To boldly go where we’ve all been before…a bunch of times….

I’ve heard the story of how Paramount is sprucing up the original 1960s Star Trek series for another run on broadcast T.V.. They’re doing some CGI shots to cover the special effects that they feel are a little too embarrassing for today’s audiences.

The photo I’ve pasted somewhere in this item is a sample shot from one of the contractors trying out for the job.

My first impulse was to wonder why they’re wasting their time? I’m not a massive Trek fan but just about everyone I know has seen the original episodes a couple of dozen times each. I’ve seen all the episodes of Next Generation at least once. I started getting my fill of Trek around the time Deep Space 9 and Voyager came along. I think there’s still a Trek series currently in production. I believe it’s called Generations(?) and it stars that guy from Quantum Leap, Scott Baklava.

So why make the effort to release the original Trek series—especially with G4 doing their fun Trek 2.0 show?

And then it dawned on me. I hate it when obvious things clobber me over the head when I’m not looking. When I was young I used to watch WGN TV on Sunday mornings. For the longest time the Sunday AM lineup included The Wild Wild West, Secret Agent Man, and then Star Trek. When baseball season was in full swing the Cubs would play around lunch time, after Trek. When there was no baseball WGN would pull out their collection of Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan movies. Each week they would switch back and forth between the two detectives, and every once in a while they would switch things up with a Mr. Moto movie featuring the always-creepy Peter Lorre.

So why is WGN or some other Chicago UHF channel going to start showing the old Trek episodes? It was kind of embarrassing when the answer hit me. It is so easy to forget that there are more people in the United States who don’t have basic cable than those who do. They can’t watch the original Trek episodes on G4 because they don’t know what G4 is. And besides, even if they do have basic cable, they can’t set their TiVo or cable company digital video recorder to snag it when it’s on each Thursday night at 3:00 a.m. because they don’t know what a DVR or TiVo is.

There are only three people who live in my house, yet we have three color televisions, two cable digital video recorders, two CD burners, one DVD video recorder, and all kinds of assorted MP3 players and digital cameras, and a couple of clunky PCs in the garage that may be slow by today’s standards but they probably had a hundred times the computing power that the computers aboard the first couple of Apollo moon shots had.

It’s the whole embarrassment of riches thing that socks me in the gut every once in a while. Valarie is talking about a new Mac she’s getting too do some work on, yet there’s a good chance that a handful of kids my daughter Dakota goes to high school with, not only don’t have a computer or digital video recorder, but they probably go to bed at night with nothing more nutritious than a bowl of Ramen noodles in their bellies.

Forget about television sets and iPods, I learned the hard way that it’s a whole lot easier to get help in this country if you need a lot than if you simply need a helping hand.

A few years ago my family was in serious trouble. I called in every favor I had saved up but I still couldn’t get a scrap of writing. We had been selling off a lot of our old books and toys and crap on eBay to help pay the rent, but we needed to get the car fixed and we had some major bills to pay so I did something that I never thought I’d do. I walked into the local welfare/public assistance office, laid all my cards out on the table and told them that we needed help. Cash would be great, but even if it were some food stamps or help with paying the utilities would make all the difference.

The robot sitting across the desk from me took down all my information, did a little math and talked with someone on the telephone. Things were sounding pretty good until she told me that she was sorry but my requested had been denied. I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t understand what she was saying so she gave me a brochure with a toll free number on it that I could call for a full explanation.

When I didn’t get up and move out of the office quickly enough a supervisor and a security dude came over to pry me from my chair. The supervision was a tad more understanding than the robot who had been helping me. He looked over my application and told me that the reason I didn’t qualify for any sort of public assistance was because of my current lifestyle.

His words were bouncing off me like bullets off Superman’s chest. The two big reasons we were declined was because we were paying too much money in rent on our house each month (I think it was around $1200 a month) and our car was too valuable (we had a Honda Civic that we were still paying for and was only worth five or six thousand dollars).

So, in essence I was being told that the government wasn’t interested in helping me if I was simply stumbling around trying to get a hand up. On the other hand, if I were nearly down for the count, inches away from falling down into the gutter, they’d be more than happy to help.

I don’t have the figures in front of me but there is a large portion of the population of this country that doesn’t have a single black & white or color television in their houses (there’s probably a substantial lack of milk and bread in those households as well). There are even a higher number of people who don’t have a computer, and even if they did there’s a high likelihood that they wouldn’t know how to use it to get a job in today’s society.

I know that Bill Gates is doing fantastic things with the billions he’s accrued over the years. It might not put too big of a dent in his budget to make sure that there’s a computer in every school classroom in the U.S.. Perhaps if a student demonstrated and affinity or aptitude toward using said computer, how much more would it cost Mr. Gates to put a PC into that child’s home?

He knows that he can’t take the money with him, and apparently he’s not going to make any of his children or heirs instant billionaires, so why not? The man has the resources to change the world. Isn’t it his responsible to do so?


Tony Akins said...

I was watching a report on CNN. Apparently the American Dream is dead.
At best, even those idealistic immigrants that strive to reach our shores, will slave for ten generations
before reaching the middle-class.
The United States of America, God help us, is ranked 5th in the world for quality of living.
The world and country that our fathers and fathers' fathers knew (yes, and our mothers' mothers, too), was brief shining moment in the shitstorm that's known as Life on Earth; Homo Sapien Sapien.
Think about it. How the old goots used to proclaim that America was the greatest country on the planet.
This is only post-war hooey. Of course we lived at an elevated quality of life; geography and resourses allowed us to enjoy a properity that the rest of the world could not afford because it was on it's knees after the conflagration of WW2. Even the European victors, England in particular, were in sorry shape.
Because of geography the United States suffered only 5, FIVE, civilian casualties during the war.
In contrast, Germany civilian casualties, from AERIAL BOMBING alone are in the area of 340,000.
That's men, women, children in their homes or on the job or at school; non-combatants.
American service casualties for the war; men and women, in uniform, paid to go in harms way around the globe, in ALL theaters of the war; 260,000.
Of course we had the greatest way of life after the war. That's WAY over.
Shit...where was I going with this? All I can think of now is B-17s...
I recently joined NetFlix. Awesome is the word.
I'm watching "Reilly:Ace of Spies" for the first time since it originally aired. It's fantastic.
Sadly, I'm reminded of the history and politics of one-hundred years ago. How Empires carved up other nations for their resources in order to kill inhibitants of competing Empires off more efficiently.
OK, I feel a rising tsunami of cynicism I must abandon my point as I'm losing focus. Damn.
Dont' trust the Government. Or the Church.

Tony Akins said...

Oh, my point was this...
I like the idea that StarTrek is rehashing the old series. Lucas did the same thing with the original Star Wars and it helped the content.

Fred Schiller said...

Speaking of war and Star Trek, which I think we just were, I’m reminded of one of my favorite episodes of the original Trek. (I’ve always had love/hate feelings toward the show. I absolutely adore some of the tasty plots and conflict Gene and the writers cooked up, but the actual execution of those plots and the resolution of the conflicts always left me cold.)

Anyway, the episode that I was thinking of involved a massive war that had been raging between two countries or planets. Thousands die in epic battles between the warring factions. A major reveal in the story demonstrates that the battles are actually taking place within computer battleground simulations. I guess at some point it was decided that a simulated war was more cost effective than the real thing. When the computer spits out the results of the simulated battle, it dictates that Side ‘A’ lost 56,000 warriors while Side ‘B’ lost only 41,400. The appropriate number of troops on either side report for duty and are marched into disintrigration chambers. While this is happening the computer is busy dreaming up new battlefield maneuvers.

Now THAT’S what I call a story. It was probably swiped from some pulp anthology from the 1930s, but you get my drift. I don’t remember what the resolution was—how much they mangled the Prime Directive—and how many green-skinned babes that Kirk managed to bone, but I sure remember the story.

Tony Akins said...

I was always much more of a ST:TNG fan. The stories seemed to be more plausible since the effects department could step up to needs of the episode.
Remember the "TWO Enterprises"? Not sure if that was the actual name, but it involve some dimension rift that the E slipped through and found itself configured as a pure war vessal. Guinan was the only one who sensed that something was not right.
One of my favorites is the ep where Picard has his mind hijacked by a probe from a long-dead galaxie; the sun went supernova and wiped everyone out. But not before they got the probe out of harms way.
Anyway, he is subjected to an entire lifetime as an inhabitant of this deadworld and then returned to the E. Turns out he had only been unconcious for a few minutes. But he had masterd the flute during his simulated lifetime among the extinct lifeforms and had always played the instrument after that episode. He had also formed real emotional bonds to the simulated people; belived he had grown old and become a grandfather; the whole nine yards.
His "family" wheeled him to a hilltop to watch the launch of a probe (the one that zapped him in the first place). As it lifted off, the explained that hey were a people long dead and this was their only way to say that we were once here; by downloading this simlife into your cranium. Then, zap, he was waking up on the bridge of the E with Crusher reading his lifesigns. Brilliant stuff.