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)
Zachary Quinto in 2013’s “Star Trek into Darkness.” (Zade Rosenthal / Paramount)
John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Karl Urban, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Simon Pegg in 2016’s “Star Trek Beyond.” (Kimberly French / Paramount)
Kirstie Alley and Leonard Nimoy in 1982’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” (CBS Consumer Products / Star Trek Archive)
Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto in 2016’s “Star Trek Beyond.” (Kimberly French / 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)
Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana in 2013’s “Star Trek into Darkness.” (Zade Rosenthal / Paramount)
The U.S.S. Enterprise studio model in 1965. (CBS Consumer Products / Star Trek Archive)
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
Spock’s final farewell to his old buddy Jim, from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”
…and Spock and Kirk (2013).
Director Nicholas Meyer with Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner on the set of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” 1982.
I once attended a midnight screening of the Cadillac of Star Trek films — that would be numero dos, The Wrath of Khan — wherein the projector bulb burnt out right in the middle of Mr. Spock’s heroic death scene. If the theater hadn’t given us four free movie passes to compensate for this effrontery against all that is good and decent, I would’ve suspected an especially cruel prank, perhaps orchestrated by a partisan of the bloodless, squeaky-clean Next Generation-flavored Star Trek, which I suppose is okay if vanilla is what you like.
Naturally, I had to dig up my Khan DVD at home and watch the final 10 minutes before I could go to sleep that night. Spock’s grand and tragic expiration would soon be reversed in a not-so-good movie with the surprise-negating subtitle The Search for Spock, but whatever.
All of which is to say that my love for The Wrath of Khan is mean and true. And it fascinates me that that film, more than any other of the hundreds and hundreds of subsequent Star Trek items (a great number of which — like the entire Deep Space Nine and Voyager and Enterprise series, for instance — I’ve never seen or read), remains the primary source document that continues to guide the cinematic Star Trek universe, especially in the heavily Khan-indebted new movie Star Trek into Darkness.
J.J. Abrams’ second Trek film takes a generation-old, backstage fight over the meaning and purpose of Star Trek and drags it right to the center of the camera-flare-buffered frame. I make my case today on NPR’s Monkey See blog. Continue reading