I basically got into journalism because I wanted to write for Rolling Stone. That took longer to happen than I’d hoped it might, but it was a real thrill to get to do this piece for them yesterday, reflecting on what Star Trek hath wrought on the occasion of the franchise’s 50th anniversary.
Last night, the National Air and Space Museum showed “The Man Trap,” the first Trek episode broadcast (albeit not the first one produced), at 8:30 p.m. Eastern — the same time NBC had shown it 50 years earlier. It’s a really fun episode that demonstrates that the rich character relationships were present in the Original Series right from the beginning, and that most of the comedy in Trek was fully intentional. (Also that what was progressive in 1966 is decidedly not in 2016. But that’s how progress works.)
Thanks to Scott Tobias for suggesting me for it, and to David Fear for editing the essay.
Leonard Nimoy and Jill Ireland in the 1967 Original Series episode “This Side of Paradise,” wherein the rational half-Vulcan Mr. Spock finds love while under the influence of a strange plant. (CBS Consumer Products/Star Trek Archive)
Kirstie Alley and Leonard Nimoy in 1982’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” (CBS Consumer Products / Star Trek Archive)
John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Karl Urban, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Simon Pegg in 2016’s “Star Trek Beyond.” (Kimberly French / Paramount)
Zachary Quinto in 2013’s “Star Trek into Darkness.” (Zade Rosenthal / Paramount)
Brent Spiner in the “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” (CBS Consumer Products / Star Trek Archive)
Nichelle Nichols, William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, and James Doohan in “Mirror, Mirror,” which first aired Oct. 6, 1967. (CBS Consumer Products/Star Trek Archive)
The U.S.S. Enterprise studio model in 1965. (CBS Consumer Products / Star Trek Archive)
Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana in 2013’s “Star Trek into Darkness.” (Zade Rosenthal / Paramount)
Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto in 2016’s “Star Trek Beyond.” (Kimberly French / Paramount)
The September issue of Air & Space / Smithsonian, featuring the cover story I desperately wanted to call Warp Corps — because it’s about a corps of people whom Star Trek has inspired and influenced, you see — is now on sale at the National Air and Space Museum (both locations, on the National Mall and at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia) as well as at Barnes & Noble stores and the digital retailer of your choice. You can read the feature here. Also, I’d love it if you would come buy a copy of the magazine from me for a paltry one-time fee $6.99 at the Museum during its three-day celebration of Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8 — the evening the Original Series episode “The Man Trap” was first broadcast on NBC. Continue reading
Posted in movies, sci-fi, science, TV
Tagged Gene Roddenberry, James B. Garvin, Justin Lin, Marc Okrand, Margaret Weitekamp, Simon Pegg, Smithsonian Air & Space, Star Trek
Our long summer hiatus complete, I’m back on WETA’s Around Town with host Robert Aubry Davis and fellow theatregoer Jane Horwitz to talk about three recent shows I reviewed for the Washington City Paper: MetroStage’s historical musical Uprising, Olney Theatre Center’s brutal-but-funny addiction drama Bad Dog, and Synetic Theatre’s confused new version of Alice in Wonderland. You will no doubt notice from my lapels that I am wearing a new sport jacket, at my mom’s insistence. Continue reading
Posted in theatre, TV
Tagged Gabrielle Fulton, Jane Horwitz, Jennifer Hoppe-House, Lloyd Rose, MetroStage, Olney Theatre Center, Robert Aubry Davis, Synetic Theater, Washington City Paper, WETA Around Town
I am always grateful for an invitation to rub elbows with the Pop Culture Happy Hour crew. All your favorites are there around the table this week: Intrepid host Linda Holmes! Indefatigable regular panelist Stephen Thompson! Inexhaustible other regular panelist and Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon! And then there’s me. The four of us merrily dissect the paranoid charms of Mr. Robot, showrunner Sam Esmail‘s much-discussed USA Network series about a brilliant but also probably off-his-rocker sometime-vigilante computer hacker involved in an anarchistic conspiracy.
I think I got to say more or less everything I meant to about the show, though none of us had seen the season finale when we recorded the episode, as it had not yet aired. Wait, no: I didn’t mention how clever I think it is that we, the audience, are cast as Elliot-the-hacker’s paranoid delusion. In voiceover, he addresses us as “you” while acknowledging that we’re imaginary. Smart. I also like that he disguises his data archives of the people he’s hacked as home-burned audio CDs. The fake labels he Sharpies onto them often suggest a connection between the album and the person: His psychiatrist’s archive is labeled as the Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues, for example.
You may recognize the Coney Island Wonder Wheel, featured prominently in Mr. Robot‘s pilot episode, from this very website. Continue reading