Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at a decade defined by its extremes. Rap versus grunge; mullets versus pixies; Saved by the Bell versus NYPD Blue – the 1990s had it all, and then some. Every other week I’ll be reminiscing about some facet of the 1990s, potentially drowning in some ill-forgotten nostalgia despite my best efforts otherwise. Serving as inspiration is an utterly ridiculous but nonetheless intriguing list created by Huffington Post — 1990 Things from the 90s to End the Nostalgia Once and for All – and I’ll be using a random number generator to pick each week’s “topic.” So don’t have a cow, man, if I ask you to talk to the hand while take this sweet ride through the 90s. Word to your mother.
Week 4: HuffPost list #259 – “Star Trek: Generations”
As much of a not-fan of Netflix as I am, it has been a useful service for revisiting my past that once loved a good/bad/silly TV show. Star Trek: The Next Generation was one of those shows; I watched it almost religiously until about the end of its sixth season, which coincided with me moving away for college. Though my viewings of the show became more sporadic, I nonetheless harbored a great deal of affection for the series, so much so that I was thrilled when it was announced that my favorite sci-fi crew was going to get its chance to shine on the silver screen.
I also really liked movies then. Ah, how times have changed.
Three of the four “Next Generation” movies came out in the 1990s, starting here with Star Trek: Generations. To my own discredit, I suppose, I’ve only seen two of the four – Generations and its follow up, First Contact. I tried to once the third movie, Insurrection, once, but either I made it through and don’t recall a single second of it, which is totally possible, or I just never made it through to begin with. I don’t know, it was the late 90s, and all those particular brain cells remain quite inebriated. So why am I even doing this blogging series in the first place? Let’s not ask too many questions here, okay? I was talking about…um…
Star Trek. Yeah, so, as sometimes happen with movies based on TV shows, this particular set is an oft-maligned quad. It’s not that any of the them are especially bad, it’s just that they aren’t the most inspired Star Trek movies around. They follow some key elements that were quite integral to The Next Generation as a series, but their stories are middling. Essentially, you watch them because you like the TNG people, not necessarily because you want to experience great science-fiction storytelling.
As far as Star Trek: Generations goes, it’s premise is formulated about the idea of what would happen if the worlds of the original Star Trek series and The Next Generation collided? If you’re into movie scenarios where the past meet the present, then Generations is sweetly emotional, humorous, and nicely puts to bed James Kirk’s story. If you’re not, then Generations is corny, hackneyed, and, well…rather inept, because the reasoning for Picard seeking out the presumed-dead Kirk to help save the galaxy from the murderous Soran (Malcolm McDowell) is stringy, at best. To be honest, I’m not sure which camp I’m in, because it’s been years since I’ve even thought about this movie. While looking for a few images, seeing scenes from it triggered a few sparse memories, like watching Kirk make breakfast while Picard stolidly pleads for help, or hearing Scotty be classic “Scotty” onboard the spanking-new Enterprise, or that cringeworthy but damn-if-it-ain’t-supposed-to-be-hilarious moment of the android Data stating “Oh shit” just before the Enterprise makes a crash landing. Ugh.
Y’know, if something is totally 90s, that is – movie robots saying all-too-human things. God, it’s so bad. Just. So. Bad.
To wind back here, I’m in the process, the very slow process, of rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and goddamn if I don’t know how the show ever got picked up. I know that the first two seasons are just not good, but I want to steel my way through them in order to experience the “and-the-earth-moved” moment that comes with the start of the third season. I’m barely through the first season now, but I’m going to make it! Though the show started in the 80s, it feels totally 90s through and through, what with its imperfect scenery, hair tools as facial appliances, and very back make-up and costume choices. But it’s also totally 90s in the way the show evolved into a much more polished series with deeper and more interesting storytelling. The Next Generation movies are proof positive of that, even if none were met with critical acclaim. When I’m done with TNG, maybe I’ll give them another shot.