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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'Trek Nation'

Dennis King Published: July 9, 2013

This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:

“Trek Nation”

As Star Trek and its many spin-offs, incarnations, commercial enterprises and sweeping cultural reverberations continue to live long and prosper, the son of its creator just recently seemed to clue in to the enormity of his father’s creation. The son’s sketchy and surprisingly incomplete journey of discovery is documented in “Trek Nation” (due out on DVD Tuesday).

This 2010 documentary by director Scott Colthorp follows Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry Jr. as he tries to connect to his family legacy and understand the lasting significance of the five “Star Trek” TV shows and their offspring.

Born to the show’s creator Gene Roddenberry and second wife Majel Barret, Rod was 17 when his father died at age 70 in 1991. As a teenager, Rod claims, he was busy with other things and had little knowledge and no understanding of the “Star Trek” phenomenon when his dad died.

So the film picks up these many years later with the adult Rod on a quest to catch up. Using old tapes and interviews with the elder Roddenberry, the filmmakers follow Rod as he wonders around connecting with various Trekkers and interviewing a few creative types connected to the shows and movies, such as actor Jonathan Frakes and writer Nichelle Nichols. Notably absent are core cast members of the series’ mothership show (William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, etc.).

He does score interviews with George Lucas, who talks about how “Star Trek” inspired his own creation of the “Star Wars” movies, and with J.J. Abrams, director of the current “Star Trek” big-screen reboots. But aside from a few juicy tidbits – a 1986 interview with the elder Roddenberry enthusing about young artists carrying on the show’s legacy – there’s little here that’s insightful or new. “Trek Nation” instead feels sadly shallow and self-indulgent as the son comes shockingly late to a discovery of the family jewels.

“Trek Nation” is not rated and runs 88 minutes. It’s being released by MPI Home Video.

- Dennis King


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