It’s Thanksgiving here in America, and the idea of the holiday, without its specific history, is something we can all get behind: being grateful for the good things in our lives. It’s simple, it’s universal, and it usually comes with a giant delicious meal. So in honor of that, this fan is going to list the top ten things that make her thankful for Star Trek, even though there are definitely more than a hundred.
Here goes, in reverse order:
10. “I, Mudd”
I grew up on the original Star Trek, and this episode used to make us just howl when we were kids. As soon as they decided that the way to foil Harry Mudd’s androids was to act like a bunch of wackos, the episode got ridiculously fun. Kirk standing with his foot on a “dead” Scotty, the dancing, Spock tormenting Norman with his logic descriptions, and all the silliness that came out of it made it an event every time it came on TV, and that was back in the day before streaming, on demand, or even (gasp) VCRs.
9. The Reboots
See that look in Kirk’s eyes? That’s the look readers have right now, as they’re thinking, “The reboots? What is WRONG with you?” But you know what? They make a lot of missteps, but the one thing they nailed perfectly is the casting, because it pays tribute to what was truly great about the original series. All those actors? They get it, they’ve embraced those characters, honoring the originals and bringing something new to the table at the same time. And more than that, without those reboots, Star Trek would have been a dead franchise by now, just entertainment history, and my fierce fandom might have stayed in the closet. My nerd flag is flying high these days, and I can write about Star Trek, talk about it, and proudly display my iPhone case with the insignia on it (and gold command color, always). Those reboots got Star Trek back into the modern conversation, and for that I am grateful.
8. Worf’s Parents
There’s so much talk about the diversity on all the different Star Trek series, and I used to joke for years, “Where are the Jews? Where are my people?” And then Worf’s parents came along, and they seemed very, very Jewish to me. Okay, maybe they’re not, but maybe they are, because they FELT Jewish.
7. Captain Jellico
He wasn’t a barrel of laughs, and he didn’t like Captain Picard’s fish, but he got Deanna Troi in a Starfleet uniform, and she had earned it long before. Thank you, Captain Jellico.
6. Seven of Nine
I already really liked Voyager, and I was pissed when I read that they were adding a sexy woman in a catsuit to the show. I thought they were giving in to fanboys and creeps and it was a sexist, terrible idea.
Well maybe it was done for sexist reasons, but Seven of Nine was a brilliant add to an already great show, outfit notwithstanding. She was a unique character, brilliant and strong, and like any self-respecting weirdo, very confused about things that everybody else found completely normal, as she readjusted to being human. She offered a completely different perspective on everything, and extolled the virtues of cheesecake. My kind of gal.
5. Captain Picard
Oh boy was I skeptical of a new Star Trek show, back in 1987. And then what was going on with that skinny bald dude as the captain? I was sure they were going to screw it up.
They didn’t. The show revitalized the franchise and Captain Jean-Luc Picard became one of the greatest heroes in all of fiction. I want him to be President, of the country or of the galaxy. My husband and I wanted him to officiate at our wedding. I want him to resolve all disputes, be everyone’s boss, and help us all figure out what to do in times of trouble.
I once started a new job with a big title and big salary, more responsibility than I’d ever had before, and my boss’ boss’ boss called me into his big corner office on the first day and gave me a speech about the type of leader he wanted me to be. When he finished, he looked at me expectantly. I took a deep breath, and said what I was sure would not go over well: “You know who you just described? Captain Picard.”
His body language changed completely. He smiled, finally. “I LOVE Captain Picard!” he told me. Good choice.
It’s not that there was something wrong with the original Star Trek, TNG, or Deep Space Nine. Honestly. But Voyager was the first Trek show that really put women front and center. There were strong female characters already, but they weren’t the stars, they weren’t driving the stories and leading the crew. Suddenly we had Captain Janeway, who was a great captain–let the arguments begin!–and still had compassion and a personal relationship with each member of her crew. We had B’Elanna Torres, the first real female Chief Engineer since those early episodes of TNG and the brief engine room reign of Lt. Commander Sarah MacDougal. (Yes, I’m still glad Geordi took over.)
Voyager put the women front and center, and as a female fan, it was long-awaited, and magnificent.
3. Trials and Tribble-ations
Deep Space Nine was a good series, with compelling characters, but when it took a leap back in time to visit the Enterprise under James T. Kirk’s command and revisit those tribbles, it made magic. They restored and rebuilt old sets, recreated old school uniforms, and gave the characters the same awe that the viewers had as they tried to get close to Kirk and Spock and save the day without revealing themselves. The integration was seamless and beautiful. I could watch it a hundred times.
2. Gene Roddenberry’s Idea That We Might Evolve Into Being Nice People
Isn’t this the premise of the whole thing? Star Trek gave us sci-fi that wasn’t about space battles, although it had them, or technology, although it was cool. It was about the idea that maybe humans will actually figure things out, stop being jerks, and evolve into what we can be. Maybe we can be bigger than we are, one day, and still be fun and have adventures, and make mistakes, and learn from them. That vision, no matter which series hooked you, is a revelation, and is rarely seen in other shows and movies about the future. Grateful that somebody understood how important that is, and that no matter what went on in terms of the entertainment business and politics and commercialism, that vision persisted, and thrived.
I was a kid when I started watching Star Trek, a pre-adolescent girl brimming with over-the-top emotions and thoughts that flew through my head a mile a minute, and there was Spock. What I connected to wasn’t that he didn’t have emotions, but that he DID have them, and he had to control them, along with everyone else’s perception of who he was. He was the alienated teen, and I was right there with him. He was the alien I thought I was, and it didn’t matter that he was male or grown-up to me; he was what I felt like, down to the secret feeling of one’s own superiority that teenagers have. I’d never seen anyone like him. Happy Thanksgiving, Spock, and everybody.
A final note: I could not be more thankful for the TrekMovie team. Everyone here is a fan, and we all donate our time and efforts to this site because we want to be a part of it. They’re all amazing, dedicated, smart people and I am lucky to be one of them.