Friday, 26 September 2014

UK Marks 24 Years

26th September 1990; 6pm; BBC2. I was nine.

Where were you?

I was watching Encounter at Farpoint for the very first time as today marks 24 years since the first broadcast on UK terrestrial TV. Most notable is the fact that after this all the shows would be first shown on the satellite channel SKY One before hitting the BBC (or Channel 4 with Enterprise). IN fact I was sitting in our lounge in Ilkeston, Derbyshire at the time. Don't ask me what was for tea, I have no idea; it's been a long time.

It truly harks back to a different age and falls nicely a week and a bit before Destination Star Trek arrives in London for the second time. Sadly though with the recent announcement that Jonathan Frakes won't be attending, the full The Next Generation cast reunion has taken a slight turn although Colm Meaney has now joined the guest list.

Anyway, yep, it's 24 years today - and it was a Wednesday. We'd waited an extra three years for the show to make it across the water and at the time it was well worth it. I know I've talked about all the niggles I have looking back at these fledgling years but without it we wouldn't have the vast amount of material, the reboots and, dare I say it, Some Kind of Star Trek either. 

The big benefit of BBC2 was that we got to see Encounter at Farpoint without a single advert in its full 90 minute run time. For those who had the cash, they could have splashed out in April of the same year for the first in the run of VHS cassettes (78 in total). It's an exceptionally Roddenberry vision and many steps away from the direction that Rick Berman, Michael Piller and co took the show from the beginning of the third season. Watching a Klingon on the bridge was such a big thing even if he was effectively a bit part until the demise of Tasha Yar in Skin of Evil. How it all changed in seven years huh? Just a gimmick...never go anywhere.

From that first shot of the majestic, new USS Enterprise dropping onto the screen until the immortal "Let's see what's out there." it had me hooked. For my Dad it would always be Kirk but for me Picard was the way forward and this was my generation - until Sisko came along that is. It's strange to look back and think I knew nothing about this show before it aired, I knew even less about the characters - who was the guy with the gold eyes? What was that visor thing? I know I enjoyed every second of the show and was right back the following week for The Naked Now which suggested it was all going to be homages to The Original Series and reuse lots of ships and bits from the motion pictures. How wrong was I.

So what were the high points from the episode? Undoubtedly the saucer separation, the arrival of Q and McCoy's cameo (she'll always bring you home...) marked this out as the start of something special. While there were moments of action it wasn't about just phaser fights - there was real substance to this show. 

Picard totally intrigued me (he was all shouty) even at the age of nine and was nothing like Captain Kirk; which was good. Datawas pretty cool especially the bit in that holodeck when he pulled Wesley out of the water. The aliens at the end were a bit drippy and it was all a tad cuddly but hey, this is the utopia of the future. But there were so many sparks which erupted here and a few that didn't - how about the Troi/Riker romance which blipped in and out from here to Nemesis? Those wonderful "skant" uniforms were another which, fortunately didn't make it much further. For one more thing, September 28th marks the anniversary of the first episode of The Next Generation airing in the US in 1987 (27 years for reference) and we covered that anniversary last year with some little homage pics.

It's Been a Long Road

And yes, in 2001 Enterprise premiered today with the rather impressive Broken Bow. While not my favourite, coming behind Emissary and Caretaker in that top six it's a solid effort with some wonderful moments and scoops of prospect, interesting characters, a different spin on the Star Trek universe and the opportunity to see how it all began - which is a shame that it took nearly four years to really hit it's stride and then got cancelled. We can only imagine what that fifth season would have been like and if a certain campaign gets its way, one day we might. We also did a little piccie for the 12th anniversary last year.

For now we can at least bask in the brilliance of that pilot and the later episodes (but not These are the Voyages). It does take a battering at some points but I think there's a place for Enterprise within the family. At least it tried to do something different if nothing else. Stripping back the formula was a risky strategy rather than making another jump into the further future beyond the years of Picard, Sisko and Janeway.

What a great week for Star Trek in the anniversary stakes and all just ahead of Destination Star Trek. The guest list is spectacular, we know that both Simon and Schuster and Eaglemoss will be attending thanks to our sources as well as many other businesses linked into the Star Trek universe. Got your tickets? If not, you can follow the link at the top of our page.

What were your memories of your first viewing of Encounter at Farpoint? Where were you at the time? Let us know below!

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