Saturday, April 20, 2013

TNG: Unification

I was a little kid when "Unification" first aired so I don't remember what a big deal it was that this episode featured a dedication to the recently departed Gene Roddenberry. I don't remember what a big deal it was that Lenard Nemoy returned to the small screen as Spock after all those years. I don't remember what it was like to watch Mark Lenard make his final guest appearance as Sarek. I don't remember it but, as I re-live all of Star Trek in a year, the impact of those events affects me in a strange way.

Gene Roddenberry's contribution to television, to popular culture, and to millions of people all over the world is still being talked about, all these years after his death. A brand new movie is coming out in mere weeks, every few months thousands of fans flock to conventions to celebrate the series, people like me and you queue up old episodes of our favorite show and sit in our living rooms, enjoying the stories from a universe that came out of Roddenberry's head. His is a life worth celebrating.

That's why I'm so glad that they ran his dedication before "Unification" which served to bring together the Romulans and Vulcans but also brought together the old and new Star Trek series. Spock and Sarek returned to Star Trek and handed it off to this new generation. Sarek's death, which takes place in the first half of this two-episode story, is a heartbreaking salute to Roddenberry and it couldn't have been handled by a better, more committed-to-Star-Trek actor than Mark Lenard.

I love this man. There are a few actors who made lots and lots of appearances in varying Star Trek series but Mark Lenard is my favorite. From his very first appearance as a Romulan in "Balance of Terror" to the beginnings of his portrayal of Sarek in "Journey to Babel" to playing the first Klingon with a ridged forehead in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Lenard was a mainstay in the Star Trek franchise. He apparently loved Star Trek and kept asking to return. His appearance in the TNG episode, "Sarek" was written to parallel the declining health of Gene Roddenberry and when the father of Star Trek died, so to did Sarek.

I wish I could remember what it was like when news outlets across the country ran tributes to Gene Roddenberry. I wish I could remember how big a deal it was to see Spock's return to TV or to appreciate Sarek's death and the passing of the Star Trek mantle to The Next Generation as it happened. But I can't. What I can do is appreciate all of it now. I have loved Star Trek my entire life but the last four months have been remarkable. Watching the series on an accelerated timeline, writing about it everyday, has deepened my appreciation of events like "Unification" and of Star Trek in general. Gene Roddenberry and Mark Lenard have both left this world behind but my life is richer thanks to their contributions.

1 comment:

  1. I love the Spock/Data interaction... two characters that have so many superficial similarities, but are actually striving for opposite things. That moment came as a revelation to me. -Larry


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...