Monday, September 08, 2008

Happy 42nd Birthday to Star Trek

It was forty-two years ago (on September 8, 1966) that the first episode of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek aired on NBC. The episode in question was George Clayton Johnson's "The Man Trap" (about a salt vampire/shape-shifter threatening the Enterprise). As I remember from various Star Trek histories, Variety, TV Guide and other popular media gave the episode (and the series) a negative review. Funny to think about everything that's transpired since "The Man Trap." Seventy-eight episodes. An animated series. Six movies with the original cast. Four TV spin-offs. And a re-imagination in the works...

On a more personal note, today also happens to be the 19th anniversary of my first date with my wife, Kathryn. On September 8, 1989 (a Friday) we went to dinner together at Aunt Sarah's Pancake House in Richmond, Virginia (on Broad Street). I remember the occasion well, because a homeless person tried to bum cigarettes off Kathryn as we entered the restaurant. And, over waffles and French Toast, we had a debate about the words "crotch" and "groin." Could they be used interchangeably (as synonyms) or do they carry distinct, separate meanings?

We're still having variations of that discussion today...


  1. Anonymous2:11 PM

    Congrats, you crazy kids! What an auspicious day to begin your love affair.

    I believe I've been involved in that ongoing crotch conversation to some degree or other at your house before...


  2. Anonymous9:04 AM

    It's nice to know that your relationship is built upon such meaningful exchanges.

    Crotch is more central, groin is off-center. Move on.

  3. feminazi.

    You're just jealous because you possess neither a crotch, nor a groin...just a manifesto.


  4. One can say "groinal area" but not "crotchal area," so it leads me to believe that crotch is a vague term that already contains its own variations, while groin can be more nuanced.


  5. Hi John,

    Absolutely loving your blog. I've been digging through some of your archives and enjoying every bit of it. Thanks (again) X-Files for bringing my attention to your work.

    I was wondering if you've had the chance to view the new 'Remastered' release of the original Star Trek series and your views on them. I'm thinking these new 'touched up' special effects might look out of place and take away from the narrative.

    I never really got into Star Trek but have always been curious about the show. I remember watching a few episodes of the original series some twenty years ago when I was eight or nine but my memories are hazy at best. I do remember enjoying what I saw though.

    I'm contemplating approaching the series from the beginning (thanks in large part to your comments on the series) and am not sure if I should get the remastered version or go with the original look and feel.

    What would you suggest?

  6. Henry:

    Thank you for your positive comments on the blog. I'm glad you've decided to stick around!

    Regarding Star Trek, I understand why the series has been re-mastered, and some of the new effects are indeed quite lovely. But personally I still prefer the "original" in every sense of that word.

    By my reckoning (or maybe I should say bias), film and TV arise from a context. That context includes special effects. Star Trek is a product of 1960s thinking and that's an important context for understanding everything about the show (particularly the optimism of post-Camelot America, leading up to the moon landing).

    Now, I understand that new effects will draw younger audiences to Star Trek -- and that's a good thing -- but in this case, I sense that you are a pretty deep guy. (If you liked The X-Files movie - like I did - that speaks to your willingness to look beyond superficial qualities, in my opinion.)

    So you understand about specal effects. You aren't going to disqualify Star Trek from your attention simply because the effects are dated.

    So, I recommend you watch the original without the re-designed effects, if for no other reason than to get a sense of 1960s fx ingenuity. Sure, we're spoiled today with state of the art effects, but what ultimately makes Star Trek so wonderful is the writing.

    The writing can't be beat. You'll forget about the effects and get sucked in to the wonderful stories. Trust me!

    (I hope that made sense...)


  7. Anonymous11:27 AM

    The crotch is an area they get a shot of in a movie to sell tickets.

    The groin is where a man gets hit for comical effect.

  8. Thanks John, that's exactly what I thought you would say. And I had pretty much decided that I was going to stick to the original presentation but I guess sometimes shiny new things can distract and blind you from your true intention.

    And thanks for your kind words (I'm not THAT young, 30 is knocking on my door). I am definitely far more interested in and driven towards emotive and cerebral narratives than 'slap you in the face - kick you in the crotch' explosions and the like.

    I'll try and get my hands on the original version DVD's soon. It's the cheaper option too :oD

    By the way, I'm going to buy "A Critical History of Doctor Who on Television" for my girlfriend for Christmas. That's another show I never really got into but Sarah loves it.

    Any chance of writing a similar critical review of Buffy and Angel? I bought Sarah the entire series of both shows on DVD just over 2 years ago and reluctantly agreed to watching both with her from start to finish. After 2 years of relatively regular viewing we watched the final episode of Buffy over the weekend, with only the final season of Angel to go.

    My preconceptions of Buffy were WAY off base. For some reason while it was on television I just assumed it was going to be cheesy and never expected the level of depth and intelligence that Joss Whedon clearly displays.

    I'm glad I was corrected and thought the show was groin grabbingly awesome!

    (sorry, I had to somehow tie my unrelated comments back to your original post)

  9. Hey Henry,

    I'm a long-time admirer of Buffy (though initially I had to be convinced by my wife that I would like it.).

    I would love to write a book about it, but so far, I haven't had any offers from publishers. I must say that interviewing Joss Whedon about the Buffy musical episode (for my 2005 book: Singing a New Tune: The Re-Birth of the Modern Film Musical) has been one of the many highlights of my writing career.

    His assistant said he would give me a half hour; but Mr. Whedon gave me two hours. And this was while he was shooting Serenity! (He'd just shot the fight scene in the bar, and was referring to it as a kind of ballet).

    Anyway, that's off-topic, except to reveal my utter enthusiasm for Whedon productions like Buffy and Firefly. (I'm not sold on Angel. But as soon as I get time, I plan to watch all five seasons straight through...).



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