For those of us who are serious collectors, we’ve all had “that discussion” with our respective spouses. We remember that fateful day when we’re “encouraged” to purge or thin out some of our collection. It’s not easy to say goodbye to old friends but let’s be honest, sometimes it is necessary. Just last weekend I cleaned out a lot of stuff and yes, some of it was Star Trek related. Over the years, there have been pieces I just can’t let go of. For example, I still own my Kraft Star Trek V Marshmallow Dispenser that my mom had to send off for. However, my once respectable VHS collection was replaced long ago by DVD but I still have about 40 videotapes that are either unavailable on DVD or I keep for nostalgic reasons. Three of those tapes are Star Trek.
I still have the last of the original VHS tapes from the fall of 1987 when I was faithfully recording Star Trek: The Next Generation every week. I primarily kept this because one of the episodes has a commercial for Video Trend, a local video store my wife worked on and which played a key part in the two of us meeting. I also still have Star Trek Memories from 1998, one of several television specials so prevalent in the 1990s heyday of Star Trek mania. And just today, I watched Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond. It was broadcast only once on Oct. 6, 1996 in celebration of the original Star Trek’s 30th anniversary. This was my first time watching it since probably 1997 but I kept it knowing that someday, I’d want to take a time trip back. And I’m very glad I did.
Is the special cheesy? You bet it is. After all, it’s hosted by Ted Danson and takes place in Hollywood. It features a musical interlude from Kenny G. ‘Nuff Said. But this was at a time when Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager were still on the air. Trekkies and Trekkers everywhere were bracing themselves for a new movie called Star Trek: First Contact. We hadn’t quite reached the oversaturation point we would hit about 5 or 6 years later. And in the audience they are familiar faces that are no longer with us. Even if we were to have a similar party in a few years to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek (and I’m sure it will happen), DeForest Kelley and James Doohan are now gone. And could we really top Ben Stiller singing the crazy space hippie songs from “The Way To Eden” episode?
If you are a Trekkie like me but have never seen this special or if you purged your copy long ago, go to YouTube and go back to the year 1996. Gas prices were $1.23 a gallon, movie tickets were only $4.00 for prime time shows and cable TV rates were some 93 % cheaper. We still had Bones and Scotty with us, two new hours of Star Trek on TV every week and we were still a few years away from the disaster known as Star Trek: Nemesis. It’s not the best retrospective special they did in the 1990s but it’s still better than 99% of the new stuff out there today.