Monday, June 11, 2012

Marathon efforts

In the 70s and 80s, Sydney- and Melbourne-based fans of "Star Trek" ("the original series") owed a lot to each other in keeping their fandom alive.

Communal watching of episodes was often reported from US university dorms in the 60s, and Australians living in our two biggest capitals were able to tap into that phenomenon with Bob Johnston's "Star Trek" Marathons at ANZAC House in College Street, Sydney, opposite Hyde Park. Bob would send episodes down the the Melbourne fans to run monthly Marathons, too.

Seeing TOS (six episodes, later five episodes plus a TAS ep.,) on the big screen at monthly gatherings was how our original fans got their Star Trek fix - and how new fans, drawn into fandom by ST:TMP, caught up with what had gone before. Our TV network holding the rights had sat on them, rather than repeat the episodes (only about eight when colour TV debuted in 1975).

The marathons in the CBD offered a regular meeting place for fans, a place to buy the rarer merchandise and fanzines, and two intermissions where shy and gregarious fans alike could strike up a conversation with a new friend over a devon-and-cheese sandwich (later - toasted as jaffles!) and a paper cup of Coca-Cola. And know they would have at least an appreciation of Star Trek in common, if nothing else.

A few months before ST II arrived in cinemas, a rival network snapped up the rights to TOS... and fandom just got stronger. The marathons survived - barely - two moves after ANZAC House (and its theatrette) was demolished. But even the TV network realised that TOS worked well in large, communal groups, hence:


The phenomenon of diehard fans getting "trekked out" was common enough. Sometimes otherwise-passionate people either vanished, for years at a time, or forever. Or, they'd give away all their memorabilia and tell the rest of us - very loudly - we were all idiots for liking TOS, the movies, TNG, or DS9. (I very nearly faded away myself with the earliest eps of DS9.)

As much as I love the ST novels, there was a time when they were coming out two-per-month, and now most of them have doubled or tripled their word count. Even though only one-per-month, its still more books than I can get a chance to read, plus the comics keep coming.

Staying a Star Trek fan really does take hard work, and local support networks have changed radically since the early 90s. About the time Bob stopped doing his Star Trek marathons. Sigh.

MOV Therin meets Grol
Literally beside myself: Therin and Grol at ANZAC House,
at a monthly Star Trek marathon

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