HOUSTON - Today is the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) which first aired on September 28, 1987. It was truly a generation-defining show. I watched it as a kid growing up in Providence and my ambition to be a scientist was solidified henceforth. That interest was born exactly two years before, when Hurricane Gloria ripped through my neighborhood. I was hooked!
It's funny looking back three decades ago today, because then I clearly remember thinking that the original Star Trek with William Shatner as Captain Kirk, was ancient news. After all it had last aired in 1969 and at the time, from the perspective of 8 yo Brooks, "17 years before" understandably felt like it was an eternity. But here we are, 30 years later ... I'm the adult with my own young child, and a new and even more wild Star Trek TV series has been launched! Judging by the plot of first two episodes of Star Trek Discovery, and its huge budget for special effects, this one be the most iconic yet. The legacy continues!
What is this Star Trek legacy? I wouldn't go as far as saying its creator, Gene Roddenberry had the influence of other SciFi authors like, L. Ron Hubbard, who's writings inspired an entire religion, but Roddenberry's Star Trek has indeed attracted masses of, "disciples". Trekkies enjoy the adventure and escapism, in the fantasy of a future when money is no longer the motivator for achievement. It's a utopian society where greatness is measured by accomplishment of one's societal contribution, not by monetary wealth. It's a quantum step for civilization of today: an existence allowing people to explore their life dreams rather than being limited by the requirement to show up to work on time, so they can pay their bills, settle for less and owe people money just to have a place to live. In the Star Trek world, there's a purpose for each person.
Herein lay a contradiction: To watch it, you must pay. CBS All Access is the only platform in America to view it. It's $6/month with commercials, or $10/month without. That's a commitment of $129.90 per year here in Houston for the commercial-free content, with state and local taxes included. With commercials it's $77.94. When you add CBS All Access to your portfolio of other monthly subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, etc) it becomes comparable to an annual cable bill. If you already pay for satellite/cable, the idea of subscribing may be even less enticing.
Compounded by the fact that all the previous Star Trek TV franchises were free, it's hard for many to rationalize. Growing up back in my day, whether your family could afford cable or not, Star Trek was always there on bunny-ears, Monday nights. Now, you must have a broadband internet connection separate from your phone -- and the monthly cash. It's like taking disrupter fire from the Klingons!
So, is it worth it? I mean, I'm a fan of Star Trek so I say it is. That first episode which aired on KHOU 11 last Sunday night was compelling. They money they've dumped into production is huge, making for a true film experience. It didn't feel like a TV show. Because I too have bills to pay, to rationalize a subscription I had to cut somewhere. (Sorry, Starbucks. I'm quitting my latte habit. Thank you to the makers of the espresso patch. When I get those cravings, I have you.)
Star Trek, helped inspired me as a kid, and others in my generation to pursue the sciences. Now that Star Trek is behind a paywall I fear many teens trying to figure out what they want to do will never be exposed..
One perk cord-cutters do get with the app on your streaming device is that you can now watch all KHOU 11 programming (including our local Channel 11 newscasts) live, in real-time. If you've been keeping those unsightly DTV bunny-ears around just to watch us because we're not on Sling TV, you no longer have to.
Live long and prosper, Space City!
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