Sunday, January 27, 2008
It has been over forty years since the original Star Trek series with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy first appeared on NBC. Alas, we are no closer to interstellar space travel today, but it is a far more futuristic world we are living in, then one would have imagined in the 60's, when Gene Roddenberry's legendary vision was created. For one thing, most of us carry around these nifty little communication devices...sort of a cross between a communicator and a tricorder. We call them cell phones. And because most of them come equipped with photo and video capabilities, you can find yourself at a Star Trek convention one morning, and by the afternoon, post the entire experience on the Internet for all the world to see. Actually, I used a Sony digital for these shots. But I could have used my cell phone!
Star Trek the Tour is visiting Long Beach, California over the next month. It features interactive rides, models from the films and Captain Kirk's chair from the bridge of the Enterprise (yes you can sit in it, but it has the longest line at the whole show). You can watch yourself get beamed up, have yourself inserted into a favorite episode on video, or even pull up a metal stool and sit at Quark's bar for an intergalactic beverage. On a rainy Sunday morning in Southern California, it was packed with Star Trek fans of every age, size, shape and color. And if you think Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth, you should have seen the looks of joy on the faces of these fans. The word "spiritual" comes to mind. That a colorful sci-fi TV show which only ran a few seasons could have spawned 4 additional TV series, 10 major motion pictures, and such completely unhinged viewer adoration, is utterly amazing. There is even a JJ Abrams directed 11th movie currently under construction, scheduled for a Christmas 2008 release.
It's easy for elitist critics to dismiss a movement that has generated such rabid fan devotion and billions of t-shirts. But more than a handful of real life astronauts have sited "Star Trek" as the reason they decided to make a living reaching for the final frontier. If you look past the glitz and glitter at the Star Trek tour, you'll see a glimpse of what television can achieve at its finest.