I’m think I’m starting to become known as somewhat of a contrarian.
That may be an understatement. I don’t usually set out to be seen that way, but it often happens. I enjoy not seeing something because everyone is recommending it. I generally end up seeing things in the wrong order and as is often the case I prefer the first thing I see. I’m trying to break out of this pattern though, it’s one of my resolutions for 2016, and while there’s no way to see certain series in the correct order I’m trying to give the “originals” a chance. That’s why I started at the beginning of Star Trek: The Original Series and currently sit somewhere around the middle of season two. I’m really, really enjoying it, so why is this a problem? Well…
I was recently on Star Trek: Romulans Bearing Gifts talking and thinking about the newest Star Trek reboot movie Star Trek Beyond. During that discussion I said that I preferred the reboot cast to the original cast. I said it was difficult for me to connect to the original series and my Kirk and crew would always be Chris Pine, Quinto, Pegg, etc, etc. Just like my Captain will always be Picard, my Doctor is the Fifth, and my preferred Obi-Wan will always be played by Ewan McGregor. So, here comes an admission of guilt of sorts: I said that knowing full well that I had seen maybe six episodes total of the original series. That includes the pilot and the Trouble with Tribbles. It was a blanket statement and a hasty one at that. Opinions can change sure, and you never have to see everything to make a decision, but now I’m stuck in a strange circumstance where it seems like I’ve totally changed my mind about something. I haven’t changed my mind; it was never really made up in the first place. Ugh.
It’s a potential peril of podcasting, I guess, especially with group reviews, where you find yourself maybe agreeing a little bit more, or disagreeing simply to freshen up a conversation and actually bring in some discussion. I’m sure many, many podcasters are completely honest, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with stretching a review here or there. If you haven’t listened to the episode I still recommend it, just take what I say in it with a grain of salt. In fact, always take what I say with a grain of salt and that way I won’t feel the need to write any more of these. What follows are more, let’s say, informed opinions (from 2.5 seasons of the show) on the reboots vs TOS. More informed than before, less informed than any proper Star Trek fan.
Reboot vs TOS thoughts:
Karl Urban is a fantastic McCoy and I think he plays young Bones very well. He’s a bit angrier, a little more outright stubborn in his ways, but his mannerisms are pretty spot on. He can deliver “I’m a doctor, not a _____” with gusto, and he comes close to imitating the eye acting that Kelley could do.
Sidenote: There’s a lot of eye acting in TOS, and most of it isn’t in close ups. Even Shatner does some subtle acting which up until now I assumed was impossible.
In relation to others, I don’t know if it’s the way Quinto plays Spock, but TOS wins every time when it comes to banter between Spock and McCoy. The exchanges in Star Trek Beyond between the two never reach the level of Bones trying (and failing) to subtly say Spock has done something emotional. It’s never subtle enough. In TOS you have the reactions where Bones infers Spock did something illogical or emotional and Nimoy rebuts with a line so dry the Sahara is choking. Kelley can only stand there wide-eyed and shocked in response. Usually that’s when I yell “You go Spock!” at my television screen and scare my cat.
Given his portrayal of younger Spock presumably this is a time when Spock wasn’t as controlled as he was on the Enterprise. Quinto’s Spock actually smirks at a few points, but Nimoy does that with his EYES.
The Kirk dynamic I think suffers in Beyond because Pine’s Kirk lacks something. I want to say happiness but Kirk isn’t always happy and Pine’s Kirk is happy in each of the reboot movies. Pine’s Kirk is brooding and uncertain of not only what he wants from life but whether he should be allowed to get what he wants. Which is fine given the timeline, but even the moments of levity aren’t the same as Shatner’s joy. Dare I say that TOS Kirk has a twinkle in his eye? Pine has the boyish, devil-may-care attitude but he hasn’t gotten the twinkle yet.
Sulu, I can see the connection and Chekov I haven’t seen enough of in TOS to fully appreciate. Uhura at first seemed way off, before I started watching TOS, but now I can see the common mannerisms in a rebooted universe kind of way.
That leaves Scotty.
Until I started watching TOS I knew Scotty mostly from the Star Trek movies and the multiple parodies from animated shows. I had no idea how Simon Pegg’s Scotty could ever become Doohan’s Scotty. Yes, this is younger, bouncier, talk a mile a minute Scotty but maybe if Pegg’s Scotty lay off the sugar and chilled out for a second? After all the Wit is there with a capital W, and the interplay between Bones and Scotty in Star Trek Beyond is fantastic. They act more like fighting coworkers that secretly don’t mind working together rather than brothers-in-arms which is what I gather from TOS. (Aka I could totally ship Beyond Scotty/Bones but not TOS Scotty/Bones) The confidence Kirk has in Scotty is there in both times and I can easily picture Pine’s Kirk responding, “then you’re fired” if Pegg’s Scotty asked what would happen if he could fix whatever happened to be broken.
In the end they are different shows, with different timelines and I won’t get too wrapped up with trying to make sure one is just a “younger” version of the other. I still have episodes left to watch and I may rewatch the movies before I have a firm impression. However, I can say that I’m starting to “get” it now. I see why the original series is so popular and I can appreciate wanting to work on that starship with those people.
I don’t think I’ll be writing Spock/Kirk fanfic anytime soon, but there’s a brotherly kind of love there that I can’t ignore. Look. at. their. faces. I get it now. I can see the reason people tag them as ‘Space Husbands’