ComicMix Six: Original Star Trek Backstory
The new Star Trek movie is in theaters, introducing the characters to new fans and surprising old fans. As anyone who’s read a single review, interview or promotional piece is aware of, this movie features some alterations to Trek‘s past thanks to a little time travel manipulation.
But what about the original past and backstory? What did the original series establish when it went on the air?
Here then are a list of six stories from the television series that filled us in on just who these folks were before they joined the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701.
“The Naked Time”
When the Enterprise was infected with a virus that destroyed inhibitions, the crew went a little nuts. For the first time, audience learned about the emotional turmoil that sometimes affected Spock, how even feeling friendship towards his captain could simultaneously cause his Vulcan half to experience shame. We also saw that Kirk sometimes resented his job, that he felt tethered by responsibilities that did not allow him a relationship or a family. This adventure was also the crew’s first experience with time travel, making it a significant precursor to the new film.
Kirk and the Enterprise attempt to rescue a colony that has been seized by madness. In this adventure, audiences met Kirk’s brother George Samuel Kirk, Jr. and learned about the Captain’s sister-in-law and nephew.
In this story, Kirk learns of the Pon-Farr, the Vulcan “time of mating.” Every seven years, all the repressed primal urges of a Vulcan male suddenly rise and overcome him with madness. He must choose a mate or die. The Enterprise then introduced us all to the planet Vulcan and to the fact that its people were mystics as much as scientists.
“Journey to Babel”
Though Spock had occasionally referred to his parents, this was the first time we or the Enterprise crew met them. We learned about the disagreements between Spock and his father Sarek, who could not understand why his son had not accepted his invitation to the Vulcan Science Academy. And we saw that, despite marrying a Vulcan and living on the desert planet for years, Spock’s mother Amanda Grayson was openly emotional and not afraid to show that she was proud of both her husband and her son.
Using footage taken from the original Star Trek pilot (entitled “The Cage”), this two-part story involved Spock revealing to Kirk details of a significant mission from the past, when he had served under the Enterprise‘s original Captain Christopher Pike. Pike plays a significant role in the J.J. Abrams film, making this adventure of interest to new fans.
An episode of the animated series, this adventure finally gave us some real background information about McCoy’s family. We learned that he had gone through a bitter divorce. What’s more, we found out about his daughter Joanna, whom he did not often get to see.
And that about wraps it up, folks. Honorable mention goes to the Next Generation two-part adventure “Unification”, which revealed more details about Spock’s childhood and acts as a set-up for the recent IDW comic book mini-series Star Trek: Countdown, a direct lead into the new film.
Alan “Sizzler” Kistler misses seeing Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley kicking butt in the stars. He has been recognized by Warner Bros. Pictures and mainstream media outlets as a comic book historian, and can be seen in the “Special Features” sections of the Adventures of Aquaman and Justice League: New Frontier DVDs. His personal website can be found at: http://KistlerUniverse.com. One of these days he’d love to write for DC, Marvel or Doctor Who.
Let us not forget "Obsession", in which we learned that Lt. Kirk had served aboard the USS Farragut under Capt. Garrovick some eleven years before, and blamed himself for a creature slaughtering half the crew. (Turned out it hadn't been his fault – no matter how promptly he had opened fire, his phaser would have been nothing more than a bright flashlight to the creature…)
Another excellent one.
I was also thinking of the animated episode, "Yesteryear." It reinforces Spock's family relationships established in "Journey to Babel," and acts as a strong precursor to the new movie. Young Spock confronting bullies and older Spock interferes with his personal timeline.
Another excellent choice, I only didn't include it because the list was becoming too Spock-heavy.
Or "Shore Leave" where we meet Ruth and Finnegan. A highlight and lowlight from his academy days.(Which, given Kirk has now entered the Academy several years later than in the original timeline, he would now NOT know. (Or Carol Marcus. Nor would he serve on the Farragut(?) so he has nothing to have an "Obsession" about.))
I did consider Shore Leave but figure it was such a small thing, mentioning two people in Kirk's past with so little details, that the other episodes surpassed it in making it to the 6 List.
"Conscience of the King" reveals Kirk's childhood experience on a failed colony where a despot executed half of the population so the rest could survive.