followed with them watching a few more and wondering if they do or don’t like it at all.
Phil was a complete mystery me. We’re the exact same age and lived in an era that was populated by Star Wars movies and toys. Around 1986 the Star Wars train had ended. Ewok adventures are great for the kiddies, but not for a 12-year-old. I turned to Star Trek to quench my science fiction thirst and have never looked back. High School was great as the original and The Next Gen series were in constant reruns. Sci-fi conventions were abundant and populated with cast members from each. My advice to Phil was to watch the first Abrams’ Star Trek film and perhaps Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. As broad as the Abram's Trek movie is, it still has the spirit of the original show deep down. Wrath of Khan, on the other hand, is just a great film. I knew nothing about Khan’s backstory as a 7-year-old little boy. I was captivated by this tale of mad obsession. It’s a great story, has incredible music, and is a film that can stand on its own. It does hook you into watching the “Space Seed” episode as well as Trek 3 and 4, too.
As for Zack, I had a completely different take on the how to get him on the Star Trek train. Zack had seen the both of Abrams’ Trek movies and was interested in the TV show. My first suggestion was to start at the beginning with “Where no man has gone before” and not watch “The Cage” until much later because he would never understand why Kirk is absent or why Spock is smiling. After a few minutes of consideration, I told him to Google search “The 10 Best Original Star Trek Episodes Ever”. It would be a shot in the dark, but at least with enough Google searches, he should come up with a few choice episodes.
It’s strange time for Star Trek as now we have another new Trek movie on the horizon and a new series arriving in 2017. If the bug catches you, it is easy to dive in and discover Trek as every single of episode of Star Trek is streaming on Netflix (for now). In being a fan of the TV shows, I love that I can pop on my favorites and skip over the terrible ones. Yet, being at the mercy of reruns for years, I discovered incredible tiny moments in bad episodes. Plus, I appreciated the writing of the good ones all the more with repeat viewings. Star Trek is a beast to tackle if you are either a sci-fi newbie, a significant other with a curiosity, or just wanting to see what all the hubbub is/ was about. Phil and Zack, second star to the right and straight on till morning… engage.
As for the die-hard Trekkers, I haven’t forgotten about you! I suggest the “Randomizer”. Josh Kowarski has created a search engine that randomly picks you an episode from every Star Trek series (except the animated series) via Netflix. You must be logged in to Netflix for it to work, but it really does open up the possibilities of discovering Trek you might not have seen before. Check it out here.