My wife and I decided to use some of the big empty space that is Winter Break to share some treasured memories with our son. We rented the first DVD of the original "Star Trek" series with the expectation of filling in the void between Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas. We hoped to lay a foundation for all his future science fiction viewing. This was no lark, either. We had just recently spent a very happy family evening watching "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." My son had all the correct responses: initially creeped out, amused, and finally awed. Why not strike while the metaphorical iron is allegorically hot?
Here's the reason: Seat Belts. Along with any lengthy dissertation on the relative special effects budget that caused the writers of Star Trek to invent "beaming down" to a planet because they couldn't afford to film a ship taking off and landing once a week, comes the inevitable cheese factor. Even though I had prefaced our viewing with disclaimers about how far and how fast things had changed in the world of science fiction. Surely he would be captivated by the writing and characters, and the daring experiment that was once described as "Wagon Train to the Stars." All that being said, just a few minutes in, the Enterprise encounters a barrier at the edge of the galaxy, creating great turbulence on the bridge. And everyone gets tossed around in haphazard directions. With all of this advanced technology, where was the personal restraint system? Sure these guys can travel across the vast reaches of space at several times the speed of light, but nobody thought to strap themselves to their chair. Sick bay must be full of barked shins and bumped heads as a result.
By the time we watched Chief Engineer Scott repairs some of the ship's modular circuitry with a chunk of plastic resembling a kitchen sink, my son's assessment was in: "Cheesey," he said. I started to argue, but I had just sat through the same episode he had and resistance was futile. His eyes are accustomed to 3D computer graphics. The new worlds that we had to show him belonged to another time, another age. I had hoped that, like Tronya, he would relish it as much as I, but this frontier had been tamed.