Sunday, May 19, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: A Final Farewell for Trek's First Family

With Star Trek Into Darkness sitting atop the box office this weekend, cementing this latest iteration of the sci-fi evergreen in the minds of the public, I thought it might be a good time to take a look back at when Star Trek's originals took their final bow. After the box office disappointment of 1989's William Shatner-helmed The Final Frontier (my first theatrical Star Trek experience, which I dissected here), the assumption by many was that the bell had tolled for the cast of the 1960s TV series. Certainly that was my assumption.

And in that pre-Internet wilderness of the late-'80s and early-'90s, I had no window into the behind-the-scenes wheeling-and-dealing by Paramount to ensure that they had some kind of Star Trek product in theaters for the franchise's silver anniversary in 1991 (to put this in perspective, we're now just years away from the fiftieth). Thus, the very first indication I had of another movie Trek in the offing was this wonderful teaser trailer, which I saw in summer of 1991 on the now-defunct Coming Attractions show on the E! channel:

I was eleven at the time, and we hadn't moved back to the States yet, so this was during our annual Chicago trip, while we were staying with my cousins. I distinctly remember being in another room from the TV, and seeing snippets in the distance of various scenes from various Treks. As I approached the set, I could hear the deep-throated narration extolling our long history with the Trek team (I learned later that the voiceover was by none other than Christopher Plummer, who also plays the film's baddie). By the time the thing culminated in the promise of "one final adventure," and the big logo for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, I was out of my mind.

The movie was released in December of '91, but I didn't end up seeing it until well after we'd moved back to Chicago, sometime in fall of '93. In fact, it was the first VHS tape I bought after we got a VCR. Today, twenty-plus years after its release, it remains the second best of the original crew's six movie outings (you can read my in-depth analysis here). But in addition to the film itself, I'll always have a special spot for this trailer, which to me didn't signal the end of an era so much as it did a bonus visit with friends I thought I'd never see again.

As a bonus clip, here's the moving final sign-off at film's end, as delivered by William Shatner's Captain Kirk, which left no doubt (if any remained) that this truly was the end of the voyage for Star Trek's first family. And what a trek it was.

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