TNG at 20: T-Minus One Week and Counting

22-Sep-07 11:59 PM by
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October 4th marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik. A year after Russia beat America into space, the White House responded with a document, Introduction to Outer Space, urging America to win this race:

The first of these factors is the compelling urge of man to explore and to discover, the thrust of curiosity that leads men to try to go where no one has gone before. Most of the surface of the earth has now been explored and men now turn on the exploration of outer space as their next objective.

"Where no one has gone before…" Gene Roddenberry took these words to heart, and less than a decade later, he went there — and brought the world with him.

His original Star Trek, which turned 40 last year, may not initially have been a commercial success; but its successor, true to its title, inspired the next generation of television viewers to look up. The passion the Star Trek franchise has stirred in its audience has proven timeless, and its impact on not just our popular culture, but on our scientific progress, is immeasurable. One space industry executive wrote, "We are in the commercial space flight industry and would like to testify that at least one out of two of all the actual entrepreneurs involved in this industry has been inspired by Star Trek."

Though Kirk, Spock, and McCoy marked the beginning, it was Picard, Riker, Data, and company that cemented the franchise in our hearts and souls. And we here at Showbits cannot fail to observe the beginning of that golden era.

September 28th marks twenty years since Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired. To commemorate this historic anniversary, we'll be blogging about Star Trek every day this week, culminating on Friday. We'll be providing news, retrospectives, analyses, and more. They'll be fun, nostalgic, thought-provoking, and who knows what else. So please join us on this wagon train to the stars… The sky's the limit!

Also in the TNG at 20 series:

Quarterly Review

08-Aug-07 2:45 PM by
Filed under Films, Star Trek; 3 comments.

The June/July issue of Geek Monthly has a cover story on what a great year 1982 was for geeks. We may not have noticed it at the time, but it is astonishing what a plethora of great sci-fi films came out all in that one year. Unfortunately, some of these films I did not see upon their initial release, and some are not as great today as they were 25 years ago. Nonetheless, here in brief is my rundown of their list:

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Considered "the zenith of the Trek feature films", I agree this film began the even-numbered successes that persisted until Nemesis. The tie-in to the original series, Ricardo Montalban as the villain, and the ending were all fantastic facets… but for all that, I still think I prefer the more lighthearted The Voyage Home.


There Can Be Only One

17-Jun-07 10:04 AM by
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The only question Weird Al ever thought was hard was "Do I like Kirk or do I like Picard?" Now Star Trek fans have an opportunity to answer that question for themselves and garner some neat toys in the process.

"Kirk vs. Picard" is a fanfic contest, hosted by fan site and sponsored by CBS and In it, George Takei and Wil Wheaton host video segments that describe four scripts (by Star Trek writer Andre Bormanis) that bring Picard and Kirk against each other. All four involve some sort of temporal travel, be it the Guardian of Forever, cryonic suspension, or even the return of Khan (but no Temporal Cold War). Once fans select script, a scene will be presented, with fans invited to write how the scene will play out. Voting will then be held to determine the best scene to adopt into the story's canon before moving on to another round. Authors of the winning scripts will be eligible to win grand prizes.

Too much effort? Simply signing up for the contest and casting your vote will enter you in a drawing to win prizes, which may include MacBooks, iPhones, and more.

Despite posting about it here, I'm not excited by this contest. The videos by Takei and Wheaton are stilted — why can't they look at the camera? — and the scripts seem forced. Besides, does anyone really care which captain would win in a fight? Certainly it isn't as important as the great Mike vs. Joel debate. Can't we already tell that the story will end with both captains cooperating to a common goal, in true Starfleet fashion, and then a giant "reset" button being pushed, returning them to their respective eras?

But just because the contest isn't for me doesn't mean it isn't for everyone. May the best geek win — and may the Schwartz be with you.

Star Trek Boxing

09-Jun-07 3:59 PM by
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Star Trek episodes can be had in so many digital formats, it's overwhelming. On DVD alone, should you buy a season set, series set, or selected "best of" set? Whatever you decide, it's nice to have options, and Paramount is more than happy to line their coffers by offering you those choices.

Now at is a survey to determine the contents of the next two box sets. This survey was originally offered last year, and whether it's been opened again intentionally or accidentally is unknown — but it's still a fascinating look at the themes and figures of Star Trek.

The survey proposes that The Captains Collective Edition and The Alternate Realities Collective Edition will join those earlier sets that focused on Borg, Kirk, Q, and Klingons. (Apparently the Jean-Luc Collection has been retconned?) The questionnaire presents a predetermined list of Archer, Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, and "other captains" (or first officers acting as captains) episodes and asks you to select your favorite five in each of the six categories, or suggest your own. The survey also accepts suggestions of alternative reality episodes to include with the eight Mirror Universe episodes.

Finally, the survey offers the open-ended opportunity to suggest themes for other new box sets. Here are mine:


Just an old country doctor…

20-Jan-07 11:58 AM by
Filed under Celebrities, Star Trek; 1 comment.

This week, I finally tackled Crucible: Provenance of Shadows, the first in a trilogy of books that independently examines each of the three main characters of Star Trek: The Original Series. At three times the length of most Trek novels, Crucible initially intimidated me — but with the Spock's book now out, and Kirk's due next month, it felt time to get cracking on McCoy's installment.

I'm enjoying the book thoroughly, and I'll go into more detail why once I've finished it. But I thought it worth writing today in memory of the actor who brought Bones to life, as today would've been his 87th birthday. It was a sad day eight years ago when DeForest Kelley was the first of the Enterprise's crew to pass beyond the galactic barrier, where he's since been joined by James Doohan. But as I read Crucible, it brings Mr. Kelley's performance back to life in a very real way. It's probably expected of today's Trek actors, but I doubt forty-one years ago, the crew of the Enterprise's maiden voyage realized they would be immortalized, with countless untold stories yet to be discovered and explored, in novels, comics, films, and fiction for decades to come. I can't imagine how different a scape our imaginations would be, had any other actor come to personify Leonard McCoy. I hope novels such as Crucible continue to do his legacy proud.

I regret that I'm not a bigger fan of westerns, as it seems that genre is where Mr. Kelley can most be seen outside the realm of Star Trek. Can anyone recommend some of his films?

Fortunately, he was more than an actor, as today I was delighted to discover a trilogy of Star Trek poems written by the late doctor. "The Big Bird's Dream" presents a rhyming narrative of Gene Roddenberry (whose nickname was "The Great Bird of the Galaxy") and his efforts to realize his screenplay dream. Be sure to follow the links to the two sequel poems as well.

Beam Me Up

19-Dec-06 10:09 PM by
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Days after announcing that William Shatner (Kirk)'s game show Show Me the Money would be picked up for six more episodes, production has been shut down after a drop in key demographics. [Story continues]

Last Thursday the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) — the organization behind the Emmy Awards — formally inducted William Shatner, along with four other individuals with legendary TV careers, into its Hall of Fame. [Story continues]

These are both good news to me. That game show was wretched and vile — more sensationalism than substance. William Shatner should never have more women than Captain Kirk did.

The Kirk Identity

11-Dec-06 11:29 PM by
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Courtesy Trek Nation, Matt Damon says he would consider playing Kirk in Star Trek XI, if he liked the script… and was offered the part.

Like the article says, no one but Shatner has ever played Kirk. Can any Trekker separate the two? Could we accept anyone else? If the eleventh film is to be a potential basis for a new television series, then I think it needs to not be a prequel. Sandwiched between Enterprise and TOS, it'd be too constrained. Give us something entirely new — something we haven't seen before. Surprise us. Be refreshing!

Speaking of which, why has Star Trek always stuck to one genre? Let's have a bunch of Friends hanging out in Ten-Forward — or some sort of Section 31/CSI. Klingon Eye for the Starfleet Guy, hosted by Worf, perhaps?

What are your thoughts on the direction(s) Star Trek should take?