Released in 1997, Trekkies is a documentary about Star Trek fandom, particularly as it was in the mid-’90s when the movie was produced. Actress (and Trekkies co-executive producer) Denise Crosby, who played Lt. Tasha Yar and later Commander Sela on Star Trek: The Next Generation, accompanies viewers to Star Trek conventions and introduces them to a number of fans with varying degrees of devotion.
Most notable is Barbara Adams, who gained notoriety as an alternate juror in the Whitewater trial because she wore a Starfleet uniform every day. She runs a local chapter of a Star Trek fan club in Little Rock, Arkansas, which does community work, so she has a good heart. However, the seriousness with which she talks about her rank and command, and the revelation that she wears a communicator badge, rank pips, and a tricorder every day certainly is unusual.
Other Trekkies or Trekkers (an internal fan debate covered in the movie) featured are Denis Bourguignon, a dentist with a Trek-themed office where he sees patients and stores his memorabilia. He and his wife enjoy dressing in the costumes and what that adds to their relationship. Their kids are also seen in costume, but there’s no sense how much they are into it. Anne Murphy leads a group and runs a website devoted to all-things Brent Spiner. If there were news she had shown up in his house unannounced, it wouldn’t be surprising from the way she speaks about him. Richard Kronfeld builds his own props from the show, including Captain Pike’s total life support unit, which he rides around town. He also talks about building a Romulan cloaking device but it’s unclear how serious he is. While the more peculiar fans get much of the screen time, the viewer also hears from fans who went into the sciences for their vocation because of the show.
What will be more compelling to Trek fans are the stories from cast members of different series. The Original Series cast talk about the very first convention they attended in the early ’70s and how it was much larger than anyone anticipated. To illustrate how much the show impacts the lives of fans, James Doohan tells a heartwarming story of a young woman who wrote him when she had no one else in her life to turn to. Crosby is also joined by fellow cast members from TNG and Kate Mulgrew from Voyager, whose Captain Janeway inspired female fans.
The video is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Some, if not all, of the movie was shot on 16 mm film. The sit-down interviews conducted in controlled environments look the best in terms of the strength of the color hues and clarity of image. The material shot during conventions isn’t as sharp and film grain is very noticeable.
The audio is available in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0, but beyond the dialogue of the interviewees, there’s very little on the soundtrack and certainly nothing that makes much use of the surrounds speakers.
The Special Features are “A Trek Back” (HD, 20 min) as Crosby and director Roger Nygard look back on their documentary. There is also the theatrical trailer.
Trekkies opens a window to a fascinating world, strange and new to some, familiar to others like myself who have been attending pop culture conventions since the mid ’80s. While some of the interviewees will seem extreme to outsiders, and even insiders, it’s really not any different from other people’s fanaticism, such as towards a sports team or a religion. The behavior of these folks may not appear logical but if it helps bring order to their world, it’s hard to find fault with it nor matter how alien it seems.