Early Memories: Star Trek

A few weeks back, I talked about my earliest Doctor Who memories, but how did I discover Trek as a child?

Well, my first exposure to the program was in French translation, as "La Patrouille du Cosmos" (literally: Cosmos Patrol - French translators loved the word Cosmos, as opposed to étoiles/stars, indeed Space 1999 was Cosmos 1999 for us), at my cool great-aunt's house in Montreal. They had channels we didn't have in the boonies, including one where people seemed to play primitive video games with their remote controls. Anyway, the episode was "The Enterprise Incident", which ended with Kirk back in his chair, not having taken off his Romulan ears.

When I started seeing Trek again at home, ostensibly in English, some time later, I believe I saw some part of "The Enterprise Incident" again, because I spent a few years believing that Kirk kept the pointy ears for a chunk of that season. I couldn't possibly have seen the same episode twice, could I?

Kids, amirite? ;-)

By the time I was 11 or 12 in the early 80s, Trek ran every night around dinner time, and we watched it as a family. It all seems to run together and I don't really have specific memories of watching any other episode. Just a general memory of the living room (so I know my age, because we moved all the time). As for the movies, I started going to the theater alone and often in 1981 (with Raiders of the Lost Ark) and I consequently saw The Wrath of Khan around the same time. In fact, I saw III and IV in theaters as well, and the disappointing V at a drive-in, one of two instances where my mom took the time to drive us out to see a sci-fi movie she wouldn't admit to not liking to spare our feelings, but which WE wouldn't admit to not liking either to spare HERS. (The other was Dune.)
TNG started up in '87; I was 16 and ready for it. And again, I've watched these shows SO often, I can't really pinpoint any specific memories from those first viewings. We did watch is as a family, and I remember my mom finding Deanna Troi quite beautiful, but otherwise, not much. Picard was Borgified just before I left home, and I remember believing the new paradigm would feature Captain Riker and Commander Shelby.

Once I hit my twenties, I'm a card-carrying geek, and we can't really say "Early Memories" anymore. I'm reading Star Trek novels and behind the scenes books. I'm watching and taping every show as it comes out. I'm getting friends into Deep Space Nine. I'm a member of the Nitpickers' Guild. Etc. etc.

Perhaps a final memory, from seeing First Contact in theaters? It was the grand opening of a large cineplex here in town, and it obviously had a deal with Paramount, with an Enterprise-D maquette up in the ceiling along with other movie icons. That first week, First Contact came out and all the screening rooms were showing it, but you had to win tickets. Someone did through the local newspaper and gave them to me. I went with my kid brother (we were 25 and 19) and the movie was great. However, there was a kid behind us with an even younger kid, and he'd read a leaked script online. He thus felt it was his duty to explain everything to HIS kid brother, up to and including the differences between the script and the final product as it unfolded. GROAN! I have had a difficult relationship with theater audiences ever since...

Are YOUR early memories of Trek clearer than mine? Let us know at the next Geeks Anonymous meeting (i.e. the comments section).

9 comments:

Toby'c said...

My absolute earliest memory of it comes from the song Star Trekkin', which I had most of on a cassette called the Greatest Ever Junior Party Megamix.

It was in early 2003 that I impulsively rented The Motion Picture, followed by Wrath of Khan a few weeks later, thanks to a recommendation from my most trusted critic. I worked my way through the rest of the movies over the next year before starting to borrow TNG from the beginning, and progressed to DS9 and Voyager at the appropriate points. Unfortunately I hit an impasse because the video shop were missing The Search, and they never had any TOS DVDs or videos.

It was in late 2004 that I started buying DVDs of TNG via an (in hindsight overpriced) partwork magazine series. It was through the same company that I finally got ahold of TOS in 2008 (though I had seen City on the Edge of Forever on VHS at my cousin's house earlier).

Funnily enough, it was only earlier this year that I finally completed DS9, Voyager and Enterprise. Still haven't found any of TAS.

Anonymous said...

As a kid, I was aware of Star Trek thanks to a coloring book received as a gift around age 6, and catching bits of The Wrath of Khan on The Movie Channel when visiting Dad one summer at age 10. I remember liking The Voyage Home after seeing it with my cousins, but Trek didn't click with me until my sophomore year of high school. After seeing the TV special Star Trek: From One Generation to the Next, I began watching TOS repeats in earnest every weeknight and TNG every Saturday. The rest, as they say, is history...

--De

Anonymous said...

My father attended McGill University with William Shatner. They appeared together in a number of plays (most notably 'Julius Caesar,' in which Shatner played Antony and my father played Brutus). So Star Trek TOS was a big deal in our Montreal household.

It was the first television show I ever watched. We even got a brand new colour television specifically to watch "Bill's show" in 1966. The first episode I recall was 'The Corbomite Maneuver.' That fake giant head gave me nightmares for weeks.

Siskoid said...

That's awesome! Now we all feel one Kevin Bacon closer to Star Trek!

Brendon Wright said...

TOS was almost constantly repeating in the 70's on NZ telly it seemed, so they were a VERY familiar childhood experience.
Occasionally as an adult I was mystified to find whole episodes I HADn't seen.
I had some of the gold key comics and a comic book with a 45RPM record, the artwork was amazing. Probably Neal Adams or something. The record is now SO SCRATCHED it's unuseable.
The motion picture ads were a familiar fixture on the back of my Donald Duck Comics, and the "comeback" film seemed kinda "WoW! These guys are SO old now and coming out of retirement!" It was weird to see Kirk's hair all swishy. It wasn't fun like the "live theatre" feel of the TV version though, so it gave me mixed emotions.
My mates and I would later skip school to watch "Wrath of Khan" over and again on VCR. We'd frame advance the graphics of the amazing graphics to see the guy slowly disintegrate when he was shot by a phaser down on the Genesis planet. Amazing. Never got better than that. Can't sit through any of it now!

TNG was cool enough, but being 17 I remembered seeing "the real thing" so I felt I had a trick up my sleeve the kids who watched "this new thing" had no clue about. I'm pretty sure there are whole seasons I've missed, not having any telly when I left home to study for a year or two.
My favourite memory of "this new thing" was a amazing psychological thriller: Riker was undergoing interrogation at the hands of some unknown alien dudes, he'd escape only to find he imagined it. The whole episode was dreams within dreams within dreams. I don't know HOW many layers it had, but it was SUPREME!
Never seen it again, hope it's still as good.




Brendon Wright said...

BTW, my eldest son now owns far more ST DVDs than I've actually seen. I'm no longer the most knowledgeable trekker in the family....

Siskoid said...

Pass it on!

Oh, and that was Frame of Mind. Yep. Still excellent
https://siskoid.blogspot.ca/2007/08/star-trek-254-frame-of-mind.html

Brendon Wright said...

Ah! Thanks for that. I'll get my boy to dig it out for me.

I've still read more ST novels under my belt than him. But MAN, the Shatner audiobook narrations are to DIE for. He's SO GOOD!

Stu Ordana said...

I was born in 1967. I can remember coming home from school in the mid-70s and my oldest sister was watching some crazy space show. But I didn't get interested in it. I am assuming either due to Star Wars or reading the short story Arena by Fredric Brown in Readers Digest, I finally got interested in science fiction. Because during middle school I was watching Star Trek whenever I could. It was on Saturday afternoons and late Sunday nights. The late Sunday night episodes were interspersed with comments from my parents to shut the TV off and get to bed. I was hooked on Star Trek and science fiction from then on. I can remember discussing the end of The Wrath of Khan with my driving instruction teacher in the summer of 1982. And after reading The Lord of the Rings in 9th grade, I was hooked on fantasy and D&D.

 

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