Almost two decades ago, actress Jeri Ryan was a science fiction icon on STAR TREK:VOYAGER. Now she has returned to the genre with a new story arc on HELIX. Why did she leave SFTV, and what brought her back? We talk about her new role and where it’s headed on the intense SyFy drama. Plus Caliber Comics returns and New York gets a real comic book convention.
“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” – Gene Fowler
“It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader. If you do not believe in the characters or the story you are doing at that moment with all your mind, strength, and will, if you don’t feel joy and excitement while writing it, then you’re wasting good white paper, even if it sells, because there are other ways in which a writer can bring in the rent money besides writing bad or phony stories.” – Paul Gallico
“Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.” – “Red” Smith
“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” – Philip Roth
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs” – Stephen King
Maybe you’ve figured out by now that today I’ve got nothing. Zip. Nada. A big Krispy Kreme donut hole. So I’ll just do a bit of stream of consciousness and see what comes pouring out.
Chris Christie. I don’t know why it took so long for Bridgegate to become front-page news. Everybody who lived in New Jersey last August seemed to know that the closing of the entrances to the GW Bridge was a political bullshit thing. Traffic study? C’mon, this is New Jersey. Everybody knows that the traffic at the GW Bridge sucks 23 out of 24 hours a day. You need a traffic stuffy for that?
What I don’t get, what everybody in New Jersey, home to Tony Soprano and Enoch “Nucky” Johnson (renamed Thompson in Boardwalk Empire) and the dirtiest politics in America, doesn’t get is how Christie’s staff could be so stupid as use e-mail in planning and enacting their stupid pet tricks. As to “was the boss in on it?” and “did Christie know and when did he know it?” You could bowl me over with a spoon if it turns out that the Governor was ignorant of his staff’s shenanigans. But I won’t be surprised if he comes out of this smelling, if not like a rose, at least then like a refurbished brownstone in downtown Jersey City. A function of all political flunkies is, after all, to fall upon their sword for God, Country, and Emperor when necessary, and I think that’s what’s going to happen.
“Ignore the barrage of violent threats and harassing messages that confront you online every day.” That’s what women are told. But these relentless messages are an assault on women’s careers, their psychological bandwidth, and their freedom to live online. We have been thinking about Internet harassment all wrong. That’s the journalistic “hook” for Amanda Hess’s cover story“Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet” in Pacific Standard magazine appeared on January 6, 2014, and the story’s first paragraphs are about her experience of receiving death threats over Twitter while on vacation in Palm Springs. Amanda Hess was on the Brian Lehrer show last week to talk about this. I couldn’t hear the whole thing because she came on in the second half of the show and I had to go into work, but I sat in the parking lot as long as I could listening and thought of all the stories I’ve heard this year from my friends in the comics industry. I’m thinking that maybe the end of “net neutrality” isn’t such a bad idea after all. Maybe making it a little harder to have full access to the web will help cut this shit out?
Nah. To quote Scotty in The Search For Spock, “the more they over think the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.” I don’t know what the answer is, but it aggravates the hell out of me.
I adore my grandchild, Meyer Manual. I adore watching Alix and Jeff be parents. But I still can’t get used to the word “Grandma.” It just doesn’t fit into my self-image vocabulary. Isn’t that incredibly fucked-up? I am trying to think of another “name” for myself to have him call me. When Alix first began to talk she called my parents by their first names, and continued to do so for a very long time; I don’t remember when she stopped and started calling them Grandma and Grandpa, but I do remember that my father didn’t like being called Meyer at first – “I’m your grandfather, not your friend” – but when Alix grew into calling him Grandpa, he missed the first-name bit. I think some part of him was longing for that tiny little toddler. Me, I’d love it if little Meyer calls me Mindy. What the hell, I’ve always been an iconoclast, why stop now? On the other hand, I don’t care what he calls me, as long as he calls me (she said in her best Groucho Marx imitation).
Speaking of my father, we took him out on Saturday night to celebrate his birthday. I told you about how he kept eating the french fries as my brother “Heimliched” my mom, how he’s in his own “Never-never land” most of the time, and how in so many ways my father is gone. And yet, sometimes there’s the glimmer of the old Meyer. My brother ordered a vodka gimlet for him, specifying “Stoly’s.” The waiter repeats it, “Yes, sir, vodka gimlet with Stoly’s” and suddenly my father intercedes. “Ketel.” “You want Ketel 1?” my brother said. He nodded, and then he lapsed back into that place where he lives most of the time. But later, while driving home, Alix told Jeff and I that she heard my dad tell Isabel “it’s an honor to be here with you and the baby to celebrate my 91st birthday.”
Been thinking about the lack of comics in this house for the last year (for financial reasons, as I mentioned in a previous column). Been thinking that I might head over to Comixology or one of the other sites and do some downloading to catch up. Definitely cheaper. But only as a temporary measure. Somehow not holding the comic in my hand while reading seems wrong to me. Well, if not wrong, then weird. Maybe that makes me a Luddite, but if Jim Kirk can read A Tale of Two Cities in hardcover in the 24th century and Jean-Luc Picard treasures his copy of Moby Dick in the 26th, then I’m just doing my part to ensure that real books hang around for future generations.
A few months back, I declared that I found a love for Star Trek. Not just a passing affair mind you, but a legit love of the original series. As if all my tendencies towards being a CGI snob who once laughed-out-loud at the low-tech original FX suddenly melted away. And why? One man. Captain James Tiberious Kirk. The lightbulb went off. I got it. Beyond the ethics lessons, morality plays, and hilarious fight scenes… this was a show where the Captain didn’t just chew the scenery; this was a show that banked on Kirk to cook with it too.
This is in direct opposition to the mission statement of Star Trek:The Next Generation. I should note whilst laid up in my house this past weekend (with still-not-cured tendonitis) I consumed a great deal of TNG episodes. Thank you, BBC America. And thanks to the crash-course reminder, it became clear just how different a beast TNG really was from its elder counterpart. Take away the CGI, beautiful sets, and truly amazing make-up work? You get a show near devoid of the pulpy roots of TOS. You still get the ethics and moral dilemmas. So too, do you get occasional hilarious fights. But TNG’s Captain Du Jour chews not even the seat where he sits. And because of it, I see how many a Trekkie sets their allegiance to a thespian who lends gravitas to a role once dominated by the clinical definition of over-acting.
After making my way through roughly half the original series, I find myself ready to make the ultimate choice. Given that I’ve seen about the same amount of The Next Generation, I think it’s time to choose my captain. It’s only fair though (and a great way to waste column inches…) to come up with some categories to compare and contract Johnny Loo to Jimmy Tibby.
Obviously these are my opinions. Based on not watching every televised piece of either show. Nor all the movies. Nor the licensed books, comics, etc. This is strictly my gut opinions.
Space Fighting: Let’s face it. The first and foremost thing a captain should be able to do is use his ship in a fight. Kirk’s Enterprise didn’t come with an onboard android, or Klingon weapon expert. Just a sassy Vulcan, and a fencing Japanese dude. Picard always seems ready for diplomacy. Kirk seems almost to beg for a fight. And let’s not forget he beat the unbeatable training sim. Phaser to my head? Kirk wins.
Space Talking: Before a photon torpedo is sent a-wassailing into the nearest Warbird, sometimes you have to get your debate on. In Star Trek, all-too-often (and rightfully so) the issues of the day were best solved with smart repartee rather than fisticuffs and rabble-rousing. Kirk knows his way around the diplomacy manual all well and good, but Picard was a born talker. And let’s face facts: If you’re facing a dude ready to blow up a planet because it’s in your way? Who would you send in to talk him down? Unless he responds…. only… to… rhythmic…talking… then you know who has your back. Picard for the win.
Dealing With The Ladies: OK. Seriously. Is this even a competition here? Now, first, let me ensure you if this were a Janeway Vs. Other Male Captain fight, I’d be an equal opportunity chauvinist here. Fact is, sometimes a captain needs to show some cajones, and make the space oceans move. Because the final frontier totally means green alien wicky-wicky. The winner? No duh: Kirky Kirk Kirk.
Crew Relations: In between all the alien issues, wacky hijinks, and ship malfunctions… A captain and his crew must be a tight community all working towards the same ends. The best captains know how to delegate tasks, keep conflicts down, and ultimately keep the space-peace preserved on what amounts to a star-faring cruise ship with lasers and missles. Kirk and Spock have a friendship and bromance like very few do. Picard and Riker have always held more of a teacher / student vibe. That in and of itself lends to how I feel TNG’s Enterprise views their highest in command. Picard is the teacher, mentor, and solid voice of the ship. Kirk feels more blue collar in contrast. In between making out with various crew members, debating hard choices with his number one and ship doctor, and threatening to blow up the ship at any chance he can get? Kirk always gives me the impression of the “lead by example” school of thought. Not that Picard won’t get his hands dirty… but frankly he rarely needs to given the loyalty of his crew. Choices, choices, choices. I’m gonna give it to Picard.
The X Factor: Frankly there could be whole weeks worth of columns in this debate. Certainly the internet was built in part to link Trekkies together to squabble over the finer points. Beyond the broad strokes, every good captain needs that special something that makes you want to follow them. Makes you believe in them. It’s why (beyond crappy politiking) we choose our own leaders; we want to put ourselves behind a person we believe has our backs and best concerns in mind. Someone who doesn’t lose sight of the big picture when the little picture threatens to wipe it away. Kirk is a fearless fighter with a glint in his eye, and a permanent smirk. In the face of adversity he is apt to ball a fist, scream to the heavens, and then win the day by any means necessary. Picard is no less brave mind you. He is apt to think through all the scenarios. He’ll consult his android for logic, his counselor for emotional insight, and his magic bar-tender for conscience. And then? He’ll do what he was going to do all along because damnit… He’s Picard. When the chips are down, and I need one man to get me out of a pickle? Well, I have to give it to the man who doesn’t waste time making a choice. Kirk takes it.
So, there you have it, kiddos. I’m a Kirk man. Kirkman. Uh-oh. Crap. No! I don’t like Kirkman that much! He’s ok at doing homage, but he’s mostly just spinning his wheels these days. KHAAAAAAAAAAN! Ahem. Seriously though, while I love both Captains near equally, it boils down to Kirk’s brash and boldness. His pulp roots have broken me down such that I can’t not root for him. Case in point? The real reason I’m gonna choose Kirk? “Requiem For Methuselah.” In the episode, Kirk is introduced to a very pretty little thing. He looks at her, and basically it’s enough to make her break free from her genetic encoding (she turned out to be a robot or clone or clonebot or something). Facts are facts: Kirk is so awesome, his gaze alone causes space panties to fly.
And frankly? That’s boldly going where we all want to go.
I was riveted from the moment I planted my butt in the seat. All the major actors have made their iconic characters their own – Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin all turn in stand-out performances – and the script is full of the quips, banter, arguments, and heart-to-hearts that have made the interactions and relationships between the Enterprise crew a cultural treasure.
But Star Trek: Into Darkness also disappointed me.
I suppose that from Paramount’s view – after all, Paramount had to green-light the storyline – it was smart to pick a villain out of the Star Trek archives who would be familiar to both the “Trekker” and a wider audience; but all in all, I think that this particular villain was just too easy to choose.
Yep, that’s right. The rumors were true. The villain of Star Trek: Into Darkness is…
RED ALERT!!!! SHIELDS UP!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Khan Noonian Singh.
*sigh* I so wanted it to be Gary Mitchell.
But it’s Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!
Or… is it?
If you’ve already seen the movie and walked out thinking “we wuz robbed!” because there was no need to retell what was one of the most brilliant Trek stories ever, no need to reboot the movie that was really responsible for reenergizing Star Trek, you’ve missed the real villain of Into Darkness, for Abrams pulled a magnificent MacGuffin on all of us by twisting The Wrath Of Khan into something else, a trek into an “undiscovered country” – the ego of James Tiberius Kirk.
The opening scenario is not just a teaser; it’s the hinge on which the whole plot rests. You’ve seen it in ads and websites – Jim and Bones running for their lives through a red-leafed forest and jumping off a cliff into the ocean, and Spock somewhere where there’s lots of molten lava.
Returning to Earth, instead of being ballyhooed and decorated, we discover that Jim has botched a benign observation mission of an alien primitive society, totally disregarding Starfleet’s Prime Directive (“As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Star Fleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation”) by (1) allowing Spock to stop a mega-volcano from erupting; and (2) revealing the Enterprise, in the course of saving Spock’s life, to the natives, who then start to worship Enterprise as some kind of “Chariot of the Gods.”
Admiral Christopher Pike tells Jim “You don’t respect the chair because you’re not ready for it, and that Starfleet had decided that Jim is to be removed from the captain’s seat and sent back to the academy.
Jim is drowning his sorrow and shame in a bar (where else?) when Pike shows up. Pike has been returned command of the Enterprise and talked Starfleet into allowing him to have Jim as his First Officer because Pike still believes in him. Jim accepts.
After a Section 31 installation is blown to bits in London (Section 31 is the Star Trek equivalent of the CIA – and it’s a cool callout to Deep Space Nine, in which Section 31 was established), Pike and Jim, along with other available starship captains and first officers, are called to a meeting at Starfleet Command, where it is revealed that the perpetrator is a former Starfleet operative named John Harrison. A gunship (which looks like a 23rd century version of a Black Hawk helicopter), strafes the meeting, killing most of the Starfleet officers, including Christopher Pike (I didn’t want him to die). Jim not only survives the attack, but also brings down the gunship – flown by Harrison, who escapes.
Jim wants to avenge Pike’s death, and challenges Admiral Alexander Marcus (yeah, he’s Carol’s father, no duh) to reinstate him as the captain of the Enterprise, with the rest of his senior officers joining him. Marcus agrees, and orders the Enterprise to hunt down and kill Harrison, who has fled to Kronos, home to the Klingon civilization. To do this Marcus supplies the Enterprise with 72 (pay attention to that number, boys and girls) prototype photon torpedoes, which can pinpoint Harrison’s exact location on the Klingon home world, though firing on Kronos could, and probably will, start a war between the Federation and Starfleet.
Jim, hungry for payback for the death of his quasi-father (Pike) could give a shit about starting a war. All he wants is Harrison’s proverbial head on the proverbial platter. His bridge officers object to the mission; in fact, Scotty is so strongly against it he resigns from Starfleet, saying, “This is clearly a military operation. Is that what we are now? ‘Cause I thought we were explorers.” Jim promotes Chekhov to replace Scotty; though the young Ensign is not ready for the position, Jim in his bloodlust cannot see this.
And that’s the magnificent twist that Abrams pulls in rebooting TWOK. The journey Star Trek: Into Darkness isn’t really about Khan, or terrorism, or the militarization of Starfleet. It’s really the journey of James Tiberius Kirk into manhood and the right to sit in the captain’s chair.
Because, you see, Jim Kirk really is still the cocky young kid who stole and drove his uncle’s antique C2 Corvette over a cliff, even if he did defeat Nero and save Earth from that red stuff. Jim Kirk has gotten where he is, as Pike told him after he’s “crashed” the observation mission (just as he crashed his father’s car) by his “audacity, by his being in the right place at the right time, by just “plain old dumb luck and having me behind you.”
Jim’s mission, you see, is to see beyond himself, to grow up. We’ve all been on that particular mission, and let’s face it, there are times when it isn’t a very pleasant trip; it can be a journey Into Darkness, when you have to come to terms not being the king of your universe; that you are, in fact, quite expendable.
When Jim tells Spock “you are way, way better at commanding a starship,” you know he has made a giant leap forward into maturity. He has gone through the darkness, and he has accepted that, of all his command staff, he is the one who has gotten there because, well, he’s just been the guy who has been in the right place at the right time.
I won’t spoil the climax for you. Let me just say that when Jim sits in the captain’s chair in the final moments, and orders the ship to embark on Starfleet’s first five-year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before, Jim Kirk has become, truly, Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, NCC-1701.
Paramount Pictures has released a clip from Star Trek Into Darkness via Moviefone. The May 17 release has been receiving a tremendous marketing push from the studio both here and internationally, in the hopes of reigniting interest after making fans wait four years since the first entry in the rebooted series.
In the wake of a shocking act of terror from within their own organization, the crew of The Enterprise is called back home to Earth. In defiance of regulations and with a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads his crew on a manhunt to capture an unstoppable force of destruction and bring those responsible to justice.
As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.
Everyone has secrets. The thing is, secrets want to be told. The level of intimacy we have with another person is reflected by the number of secrets we share with them.
There are many different levels of secrets. Some would seem mundane – your name, for example. Unless you’re wearing a name tag, a stranger won’t know it. You have to choose to share it and there are occasions when you wouldn’t or would only give your first name or maybe even a name that isn’t your own. In the latest Star Trek film, Uhura doesn’t give James T. Kirk her full name. In the same movie, a young and defiant James Tiberius Kirk gives a police officer (policebot?) his full name. Both are choices that say something of the character.
There are other levels of secrets, some mundane, some deeper. Boy meets girl. Boy wants girl’s phone number (or vice versa). At the moment the question is asked, the answer is a secret. A decision is made to share it or not. I have known many ladies not always eager to share that phone number with me and some with whom I did not want to share mine. Sometimes you can tell crazy pretty quick.
There are deeper levels of secrets. Your address, are you in a relationship, your social security number, your password on different sites. There are secrets you share with your friends but maybe not your family and vice versa. There are secrets you share only with your best friends or with that one special person. There are secrets you share with no one, keeping them to yourself. There are secrets, truths about you, that you keep even from yourself.
In writing, secrets can be powerful tools for creating and understanding a character. There are all kinds of secrets, great and small, that will help you define the character for yourself and your readers.
Secrets can also define the plot. Who does a character choose to tell what secret and when? Most important, was it as good idea? We have all chosen to share something with someone and it turned out to be a bad idea. If that’s true for you, it’s true for your character. Ever hear something that you labeled TMI – Too Much Information? The character being told the secret may have the same reaction. How do you feel when you’ve told a secret and turned out to be TMI for the person hearing it? Awkward? Embarrassed? Or were you oblivious to it?
The reverse can be true as well. Should a secret have been told at a given moment and wasn’t? What effect does that have on the characters and the plot? What opportunities may have been missed? We all know moments like that in our own lives; what is true for us should also be true for our characters.
Why was the secret told or not told? Why was that moment chosen to tell or not tell? What was the character trying to get or achieve by telling it? Why did they not choose to tell a secret at the right moment? Fear? Fear of what? These all define a character.
Was telling the secret to a given person/character a good idea? Again, think of your own life. Did you ever share something with someone and later wished you hadn’t? When reading a story or watching a movie or TV show or a play, did you even hear a character tell a secret to another character and wince, knowing it was a bad idea even if the character didn’t yet know it?
There’s also telling someone else’s secret. Sometimes it’s a betrayal; sometimes it’s necessity. Which is it and, again, why did the character choose to share that secret at that moment and with whom? Why would you?
In writing, in life, secrets tell us a lot about someone. Knowing them is powerful. We never, however, can or should know all the secrets of a person or a character. As writer, I often know more about the character than I share with a reader. There should always be a bit of mystery, a secret not yet shared hiding within us, within the character.
It comes down to trust. You have to trust in order to share. Sometimes that trust is misplaced and sometimes it’s not. All that drives story – our own or in the stories we create.
Like every other geek, I’ve seen the trailers for the next Star Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness. I even saw the extended preview when Mary and I went to see The Hobbit. I’ve seen J.J. Abrams relaunch of the Star Trek franchise and really enjoyed it. I’m a long time Star Trek fan although not to the degree many others are. For example, I have a nephew who groused that if he wanted to see Star WARS he would have watched Star Wars. And, of course, in about two years, he’ll be able to see J.J. Abrams actually directing a Star Wars film.
I’ve also read all the speculation about who the villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (memorably Sherlock Holmes in Stephen Moffat’s TV version), will be. The top contender is that he is a new version of Khan Noonien Singh played by Ricardo Montalbán in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That’s the movie that saved the Star Trek franchise after Star Trek: The Motionless Picturenearly ended it. Recently, Entertainment Weekly added to the fan frenzy by seeming to “leak” that Cumberbatch’s character is, indeed, Khan. Even that is disputed; Abrams has this thing about secrecy and is known to disseminate misinformation, leading the fans in one direction while he does something else.
The thing is – I hope it is misinformation. I don’t want or need a remake of ST:TWoK. Been there, saw that, thank you. I liked the first version just fine. Still works, as far as I’m concerned.
What I want is something new. The opening incantation of the original Star Trek series went as follows:
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Strange new worlds. New life. New civilizations. To boldly go where no man (now no one) has gone before. Key operative words: New. Boldly. That’s what I’m looking for from Star Trek. Not a rehash. Not a remake. Not another re-imagining. Something new. Abrams’ first Star Trek movie did a fine job, so far as I’m concerned, of re-inventing and re-imagining the characters and the franchise. It’s an alternate timeline where things may not be as they once were. That made it fresh and exciting for me. They destroyed Vulcan. Uhura and Spock have a romantic relationship. They need to boldly go with things like that.
Other things in the trailers that I saw also bothered me. The most recent one had a shot of the Enterprise holed, smoking and (apparently) starting to crash. Been there, seen that. The franchise has blown up so many versions of the Enterprise over the years that it has no more shock value. One of the pleasures of the last film was a spanking new original Enterprise. The shock value at this point would be if it survives.
Another shot seems to replicate the famous climax of ST:TWoK. Spock has sacrificed himself for the ship and the crew; he is dying. He and Kirk both have their hands up to the transparent barrier that separates them, a gesture that defines their friendship and creates a real moment of pathos. Spock dies. He is brought back in the next film and restored to himself in the film after that but I don’t see how that will be possible in this version. Again, been there, seen that.
I may be falling for J.J. Abrams’ misdirection and I hope I am. I think there’s a better than even chance of it. What I want is for him to give me something new. No retreads, please. Boldly go where no fan has gone before, Mr. Abrams. Live long and… ah, you know.
So, a few weeks ago, I decided to give myself the night off. And in doing so, I granted myself the ability to indulge in a previously DVR’ed movie stolen during a free weekend some time ago. That movie was The Green Hornet by way of Seth Rogan. It was, to date, the worst adaptation I’d personally seen of a comic book(esque) character in a movie. The flick was so god awful, I spent the following evening searching for something to wash my mind out. And there, stuck in a marathon of its brethren, a movie I knew was a sure-thing.
The Wrath of Khanwas to my knowledge a near-universally beloved film of nerdtopia. Furthermore, I’d never seen it. (Gasp). Surely this shining beacon of Trekkie culture would cure my explosion-riddled mind from the misadventures of Kato and Bro-Hornet. My fellow ComicMixers… set your phasers to stunned. I loved it.
I loved every minute of it. And truly, that is saying something. I am by all accounts not a Trekkie. That being said, I’m not completely ignorant of the brand either. In my short time on this blue ball, I’ve watched dozens of episodes of Next Generation, a handful of Voyagers, a pair of Deep Space Nines (and, heck, I actually saw the one with the Borgs), and the 2009 Abrams’ flick in theater. But the original crew? My only exposure prior to Wrath was an old X-Men/Star Trek crossover comic book from 1996, purchased mainly as a joke. I tried, once, to watch the original series on TV. I was aghast at the production values (forgive me, I was but a child of 24 or 25 at the time). So, to go into this movie as cold as a Bantha on Hoth (I bet that’s pissin’ a few of you off…), I had expected to hate the movie.
Yet something clicked. Immediately after absorbing the film, I went to YouTube to digest the original appearance of Khan in the episode Space Seed. I also set my DVR to record the once-a-week rerun of the retro-upgraded Original Series on cable. Subsequent discussion with actual Trekkies gave me insight as to why I’d suddenly become enthralled in the series. I discovered that one of the motifs of the show was the war of morals versus logic. Bones vs. Spock, with Captain Kirk in the middle. It’s a great concept, one that gave me perspective to enjoy what I previously thought was banal. Where I believe much of The Next Generation is rooted in the expanded (and better looking) aliens and psuedo-science driven plots (and again, I could be wrong, but this is based on the episodes I’ve seen…) the Original Series is more focused on the characters themselves. To be fair, each concept has merit, but it’s taken me until now to find the hook necessary to really sink my teeth into TOS.
And what of James T. Kirk? Removed from the stereotypes I was used to seeing in countless spoofs and parodies stood a Captain who was very much the product of a pulpier age. He fights. He makes love, apparently a lot. He battles his giant space ship with equal amounts of abandon and cool calculation. And in Wrath, it was a treat to see nearly all of these things happen. Suffice to say, without the prejudice of “He’s no Piccard,” I’m finding just why so many people are smitten by Shatner.
For what it’s worth? My money (and new found respect) is on Bones. Prior to my Trek-Immersion therapy, all I knew of the man was “Damnit Jim, I’m not a (insert something), I’m a doctor!” In a single scene during Space Seed, I found a character so compelling, I’m kvelling a little. In Seed, Khan awakes, steals a scalpel, and bates Bones to his bedside. He grasps his neck (with a strength supposedly five times a normal man) and puts the knife to it. Bones, without a flustered yelp to his name, suggests to Khan he should either choke him or just slit his throat, making sure to point out he should tighten his gasp a bit or slit right behind the ear to make it quick. Bones has balls. Amazing.
But let’s all be real; Wrath of Khan is all about Khan. The character himself is a brilliant trope – he’s a conqueror out of time. Following his first appearance via Space Seed, Wrath plays brilliantly. The fantastic turn that Kirk has in allowing Khan a planet to rule, was fascinating. And to use that as the catapult for the movie – where the best intentions are ruined by careless happenstance, and terrible luck – breeds a villain that we can almost sympathize. Even in Seed, we get that air of mystery to the man. He’s a product of another age, superior physically and mentally… but he’s still fallible against a man three centuries ahead of him. And while Wrath of Khan did not allow for the titular terror to match his still-amazing pecs to Kirk’s greying temples, we’re still treated to what makes the Star Trek universe so appealing to me now: Stories are built around savory plots and moral ambiguity, not action sequences and special effects.
So, I am on the verge of a new thing. A respect, and genuine interest in something I truly was never before intrigued by. Something that allows me access to a new sub-culture to both explore and debate with. Something that might just make me boldly go where so many others have gone before. But what could be next? Doctor Who?
Not likely. But that my friends… is a topic for another week.
If you didn’t make it to a theater this weekend to see The Hobbit, you haven’t yet seen the full-length trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness, so let’s take a look now…
When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.
Star Trek: Into Darkness brings back Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, and Bruce Greenwood, and adds Benedict Cumberbatch and Peter Weller to the cast. It’s written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Damon Lindelof, and directed by J.J. Abrams. The film is scheduled to hit theaters May 17, 2013.
And here’s a quick pic from the film of Quinto, Cumberbatch, and Pine…