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Star Trek for kids

A Trekkie mom recommends classic Enterprise adventures for all ages.

star trekThe show that launched a thousand starships

At the age of seven, I became obsessed with reruns of the original Star Trek. I watched every episode while dressed in my homemade Starfleet uniform (thanks, Mom!), my phaser at my side. Since then, the 1966--69 series has grown up to be a pop-culture juggernaut, with five small-screen spin-offs, 11 films, countless novels, video games and more. It isn't just for geeks anymore, and that's what J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost), director of a new film prequel opening onMay 8, is banking on.

Star Chris Pine, who plays a young James T. Kirk, assured Time Out Kids that "there's no 9 Weeks moment in the movie." But judging from the sexy trailers and the PG-13 rating, it's not appropriate for the Noggin set. Still, your brood can join in the fun by revisiting earlier incarnations of the 43-year-old franchise.

Preschoolers
Star Trek: The Animated Adventures
Launched in 1973, this cartoon is squarely aimed at children. But there's a reason fans have dubbed it Star Trek's "fourth season." Starring the vocal talents of most of the original cast—William Shatner as Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Spock, DeForest Kelley as Dr. "Bones" McCoy—the Emmy-winning kids' show continues the crew's "five-year mission, to explore strange new worlds." Many of the series' characters and story lines reappear, including those pesky Tribbles, and the sci-fi is serious but never scary.

star trekChris Pine (seated) leads the new old crew

Grade-schoolers
Star Trek: The Original Series
The adventures can be tense but are rarely gruesome, and they're less talky than Next Generation episodes. Yes, creator Gene Roddenberry was commenting on the social issues of his era: The standoff between the Federation and the Romulans is reminiscent of the Cold War, and the goals of the civil-rights movement were embodied in Lieutenant Uhura. But younger viewers won't care about that stuff. Instead, they'll focus on the dashing captain. Although Shatner's acting, in particular his bizarre cadences, is the stuff of bad stand-up impressions, kids think he's the man: commanding a starship, landing the ladies and kicking alien butt. (Bonus: You can freak them out by revealing that Kirk is the goofy old guy in the commercials.)

Tweens
 
Star Trek: The Next Generation and select films
Jean-Luc Picard may not have Kirk's bravado or toupee, but he's the kind of cool and intelligent leader that makes girls with master's degrees swoon. More liable to defuse a situation with his brain than his brawn, the character helped take the franchise in a headier direction, although there's still plenty of action (we are Borg!). Tweens will be able to follow the morally and ethically complex story lines, as well as handle the occasional gore, of movies The Wrath of Kahn (with Ricardo Montalban as the notorious villain from the original series) and The Voyage Home(an eco-themed, save-the-whales, save-the-world epic), both starring Shatner and Co., and First Contact, featuring Picard and crew and the big bad Borg.

Those three flicks, generally considered the finest of the films, were even-numbered entries, which led to the myth among Trekkies that odd-numbered movies are doomed. We hope that Abrams's reboot, the eleventh in the series, will prove to be out of this world.

For more on the entire Star Trek universe, visit startrek.com.

 


 

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