Dude, I think I was born at the wrong time. If I had been born earlier, yeah earlier, I might have been more rad. So what’s with all the wrong-timeness, you ask.
One word: STARTREK!
(See what I did there?)
I was born ten years after TOS (The Original Series) aired, two years after TAS (The Animated Series) went off the air and three years before STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (TMP) hit theatres. The best part of being born at this time was that I didn’t have to wait for STAR TREK to be resurrected; I had to catch up on what had come before.
There are times when I think it might have been grand to have been a teen watching the original series. I’ve read so many book intros by authors who remember their first exposure to the series. Many have recounted watching it from the beginning, like Howard Weinstein and Diane Carey. How I envy those writers.
And me? 1976 ushered me in. Born a year before STAR WARS, and too late to say I was on TREK’s ground floor.
Is it really that big of a deal?
But being born in 1976 instead of 1956 means that I could flood my senses with STAR TREK in the years I was growing up, instead of waiting week to week for a new ep. Watching the new TREKs from 1987-2005, I know the joys of binge watching over waiting.
Now, this article starts a series on my memories of seeing all thirteen TREK movies in the theatres. There is only one flaw with starting with TMP. I was three years old and, well, I didn’t see this one in theatres.
I do, however, have this memory:
I was at a McDonalds, eating a Happy Meal. This might have been my first known exposure to STAR TREK. The Happy Meal box was TMP-themed. I can remember seeing a Klingon soldier and wondering what it was. There were pictures on that box that fascinated me more than the burger inside.
Above all, I remember the prize I came away with that day. My Happy Meal came with an iron-on transfer with the Enterprise insignia. I don’t recall that this insignia was ever ironed-on, but I have a very clear memory of having gotten it.
(Remember, I was three at this time. I have only one other memory from this age. It was when I lived in Florida with my grandparents. We were at the Country Kitchen Café, owned by my Uncle Lil and Aunt Norm [WAIT! Reverse that]. I saw a Sheriff and I was eyeing his gun. I asked the Sheriff if I could hold it and he said — say it with me — “No.” That was when I burst into tears.)
Now, many years later when I lived in Lancaster, California, my friend Russell Hamilton told me something cool.
“Movies 12 is showing all the STAR TREK movies in the theatres!”
I think this was around 1994.
My thought was, I can make up for lost time. I figured I’d get up early that Saturday morning and go see the one TREK movie I hadn’t seen on the Big Screen.
Guess what didn’t happen?
I didn’t get up and drag myself out of bed on the weekend ST:TMP was playing. I think I was hanging out with my friend Matt Hubbard. I don’t really recall. All I do remember is that I didn’t see it. But I vowed to see STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN the next weekend (SPOILERS!: That didn’t happen either.)
I know what you’re thinking, This is a great story about not seeing TMP in theatres.
And that is correct.
I didn’t see it in theatres. It’s one of three I did not see on the Big Screen, along with NEMESIS and BEYOND just last year.
But TMP has had an interesting effect on my life in other ways.
When I was nine, I found an old baseball card shop in Culver City that had a small stockpile of trading cards from TMP and I got some of them cheap. The gum was still intact, too. I remember opening those vintage packs and rifling through the cards. I was ultra-fascinated by the detailed pictures of the aliens. And the pics of the Enterprise. Years later, I was at a TREK convention in Pasadena and managed to get my Doctor Chapel card autographed by Majel Barrett.
I did see parts of TMP on TV over the years and, for whatever reason, always thought it was part of some episode of TOS I never saw. Something always interrupted my viewing. I never got to see it all. Until…
Broke, that is the word to describe my parent’s financial situation in the 1990’s. They had bought a house that they couldn’t manage. My Dad wasn’t working much.
Now, in better times, my Mom had found an ad in the local paper that advertised a garage sale. At this sale, there was a full size pool table up for grabs at the astounding price of $25. Not a misprint, as my Mom thought. We bought the table.
My Dad and I had to break it down and truck it back home to rebuild it.
Now, the lean times came. There was no joy in Joysville, folks. We were broke. B-R-O-K-E, busted. To make the mortgage, my parents decided to sell the beloved pool table. I think my parents got around $650 for it. My Mom promised to buy me something fun, as we hadn’t done anything fun in a long time.
We were at a Vons supermarket when I saw what I wanted. They had a cardboard display of videos, STAR TREK videos. This would have been in mid-1991, when there were only five TREKs on VHS. All the movies were $9.99. My Mom let me buy the three I didn’t have, which were the odd numbered once. These were the ones that, when you had all of them, formed the Enterprise. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I had the even numbered ones in the regular cases, so my collection NEVER formed the Enterprise. So maybe I wasn’t a huge nerd. No, no, I was.)
And that was the night I watched 1, 3 & 5 and stayed up until 3:30 in the morning. Finally, I saw TMP from beginning to end and felt like more of a Trekker than I ever had.
I’m not sure I was ever obsessed with TMP.
When I was sick, I’d stay up late and read the Gene Roddenberry novelization. And then binge read all the other movie novelizations.
There’s something special about TMP. It’s not the greatest TREK movie ever. It is the only one made in the 1970’s and looks very disco and polyester-blend. There is so much energy in the Jerry Goldsmith score and so little energy on the screen. Look at those earth-tones. And those one-piece uniforms (if they had been bell-bottoms, it would have been perfect). There was something special about this film. It was the first live-action STAR TREK in a decade. The reward for patient fans who watched endless reruns, hung with the animated series, traded stories, wrote fan fiction, started clubs, and voted to name the first space shuttle the Enterprise. I wish I could have been a part of it. But, alas, I was too young.
Oh, well. TMP will always have a special place in my heart. And I’m fairly certain that a part of my McDonald’s Happy Meal hamburger is still lodged in my colon.
NEXT TIME: KHAAAAAAAN!!!