New Trek influenced by classic episode, Balance of Terror

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Balance of Terror is not a bad choice as episodes go… but what could it mean? The classic story introduced the secretive Romulans for the first time. A prolonged battle between two starships, Balance of Terror was a challenge of courage, intelligence and cunning.

The Romulan craft was equipped with a cloaking device that allowed the ship to become invisible, yet they could not fire while it was activated. The story fleshed out the identity of the Romulans through the sterling performance of Mark Lenard who would later portray Spock’s father, Sarek. The commander of the enemy vessel and Captain Kirk are both shown in nail-bitingly tense situations, so perfectly mirrored that Kirk gains his enemy’s respect by the end of the episode.

In addition to holding a vital place in Trek lore, the story was also an allegory for the political climate at the time. Like many key Trek stories of the 1960’s,  it serves as a time capsule of the American psyche as well as prompting some compassion toward those we define as enemies. If showrunner Fuller is looking to delve into that part of the nation’s gestalt consciousness, he has a hard yet worthwhile job on his hands.

But it could just mean that the new series will explore the Romulan War, something the previous program Enterprise did not get the opportunity to do.

I was chatting at length with someone the other night who put his finger on a key attribute missing from modern Trek which is not preaching morality or politics (some episodes of classic Trek are very conservative while others are liberal and while Roddenberry was a humanist, he didn’t bash belief systems). So while I am certainly on board for a politically charged liberal-leaning sci-fi program, I think one that promotes discourse and inner exploration could be even better rather than one that promotes further dissension and antagonism.

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Star Trek invades SDCC2016

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“I’m back.”

Star Wars may be ruling the screens today, but 2017 will be the year Paramount Strikes Back with the revival of Star Trek on the new streaming service, CBS All Access.

The latest iteration of Trek jump-started by the seizure-inducing JJ Abrams movie is rumored to reaching its conclusion with Beyond, warping into cinemas on July 14th. In its place, the new TV series is something of a mystery.

When SDCC begins on July 21st, expect to see the familiar crest of the Federation all over your news feed as Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies and Hannibal) will reveal some key details on the simply titled Star Trek.

We have seen five weekly TV programs and twelve feature films (with number 13 on the away), so the question is what can we expect from a new Trek?

Will this be set within established continuity? There is a rumor that this series will take place after the fifth movie, the Undiscovered Country. Will it explore the uncharted future past era of The Next Generation? Are we going to see another set of actors playing the popular Kirk, Spock and Bones roles following the Abrams story? Or will it be an anthology series dipping into the many periods of Trek past and future?

We may have to wait until next year to get all the details, but in a few weeks, we will know more when Star Trek takes over SDCC with a barrage of panels and an outdoor screening of Beyond.
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NX-01 refit via: http://startrekships.tumblr.com/post/66805328781/nx-refit-art

Via i09:
News just broke that Bryan Fuller, the executive producer of the still-untitled 2017 CBS Star Trek series, will have a panel in the biggest room at Comic-Con, Hall H, on July 23 during the afternoon. It’s called Star Trek: Celebrating 50 Years and he’s expected to reveal news about that show, and chat with members of each Trek cast. Announced so far are William Shatner, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan, and Scott Bakula.

That panel alone would be super cool, but it’s just the bridge of the Enterprise.

Paramount previously announced they’re hosting the world premiere of Star Trek Beyond right outside the convention, at the Embarcadero Marina Park. That event is “the first-ever outdoor IMAX premiere” and “will include appearances by the film’s cast and crew, and a live concert performance by the San Diego symphony orchestra.”

But wait, there’s more. Just announced are five more Trek panels happening during the convention. They are as follows.

“Trek Talks: Science, the Smithsonian and ‘Star Trek’” (Friday, July 22, 6:30 p.m., Room 5AB)
“‘Star Trek’: The Rodenberry Vault” (Saturday, July 23, 12:30 p.m., Room 5AB)
“Trek Talks: ‘Star Trek’ and NASA Boldly Go” (Saturday, July 23 6 p.m., Room 5AB)
“‘Star Trek’ the Official Starships Collection: Designing and Filming Starships” (Saturday, July 23, 3 p.m., Room 28 D/E)
“‘Star Trek’: Five Decades of Comics” (Friday, July 22, 1:30p.m., Room 8).

Are you planning to attend the SDCC? If so, please drop a line!

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Poll:

What’s your favorite Trek?

Bonus!
Watch the Star Trek New Voyages episode: Mind Sifter!

 

Star Trek Axanar

Prelude_to_Axanar_poster.jpgWhile we await the release of the third and final new Star Trek film for some time and the upcoming streaming TV series, it may be a good time to give a closer look at the fan-funded project Star Trek Axanar.

Christian Gossett and Alec Peters utilized the resources of special effects experts and several actors and actresses familiar to fans of Star Trek and cult sci-fi in general (including Battlestar Galactica’s Richard Hatch). They raised $101,000 (well over the $10,000 goal) via Kickstarter and released Prelude to Axanar for a limited release.

Set during the Four-Year War, Axanar serves as a bridge between Enterprise and the Original Series. A glimpse is even given of NCC-1701 craft in dry dock!

Star Trek Axanar strives to accomplish something few of the Star Trek projects from Paramount has, to fit into canon. Not only does it feature actors reprising their roles, but it also sets up plot threads connecting to classic Trek stories such as Patterns of Force and Whom Gods Destroy – one of my personal faves.

This is the best thing to happen for Trek fans in decades and the screening of the 21 minute prelude earned acclaim from professional critics. Then this happened:

On December 29, 2015, CBS and Paramount Pictures filed for an injunction and damages in the US District Court for the Central District of California, stating Axanar works infringe their rights by making use of the Klingon language and “innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes.”

On March 28, 2016, Axanar Productions filed a motion to dismiss or strike Paramount and CBS’s claims, saying the elements mentioned in the court filing are not protected by copyright and it is seeking premature relief from a work, the Axanar film, that does not exist.

At a time when (reportedly) Paramount is urging its staff to refrain from making their feature films ‘too Star Trekky’ (witness the high-octane trailer for Star Trek Beyond), it is truly painful that a project like this is being shelved.

Will we see Star Trek Axanar? Given that the film’s creators worked so hard to get this project off the ground and the product to date is so good that it has Paramount suing… it’s a possibility.

Bookmark this page for more.

Star Trek goes Beyond this Summer

new_star_trek_beyond_logo_by_gazomg-d8zew0fI have a love/hate relationship with the modern Star Trek. While I disliked the first, I am one of the few who enjoyed Into Darkness. Both movies are visually impressive and action-packed with strong characters and a blend of humor. But… it will forever be haunted by the ghost of the source material. No matter what the new crew attempts, a comparison will be made to the classic days of 1960’s Trek.

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Bones, Kirk and Spock from the Original Star Trek

The original Star Trek was of its time, using science fiction tropes to explore real social issues while entertaining. The cast has become iconic, far moreso than any other sci-fi program. Several spinoffs and sequels have taken Trek to new dimensions, but it remained rooted in the realm of soul-searching storytelling… until the 2009 JJ Abrams-directed film transformed Captain Kirk into a battle-scarred punk hammering his way through every problem and Spock became an emotionally-charged rebel.

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Zacharay Quinto as Spock and Chris Pine as Kirk for a new generation

It was a hit. For the first time since 1987, people were talking about Star Trek again.  The sequel Into Darkness did less well, some say due to the negative treatment towards fans by denying key plot details. It’s a shame because the second movie is the stronger of the two, but marred by some poor productions ideas.

The third film encounterted problems when Abrams left the studio to work on Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.

In a Guardian article dated May 19, 2015, it was stated that:

On the original draft by Orci, Pegg commented that Paramount “had a script for Star Trek that wasn’t really working for them. I think the studio was worried that it might have been a little bit too Star Trek-y.” For his role as the primary screenwriter, Pegg had been asked to make this new film “more inclusive”, stating that the solution was to “make a western or a thriller or a heist movie, then populate that with Star Trek characters so it’s more inclusive to an audience that might be a little bit reticent.”

This may explain the inclusion of Fast and the Furious director Justin Li… The ‘too Star Trek-y’ statement has me worried but it also confirms my judgement that these movies have little to no relation to Roddenberry’s vision. Granted, I can’t recommend much in the way of Star Trek films beyond Wrath of Khan. There are some good moments in the Next Generation sequels, but the appeal is so focused on the secured fanbase that I can’t imagine coming to it fresh.  Maybe that is why we now have an eXtreme version of the franchise.

From five writers (including Simon Pegg) comes the latest pop culture Trek film, complete with Beastie Boys soundtrack. The ‘not your father’s Star Trek,’ vibe is certainly raised to eleven here. Wacky situations, flippant dialog and POV swirling action promise what could be a good video game or amusement park ride but will it make for a good movie?

We won’t have long to wait. Star Trek Beyond opens on July, 2016.

Star Trek – Yesteryear

StarTrek_Spock_YesteryearWritten By DC Fontana, Directed by Hal Sutherland
Transmitted September 15, 1973

After three years on TV, Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek was canceled. This cut the ‘five year mission’ stated in the opening sequence incomplete. Fans got a special treat when a Filmation series aired. Thanks to Norm Prescott and Lou Scheimer, Star Trek got a new lease on life in adventures starring the original series cast set after the third season. In a way, the animated series rounded off the five year mission with two additional seasons of Saturday morning cartoons.

Some Trek fans dismiss the animated version of the program, but as it involved the voices of the original cast (with one exception), and several key writers from the program the cartoon is very much in a similar tone to the original series. With a much shorter run time, the scripts are pretty tight and as a viewer you must pay close attention or you’ll miss it.

Yesteryear is a sophisticated story involving the Guardian from ‘City on the Edge of Forever.’ The Enterprise crew is performing an experiment with the Guardian, taking a journey into the past which greatly changes the timelines. When Kirk and Spock emerge from the Guardian’s portal, the crew are confused by the inclusion of a Vulcan in a Star Fleet uniform. No one remembers Spock since in this reality, he died as a child. In order to set the timelines right, Spock must travel back and insert himself into his own history, playing an important role as a mysterious cousin.

Mark Lenard reprises his role as Spock’s father, Sarek and greets the older Spock into his household as a cousin named Selek. As a youth, Spock is shown as a bullied child desperate to impress his father. In a crucial coming of age ritual, young Spock wanders into the wilderness without any assistance as rite if passage. He is followed by his pet sehlat I Chaya(kind of a cross between a dog and a bear), who saves his life from a deadly lizard. During the combat, I Chaya is wounded from poison a poisoned claw and starts to die.

Young Spock goes through a very sad lesson when a doctor arrives and informs him that I Chaya is in pain. The wound can be treated but the shlat will still be in pain. Reluctantly, Spock agrees to let his pet die, realizing that to do otherwise would be selfish. Yes… euthanasia in a child’s cartoon.


Yesteryear is a beloved story that has some very heavy tones and heartfelt emotion along with references to past TV episodes.I know I have propped the importance of the Star Trek animated series, but I admit that it is not for everyone. However, if you are a fan and want more Trek, this is a great addition to your journey deeper into the human adventure.

We’ll miss you, Mr. Spock

Leonard Nimoy's final words on Twitter

Leonard Nimoy’s final words on Twitter

A candid snapshot of Nimoy and Star Trek co-star Shatner

A candid snapshot of Nimoy and Star Trek co-star Shatner

The South has gotten hit by an unusual amount of snow this week and I have been watching lots of classic Star Trek to combat cabin fever. As such, the sound of Leonard Nimoy’s voice as Mister Spock has become something of a background hum in my apartment.

I knew of his condition but didn’t expect the news which broke today.

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.

His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Full story – N.Y. Times
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Characters in fiction can take on a larger than life aspect. Nimoy himself found this to be true when he found difficulty in shedding his Vulcan persona after Star Trek’s cancellation. Usually, the cult phenomenon of a celebrity or character freaks me out, but in this case I found that, through Mr. Spock, Nimoy used his status to spread a message of compassion and fortitude through what is to some a silly TV program from the 60’s.

spockFiction can be a powerful thing, science-fiction even more so as it portrays a world of possibilities unhindered by the shackles of our day-to-day world. It can connect with you through books, movies, TV shows, video games or maybe friends/family who are into that kind of thing when you are not. But it can mean something more than just an escape.

It’s worth noting that as the news of his death has spread, other projects outside of his relationship with Star Trek have been given more attention such as his photography. Some of his artwork was collected in the book Shekhina and I have included an example below (more info here). The series explores the feminine aspect of God.

Nimoy_PhotoNimoy’s religious experiences provided the germ of the famous ‘live long and prosper’ gesture which he first saw as a child sitting in a synagogue when the kohanim gave a blessing to the congregation, holding their hands in shape of the Hebrew letter shin, the first letter in the name of God (so every time you Trekkies/Trekkers do that thing, you’re blessing someone).

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After three years of the television series and a cartoon run, Leonard Nimoy turned his back on Spock for what many thought was forever. Back in 1978, he very reluctantly returned to Star Trek for the Motion Picture. It was a surprisingly positive experience and the sequel Wrath of Khan an even better one. He ended up directing the third and fourth films and went on to reprise the role of Spock for the Next Generation viewers and a brand new franchise in the 2009 film.

That’s several generations that have been exposed to Mr. Spock in one way or another.

Leonard Nimoy with William Shatner and DeForest Kelley

Leonard Nimoy with William Shatner and DeForest Kelley

While Spock struggled to understand what he perceived as the erratic emotional behavior human beings, he embodied the best qualities of what it meant to be human in his compassion, understanding and quest for belonging in a universe full of kill crazy super beings, salt-eating monsters, hyper-intelligent robotic entities and a ship doctor who never stopped trying to get the bastard to just sit down and have a drink.

Leonard Nimoy ceased to be as a living and breathing person today, but the message that he embodied in his work is immortal so long as we listen and remember. As people, we all pass on eventually. But we can be more.

Speaking of listening… have a laugh with his rendition of ‘The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins’ and a selection from Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space:

The Star Trek Story

Startrek_McCoy_Kirk_SpockI’ve been watching this a lot the past few weeks and coming to a new conclusion as to what it means to me. I had previously held it as ‘the establishment in space’ as opposed to Star Wars’ rebels in space or Doctor Who’s anti-establishment rebel making trouble trough time and space.

But it occurs to me that Kirk and his crew were trained by Star Fleet to handle certain situations only to encounter situations that often defied human knowledge. Rather than sticking to the book, Kirk trusted his instincts and made judgement calls (that were often rather pigheaded or plain foolish) and stumbled through a fantastic experience only to miraculously survive to tell the tale.

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In my opinion, Star Trek got a bit complacent and bogged down in its success over the years leading to lackluster films and TV programs wrapped up in continuity rather than the ingenuity of its seminal years. But at its heart, Star Trek isn’t about cops and robbers in space. It’s about the human experience (as shown in the rarely talked about 1978 Motion Picture and again in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series finale ‘All Good Things…’ which was recently released on blu-ray).

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It can be fun to see a war with the Klingons and Data’s evil twin team up with the daughter of Tasha Yar from a parallel reality to partner with Lursa and B’Etor… but in my opinion these adventures pale against the more relevant stories that explore what it is to be human in an otherworldly reality. Especially the really whacked out episodes…

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Below is a pretty neat BBC documentary on Trek that interviews the creators and stars on what began as a dinner time sci-fi program and ballooned into a cultural phenomenon.

… and be ready for Nichelle Nichols crooning the Gene Roddenberry torch song (and an unexpected narration by Doctor Who, Paul McGann).

Expect more reviews to come (including the Motion Picture).

Also, please keep actor Leonard Nimoy in your thoughts as he was recently hospitalized for severe chest pains.

Recommended:

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IDW takes Star Trek fans back to Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever

The most memorable classic Star Trek adventure also has the most complex back story. While it remains an iconic adventure, Ellison’s script was so heavily edited and rewritten that he requested his name removed from the credits or at least altered to reflect his dissatisfaction. Finally, fans will have an opportunity to see the story as intended in a special comic book adaptation released this week (on 18 June, 2014) from IDW.

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Star Trek: The Original Series episode “City on the Edge of Forever” is regarded by many (including a TV Guide poll of the “100 Best TV Episodes of All Time”) as the greatest Star Trek episode of all time, but there’s much more to the story than fans saw on TV. Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay for “City on the Edge of Forever” was modified before the episode was filmed, but now, at long last, fans will be able to enjoy his original teleplay in the form of an all-new miniseries coming from IDW in June: Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay.

Ellison’s original teleplay won both the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation as well as the Writer’s Guild of America’s Award for Most Outstanding Teleplay.

For decades, legions of fans have speculated about the episode’s history, but few people have read the original teleplay, which is very different from the televised version. This comic-book miniseries, produced under the guidance of Harlan Ellison himself, now offers fans everywhere the opportunity to see a classic Star Trek episode the way no one has seen it before.

Adapting the teleplay for the comics series are writers Scott Tipton and David Tipton, no strangers to IDW’s Star Trek comic universe; interior art will be painted by J.K. Woodward, coming off the well-received Star Trek: TNG/Doctor Who maxi-series written by the Tipton brothers. Each issue of the series will feature a special cover by artist Juan Ortiz, whose artistic interpretations of every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series were recently published in an oversize hardcover collection, Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz. Variant covers will be provided by movie poster artist/Star Trek: Khan cover artist Paul Shipper.

“Presenting Harlan Ellison’s brilliant original script for ‘City on the Edge…’ has been a goal of ours since IDW first began publishing Star Trek comics in 2007,” said series editor and IDW Chief Creative Officer/Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall. “The episode justifies its position atop ‘best Star Trek episodes’ lists but even it ain’t nuthin’ compared to what Ellison did in his original teleplay. This is truly going to be a Star Trek adventure unlike any other, even to fans who have that beloved episode memorized.”

Harlan Ellison says: “It was a superlative joy of my long life to have worked with Leonard Nimoy, who became my friend, and many others at Star Trek; and an equally heart-happy joy to be working with J.K. and the Tipton Bros. and Chris Ryall on this long-awaited visual of my (humbly, I say it) brilliant original ‘City…'”

Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever” originally aired on April 6, 1967, as the penultimate episode of Star Trek’s first season. The episode is, at its most basic, a poignant love story as well as a breathtaking trip through space and time, from the future all the way through 1930s America, as Kirk and Spock race to apprehend a renegade criminal and restore the order of the universe. IGN awarded it the number-one spot in their list of the Top 10 Classic Star Trek Episodes. Further, TV Guide named the episode one of its 100 Most Memorable Moments in TV History. The first-ever comic-book adaptation of the teleplay as Harlan Ellison originally intended it is a true publishing event.

Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s Original City on the Edge of Forever Teleplay #1 (of 5) will be available in June and is under license by CBS Consumer Products TM & ©2014 CBS Studios Inc. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Star Trek Passage to Moauv (A Power Records adventure)

StarTrek_PowerRecordsLong before home video and video games, fans of Star Trek had limited outlets through which to revisit the world of tomorrow. A series of novels, comic books and a short-lived cartoon expanded the five year mission of Captain Kirk and his crew. But for the younger generation there were Power Records, a line of illustrated books that readers were encouraged to read along with as a record played. The famous crew of the starship Enterprise were voiced by a varied cast of actors who had varied results in recapturing the beloved characters. There were many changes, such as transforming Lt. Uhura into a blonde Caucasian. The stories were mad and inventive but often very silly. Given that they were targeted to a younger audience, this isn’t too surprising.

Throughout the mid 70’s, Power Records created new stories for everyone from the Six Million Dollar Man to the Man-Thing and they are all a joy to revisit. With the advent of streaming media, these time capsules can be enjoyed by a new generation… and it’s all just as goofy.

Part 1


Part 2

For more gems of yesteryear and streaming Power Records adventures, please visit this site.

Star Trek : Whom Gods Destroy

Whom Gods Destroy

StarTrek_WhomtheGods_PosterSeason 3, Episode 14
Written by Lee Erwin and Jerry Sohl
Transmitted January 3, 1969

The Enterprise makes a visit to a mental health facility in Elba II. Thinking that they are delivering medical aid, Kirk and Spock are surprised to find that the inmates are literally running the asylum. In particular, one of Kirk’s boyhood heroes, Star Fleet Captain Garth has taken control of the facility. Using a self-designed device that allows him to take the form of anyone he chooses, Garth has also designed an explosive so powerful that he can make any demand he pleases. Garth soon has Kirk and Spock incarcerated in the same cells that he and his fellow inmates used to occupy.

But it gets worse. Garth’s mind has snapped and he believes that he is Lord of the Universe. He wants all people everywhere to worship him. A once hopeful member of the Federation whose exploits inspired many a cadet (including Kirk), he has become a distorted caricature of himself. With a motley gang of deluded aliens, he proposes to take over the Enterprise and grow his following. By making himself appear ti be Kirk, Garth thinks he can easily obtain the Enterprise, but thanks to Captain Kirk’s forethought, that proves to be a tougher task that he had thought. Using tortue and coercion, Garth tries to break Kirk’s will…

Whom Gods Will Destroy is part of the infamous third season of Trek, the one that Gene Rodenberry had less involvement with than the previous two. This season is a mixed affair to be sure. The stories are oftentimes more bizarre and outlandish than typical fare. But there are some real gems in there such as Let that Be Your Last Battlefield and this one. Guest actor Steve Ihnat (of Kung Fu fame) as Lord Garth is a treasure. His fits of child-like anger need to be seen to be believed. At first I was happy to see Shatner playing his evil twin, freaking out and beating the floor with his fists, but it’s really Inhat who steals the show here.

I am a big fan of Dagger of the Mind as well, another story set in a mental health facility, so I am not sure what that says about me. The setting is key, a hospital on a deadly planet protected by an impenetrable force field. It gives a strong sense of helplessness to Kirk and Spock, despite their resourcefulness. Of course, this episode is also notable for Yvonne ‘Batgirl’ Craig as Marta the Orion dancing girl.

After coasting through a few episodes, it was real pleasure to see this one pop out at me. If you are unfamiliar with the third year of Star Trek or are looking for some suggestions on late night watching, this might be the perfect fit.