By Julie Peterson
See more shots in our Star Trek: The Exhibition slide show.
You don't have to be a huge fan of Star Trek to enjoy the touring exhibit that just opened at Arizona Science Center — it's got plenty for the general TV and movie enthusiast, as well as enough real-life physics and astronomy to warrant a field trip. But if you are one of those überfans of the Star Trek series and films, somebody who knows their Neelix from their Khan, as it were, you'll be in live-long-and-prosper heaven. Whenever I mention "Star Trek: The Exhibition" to those true fans, their eyes get big and shiny and they start talking faster and making plans to visit as soon and as often as possible.
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And I can't pretend I'm not geek-friendly, either; I really wanted to start this post "Captain's blog" — but I'm not the Captain, and I have to respect that. One of the best parts of Saturday's media/VIP preview was trading goofy inside jokes with other people who know waaaay too much about Star Trek. See, a tiny 84-year-old lady in Mesa (a.k.a. my mom) got me hooked on science fiction starting with The Outer Limits and Lost in Space. She was my date to the last two Terminator films. I've always been partial to allegories about multicultural cooperation with a little sex and violence thrown in, especially when the intelligent characters wind up being the heroes.
I've seen every episode of the original Star Trek over and over and, thanks to my husband's daily routine during nursing school, more The Next Generation than I care to remember (I'm highly distracted by bad acting, the way some people's viewing pleasure is ruined by poor continuity or errors in science. But hey, those people stay employed, so how bad can they be, really?). I'm only one film behind: 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, about which I was unspoiled, by the way, before Saturday, so thanks a lot, exhibition. (I recommend catching up before you go.)
Okay, back to the museum show: It's a trip to see so many costumes, props, and makeup designs up close. Captain Kirk's original, crappy chair sits in a place of honor — most of the other set pieces on display are re-creations, though they're still pretty cool. There are videos playing everywhere, ship models, a trivia game, and what appears to be the lower level of Quark's Bar (though I pretended it was Ten Forward), where you can sit and imagine that you're knocking back some fine Bajoran brandy. The super-comfy, shareable, easy-to-use audio guides from "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition" are back, and if you plan to take a leisurely stroll through Trekland (I was in there an hour, and I rushed), the enhancement they provide is an extra $6 well spent.
An extremely detailed timeline of events in the Star Trek universe wraps around two long walls toward the end of the exhibition. I could have spent fully half an hour just reading it. It shows the order in which all five series and all 10 films take place, and it actually holds together (as long as you remember that only two years passed between the end of the original series in 1969 and the first movie in 1979 — and mock-turtleneck uniforms are very forgiving of the ravages of time).