The Day of the Doctor (and it ain’t McCoy!)

Picking up where I left off in my last post, tonight is the “One Night Only” theatrical screening of the BBC’s “Day of the Doctor” and my son and I will be attending at our local AMC Theater. He couldn’t contain his excitement and decided to watch the television broadcast this past Saturday. While I opted to skip it, I did ask him for a spoiler-free opinion when it was over. His reply – “Perfect!” That’s a good thing. It would be disappointing, to say the least, if it had been a stinker and he were now forced to sit through it again in a movie theater. But, instead, he can’t wait to see it again.

As for me, I’ve now seen “The Aztecs” (with the first Doctor from waaaay back in ’64) and the more contemporary episodes “Dalek” (9th Doctor), “Silence in the Library”, “Forest of the Dead” (10th Doctor), “The Impossible Astronaut”, and “Day of the Moon” (11th Doctor). I’ve also checked out the “Night of the Doctor” mini episode which features the return of Paul McGann. I have a basic grasp of the concept of the Time War, the planet Gallifrey, the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Silence, and, of course, of the Doctor’s continual regeneration. Last night, I even took the time to watch the docu-drama “An Adventure in Space and Time”.

So tell me, Whovians, am I ready for tonight?

It’s finally going to happen . . .

Yes, that’s right. After years of ambivalence (for what reason I cannot say) I am finally going to make the time to sit down and purposely watch an episode or two of Doctor Who. It’s not that I have anything against the idea, or the series itself. Nothing could be further from the truth. I simply haven’t found any compelling reason to watch it until recently.

A few months ago, my 15 year old son discovered that recent episodes of the program are available to view on Netflix. He’s already a discerning fan of Sci-Fi and fantasy, having developed a love for Star Trek, Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and more. So, when he began watching the Doctor Who series and became immediately enthralled by it, I took notice. This weekend he decided that he wanted share his new found enjoyment with the old man if I’d be willing to partake of an episode or two. And that folks is all the initiative I need.

I realize that these pages have been devoted primarily to Star Trek. However, anyone who has read my entries thoroughly knows that the underlying themes are of much greater importance. One such theme, on which I have continually touched, is the nurturing of the relationship with my boy through our shared love of Sci-Fi. Given that, I am not only enthusiastic about spending the time with him checking out the behemoth of Brit Sci-Fi, but just as enthused by the idea of writing about it here.

More news to follow after the episodes.

TNG Theatrical Screenings – July 23rd

As I’ve just recently jumped back into doing this blog, it seems only right to report on last evening’s nationwide Star Trek: The Next Generation theater event in celebration of the release today of the completely remastered Season 1 on Blu-Ray.

TNG RemasteredFirst, a bit of background: Star Trek:TNG premiered in 1987 –  25 years ago if you can believe that!  I know I can’t!!  So, it is altogether fitting that the Blu-Ray release of its first full season should coincide with such an important anniversary.  Because of the significance of the 25th anniversary, as well as the great difficulty in remastering the shows, and the immeasurable (potential) improvement in the quality of the visuals and audio, a “one-night-only” theatrical screening of two remastered first season episodes was planned for the eve of the release – which happened to be last night.

The screening provided fans an opportunity to celebrate by enjoying TNG on the big screen; an opportunity which would not have been possible but for the remastering, a process which gave motion picture quality to television shows that had been previously mastered onto video tape. In addition to the two TV episodes, the screening also included a pair of documentaries and a preview of the forthcoming Season 2 Blu-Ray set.

Although not every theater was showing it, the screening was running in 7 or 8 movie houses within 10 miles of me.  In addition, because this was a nationwide event, tickets were available in advance through Fandango and Fathom Events.  So, I went online and acquired the tickets for my wife, my son, and myself and I was flabbergasted at the $12.50 apiece price tag!  That’s more than I paid to see The Dark Night Rises on a Saturday night!

In any case, we got to the theater about 15 minutes before showtime and easily found seats.  In fact, I was a bit disappointed as I would have expected a larger turnout.  By the time all was said and done, the theater was at only about 50-60% capacity; further validation of my recent feeling that the excitement that once surrounded the Star Trek franchise is waning significantly.  I also didn’t see fans in Trek uniforms or other costumes, which was a bit of a let down.  Although, at least, my son and I donned Star Trek T-shirts.  One positive note, however, the event started precisely at the advertised time of 7:00 PM. So, the assembled crowd, which consisted mostly of young adult males and middle-aged couples, didn’t have to sit through 20 minutes of unrelated movie previews.

Up first was a documentary on the technical challenges of remastering the NextGen TV episodes.  It was interesting to say the least, as a great deal of detail was revealed about the painstaking nature of the project and some of the hurdles that CBS Digital had to overcome to get it done at all.  There were interviews, effects montages, and before & after comparisons to show the extreme improvement in visual and audio quality that resulted from the remastering effort.  I do wonder if the overall length of this documentary could have been trimmed a bit – just to keep from losing the interest of any non-hardcore fans who might have been in attendance.  Still, it was informative and enjoyable.

Next, it was time for the TV episode “Where No One Has Gone Before”, an imaginative story, even if it comes across as somewhat silly in its execution.  I think that is the case, though, with many of the 1st season TNG scripts – they could have benefited from just a little bit more polishing before being filmed.  Although, it should be noted that this was a show that was still trying to figure out what it wanted to be at that stage of the game.  In fact, so much of the 1st season came across as either an homage to the original series or a vehicle for the young Wesley character to save the ship that a good deal of story substance was lost along the way.  This episode is no exception.  Also, I must say that, while it was visually stunning, the remastering did serve to make some of the show’s makeup and set-construction weaknesses really stand out.  Furthermore, I was less than pleased with the audio balance – dialogue being buried by soundtrack music and effects which are far too loud by comparison – a difficulty which seems to plague far too many DVD and Blu-Ray releases.

After the first episode concluded, another documentary was shown, this one focusing more on the history of the show.  Again, there was heavy emphasis on interviews and old footage, including some bloopers and early wardrobe & makeup tests which elicited laughter from the crowd.  I liked this second documentary even better than the first –  every regular cast member was interviewed as well as a number of the writers and production crew – it really provided a very loving overview of the history and impact of the show.

The second episode to show was “Datalore”, the last episode of any Star Trek television series in which Gene Roddenberry received a writing credit.  While the visual quality was just as good as the previous one, the difficulties with the audio were also slightly less noticeable.  It is my sincere hope that these deficiencies arose from the slight difference between the Dolby system used in theaters and that used for audio reproduction in homes. If that’s the case, I look forward to the purchase of my own Blu-ray player and the TNG discs to inaugurate it.  Anyway, the experience of seeing Brent Spiner flex his acting muscles in this dual-role was enjoyable and entertaining, even if the episode itself suffered from numerous inconsistencies and weak plot points.

Finally, the evening concluded with a preview of the Season 2 Blu-Ray set which looks really incredible.  Not only is the remastering as good as the Season 1 set, but the second season saw the show and its actors really come into their own.  Some of my favorite episodes were produced in that season!

All in all, it was very entertaining to see TNG on the large screen and to take part in the shared oohs & aahs, occasional laughter,and, of course, applause of the crowd.  In that regard, this was no different than being at the premier of Star Trek The Motion Picture 33 years ago.  The same can be said of attending a Star Trek convention.  Being among other fans who feel as strongly about their beloved show as I do makes me feel like part of some exclusive club in which only really cool people can be members.  I look forward to renewing my membership in that club when I pony up the dough for the Blu-Ray sets.

Remembering “Scotty”

It was 1990 or ’91 when I found myself and a friend at a very lightly attended Star Trek convention in Newark, New Jersey.  I’d been going to these things pretty regularly since reaching adulthood and had even had a chance to go to some of the really early ones as a young child. However, I was especially hyped up for this one.  The reason I was so excited to be at this particular con was the scheduled appearance of James Doohan, better known as Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, who would be addressing the convention crowd and then signing autographs.

By this point in my life I had already seen, and in many cases met, the entire cast of the original Star Trek TV series but I hadn’t seen Doohan since 1973, when he was a guest at my first convention at the Hotel Commodore in New York City.  I was six years old then.  Needless to say, the opportunity to see him again and appreciate the experience from an adult perspective was well worth the nominal price of admission.  Looking back on the day now, I realize what a phenomenal understatement that is!

I should point out, for those who may not be aware, that a typical Star Trek convention is a frenetic experience, highlighted by large crowds, long lines, and lots of hubbub.  In that regard, this Newark, NJ convention was the antithesis of Trek conventions I had been to previously. On the day I attended there was no line to enter, the dealers’ room was rarely crowded, and, most interestingly, there were only about 50 people in the ballroom to hear Mr. Doohan give his talk.

At other conventions I’ve been to, both before and since, the stars will get up on a stage in a large ballroom and speak to the assembled crowd (usually numbering in the thousands) for about 30 or 40 minutes.  Sometimes they take questions, but not always.  At this little hotel in Newark, the ballroom had no stage. That fact, coupled with the extremely small gathering of fans, allowed Mr. Doohan to comfortably stand directly in front of the chairs where we were all seated. He didn’t even need a microphone to be heard by every member of the tiny crowd.

He told stories, he told jokes, he sang songs, he did accents, and he answered numerous questions. When 45 minutes had elapsed, he was still going strong.  An hour; an hour and a half; he just kept on going.  For some strange reason, fans began to leave as the talk approached two hours.  I think they wanted to grab good spots in the autograph line.  That was fine with me. Being seated in the first row, I already had a bird’s eye view but, when the seat next to me was vacated, Doohan sat down and spent the next several minutes talking directly to me.  By the time it was all over, my friend and I were the only ones left in the room with him and we got the benefit of spending a few minutes interacting with him on an even more personal level.  What a terrific opportunity to spend time with such a warm, fun, outgoing, and, of course, gifted individual!  He seemed genuinely thrilled at the chance to be talking with us and would have continued longer but, excused himself because he was overdue to go sign autographs.

James DoohanAt conventions nowadays, the actors who give autographs at all always collect a fee for doing so.  James Doohan did not charge for signing autographs.  He explained that he did it out of enjoyment – he liked mingling with the fans and making them happy.  He took even more time to speak with me while he signed not one, not two, but three different items for me, all the while assuring the other fans in line that he would accommodate them in just the same way.

While I had always been fond of the “Scotty” character he portrayed, I came away from that day with an even greater fondness for the wonderful gentleman who gave the character life.  The world would be a much better place if there were more people as good-natured and kind as Mr Doohan.  There are some celebrities out there who could surely take a lesson from him.

Doohan at NASAToday, July 20, 2012, is the seventh anniversary of his passing.  It is a poignant anniversary to me for a number of reasons not the least of which is its historical significance.  Men from Earth first set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969.  Through his role in Star Trek and his experience as a military pilot, Doohan had a genuine interest in space exploration and the technology used to accomplish it.  In fact, he was a frequent visitor to NASA.

On a more personal level, however, the anniversary of Mr. Doohan’s death touches me because he suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s, afflictions which have ravaged members of my own family. Recalling him as a vibrant, energetic, and outgoing man brings to mind similar images of my mother, uncle, and grandfather, all of whom withered away much as Doohan did in the last years of his life.  Thankfully, he, like they, got to live a relatively long and very fruitful life – even seeing a star in his honor on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Whenever anyone asks me about my experiences with the various stars of the Trek universe, I always smile when I recount the story of meeting Jimmy Doohan and I will always remember him fondly.

The Once and Future Voyages

OH MYYYYY!! (in classic George Takei voice). Has it really been over six months since I’ve published anything here? I do tend to let time get away from me every so often so, I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising.  Nevertheless, any readership I’d developed has probably long since abandoned me.  I wouldn’t blame them.  My last few entries of 2011 made more than a passing reference to my opinion that there was little new or exciting to blog about in the world of Star Trek.

Additionally, my finances have taken a severe beating since last year so there will be no visit to the Las Vegas Creation Star Trek Convention this summer.  That sad fact alone has contributed greatly to my utter depression and lack of motivation where Star Trek is concerned. I’m also not a huge fan of the J.J. Abrams reboot so any news and tidbits on the forthcoming theatrical release of the sequel do absolutely nothing for me.

Yet, there is always something to stimulate the interest of an aging Trek fan. One simply must know where to look.  In this case, it’s Star Trek: The New Voyages.  While the 1960s era Captain Kirk and company may no longer appear on our television screens, their adventures continue and have done so for some time now. Step into the Wayback Machine with me as we explore in greater depth:

The year was 1976 and the now classic original Star Trek TV series had been off the air for seven years.  Its animated Saturday morning spawn was also gone by this point and the major motion picture version was still three years away.  Of course, the public was clamoring for new Star Trek stories so, while Roddenberry and his people futilely attempted to develop a new Trek TV show, fans took to writing their own tales, many of which are quite good.  Some of them are so good, in fact, that Bantam Books released a collection of them in paperback entitled Star Trek: The New Voyages.  There were two copies in my house within days after it hit the shelves (yes, my brother and I each had to have our own).  Not only were the short stories in this book finely crafted, many of them included introductions penned by actors from the Star Trek TV series. Awesome!!!

My hands-down favorite story from the aforementioned paperback is a little gem called “Mind Sifter”, written by the late Shirley S. Maiewski.  The piece details the events that take place after James Kirk is captured by the Klingons and they’ve used their dreaded interrogation device, the mind sifter, on him.  Still alive, his mind hopelessly ravaged, the Klingons determine that he should be disposed of in the past where no one from Starfleet can come  looking for him.  So, they take Kirk to the planet of the Guardian of Forever and send him hurtling back to 1950s era Earth, where he ends up in a mental institution.  The action in the story takes place as he tentatively befriends a female orderly there and then it shifts periodically to the equally tense environment aboard the Enterprise as Spock is forced to give up his search for his friend and assume command of the ship permanently. I won’t give away any other plot details here.  The story is excellent – I highly recommend it.

Fast Forward 28 years.  All of the Star Trek films had been released and there was little hope of Paramount making any more.  All of the follow-up TV series had run their course save “Star Trek: Enterprise” which was shortly to be cancelled.  I was feeling many of the same feelings of disappointment and depression that I am right now (at least in terms of my beloved Star Trek and the dismal prospects for its future).  The brother I mentioned earlier was over for a visit and he made an offhanded comment about Star Trek fan films.  Although I still owned my copy of The New Voyages and numerous other fan-fiction books, it had never occurred to me that there might also be fan-produced Star Trek films.  How could I find them? Where would they be distributed?  Then it hit me… THE INTERNET!!!

Star Trek: The New Voyages Cast

Star Trek: The New Voyages Cast

There are actually several very worthy projects run by fans and they have produced some very enjoyable films.  The best, however (IMHO), is Star Trek: The New Voyages (a.k.a Star Trek – Phase II).  Interestingly, the two names by which this project has been known since its inception are the same as the title of the fan-fiction book and the aborted new TV series I mentioned above, respectively.  Paramount Pictures, which owns the rights to the Star Trek franchise, has even allowed this group of fans – headed by Mr. James Cawley (who also portrays Kirk) to use the Trek name, logos, etc.  Since 2004, they have produced about ten episodes, most of which are available for viewing at their official website.

Most interestingly, however, is the fact that they are currently producing an episode entitled “Mind Sifter”.  A little research on my part has uncovered the fact that, just prior to her passing away, the author of the original tale gave the New Voyages production crew her blessing to shoot a film version her splendid story.  Needless to say the curiosity is killing me!  I hope they manage to get the episode finished in a timely fashion and maintain the quality and love they’ve exhibited in their previous efforts.  Even if they don’t (they are always short on cash and soliciting donations from other fans to help cover their costs), the simple fact that they’ve elected to take on the “Mind Sifter” story has renewed my interest in reading some of the original fan fiction.  So therein lies the enjoyment of Star Trek that I’d thought was waning.  It always comes back – it’s just a question of how and from where. 😉

A Father, A Life, A Legacy

I carefully aimed the remote control as though it were a hand phaser and I were Captain Kirk preparing to stun a hostile alien.  I pressed the power button and watched the image disappear from the screen as the TV flickered and went off.  Having just finished watching the lovingly crafted documentary Trek Nation, I was struck by two thoughts: I hope I have formed close enough bonds with my children that, when I’m gone, they don’t feel like we never got to know each other … and… if my legacy, whatever that happens to be, includes touching peoples’ lives for the better as Gene Roddenberry did, I will have been a success.  Of course, I’d like to think the lives upon which I will have the greatest positive effect are those of my family.  If that’s the case, I will not only have greatly differentiated myself from Mr. Roddenberry, but my achievements as a man will have reached a pinnacle and any good I do afterward will be just a bonus.

The documentary followed Roddenberry’s only son on a poignant journey of discovery as he familiarized himself with his father’s greatest work – Star Trek and, by extension, came to better know the man with whom he’d had a mostly uneasy father/son relationship.  The elder Roddenberry passed away before they could enjoy the closeness that many adult sons eventually find with their fathers.  In any case, the film was appealing largely for the same reasons that Star Trek episodes are.  Its focus was decidedly on the human emotional components of the story to which we can all relate.  The fact that it relied heavily on input from the producers, writers, performers, and fans of Trek just made it that much more interesting.

For rabid fans of Star Trek, there wasn’t a lot of new information revealed.  I think we all knew that Gene Roddenberry was just as flawed as any other human being.  Nevertheless, his son provided a very tasteful treatment of the subject matter which allowed me to come away with a new appreciation for the man while, at the same time, leaving my previous image of him relatively untarnished.  The interviews helped to cement the idea that, through Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry became known as a  visionary and  had a profound impact on a very large number of the shows’ fans – ultimately causing many of them to better themselves through life altering choices.  At the same. there was a good deal of emphasis on Roddenberry’s roles as a husband and father and his seeming inability to model his private behavior on the visionary philosophies he espoused through his TV shows.

Seeing and processing just how human the man really was didn’t make me appreciate his work any less.  It did, however, make me realize the importance of giving loving attention to those closest to you.  I believe it is in that way – by giving fully of yourself where your family is concerned and teaching your children the values of Star Trek by example –  that we will affect human evolution to the point where our society will one day resemble the kind Gene envisioned.  That is the legacy I hope to leave behind.

Where Do We Go From Here? Part 1

After complaining in some of my recent posts about the lack of anything new to look forward to in the world of Star Trek, I have come to find out that the Science Channel will be airing a new documentary entitled Trek Nation on November 30th.  In addition, filming on the second J.J. Abrams Star Trek motion picture begins on January 15th.  Admittedly I am looking forward to the former much more than the latter but it’s all good.  Meanwhile, as I wait patiently for the 30th to arrive,  I have been thinking back on my own particular journey through the realm of sci-fi fandom and realized that it started with Trek but didn’t end there. The 60’s classic Star Trek TV series was merely a jumping off point from which I delved into a number of other fascinating movies, television shows, and books.

As anyone with similar interests knows, the relationships among all these various works within the genre can be somewhat circuitous, leading a fan right back to where he started in the most glorious and unexpected of ways.  So it was with me, with Star Trek and the collection of other enjoyable stories that I am going to touch on here.  Seeing them or, in some cases, reading them, was interesting in and of itself, but also in the respect that they allowed me to  gain new perspectives.  I found that getting away from my favorite Trek episodes for a while and checking out a new sci-fi movie or story allowed me to return to the Star Trek universe with a greater appreciation – picking up on nuances I’d perhaps missed earlier.  In other words, everything reinforces everything else in some way.

So, to any readers of this blog who may be interested in sci-fi vehicles other than Star Trek, today’s entry begins a multi-part overview of some of the earliest additions to my list of favorite sci-fi stories.  If my memory is intact enough, I will endeavor to organize them in the order in which I discovered them.  As far as I know, they are all readily available now to anyone wishing to check them out.  Gotta’ love 21st Century, instantly gratifying, streaming, downloadable, on-demand media availability!  Anyway, here we go with Part 1:

Silent Running – Theatrical Motion Picture – 1972

Like the best Star Trek episodes, this film is a morality tale.  Set in “the first year of a new century”  (the 21st I suppose), the film establishes that all trees and plant life on Earth are gone, except for a small collection forests being cultivated under giant domes aboard ships in deep space. The crews of these enormous vessels have apparently worked onSilent Running the forestation project for a very long time with a view toward reintroducing the greenery to our abused planet.  They have their doubts that the project will come to fruition, though, and, one way or the other, they are anxious to get home. Bruce Dern plays Freeman Lowell, a botanist charged with caring for the forests on one of the ships – The Valley Forge.  When the project is abandoned, the crews of all the ships are ordered to jettison and detonate the forest domes and return to Earth.  Lowell is devastated and cannot accept that the forests must be destroyed. Driven by his (laudable) desire to save at least one forest, he takes drastic actions that ultimately determine the outcome of the story.

The film was directed by Douglas Trumbull who had previously worked on the visual effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey (which didn’t make today’s entry in the list primarily because I didn’t see it until 10 years after it came out).  Although the emphasis on saving our ecology that was prevalent in the 70’s is very thinly veiled in this movie, it nonetheless manages to entertain – with a convincing performance by Dern, believable effects, and a moving (if somewhat dated) soundtrack featuring songs performed by Joan Baez.  Notable also are the “drones”, small utility robots played by amputee actors in very believable costumes, forerunners of George Lucas’s “droid” concept from Star Wars.

Westworld – Theatrical Motion Picture – 1973

This film afforded me my first exposure to the work of Michael Crichton, who both wrote the story and directed the movie.  It’s basic theme is one that Crichton had dealt with Westworldbefore and would return to again in some of his later tales – namely, the dangerous consequences that can occur when we assume we can control technologies or elements of nature that we don’t entirely understand.

Sometime in the not too distant future, vacationers can visit a  resort where, for $1000 a day, they are able to interact with completely realistic android robots in three specific historical settings: Roman World, Medieval World, and Western World.    In these adult amusement parks, nothing is off limits.  There are deadly sword battles, gunfights, good old fashioned brothels, and more.   Visitors to these resort-worlds can live out their every fantasy, no matter how violent or perverse. The story centers around a pair of businessmen, played by Richard Benjamin and James Brolin. They’ve chosen to unwind in Western World, where they engage in barroom brawls with outlaws, shootouts with a gunslinger (expertly portrayed by Yul Brynner), and romps with 1880’s style prostitutes – all of whom are lifelike robots.  The movie also depicts a number of secondary characters who have similar adventures in the other two themed resort-worlds.

When the robots and the systems that control them begin experiencing inexplicable malfunctions, the engineers in charge have to decide how best to proceed.  Although they initially consider closing the resort to address their concerns, it is ultimately decided to wait and allow the current guests to stay out their planned visits.  That’s when all hell breaks loose!  This is a compelling movie for sure.  I especially like how the line “Nothing can go wrong” prefaces all the action.  If you enjoyed the Trek TOS episodes, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”, “I Mudd”, or “Requiem for Methuselah”, you’ll probably like this film.

Next time around, I’ll touch on a collection of short stories and a novel, both of which were adapted for the big screen.

Bricks…the final frontier

I went to great lengths in my last post – well, not so great and not so lengthy – to describe the lack of anything new in the world of Star Trek about which to get truly excited.  Silly me. When you’re a 9 year old in the body of a grown man, there’s always something to get excited about.  You just have to know where to look for it.

In my case, I needed to look no further than a little online forum I belong to.  Its sole reason for existing is to provide a virtual gathering place for people who wish the Lego Company would introduce Star Trek sets in the same way they have done with Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, and so many others.  It seems clear the market is there.

So, what’s taking them so long?  The rights to produce Star Trek merchandise can’t be that difficult to obtain.  Heaven knows just about every other toy company has marketed a Star Trek line at some point. How cool would it be to have officially licensed Trek sets from Lego?!  Apparently not cool enough for the good folks in Billund, Denmark.  No matter.

In our online community, we sometimes have contests to see who can design the best Star Trek Lego kits.  The most recent was a ship design contest.  I chose my belovedLego-Contest-Entry-TOS-Enterprise NCC-1701 (No bloody A, B, C, or D!).  The goal was to construct the model using your own design and then submit a single photograph for consideration.  Of course, being a bit of a perfectionist, I couldn’t just photograph the finished product.  I had to do so in a way that would demonstrate what I envisioned as the cover of the box it would come in if it were ever mass-produced.  It took me a few evenings after dinner to construct the model and perhaps one or two more to refine the design and tweak things a bit.  The photo at the right is my finished entry.  I was so excited by the chance to do the model, I celebrated with a marathon of classic Trek remastered episodes on NetFlix!

Who says there isn’t anything new in Star Trek to get excited about?  Well, I do – but I’m wrong!

The End of an Era

Anyone who checks out my posts regularly may have noticed a drop in the frequency with which I have been writing new ones.  This is due in part to the typical things life throws at us but, in larger part, is a result of my feeling that there is less and less to write about regarding my beloved Star Trek.

Perhaps it’s just a phase I’m going through.  However, with the exception of the forthcoming followup to J.J. Abrams’ 2009 re-imagining (which I despised), there isn’t very much new going on for an aging Trek fan like myself to get excited about.  In fact, in a perfectly appropriate imitation of life itself, Star Trek, at 45 years old, is at the point where it is experiencing more endings than beginnings.  To quote Jean Luc Picard, “Lately, I’ve become very much aware that there are fewer days ahead than there are behind”.

Nowhere in the world of Star Trek was this more evident than in Leonard Nimoy’s final appearance at a trek convention, which took place in Chicago this past weekend.  Mr Nimoy, who is 80 years old now, has stated publicly that he wants to focus his energies on other things – including his family, his work in photography, and just generally slowing things down a bit so he can enjoy himself.  He’s certainly earned the opportunity.  Nevertheless, among the fans, he will be sorely missed.

I first saw Leonard Nimoy at a Trek convention at the Hotel Commodore in New York CityLeonard Nimoy at Star Trek Las Vegas - 2011 in 1973 when he was a surprise guest alongside George Takei and James Doohan.  I have seen him 4 times since and was more and more impressed each time with his warmth, joviality, genuineness, and appreciation for his fans. The simple fact that he is now an octogenarian is startling enough in and of itself – to say nothing about the realization that comes with that fact, namely that Star Trek is a thing of the past.

The biggest impact of all this, I suppose, is the addition of Star Trek to a growing list of things that constantly remind me how old I am.  It’s an unsettling feeling as I used to think of Trek as something that made me feel young.  This is why I wish I had some new beginnings to write about!  However, it’s an unrealistic hope.  It seems to make more sense for me to accept the aging of Star Trek and its subsequent exit from the limelight much as I try to accept my own aging.  So, I will count myself lucky if I can get through all the changes later-life hands me by exhibiting the same dignity and class with which Leonard Nimoy said goodbye to the convention circuit.

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Nimoy!