This is an edited version of a piece I did four years ago. Since Star Trek Into Darkness is hitting theaters this week, I figured it would be beneficial to those of you who haven’t yet taken the plunge.
Call me sheltered, secluded, or out of touch with reality, but the truth is that up until a couple of days ago I hadn’t watched any Star Trek movies or television episodes. It might seem inconceivable for some to fathom. I even find this difficult to believe, if only for the fact that I am a huge Star Wars fan and contemplated naming my first child Luke Skywalker. I mean, I’d heard of Captain Kirk—the character played by that guy who does crazy travel commercials—but other than that I was clueless. They did fly around is space right? Or is it just really dark underwater?
Recently, the Star Trek movement has been gaining quick momentum as the release of J.J. Abrams new spin on the franchise draws near. With all of this hoopla, I have finally decided that this was my moment to see what the classic cult phenomenon is all about. So I recently made the decision to take what I call the “Star Trek One Week Challenge.” This self-created endeavor requires that I watch all six of the original Star Trek movies in six days, and then on the seventh day I would conclude the whole process by going see Star Trek in theaters.
The resulting article chronicles my downward journey to the dark side…uh…I mean where no man has gone before.
I began the challenge on a cool, rainy night. I entered the video rental store feeling slightly self-conscious, hoping that now one would see me. If anyone knew my true intentions they would label me a Trekkie geek.
“I better just grab the movies as fast as I can, I don’t want anyone here to think that I’m ‘one of those people.’”
I quickly snatched up the first two films, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, before heading to the checkout counter. The clerk swiped my rental card and grabbed the DVDs up, pausing only to give me a short judgmental glance.
“Will this be…all for you today sir?” The clerk said somewhat condescendingly.
“Yes,” I replied quickly.
“I actually just started this personal challenge thing where I watch the first six Star Trek movies before I go see the new one.” I added.
“Oh…I’m sure you are…” The clerk responded as he handed me the movies.
“Thanks,” I said as I quickly walked out the door thinking, “Man, this guy probably thinks I’m the biggest nerd on the planet, exactly what I didn’t want!”
I returned back to my apartment and inserted the first disc into the DVD player. I made sure to close all the curtains so no one could spot what was on my TV.
“Okay let’s see what all the fuss is about.”
What happened during that next two hours changed my life forever. I will say this, the first film is fairly slow. The plot takes a while to come together. But for someone who has never seen any Star Trek movies, the characters can be mesmerizing. You have Captain Kirk, the brave, noble leader of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Then, the mysterious Spock who seems to possess no emotion at all. Not to mention the somewhat emphatic Dr. McCoy and Sulu—that one guy with the really deep voice. Despite my intrigue though, I wasn’t completely hooked after the first film. The bait, however, had been drawn. I was immediately ready to pop in The Wrath of Khan and continue my one week voyage to the outer reaches of space.
The second movie pulled me one step closer to the Trekkie world with an incredible conglomeration of character development, action, and riveting storyline. I was glued to the couch as my world transformed into a whirlwind of space travel, genetically altered super villains, and emotionless Vulcans. As the ending drew near, I found myself on the verge of shedding tears when Spock sacrificed himself for the crew of the Enterprise. It was a scene that will be forever etched into my mind: Captain Kirk looking in on his dear friend dying. Spock, drawing his last breathes. “You will and always will be…my friend.” It was truly a scene of cinematic greatness. I found solace in discovering that the next film in the franchise was titled, The Search for Spock. Thus I wasn’t rendered completely sleepless that night.
As I made my way through the series I began to anticipate the character’s lines (“Are you out of your Vulcan mind!?” “I’m giving it all she’s got captain!”), laugh as personalities clashed, and hoped that the writers wouldn’t kill off any of the main characters. I was falling rapidly into the Star Trek world, one movie at a time.
I found a note that I had scribbled down in my notepad about halfway through the quest. “I am currently in the middle of this challenge and am already finding myself engrossed with the Star Trek world; I can’t wait to start the next movie. I am certain now that my article will chronicle my journey from a Star Trek know-nothing to costume wearing Trekkie.” The course was unavoidable. The destination was in site. I was becoming “one of those people.”
As I walked into the video rental store to pick up the last Star Trek film, The Undiscovered Country, I thought of how much I have changed in a week. No longer did I quietly sneak into the science fiction section hoping that no one would see me. Now I boldly walked in, giving the employees the Vulcan “Live Long and Prosper” sign, my fingers proudly spread into the shape of a “V”.
I grabbed the final movie and strutted up to the counter, handing the DVD to the smug clerk. “I’ve been watching all the Star Trek movies and I’m about ready to go see the new one,” I proudly boasted.
“Cool,” the employee coldly replied.
“Yeah I’m going to see the new one in IMAX.”
“Awesome,” the employee behind the checkout counter uttered again. Last week I would have been embarrassed by this, but not today, not now. Not ever.
I walked outside of the shop and let the warm breeze brush against my face, excitement bubbling up inside of me because I had in one hand a Star Trek movie and in another a ticket to an additional Star Trek movie. I smiled as I thought of what I had now become. I had gone from thinking that aliens were menacing creatures, to realizing that they have feelings too. I had gone from knowing nothing about Klingons to understanding how to disable them in an intergalactic space battle. I had gone from Star Trek illiterate, to avid fan. I had been birthed into a new realm of reality, I had become a new man, I had become a…Trekkie.
It’s been four years since my “Star Trek One Week Challenge.” I still love the franchise and I am extremely excited for Abrams’ sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness. I was fascinated with the direction he took the series and believe the new film is only going to add to that same mythology. I am also pumped that Abrams will be directing Star Wars: Episode VII. It’s like two great bedrocks of science-fiction culture are colliding into a vast explosion of color, light, and….lens flares.