My parents disliked science fiction. That’s a little bit unfair, my mother disliked science fiction. I only know of one science fiction movie she liked, The Last Starfighter. She took me to see that in the theater three times. My father had a disinterest in science fiction. I, however, couldn’t get enough. I would watch any and all science fiction I would have a chance to. I guess with being hand carried to the A New Hope, begging my grandmother to take me to see Flash Gordon at 4, and seeing countless other movies at the theater – my family did indulge me in what I want to watch. I’m sure Gee (my mom’s mom) was very confused sitting through Transformers the Movie at Midway Mall Theater, but they indulged me and I love them for it. However they didn’t understand.
I was 10 years old when Star Trek: TNG was announced. I was bouncing off the walls. Through syndication I had already seen just about all the episodes of the original series multiple times. This was new science fiction, something that happened very rarely on television. My parents however, were very ho-hum. I was lucky though. When I was living in the condominium in Elyria I had a best friend next door, Eric Mitchell. There was literally only a wall between us since our bedrooms shared a wall in our condo units. I’ll save stories about Eric for another time, but in this instance it is important.
Eric’s family also loved science fiction. They were excited about the new series. Eric had also grown up science fiction and was excited for the show. We were all pumped ad when i went over there we would occasionally talked about what it would be like. The premiere dawned closer, and my family had a single TV. While syndication shows aired during the weekend afternoons, this new Star Trek was going to air in prime time. This was a problem. Sometimes I could have control of the what show we watched in the evenings, but that was a rarity. My parents wouldn’t likely give up their TV so I could watch it. This however changed because I was invited next door for a premiere party. Party is a loose term, since it was Eric, his parents and myself.
The evening started with playing Atari 2600 on the TV. We then progressed to dinner. I believe we had pizza from Danny Boy’s, but that part I’m not sure about. Then for some reason at that time one of the major networks showed The Muppet Show at 7:30PM – so being an 11 and 10 year-old, we watched the Muppets. Eric’s mother made a giant load of popcorn for all of us to share. The glorious moment, occurred the strains of the theme song aired. We were all mesmerized by the new science fiction playing before our eyes. It was fantastic.
I remember Eric’s step-father pointing out McCoy walking the ship. Since they didn’t call his character by name, I never would have recognized him. We went through all the callbacks and admired the new characters. Originally we planned to do this weekly, but life happens. I don’t know how often I watched the show over there. For Christmas that year my brother and I had a TV for our room, so that negated the need a bit for TV fighting. That moment of celebration is something that has stuck with me for almost 30 years.
It was a major point of my life that I carried through regular watching until it was canceled in 1994. I’ll always be the Star Wars is better guy, but hour for hour of viewing – Star Trek has likely edged out Star Wars for eyeball time. When I was born Star Trek had already been canceled for 7 years. I probably gravitated to it when I was five or six, possibly younger. It was already an old show.
The last Star Trek series was canceled in 2005, or roughly 4 years before my son was born. He is seven and has been brought up on Star Trek. It’s almost exclusively the original series or the next generation. I showed him the video at the top of this post and he said that’s awesome. I don’t think he has the same passion for it, but then again I pulled him away from the Lego Movie video game to show it to him. He may have been distracted. However, I did see a glimpse of hope, future, and excitement I had at 11. This is his moment to watch and experience something new in the Star Trek world at almost the same time as the rest of the world.
Since I doubt there will be a simulcast of the broadcast and online, that means he will likely be delayed a day of watching it. However, I think I want to recreate that first time for him as close it was for me. I want him excited (no I’m not a mean parent that is going to enforce my excitement upon him). I want to make a day and a show of it. I want relive that moment with him, but at the same time I want to relive it for myself. I want to start early evening playing video games. Then we can order pizza for dinner. Unfortunately we live outside of Danny Boy’s delivery area. Then we will watch something Muppets related. Finally it will be popcorn and the episode.
Will he remember this 30 years afterwards? I highly doubt it. It will be a moment that I will attempt to give him. At the the same time it’s not going to be as organic as it was for me the first time. My wife has a similar story being 8 years old and watching the premiere. Her family was Star Trek obsessive though, so she didn’t have to run to the neighbors. My son has grown up in a unique culture of geekdom that neither my wife or I had. He can literally and regularly bathe in the geek activities that wash over him. That’s why this likely won’t stick out the same way. At the end though, it might. In 30 years he might be writing about his experience of seeing a new Star Trek show for the first time. That’s something I would truly love to give him.