Friday, July 20, 2007

In Search of Spock?

I have been watching the first season of Star Trek: The Original Series on dvd for the past couple of weeks. It takes a lot longer to watch than The Next Generation. The episodes are longer for one thing. For the other, the show is so overwrought that I find it difficult to take in a lot at once. Shatnerian should be an adjective if it's not already -- my spellcheck tells me it's not (haha, and spellcheck is not a word either, so take that spellchecker!).

The characters in the Original Series are not as well developed as those in Next Generation. Take Captain Kirk for example, his biggest problem for the first third of season one is that he cannot sleep with his yeoman (who is female). Fortunately, he gets more interesting as the series continues. Still, he's no Piccard. Some of the depth of character and personality is missing from the Original Series. The plots are not as well developed either. They had many good ideas, but not as good of writers and directors. Still, I do find many of the characters to be entertaining. And one thing I like about the Original Series is the hokeyness that all the Shatnerian melodrama adds.

I had watched a few episodes as a kid and there are some things I never noticed about the characters before. First off, Captain Kirk's all out angst over being unable to be with his yeoman. He has a naturally romantic side to him that never occurred to me previously. He always goes for the soft spoken, feminine women and he appears to be quite a gentleman. Then, he is a pretty honest guy with little to no subterfuge in his soul. He is what he is. Unlike Piccard who hides his feelings and only says as much as is necessary, Kirk is all there. What you see is what you get. He has almost no malice, but he still has a fatal flaw which makes him more endearing as a character. He is a warrior almost to a fault. He tends to solve everything with his fists. There is no standing on ceremony with Kirk, he's either going to shake your hand or punch you. His predictability makes him much easier to deal with from his officers' standpoints.

Second, Dr. McCoy is a sensualist. Really and truly. He's like an underdeveloped Fyodor Pavlovich from The Brother's Karamazov. At least Kirk adds a romantic element to his exploits. McCoy just wants to get some. I actually find it to be hilarious because I never noticed that before. The other thing I do not get about McCoy is his hostility to Spock. After a certain number of times finding Spock to be correct you would think McCoy would calm down and listen. Other than that, he's a very forthright and outspoken sort of person. He says exactly what he thinks although he is a bit of an extremist. His opinions tend to be more on the extreme side, that is to say. Thus, he's not always correct in his ideas. But he tries.

Speaking of Spock, he is the third and last character I would like to discuss. If I found Spock alive today he would totally be my best friend. He is very calm and almost everything he says makes sense. Perhaps his lack of a sense of humor would get old. But he is not totally devoid of laughter. Once in a while he smiles a little. The thing I like most about Spock is that he brings a variant viewpoint to the table. He sums things up very carefully and usually accurately. He does not understand why humans think they are the only intelligent life out there. At the same time he is not offended by their sentiments toward himself. It would be illogical to take offense. After all, humans are subject to emotions, they cannot help it. He never seems too upset over McCoy's hostilities. Spock always has everyone's best interests at heart even when he forgets to take the effects of emotions into his calculations. That usually works against him, and that is where his fatal flaw comes into play. Spock refuses to see himself as in the wrong. He will always find a way of explaining his behavior as being entirely rational. This aspect of him is quite humorous.

I still have another half season to watch, so who knows what else I'll learn as I go along. If you ever see me running around yelling "Kahn!!" at the top of my lungs you'll know why.


Amber said...

I love TOS.

Not having seen any of the other Treks, I can't say anything about its plots. I always enjoyed the morality issues it deals with.

Kirk has always struck me as a ladies' man...he's got another lady in every show! But Spock is also my favorite; I felt so similar to him in my teen years - him with his Vulcan/Human wars, and me with oh, science/literature...sensitivity/hiding my feelings in public...etc, etc. And he is hilarious. :-P

Amber said...

You do know...although I could always be wrong...

...but I'm pretty sure Spock is half human, half-Vulcan. Yes, his mother is human! They play that up more as the show goes on, I guess.

Esther said...

Yeah, that's right. I always get the feeling Spock's hiding a lot of emotion. It makes him a more interesting character.

little-cicero said...

Isn't Spock the posterboy of Stoicism?

Esther said...

He is quite stoic. ;oP

Emily said...

I really appreciate this post, having watched the entire original series this spring. You've made great points about all of this.

I never understood why Shatner was supposed to be so attractive, until I watched the original series. He is very buff! Most of the fight scenes, as I recall, involve him getting his shirt torn off, piece by piece.

Spock is my favorite, though. If I were a character in the original series, I would be Nurse Christine. =)

I think the greatness of Picard as the all-time best Enterprise captain is that his character combines Kirk's devout humanism with Spock's rational thought, careful deliberation and self-control.

Esther said...

Actually, I think they kept a torn shirt around that they could put on Shatner between shots in a fight scene. Hilarious! Yes, it is a good show. I am surprised to find that most everyone likes Spock best.

That is a very perceptive point about Picard. I think you may be right.