Star Trek at the Tech

I’ve always been a Star Trek fan, which is a complement to Peter, who’s a Star Wars fan, and we both take part in properly educating our children to our respective geek pop cultures. Peter sat the children down to watch the original set of Star Wars movies (technically IV, V, and VI, though they were written, screened, and produced first), and when Neil didn’t know what a “tribble” was, we quickly rented the “Trouble with Tribbles” Star Trek episode from Netflix.

So when Star Trek came to the Tech, I was interested, especially when Neil, even with his very limited knowledge of Star Trek, told me he was interested to go as well.

I thought admittance was pricey. I’ve gotten used to taking my children to museums, and while there’s usually a surcharge for (optional) special exhibits, it’s rare to have to pay more than $10 or $15 for an afternoon’s worth of education and fun. A regular visit at the Tech fits well within this scope, but after having at least two major (and pricey) exhibits which trucked in crowds of paying patrons (Bodyworlds and the Da Vinci Experience), the Tech has learned its special exhibits may be a good way to help fund the regular museum programs. But, still, $25 for me, and another $19 for Neil seemed an awful lot.

That said, Neil and I liked the show. It started with a big room mostly featuring costumes from the different series, and some props from the show. With these was one of the most interesting aspects of the show: how Star Trek inspired modern technology. For instance, cell phones were very much inspired by Star Trek communicators–something that’s not hard to miss, especially when you think of flip phones. Tasers may be thought of as being like the stun setting on Star Trek phasers, since in either real life, or fiction, they work by temporarily paralyzing the muscles with an electronic force. There was a window which mixed real life and fiction by showing historical ships (like Navy cruisers and space shuttles) as somehow evolving into the Star Trek Enterprise space ships.

The next room was a recreation of the ship’s deck, and both Neil and I made sure to have our pictures taken in the captain’s chair. We also got to see ourselves “teleported” in another room which had a teleporter recreation, and see the captain’s quarters as they looked in Star Trek II.

The last and biggest room had more models and an entire wall placing all the major events from all the Star Trek series and movies into a single timeline. I’m not sure I was hard-core enough to appreciate that, since I think of each Star Trek series as something that stands on its own, not as interlocking in a strict sequence. I mean, Star Trek: The Next Generation was a great show, and made rare references to its predecessor, but it was really a different show based on same premise, not a strict sequel. The timeline did remind me how long its been since I watched anything Star Trek. Most of the movies I’d seen when they were in the theater, and that (gasp) goes back almost 30 years. I watched the first two television shows as reruns when I was still in school, but never really got into any of the later iterations, not even Enterprise, even though I really really wanted to like it because it starred Quantum Leap guy Scott Bakula. So, honestly, I don’t really know, or particularly care, about when Captain Jane Away (?) lived, since I can’t name the series she came from either.

Otherwise, we had more costumes, more props, more models, and a quiz game Neil enjoyed and did well at, even given his limited exposure to Star Trek. I vowed to educate my son with the original Star Trek episodes and the good Star Trek movies (II, IV, and maybe VI), but to my surprise, those can’t be gotten at the library, and I have to Netflix them.

I was looking forward to buying a souvenir of our mother-son Star Trek experience, but if I’d thought the show itself was verging on the edge of being overpriced, the pictures certainly were. The only way I could buy any picture of us was to buy a $28 package of 2 or 3 pictures, with an option to add pictures to that at $6 each. I asked if I could just buy a picture of Neil in the captain’s chair for $6, but it wasn’t an option: it was the full package or nothing. Having already spent $42, I couldn’t justify $70 for an hour’s worth of Star Trek fun (even though we were able to add in some fun at the Tech as part of our attendance before we had to go pick up Kelly).

We were the only people attending the exhibit, but to be fair, it we were there on a Monday, the week before Christmas break began. The Da Vinci show cost as much as this exhibit, and that was consistently packed, even though I didn’t consider it that impressive, and it was certainly less fun than Star Trek. So maybe there are more Trekkies/Trekkers out there with more money than I’m willing to part with. As it was, Neil and I had a good time, but I’m glad Peter and Kelly didn’t join us, because it wouldn’t have been worthwile for them.

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