You know how I did a whole week of Star Wars movie reviews because I’m one of those suckers that brought the blu-ray collection on day one? Well my love for Star Wars is second only to my love for Star Trek. And pizza. The reason is likely because Star Trek (and pizza) have never gone out of their way to ruin what I loved about them. I suppose you could say I am a Trekkie. I’d rather you didn’t though. Anyway, here’s my review of the documentary Trekkies.
As a kid I watched a whole lot of Star Trek. I watched the original series and the animated spin off many a time during the 80s and was right there when The Next Generation first started being shown on BBC2, oddly followed by short Wayne’s World skits. I own multiple copies of the films on VHS and dvd and also have quite a collection of the tv series on VHS too. I used to collect the Star Trek fact files every fortnight which filled my head with a crazy amount of Star Trek knowledge, including at one time some conversational Klingon. No matter how much of a geek all that stuff makes me I am thankfully nowhere near as obsessed as around 90% of the fans that feature in Trekkies.
I’d like to think I’ve always stayed the right side of geekdom. Sure I go to the odd convention but you’ll never catch me dressing up as a character from a film, show or comic. Well apart from that one time I accidentally dressed up as Scott Pilgrim because I happen to own that green Smashing Pumpkins T-shirt he wears. It would be easy to call the fans featured in Trekkies as freaks but by and large the vast majority of them do come across as fairly regular people, albeit whilst dressed as Klingon warriors. There are a few people that have serial killer written all over them but what group of fans don’t? As Brent Spiner says in this film “you meet peculiar people in all walks of life”. You only have to work in retail to know that.
Denise Crosby, who played Tasha Yar in The Next Generation and later the Romulan Sela, hosts this documentary on the lives and fanaticism of the common household Trekkie. Many of the Star Trek cast do appear in the film in interviews recounting stories of fans they have met, their experiences on the convention circuit and some genuinely touching stories where they touched the lives of the more fragile fans. James Doohan (Scotty) especially has an emotional story to share of a fan that sent him a suicide note who he convinced to come to each convention he was appearing at so he knew she was alive. Years later, after 8 years of him not hearing from her, she sent him a letter explaining that she had managed to find a reason to keep living because of him and has now got a masters degree in engineering. There are a few notable absentees, Patrick Stewart being the most obvious, but it’s good to see just how many of the cast did take part.
At no point does the film resort to pointing and laughing at the fans, although there is the odd funny moment. A bidding war between one fan and a Klingon warrior over a Klingon make-up headpiece is an especially entertaining moment. Never try to engage a Klingon in a bidding war. Currency is his weapon and the auction house is his battleground. You will lose. One thing this film does avoid is, despite having a constant host, there’s no reaction shots of Denise Crosby as she is confronted with these fans. Too many similar documentaries would resort to comedy reactions to a fans oddities to force the audience to feel a certain way. There is no judging to be had by anyone except the viewer.
Two fans that take up the bulk of the film are Barbara Adams and Gabriel Koerner. Barbara was the infamous Trekkie that turned up as a juror to the Whitewater Scandal trial (A trial involving Bill Clinton and a load of real estate) who became a minor celebrity when the news stations would turn up just to see if she was wearing her uniform again. She saw it as an act of duty to appear in uniform just as a military officer would. She is also the commanding officer of a starship. To say she’s eccentric is an understatement.
Gabriel on the other hand is a full blown freak. Yup, not gonna mince my words here. The guy has a neighbour who kindly makes him up a Star Trek First Contact style uniform to wear to a convention which he then proceeds to moan about the bands on the arms being a little too large and the detail on the shoulders not being raised enough. He later ditches that uniform for one he designed fora fan film himself and a Star Trek club he belongs to were making. He drives around with his dad in a van converted to look like a Shuttlecraft and shaved a Commander Benjamin Sisco figures head with a knife and drew on a goatee rather than wait for a figure to come out. I can just imagine him raging over the change in look when that series of DS9 first aired because it would mess up his display of figures. He really does come across like future serial killer material. As though one day he is gonna rage about some minor change JJ Abrams makes to his most recent Star Trek film and go postal on a whole load of people with a home made Bat’leth. Saying that I found out on Wikipedia that he is 6 days younger than me and worked on the last episode of Star Trek Enterprise, Won awards for his CGI modeling work on Battlestar Galactica and also worked on the much under-rated Speed Racer film. So I guess I’ve wasted my life then. If only I was a little bit more creepy.
Overall Trekkies is a interesting and enjoyable documentary that is all about the fans and attempting to dispel the stigma attached to being a Trekkie. Something it only barely manages to be honest because, well, the most interesting Trekkies are a bit weird anyway. I’m still not sure what to make of the family that has set up their dental practice with a Star Trek theme. I don’t get the link I guess. Was there ever even a dentist in Star Trek? Anyway, there is a follow up to this imaginatively titles Trekkies 2. It’ll be interesting to catch up on that at some point. Also, if by any chance you’re wondering why I haven’t reviewed all the Star Trek films yet then feel free to ask JJ Abrams to hurry up with his Star Trek sequel.