Sunday, May 15, 2005

The end of an era

Not only will this week see the end of Star Wars, it has also seen the end of another one of my geeky passions, Star Trek. I first starting watching Trek in 1991 - I remember just catching one of the Next Gen eps on a re-run - it was "Yesterday's Enterprise" - which is naturally just about the worst episode that someone who's never seen Star Trek could come in on, since it takes place in one of those famous parallel universes that has nothing to do with the "real" universe that TNG was set in. But it was a great ep and it captured my imagination like nothing I had ever seen. Star Wars was about action and adventure with little doses of humanism thrown in. Trek on the other hand....Trek was hundreds of hours of "this is how I should live my life". Act with honor but be true to yourself. Be loyal to your friends and treat people with respect. Accept others for who they are and be tolerant of people who are different than you.

Due to the Relay, I had to have Mom tape the final few episode of Enterprise for me. I admit I got slightly misty-eyed at the end, when they did the famous voice over "These are the voyages..." line. It got me thinking....why is this ending? According to the TPTB's (The Powers That Be) Enterprise's ratings were in the toilet. Supposedly, it started out with 13 million views for the first episode, and ended with 2 million. But you know...something about that just doesn't jive with me. I am a Trek fan. I have been to conventions. I have met other Trek fans - and the one thing I can say about every Trek fan that I've ever met is that we are loyal to the show. We sat through the worst the series had to offer - the clunker episodes of Next Gen (Angel One, Nightmares come to mind), Captain Proton, the ex-Borg who just happened to be a hot blonde in a cat suit, and the occasional continuity lapse made by the writers (notice that I do not have one negative thing to say about DS9 :). And yet we still watched - we did so because the idea of Star Trek is bigger than one show or one series. Yet somewhere along the line with Enterprise, we're told, the fans just left the show. But I'm not buying the lone gunman theory here. We know for a fact that Neilson ratings do not include TiVO stats - of the millions of subscribers to TiVo - quite a newfangled technology - wouldn't these be just the people who like Star Trek? The real question is in my mind is this: why did Paramount want to kill off Star Trek?

I believe it started with UPN. That network has been around for 10 years now - and I still don't have it. I've only had it at one place that I've lived. Whatever their deal is, it's just a fact that a lot of people simply can't tune into that network. Some cable providers don't carry it. If it's not a local station your dish won't get it. What does that leave you with? Antenna strung up on the roof? Voyager, as well as Enterprise, should have been syndicated. And then there was the movie ST: Nemesis - to put a Star Trek movie out 1 week before Lord of the Rings was suicidal. Lots of people can't afford to go to the movies every week. Some people have to pick one and wait for the other to come out on DVD. In fact, Nemesis had the highest rental and sales rate of any Stat Trek movie in history. Then finally, with Enterprise, as the show finally hit its stride in the 4th season - they move it to Friday nights at 8PM - the certain-death time slot for genre television.

I guess I won't ramble on about this anymore. Suffice it to say, I'm honked off that it's over. I can take some comfort in the fact that unlike Star Wars, I know Trek will be back. Though it may take a while, and who knows what it will come back as - there are simply too many of us Trek nerds out there who love the positive vision of the future that Gene Roddenberry laid out for the world. And so for now I say to you long and prosper.

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