By Mike Medeiros
Welcome to the Spirit of Trek, a weekly column where we identify and celebrate Gene Roddenberry’s vision by discovering how its messages have started to permeate throughout humanity’s collective consciousness by looking for it on the Internet and within popular culture. This week we’ll be going back to the source of all things trek through an examination of Roddenberry.com, the official website for the Roddenberry brand. If there is any company that embodies the Spirit of Trek, it is Roddenberry.
The Roddenberry brand may have been built on Star Trek, but it has grown to encompass so much more. Its entertainment offerings alone include television shows, documentaries, films, graphic novels, webcomics, and podcasts. Its shop has an impressive assortment of products, including: props, wardrobe, movies and music, comics and prints, apparel, toys and games, home and office products, and even a couple of items with the Roddenberry logo on it. But, most importantly is their Foundation, which is pursuing several endeavors with the environment, science and technology, humanitarianism, and education that strives to make the world a better place for all of our children—more on that later.
Their mission statement describes Roddenberry as a leading provider of quality, thought-provoking science fiction that is carrying on the legacy of Gene Roddenberry. As an entertainment company they are devoted to engaging the audience with entertainment that engages people to “think, question and challenge the status quo of the world in which we live.” Over the last forty years, they have offered fans quality-produced, genuine, and authentic products that consistently exceed the needs and expectations of their customers.
Roddenberry may have become known for Star Trek, but they have also backed the production of other television shows, including Andromeda and Earth: Final Conflict.
Andromeda is an interesting series, set thousands of years in the future. The Systems Commonwealth spans three galaxies and during a time of war, a powerful warship is displaced through time because of its proximity to a black hole. The Andromeda has an AI capable of projecting itself onto displays, as a holographic projection, and as an android-like avatar. It is commanded by Captain Dylan Hunt and his unlikely crew as they travel around the three galaxies at slipstream speeds with the hope of restoring the fallen Systems Commonwealth and return peace to the universe. I got a strong Star Trek vibe from Andromeda. It seemed almost like a natural extension of the Star Trek Universe – I did say almost because it does move into territory that Star Trek never did.
I couldn’t get behind Earth: Final Conflict though. In this series, an alien race known as the Taelons arrive on Earth in the early 21st century. Unlike their Vulcan brethren in Star Trek, they offer humanity advanced technology that allows them to end disease, war, and pollution in exchange for refuge. Until, that is, it is discovered that they are actually attempting to conquer the planet in order to genetically engineer humans to fight their war against the Jaridians. The show suffered from a revolving door for nearly its entire cast, and even the Taelons were replaced by the show’s final season. I had high hopes for it that ultimately fell flat. It should be noted that Rod Roddenberry did leave the show after its first season.
I’ve spoken about Trek Nation before in a previous article and won’t go into too much detail about this documentary, except to say that it is a must see for any Star Trek fan. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for?
The White Room is a unique film that has won numerous awards at various film festivals for its cutting-edge use of a 360 degree camera system. “White Room: 02B3 is a short film about six strangers who wake up in a white room to find out they are part of an extraordinary experiment that could change the face of humanity forever.” According to the site, it will be distributed to dome theaters and mobile devices in order to give the viewer the ability to look around the room as they choose.
Days Missing and Worth are graphic novels produced by Roddenberry. The premise of Days Missing is that since the beginning of time, a being has interacted and interfered with humanity and has shaped its history. However, humanity has no recollection or written record of this being’s involvement, because he has taken those days from us. The novel documents various times in history where time has gone missing and this being has shaped humanity for its own purposes. Worth, on the other hand, is about a superhero that has the power to manipulate and control machines, but has since lost his powers as machines have been replaced or enhanced with microprocessors and other electronic devices. It’s an interesting premise and their website states that it is coming soon. Keep a look out for Worth; it seems as if it will certainly be interesting.
Roddenberry has also produced the Mission Log podcast, which I’ve also discussed in an earlier article, it examines Star Trek: The Original Series episodes and tries to identify the episode’s moral lessons and tries to determine if they are still relevant today. I personally never miss an episode. If you’re not listening to Mission Log Podcast, you should definitely consider tuning in and listening to some of the discussions; they are truly fascinating.
Roddenberry also offers a couple of webcomics. Rod & Barry and Gene’s Journal were created by artist David Reddick and new strips are released three times a week.
Rod & Barry follows a couple of purple aliens that were sent to monitor Earth for potential destruction, but become self-proclaimed space geeks when they discover science fiction on television. From their space ship they watch, debate, and argue about our favorite sci-fi television shows. Check out Rod and Berry on their site. http://www.rodandbarry.com/
Whereas, Gene’s Journal is the untold “true story” of Gene Roddenberry’s adolescent years, where he was continually abducted by aliens to be studied and is documented by young Gene in his boyhood journal. The comic will soon be produced and made available in additional formats, such as an animated or live-action television show. I’m personally excited to see Gene’s journal come to television. It’ll be another fun thing for me to do with my niece. In the meantime, we’ll visit Gene’s Journal three times a week to follow Gene’s adventures.
In addition to the entertainment that Roddenberry is providing, their store has some of the coolest stuff in the galaxy. Don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself by visiting the Roddenberry store.
Next week, I’m going to be taking a look at the Roddenberry Foundation and all of the good things it is doing to move humanity forward, toward the vision Gene Roddenberry created with Star Trek.
The time has come to wrap up this week’s column. Thank you for joining me on this journey to discover how the Spirit of Trek has started to permeate throughout our culture with the hope that one day, Gene Roddenberry’s vision for humanity’s future will become a reality. If you come across something that you believe embodies the Spirit of Trek on the Internet or within popular culture, please do not hesitate to share it with me. I may discuss it in a future article. Live long and prosper.
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