Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Crit List Stardate 2009: It's Not 'To Boldly Go,' It's 'To Go Boldly,' You Semi-Literate Baboon

Every time I post without a picture of some kind my soul dies a little; I have no other excuse than compulsion.

I started writing this as a reply to comments from Rob, Peter, and Craig on my last post when I realized that what I was writing should be a post in itself. I do go on, do I not?

I have a confession to make. I never really enjoyed Star Trek until recently.

As a kid I watched reruns of Star Trek every weeknight and was vocal in my support of the show. But in my heart of hearts I found it insanely boring.

This tradition continued with The Next Generation. I watched the very first episode (as I recall it was titled Planet Of The Naked White People), and at one point in the show I found myself confronted with a conundrum.

There was one scene where the lead characters were walking through a vast warehouse-like space filled with gauze-clad blond couples humping and it was boooooooring.

(As an aside, when the missus and I were going through our rough years from time to time she'd tell me I needed to be more like Captain Picard. "I'm trying," I'd say. "I'm getting more emotionally distant and I'm balding as fast as I can. What the hell more do you want?")

That was when I began to formulate the Bikini Paradox -- there is nothing in the world more interesting than an attractive female body yet mere skin is not enough to redeem crappy entertainment. Even Raquel Welch needed dinosaurs to maintain interest through a whole movie.

Anyway, in the last couple of years I've seen a fistful of original Trek episodes and found myself loving them. First off, there's the other side of the Bikini Paradox -- when something is entertaining, a certain amount of cute girl (or whatever your preference is) really adds something.

The women used for display purposes back in the Trek days were of distinctly higher quality than the current crop, whose devotion to unfortunate diet and exercise programs, cosmetic surgery, and Photoshop qualifies them as cyborgs. Take a look at the Olsen twins and then let me commend to you the thighs of Yoeman Rand. Case fucking closed.

But that's just part of it. I also adore the crappy drywall on the Enterprise. I do (or, rather, did) better drywall than that. The Enterprise is a dump and I love it. The idea that the Federation is underfunded and shoddy really has some appeal for me.

Then there's the rocks. The same damned rocks in scene after scene after scene, all lit with weird gels. Old school Star Trek is all about the tacky.

And the best part of all is William Shatner's gut. When you start tracking it, it becomes a source of genuine fascination. Kirk makes a dramatic speech -- low tide. He thinks you're not watching -- high tide. I find myself vigilantly waiting for the moment of relaxation. Suckitinsuckitinsuckitin -- aaaaaaahhh. The relief.

There were a lot of things about the Trek movie that bugged me from a critical standpoint. It was one of those movies that's basically one long action scene with no room for the characters to breathe. The plot was entirely dependant on coincidence. (A good craftsman allows themselves one coincidence -- one 'gimme' -- per story, maximum.) The science was crap, of course -- but it was interesting to see them alternate scenes where there is no sound in a vacuum with scenes where there is sound in a vacuum. (Those simpering halfwits do dearly love to stay on the left side of the bell curve, do they not? I bet the Silent Space scenes were concieved of as salutes to Firefly rather than physics.)

The creators never allowed any touch of reality to stifle anything that looked cool, a modality that always leaves me emotionally disconnected. If you aren't going to try to be believable, why should I believe in you?

(See Peter Jackson's King Kong, a movie that kept popping into my mind while watching Trek.)

Ol' Kirk spend a fuck of a lot of time dangling over precipices, none of which existed for any other reason than Kirk-dangling. Star Trek was all flash and no guts.

But it was fun to look at and the idiot breakneck pace kept it from getting boring, as did the return of the Starfleet miniskirt. (I also liked the nod to Kirk's bad case of chartruese fever.) And there was a point of redemption, of true contact with the tacky, low-budget, half-assed Star Trek that I have learned to like, if not love.

Where once we had William Shatner's gut --

(Have I ever told you my theory of Actor Continuity? That every character an actor portrays is the same character? An example. Jeff Bridge's character in The Big Lebowski is addled and doofy as a post-traumatic stress reaction to what happened to him in Tron. Likewise, when James T. Kirk grows up, he turns into Denny Crane. The man was destined to be a sweaty drunken obese pervert -- may I be as lucky.)

-- where once we had Shatner's gut, now we have Leonard Nimoy's dentures. Interstellar travel they've got, teleportion they've got, time travel and interspecies sex they've got, but poor old Spock is still slurring because his Polydent isn't up to the task of keeping his choppers in place.

And they still don't have fucking seatbelts.



robp said...

Sorry, "To Boldly Go" sounds better. Fuck grammar.

Sean Craven said...

Yeah, the whole split infinitive issue dissolves upon inspection. Still, it was an excuse to lip off...

I've mentioned this before, but one of my favorite sentences is:

"There are some unsplit infinitives up with which I will not put."

I wish I could remember who said that... Google!

It appears to be a misquote of Winston Churchill.