Ultimate DrekBy Jeff Godemann
Posted at December 2, 1999 - 6:00 AM GMT
"Spock. My. Old. Vulcanfriend. What. Didyouthink. Of. 'Ultimate Trek?"
"To put it in the vernacular of the late twentieth century, Captain, it not only sucked, but it blew as well."
"I. See. Bones?"
"Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a television producer."
"So. What. Went wrong?"
That's what I was asking myself late Wednesday night. When I initially programmed my VCR to record a few of the evening's programs, I had forgotten that "Ultimate Trek" was on. I was intending to record "7 Days." I had read reports of several scathing reviews of this latest Trek special, but was hoping it wouldn't be as bad as some of the uppity, anti-Trek TV reviewers had made it out to be. Well, it was worse.
By the Prophets, who came up with this idea? Who thought it would be a good idea? Who picked the clips? Who picked the format? I'm sorry, but somebody has to be held accountable. Candidates anyone?
This was painful to sit and view. I considered it my duty as a critical Star Trek fan to actually sit though the whole thing. But, to be honest, I had my finger hovering dangerously close to the fast-forward button several times over the course of the hour (I actually wanted to see the new episode of Voyager that came on afterwards and that new "Law & Order").
For those of you who missed it (fortunate as you are), the "plot" was this: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beamed themselves to 1999 in an attempt to.um.find out why and how the Y2K bug had resulted in the cessation of the transmission of Star Trek. Supposedly, the mass number of Star Trek fans voting for their favorite episode of all time over the Internet caused the Y2K bug to manifest itself prematurely and cause all showings of Star Trek to cease. Folks, I did not make that up. I couldn't. Who could (at least without the assistance of recreational hallucinogens)?
So Jason Alexander and two C-list actors don the old Original Series uniforms and gallivant around Los Angeles in search of the "Star Trek Signal." To be fair, Mr. Alexander does a very good impersonation of William Shatner, and it was entertaining. For about the first three minutes. After that, it got real old real quick, although I must place the majority of the blame on the insipid script and lame jokes.
Oh, yes. One quick note to the producers: NOT EVERYBODY WHO WAS WATCHING THAT SHOW LIVES IN LOS ANGELES!!! There was some joke about "in the valley" and the obligatory doom and gloom traffic commentary that probably had the producers and their cohorts howling with laughter, but left the rest of us dumbfounded.
Now, on to the main feature of "Ultimate Trek," the clip segments. Quite simply, they were pretty forgettable. The most glaring failure was the "Ultimate One-Liners" segment. All it consisted of was a bunch of random statements ranging from "Phasers on stun!" to "Engage!" strung together in a barely logical manner. There wasn't any "I am not a merry man!" or "He knows, Doctor. He knows." or "That you should never tell the same lie twice." The producers really missed the boat on that one.
I won't get into the other clip segments, mostly because my mind is in the process of forming a mental block around my memories of this show and it's becoming... difficult... to recall. Suffice it to say that "Shades of Gray" (TNG) was a more effective clip show than this schlock.
Oh, wait! I forgot about the moment of most questionable taste! Towards the end of the show, McCoy heroically sacrifices himself to ensure that Star Trek continues to transmit. A corny "death scene" follows, and this was used as setup for a somewhat appropriate tribute to DeForrest Kelley (which, once again, could've been done a whole lot better). At the end of the show, McCoy ends up alive and well with Kirk and Spock and... why am I even getting into this? It was all so surreal, it was so bad.
So were there any positives to this "Ultimate Drek?" Wait, let me think... um... gee. Well, the outtakes were kinda funny, and it's heartening to know that the next convention I go to I'll be able to purchase a new version of that "Star Trek Bloopers" tape that's been circulating for years with these scenes tacked on to the end.
The only other times I laughed were during the "Saturday Night Live" and other TV show clips that had something to do with Star Trek. Those made me laugh because they were funny. The "Seven Of Nine Alarm Clock" bit from Dilbert is destined to become a classic sound bite. And then there was the hysterical laughter at the end when I realized that the pain was over and I could get on with my life.
In summary, even the worst episodes of Star Trek found ways to be more entertaining than "Ultimate Trek." Based on the fact that this is what the creative minds at Paramount thought would make for a cool Star Trek clip show, the promo for next week's Voyager rerun ("Is Jason Alexander after Seven's mind... or her body?"), and the upcoming "Voyager: Smackdown!" crossover with WWF, then perhaps the Trek franchise as we know it really is swirling down the proverbial bowl and we would all be better off with another ten year break.
Jeff Godemann is a new contributor to the Trek Nation. Visit his site here.