Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Beginning

If a new Star Trek series ever materializes, we’ll learn about it a year in advance. Before we watch the first minute of the pilot episode, we’ll already know everything about it (and probably the next few episodes, too) thanks to the Internet. In 1987, of course, none of that was possible. The only way one might learn that a new Star Trek series was in development would be through a magazine or newspaper article or maybe a television report. As a nine-year-old kid, I didn’t have access to a lot of magazines. Our local newspaper, the St. Augustine Record, was much smaller in those days and didn’t offer much national entertainment coverage. And since my mother firmly believed that too much television would turn me into a brain-dead juvenile delinquent, I didn’t get to watch tons of TV, either. (Then again, it’s not like there was much to watch. We didn’t get cable until 1989.)

My point is that I had no detailed information about Star Trek:The Next Generation before it premiered on September 28, 1987. In fact, I only knew two things: it was set almost a hundred years after the Original Series, and there was going to be a new Enterprise. I’m sure that Starlog or another magazine probably had an issue chock full of pictures and interviews as the premiere date approached, but I never saw it. In fact, the only picture I remember seeing is this one, in the Entertainment section of a Time or Newsweek magazine in a doctor’s waiting room:

 1st_tngcast[1] Why do half of them look grim, and the other half look stoned?

Who were these people? Why did the crew of the new Enterprise include old bald guy, a dude with a womens’ hair accessory on his face, and a teenager in an ugly sweater? I had no idea. But as soon as I got home I Googled “star trek the next generation” and—actually, no I didn't, because, as I might have mentioned, there was no Internet. Also, we didn’t own a computer and “Google” was not yet a verb, just a misspelling of the number “googol”. What I really did was wait until “Encounter at Farpoint” premiered on September 28. I may have seen a few brief TV promos beforehand (I distinctly remember one that described Worf as “the friendly Klingon”-and even as I type that I can hear Worf’s voice in my head saying “I protest! I am not a friendly Klingon!”) but that was it.

It is safe to say that I was stoked beyond belief for the premiere of the new and improved Star Trek. And I was not disappointed. Star Trek:The Next Generation instantly became my new favorite show. “But how can that be,” you ask, “given the fact that most of TNG’s first season was so bad it induced seizures in laboratory animals?” I’ll let you in on a little secret: nine-year-olds are notoriously poor judges of quality. At this point, I was only aware of two categories of Star Trek episodes and movies: the ones I was allowed to watch, and the ones I was not allowed to watch because my parents deemed them too violent or whatever. I enjoyed “Spock’s Brain” just as much as “Balance of Terror”.

In my next post, I’ll talk about TNG’s pilot episode “Encounter at Farpoint”; my impressions of it in 1987, and how it shaped my view of what futuristic technology looked like, a view that heretofore had been influenced mainly by the Original Star Trek and EPCOT Center. Oh, you might have noticed that futureprobe has a Twitter account now. I plan on using it mainly to let people know what blog-related thing I’m currently working on, and perhaps I’ll also include the odd EPCOT-related thought or tidbit of info that isn’t “big” enough to warrant an article here. I included the Twitter gadget on the right-hand side of the page so you don’t have to actually go to the Twitter website if you don’t want to. I’m not really into the Twitter thing (which makes me a member of the Internet Amish, I know) so it probably won’t be updated very often. For now, though, I’ll leave you with this, the original “Encounter at Farpoint” promo spot that ran immediately before TNG’s world premiere:

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