Star Wars fans, get out your light sabers. Star Trek groupies, grab your phasers.
It's time to rumble.
While all eyes in the coming weeks will be on Episode III: Return of the Sith, the final installment in the series of Star Wars films, some already are looking ahead. What they see is an end of an era for two of the biggest names in science fiction history.
This month will mark the passing of not only the final Star Wars movie, but also the latest Star Trek TV series, Enterprise. Its finale is slated for Friday, with no plans for another series to replace it.
The first Star Wars movie debuted in 1977; Star Trek preceded it as a television series in 1966. Since then, we've all learned about all kinds of things - The Force, Vulcans, Ewoks, warp drives.
But one question has yet to be answered: Which is better, Star Trek or Star Wars?
The Blade assembled a panel of local experts to settle the argument once and for all, by discussing numerous aspects of the two franchises, including their movies, TV programs, books, and fans. Participants came from all corners of the galaxy, er, region to talk for about an hour.
Representing Star Wars (SW) were Kim Fink, of Bryan, Ohio, a member of numerous fan clubs, including the Jedi Knights of Cleveland and the Ohio Star Wars Collectors Club; Brian-Joseph Baker, of West Toledo, who organizes Star Wars gaming events, and Sean Dixon, a fan who collects Star Wars comic books and novels.
On the other side of the debate were Star Trek (ST) fans Kevin Stewart, of Adrian, Mich., who has been to numerous conventions; Christine Brockway, of East Toledo, a member of the local fan club, the USS Tycho, and David J. Rose, of Monroe, founder of the USS Tycho who has a fictional rank of fleet captain.
BLADE: Which of the two franchises do you think has better storytelling?
SEAN (SW): [George] Lucas is good at telling a story. As far as having the people talk during the story, maybe he's not that good I think he enlisted somebody to actually write the script for this movie. I think I read that somewhere. So hopefully the actors are gonna be a little more human in the movie.
CHRISTINE (ST): Lucas sat down and did the whole story and kept it that way, but [Star Trek creator Gene] Roddenberry came up with a concept that a lot of different people were able to build upon. There's different writers, different areas, you get the four different types of worlds - I guess five if you count Enterprise - five different types of Star Trek world building there and you have that, all those stories.
BLADE: Which do you think has better acting?
KEVIN (ST): Are you counting the even or the odd Star Trek movies?
KIM (SW): I mean, you've got Harrison Ford that's gone on and done things all over outside of [Star Wars], and then you've got other ones that have not. So
CHRISTINE (ST): We have Patrick Stewart [from Star Trek: The Next Generation], who's a classical Shakespearean actor.
KIM (SW): I think some of the actors in the newer [Star Wars] films are limited by the dialogue that's given to them. Because Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen, they're very good.
CHRISTINE (ST): You can only work with the material that you're given. If you have shoddy material, your dress is gonna look awful.
SEAN (SW): The actors are pretty much just background to all the visuals
BLADE: Which is more likely someday to be the basis of a religion?
KIM (SW): Star Wars. You already have the Jedi. They had a survey in England, what's your religion, and Jedi Knight came up as one of the lower tiers, under the major religions.
CHRISTINE (ST): Star Trek is a way of life, but Star Wars would be a religion. I'm a member of a minority religion, and people are more put off by the fact that I'm a Trekker than a witch.
KIM (SW): We get that reaction, too.
BRIAN (SW): It's kind of a spiritual thing because that's what they did with the whole Jedi. They tried to go with this kind of Judeo-Christian-Hindu type of belief system, and all in all it's pretty cool. It's very spiritual, and it's one of the most consistent things throughout the films because it's always there underlying everything: May the Force be with you. That's like God go with you, that type of thing.
CHRISTINE (ST): Star Trek is more like the civil liberties union.
BLADE: Do you think one franchise has more devoted fans than the other?
DAVID (ST): Just as loyal on both sides. You look at the stores now, how many people are gonna go out now and buy the Pepsi cans and the special boxes of cereal. Well, you know Trek is the exact same way. People are gonna go buy this, buy that.
CHRISTINE (ST): But there's a lot of crossover between Star Wars and Star Trek. In the fan bases, I mean.
SEAN (SW): I just like Star Wars. I'm not watching the Sci Fi channel every night to see what's new. I don't even know what channel it is.
BLADE: So what do the Star Trek fans think of the Star Wars fans?
CHRISTINE (ST): I don't really have any preconceptions of Star Wars fans because I understand the devotion. I'm a Star Trek fan. I'm a science fiction fan. It's part of my world. It's part of my being. It's made me a better person, and therefore I understand the drive to connect with a positive, complicated lifestyle.
BLADE: If you go out and say, "I'm a Star Wars fan," are you going to get different looks than if you go out and say, "I'm a Star Trek fan."
KIM (SW): No because most people lump us in together "I'm going to a Star Wars convention." "Oh, OK, is there gonna be a lot of Spock there?" God, no
CHRISTINE (ST): When you get into the convention and you start looking at the costuming, frankly there's not as much leeway for costuming in the Star Trek world. Now especially with the newer [Star Wars] movie and the elaborate costumes of the princess and the queen, there's some good leeway there. And the Stormtroopers are always a big hit for costuming.
KIM (SW): Well, the Stormtrooper costumes are not very comfortable. You can't see.
BRIAN (SW): And they get hot.
KIM (SW): And they get hot. And pieces fall off. They can't hit a darn thing because they can't see, they can't move, and their pieces keep falling off.
BLADE: If we take a look back at the movies and the series, which do you think from the beginning until now has had the lower lows?
KIM (SW): [Star Wars'] Jar Jar's pretty low.
CHRISTINE (ST): Jar Jar is low.
DAVID (ST): The lowest spot is [Star Trek V].
KIM (SW): Is that the one with whales?
CHRISTINE (ST): No, no it's the one with God.
KEVIN (ST): How about the Enterprise that has 80-some decks?
CHRISTINE (ST): There's no 70 or 80 decks.
SEAN (SW): Ewoks Jar Jar and the Ewoks are probably neck and neck.
KEVIN (ST): I don't know. An Enterprise that has 70 decks
CHRISTINE (ST): That William Shatner-generated movie [Star Trek V] was a pretty low point.
BRIAN (SW): Was Shatner behind that?
CHRISTINE (ST): Oh yeah. He wrote it, he directed it. Yeah, he had his pudgy pinkies in the whole thing Patrick Stewart can at least act.
KEVIN (ST): When you have a star of a series who's told his fans at a convention to get a life that's a pretty low point.
BLADE: Lightning round. Who is the bigger babe, Princess Leia or Deanna Troi?
STAR TREK FANS: Deanna Troi.
KIM (SW): Did Deanna Troi wear a slave outfit?
SEAN (SW): Yeah, Princess Leia. I think she won that one.
BLADE: Which is worse, the movie with the whales or Jar Jar Binks?
STAR TREK FANS: Jar Jar. Jar Jar.
CHRISTINE (ST): The movie with the whales is the good one.
KIM (SW): Really?
SEAN (SW): I think I stopped after the whales.
BLADE: Who was the bigger stud, Han Solo in Star Wars or Captain Kirk in Star Trek?
CHRISTINE (ST): Han Solo.
SEAN (SW): Han Solo.
KIM (SW): I don't know, he doesn't bag as many babes as Kirk did.
CHRISTINE (ST): Oh, but he's so much classier about it.
SEAN (SW): He kept quality over quantity.
Contact Ryan E. Smith at:email@example.com or 419-724-6103.