The after-school TV show my mother used to show us (my brother and me), was TOS. I wish I could say I remember it, or that I learned a lot from Spock, but really, that was like 25 years ago, who the hell remembers. I do remember TNG, because when that aired, I was at least in my teens. I also remember that watching TNG made me interested in TOS again. But only many years later – about 5 years ago – I actually got to watch several episodes of the original Star Trek.
And they were… good?
I was surprised, because generally speaking, every show that was made before the 90’s is, by default, junk – and the further you go back, the junkier the show. TOS, among others, proved to me how wrong this default assumption can be. A lot of episodes are kinda old, featuring well-used tropes (through no fault of TOS), but a lot of the dialog is actually pretty good, and the characters are pretty awesome. In fact, only when watching the show as an adult I realized that Spock is an alien.
I mean, I knew he was an alien even when I saw him at age 10 – with those ears and eyebrows, he’s either an alien or an elf, and I knew there are no elves in space – but he didn’t seem alien in behaviour. Stiff, sure, but I didn’t buy the “no emotions” thing as “not human-like”. I didn’t understand why they made him an alien, it seemed like a gimmick of a sort. With the TNG equivalent, Data, it was a lot more obvious – He’s a machine, of course he’s not human-like, that’s his thing. So Spock just seemed to me to be an inferior form of Data.
Only after watching Spock with adult eyes, I finally understood the point – his logical, calmed outlook isn’t supposed to make him “not human-like”; it’s important and interesting because he is human-like. He manages to keep a calm and logical outlook despite having emotions, despite being very similar to normal humans (like most humanoid aliens are, in ST). That’s also why they made him literally half-human- to drive the point home. Being Spock isn’t about being naturally composed and logical, it’s about achieving that through effort and methodical practice.
What I liked even more is that Leonard Nimoy himself seemed to adopt the same demeanor – whenever I saw him in any sort of public appearance or show, he was always calm and wise – but unlike Spock, that wasn’t all that he was, reminding us to also be laid back and fun.