Nasa / Space

William Shatner on why Star Trek is better than Star Wars

The geek debate Star Trek v. Star Wars is discussed by none other than the original Captain James Tiberius Kirk in this three-minute video.
In a humorous and heavily tongue-in-cheek interview, William Shatner shares his thoughts about how Star Trek differs from Star Wars and which one is better. Much of the commentary Shatner makes is pro-Star Trek, which is no surprise because of his association with the franchise and because of his desire to be in the next reboot movie. Several of his arguments are valid, some points are obvious jokes, and other statements are incorrect in my opinion. One example is his statement that Star Wars is a derivative of Star Trek, which is not true, as their respective sub-genres are completely different. Star Wars is very action-adventure whereas Star Trek is more about the human equation. Babylon 5 is a better example of being derivative of Star Trek.

Watch the video and then share your thoughts in the comments section below.

42 comments
DHOLYER
DHOLYER

Sci-Fi was a new concept (kind of) to TV back then, for most if you wanted something semi decent in SciFi you read a book, rarely was there a decent movie and TV was kind of unherd of. You would see movies every now and then but they were the cheap and poorly done Japanese types. Mostly Monster movies. And then NBC almost killed it off only after 2 seasons, but the fandum crowd with letters gave it a 3rd year of life. Star Trek:TOS in it's first year had a good and large budget, Second year it was reduced to an average budget, this partly due to it's viewer base was not growing in large numbers. The third year the budget was on a shoe string ranking, missions exterior to the Enterprise came fewer and harder to make with no real budget to do creative works visually with. As the other shows came about the FX effects were now easy and no costly thanks to the Sci-Fi popularity of Star Wars. Todays shows have a new restrictive factor and that is the Network profit factor. The time slot for Star Trek:TOS was a 50 mintue to 48 minute period. As time goes on TV shows today are getting as low as 28 minutes per hour, okay that's reruns but prime time gets about 36 minutes and special ones will get 40 minutes. This is a result from editing out the commercials to record shows I like to DVD, and I count those 15 second to 45 second buffer promo logo spots. I computed back in 1991 that by 2018 a TV show will be less than 50% of it's used hour time slot. When I got my DVR in 2004 Ad time was then shrinking shows to 42 minutes and to watch TV I was already using the jump forward/back buttons to avoid the ads. In the next 5 to 10 years if Prime time TV is not to dye a Commercial time death they are going to need to find a new source of pay. I know I drifted off the Star Trek is better than Star Wars them, but Star Trek is why I started removing ads and on my S-VHS Video tape recording. the GO dual deck VCR helped much. Now my Panasonic DVD recorder with frame by frame editing makes ad removal not easy but better. Now if they would require one totally black picture frame between ads and show it would be nice. But instead they fade from show to ad mixing the two into one video feed so you lose show time and have to by the DVD's.

DHOLYER
DHOLYER

I remember back over the last 35 years Star Wars was talked about many times, Star Trek was in the 80's 90's due to TNG, DSN, VOY, and being on TV. It slowed down after 9/11 and Enterprise was delayed a week to premier due to the event. SW picked up as the second trilogy came out but it was not as stunning as the first set that started on my 17th birthday in Denver. ST picked up again in 2008 with JJ Abrams new version coming out. To me Trek is better because Star Wars is fantasy, The Great bird of the Galaxy ment Star Trek to be a vision of a future we can have if we aim for it. We are some what going in that direction. It just gets side tracked by personal self power grabbing people that want things to go in their direction and give them the power they desire and try to squander to themselves.

janitorman
janitorman

I just wonder what was left on the cutting room floor (not that they do it that way anymore.) I personally favor the original series, and the derivative Star Treks mean nothing to me, and really, the movies just didn't do it either. I don't care about special effects, or long, drawn out storylines, or the realism of the show. To me, the original Star Trek was entertainment that I liked, and I could identify with the characters, and usually the situations. Then again, I like the old pulp science fiction, for the most part, more than some of the recent things that have come out, not that there haven't been some good novels recently, but I've seen too many "aspiring writers" that couldn't spell, use grammar or punctuation, (this in the day of spell check and grammar checkers in word processing programs) or even keep their thoughts clear! Some of the best was banged out on a typewriter, or even written in longhand and later edited by several real people, before even being considered for publication!

TGGIII
TGGIII

Both were good - I lean towards ST becasue it is mostly about earth and humanity. Star Wars is a saga in another place - entertaining but not as compelling for me. I think it comes down to what each individual can relate to, that is visualize themselves in, that has the most appeal to them.

PuarJr
PuarJr

This guy should "get a life"

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

At the time they were purported, extrapolation from then scientific principles was iffy at best, now probably worse. Rocket ship and ray gun no different Falsh Gordon et al. True science fiction, isn't the tech anyway, it's the impact of it. What would replicator tech, even if limited to simple foods do to our society? Make a warp drive or a phaser look like a hula hoop....

slanfranco
slanfranco

I would agree that Star Wars in not "derivative" of Star Trek but it is well known that it is derivative of Japanese director Kurosawa's 1958 film "The Hidden Fortress" staring Toshir?? Mifune, In it two peasants (one short and fat, the other thin and tall) escort a princess across hostile territory back to her homeland.

pgit
pgit

Star trek was more lowbrow moralism, "slavery is bad," "having computers run everything is bad," "lying is bad." Star wars encompassed the classical, epic struggles of the Gods, the whole story one moral tale write very large. (and expensive) The one thing star wars did that broke with ancient mythology was the "first" episode, the prequel "revenge of the siths." It showed the very human invention of the Hegelian dialectic at work. The empire was built out of an artificial "necessity." The ones who wanted the empire as the "solution" to the "problem" of "terrorism" were the terrorists themselves. They created the problem to which empire was the solution, which is how governments really operate for the most part. Government doesn't want a real fix to anything, it wants power.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Star Wars was a space fantasy; with very little science. Lucas's focus was on concepts and principles of good and evil, sin, redemption, restoration of the family name, all wrapped up in pulp level blasters, spaceships, deathrays, and mysticism. And Lucas had do deal with all that within about 12 hours of screen time. Star Trek also dealt with concepts and principles. However, Star Trek got to do that in about 16 hours of screen time per year for several years just with TOS. More time to dig deeper, if only on an episode by episode basis, instead of 2 hours at a time. Exceptions being multi-week episodes like the Menagerie and several shows in TNG, DS9 and Voy. But more importantly, Star Trek adhered to (most of the time) technology extrapolation based on known scientific principles. At the risk of derailing the thread. Star Trek was like the Theory of Evolution, based on science. Star Wars was like Intelligent Design, based on fantasy.

Vedolin
Vedolin

"God know what those actors look like in reality". LOL.

Ray Baker
Ray Baker

The Utopian society in Star Trek is one I'd rather live in than Star Wars. BTW: Shatner and Nimoy worked together years before ST. See the Strigas Affair in The Man from UNCLE. I just saw it and was surprized!

VytautasB
VytautasB

The interview was entertaining but not very "deep". I am a STAR TREK and a STAR WARS fan but know that STAR WAR's creater George Lucas was heavily influenced by the comparative mythology, most notably represented by the books of Joseph Campbell (Hero of a 1000 Faces). The themes of STAR WARS are also rooted in humanity and adapt many elements of the "universal story". Both series are Great, would not want to knock either one.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

We will have Han Solo versus the Klingons to look forward to, or may be a Spock Versus Kenobi death match. Or maybe they'll just die as opportunties for product placement are somewhat lacking. "Star Wars is better than Star Trek", that's like arguing about what sort of crockery your sh t sandwich gets served on.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I don't think the new star trek had more special effects than the newer star wars. Star wars was almost 100% special effects. But I do agree with the shat, Star trek had better stories, but only because they had more of them. The star wars story is fairly linear and obvious in the last 3 movies, and the first 3 the story is sort of boring (at least I think so)

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

Is BIG government and how the ordinary citizens view that government! :)

TNT
TNT

Star Trek is like a day in the life of the Starship Enterprise, Star Wars is an epic fantasy saga that deals with bloodlines, and universal principles of good and evil. While they are both science fiction, within that broad spectrum they are altogether dissimilar. I will say this though, Shatner is right that JJ Abrams is improving dramatically the Star Trek universe -- and not just with special effects. While at bat for the Star Trek franchise, Abrams dipped into the Star Wars well of ideas and made the birth of Kirk more akin to an epic Greek hero myth. Born amidst the flames of war ignited by an enemy that forever changed the universe and the lives of billions of life forms... And at the same time Abrams kept the foundational relationships intact and, if possible, even more vibrant.

Michael Jay
Michael Jay

Given the way that it works it could provide a backup of yourself, making yourself impervious to harm. He was run over by a semi, no problem we have a backup.

wwwqueen
wwwqueen

You might need to take another look.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

Except on starships with ungodly amounts of energy available in the Star Trek franchise? Excellent point, tho! I always wondered why there were intelligent machines running around the Star Wars universe, but they could not build a smart missile to hit a 3 meter exhaust port...

jeasterlingtech
jeasterlingtech

the problems with replicators has been covered in fiction before an author named George O'Smith wrote a series of short stories in the forties and fifties the replicators destroyed the worlds economies until a material that could not be copied was found the biggest difference between star trek and star wars is the writing trek is based on the possible, the tech, the stories all started with solid situations. star wars on the other hand built from magic and fantastic situations

Slayer_
Slayer_

I can understand they needed a way to explain how these ships get spare parts for those long distance trips, but its just to easy and overpowering.

Realvdude
Realvdude

The peasants sound like Laural and Hardy. Please take this as a humerous response, I saw another of Akira's films on TCM, which riveted me to the channel as I was surfing by.

uhmorphous
uhmorphous

Very true. And I think the supremely bad acting, writing, and directing of the "newer" Star Wars films spit in the face of that derivation. I was so jazzed when the new films were released, and I tried to find redeeming qualities, but the good actors (Jackson, Neeson, McGregor, et. al.) had to deliver terrible lines in a crappy script with even crappier directing, backing up two of the worst actors of all time, Portman and Lloyd, whose monotone, choppy deliveries are devoid of any skill or soul. It must have been agony for the decent actors who signed up for this trilogy of manure. My apologies to Kurosawa and his brilliant legacy. The first three Star Wars don't deserve even a distant correlation.

Solenoid
Solenoid

"They created the problem to which empire was the solution, which is how governments really operate for the most part." Brilliant. The Unseen Hand is a 1985 book by A Ralph Eppersen, subtitled An Introduction to the Conspiratorial View of History. I just started reading this rare book that I acquired a couple years back. This book details greatly what you speak of. It describes the opposite of the commonplace view of history, known as the Accidental View, wherein leaders are known only to react to circumstance, and the reaction is apparently a true reaction and unrelated in causality to the occurrence that preceded it. The conspiracy of the Empire is the great twist of history in Star Wars, perpetrated by Palpatine using the Dark Side. A true modern morality tale, disguised in an intricately detailed universe of action adventure. Star Trek rarely achieved this epic scale of depth in storytelling, with the popular exception of Abram's re-boot. I think we all agree that Abrams' work was superb. I also agree with others that there is no direct comparison between the two on their own merits. However, popular culture has taken each title to its own semi-convergent paths (ala Comicon, etc)

Xennex1170
Xennex1170

3 years of episodes.. Not much compared these days with SciFi series running 7-years average.. Stargate being a nice exception at about 10years..

wwwqueen
wwwqueen

LOL. Your analogy is right on, and funny, too. Would be funnier if it didn't hit so many current sore spots.

sissy sue
sissy sue

They were both born within days of each other (in March 1931, I understand). It is hard to believe that they are now 80 years old. Where has the time gone?

seanferd
seanferd

He's a bit of a nincompoop. As for superficial, that's Lucas' writing ability and grasp of Campbell and mythology, no matter how good of buddies they are. It's all downhill after THX1138.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

vs. Yoda Tea-drinking contest. Nuff said!

lvavila
lvavila

I'd say the Star Wars movies were way better than the Star Trek movies, with exception to the latest JJ Abrams movie (which was awesome). Other than that, you cant really compare a multi year TV show to a 6 part movie.

sissy sue
sissy sue

Star Trek was born during the 1960s, when people generally had more faith in government. Even though there were problems, people were optimistic that government was equipped and motivated to solve them. By the 1970s, following Vietnam, Watergate, gas shortages, and inflation, many people had become considerably more cynical about government, its nature, and what it could accomplish.

sissy sue
sissy sue

Comparing Star Trek and Star Wars is being unfair to both. They were both great, in my opinion. However, I do find discussions of both series "fascinating."

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Even if the methods of generating it were so risky they had to be off planet. Not to mention the true energy cost of our out of season stick of celery... Intelligent exhaust port, dodged too well.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Which was my point. If you had that tech, 3/4 of the story lines in the program would be totally without foundation... The idea that if you had it, it wouldn't be used, now that's ridiculous. That it would be unilaterally limited to preserve the current status quo, well I can feel the force now Luke baby....

pgit
pgit

That's a very important book, I've always thought it should be a school text book. Think of Jefferson's admonition that a truly educated populace is necessary for self governance to be successful. You might be interested in a much rarer book, published in 1899 called "the coming battle." It predicts the success of the banksters in setting up what we now call the "federal reserve" and what the consequences would be after they got their greedy mitts on the creation of "money." I can't recall the author at the moment, but I was floored by the prescience he displays. Many of the "battles" are actually only coming into light at the present. The conclusion is inescapable, unfortunately: the monetary will collapse. It's supposed to, in order to offer the next of those "solutions," in this case a global government in the form of a global private banking cartel to which every man and woman will pay tribute in the form of 'interest.' I've been a student of this stuff for over 30 years. Another great source is Eustace Mullins, who was motivated to research the actual nature of this central banking scheme by Ezra Pound. Probably the most informative book I ever read was "Morals and Dogma," written by Darth Vader himself. (Albert Pike) It's dense and wanders haphazardly like Brownian motion, but buried in this are the plans of those with the real power in this world. Anyone who reads this book no longer even has the capacity to believe in the "accidental view." The revelations are jaw-dropping. You are most correct in that Abrams has completely altered the previous "density," for want of a better word, of star trek's universe. Up till now there has been no direct comparison as you stated. Time will tell if the 'reboot' will prove just a fluke of if perhaps there's a possible time line in which trek and 'wars can meld into one narrative, like Asimov's robot series and his non-robot galaxy "foundation" series eventually did. The cross reference possibilities for cultural touchstones are endless. Maybe "Nomad" from the original trek series was an automated prison guard that drifted into our galaxy after being blown on a trajectory during the destruction of the death star... or Gary Seven got his technology from a "galaxy far, far away, in a time long, long ago." :)

Slayer_
Slayer_

The trek movies were only 1 story at a time, star wars had multiple levels of story lines. The star trek movies are all basically long episodes.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstellar_travel#Required_energy Last time I checked neither Star Wars nor Star Trek took the generational approach to conserve energy, hence the power required to travel between solar systems is so large as to be silly. Or as Douglas Adams put it when describing space - "Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space."

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

The nore mass you move more energy you need to do it, and because you are mobile you are carrying the mass of fuel you need to do it. (See specific impulse). Ram scoop is the only tech I can think of where you need to be moving in order to move. And yes replicator were in the original, it's how they got dinner.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

can exceed the speed of light (power approaches infinity at C!) Don't know of anything that is "immobile" in the universe :) I'm just curious if one of the "outs" for replication in ST is that energy to matter conversion requires power density that only a starship could provide. Were replicators NextGen? I don't recall that they had them on Shatner's Enterprise. I'm positive they didn't have them on Bakula's Enterprise. Let the fans pummel me now for watching that show!

Editor's Picks