05 Dezember 2006

The fount of most wisdom

Go ahead, mock the pre-computer special effects, the predictable plots, the Captain's toupee and the Vulcan's ears. I don't care. Star Trek--by that I mean, naturally, the original--is exactly as old as I am, and after more than 30 years of watching I find them as enjoyable and thoughtful as ever. Sorry, all you geeks out there, but Captain Kirk is still cooler than Spock--Jim has all the power and all the women, and that's enough to cinch it in my book. One of the hallmarks of good art or literature is that one continually observes something new. Besides being astonishingly steeped in classical history and literature, the writers for the original series managed to slip all kinds of zingers past the censors. Being able to appreciate these ironies does not, in my view, at all detract from enjoying and respecting the series.

One of my favorites is a line spoken by the beautiful but lunatic daughter of a war criminal, both of whom are actors in a traveling Shakespeare troupe (the "arts in space"). Kirk suspects the father of having been "Kodos the Executioner" but isn't 100% certain, because Kodos' body had been burned beyond recognition--a clear allusion to the corpses of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun found by the bunker. So Kirk makes a play for the beautiful blonde, who, unbeknownst to him, is trying to knock off the last few surviving eyewitnesses to the war crime--two of whom are the Captain himself and a crewman under his command. One thing that struck me is that today the identity issue would probably be easily resolved by means of DNA testing, but in 1966's 2266 there was no such thing! Anyhow, Jim Kirk is making a play for Lenore, and she gazes into his eyes and asks him, "All this power, surging and throbbing, yet under control. Are you like that, Captain?"

Oh, that is rich.