A father and son’s love for TV’s biggest sci-fi show culminates in a journey to Calgary’s annual comic and entertainment expo for a Trek reunion.
The warning signs were all there early on. In the basement in a light-coloured bookshelf, he kept well over a hundred Star Trek and other science-fiction paperbacks. In a specially constructed cabinet, sat rows and rows of VHS tapes of Star Trek episodes he had taped. To make matters worse, he even had the blueprints to the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC 1701-D.
This type of fan dedication wasn’t born overnight; it was born in the 1960s when my dad was just beginning Kindergarten, with the launch of the original Star Trek starring William Shatner.
“My family would sit down for dinner and we would watch it on TV,” recalled my dad as we sat in his Airdrie office. “My whole family watched, but my mom and sisters didn’t care for it.” Like it is today, the female members of the Anson clan had little option, but to sit and watch, much to their distaste. Just like his father before him, dad controlled the remote control.
A tradition is established
My father was six years old when the voyages of Kirk and Spock first aired, but the revolutionary series caught his attention immediately. He was drawn to the suave heroics of Captain Kirk and the then-impressive special effects, such as the transporter effects or the infamous Kirk vs. Gorn fight. It didn’t hurt that his father also was huge fan of the show.
“My dad would be watching when we sat down for dinner, so we just watched it with him,” my dad remembers.
During the 1970s, there was a definite void for Trekkies and to fill that, dad began collecting paperback novels based on the Original Series. This was the beginning of what would eventually be a substantial Trek collection.
“I bought the books religiously and a fan magazine called Starlog. The books were written by the writers of the show and I wanted to know what was happening to Kirk and the others after the end of the show,” he said.
The Next Generation arrives
My parents were married in 1983 and I arrived in 1985. Yet, new Star Trek on TV was still a few years away. In the meantime, several Star Trek motion pictures had reached theatres. From the moribund Star Trek: The Motion Picture, (which my parents saw on a date in Wetaskiwin one weekend and which nearly killed my mother from boredom), to the riveting and dramatic Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, my dad’s appetite was satisfied for now.
In 1987, a new crew and a bigger and better U.S.S. Enterprise warped onto television screens. Star Trek: The Next Generation starred veteran British actor Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Jonathon Frakes as Commander William Riker. I was a toddler then; too young to actively take part in the weekly ritual with my father as he hunkered down on the couch to boldly go where no one had gone before.
At age three, I acquired my first Star Trek toys. No more than three inches tall, each figure was modeled after a different crew-member. I never managed to complete my set and was confined to playing with Picard, Riker, La Forge and Worf. To set that right, I once badgered a mall Santa for the rest of the crew to a chorus of non-committal grunts.
As I grew older, I wanted to spend time with my dad as he sat down and watched the Next Generation and just like him almost 30 years prior, I became hooked. In the end it turned out my dad had a master plan.
“When I had kids, I was a 110% sci-fi nut and I needed some help, so I assimilated you,” he deadpanned. With a smile, he added, “I wanted to give us something to bond over and make fond memories.”
These fond memories include two separate trips to Edmonton, once to watch Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and the other to attend my first Star Trek convention. I don’t remember much from either event, but I did walk away with a crisp Original Series red uniform shirt and an intimate familiarity with the back of a 300 lbs. man’s head who blocked my view during the movie.
“There were no Star Trek conventions in New Brunswick when I was a kid, so I wanted to show you what I was excited about now that I could,” he said.
We will add your technological distinctiveness to our own
As the Next Generation neared the end of its seven-year run, the merchandise improved. By the early ’90s, my Trek toy collection had grown to include most of the crew, several alien characters; (Gunian, Gowron the Klingon Chancellor and a single Borg drone) and a few starships and shuttles from the series. For my dad, it was important for me to have these toys.
“I bought the toys for you that I couldn’t or didn’t have as a kid. So I was playing through you and with you at the same time,” he said.
With the kids all gone now, my dad has claimed my former bedroom as his home office. Lining the walls, sometimes straight to the ceiling, are Star Trek toys. From packaged figures to a row of Star Trek captains in their command chairs to a row of different iconic Starfleet vessels, eBay has allowed my father to expand his love for Trek like never before.
“The collection is very large and extensive,” my dad exclaims as he gestures to his little ships, “I’ve got the Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, (really, he has the space station), Voyager and Enterprise. From ships to props, (phasers, tricorders and communicators), figures, books and movies, you name it.
“I try to collect as much as my wife will allow.”
Which is obviously a lot.
With no new Trek on TV and the spaces between movies stretching to several years, in recent times my father and I have acquired new ways to share our love for all that is Trek.
The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo has become a father-and-son tradition for us since 2010. Thanks to the star lineup at the yearly event, we’ve met my father’s Star Trek hero William Shatner and picked up new collectables. For Father’s Day in 2010, I surprised my dad with an autographed picture of Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy.
This year’s event will feature — for the first time in 25 years — a convention reunion of sorts for the cast of the Next Generation. Star Trek TNG EXPOsed brings the entire cast of the show together onstage at the Calgary Stampede Corral on Saturday, April 28.
For me, this is a chance to meet one of my favourite actors and my favourite Trek Captain, Patrick Stewart.
For my dad, it’s another excuse to nerd out with his son.
You can’t beat a night like that.