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Explaining Star Trek to an 18 Year Old Woman

October 8th, 2013 . by Tim Babb (TANcast's #1 Host/Editor Fan)

Day 8

As I continue to dig through old letters I’ve written, I was losing hope that I would find anything else worth sharing. There are a lot of embarrassing letters, but most of them are embarrassing because they’re just so damn dull. It’s like an Andy story only instead of just being too long, it’s also about nothing interesting. As soon as I read, “Wanna know what’s been going on in my life?” I imaging the poor person I sent the letter to screaming, “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

So I was having a hard time finding another letter worth sharing that wasn’t punishing you folks by asking you to read it. But then I found a letter I sent when I was a freshman in college. It was to my friend, a lady, who was NOT into Star Trek. This was my attempt to change that. Holy crap. (I’ve left most of the spelling/grammar errors in tact, except where it made it hard to understand…well, hardER to understand. You’ll see)

Hey Holly,
How are you? I’m fine, thanks for you concern. I just got my prize for being “Co-Best Male Pop Performance” in the Karaoke contest. My prize was a $10 gift certificate to Chevy’s Mexican Restaurant. Which is great since I HATE MEXICAN FOOD!!! Oh well, that’s life in the big city.

Not starting off strong. Humble bragging about winning a contest and then whining about the prize. Classy. Who wouldn’t want to hear more from this guy?

Well, now that I’m done complaining, I don’t mind telling you that I can not wait to go to Disneyland. This year it will be the first time I’ve gone 4 times in one year. I can’t wait!!! We are going to have so much fun. You’ll see. I can’t wait!!! There’s so much to do, so much to show you, so much to enjoy, so many annoying facts to spew out ever five seconds. I CAN’T WAIT!!!(Did I mention I’m a tad impatient?) It’s gonna be great, if only we can all get there. I don’t know about that. We’ll just have to hope.

As you can see, my obsession with Disneyland is not new. But man, you can really tell that I was a teenager in that paragraph. But, come one! These blog readers were promised Star Trek…

Now, as promised, I will break down the world of Star Trek so that you can enjoy it more thoroughly:

Aw snap…here we go…

Before the Original Star Trek Series

Oh lord…what is he doing?

The year is 2061.

Oh god…make it stop.

A young scientist creates an engine that makes it possible for spacecraft to achieve speeds up to and greater than the speed of light. Over the next few decades, the people of Earth used the engine to fly to other galaxies. Once they did, they discovered that the human race was not alone in the universe. They encountered many different alien races, some of them were friendly, like the Vulcans (Pointy eared people who suppress their emotions and instead use logic at all times to guide their actions). In addition to friendly species, we also encountered hostile aliens like the Romulans (Another race of pointy eared people who are actually of distant ancestry to the Vulcans. However, they are a very emotional, distrustful, territorial, and war-like species.) The Romulans proved to be such an enemy of the people of Earth, that the two planets (Earth and Romulus) fought each other in a war that lasted from 2156 to 2160. At the end of the war, a treaty was formed that created a “Neutral Zone” or a boundary in space that separated the planets Earth and Romulus. It was decided that if either side attempted to enter or cross the Neutral Zone, it would be interpreted by the other side as an act of war.

At no point in the preceding paragraph did I read anything that would make young lady “enjoy it more thoroughly.”

The next year, 2161, the leaders of planet Earth, as well as the leaders of other planets such as the afore mentioned Vulcan, decided to form an alliance. A harmonious alliance of beings who wanted nothing more than to learn more about the universe and each other through peaceful exploration of the stars. They call their alliance, “The United Federation of Planets.” There mission, “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” To carry out this mission, the Federation creates within itself a department called “Starfleet.” Starfleet is analogous to the Air force or the navy, it is a military-style organization solely dedicated to the exploration of the final frontier and the protection of the members of the Federation. Starfleet consists of a fleet of starships guided by officers who must go though a four year training program called Starfleet Academy (Yes, the bumper sticker on the back of my car).

AT LAST, we know what the bumper sticker on the back of his car is all about. I feel better. Don’t you?

Over the next few decades, the Federation grew in size as Starfleet fanned out across the galaxy, discovering more and more new worlds and establishing colonies on many of them. But then, in 2218, the Federation encountered the Klingon empire (Another war-driven race, but these are the guys with those big, funky foreheads.) For five years, the Federation and the Klingons maintained a fairly peaceful relationship but in 2223, relations between the two governments broke down and an era of hostility started between the two groups, resulting in many space battles and hundreds of lost lives. Finally the Federation was forced to create a similar “Neutral Zone” with the Klingons. Although, this did not stop occasional incursions from Klingon ships. Then, after 20-odd years, Starfleet launches the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701. It is commanded by Captain Robert April who leads the ship on a five year mission, exploring the far reaches of space. Then in the year 2250, the Enterprise returns from it’s mission and command of the ship is turned over to Captain Christopher Pike who takes the ship on two back-to-back five year missions.

This was the 1990’s. You did NOT need to know about Captain Pike, much less Captain April, to enjoy Star Trek. There is no way someone who hasn’t seen the show is not bored reading this. There’s a good chance avid fans of the show are bored reading this. He hasn’t even gotten to a character the common man (or woman) has heard of yet!

What is significant about this is, for the first time a Vulcan was serving on board a starship. The Vulcan’s name was Spock.

Hurray! Only 580+ words in and we’ve gotten to ONE character she might have heard of. I’m sure she’s already buying tickets for the next Trek convention.

He was actually half Vulcan and half human. As a Vulcan he was guided by logic but as a human he had to cope with and suppress his emotionalism. One of Spock’s catch phrases on the show was “Most illogical,” usually referring to the way humans think. Another one of Spock’s famous phrases was, “Fascinating.” He used to say it at least once every episode and now on the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, or Voyager, when ever someone says, “fascinating,” it’s a salute to Spock.

…or something is simply fascinating. (Except on Voyager. NOTHING was fascinating on Voyager. BURN!)

Another piece of pop culture that Spock created was the Vulcan neck pinch. Spock would place his hand between a persons lower neck and shoulder and it would render them unconscious. Also, Spock hand the power to link his mind with the minds of others through a process called “The Vulcan mind meld.” And finally, whenever Spock would part company with anyone he would hold his hand up and say the famous Vulcan phrase, “Live long and prosper.” After Pike’s second five year mission ends we get to the year 2264…

I sure hope she’s getting all these dates. They are so vital to “enjoy [Star Trek] more thoroughly.”

The Original Star Trek TV Series

It’s gotta get better now, right?

The Enterprise was assigned a totally new crew except for Spock who stayed on as First Officer. The Enterprise’s new Captain was James T. Kirk, a courageous explorer, a lover (every other episode he was suck’en face with a different, funky colored alien), a skilled diplomat, and a warrior philosopher. Kirk never really had any catch phrases but was always known for Shatner’s incredible over acting. I guess the closest thing he had to a catch phrase was, “Set phasers on stun.” A “Phaser” is a hand held weapon which emits an energy beam. The beam’s power can be adjusted to either knock someone unconscious (Stun setting) or to vaporize their cell structure (Kill setting). Phasers had a few in-between settings but they were either referred to as high stun settings or low kill settings.

Yeah, brush passed the character of Kirk. No need to dwell on that. But what are the different phaser settings?! THAT we’ve got to get straight!

Serving as the ship’s Chief Medical Officer was Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. When you look at McCoy, on the screen,

…as opposed to looking at McCoy on your living room rug?

he seems to be representative of the most human person on the show. He seems to be the only one who sees this space travel stuff as new and exiting and is constantly talking about it in that frame of mind. For instance, in one episode, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy “Beam” down to a planet (I’ll explain Beaming a little more later but I’m sure you’re vaguely familiar with it.) McCoy pipes up, “You know just once I’d like to beam down somewhere and say ‘Behold! I am the Arch Angel Gabrielle!'” Sort of like a joke I might make if I were in that situation.

Um…I know this kid, and he would not make a joke like that in that situation. His joke would involve farts, political references he barely understood, or some crappy sex pun.

McCoy was part of one of the biggest inside jokes of Star Trek. Whenever the Enterprise beamed down a landing party it always consisted of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and one no-name actor in a red uniform. Without fail, every time this situation would happen, the guy in red would end up dead before the end of the episode. And McCoy would bend down, examine the body, and turn to Kirk and say, “He’s dead, Jim.”

You know what else is dead, any interest this young lady had in Star Trek.

The next main character is the chief engineer Montgomery Scott (Scotty). Scotty was Scottish (I know you’re shocked) and spoke with a thick accent. When ever the Enterprise was in danger and fleeing away from it’s attacker at top speed, Kirk would always tell Scotty to increase the power and Scotty would almost always pipe up with “I’ve given her all she’s got Captain. If I push it any harder the whole thing’ll blow!” Scotty was also the one in charge of the transporter, a devise that turns matter (people, plants, animals, whatever Melinda is) into energy and then shoots the energy to another location where it re-materializes as matter again. When an away team was ready to return to the ship, Kirk would flip open his communicators and say, “Beam me up, Scotty.”

He never said that on the show or in any of the movies. GEEK FAIL!!!

The last three main characters are really not key players. Checov is the tactical officer (he shoots the bad guys, sort of like the gunner on a warplane) he is just a youthful kid on a ship full of older people (Sort of Luke Skywalker meets Woody from “Cheers”.)

Nailed the Chekhov character there. NAILED IT! (Also, spelling!)

Sulu is the Asian helmsman (he steers the ship) he’s pretty much just there to do what the Captain says.

So to recap, 3 sentences on what the phasers do, but Sulu gets one dismissive and slightly racist sentence.

Finally, there’s Uhura the black, female communications officer (basically, she sits in the back of the ship answering their equivalent of the phone.)

She’s Black AND female. Young Tim is a master at the character study.

So for five years, these seven people lead the crew of 400 on the Enterprise to explore the unknown reaches of space. They come across many different creatures, they run into the Greek God Apollo who attempts to make the crew of the Enterprise worship him (Who Mourns for Adonais?). They find a time portal through which McCoy mistakenly falls though and changes the past so Kirk and Spock must go back and repair the damage McCoy caused…think “Back to the Future” (The City on the Edge of Forever). Another time travel story line happened in when the entire Enterprise is thrown back to the year 1969. Once there they accidentally abduct an Air Force Captain who is destined to father a child who, will father a child, who will be an important part of history. So, they have to return him to Earth before they can go back to the 23rd century (Tomorrow is Yesterday). They even get thrown into another dimension where they meet evil versions of themselves (Mirror, Mirror)…all the normal Sci-Fi schtick that is so common place in today’s movies and films. One of the more famous episodes is when a trader brings a new breed of alien pet that he’s selling on board the Enterprise. The pets are called “Tribbles.” Basically they’re small little balls of fur who eat like pigs and breed like rabbits. The crew then keeps discovering Tribbles everywhere, in their chairs, in their beds, in their closets, in their beds…everywhere (The Trouble with Tribbles).

That’s it. The crew discovers tribbles everywhere. What a hook! Who DOESN’T want to watch that episode after reading that tantalizing tidbit?

Another famous episode involves Spock having to return to Vulcan to fulfill the seven year Vulcan mating cycle. I won’t go into the complicated logistics of the episode

Yes, heaven forbid you go into “complicated logistics.”

but it is very revealing about Vulcan culture and traditions (Amok Time). In 2269, Kirk and company bring the Enterprise back to Earth after completing their five year mission. Kirk is promoted to admiral (A desk job but one with more power than a Captain). Spock retires from Starfleet and returns to the planet Vulcan to undergo a ritual that will purge all his emotions from his system. McCoy also retires and sets up a private medical practice on Earth. Scotty and the rest of the seven stay aboard the Enterprise and help refurbish and upgrade it. Until 2271…

Really no mention of Khan? It’s not like he’s not going to come up again.

The Star Trek Motion Pictures I-VI

A grave disaster threatens the planet Earth and the only starship close enough to do anything about it is the Enterprise (A recurrent theme in the world of Star Trek.) Kirk assumes command of the remodeled and updated ship and calls Spock and McCoy out of retirement. Together the old crew fights off the threat and return to earth (Star Trek: The Motion Picture). When they do return, the Enterprise is taken out of active service and becomes a training vessel for Starfleet Academy graduates. Kirk and co. stay with the ship and run the test battles and simulations that are performed on it. But in the year 2285, one of Kirk’s old adversary comes back to get revenge on Kirk by kidnapping his ex-wife and son. So, Kirk and co., pull the Enterprise out of the training yards and rescue his wife and son. Unfortunately Spock is killed in the process (Star Trek II: The Wraith of Khan).

Am I trying to help her enjoy this series or just write really bland spoiler synopses of it? Also, Kirk and Carol Marcus were never married. GEEK FAIL 2: FAIL HARDER!!!

When the Enterprise returns to Earth, they are greeted by Spock’s father who assures them that Spock can be brought back to life if they only bring his body to Vulcan. The problem, Spock’s body is on a planet that has been quarantined by the Federation. So what does Kirk do?

I don’t care!

…He, McCoy, Scotty, Checov, and Sulu steal the Enterprise and go get him. The only problem is that the Klingons (remember them?)

Not really

well, they hate Kirk and they try to destroy him and fail. They are able to kill Kirk’s son and destroy the Enterprise. But Kirk and crew then steal the Klingons’ ship, retrieve Spock’s body, and bring it back to Vulcan where it is brought back to life (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock [Directed by Leonard “Spock” Nimoy]).

Oh lord, directors’ names now? As if this wasn’t already crammed with facts I don’t need? What’s next? The key grip?

Well, come to find out that Starfleet doesn’t take kindly to people stealing their starships and then destroying them. So Kirk and company are called back to Earth for a court martial trial. Before they can get there, a probe from another galaxy enters Earth’s atmosphere and begins to vaporize the oceans. The probe’s signal disrupts all power sources on Earth and in near by space making the Earth powerless. Kirk and company hear of this on their way back to Earth and figure out that the probe is attempting to communicate with humpback whales, but the species has been extinct since the 21st century. So, the crew of the late starship enterprise take their newly captured Klingon ship back in time to the year 1987. They pick up 3 humpback whales and bring them back to the 23rd century where they talk to the probe. The probe then leaves and the oceans and power flow of the Earth returns to normal. All the charges against the crew are dropped except one which causes Kirk to drop one rank from Admiral back down to Captain. And the crew is then assigned to a new ship…the USS Enterprise, NCC 1701-A(Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home).

Oh good, he put the registry number in there. Because that matters.

In Star Trek V: the Final Frontier, Spock’s long lost half brother hijacks the Enterprise-A to find God, whom he believes to be at the center of the Universe. This is a dismal movie directed and co-written by William Shatner and needs not to have any more time spent on it.

A little late to try and think about brevity. This has taken so long to read, I think we’re actually living in the 23rd century now..

In 2290, Sulu is promoted to Captain and placed in command of the USS Excelsior. Three years later, the Klingon moon, Praxius, explodes causing a depletion of their atmosphere. The Klingons were spending so much on their military forces at the time that they didn’t have the resources to reverse the problem so they proposed a truce with the Federation. Kirk and crew were assigned to escort the ambassador of the Klingon High Council to a peace summit on Earth. When they did, Kirk got framed for murdering the Chancellor and he and McCoy were sent to a Klingon prison. There, Kirk figured out that it was the Klingon people who killed their own Chancellor because they were afraid of peace. Kirk new that the assassins would attempt another assassination at the next peace conference so he had Spock use the Enterprise-A to free him and McCoy from their Kligon Prison and they went to the peace conference and stopped the assassins before they could strike again(Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country).

Apparently I could sum up Wraith of Khan in 2 quick sentences. But I needed to flesh out all the plot points of Undiscovered Country!

Then the Enterprise-A was decommissioned and stored in the fleet museum. And the crew retired from starship duty. Spock became an ambassador of the Vulcan people and wet to Romulus to attempt to re-establish peaceful relations between the Romulans and the Vulcans. McCoy was promoted to Admiral and began touring the galaxy giving lectures to young medical students. Scotty was promoted to Captain, bought a boat, and took up sailing. I have no idea what happened to Checov, Sulu, and Uhura because no one cares.

Young Tim, re-read that last sentence and apply it to more than the retirement plans of Checov, Sulu, and Uhura.

Star Trek: Generations (The First Part) and shortly afterwards

In 2296 the USS Enterprise, NCC 1701-B is launched. Kirk, Scotty, and Checov are aboard the ship on it’s maiden voyage. The ship encounters some sort of strange energy ribbon which tears a hole in the ship, right in the part where Kirk was standing. Kirk is presumed dead and his body is never found (Star Trek: Generations). Afterwards, Scotty books passage on a transport ship to go to a retirement colony on a distant planet. The ship then crashes and Scotty figures out a way to keep himself alive indefinitely by using the transporter to convert himself into energy until help arrives. And that is the end of the 23rd century. To be continued…

Oh thank god! I thought he was gonna launch into the Next Genneration and ruin that with his words, words, words.

Well, hope you actually read all that because I sure went though a lot of trouble to research it all and attempt to present it in an entertaining and enlightening way. I’ll write the conclusion soon.

Well I hope she DIDN’T read any of that. Did young me really think that wall of text was “entertaining and enlightening?” Yikes!

Needless to say, this woman and I are no longer friends. Not even Facebook friends. She never said this letter was to blame, but I can’t see how it wouldn’t be (Never mind that our friendship ended years later). I wonder if I ever finished the Star Trek saga in flat boring detail? I’ll go boldly look where no man should have to look…my old hard drive.

4 Responses to “Explaining Star Trek to an 18 Year Old Woman”

  1. DeanNo Gravatar Says:

    Too long; read it all
    I can hear this young woman’s Babb Boner shriveling, even across time
    This letter/anecdote will come in handy when advising Michael on Romantic Do’s and Don’ts

  2. JennNo Gravatar Says:

    I’m a big fan of TNG, DS9, and, yes, Voyager (I even went to a few conventions in college.), but I never really got into the original crew. This was a great synopsis of their history! I do have to say that I’m not sure I want to watch TOS any more than I did before reading this, but I did learn from it. You know what would have made this letter better, though? Leave out the interruptions from that geek-bashing asshole! Old Tim, why are you so mean to Young Tim? Young Tim seems very sweet and earnest!

  3. Tim Babb (TANcast's #1 Host/Editor Fan)No Gravatar Says:

    Old Tim is aware of how little the recipient of this letter cared about this information. Young Tim had his head up his own ass.

  4. Andy (TANcast's #1 Ear-Rapist)No Gravatar Says:

    Old Tim should just remind himself how much farther (further? farther? FUCK IT!) Young Andy had his head up his ass.

    As Qui-Gon Jin once said, “There’s always a bigger douche.”

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