We're no longer going where we've gone before

TV HAS LAUNCHED a new fall season, and something's missing. For the first time in 18 years, there's no new "Star Trek"-related show on the air.

I miss it — not because the most recent incarnation of "Trek" was terrific (it wasn't) but because "Trek" wove itself into the fabric of my life.

Somehow, in the early '90s, when I needed it, "Star Trek" found me.

The local Fox affiliate broadcast reruns of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" every weekday afternoon at 5. My sister and I watched it together.

I loved the replicators. I drank it in when Capt. Jean-Luc Picard explained that 24th-century Earth no longer had hunger or want. And the ideas, the wonders of science and anthropology and bravery and leadership and diplomacy, captivated me.

Then "Star Trek: The Next Generation" ended. I left middle school, turned 13 and lost my favorite show all at once. I called it "my midlife crisis" to the people at my bus stop who might have cared. They were all guys, and we could talk about "Trek" every morning while we squashed ants with our shoes.

By this time, I had learned that expressing feelings of anger don't help fix the situation that's causing the anger. Around my family, instead of showing my anger, I withdrew and became cool, logical and uncaring. My sister hated this and called me on it. My dad would call me Data, after my role model, the android on the bridge of the Enterprise.

My first year of college I moved onto a floor full of geeks. A few weeks after we'd moved in, one student heard that her grandfather had died. We kept her company and talked "Trek" for hours. I belonged.

Through links and chains of geekery, I found my current boyfriend's blog and started reading it and e-mailed him on a point of "Trek" trivia. After I fell in love with him, I spent my final year at UC Berkeley in a blissful routine of BART trips to visit him in San Francisco.

During our visits, we would watch "The West Wing" and the newest "Star Trek" series, "Star Trek: Enterprise." We'd make pasta and salad together and settle in for our shows. Since this was before TiVo, I forbade all talking. We sat on Leonard's housemate's couch and committed ourselves to our favorite shows.

Then I graduated. I got dead-end jobs. We watched all seven years worth of "Deep Space 9's" reruns. I loved it and gasped and cried — this was adult "Trek"!

After Leonard worked on a political campaign, he couldn't bear to watch "The West Wing" for a long time. But we watched every "Enterprise" episode together, religiously, even when it stank.

And it did stink for most of its run. I see that. It wasted potential, in character development and in exploring the complex and deep universe that previous "Star Trek" series had created. Since it took place before all the rest of them, in terms of the fictional "Trek" chronology, it could have traced Earth's development into a galactic power. Instead, we saw alien-of-the-week episodes, giggling sex farce, humans schooling everyone instead of learning and a few ham-handed allegorical lessons.

It was hollow. It was the shell of "Trek." But it was something.

Now it's over. There's no new "Trek" season starting this month. So I'm missing it; old reruns just don't trigger the same anticipation.

"Trek" taught me about keeping an open mind and defending myself through logic and mastery. And "Trek" helped me become the geek I am today, one who loves classic sci-fi authors, such as Douglas Adams, Ursula K. Le Guin, Stanislaw Lem and Isaac Asimov.

So thanks for the memories, Paramount. Thanks for providing this touchstone for us. Even though you fell down sometimes, even though the new episodes are over and we don't know if they will ever come back, we will burnish "Trek" in our memories until it shines, flawless, impossibly beautiful and wondrous, like the imagination it honored.

Sumana Harihareswara writes each week for Bay Area Living. You can contact her at