The death of Leonard Nimoy this past February was particularly sad for me and my daughter, since we have been watching the original Star Trek episodes on Wednesday nights since last summer. I doubt that I qualify as a Trekkie or a Trekker, since I have never attended a Star Trek convention, do not own a Star Trek uniform or mechanical device, and do not have any Star Trek posters or commemorative plates. I own a small number of books related to Star Trek, and I have all the episodes of the original series on DVD. (I also have about half of them on VHS.)
Moreover, I have never warmed to the Next Generation or any of the other incarnations of Star Trek. For me, the words “Star Trek” will always signify Captain James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scottie, Uhuru, Sulu, Chekov, and the other four hundred members of the Enterprise crew. The original series had an energy that overcame its weak special effects and other limitations. As one of the most optimistic science fiction stories of its era, Star Trek deserves the respect given to the show as an icon of American culture of the 1960s.
I vaguely remember a couple of first-run episodes of Star Trek, but I was still quite young during the three years of new episodes. I became better acquainted with the show and its characters through syndicated reruns in the 1970s. My best friend in high school and I made radio plays based on the Star Trek characters. He was always Kirk, and I was always Spock. We eagerly waited for the first feature film of Star Trek and were not disappointed by it. Other reviewers complained of the pace of the movie, especially its long lingering introduction to the rebuilt Enterprise, but those scenes suited the two of us just fine.
Star Trek has remained with me through the years, and I was glad to be able to own the episodes and watch them at my convenience. I’ve shared them with my children and watched them come to understand and relate to Spock, Kirk, and the rest. Like the original cast, my children and I have a sense of humor about the show. They can, for example, identify and imitate a “Shatner comma.” Beyond that, we sometimes pretend that the family van has impulse engines and warp drive, and we know that our cell phones are really communicators.
Scottie, McCoy, and now Spock have left this world. Unlike in the TV episodes and movies, no amazing trick or alien technology is going to return them—not, at least, until all the dead are raised and the world is made new. But we will always be able to relive their adventures and to imagine further adventures for them. We too are able “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”