Saturday, September 8, 2012

Star Trek vs. Star Wars has put up a new Google Doodle that commemorates (a day early) the 46th anniversary of the television premiere of the original Star Trek series on NBC on September 8, 1966.

It's a great Doodle that actually allows you to follow along with a short interactive animated Star Trek storyline by clicking on various characters and objects in the scenes.  The characters (Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy...) are each represented by  a letter in the word "GOOGLE".  And in this case, one of those characters just happens to be a "Red Shirt"--a nickname for the mostly nameless, red-shirt-wearing security personnel who always seem to get killed during the Enterprise's adventures.

The Google-ized Crew of the Enterprise on the ship's bridge

Kirk and a "Red Shirt" in the transporter room preparing to beam down

Encountering the Gorn from the episode "Arena"

The Gorn, as it appeared in the original episode

Final credit sequence for the Google Doodle

It's all pretty cool for a fan of the show, like myself.  Stumbling onto this Google Doodle got me to thinking about something that I've been meaning to write about for some time now.  What better time than the anniversary of the first episode of Star Trek to finally sit down and get this out of my head?

A while back a friend who has known me since I was much younger posted a question that seemed simple enough--but it totally stumped me.  The question was: "Which do you prefer, Star Trek or Star Wars?"  I should have given a quick, two-word answer, but instead it got my head spinning around the question.  Let's take a look at the two contenders:

I've been a fan of Star Trek ever since I was a kid in the 1970s watching re-runs of the original TV series that ran from 1966-69.  I never saw it during its original run because, well, I hadn't been born yet.  But I do consider myself a life-long fan of Star Trek (whether that makes me a "Trekkie", a "Trekker" or whatever...).  I've never written much about Star Trek in this blog (beyond some mention in Creation Convention--25 Years Later and Creation Convention Part II: Geeks on Parade), but it's always been a part of me.

I suppose if I had to pick a favorite version of Star Trek it would still be The Original Series.  I was very excited when Star Trek: The Next Generation started up in 1987.  I watched it throughout its run and loved it as well.  It's a close one, but I still have to go with the original.  After The Next Generation I seemed to become less and less interested in each of the subsequent Star Trek series (Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise).  I still have a lot of catching up to do on all those shows--even though they've all been off the air for a number of years.  I also liked all the Star Trek movies that featured the original cast.  "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (1982) would probably rank my favorite of all the Trek films, but I did enjoy all of the ones with the original crew (even "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" to some extent).  I liked the ones with the Next Generation crew too, but not quite as much.  J.J. Abrams' recent "Star Trek" reboot (2009) was interesting.  I go back and forth on whether I approve of its tampering with the Star Trek canon, but it certainly was a good movie and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Meeting Judson Scott from "Star Trek II" at a convention in 1985

Oh yeah, I also liked the short-lived Star Trek animated series produced by Filmation back in the 1970s.  This show continued the five year mission of the Enterprise that was prematurely interrupted by network cancellation.  It also served to bridge the period between the original show and the first theatrical film.  The animated adventures of Star Trek featured not only the voices of most of the original cast (as well as James Doohan performing many, many voices in addition to Scotty), it also had many of the writers from the original series.  Unfortunately, it was just too smart and serious to be a successful Saturday morning cartoon.  Luckily it's now available on DVD!

The first "Star Wars" movie (or "Episode Four: A New Hope") was released in 1977 when I was seven years old.  It was a perfect age at which to be introduced to that galaxy far, far away.  Ever since seeing "Star Wars" for the first time I was hooked on that saga too.  In fact, in The Oak Street Drive-In I detailed how we had a backyard theater screening of "Star Wars" for my 40th birthday party a couple years ago.  As was the case with Star Trek, the original is still my favorite.  I loved--and grew up with--the original Star Wars trilogy.  All the merchandising that became a bit tiresome with the later movies was an important part of my childhood.  I collected as many toys and action figures as I could.

My original 1977-era Stormtrooper action figure
The same one I played with as a kid!
It was an exciting time in the 1990s when the second trilogy of prequels began production, but I never felt they captured anything near the level of magic that the original movies had.  And yes, I did have a big problem with new, annoying characters like Jar Jar Binks!  Add the fact that I'm no fan of CGI special effects and you can see why I prefer the first films.  I didn't get a chance to see any of The Clone Wars animated series (because I don't have cable), but do remember watching the Saturday morning cartoon Droids as a kid.  George Lucas' insistence on tampering with all six of the Star Wars movies and their seemingly endless re-releases on both the big screen and home video has become extremely annoying.  Still, the Star Wars universe will always be a favorite of mine.  Despite that, I really haven't written much about Star Wars as a blog topic either--other than the drive-in birthday party mentioned above and Star Wars Day at Higgins Armory Museum.

Meeting an Imperial Death Star Gunner with The Little Monster in 2011

Well I guess it's obvious that I do indeed like both Star Trek and star Wars.  So which one is my favorite?  Well, I believe that I do have an answer, but unfortunately it's not really a satisfying one.  Both Star Trek and Star Wars hold special places in my heart.  But as it turns out, those places are pretty distant from each other.  Both of them are space-based science fiction stories and might seem very similar at first glance, but the story lines are very different.  And it would seem that they both have fed off of each other in some way over the years.  While it would be a huge stretch to say that George Lucas ripped off Star Trek (which did come first) when he came up with the idea for Star Wars, it also seems likely that Star Trek did indeed have some influence on Star Wars--however small.  And if it weren't for the success of Star Wars in 1977 it's very possible that Star Trek wouldn't have been re-launched as a series of films on the big screen in 1979 with "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"--ten years after the TV series was cancelled.

Unlike most of the classic "Which do you prefer?" questions like: Elvis or the Beatles, The Three Stooges or Abbott & Costello, Ginger or Mary Ann, Betty or Veronica, Betty or Wilma, The Brady Bunch or The Partridge Family--the question of Star Trek vs. Star Wars really doesn't have an answer in my case.  The reason the question stumped me so much was that it had never occurred to me that one could be chosen over the other.  They simply represent two different interests of mine that can't be placed in order.  They're both very important to me.



  1. When I was a kid, it was Star Wars all the way. I was completely obsessed. It wasn't until I was in my early teens that I really discovered Star Trek. I had seen some of the original episodes over my aunt's house (she's a Star Trek fanatic!) and they intrigued me. Then I started to catch reruns on WNDS and WSBK when they showed them here and there. Then of course there was TNG!

  2. While I'm sure many people have a clear-cut favorite (and possibly have no interest at all in the other), i'd guess that many people like both and their preference for one or the other is more based on when/how they were exposed to Star Trek or Star Wars.

  3. I totally agree....though I have to say that at this point in my life, I love one just as much as the other!