I haven’t watched Star Trek TOS (how geeks say The Original Series) in about … um. Twenty years, maybe? It used to be on all over the television, and I used to watch it as often as possible. When I was first discovering it I remember it was like a hunt – stalking through the TVGuide to try to find episodes I hadn’t seen yet, seeking out a list of all the episodes so I could check them off and make notes and whatnot (and memorize it – I used to test my memory when I was really bored at work by listing all 79. Or 78, depending on who you ask.) After a while it got so that I could identify an episode within about four seconds.
It’s been a while. It hasn’t been on at a convenient time in years; I used to have quite a few episodes on tape, but I think it was when I revolted against The Undiscovered Country that I gave away a lot of them, and sold quite a few more on eBay. That’s another factor in the deterioration of my Trek geekiness; I developed a loathing for Shatner for a while (it was the “Get a life” comment combined with my being very young and sensitive) (I was gleeful when Kirk was killed off) and then I came very close to walking out of the theatre during TUC (I’d explain, but it’s very, very geeky, and I seem to be the only one who feels as I do; I still have never seen the movie again) and went largely off the whole … enterprise.
But, deep down, I’m still the same geek/nerd who cried her heart out when Spock died, and when the Enterprise blew up, and then – for different reasons – when the little shuttlepod rounded a turn and Enterprise-A came into view. (I miss that kind of fierce joy.) I can still recite chunks of TVH and TWOK, my two favorites of all the films.
Which brings me to the present. There is a new (to me at least) network broadcasting locally which shows only oldies, classics, The Good Stuff. Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, The Bob Newhart Show, M*A*S*H – in an uncut or less-cut version I’ve never seen before in some cases. And, on Saturday evenings, they put up an episode of Star Trek. I discovered this a couple of weeks ago… And not only could I not identify the episode in four seconds, I couldn’t have identified it at all if I hadn’t seen the title. (It was “Return of the Archons”.) It was bizarre. I scared my mother when I told her; I think she might have started worrying about early onset Alzheimer’s or a mini-stroke or something (she is a world-class worrier). It was so bizarre. There are the boys – Kirk and Spock and Scotty and my Bones; there’s that red-shirt who never went the way of the red-shirt, who was in the background of a whole bunch of episodes but I don’t think ever said a word or even, maybe, got a name and why do I feel like I should know who he is …? And … Landru. Right. And….Whoa. You could get quite a bit past censors if everyone stayed relatively clothed and women being carried off by men assumed balletic poses. But I didn’t remember a thing about the episode; didn’t remember character names; didn’t remember what happened next … That weekend I couldn’t stick around to watch the whole thing, and I was unhappy about it, because I have no memory of the show – it was like watching it brand new.
It’s strange, because while watching some of these M*A*S*H episodes – also, some of them, not seen in many years, I can predict lines that are coming up down to the intonation and remember bit characters and suchlike. I figure I saw them more often than I did Star Trek episodes, and saw them earlier, in my more formative years: I remember dinner every night as a child as 5:00, right after Dad got home from work, all five of us at the kitchen table with the tv by the door to the living room and M*A*S*H on. Mac and cheese by the light of spurting arteries in the OR. No wonder I’m not more squeamish.
Sitting there realizing I had no idea what happened next in “Return of the Archons” was when I started thinking about rewatching the series. I don’t know if this is going to wind up being the whole series or not, and heaven alone knows what order they’ll come along in between ME TV and whatever renting I do from Netflix … or … I might even buy the series, especially now it’s been remastered … Hm.
What convinced me to make a start was the next episode: Space Seed. Whee! Khan! I’m in.