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Whither "Star Trek"?: Three Angry Vidiots Argue the Merits of Silly Sci-Fi for the Kids

I don't get it.

I'll be the first to admit that. Whatever gene that predisposes people to obsess over actors in unitards, misshapen aliens and the sanctity of the Prime Directive... well, when they handed out the DNA, I came up short. Those free-wheeling discussions about who would win a steel-cage match between Kirk, Picard and Sisko? They bore me to tears. And the thrill of boldly going where no man has gone before has long since been suppressed by the urge to boldly go and change the channel whenever Geordi LaForge starts yammering on about what's ailing the hyperdrive, or warp core, or whatever it's called.

I won't pretend for the children's sake. I simply don't get Star Trek.

I don't consider this a badge of honor or a sign of my superiority over the masses who've spent many a weekend at the Holiday Inn in Terre Haute or the Amarillo convention center to hear William Shatner read a few chapters from Tek War or to trade smutty photos of Tasha Yar. I'm merely making a statement of fact. The universal appeal of Star Trek? It ain't entirely universal, pal. Wormholes and Bajorans and the Borg? It's all pops and whistles to me. You ask about the Ferengi, I say "I'm on a diet, thanks."

I just don't get it.

As with many things, I blame my inability to grasp the intricacies of Star Trek on a childhood trauma. I was at my aunt's house one weekend, and all my cousins were sacked out in front of the TV, thrilling to the adventures of the original Enterprise crew. In this particular episode, Kirk and McCoy and their Vulcan friend had beamed down to some subterranean planet or another as part of carrying out that five year mission of theirs.

While searching through the catacombs and tunnels of this strange new world, Kirk and the boys came across an alien that looked like -- and I swear I'm not exaggerating here -- an apparently hostile meatball. And thus began a battle of wits, as the meatball rolled toward them, gurgling in a particularly unpleasant way and Kirk and McCoy and Spock let fly with their phasers until the meatball was little more than a burnt crust.

Which is when my aunt called us in to dinner for... spaghetti and meatballs. There was no dessert for Phil on that particular night, let me tell you.

Since then, my Star Trek apathy has only grown. My sister's suitors in high school -- a collection of lunkheads, wetsmacks and feebs, every last one of them -- all were fans of the Trek. My roommates in college would commandeer the TV twice a week to revel in the alternating misadventures of Patrick Stewart and Avery Brooks. And any trip to Vegas with friends and loved ones is not complete without a trip to the Las Vegas Hilton to genuflect at "The Star Trek Experience."

As for me, I didn't get it then, and I still don't get it now.

But three Vidiots do get it -- the lovely and talented Lisa Schmeiser, who will argue tomorrow that there's still life left in the venerable Star Trek franchise; the almost-as-lovely though not nearly so talented Jason Snell, who's come to the sad conclusion that the old girl may be on her last legs; and the amazingly talented yet altogether unappealing Greg Knauss, who thinks even Snell's being a bit too generous and that the old girl needs a bullet in the head.

And where do I come down on this delicate issue? As far as I'm concerned, Star Trek has never been better.

Though, admittedly, I really don't get it.


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