Tom Salinsky Talks About His Bold Deep Dive Into Star Trek For His New Book Star Trek: Discovering The TV Series

Tom Salinsky is a writer who has been boldly rewatching a lot of Star Trek in recent years and has documented his experience in the new book Star Trek: Discovering The TV Series
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Tom Salinsky is a writer who has been boldly rewatching a lot of Star Trek in recent years and has documented his experience in the new book Star Trek: Discovering The TV Series, which documents his reviews of Star Trek: The Original Series, The Animated Series, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was fortunate enough to be able to throw a few questions to Tom about his efforts and asked a few probing questions about his experience.

 

SciFiPulse: At the start of 2022 you suddenly decided to rewatch every episode of Star Trek ever made. Aside from the obvious reason of Star Trek being a great series. What would you say it was that inspired you to do this and what do you think you have learned from it?

Tom Salinsky: I’m a completist. It’s a deep and stressful character flaw. Once I’ve started on something, I will not stop until I reach the end, even if I’ve long since stopped enjoying it. I recently completed a 95-episode podcast series with two friends in which we watched, researched, assessed and rated every movie which had won Best Picture at the Academy Awards (and to keep it interesting, we did it in a random order). I was looking for another similar project, and despite having been a science-fiction fan since childhood, I realised that I’d actually seen very little of Star Trek, save for The Next Generation.

The two things I think I learned are both pretty obvious, but maybe need saying. The first is that long-running, era-defining, iconic shows are all of those things for a reason. If the original series had been all of the things it’s parodied for being and little else, we would not be welcoming a thirteenth spin-off series later this year. The other is that if you’re making twenty-plus episodes a year, it’s really hard to keep the quality up, so you’d better make sure that the good episodes are really good and that the regular characters are vibrant enough to keep the audience hooked through the weaker installments.

 

SFP: You’ve written a book about this experience, which covers The Original Series, Animated Series and The Next Generation. Now given that you watched everything up until Enterprise. Is it safe to assume that a second book is in the works?

Tom Salinsky: Of course! The second volume is being edited and typeset now and should be out this time next year. And my book about the UK science-fiction comedy series RED DWARF from the same publisher will be out in October.

 

SFP: Having rewatched so much Star Trek over recent years. Has your view changed on any of your favorite episodes from those first three series?

Tom Salinsky: From The Original Series I didn’t like The Trouble with Tribbles as much this time round, but I didn’t hate Turnabout Intruder the way I’m supposed to. I hadn’t seen any of the Animated Series before, and I didn’t know I was supposed to love Yesteryear – I thought it was very good but would have been better if Spock had had Kirk there to bounce off. The Slaver Weapon (by actual SF novelist Larry Niven) is a genuinely brilliant bit of fantasy storytelling. Among a slew of classic TNG episodes, a few nice surprises were Remember Me, Face of the Enemy and Ensign Ro, all way better than I remembered.

 

SFP: As fans of Star Trek. We always try to move with the various incarnations of the series and boldly follow wherever it goes. In recent years there have been a few bumps in the road (forehead?) that have proved controversial. I.E. changes to the Klingons in Star Trek: Discovery and a number of other things that seem to have split the fan base. What is your view on these things?

Tom Salinsky: Given the choice between sticking rigidly to the established lore and telling a good story, I’d always pick the latter. There’s a balance to be struck between respecting the fanbase and making the show accessible to new viewers. But there are some things which really should be left alone. Poor old Enterprise tied itself in knots laboriously trying to explain why Klingons didn’t have bumpy foreheads in Kirk’s day, and completely failed to find any interesting story material while so doing. I preferred the Deep Space Nine approach, where they dealt with the whole issue in a single quip from Worf. There’s also the dreary TNG episode The Chase which attempts to explain why all aliens look a bit like humans. Guys. I don’t care.

 

SFP: If you happened to meet an Alien that had never watched Star Trek but was interested in checking the series out. What episodes would you recommend to them and why?

Tom Salinsky: What made the original show so fresh and exciting was its optimistic and empathetic outlook. I’d start with The Devil in the Dark, which begins with Kirk and the Enterprise being called in to deal with a terrifying monster which has already killed fifty miners and ends with the revelation that the monster is a mother protecting her eggs.

 

SFP: We’ve had a fair few new Star Trek shows in recent years with Discovery, Picard, Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks, and Prodigy. Have you tried any of those and if so what would you say is your favourite from those and why do you think it stands out?

Tom Salinsky: Gotta be Lower Decks. For someone who grew up watching TNG, it’s a pitch-perfect balance between parody and love letter, and I always watch it the second it drops. But I’ve found things to like in all of these shows, and – of course (deep and stressful character flaw) I’ve always watched every single episode of all of them.

 

 

SFP: And finally where can people order you book and listen to your podcast?

 

You can get ‘Star Trek: Discovering the TV Series’ by Tom Salinksy on 30th March 2024 from all the usual places including…

And the podcast is here: https://bestpickpod.com/ where there will be some special Star Trek episodes for the next few weeks.

 

 

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: ian@scifipulse.net
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