Star Trek as you've seen it many times before

Space Trek is a collection of oblique shots from a certain television series, illustrating "the quiet despair of the Starship Enterprise."


  1. I’ve always felt the culture in Star Trek was a wee bit conformist. Soul crushing, at times. Obviously, I’m judging a make-believe society from what I’ve seen on a make-believe navy starship. Am I the only one who feels discomfort at the thought of such a culture? (Confession: I still really, really enjoy TNG)
    Of course, my perception might be flawed.

      1. I love TOS and all, but that has to be one of the most embarrassing displays in Star Trek History (the whole “I reach you…” thing etc…. =P Gawd….. )

    1. That’s a fair assessment, although I’d argue that TNG and DS9 tried to create this vibe: Starfleet is for the 0.001% who dig rules and glory and fame and honor; they’re the ones who voluntarily take on the task of making things safe for the rest of you crazy peacenik Federation hippies to do your own jive thing. (Which occasionally involved being naughty and on one or two occasions involved being genocidally naughty, but that’s cool, because it gives Daddy Starfleet someone to spank.) 

      That’s still pretty paternalistic system, probably horrible in any nonfictional setting, but then again I’m pretty sure Rick Berman just wanted a coherent source of conflict to drive a few 44-minute plots.

    2. I’ve always felt the culture in Star Trek was a wee bit conformist.

      I was surprised that they were so conformist about being man-sluts. In TNG, Riker must have banged the whole ship in seven years, and Picard was mocked for not wanting to have casual sex.

    3. the culture in Star Trek was a wee bit conformist.

      Captain Kirk, First Officer Spock, Lieutenant Uhuru … not too countercultural with all that.

  2. This evokes a bit of a Garfield minus Garfield vibe. All that’s missing is a certain Ensign Jon Arbuckle, or is he alone in his quarters, sobbing and talking to his sock?

  3. TOS Enterprise might be sterile and depressing as a place to LIVE, but as a backdrop for a drama, it was far more interesting and evocative than the “realistic” visual clutter of the later series.

  4. I’ve been rewatching TOS and realizing how lonely its portrayal of space is. The spare sets, the mournful music, many of the plots. Oddly enough, this feeling is crystallized by McCoy’s speech to Kirk in the Abrams reboot: “Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.” (The odd thing is that the Abrams reboot doesn’t give off the loneliness vibe at all.)

    1. Really? I have do disagree 100%. Everyone on the ship is doing exactly what they want and are the elite of the society. Everyone seems to have companions and friends – there are very few loners or stand-offish folks.

      And I hated the Abrams ST. The Enterprise vibe was nothing like any other starship we’ve seen – it’s sparkly and bright. Every other starship is subdued and submarine like.

      1. Oh, I hated the Abrams ST too. By “loneliness,” I was referring to the vast distances that seem to separate people and the trials they’re subjected to when they’re away from the crew. McCoy in “The Man Trap”; Kirk in–well, every other episode, but let’s say “The Enemy Within”; Spock, the very embodiment of loneliness and separateness, in “This Side of Paradise” or “Amok Time.” Think of the tortures inflicted upon McCoy and Kirk in “The Empath.” And the ultimate we-are-all-alone episode, “That Which Survives.” I LOVE TOS, don’t get me wrong, and I think this perceived atmosphere is one of the reasons I love it.

    2. The main reason I was disappointed in the Star Trek: Enterprise series was the lame ship design. It would have been so much cooler had they actually tried to design it so that it looked like it predated the TOS ship. It could have been a steampunkish submarine in space, with Archer peering through a periscope, people spinning wheels and adjusting space-ballast and opening valves and shit. Cramped quarters, space-lice infestations, the ‘chef’ in a tiny filthy kitchen feeding grime-covered engineers bitching about the heat… that would have been nice. 

      Instead it was a ship that looked cobbled together from DS9 or Voyager set pieces.

  5. That sort of dim, moody lighting, weird colors, and boxy architecture is one of the things I enjoy most about the original Star Trek. It really made the Enterprise and other sets on the show look unique, and I never felt it was all that depressing… maybe that’s because, for me, it really helps cement the message that this show was made in an era that was long gone before I was even born, and my imagination is stimulated thinking not only about daily life on the Enterprise, but in the 1960s as well.

    1. Which in itself seems odd.

      Sure, there was 3D chess, and Saurian brandy for stimulation, but there was never any artwork on the walls.

      1. If I recall correctly, they had some art-things laying around… Can’t find evidence, so just assume I’m right. Overall, though, the impression was sort of…lifeless.

  6. Needs more Yeoman Janice Rand in regulation Starfleet red miniskirt-uniform.

    What’s in those red spray bottles, anyway?

  7. Oh, I want to go back to that future!

    What you’re seeing is the unspoken despair of creating the most influential TV series in history on a ridiculously tight budget. And yet it’s so appealing visually. These shots are atypical with their lack of people in them. I believe conditions on such a vessel, had it ever existed in the future, would have been described as cramped.

  8. Despite flaws and silliness, The Original Series is just about the most original thing ever put on television. It’s the Twilight Zone in space with a story arc. No other Star Trek series is so original, although they all have great episodes and characters here and there.

    (If you have a lot of patience, watch Stargate SG-1 from beginning to end..)

  9. It doesn’t look lonely to me, It looks like the doctor is going to burst through the door any second with a snarky comment about Vulcans.

  10. Speaking as a fifty-three year old who remembers seeing the original series in its own time, yes, it’s sterile-looking. It’s actually pretty close to what most real-life office buildings, schools, and other institutional buildings, and even some homes, were aiming at in those days. The idea was to give the impression of an environment “without history”, a blandly pretty place where ethnicity (yeah, we know about Scotty, but we’re not meant to notice) and class had been expunged in favor of A New World. It was always kept slightly unclear as to whether people aged normally, or at a slower rate, whether they got paid (other than “credits” to buy tribbles and other knickknacks), it’s kind of ironic that the only TOS crewmember who seems to have a family is Spock.

    All of which kind of painted ST:TNG into a corner, when they had to, in true 80’s fashion, make the environment grittier and more realistic….

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