[caption id="attachment_177560" align="alignleft" width="300"] Paramount[/caption]
While most sci-fi fans are over the moon about "Star Trek Into Darkness" and the whole J.J. Abrams reboot, you may be surprised to learn that there are still quite a few "Star Trek" traditionalists who decry the new films as a monstrous blasphemy. A self-professed "Star Wars" fan turning "Star Trek" into a shoot first and ask questions later action franchise? No way.
And that got us wondering: Which is actually better, the new "Star Trek" or the old "Star Trek"?
Of course, the two versions of Gene Roddenberry's beloved creation are very different in tone and story, so it's a little like comparing apples to tribbles. But one thing they do share is the same characters. So in order to decide which version of "Star Trek" holds the edge, we've decided to match up the old and new versions, actor against actor, mano-a-mano.
Let the battle commence.
Nyota Uhura: Nichelle Nichols vs. Zoe Saldana
Nichelle Nichols had a lot going for her in the original "Star Trek" series. A true television pioneer, her Uhura was one of the few — if not the only — positive representations of African-American women on TV in the '60s. Thanks to the times Nichols helped change, though, Zoe Saldana's version of Uhura simply has more opportunities to kick butt and take names. She's not just the mysterious beauty on the telephone; she's a take-charge force in her own right.
Our Pick: Zoe Saldana (New "Trek")
Hikaru Sulu: George Takei vs. John Cho
We love what "Harold and Kumar" star John Cho did with the role of ship's helmsman Hikaru Sulu in 2009's "Star Trek," especially the awesome action sequence where he and Kirk battled evil minions atop a big ... space thing. But while the shout-out to the original Sulu's love of fencing was cool, it wasn't as cool as, you know, the original Sulu's love of shirtless fencing. And as anyone who is on Facebook knows, nobody delivers their lines with quite the same verve as George Takei. The man is a true original.
Our Pick: George Takei (Old "Trek")
Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott: James Doohan vs. Simon Pegg
"She canna take much more, Cap'n!!" Look, we love James Doohan's Scotty as much as anyone, what with his deadpan earnestness that you just knew was hiding some major inner snark. But in these modern times, we like to see that snark get unleashed from time to time, which is why we just have to give the edge to Simon Pegg. Sure, the broader comedy may not sit well with purists, but for the rest of us, we'll take Pegg wherever we can get it. And these days, we get it from the inside of a starship.
Our Pick: Simon Pegg (New "Trek")
Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy: DeForest Kelley vs. Karl Urban
Maybe the most underrated member of the original ensemble, DeForest Kelley actually had a long and successful career in westerns before joining the cast of "Star Trek." And while the rest of the cast was doing their Peace Corps in Space thing, Kelley's cynical Dr. Leonard McCoy was keeping things grounded with old-fashioned pessimism. Karl Urban is excellent in the new films, but he's essentially doing a really good DeForest Kelley impersonation ... which means that in this competition, he's dead, Jim.
Our Pick: DeForest Kelley (Old "Trek")
Pavel Chekov: Walter Koenig vs. Anton Yelchin
This fact may be a bit lost in time now, but Ensign Pavel Chekov wasn't even in the first season of "Star Trek." Instead, Walter Koenig joined the crew in Season Two in order to give the kids a bit of youthful eye candy. So while he had his moments in subsequent episodes and movies, Chekov wasn't exactly the most important member of the Enterprise contingent; still, just standing around the bridge gave Koenig more to do than Anton Yelchin in the 2009 reboot. Seriously, Yelchin got like two lines of dialogue. Of all the battles in this throwdown, this is the most one-sided, mainly because Yelchin just never got a chance to shine.
Our Pick: By default, it's Walter Koenig (Old "Trek")
Khan: Ricardo Montalban vs. Benedict Cumberbatch
Ricardo Montalban is, of course, a worldwide icon. And he cemented his legacy with the all-time classic film, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," where he seemed to be sporting a set of fake pecs made out of pure Corinthian leather. Still, Benedict Cumberbatch can bring the intensity like few actors of this or any other generation; seriously, the guy looks dangerously insane every time he opens his eyes. He may not have the suave charisma of Montalban — hey, who does? — but when it comes to exuding menace, Cumberbatch has few peers.
Our Pick: Benedict Cumberbatch (New "Trek")
Spock: Leonard Nimoy vs. Zachary Quinto
What's cool here is that these two have become good friends in real life. Have you guys seen that cool Audi commercial where they go head to head? They are so adorkable together! We're really tempted to call this one a draw, except, well, there's a reason Nimoy ended up winning in the commercial. Because he's awesome, that's why. And we have a feeling that Quinto would be more than happy to concede the title of Top Spock to Nimoy for as long as Nimoy wants it.
Our Pick: Leonard Nimoy (Old "Trek")
James T. Kirk: William Shatner vs. Chris Pine
This is probably the toughest to judge of all the match-ups. On the one hand, William Shatner is a living legend, having brought us not just Kirk but also T.J. Hooker, the Priceline Negotiator and a surprisingly nuanced singing career. Plus, have you ever seen the 1966 horror movie "Incubus"? It's entirely in Esperanto! But this isn't about how awesome Shatner is, it's about how cool James T. Kirk is, and we have to say that Chris Pine has taken a character who had slipped a little bit into caricature over the years and made him fresh and vital again. Honestly, we just can't pick a favorite. They are both great.
Our Pick: Tie! Yes, we copped out.
The classic "Star Trek" crew edges out the new "Star Trek" crew by a score of 4-3-1. But the new "Trek" could easily reverse that result if they find something for Anton Yelchin's Chekov to do. In other words, this game may be over but the rivalry is just getting underway.