The History Channel is taking a break from its regular schedule of shows on ancient Rome and World War II to take a look at the history of Star Trek. They are running two documentaries, the first of which ‘Star Trek Tech’ will air tonight (Sunday) at 9pm. ‘Tech’ is a regular show that devotes each episode the the technology of a particular time period or event or in this case a fictional universe. The second and bigger documentary is ‘Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier’, a two hour retrospective on Trek hosted by Leonard Nimoy (airing Monday at 9 pm). ‘Beyond the Final Frontier’ focuses much of its attention on the Christies auction and includes interviews with actors from each of the Trek series, but notably not William Shatner. There are already some reviews in on the longer doc and so far they are mixed at best.
Here is what the TV critics have to say about ‘Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier’:
Using a high-stakes Christies auction of "Trek" memorabilia as its dotted through-line as well as the entire last half-hour, this project does little more than interview cast members and a few of the writer-producers about how they loved their colleagues and the franchise’s impressive longevity. All told, it invites the question: In space, can anyone hear you yawn?
– Brian Lowry, Variety
Can you produce a satisfying Star Trek retrospective without William Shatner? Nope. You need the actor who was, is and always will be Capt. James T. Kirk.
….Repetitive and padded, it keeps going over familiar territory. The special glides over the current resting of the franchise and what it means to the future of Star Trek.
– Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel
The special largely focuses on a high-profile Christie’s auction of "Trek" props, and the Trekkies willing to pay big bucks for starship scale models, Starfleet uniforms, transporter-room control panels and so on. We also learn about makeup techniques, rabid "Trek" fans, "Trek" originator Gene "Great Bird of the Galaxy" Roddenberry, and more. But the documentary does not tell us how "Trek" ran aground. Why did the last TV series, "Enterprise," tank in the ratings? Why did the last movie, "Nemesis," bomb at the box office? How the heck do we get the "Trek" magic back?- Julio Ojeda Zapata, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Nearly all surviving actors in major roles share memories and insights, along with writers, crewmembers from makeup and wardrobe, and many, many others. As they give their insights and anecdotes, the scene shifts regularly back to the auction set to begin more than six months later — six months crammed with activity as 1,000 "Star Trek" artifacts are selected for shipment from Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles to Christie’s in New York. This turns out to be a useful way for the documentary to reveal the time, energy and devotion that went into the films and series. …This documentary will surely say little or nothing new to buffs who have bought the books, DVDs and products. But others will find it more engaging than they might first think.
– Ted Mahar, The Oregonian