Dedicated to David “Homer”
RECORD STORE TALES Part 270: Star Trek vs. Star Wars
I took my fair share of ribbing for being a Star Trek fan at the record store. I’ve been a Star Trek fan since I was a little kid – I had a kid’s size Scotty uniform shirt. The first episode I can remember seeing was Operation: Annihilate! It terrified and excited me at the same time, and I couldn’t believe the heroism of Mr. Spock. He was my favourite character by far. Kirk was always getting distracted by girls.
I witnessed some amazing moments in Trek-history during my time at the store (1994-2006). Generations came out a few months after I started, and I remember watching a City TV Generations special on the little screen in our store one night. It was a quiet evening in the mall and there was nothing to do but clean. The TV was usually on Much, so I switched it to the Trek special. That was a fun night for me.
Shortly after that, Voyager debuted and I raced home from work to catch the pilot episode which I was recording. I missed the first 20 minutes and in the pre-PVR days you couldn’t just rewind and watch a show that you were recording “live”. Yes, it was an exciting time to be a Trekkie. My co-workers teased me about it, but Christmas ’95 my boss bought me a thoughtful Art of Star Trek book that I still have. That was pretty cool of him. He knew nothing about Trek but he picked a cool book with a Generations special in the back. He was relieved that I liked it.
As a Trekkie (I dislike the term “Trekker”), I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a pretty hit-and-miss affair, being a fan. For every great movie like First Contact, there was a shite movie like Nemesis. By the late 90’s, being a Trek fan was a lot less exciting. Especially when George Lucas started cranking up the Star Wars machine again with the Special Editions, in theaters.
The last time that I was really excited about Star Trek (before the recent reboot) was Star Trek: Insurrection. On December 11, 1998 I was working the night shift with a new guy, a class act named Dave “Homer”. It was a Friday night, and the new guy said that he and his roommate were going to catch the new Trek movie on opening night. Was I interested in joining them? Of course I was.
In addition to Dec 11 being opening night for Star Trek: Insurrection (joke name – Star Trek: Big Erection), it was also opening night for the brand new movie theater in town. Then known as Silver City, it’s now called Gateway Cineplex 10. Added bonus: Silver City was a mere hop-skip-and-jump away from the record store. If we cashed out quickly, we would have absolutely no problem catching the late show and still have time to get drinks, corn and a bar.
Homer was somewhat new in town and didn’t know the way. I did, so I led the car convoy. We were pleased to see that it wasn’t too busy at all. His buddy Ollie (who briefly worked for us later on) joined us, and we got our seats. Silver City was the latest, most modern theater. The stadium seating was awesome, we never had anything like this in town before. I couldn’t imagine a better setting for a new Star Trek movie!
Oh, it got better.
I always enjoy the previews. First up was a cool looking movie called Rushmore. Not having a clue what we were seeing, it looked interesting and Homer and I made mental notes. (Long story short – I love Rushmore.)
Second trailer though…
Yes, the Star Wars Episode I trailer had fans buzzing. You have to remember that nobody had a clue yet what a useless piece of shit Young Anakin would be. (I feel bad for the actor Jake Lloyd, nobody could have played that fucking character.) We didn’t expect Jar Jar to be even worse than the worst Ewok, with so much screen time. None of these flaws could be discerned from that first trailer, which was a collage of pure bad-assery and cool imagery. What were those beasts emerging from the fog? What planet is this? Holy shit Tattooine. What’s that silver ship? Why did C3P0 have no coverings? And who the fuck is that evil looking dude with the double lightsaber?!
I’d seen a choppy, small version of the trailer online. To see it on the big screen, in surround sound, in front of a new Star Trek movie? My mind was blown before the opening credits!
It was hard for a whole Star Trek movie to top that one trailer for Star Wars. I think for us it was pretty equal – we left enthused about both. Insurrection was good, but we all felt that it was much like an “extended episode”. It wasn’t bad, it was certainly better than 1994’s Generations, but it lacked the weight of 1996’s First Contact. As Trekkies, we were satisfied and excited to see where the franchise would go next. As a money paying audience, we knew the movie was simply not up to the high bar set by First Contact. As long as it didn’t get worse from there…
It got worse from there. We had no idea that Paramount would flush it all down the shitter with Star Trek: Nemesis (2001). Just as we had no idea that George Lucas had a massive clusterfuck of sewer sauce in the pipeline for Star Wars Episode I. Instead, we choose to focus on the rush of that evening, the excitement of the experience. In fact it is best summed up by Mr. Spock himself:
“After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing,
after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.”
– Mr. Spock, Star Trek, Amok Time