The trailer for the uproariously named Star Trek Into Darkness dropped last week, and was greeted with a resounding meh. A mash-up of the Evil Bane voiceover from The Dark Knight Rises, the scary horn sound from Inception, and Star Wars Episode III’s lake of lava, it’s not just derivative from other big-budget, low-fun action epics—it’s derivative from their trailers. Hopefully this lack of originality is a sign of weak-mindedness in the Paramount promotions department, and not J.J. Abrams’ secret fantasy of being as humorless as Christopher Nolan. Hopefully the next Trek will be good.
Whether it’s good or not, though, there’s no question that the rebooted Trek is missing the levity that made the TV shows so enjoyable. Although the last film had plenty of fun bits, they fell away as the film rocketed forward, snowballing into an overblown, self-serious climax. (Yes, I realize I just mixed metaphors about rockets and snowballs—a metaphor that should, by all rights, melt itself into nothing—but it’s Monday dammit and I’m tired.) Screw excitement. Trek is supposed to be fun.
The lighter side of Trek is something that has often gotten the better of it. Consider the interminable “Row Row Row Your Boat” sequence at the start of the abominable Star Trek V. But at its best, the franchise moves seamlessly from a scowl to a smirk, and no one did that better than Jean-Luc Picard.
It’s well known that Patrick Stewart is a big goofy goofball. But since his recent, well-publicized move to Park Slope, he’s made his adorable side public. Whether drunk tweeting or squinting at a cappuccino, he seems to be having exactly as much fun as a retired Starfleet captain deserves. But yesterday he took it to the next level, in a three part photo-essay that every holiday-weary Brooklynite can relate to.
It’s a heartwarming story, full of pine needles and overcoming adversity. Stewart isn’t featured in the final picture, but we feel his smile beaming from every light on his petite evergreen. Frankly, the script writes itself.
Picard: Mr. Data. Lay in a course for Christmas cheer. Make it so.
Data: Sensors detecting a four foot tall evergreen, sir.
Picard: Mr. Worf, lock on target with twinkly Christmas lights.
Worf: Target acquired.
Of course, this happy saga wasn’t written by Gene Roddenberry, Ronald D. Moore, Brannon Braga or any other leading light of the Trek universe. Just like LeVar Burton’s unbelievably earnest Twitter—split evenly between advocating for literary programs and talking about what he just ate—the low-key joy of Jean-Luc Picard’s adventures in Brooklyn get to the heart of what madeStar Trek so delightful.
I thought the last Star Trek film was good fun. I hope the next one will be too. But I don’t expect I’ll ever see Chris Pine buying a Christmas tree.