Tholian webbed

Okay fellow Trek nerds, allow me to expose my Trek geekiness.

Yes, I am a Trekkie. Have been one since I was a wee lad. And when I grew up, I fell in love with The Next Generation. But I’ve always had a soft spot for the original series, what we Trekkists refer to as ‘TOS.’

TOS, as anyone familiar with television lore knows, only lasted for three seasons, and most Trekkers agree that the third season was, well, kind of awful. It had some outright howlers, and I never held it high regard. Gene Roddenberry had removed himself to the back office and given the show over to Fred Freiberger who, apparently, had some of his cliché action ideas he wanted to force onto the show.

But as I’ve been streaming the “remastered” version of the third season on Netflix, I came across probably one of the better episodes of the whole series – “The Tholian Web.”

Everything about this one was good. The story was compelling, the acting top notch, and all the little bits and pieces added up to an episode that made up for every bad thing about that particular season.

We Trekkers know this story, and all other episodes, by heart, of course.

The remastered special effects are sumptuous. But the little bits – a “ghost” Kirk floating around the ship, sufficiently spooky even though it’s one of the cheapest special effect that can be done – McCoy erupting into a near war of insubordination against Spock – Spock taking it coolly and calmly (like Obama with the tea partiers) – Spock saying, “I’m sure the captain would have said, ‘Forget it, Bones.’” – the lovely moment where McCoy finally calls Spock “Captain” – and the perfect epilogue as Spock and McCoy refuse to admit to Kirk that they listened to his final taped orders because they’d given up on him – all these little bits made it one of the standout episodes in all of Trek.

Oh sure, the writer in me can find some nitpicks to make, tiny little things I might have done differently if it were my story. But it wasn’t. And what’s there is a shining moment for the show. No, I really wouldn’t change any of it.

But there’s another reason why I’m particularly fond of this one. When I was a kid, all geeked out in my love for Trek, I finally got to attend one of those storied Star Trek conventions I’d heard about. Yes, I got to see lots of strange grownups, even geekier than I, wearing costumes they’d made themselves. But the highlight was a screening of this episode on a movie-size screen. At that time (the mid 70s) I’d never seen Star Trek on anything other than a 19-inch screen of questionable color balance. Seeing it there, big as life, made an impression.

So here I am, a lifetime later, with four, count ‘em, four other Trek series in, and eleven feature films, enjoying a pristine, high-definition viewing with new CGI special effects, on my 50-inch TV.

Progress is good. But so is the old stuff.

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