Less than a month from now, the fourth "Star Trek" series will premiere.

That noise you hear is the more vocal segment of Trekkers warming up in preparation for the whining to come.Yes, indeed. The only thing more certain than that the crew will engage warp drive when "Star Trek: Voyager" debuts on Jan. 16 is that there will be a chorus complaining about it, no matter how it turns out.

Over the past three decades, "Star Trek" has built up an enormous following of fans fascinated by this view of the future.

The various "Treks" have also been picked apart like no shows that came before.

There are still those out there complaining that "The Next Generation" couldn't hold a candle to the classic "Trek." And, since the day it debuted, "Deep Space Nine" has been attacked as an unworthy successor to "Next Generation."

Don't be surprised when "Voyager" receives the same treatment.

What's even more annoying is that so many viewers seem to enjoy picking individual episodes apart. There are so-called fans out there who live to find continuity errors, misstatements and outright mistakes in the scripts.

Your local television editor was surprised a couple of years when I was invited to participate in a science fiction convention in Provo, only to see the questions and discussion quickly turn to mistakes those in attendance had detected in "The Next Generation."

(OK, I was actually more surprised when I saw a couple of people dressed as Klingons sitting in the front row.)

Please. One dope even wrote an entire book detailing major and minor - mostly minor - errors in the shows.

To quote from William Shatner's famous appearance on "Saturday Night Live" some years ago, "Get a life."

As someone who watches television for a living, let me assure you that there are plenty of mistakes in all kinds of television shows. After all, we're dealing a product that is produced under a lot of pressure, with short shooting schedules.

There have been continuity errors, bloopers and just downright dopey stuff in everything from "ER" to "Murphy Brown," "Sisters" to "General Hospital."

The difference is that there aren't thousands of obsessed fans out there taking notes - and writing books.

The various incarnations of "Star Trek" have been TV shows (or movies), for goodness sake. Very good TV shows, but TV shows nonetheless.

The people who obsess over whatever they can find wrong with the series are the same sort of people who stole a copy of the script for the movie "Star Trek: Generations" and then distributed it on various computer networks.

Not only was that illegal, but it's difficult to understand why any self-respecting Trekker would want to spoil the experience of actually seeing the movie by reading the script first.

Not to mention the fact that "Generations" was being savaged by the fans on the Internet before it had even been released.

All the versions of "Star Trek" have been designed to entertain. Yes, they've also tried to make you think and provide a hopeful outlook on the future of mankind.

But, above all, they've tried to entertain.

And, like all TV shows, if you look too closely at the details you end up missing the entertainment.

The "Star Treks" are the sort of shows that are easy to get sucked into. They create such a convincing alternate reality that what's fiction can even begin to seem like fact.

But in order to have fun, you have to ignore some of the human errors that end up on the screen.

Is the Enterprise firing its phasers out of the photon torpedo tubes? Yes, it's dumb, but it doesn't really harm the plot.

Is Commander Sisko's com badge appearing and disappearing? Sure, but it doesn't really hurt anything.

Were all of the 79 original "Star Trek" episodes filmed on cheesy, cardboard sets with crummy special effects? Absolutely - but that's almost part of classic "Trek."

I'll admit that, as somewhat of a Trekker myself, I've let minutia distract me, too. It seems that how much you know about "Star Trek" is inversely proportional to how much you enjoyed the current film "Generations."

For example, my wife - who isn't a particular "Trek" fan - quite enjoyed the movie.

I, on the other hand, sat there thinking things like, "Why don't they modulate their deflector frequencies?" and "Why don't they eject the warp core?"

In other words, I let minutia get in the way of entertainment.

There's no doubt that the people who make the various "Star Treks" are grateful for the devotion of their fans.

But they'd be even more grateful if those fans sat back and enjoyed themselves instead of picking nits.

"TREK" TIP: The new United Paramount Network, which will telecast "Star Trek: Voyager," has decided to allow its affiliates to double run the show.

As a consequence, local UPN affiliate KJZZ-Ch. 14 is currently planning to air "Voyager" in its regular time slot on Mondays at 8 p.m. and again the following Sunday at 6 p.m.

(Hey, you'll be able to watch three hours of "Star Trek" on Sundays - "Deep Space Nine" at 4 p.m. and "Next Generation" at 5 p.m. on Ch. 13, followed by "Voyager" at 6 p.m. on Ch. 14.)

"Voyager's" two-hour premiere is set for Monday, Jan. 16.

VIDBITS: In an episode of "Dr. Quinn" scheduled for Jan. 14, the town is sent into a panic when a newspaper reports that a deadly comet is headed for earth and will destroy the planet.

Gee, do you suppose CBS and its affiliates will be flooded with calls from viewers who think it's real?

View Comments

- "Pulp Fiction" director Quentin Tarantino will guest star on an upcoming episode of "All-American Girl."

As if we didn't already know how strange he is.

- CNN anchorman Bernard Show will take a three-month leave beginning Jan. 1 to work on his autobiography.

Just one more bit of evidence suggesting that network news people are full of themselves.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.