New Celebrities for Star Trek

09-Sep-10 12:57 PM by
Filed under Celebrities, Star Trek; Comments Off on New Celebrities for Star Trek

When Star Trek: First Contact premiered, the Boston Herald published a rather incendiary review by James Verniere. Though he was judging the film from the perspective of a non-Trekkie, many of his comments were baseless, such as the utter confusion he experienced over Picard's history with the Borg. Did the film not feature a monologue addressing that very point?

One of Mr. Verniere's more interesting comments was that Star Trek had to stop recruiting from within its own ranks (the film's director was Jonathan Frakes). Why not have Antonio Banderas as an ensign on the Enterprise, he suggested? I presume the critic was trying to expand the franchise's appeal by giving non-Trekkies a point of familiarity by which to be introduced to the series. Though it would be jarring for an established cast to suddenly be joined by an actor known for non-sci-fi work, Mr. Verniere's suggestion proved correct in the appropriate context: the presence of Bruce Greenwood, Winona Ryder, Zachary Quinto, and others didn't detract from but added to last year's reboot of Star Trek: TOS, which provided an entirely new slate on which these actors could gel as a team.

What other celebrities might Star Trek benefit from introducing? We still don't know what's to come in the sequel, slated for release on June 29, 2012 — but we can imagine what it might look like if Nicolas Cage, Summer Glau, and David Tennant joined the ranks of Starfleet, courtesy the Photoshop machinations of Rabittooth.

Several of the stars in this small sampling would surely be scene-stealers; Kevin Spacey warrants nothing less than prime antagonist, for example. But Brandon Routh, whose one leading role as Superman was fleeting enough to allow him to turn in a stellar yet innocuous performance in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, could be a subtle yet effective addition to any bridge crew.

This isn't the first time non-Trek actors have been inserted into Gene Roddenberry's universe. Alex Luko transposed one show's entire cast onto the Enterprise with a result that left geeks salivating:

Firefly Star Trek

I had likened Serenity's crew to the Enterprise's myself so can totally see such a shift of universes as successful.

Who would you like to see in the next Star Trek movie, and why?

NASA to Relaunch Firefly's Serenity

20-Feb-09 11:43 AM by
Filed under Television; 1 comment.

Seven years after Star Trek went off the air in 1969, fans engaged in a letter-writing campaign to have NASA's first space shuttle christened the Enterprise. Now, fans of modern sci-fi have a similar opportunity to impact our culture. Until March 20th, NASA is accepting votes to name the third node to be installed on the International Space Station. "The name should reflect the spirit of exploration and cooperation embodied by the space station, and follow in the tradition set by Node 1- Unity- and Node 2- Harmony," they suggest. In addition to writing one in, voters can choose one of four default choices:

  • Earthrise
  • Legacy
  • Serenity
  • Venture

Node 3 of the International Space Station.  Image courtesy NASA.

Node 3 of the International Space Station. Image courtesy NASA.

Naturally, fans of Joss Whedon's short-lived series, Firefly, and its subsequent feature film, Serenity, see only one choice out of the four — and I have to admit, there's a certain logic to it. It is the trend for science fiction to become science fact, as evidenced in one episode of Firefly when pilot Wash remarked, "That sounds like something out of science fiction," to which his wife reminded him, "We live on a spaceship, dear." Additional nodes on the ISS expand, in just the smallest way, humanity's ability to colonize space, which is surely a step in the right direction. So don your browncoats and cast your votes to launch Serenity once again!

(Hat tips to SJVN and Lisa Hoover)

TNG at 20: The Voyage Continues

26-Sep-07 6:00 PM by
Filed under Star Trek; 1 comment.

Twenty years ago this autumn, I was a sophomore in college. I remember watching the premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation (or TNG) with friends. While most of us were fans of speculative fiction, we had little idea of how entertaining and influential TNG would become.

I had grown up on the writings of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke, but I had watched the original 1960s Star Trek only in reruns. During freshman year, I had fought for the dorm lounge television with people who preferred The Late Show With David Letterman over some old show with people wearing colorful pajamas, odd makeup, or both. But we were a small but dedicated band, and we made it to the stars. Among the friends I met then was my future wife.

Over the course of many late nights and foosball games, I learned about the United Federation of Planets, its Starfleet, and the Prime Directive that forbade its explorers from interfering in the internal affairs or development of alien worlds. The so-called "Wagon Train to the stars" combined Westerns with ray guns, and mythology with scientific speculation.

By the time TNG began, I was indeed a Trekkie — or "Trekker," as some prefer — having learned the cant among the franchise's fans: phasers, warp speed, and the Vulcan nerve pinch and salute. Of the eventual six movies with the space opera's original cast, the best two — Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and IV: The Voyage Home — had already been released. Thanks to magazines such as Starlog and various "technical manuals," I learned about transporters and Jeffries tubes (the access tunnels throughout starships, named after an original series art director). Around Thanksgiving of 1987, I would attend my first science fiction convention, one run by Creation Entertainment in New York.

It's also worth remembering the context into which this Enterprise was launched — that, despite the success of multimedia franchises such as Planet of the Apes and Star Wars, there was little genre entertainment on television at that time. As we look forward to 2007's premieres of Heroes, Lost, or Battlestar Galactica: Razor, among others, note that 20 years ago, there was only Stephen Spielberg's anthology Amazing Stories, horror drama Friday the 13th: the Series, and another Earth-based movie spin-off, Starman. Weak visual effects, even weaker writing, and a lack of interest among mainstream viewers and networks had doomed all but the U.K.'s Doctor Who to short lifespans or syndication.

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Light Up the Sky

03-Apr-07 2:40 PM by
Filed under Films, Television; 7 comments.

As a fan of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but not a fan of television in general, I was aware of but unexposed to his "space western" series, Firefly, which was cancelled in December 2002 after 14 episodes. Easier to consume was the 2005 feature film adaptation, Serenity, which I enjoyed last year, prompting me to recently, finally, watch the original show.

Holy cow. How was this ever cancelled?? I've been enjoying Star Trek for 20 years now, but I've never seen anything like Firefly. What a breath of fresh air!

To understand the show's uniqueness, you should know its background:
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