In which I discourse, after seeing the new ST movie, on the differences and similarities between the Trek universe(s) and the DW one(s). No DW spoilers follow, but some movie ones do.
I loved Star Trek TOS as a kid (I think the first TV show I ever saw in colour, roundabout 1967, was "The Doomsday Machine"). Kind of drifted away in the ’70s, and TOG never really gelled for me, though bits of it were good. I’ve a feeling this new movie might bring me back into it, though.
Going back to the roots was an inspired move. As was relocating to an AU. It allows them to refine and slightly update the characters we love without changing the things that worked. And they all worked brilliantly, particularly Zachary Quinto as Spock. I absolutely loved Uhurua too, though like some others I’m having trouble seeing that romance. I’ve me doots aboot Simon Pegg as Scottie, though. Tone was spot on. Accent wasn’t, and I kept seeing SP rather than the character. But they’re all quibbles really. It was still a brilliant movie.
Right at the heart of it, for me, was the interaction between Spock and Spock Prime. That really was beautifully done. I tend to see everything SF (arguably everything, period) through the lens of DW and where it might be going. When Vulcan imploded, I immediately thought, "He had to do that on his own." And I love the way they used the AU concept to give Spock, as it were, a second chance at getting it right. I don’t mean the Romulan nebula incident, I mean the way he was allowed to go back and warn his younger self against the dangers of fearing emotional openness and commitment. He could see the whole picture – how wonderful that, after his own long life and losing his dearest friend, he was able to start over in a new place rebuilding his civilization, and ensuring that Young Spock didn’t throw away the most significant relationship in his life.
And now, Rusty, please note. If an American show can do that for a Vulcan, the member of a species that pathologically represses their emotions, you can surely come up with something similar for the Doctor. I loved the way that Trek, as always, was positive about humanity. In Trek, bad stuff happens but the characters aren’t eaten from within by angst and regrets. They move forward, ready to go boldly where none have gone before. I truly think that is what people want to see. We need hope, and we need each other.
It’s always seemed to me (admittedly an over simplification) that Trek shows the best of the American character and DW the best of the English one. Idealist American thinking tends to unify separate nations (or species) into a homogeneous group, which at its best gives all of them the space to become part of something better and greater than they could be alone. English culture nominally accepts authority but subverts its structure through eccentricity and irreverence. But there is actually quite a lot of common ground. Really great characters always know when to look and act beyond the rulebook. Many iconic American shows are sadly short on humour and the delightful British quality of never taking yourself too seriously. Original Trek, at least, never fell into that trap. An asshole like Kirk was made bearable, even endearing, by being surrounded by people who knew him well enough to call him in on his shit, particularly Bones as his moral compass and Spock to temper his impulsiveness.
The danger with British shows (and again I oversimplify) is not so much that they’re humourless as that the humour deteriorates into snark and covers up emotional emptiness with a show of cynicism. I’d hate that to happen to New Who and if it carries on in the vein of POTD, enjoyable thought that was, it will fall into the trap. If we can have two Spocks and an AU to make sure a Vulcan learns to love, then why not the same for a Time Lord?
And now I need a few ST icons, I think.