The last few weeks I’ve been focusing with a near-maniacal dedication on local politics (specifically bin bags), and I have several more such posts in the pipeline for next week, so I hope my readers will forgive me this little sidetrack into fanboy ranting.
I have, lately, been watching a lot of Star Trek. Of this fact, I am resolutely unashamed. I am a Trekie, and what’s more I have been since I was about eight. Go ahead, mock. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before.
In returning to my first love, I have done a little re-evaluating. See, I’ve always thought of Deep Space Nine as the shining gem of brilliance amid the rougher edges of the franchise, injecting as it does a sense of gritty realism (well, all things being relative) into the Trek universe. I mean, it had a brutal war that took up the last two seasons and dominated the entire arc of the show. Also, it had more of a story arc, compared to its predecessor The Next Generation, where pretty much every episode ended with them floating off to ruin someone else’s shit next week. If DS9 made a mess, they had to sit in it.
My favourite Trek episode was (and remains) DS9‘s “In the Pale Moonlight”. Without wanting to give too much away, it explores the darker side of the Federation and Starfleet, and what a fight for survival does to its trademark idealism. It was well told, emotive and character driven. In many ways it was ahead of its time- more akin to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica (which I hold to be the best science-fiction show of recent years- an acolade that Joss Whedon’s Firefly might have stolen, had it not been strangled in its infancy).
But I’ve been watching Voyager recently, a series which I enjoyed a lot when it was first broadcast, but subsequently went cold on. I know why I went cold on it. The characters are a bit more cardboard cutout-y than DS9. The insistence on throwing the Borg in whenever they got bored rendered a genuinely scary enemy boring. And the outfits they insisted on putting Seven of Nine in were frankly insulting.
But it was slick, and it was fun. And that covers a multitude of sins. Now I’m thinking I need to rewatch the films. Which brings me to the odd/even rule. This is a principal known to most people who have heard of Star Trek: that the odd numbered films were terrible and the even were good. Which, honestly, is an oversimplification. My opinion of the films is as follows:
- Star Trek (I): The Motion Picture (AKA Kirk vs the Voyager space probe) – Mediocre
- Star Trek (II): The Wrath of Khan (AKA Kirk vs …well, Khan) – Excellent
- Star Trek (III): The Search for Spock (Kirk vs Death. And Klingons) – Very good
- Star Trek (IV): The Voyage Home (Kirk vs Humpback Whales) – Honestly, pretty poor. Very overrated.
- Star Trek (V): The Final Frontier (Kirk vs God) – Terrible. Probably the worst of the lot.
- Star Trek (VI): The Undiscovered Country (Kirk vs the Cold War) – Good. A bit hackneyed, but I liked it a lot)
- Star Trek (VII): Generations (Picard and Kirk vs Heaven) – Very good.
- Star Trek (VIII): First Contact (Picard vs the Borg) – Excellent. Probably my favourite (sacrilege, I know).
- Star Trek (IX): Insurrection (Picard vs the Fountain of Youth) – Terrible. It’s only saving grace was its brevity.
- Star Trek (X): Nemesis (Picard vs himself. Sort of. And Romulans) – Very good. Probably the most underrated of the lot.
- Star Trek (XI)* (Kirk vs Everyone) – Very good, if a bit light.
So, whilst the best of the films are definitely even numbered, and the worst are definitely odd, it’s an unfair generalisation to say even=good, odd=bad. Or maybe I just need to get out more
*It’s number 11. I don’t care whether it’s a remake, a reboot, or whatever-the-hell. Its the 11th Star Trek film, so it’s number 11. End of.