It was none other than Eugene Roddenberry, the son of Gene Roddenberry, the man who created Star Trek. He decided to talk to the fans and some former cast members to truly understand the show. As Trek Nation unfolds, though, it also happens to be Eugene’s journey about undertstanding his father and what he meant to him, and millions of fans. Eugene admits he only saw a few episodes and wasn’t really a fan, but he understands what his father was trying to say about humanity and what its potential could be through the show, and its subsequent sequels on TV and in the movies. He does this by talking to some of the cast, the writers, and the fans.
The show has lots of home movies of the family, clips of the show (including the first pilot, “The Cage“), early films of the conventions that kept the show’s memory alive, and more. We hear about how one fan convinced Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, to stay on the show, and an interesting story from Wil Wheaton about how Roddenberry defended him from hostile fans. We also find out why Family Guy creator Seth MacFarland prefers Star Trek TNG, and why there was a blindfolded bust of Roddenberry. There’s even an interview with Star Wars creator George Lucas. It also comes full circle when Eugene is asked to sign a petition to save the final Star Trek TV sequel, Enterprise.
The show, though, argues that Star Trek was a product of the times. In contrast to the strife and conflict of the 1960s, the documentary argues that Star Trek is proof that in the future, mankind can bring itself to a new mission of seeking knowledge and understanding. It’s also interesting to note Star Trek is the first show to create a fan culture, similar to what we have today in several franchises from Harry Potter and Star Wars to Buffy and Doctor Who. This documentary should please Trekkies and sci-fi fans in general
It was interesting that Eugene called Star Trek “cowboys in space”, yet Firefly, made 36 years later, was definitely a western in space. They also both have compelling leading men, fans who tried very hard to keep them on the air, and a second life in the movies.
Trek Nation will be shown several times this week, including this coming Saturday at 9PM and Midnight eastern, 6 and 9 PM Pacific.