Historical Trek

By Fred Shedian
Posted at November 16, 1999 - 6:00 AM GMT

Recently, several polls at TrekToday have asked people about how much historical Trek they have actually seen. The poll itself raises an interesting question, do previous incarnations of the franchise really matter? Do they have any real importance in the modern world in Trek? Today, I would like to take a look at this issue.

To begin, let me explain what can now be detailed as "historical Trek." As many people would imagine, the Original Series and Next Generation series are both now historical...meaning that there is a significant gap in time between the end of the show and today. Deep Space Nine would not fall into this category, as this incarnation only terminated production last season.

I was somewhat surprised that in the TrekToday poll regarding the Original Series, only fifty-six percent of those responding had actually seen all of the seventy-nine episodes. If this is reflective of the rest of society, only half of current Trek fans have ever seen all of the episodes that created the franchise we know today. What I find astounding is the fact nearly ten percent of people have seen less than five episodes! I couldn't believe that two percent of those responding had never seen the Original Series...at all. I simply cannot understand why a true fan of Star Trek would not attempt to watch these episodes. We are talking about the things that turned Star Trek into a permanent part of our culture. Are there some modern Trek fans who are only shallow, Jeri Ryan seeking, battle hungry folk?

In an attempt to calm my fears about the lack of historical concern by modern day fans, I looked at the current TrekToday poll regarding the Next Generation. As of the time of this column, I am pleased to see that over seventy percent of those responding have seen all of this incarnation's episodes. Yet, with the good, there are close to five percent who have twenty-five episodes or less. If you recall, we are now talking about the franchise that reinvigorated Star Trek's presence on the small screen. This is the show that wrote the book on the 24th Century and set the stage for the next two incarnations. Yet...there is a percentage of people who have not seen one of the one hundred and seventy-seven episodes? I simply cannot comprehend how such an event could or has taken place.

Looking at these figures, I thought that perhaps many of the modern day Star Trek fans are shallow, Jeri Ryan seeking, battle hungry, Borg centered people who care nothing else but. It is true that attendance to conventions is down and the last movie, one which did not involved too much blood and guts, did not have a good showing. At the same time, glancing at several Trek Message Boards, there are a growing number of fans who don't seem to understand the reason behind certain actions. For example, why doesn't the Federation have cloaking devices? Why do Romulans and Vulcans look alike? What the devil is an Andorian? Why aren't the Borg in the Original Series?

To some, these questions are foolish. However, to many....they are legitimate because they simply do not know. History shows that several Original Series episodes and one or two Next Generation episodes dealt with why the Federation doesn't have cloak, several Original Series and Next Generation episodes explained the relationship between Romulans and Vulcans, Andorians were seen many times throughout the Original Series, and the Borg's first encounter with Starfleet was during the Next Generation. Yet, if you look at Deep Space Nine or Voyager, you will find that many of these issues have not come up...thus explaining the questions by many fans.

If more fans were versed in the historical background that is now present within the Star Trek universe, I believe many would find a deeper enjoyment in the show....one that goes beyond their love of the Borg and/or Jeri Ryan. Perhaps many of the issues facing Star Trek today are compounded by the ignorance of many fans? Newer additions to the Trekkie species do not seem to know about the past.

Today, I would implore fans who have failed to encounter the adventures of Captain Kirk and Captain Picard to do so in the near future. The Original Series can be seen in the United States on the Sci-Fi Channel, weekdays at 5:00pm (ET). The Next Generation remains in syndication and, in the case of the United States, can still be seen in many areas.

At a time we fans are looking to the future of Star Trek, let us take a moment and look to the past. It is a good one...and one we should embrace and enjoy because it is what made this franchise possible.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Fred Shedian writes a weekly 'A Take On Trek' column for the Trek Nation.