In about an hour, I'm going to go see Star Trek, J.J. Abrams' reinvention of the classic franchise. I mentioned yesterday that I was excited about seeing the movie even though I've never seen any of the movies or watched the show - after all, it's being billed as a "Star Trek for the rest of us" - and Claire thought it was ridiculous that I'd never really seen any "Star Trek" before this.
But despite my complete lack of exposure to anything from the Trek universe before this, I know a good deal about it. Everyone does. It's inescapable. In fact, here's 50 things I know about "Trek" despite having never seen any of it.
50 Things (I Think) I Know About Star Trek
1. Captain James T. Kirk is played by William Shatner in the original series.
2. Kirk would have sex with anything, on any planet, that seemed even vaguely feminine.
3. A LOT of those aliens looked awfully human and perfectly acceptable for Kirk to have sex with.
4. If Kirk seemed to be falling in love with one of these aliens, it was absolutely certain that this creature would be dead by the end of the show/movie.
5. There are ten "Star Trek" movies.
6. All of the even-numbered Trek movies are good.
7. All of the odd-numbered Trek movies are weird and/or terrible.
8. This movie is the eleventh, and therefore the one that seems to be capable of breaking the streak.
9. There are three Star captains. Shatner was Kirk, Patrick Stewart was Picard, and then there was a female captain who a lot of people hated.
10. Female Trek fans call the female captain a "great female role model." Male Trek fans just pine endlessly for Kirk and Picard.
11. In the later seasons/reboots/whatever, The U.S.S. Enterprise, for no logical reason, has a holodeck.
12. The major purpose of the holodeck seems to be exposition.
13. Sometimes people hang out in the holodeck in order to play chess with Sherlock Holmes, or whatever, because when you have a holodeck, you have to write it into the script a whole lot, or else everyone makes fun of it for being useless.
14. People spend exorbitant amounts of time explaining the science of the holodeck, or questioning its validity as a scientific object.
15. All of this time should really be spent on much more important things.
16. Every fight scene in "Star Trek," the show, has been abysmally terrible.
17. Having William Shatner fight a guy in a rubber suit while dramatic music plays in the background was always a really bad idea, so there's no excuse.
18. Leonard Nimoy got to speak with a monotone for, like, 20 years, and is now heralded as a great actor with no validity whatsoever.
19. Shatner is also regarded as great actor just because he's "in on the joke." This is a stupid reason to be considered a great actor.
20. Wesley Crusher was played by a guy named Wil Wheaton, who looked exactly like the way you'd imagine a guy named Wil Wheaton to look.
21. Uhura, who will be played by Zoe Saldana in the new movie, was originally played by an actress named... I dunno, some other actress who wore a miniskirt and was black. This was regarded as a huge step forward for our culture.
22. The fact that Trek fans regarded this as a huge step forward for our culture says a lot more about Trek fans than it does about our culture.
23. Uhura hooked up with Kirk and managed to not die, one of the most impressive feats any character managed on early Trek television.
24. "Bones" McCoy was a hothead, which was probably how he managed to get the stupidest nickname on television.
25. McCoy might have been a doctor, which is why he was named "Bones" - y'know, the ol' "sawbones" nickname. It's still a dumb name.
26. McCoy always battled with Spock, a classic example of emotion vs. logic.
27. The fact that people withdrew great insights from these arguments would be a very great example of the former.
28. The navigator was Sulu, played by George Takei. He was supposedly a fencer of some kind, an exceedingly useful skill in outer space.
29. Sulu spent very little time navigating and most of his time counting down the seconds until the ship would explode.
30. Scotty was the engineer who always miraculously kept the ship from exploding after the crew had screwed everything up again. Engineers everywhere found this appropriate.
31. He was nicknamed "Scotty" because his last name was Scott, a nicknaming habit that unfortunately did not extend to Kirky, Spocky, or later, Picardy and Crushery.
32. Everyone agrees "Wrath of Khan" was the best Star Trek movie ever.
33. In it, someone - probably Kirk - yells "Khaaaaaaaan!" at the skies in a dramatic fashion.
34. The reason they do this is because Spock died.
35. The death didn't actually take, because no one wanted to see "Star Trek" without Spock.
36. Other Best Star Trek movies are IV and VI, and I think VIII is also up there.
37. In one of them - I think, "The Voyage Home," the Kirk and Spock-version crew goes back in time to 1960s or 1970's Earth. Hijinks ensue.
38. The crew wasn't supposed to change anything while they were in the past, but of course they did, which probably should've screwed everything up but didn't, because that would be too problematic to write about.
39. There's a scene in the movie where one of the actors is asking passers-by questions, and it's all their real responses. It's the old hidden-camera trick.
40. Everyone finds this very cool, and not at all gimmicky.
41. Despite the fact that it's very, very gimmicky.
42. People debate Picard vs. Kirk all the time, because Patrick Stewart was cool and collected, and Shatner was animated and fun and talked with a weird cadence, and so they're very different and the debate rages endlessly.
43. Shatner got a leg up by going first, of course. If the original captain had been someone like Patrick Stewart and he'd been replaced by someone like William Shatner, there would have been rioting in the street.
44. In the later series, there's another token black guy who wears weird sunglasses. No one saw this as a big step forward for our country, not even "Star Trek" fans.
45. The crew from the original series were in movies I-VI, the crew from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" were in movies VII-X, and the crummy casts from the other crummy versions haven't been in any movies at all.
46. Scott Bakula was also the captain of one of the versions of Star Trek, because Sci-Fi fans love them some Scott Bakula. It wasn't "Deep Space Nine," though, cause that was some other dude whose name I don't know.
47. "Star Trek" has its own version of the Ewoks, only lamer. They look like some sort of gerbil-housecat mixed breed. Apparently one of them will be in the background somewhere in the new movie.
48. Spock was a Vulcan, who apparently mate something like every seven years, though I imagine that event happened just in time for May sweeps at least one year.
49. There's a Klingon language that people memorize, and the word for "why" is "qatlh." This has stuck in my head, though I'm not totally sure what a Klingon looks like. I think they're the ones with the Triceratops forehead.
50. Despite never having seen any "Star Trek," I honestly did not have to look up any of this stuff. This says much about how my brain works, since I regularly can't remember what my weekend plans are and where exactly I agreed to be.