Trekkies is one of the funniest movies of the year, but it’s not a comedy. It’s a documentary about the fans of Star Trek who are fanatical, loyal, optimistic, and just a little crazy.
Although its “five-year mission” was canceled after only 3 seasons, Star Trek made an indelible mark on American culture. It captured the hearts, minds, and imaginations of a generation (myself included). Some admired it for its respectful treatment of science. Others, for its optimism with regards to race, class, and nationality. And some were just happy to see science fiction get a decent TV show.
But no matter how much you like Star Trek, there’s always someone who carries that admiration too far. These people are the Trekkies. (Even Trekkies try to separate themselves from the hard-core geeks by splitting themselves into two camps – Trekkies and Trekkers – although the distinction is purely semantic.)
Denise Crosby, the short-lived Lt. Yar the Next Generation series, narrates the movie and conducts some of the interviews. She shows us her own collection of fan-junk (several large boxes), including sketches of her and co-star Brent Spiner in naked, romantic, passionate poses.
Other actors have received bizarre stuff from their fans. The late DeForrest Kelly (who played Dr. McCoy) tells of a fan who, along with her photo, sent him a marijuana cigarette. James Doohan (who played Scotty) told of a fan who sent a suicide note. Although he probably should have forwarded the note to a psychologist or police, he responded to the person by insisting that she show up, alive and well, at the next convention. More letters came and Doohan kept responding in the same way, until eventually, the fan was in the clear. Doohan gets choked up when he thinks about it, awestruck that a simple actor could do something as noble as save a life.
Still other cast members (I didn’t note who, and I won’t try to guess), recount their trip to a NASA launch, where they hoped to get some autographs of real astronauts. But when the astronauts saw who had come, they got excited and turned everything around. The astronauts ended up asking for the actors’ autographs.
Nygard intercuts these interviews of actors, with interviews of their fans — and boy did he find some doozies.
A fan dressed as a Klingon explains that there’s now a Klingon-English dictionary and a complete translation of Hamlet. A Klingon Bible is on its way. He boasted that Klingon is now more widely spoken than some fading tribal tongues.
A dentist in Florida has done up his entire office in a Star Trek motif. The walls and ceiling are covered with Trek stuff, and every employee wears a uniform – including one receptionist who held out for a year before finally agreeing. The dentist and his wife both wear their uniforms at home, as well. They say that role-playing characters from the show helps their “relationship.” (Thankfully, Crosby didn’t ask for details.)
Another promising young trekkie is writing a script for a new Star Trek movie. He’s already modeled a spaceship fly-by on his home computer, and the new uniforms he designed for the movie arrive back from the tailor during his interviews, just in time for the next convention.
Another, older man dresses in the Starfleet uniform from the early movies. He admits to the camera that if he had the money, he’d get his ears surgically pointed to look like Spock’s – something he had obviously never mentioned to his wife, sitting next to him.
The only thing missing from Nygard’s documentary is the Saturday Night Live sketch of William Shatner at a Trek convention. After a few ridiculous questions from hard-core fans, he breaks down, shouting “you people need to get a life!”
In that spirit, and with the admission that I, too, am a Trekkie, I’ll close with some of my favorite quotes from the fans:
“One of my goals is to build a great big shelf.”
“I spent a lot of time in vans.”
“I’m gonna connect my house with Jeffries tubes.”
“Every year it gets bigger. This year we had a girl come.” (Referring to a gathering in Iowa.)