The Secret of Star Trek: The Big One

Posted: September 8, 2016 by J.A. Prentice in Article
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Yes, it doesn’t seem like much of a secret. Yes, lots of shows have characters. Yes, it seems like a very “Creative Writing 101” answer.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Star Trek has a lot of things going for it: great stories, awesome spaceships, interesting aliens. I could go on and on about any of those things. (Heck, maybe I will if I get a free minute.)

None of those things would have mattered if Kirk, Spock, and McCoy hadn’t been such great characters. Their dynamic makes even the most boring of episodes come alive. Even the much-maligned Star Trek V becomes hugely enjoyable when our trio start talking to each other. There’s something about their dynamic that’s hard to replicate, but simple to imitate. What I mean by this is that it’s nigh-impossible to construct a set of characters with that much chemistry (not of the romantic kind. Begone, shippers!), but it’s almost easy to write a scene with commanding Kirk, cold Spock, and passionate McCoy. You can practically hear the characters speaking the moment you put them in a situation.


That, I think, is the mark of a good character: distinctive and with a life of their own.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m an original series only guy. I just focused on those three because, well, it’s their 50th. Deep Space Nine, my personal favorite, also succeeds on the force of its dynamic characters: Quark and Odo’s rivalry, Sisko’s moral conflicts, Jadzia Dax’s wisdom and fun, Nog’s journey from Ferengi child to Starfleet war veteran, O’Brien and Bashir’s friendship, plain, simple Garak the tailor, and far, far too many others to list them all here. Next Generation has Picard as the diplomat and explorer, excellently portrayed by the incredible Sir Patrick Stewart, the noble warrior Worf torn between his people and his duty, and Data’s quest to be human.

All Star Trek rests on the strength of its crew. They are our constant on the journey through new world and new civilizations, the ones we follow as they boldy go where no man has gone before. Without them, we would become lost in meaningless sci-fi concepts, unable to connect to anything. They are our gateway, our focus, our transporter into the distant future.

Without Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, Star Trek wouldn’t have made it one year, let alone spawned an incredible franchise that is still boldly going 50 years later.

  1. In TOS, the characters are consistently fun to watch, especially Shatner’s ham acting. Spock, Kirk, and McCoy form a trinity. Spock is logic, McCoy is emotion, and Kirk is a balance between the two.

    I wrote a short post on the episode “Balance of Terror” called “The Doctrine of Proportional Response.” If you would like to read it, I am open to any feedback:

    Liked by 1 person

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