Matt Yslesias on What Makes Star Trek Great

Matt Yglesias at Slate has a nice review of the various iterations of Star Trek and why the seminal science fiction franchise is better as a television show than a movie.

In the second episode of the seventh season of the fourth Star Trek television series, Icheb, an alien teenage civilian who’s been living aboard a Federation vessel for several months after having been rescued from both the Borg and abusive parents, issues a plaintive cry: “Isn’t that what people on this ship do? They help each other?

It’s an unremarkable episode in one of the worse iterations of the franchise, but the need for an isolated and impressionable young man to offer his assessment of the situation brought a certain clarity to the whole project. The Star Trek oeuvre is immense. Five television series adding up to many hundreds of episodes plus 11 films (so far) and untold novels, comics, and other licensed material. Even restricting myself to TV and movies, it’s an awful lot of material to process. But angsty teen Icheb hit the nail on the head there, plaintively begging Captain Katherine Janeway and the ship’s holographic doctor to let him undergo a dangerous medical procedure that just might save the life of another ex-Borg on the ship who has served as his mentor. They let him go forward, because he’s right: People on the Federation StarshipVoyagerdo try to help each other, as did the people on the various other vessels named Enterprise and even the staff of the Deep Space Nine station.

Starfleet officers help people. And God bless them for it. 

The entire article is well worth reading.

When you take a look at how the different television shows were able to explore so many different questions about humanity and existence and being and morality and justice and all the other unknowables that encompass the great questions of life it is pretty clear that Star Trek deserves a place back on the small screen.


2 Responses to Matt Yslesias on What Makes Star Trek Great

  1. Pingback: ‘Star Trek’ Spaceship Model Soars Into Stratosphere | Ye Olde Soapbox

  2. Sam Gafford says:

    Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the newest ST movie, I did have some problems with the basic philosophy behind it. Without saying too much, it really deviates markedly from Roddenberry’s concept of the United Federation of Planets. I have a problem with that. Many have, in the past, berated ST because of the vision of a ‘peaceful’ future where many races come together as equals and discovery and exploration is the primary goal. Perhaps it says more about our society today that the UFP in the new movie isn’t like that at all. Maybe we, as filmmakers and audience, no longer believe that mankind can rise to that level. And that, to me, is more than a little sad.

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