Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Black History Report

I have a baby brother. He's still in grade school and they've been studying history-making black Americans for the last 28 days. Tomorrow, the month will be over and he'll present his project on Ella Fitzgerald to his class.

This made me think about my own 3rd grade Black History Month project. I wanted to do my project on Guinan from Star Trek: TNG. I loved Guinan. Her character inspired me. She helped me get through the day.  Unfortunately, Guinan is totally fictional. The good news is that Whoopi Goldberg is just about equally awesome so I went with her.

I pitched the project to my teacher and she said, "No. Pick someone else." I'm not sure what her motivations were. These were the days before any kind of actual, everyone-has-it-in-their-house internet. Maybe my teacher thought I wouldn't be able to find enough information on her. Maybe she wanted me to be able to check books out of the school library. Maybe she wasn't a fan of the movie Ghost for which Goldberg had recently won an Academy Award. Maybe she just didn't like the actress' name. I can only speculate.

What I do know is that, even though I did a project and presented it to the class, I have no memory of who it was about. I sort of think that maybe it ended up being about Harriet Tubman or George Washington Carver or someone equally as amazing (and equally as well-studied) but I really wish I'd been allowed to study Whoopi Goldberg.

Maybe then I would've found out how she came out of the projects in New York to chase her dream of becoming an actress. Maybe I would've found out that one of the people who inspired her to pursue acting was another trail-blazing black actress--Nichelle Nichols who played Uhura on Star Trek: TOS. Maybe I would've found out that she, right after winning the academy award, went to Gene Roddenberry and asked to be on the show because of how much it had inspired her as a kid. Maybe I would've found out then that so many of us are bound together, across the world, whether we know it or not, by the stuff we love, the stuff that inspires us, the stuff that helps us get through the day.

And isn't that the point of diversity-themed education--to teach us that we're all bound together as a species and we're all the same under our skin? That we're all stuck on this delicate little planet, spinning around a big ball of fire and maybe, someday, if we stop acting like idiots, we'll have a future kind of like the one in Star Trek?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's... I don't even...what day is it?

Basically, this is a continuation of yesterday's post. Except that today I didn't get to watch any Star Trek. So, instead of an illustration of me watching Star Trek, I imagined what I would look like if you were on the bridge and hailed me and my webcam suddenly switched on:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Best Medicine

Things around here have been pretty crazy lately. Lots of great, totally amazing things have been happening but we're at a big transition point in our lives and it's stressing me out. My sinuses have been attacking me from the inside out for weeks and my teeth hurt. I'm worried about things. Not in any kind of serious way, just in the regular day-to-day way.

The thing is, this used to be my every day. I used to get depressed a lot and the best thing that happened to me was when Star Trek reruns started up on Spike TV at 2pm, every weekday afternoon. I remember, one time about eight years ago, lying on the couch in my dad's house with an ice pack on an abscessed tooth, with tears streaming down my face, thinking, "At least I can watch some Star Trek."

Now, even though my situation isn't anywhere close to this dire, I'm firing up my Netflix today and thinking to myself, "At least I can watch some Star Trek." And really, that's why I'm doing all of this. Not because I'm chronically depressed (I'm not) or a constant allergy sufferer (I am), but because no matter what's going on, sometimes you just need something familiar and comfortable to make you feel better.

Star Trek is that thing for me and I think it's important to acknowledge that. I think it's important that we acknowledge all the little things that help us all get through our regular, every day stress.  It's easy to forget that seemingly trivial things, like a TV show, can really be that important. I'm just glad I didn't forget that today.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend-ish Roundup

The weekend is over but I still find that my life is a bit crazy. I actually managed to get in three episodes of Star Trek today and I'm hoping to write a post about one of my favorite episodes soon. But, until then, here's the Weekend-ish Roundup:

#2- The Naked Now
-Woah! Deanna's bun is CRAZY in this one. It literally stays right there through the entire episode.
-Aw. Beverly and Picard. So many sighs.

#3- Code of Honor
-This is a planet where people have crazy tournaments over who gets to be "First One."
-I think I remember Patrick Stewart mentioning this one as being, "very silly." I tend to agree. Though, this episode isn't without its merits. I love seeing Tasha Yar execute that killer Judo throw.

#4- The Outpost
-Although the Ferengi were mentioned in "Encounter at Farpoint," we don't see them until this episode. I love how much we get of them later (especially in DS9) so it's fun to watch them here, in their early stages.
-Lots of comments about Starfleet making the females wear clothes.
-This feels a lot like a TOS episode.

#5- Where No One Has Gone Before
-Yes! The Traveler! I love this guy.
-For a few moments, I wondered who would win in a fight between Q and The Traveler. Then I realized it was obviously Q. The Traveler needs help from poor Wesley.
-Also, I love how Wesley's super-specialness is already hinted at way back here in the very first season. Nice job, TNG.

#6- The Lonely Among Us
-I must have seen this episode at least four or five times but every, single time it comes on, I spend about five minutes thinking I've never seen it. Then the rat-face guys come on and I go, "Oh yeah, the Dark Crystal episode."
-This is also the first "Data is Sherlock Holmes" episode. He's even smoking a pipe.

#7- Justice
-This is the episode wherein Wesley is condemned to death for falling into some flowers.

#8- The Battle
-The Ferengi are back!
-It sure seems like they were trying to set up the Ferengi as a main baddie species for TNG but it just didn't work out that way. They ended up becoming more of a joke.

#9- Hide and Q
-Hooray! Q's back.
-Ok, this episode is basically wall-to-wall Shakespeare quotes. I'd say maybe a quarter of the total dialogue in this episode comes straight from ole' Bill. Pretty awesome.

#10- Haven
-So, this is Deanna's almost-wedding-episode. It's actually pretty sweet and has a lot of heart.
-Also, this is Lwaxana (bonus points for not having to look up the spelling of her name) Troi's first appearance.

#11- The Big Goodbye
-DIXON HILL!!! Actually, I'm not super into this episode but I still get that it was a big deal for the show. Also, Picard looks 100% dashing in his outfit.

#12- Datalore
-Oh boy. These guys are in for a treat.
-They have no clue who Lore is. Watching this feels like what it must be like to go back in time and watch the Titanic sink. You know that ice berg is going to be a big problem but there's nothing you can do to warn them.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saving The Oscars

I had no plans to watch The Oscars tonight. So, I didn't watch them. As it aired, I was working on something else and my husband happened to see that freaking James T. Kirk showed up to save the Academy Awards from Seth MacFarlane.

You can watch the whole thing here:

Oscars 2013 - Opening Number With Seth... by IdolxMuzic

Aside from me totally missing Shatner's first appearance as Kirk in twenty years, I've been struggling with allergies or a sinus infection or brain cloud and my eyeballs feel like a couple of wadded up paper bags so I'm going to bed. Tomorrow I'll post a weekend(ish) roundup! Promise!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

TNG: The Big Goodbye

Ok, so here's something about me: I don't get what's so great about "The Big Goodbye."

If you're unfamiliar with this episode, what basically happens is that, on the way to meet some ridiculously traditional insect guys that only Picard can talk to, he gets super stressed out and Deanna suggests he make use of the new holodeck programs. He gets there and totally loves this Raymond Chandler/Dashiell Hammett type of private detective program where he gets to play the lead--Dixon Hill.

Yes, his outfit is awesome and there are some great bits in this fun, season one romp. But this episode became seriously iconic. People LOVE this episode. And, while I love a lot of things about it (namely the part where Picard comes out at the end, tosses his jacket on his captain's chair, and loosens his tie before talking to the insect guys) I just don't get why it's such a big deal. And, the thing is, I really want to get it. I love Picard. I love detective stories. I love holodeck-gone-wrong stories (because, yes, that is a thing) and I love romp episodes. But, no matter how often I have tried, I've never been able to feel the incredible fan devotion that other Trekkies feel about it.

So, if you're one of those Trekkies who go ga-ga over Dixon Hill, please explain it to me. I want to love this episode as much as you do. Tell me why you love it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

TNG: Justice

For some reason, I feel compelled to write today about the episode, "Justice." I don't remember seeing this one when it first aired. I know because the first time I actually remember seeing it, I was in middle school and this whole preposterous episode made a big impact on me.

Basically, the away team (including Wesley) beam down to a planet where everyone jogs everywhere they go and they all wear strips of cheesecloth wrapped strategically around their extra-fit bodies.

These people, called the Edo, are remarkably touchey-feeley and everyone (even Worf) is having a great time.

Somehow, while every other person on this planet is getting all kissy-faced, Wesley and a BUNCH OF OTHER TEENAGERS WHO APPARENTLY ARENT HORMONAL AT ALL take turns showing off their cart-wheel skills. Everything looks pretty great and Picard is just about to approve the planet for shore leave when Wesley falls in some flowers and screws it all up for everybody by suddenly and inexplicably being CONDEMNED TO DEATH. 

I guess this episode really got to me when I was thirteen because I was exactly the kind of kid who, instead of making out under the bleachers (or whatever kids did--my entire education on this subject comes from 80's movies) I was more likely to be practicing my cartwheels and falling into flowers. Except I couldn't even do a cartwheel and still can't. So, mostly, I would just be falling into flowers. And then getting condemned to death for being such a ridiculous teenager. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Young Naturalist #5

Great news: Today I had an article about the TNG 25th Anniversary Reunion on The Mary Sue. Go check it out. And, if you just came from there, welcome! 

It's been a while since I did a "Young Naturalist" post and, when I came across the first appearance of the Klingon targ in the TNG episode, "Where No One Has Gone Before," I knew I'd have to do a post about it. I'm not completely happy with the way the color turned out but, since I've never drawn a crazy space pig, I figure it's not too bad. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

10 Reasons Why The Naked Now Is Awesome

The very first "Reasons" post I did was all about "The Naked Time." Since "The Naked Now" is really just a tribute to that first, iconic episode, I felt like it would be appropriate to talk about all the awesome stuff in it. So, here are 10 reasons why "The Naked Now" is awesome:

1- From the very first minute of this episode, when they get a hail from a ship full of drunk people, we can pretty much guess what's going on. I mean, it's not like Starfleet is in the habit of offering booze cruises.

2- Deanna's super bun. This thing is invincible. It looks exactly like this from the beginning of this crazy episode to the end.
She's smiling to hide the pain.
3- Wesley has created a device that perfectly mimics Captain Picard's voice. I see no way this could go wrong.

4- I love the sound effect that happens when the "infection" is passed from one person to the next. It's very reminiscent of "The Naked Time." 

5- Geordi's the first to go. He's the kind of drunk who gets really sarcastic and insults people from the corner. That's kind of surprising. 

6- Poor, innocent Wesley. Everyone in this episode is getting it on with everyone else and here he is, acting captain, and all he wants is cake before supper. Bless his heart. 

7- The awesome thing about Tasha in this episode is that I realize how actually great she is when she's not drunk. Here, she's silly and giddy and for some reason intoxication has lead her to slicking her hair straight back, leaving only a completely immovable Superman curl on her forehead. I so much prefer her when she's slinging guys around with her mad judo skills. 

8- This is the episode that introduced the phrase, "Fully Functional" as a running joke among Star Trek fans. It's a joke which would last the next two and a half decades.

9-Beverly and Picard make their almost-love official in this one. The lines exchanged between these too kicked off seven years of PiCrusher shipping. 

10- The most awesome thing about this episode, I think, is that it even happened at all. What a great idea to pay tribute to one of the most iconic TOS episodes. And, they should get bonus points for making it their second episode. Like "The Naked Time" we get a lot of insight into the characters that they wouldn't offer if they were sober. We would have to wait around to find out how super into each other Picard and Crusher were, or how Tasha Yar was always on the run from rape gangs, or how Data is "fully functional." Additionally, because of the Tasha/Data get-together, we have a brilliant moment in "Measure of a Man" later on. But, I'll get to that. There's plenty of TNG on the way. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Election Results

If you aren't following Star Trek on Facebook, you're missing out. They post a lot of news and information about the franchise and occasionally ask the fans questions. Today, they asked which Star Trek captain would make the best president.

As I was online with my friend Kristin at the time, this question sparked a long debate about where we would place our captains within our own imaginary government. So, without any muss or fuss or jacked up voting machines, I give you:

Captains In Chief

President Picard

Jean Luc Picard is the President. His sense of diplomacy and wisdom make him the most natural choice for the leader of our phoney government. As long as he isn't kidnapped and brainwashed by a much more powerful enemy, we're in good hands. 

Vice President Sisko
Benjamin Sisko would obviously be the Vice President. Since he runs a space station every day, handles international incidents with regularity, and has a really personable demeanor, he'd do a great job with all the stuff (I imagine) the VP does. Also, he could totally throw out the first pitch at a ballgame and wouldn't embarrass himself. 

Secretary of State Archer
Jonathan Archer loves making new friends. His wide-eyed sense of wonder mixed with his optimism for successful, peaceful relations between peoples, make him a great Secretary of State. 

Secretary of Defense Janeway
Basically, Janeway's a badass. She's less concerned with diplomacy and more concerned with protecting her people. If anyone should be in charge of something dangerous on the other the end of what I assume to be a big, red button, it's Janeway. 

Ex-President Kirk
Jim Kirk is obviously the affable ex-president of our government. We remember him being a better president than he was and sometimes, we wish he was back. His job is to cut ribbons, open libraries, and go on talk shows. He's the one who visits foreign countries on "missions of diplomacy" so that he can leer (in an oddly appealing way) at their women and be heard saying, "This food is ok. But it'd be a hell of a lot better with ketchup."

Monday, February 18, 2013

Take A Look

When I was a little kid, sometimes things were awesome. Sometimes, they weren't. But, no matter what kind of time it was, there were a few things I could count on. Some of those things happened to be on TV. They were Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, Reading Rainbow, and Star Trek.

In 2003, the year after I graduated high school, thereby finishing up some of the worst years of my life, Fred Rogers died. I had always wanted to write him a letter about how much he had meant to me but I missed my chance.

I resolved to write a letter to LeVar Burton. I wrote it. I printed it. I even found the address for Mr. Burton's agent. But, I never sent it. It's in a box somewhere, still packed up from one of the seven or eight moves I've made since then.

This weekend, I had the chance to see Mr. Burton in person. I paid to get my picture taken with him. I shook his hand, turned to the camera, and smiled. The camera flashed and I was still seeing spots when I exited the photography room and realized I'd missed my chance to say anything to him. That's when I burst into tears. The whole experience was too overwhelming for me. All of the sudden, I felt like that same little kid. I felt like I had no control. I felt like I was at the mercy of every other force in my life but my own will. I couldn't even get my mouth to say in one sentence about how much he had meant to me.

I walked out into the sunshine and got a grip. I was at a Star Trek convention. I was doing something really cool. I just had my picture made with an awesome guy I'd always admired. I was standing next to the awesome guy I'd married. I wasn't a little kid. I was a grown-up and this was my day.

A few hours later, while we were sitting at a picnic table during some downtime, Mr. Burton happened to walk past. Without thinking, I stood up and said, "Mr. Burton, I'd just like to say that Reading Rainbow meant the world to me. Thank you." He said thanks and walked away. I sat back down and looked at my husband.

"I did it," I said. "I didn't miss my chance."

But, you don't have to take my word for it:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend Roundup #7

This week, I saw three movies, started TNG, and went to my first ever convention. So, even though I only watched about eight hours of Star Trek, it feels like so much more. I'm 100% exhausted and I keep having dreams about transporter accidents, uniform malfunctions, and "What I Did Over The Summer" reports delivered by grown-up Wil Wheaton wearing his nerdy, gray onesie. But you don't care about my weirdo dreams. You want to read the roundup and look at these cool behind-the-scenes pictures I found from the films:

The Wrath of Khan
-This is pretty much a perfect movie.
-Not even a frosted, immovable mullet can ruin this magnificent piece of film. I love it.

The Search For Spock
-I love this one less so.
-My favorite thing about this movie is probably Robin Curtis' portrayal of Saavik.

The Voyage Home
-Arguably the most accessible film, this one is a great example of the kind of episode everyone remembers from TOS--the fun romp. Yes, 23rd Century Earth is at stake. Yes, Spock still isn't really Spock and that's sad. Yes, the Enterprise is still dead. But, ultimately, this episode is about a bunch of friends, traveling in time, trying to round up a whale so it can have a conversation with an alien gizmo. It's wacky and fun and it's not hard to see why it was so well-liked.

Encounter At Farpoint
-This is the episode that launched the rebirth of the Star Trek franchise. It was basically a huge deal. Even though it took TNG a while to find its own voice and heart, this episode really started things off right.

I couldn't find a behind-the scenes picture from this episode.
Instead, here's a beautiful photo of Data and Bones.
They're pretty perfect together.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Grand Slam

Today, I went to my first Star Trek/SciFi convention ever. I'm exhausted. I'm far too exhausted to write an actual post. Instead, please enjoy these highlights from my day:

I met this guy. 

And this guy.
(I know he's not Star Trek but I was still excited) 

And I took a blurry photo of these guys.
That's the entire TNG cast.

Friday, February 15, 2013

TNG: Encounter At Farpoint

I remember one night, back in 1987, sitting between my parents on the couch in our little apartment as the TV flickered on and the very first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation began. It was called, "Encounter At Farpoint."
The closest I could come to a shuttle craft

I was very, very young but I remember being dazzled by the bridge and the giant jellyfish aliens and this crazy man called Q. I remember my parents reacting to DeForest Kelley's return as Leonard McCoy but, at the time, I had no idea of the significance. My dad couldn't believe they'd let a Klingon on the bridge and my mother immediately identified with Dr. Crusher. Meanwhile, I was completely entranced by Geordi and Data. I instantly wanted them to be my best friends.

I had seen The Original Series. It was the scifi-themed wallpaper of my childhood. But, this was different. The Enterprise was new. The characters were new. Everyone was a little uneasy and, like me, filled with wonder and anticipation. At the end, Captain Picard sits between Riker and Troi, as he would for seven years to come, and, for the very first time said, "Engage." It was then that The Next Generation became my Star Trek.

It's been almost twenty-five years since that night. I can hardly believe it. I also can't believe that, for the first time in my life, I'll finally be able to attend a convention and see the actors in person.

Tomorrow, in Burbank, the TNG cast is coming back together for a reunion performance. I'm not sure what to expect but I know that the little girl who sat there on the couch, wishing Geordi and Data were her best friends, would be very happy indeed.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

10 Reasons You Should Watch The Voyage Home

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is widely considered the most accessible Star Trek movie, which seems a little odd given the fact that the entire plot revolves around bunch of 23rd century guys going back to 1986 to steal a couple of whales. Still, I agree. This movie is accessible. It's funny and sweet and there's not a ton of Star Trek mythology weighing it down. If you've never seen it, you should check it out. Here's why:

1- Our rag-tag crew is without their Enterprise. From the get-go, they're running around in a stolen Klingon Bird of Prey, re-christened the HMS Bounty. This provides for lots of fish-out-of-water jokes and it's just really fun to watch them zip around in something so alien.

2- They use the same sling-shot-around-the-sun time travel technique Scotty developed in the TOS episode, "Tomorrow is Yesterday." It's a nice touch.

3- Seventh Heaven Mom is in it and I kept expecting her to say, "I can't go on a date with you, Kirk, because I've got a date with another handsome captain from the 23rd century. We're going to get married and live in a California suburb with our seven, unbelievably attractive children."

4- Spock's Headband is freaking awesome, especially when combined with Kirk's pantsuit. My grandma used to wear a blouse like that. I remember her referring to the color as 'dusky rose.' 

5- The team-ups are awesome. Kirk/Spock, Bones/Scotty, and Uhura/Chekov all go off to have their own little romps around 1986 San Francisco. Hijinks ensue. 

6- This film was released only months after the Challenger disaster took the lives of seven amazing men and women. Their simple choice of using the word, "spaceship" in the opening dedication of this film completely overwhelms me. I tear up just reading it. 

7- Temporal Prime Directive, Shemporal Prime Directive. These guys just need to get some damn whales on their damn ship.

8- Kirk manages to death-grip Dr. Gillian Taylor's shoulders without any foreseeable, horrific repercussions. Way to beat the odds, Seventh Heaven Mom!  

9- Mark Lenard is all over this movie. I've mentioned him a few times before. He plays Spock's dad, Sarek. I hope to have an entire post about him in the future because he is, hands down, my favorite recurring Star Trek actor. He was an amazing actor and human being and he brought weight to every scene he was ever in. I love him. 

10- And, finally, this is the poster: 

How can you not watch it after looking at this poster? 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Search For Spock

The Search For Spock is not all that well-regarded among critics, fans, or... uh... me. It cheapens Spock's death when you bring him back for the very next movie but I get that you can't have a TOS Star Trek movie without Spock. I've already voiced my opinion on what they should've done with the series after Wrath of Khan.

Anyway, Star Trek III features two deaths. If you're not keen on spoilers having to do with a thirty-year-old movie, maybe you should go read something else instead--maybe this.  Or, you can sit and stare at this picture of Saavik as portrayed by Robin Curtis who I actually preferred over Kirstie Alley:

This is a post about the death of the Enterprise.

From the start, the Enterprise is in a bad way. It's sad. Everything about it is sad. Then, as she limps back to Space Dock, we find out that they're going to decommission the poor thing. It's like watching Old Yeller. Except, instead of spending an hour and a half with the soon-to-be victim, we've spent nearly TWO DECADES. We've loved The Enterprise since we were children. We loved her in animated form. We loved her in reruns. We loved her through two movies and now a third. She is as much a part of Star Trek as any of the cast members. And remember, at the time that Star Trek III came out, we didn't have TNG or any of the rest of the movies to reminisce about and say, "Oh it'll be ok because there'll be another Enterprise."

No, we'd spent nigh on twenty years in a love affair with the ship that launched a thousand (nearly) hours of glorious television and movies. And, suddenly, she is manned only by her core crew. Kirk takes the Enterprise back to the Genesis planet in the hope of saving his best friend, his son, and Saavik (she's kind of a bonus, I guess.) Then, in an hour of despair, the Enterprise is overrun by Klingons and, with no other choice, her captain and her core crew choose her destruction.

Unlike Spock, we would have to go an entire next movie without the Enterprise. Without her, it's going to be a long voyage home.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Wrath of Khan: An Obsession

I remember first seeing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan when I was a little girl. I saw it again when I was a teenager but I recall being sort of distracted (probably 'surfing the web' or whatever we did back in 1999) and then again after I started dating the man I would eventually marry. I've watched it quite a lot since then. Star Trek II is on my list of rainy day movies along with The Princess Bride, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Buckaroo Banzai. I start it up whenever I get depressed--which is a bit ironic since it always makes me cry.

I know that there are some dodgy things about Star Trek II. I know that Khan looks a bit silly. I know that Kirk has aged. I know that the Moby Dick quotes aren't exactly subtle, especially when paired with the fact that Khan literally has the novel sitting on a shelf in the Botany Bay. I know the effects haven't held up all that well. I know that Shatner's overacting (I call this "Shatting") is the thing that's most often remembered about Wrath of Khan.

Here's the thing, though: Khan is so cool, he rises above that ridiculous frosted mullet. The man oozes charisma right up until he goes full Ahab. Kirk has aged but that's the point. He's not as young as he used to be. He has to face his own mortality--and that of his friends. The quotes from Moby Dick and A Tale of Two Cities come at the best, most heartbreaking times and they're totally justified by the theme and story. The effects might not be all that amazing but they remind me of a simpler time--a time when the explosions looked real because they really were blowing up real models on real sets under real lights.

And, there's one more thing: I truly feel that Star Trek II should've been the end of The Original Series. When Kirk and Bones are standing on the bridge (you know the part) and Bones asks Kirk how he feels and Kirk replies, "Young. I feel young," it's not just good--it's great. It's a true moment, full of true emotion, between true friends. And, that's pretty much it. That's all you need. It's a prefect ending. It would never get better than this.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad there are more movies. I'm glad that Wrath of Khan was successful enough to spawn those movies. I'm glad we got to spend all that extra time with our TV friends. I'm just saying that, sometimes, it's best to walk away. I'm saying that maybe the people behind the movies should've stopped chasing that white whale because, in the end, Star Trek II was a far, far better thing than they had ever done before--a far better resting place than they had ever known.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

I watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture this weekend. I hadn't seen it since I was about twelve or thirteen. I'd forgotten so much and, really, I'd never quite understood the movie's importance. Now, watching the film again after being so immersed in Star Trek: The Original Series for the last month and a half, I feel like I get it--at least a little.

When my dad was a kid he, like so many other kids, loved Star Trek. He was a little boy when it went off the air and he figured it would never come back. He contented himself with reruns for years. Then, when my dad was in high school, Star Wars came out and changed everything. The movie was huge. It broke records all over the world. You'd think it would've proven to studios that SciFi could sell tickets but it didn't. Everyone seemed to be saying, "Yes, but we can't duplicate that. Besides, Star Wars is for kids. Grownups won't go to a SciFi movie." Fortunately, six months later, Close Encounters of the Third Kind was an enormous success and, with that success, Paramount said, "Ok, fine. Let's do it. Let's bring back Star Trek."

So, when my dad was a teenager he, like so many other teenagers, had been growing their hair out, sitting around in bean bag chairs and reading Star Log. That's when this happened:

When Star Trek: The Motion Picture was finally released, after a full ten years of reruns, it must have seemed like a great fog had lifted. Trekkers high-tailed it to theatres and... and... a lot of them (including my dad) were a little disappointed. 

In some ways, I get it. The movie is VERY long. And, even though the special effects are sweeping and the story ends up being very epic, Star Trek: The Motion Picture felt sort of different than they way all those little boys remembered Star Trek. Where was Kirk's double-fisted back smash? Why wasn't he macking all over that bald lady? Why weren't they beaming down to a bunch of strange planets, phasers in hand? What's with all these long conversations and why did they make new music? This music sucks. They'll never end up using it for anything. 

 It's hard to see your franchise grow up. It's hard for you to grow up. It's hard to realize that neither of you are exactly the same as you once were. I understand.

But, I also contend that The Motion Picture is a truly great Star Trek movie. In fact, after watching, dreaming, living and breathing TOS for the last six weeks, I feel that The Motion Picture is an excellent representation of what that show was--what it was trying to be. It's a movie about friendship, loyalty, obsession, and confronting a thing that is bigger than yourself. It moves slowly but that's ok with me. I want long, lingering shots of the Enterprise. I want the silence of space to impose itself on the movie. I want a big mystery be solved in the end with enough heart and smarts to make me gasp. And that music? It ended up being the theme to The Next Generation. It became iconic, not only for my dad's generation, but for my own as well. 

I love Wrath of Khan. It's probably still my favorite TOS movie and I'll get to that later. But man, I'm not sure it gets any better than Kirk seeing his Enterprise after all those years: 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Weekend Roundup #6

This week I watched nearly all of Star Trek: The Animated Series as well as Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It's been a big week and I'm exhausted so I'll get right to the Roundup:

Star Trek: The Animated Series

#2- Yesteryear
-The episode wherein grown-up Spock saves the life of young Spock.
-Why do they keep messing around with The Guardian Of Forever. Is this ever a good idea? No.

#3- One Of Our Planets Is Missing
-Best. Title. Ever.

#4- The Lorelei Signal
-The men of the Enterprise are taken captive by a bunch of life-sucking ladies. This looks like a job for Uhura!
-I know this is supposed to be a kid's cartoon but wow, there's an entire monologue in this episode about glandular secretions.

#5- More Tribbles, More Troubles
-Yay! Cyrano Jones is back and he's got more Tribbles!
-Uh-oh, true to the title, he also brought troubles.
-This episode is really a missed opportunity to add the Klingon forehead ridges that we wouldn't end up seeing until The Motion Picture.

#6- The Survivor
-This is the episode wherein everyone is impersonated at some point by this guy:
"Believe me, I'm totally Kirk." 
#7- The Infinite Vulcan

#8- The Magicks Of Megas-tu
-AKA- The Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter episode of Star Trek. 

#9- Mudd's Passion
-Mudd is back and this time he's hawking roofies love potion rocks.  

#10- Once Upon A Planet
-I love it when we revisit planets that we saw in TOS. In this one, we're back on the planet from "Shore Leave" but the computer that's supposed to make everyone's dreams come true is completely jacked up. Events reach a truly awesome point when everyone is ATTACKED BY PTERODACTYLS: 

#11- The Terratin Incident
-A lot of shrinking and giganticizing happens in The Animated Series. And, why not? I love how TAS takes all kinds of opportunities to do things they couldn't have done with live action. This one is a good example thanks to all the teensy-weensy people that Kirk almost steps on. 

#12- The Time Trap
-Three Words: The. Delta. Triangle. 

#13- The Ambergris Element
-Oh, mermaids! Yes! Of course they should do a mermaids episode. I love it! As a kid, this would have, undoubtably, been my favorite episode. 

#14- The Slaver Weapon
-This is basically a questing episode staring Spock, Uhura, and Sulu. It is 100% awesome. 

#15- The Eye Of The Beholder
-The crew is made to be part of an alien zoo exhibit--which totally happened on The Twilight Zone
-Their captors are a bunch of ginormous slugs--which is not at all how things went down over at Rod Serling's show. 

#16- The Jihad
-Kirk and Spock are assigned to a rag-tag team of aliens with the goal of finding an ancient religious artifact. I like the crazy, thrown together group element of this episode. 

#17- The Pirates of Orion
-Oh wow- male Orions. Awesome! 

#18- Bem
-This episode is about a guy who can split into several parts in order to pickpocket the crew of the Enterprise while submerged under water. It's hilarious and awesome. I love this one. 

#19- The Practical Joker
-The computer is playing practical jokes on the entire crew. It feels kind of like Q is involved but he's not. 

-McCoy is charged with committing mass murder several years ago. Things don't look good. 

#21- How Sharper Than A Serpant's Tooth
-This is kind of a god-killing episode. Much, much like "Who Mourns For Adonais," only this one has a crazy winged space serpent instead of a guy in a toga. 

#22- The Counter-Clock Incident
-I can't even imagine wanting to go back and relive my teenage years but I'm SO happy to see the cartoon teenage versions of our Enterprise crew. 
-Also--I need to look into this but I believe this episode has the first mention of Vulcans living longer/aging slower than humans. 

-This movie is awesome. I don't care what anyone says. More on this tomorrow. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Animated Series: Essential Episodes

I finished Star Trek: The Animated Series! It took about a week. There are 22 episodes in total and each one lasts only about 24 minutes. So, if you wanted to take a crack at this series (and I highly recommend that you do) it wouldn't take long at all. However, if you don't have the time or you just want to give it a try, here are Five Essential Episodes:

1- Yesteryear
This episode features Spock as a tiny little Vulcan boy, dealing with all the crap kids still deal with today. It's a bittersweet, surprising story with a lot of heart. 
Stand Out Line:  What a trip, Bones! 

2- More Troubles, More Tribbles
Cyrano Jones (the character and the actor) is back! This time he's brought new, genetically altered Tribbles which have become the bane of the Klingon Empire. 
Stand Out Line: We must have the glommer!

3-The Jihad
Kirk and Spock are beamed down to a crazy asteroid to search for a long-lost religious artifact with a bunch of other guys. It's a big, fun romp. I really like it. 
Stand Out Line: We'll all die here! 

4- The Slaver Weapon
For a 24 minute episode, this one is surprisingly complex. It involves an ancient race, a sought after weapon, and a story that revolves (uncommonly) around Spock, Uhura, and Sulu. The episode also tackles some fairly complicated issues which, again, is a pretty big achievement. 
Stand Out Line: The Kzinti have legends of weapons haunted by their owners.

5- Bem
Watch this episode because Bem (a longtime SciFi term for Bug-Eyed Monster) is an awesome character. David Gerrold (writer of Trouble With Tribbles) does another great job with this one. Bem is just the kind of episode that Star Trek couldn't do with live action but it's perfect in cartoon form. 
Stand Out Line: How come we always end up like this? 

Runner Up

"The Infinite Vulcan" features a Eugenics Wars story (which I always enjoy) and GIANT SPOCK. 

"The Counter-Clock Incident" is all about the crew of the Enterprise getting pulled into a "negative universe" wherein everything ages backwards--including them. Watch this one to get a taste of the awkward teenage years of Kirk, Uhura, and Scotty. 

Friday, February 8, 2013


The more I watch Star Trek: The Animated Series, the more I love it. One of the earliest episodes, though, made the biggest impact--"Yesteryear." The episode is all about a young Spock, growing up on Vulcan and dealing with lots of things kids go through right here on Earth: being bullied, trying to make one's parents' proud, and the sickness of an aging pet. Young Spock is, thankfully, helped out by Regular Spock in ways that are surely well against the Temporal Prime Directive. But, I don't care. This is a great episode and any time I get to see Little Spock with his tiny little Vulcan ears, it's a treat. 

Anyway, in honor of this episode, I whipped up the following illustration. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pretty In Pink

I always think of Star Trek as a series that deals mainly in primary colors. Red. Yellow. Blue. It looks good. Occasionally Kirk wears around his sweet, green V-neck but, otherwise, they stick to the basics. That's why it seemed so strange when, all of the sudden, splashes of bright pink started showing up all over Star Trek: The Animated series.

Tribbles Of Usual Size

Tribbles of Unusual Size
Kzinti Uniforms

Kzinti Ships

Even Klingon Uniforms
At a certain point, I just had to ask, "What's the deal with all the pink?" I asked Memory Alpha because they have the hook up. Apparently, the answer is both simple and 100% awesome. Hal Sutherland, the director of The Animated Series, was straight-up color blind. This meant that he was seeing pink for light gray. Because of this little mutation in Sutherland's retinal cones, we're left with some very pretty additions to the show and, I don't know about you, but I like the Klingons' uniforms. 
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