Genre: Documentary |Sci-Fi
Air Date/Time: November 30th at 9/8c
Summary: SCIENCE celebrates the 45th anniversary of one of the greatest television franchises of all time, Star Trek, with the world-premiere two-hour event, Rod Roddenberry’s TREK NATION. This tribute follows Gene Roddenberry’s son, Rod, as he explores the deep impact of his father’s singular vision for the future. Through interviews with fans, including George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, Seth MacFarlane, and many notable Star Trek alums, TREK NATION chronicles a son’s journey to discover his father’s work that helped defined science fiction.
TREK NATION draws on hours of exclusive footage, including never-before-seen home movies from the Roddenberry family collection and the first-ever Star Trek convention. This film demonstrates that Roddenberry’s work has not only inspired legions of fans across the globe, but generated a cultural movement. Star Trek is a phenomenon that goes beyond entertainment; it has influenced politics, space travel, social morality and much more. Star Trek was a catalyst which has fostered an enhanced understanding of the human condition, capturing man’s constant search for a better world.
We Star Trek fans have been recently gifted with two very different 2-hour programs related to the Star Trek phenomenon, from Star Trek-related people. The earlier one was The Captains, by William Shatner, which was a love letter to the captains of the Star Trek universe, as well as to William Shatner. The new one is Trek Nation, by Rod Roddenberry, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s son, and is a love letter to the Star Trek universe, and to Gene Roddenberry.
But don’t let that description fool you. The Gene Roddenberry aspect of it is a warts-and-all look, with eyes wide open, not a hero-worshipping glossing-over. But if you don’t know the man’s history, as Rod didn’t before he started this project, then you’re in for some really interesting viewing. Likewise, if you’re a Trekkie but not obsessed, you’ll learn a bit about the original series and everything that came after, including the conventions and Earth: Final Conflict.
Rod spent years collecting information and interviews from people involved in the production of each iteration of the series that his father was involved in; the original series, The Next Generation, and the first three movies. There are some really interesting things from Nichelle Nichols, Rick Berman, and Ron Moore. Although you’ll see a couple of quick cuts from Deep Space Nine and Voyager, they aren’t really discussed. Enterprise is, and there is a quick discussion with Scott Bakula, because Enterprise was the last Star Trek TV series.
There are also two nice interviews with filmmakers influenced by Star Trek: George Lucas and J.J. Abrams. This program is linear, so it follows Gene Roddenberry’s story from young adult until his death, and the parallel life of Star Trek and its iterations; it therefore concludes with the Abrams interview and a discussion of his first Star Trek movie.
From a purely visual standpoint, some of the original series clips are from the remastered episodes and are gorgeous, but many more are not. That doesn’t matter much, though, when clips include the black and white pilot and Majel Barrett in home movies.
But one of the best parts of the program are the interviews with the fans, from the creepy Borg guy to the two adorable kids to the astrophysicist. As Rod says, it was the fans who really taught him the most about his father and his extraordinary legacy. Rod was born after the original series aired, and his father died when Rod was only 17, so he never really got to know his father very well, nor the shows his father was involved in, let alone the reach that his father and his father’s work had on the world. It was the impact of Star Trek on a disabled person, whose letter was read at the elder Roddenberry’s memorial service, that started Rod on this quest. If you are a fan, as I am, you will love this production. It will make you feel (even more) proud to be a Trekkie.