Trekkies (DVD, 1999) Reviews
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Trekkies (DVD, 1999)

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To Trek or not to Trek

Mar 9, 2000 (Updated Mar 9, 2000)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Humorous, shows fan side of Star Trek phenomenon

Cons:Straightforward documentary style, slanted towards wacky fans

I'm now three years overdue for the dentist. I hate going to them, but if I lived in Orlando I know exactly where I'd call for an appointment. I'd be on the phone tomorrow to Dennis Bourguignon's office and set up a time with his receptionist, who would be dressed in Star Trek attire. And I'd actually look forward to the visit - to see the office that has now been made famous for its Star Trek design motif by Roger Nygard's 86 minute Trekkies documentary.

I knew something was afoot when I walked into Borders last week and saw Hamlet in Klingon. I thought then that somebody out there has way too much time on their hands. After all, who would even want to read such a translation? Then Trekkies showed a summer camp where they actually conduct Klingon language classes and practice getting those deep guttural sounds. I suppose you never know when a Star Trek convention takes a break and a troop of San Diego Klingons takes over McDonalds to woof down quarter pounders.

Nygard's documentary is pretty standard film fare for the genre. You won't find the creative cinematography of an Errol Morris documentary-just straight editing cuts with occasional "space" music in the soundtrack. It's an eclectic mix of weird, obsessed fans mostly, combined with interviews with some of the series' stars, scenes from Star Trek conventions, and a few poignant moments. One that really stands out is James Doonan's (Scotty) touching story about the suicidal woman who continued to come to conventions to hear him say a few positive things to her; and find out 8 years later that she had earned her Master's degree in Engineering.

There's also a touching segment on a Talk Trek radio show with Denise Crosby in which a caller explains how an episode she did helped him through a life crisis. I also was intrigued with how Whoopi Goldberg had been inspired as a child when she saw Nichelle Nichols on the bridge of the Enterprise, instead of cleaning up the quarters as a maid. I would have liked to have seen more moments like this as well as some segments that showed "normal" Trek fans who have been influenced by the series. I know there's a lot of people like that. I'm one of them.

But to show more of the positive side of Trekkies would take a lot more work to make an entertaining documentary. It is much easier for Nygard to hold Trekkies up for ridicule by including more offbeat and over the top Star Trek fans in his collage. Headlining the eccentrics is Lieutenant Barbara Adams of the U.S.S. Artemis in the Federation Alliance, who gained national prominence during the Arkansas Whitewater trial. She is the juror who dressed up daily in her Star Trek uniform complete with communicator and tri-corder. When you hear her on the film, she sounds convincing; she actually believes that the Federation will call her into duty.

No Star Trek documentary could be complete without the obligatory geek, so serving that purpose here is 14 year old Gabriel Koerner, who has already been to 28 Star Trek conventions. He is obsessed with the details of the uniforms and is decked out in his new First Contact style uniform as he guides us into the Star Trek convention. Here we see some of the series' stars on stage, and then are shown an auction in which Worf's Klingon forehead sells for $1400. Never try to outbid a determined Klingon-he wasn't leaving the convention without it.

While watching some of these Trekkies or Trekkers (if you want to be snooty about it), I flashed back to William Shatner's memorable skit on Saturday Night Live when he exclaims to an obsessed fan, "Get a Life!" Yet I know there is more to the story. I'm a fan myself. I remember tearing up when Spock died in Star Trek II and feeling relieved when I learned that he would be reborn.

Through all the bizarre fans in Trekkies you can still discern a basic goodness in the people. Many hold on to the Star Trek ideals as they perform community service and strive to make this strange world a little better. While I was watching the documentary, at first I thought that I'd like to take my digital camera the next time a Star Trek convention comes to town and get a lot of pictures of the fans. But I've never been to a convention, and after thinking about Nygard's documentary, I'd just like to go for the experience. Like the four ladies celebrating their 13th reunion said - you may not know anybody when you first come, but you will meet some friends there.

Non Star Trek fans can watch this documentary for the humor and caricatures only. The true fans will be able to sift through the various scenes and gain a little greater appreciation for the genius of Roddenberry's phenomenon.



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