This year has marked several important anniversaries for Star Trek. We have celebrated the 35th anniversary of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the premiere of a brand new television series Star Trek: Discovery, and now the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Just last year marked the 50th anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series, which started it all. In honor of that, I thought I’d share my personal journey with Star Trek, as best as I remember it.
My earliest memories of Star Trek involve my Dad. He was, and is, a fan of the original series. When the TV would air re-runs of the original series movies, my Dad would put them on. I enjoyed them, but in those days before PVR and the days before quality Internet, seeing an episode from beginning to end was nigh on impossible.
When driving with Dad, it was a common game to believe we were in a starship. Dad, of course, was Captain and helm officer, except when Mom was in the car, at which point she became Captain. My younger brother always claimed the role of weapons officer, though sometimes he also became navigator as we got older. I was usually content to become sensor officer. These childhood games were immense fun, and made unbearably long car trips bearable for a time.
When Star Trek: Enterprise began airing, Dad would also watch it. This was the first Trek television series I watched with Dad. At this point, I was largely ignorant of the context but I was beginning to learn. Even without knowing much, I fell in love with ENT. Around the same time, or shortly thereafter (here I’m a bit hazy on the timeline) I discovered that Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager were airing after school. I began watching episodes of them. Once I started watching episodes of TNG I was hooked.
Star Trek joined the ranks of my imaginary games, and I imagined myself as a Starfleet officer a lot of the time, usually a Captain at that point in my life. There was one note of discord though–Dad was not at all interested in TNG, only sticking to TOS, and curiously, ENT.
Episodes of TOS begain airing as well before I went off to university, and that was fortunate happenstance because I found that I enjoyed them immensely. While I counted myself a fan at this point, my access to Star Trek was still controlled by when it appeared on television.
When I began my first years at university, I discovered high speed Internet–but it was still a very imperfect high speed Internet with limited streaming abilities. None of the houses I lived in during my first years had access to TV. My first years at university were also marked with immense struggles with depression and anxiety.
During one particular low point, but when OSAP had blessed me with enough money to spend, I decided to purchase a season of TOS on DVD. My logic was that I needed something to occupy my time, and introduce light into my life, and I had realized that I had loved every episode I’d seen of TOS, while TNG had had a few I was not at all compelled by. This proved a fateful decision.
I fell in love with TOS, astonished by subtleties I would never have picked up when I was younger. I quickly picked up the remainders of the seasons and the original series movies (though quickly was somewhat relative–it was a process to get enough money to pick up each of those). Dad and I began watching TOS episodes together when I visited home and that proved a delightful experience. I even learned that my Mom had watched Star Trek when she was younger as well, and enjoyed the occasional episode.
I do admit, I became slightly contemptuous of other Star Trek series during this time–but that was mostly because I only had access to TOS, and didn’t want to grow too attached to the other series when I had no means to watch them. Yet I retained memories of TNG and VOY and knew I would have to watch them again eventually.
So, I began collecting TNG DVDs as well. This was much more of a feat than TOS but in a few short years I finally had all the episodes of TOS, TAS, and TNG on DVD, and all the movies to date on DVD. I was truly a Trekkie at this point–but I was also aware that I wanted to watch DS9, VOY, and ENT again, but the idea of collecting 18 seasons worth of DVDs was daunting. I decided to bide my time, value what I had, and wait until I was either financially solvent, or streaming services offered them.
Finally, a year or two ago now, CraveTV began streaming all the Star Trek series. I subscribed instantly and began watching DS9, VOY, and ENT through beginning to end. I went through all of DS9 and am now on Season Five of VOY, with ENT next on my list. I have loved every minute of it.
Today, whenever I go home, Dad and I watch episodes of TOS together, one of our bonding moments. I have found that TNG era is what calls to me most, but I am at peace with that difference and still greatly enjoy TOS episodes. When I’m driving alone, I often pretend I’m at the helm of a starship. Star Trek remains a staple of my imaginary games.
All in all, Star Trek has played a huge role in my life, and remains one of my favorite television series. Here’s to decades more of Star Trek, boldly going where no one has gone before.