Saturday, February 11, 2017

A QUICK GLIMPSE OF STAR TREK DISCOVERY'S NEW KLINGONS TELLS US THESE DEFINITELY AREN'T YOUR FATHER'S KLINGONS (OR ANYONE ESLE'S!)

Direct from the set of Star Trek Discovery comes a leaked photo showing us a bunch of aliens that don't look much like Klingons. And yet, that's how they are labeled. Take a look.


These are very, VERY different than any Klingon we've seen before. They are much more reptilian in appearance with more severe features than what we've come to know over the last 37 years. At a glance, they bear some resemblance to the Klingons as shown in 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture. That look was modified a bit for Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, and that modified look has been in place through the run of Star Trek Enterprise. The JJ Abrams films show an alternate  version, but those movies are stand-alone things and are not part of the universe in which Star Trek Discovery is set.

The Motion Picture Klingons were supposed to be somewhat reptilian, according to creator Gene Roddenberry. Hairy, too!

Confused? Me too. Because if these are truly the new show's Klingons, we have not a prequel, but a reboot.

This actually dovetails nicely into the images we've seen in the recent teaser trailer which show things that are far more advanced looking than anything seen in The Original Series (TOS), despite being set 10 years prior to that series.

This totally makes sense, in this writer's opinion, as the technology shown in TOS would be laughably primitive looking to a modern audience. At some point you have to throw out the stuff that is just too damn old.

What's next? We'll have to see.

LLAP

Don

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY TEASER TRAILER SHOWS A GLIMPSE OF A SHOW THAT JUST MIGHT GO WHERE NO SHOW HAS GONE BEFORE

AT long last, Discovery is shooting it's first episode. To coincide with that event, CBS has released a short teaser trailer that gives very little away but certainly whets my appetite for more.

In case you're living under a rock, here's the trailer:


So. Not much, right? No new shots of the Discovery itself. No props. A quick close-up of a uniform. Let's break this down and see if there's more to it:

First off, we see some extreme set-building (click on each pic for a larger version):




Under way but incomplete. The third shot makes me think "green screen use?"

Next up, "action!" is called and we get a view of something very alien.


We can't say for sure, but the detail on the arms is very reminiscent of the spine piece used on former Klingon costumes. Is this heap a new Klingon armor of some type? This also reminds me of Voyager's Hirogen. A relative?

And speaking of aliens, we get a fast shot of this:


Doesn't look like much. Until you brighten it, that is:


MUCH better. This is definitely the back of an alien head. It looks like some kind of carapace. Does this go with armor we just saw? Seems likely.

Up next: uniforms! Or A uniform, to be exact. They seem to a feature a high collar that opens in the front.



We then see the chest:


Aha! There's the ubiquitous Starfleet Delta, once again done in metal like later Trek incarnations. But what's with all the gold braid? Is this a dress uniform of some kind?

Let's take a closer look at that badge:



The shield is broken down into two pieces with the left piece raised and overlapping the right. I assume they're simply trying to create a distinct look with that approach. OK, I'll buy it. But what's with that small peg down in the lower left corner? What the heck is THAT? Rank pip, ala TNG? It's so small that it won't show up on camera in anything but an extreme close-up. Hmmmm.

Another interesting take-away is the fact that, while the shirt is blue, which in The Original Series (TOS) meant "science division", the small glyph in the badge was that used by "ships services/engineering" and as any fan of TOS knows, they wore red, not blue. Is this a mix-up? Have they changed division colors yet again? let me explain.


In the original Star Trek pilot, The Cage, science wore blue and the patch featured the same sphere-ish glyph used in TOS. But between the first pilot and TOS' run, a second pilot was produced called Where No Man Has Gone Before. The science shirts were still blue, but the glyphs were different. The spiral glyph shown was later worn by Scotty's red shirts throughout TOS. So is Discovery using an obscure piece of Trek detail on purpose and doing a change-up? Or was this simply a mistake? Who knows, but I'm leaning toward "mistake".

Moving on, next we see a ship. Or, rather, a 3D wireframe of a ship.


Based on the teaser CBS released last year before Comicon, we know this is not the Discovery. We've been told that there is at least one other Starfleet ship in the show, the Shenzhou. Is this that ship? We can't know but there's a good chance. It reminds me of the USS Reliant from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Is this an earlier version of that class of ship? Seems likely.

Some plans are then shown:


Any Trek fan worth their salt knows this is for a starship bridge. Probably Discovery herself. We then get some weirdness that can't be identified and end up here:


If that's not the command chair, I'll eat my dilithium. Interestingly, though, while the captain's chair is emblematic for every Star Trek vesrion up to now, that's not really the case with Discovery. Without exception, the main character in every Trek has been the Captain. But we've been told the Discovery's main character is NOT the captain but rather the first officer, or Number One. But the chair is nonetheless still a powerful iconic image for any Trek. We then get the slightly modified show logo:


The badge in the background has been modified a bit to reflect the actual uniform badge, I assume.
So, there you have it. Image by image, that's what we know. Which ain't much. But it's still fun for an old Trek fan like me to ponder and dream. I hope the show is good. If it's great, that would be amazing, but I'd settle for good. I a world where Star Trek has come to mean big action movies with inane, silly plots, anything that touches on the magic of the original will be an improvement.
 
Let's hope!

LLAP

Don

Monday, January 30, 2017

FINALLY! BIG HINTS GIVEN FOR DISCOVERY CREW IN SHOOTING ANNOUNCEMENT

Star Trek: Discovery finally started shooting on January 24. On that day, CBS tweeted a congratulatory message that featured a heretofore unseen image. It features outlined figures in the midst of transporting. I think we can safely assume they represent the crew of the ship Discovery. We can see some Starfleet-ish boots, for instance, but most importantly, there's the Starfleet Delta patch that in the past would have represented only the Starship Enterprise. After all, in the original series (TOS) each starship had their own unique chest insignia and the delta represented only the Enterprise, not Starfleet as it would in later Trek incarnations after The Motion Picture. Here we can see that detail will be ignored. I think it's a good call because the delta shield has become ubiquitous with Star Trek. New viewers would just be confused if they didn't do it this way.

In the Original Series, every starship had its own insignia. It got very clunky very quickly.
So what characters are represented by these outlines? Some are pretty easy to guess while others are strictly a shot in the dark. Take a look at my attempt:


1. We know that the main character is the first officer or "Number One", played by Sonequa Martin-Green. I've designated her as the third figure due to her prominence in the foreground.

2. We've seen a make-up test photo, below, that appeared to be an Andorian with two slender antennae so I have assigned the sixth character as an unknown Andorian. I want to throw a caveat in, though.

Andorian? Or something else?
The test shots we saw did not feature a style identical to Andorian antennae that we've seen in the past. So rather than Andorian, this could be the alien character to be played by Doug Jones, Lt. Saru. All we know is that his race has not been seen before in Star Trek. Perhaps his race is similar to Andorians like Vulcans are to Humans.

or

3. Lt. Saru might be the fifth figure which is VERY alien-looking. That's my vote and I'm super anxious to see how this character will manifest itself. We've never had a regular character that was exclusively CGI and this looks to be a likely candidate.

Now THIS guy looks interesting! Note the cloven hoofy things.
4. Anthony Rapp will play Lt. Stametsan, an astromycologist (ie: scientist). I've assigned him to the first slot. Seems to be a little phaser-happy.

5. Michelle Yeoh plays Captain Georgiou of the starship Shenzhou. We have no idea how she fits into the story but I have added her arbitrarily as the second slot.

6. Emily Coutts has just been cast as a Conn Officer. She's designated as the last figure.

7. Finally, we have no idea who the captain of the Discovery is. So I designated the fourth slot to him (it's a male outline) though for all we know the captain is a woman. No idea but I think it's a reasonable guess.

So for the first time we now have a sense of the crew, however vague. Several other characters have been cast, most notably Spock's father Sarek to be played by James Frain as well as several actors as Klingons who will apparently be playing a significant role in the story.

Since shooting has begun, I hope some behind-the-scenes stuff starts to appear. I'm anxious to see the uniforms as well as the new props and sets that have been created.

While I'm still not sanguine about the whole "CBS All Access" thing, there's nothing to be done about it. The first episode will be airing on regular CBS network channels so at least we can get a taste before buying. Heck, I'm hoping I like it so much that I won't care about the cost!

LLAP

Don

Thursday, November 3, 2016

BEN STILLER LETS HIS TREK FAN-BOY FLY, OWNS UP TO OWNING THE ORIGINAL GORN AND MORE!

I broke my hand a couple of months ago and I am finally able to type once again. I've been away for far longer than I would have liked but I hope to get back into a more regular cycle of stories now that I'm on the mend.  – D

Nerds are everywhere today, including the hallowed halls of Hollywood. Comedic actor and film-maker Ben Stiller has been known as a Trek fan for many years, having even been given a small cameo as a Romulan in 2009's Star Trek. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Stiller recently appeared on Nat Geo's "Startalk" where he admitted to host Neil deGrasse Tyson that he was not only a life-long Star Trek fan, but that he also owned some key props and costumes from The Original Series.


Stiller first confesses that he owns a copy of the Star Fleet Technical Manual which establishes some major Trek cred. After all, only die-hard fans actually have the book, right? But then he goes on to mention that he used some TOS goodies as props in his movie Tropic Thunder.

In Matthew McConaughey's character's office, a couple of iconic things can clearly be seen – if you're looking at the right place. Check out the lower right of this screen grab:


That's right: a Gorn head! And not just another copy, no, sir. That's one of the two original Gorn heads created for the TOS episode Arena! But wait – that's not all. Later in that same scene, another piece of familiar Trekabelia can be seen right smack in center screen


Yep. Spock ears. Season 2 versions, according to Stiller. He bought both items at auction along with a pilot episode Spock tunic. No idea which pilot he was referring to – The Cage or Where No Man Has Gone Before – but either would do nicely!

To top it off, though, Stiller says that no less than Leonard Nimoy himself spotted the ears in the movie and spoke to Stiller about them. After admitting that, yes, they were real Spock ears, Nimoy asked for Stiller's address. He then sent Stiller another set of ears from The Motion Picture. A personal gift of Spock ears from Nimoy himself. It doesn't get any better than that. And you can see in Stiller's face that he was truly moved by the gift, as would be any true Trek fan.

What else might Stiller own? Who knows? But he's definitely on my radar from now on.

LLAP

Don

HERITAGE AUCTIONS OFFERING "BACKGROUND" WRATH OF KHAN MAROON JACKET. EXCEPT THERE'S NO SUCH THING.

Every so often, a so-called "Monster Maroon" uniform as seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan comes to auction. As a fan of these great pieces, I look forward to these with particular anticipation. Usually they are the real deal because they are incredibly difficult to fake and a knock-off sticks out like a sore thumb.

Which brings me to this offering from Heritage:

Heritage's Maroon uniform Jacket (click to enlarge)
Looks, cool, right? Here's the accompanying text:

"An Extra's Jacket from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." Paramount, 1982. Red cotton, collarless, black and gold piping, gold-metal emblems attached on shoulder strap, chest and cuffs, no labels present; likely worn by an extra as it's similar but not identical to the uniforms worn by the main cast members."

So it is "similar but not identical to the uniforms worn by the main cast members". Which makes it, by their definition, at least, an "Extra's Jacket", which totally makes sense except for one thing. There were no "extra" or "background" versions of the officer's jacket in these films. Every jacket we ever see is a full-blown version, identical in materials and construction to those worn by the main cast. How do I know that? Because I know more about these pieces than just about anyone alive (go HERE to see what I mean). I have done exhaustive research over the years. I have owned many specimens, both main cast pieces and background pieces. I know many others who own various specimens and they have shared their insights with me. I have a database that has tracked every version sold over the last fifteen years. They all have one thing in common – they are all made the same way with the same level of detail. In short, they are all "hero" versions. There is no secondary, lower-level "background/extra" version for one simple reason – money. When Wrath of Khan was made, the production was under very tight budgetary constraints. So very few actors outside of the main cast even wore the officer's maroon uniform. Those few that did, show them to be identical in every way to the main cast versions because they are on screen with the main cast so they had to match.

The shoulder straps on all production pieces, for instance, were all the same design. Heritage's is different and doesn't even have a clasp! A background piece shouldn't be as elaborate as, yet different from, a production piece. That makes no sense. It has a different gold braid. Why? It's thicker and gaudier. Why? And in the dozens and dozens of straps and jackets I've seen over they years not a single one was missing the clasp. Not one. In the image below, the far right shot shows an actual extra's strap (from Wrath of Khan). This is the only extra ever seen on the bridge throughout the film, and only one of three extras shown wearing a maroon in the entire movie. Note that it has the clasp and the thinner, darker gold braid.


The heritage piece is described as being cotton, which would have stood out like a sore thumb against the wool versions worn by everyone else. The wrists on production pieces all show the same trapunto (or quilting) detail with stitched rings in all cases (the Heritage piece has none). The admiral wrist braid was of two particular designs, neither of which match the Heritage version.

No production piece has ever been missing the quilting detail on the arms. But Heritage's is.
So, in short, while the Heritage version appears to be a WOK jacket at a glance, it quickly falls apart under scrutiny. Their main claim of "extra" usage is not supported by the facts, but is a claim commonly used to support a piece because, as such it wouldn't have to match the "hero"versions. Very convenient, and unprovable as it is circular logic – "It's a background piece that you can't see very well, which is why its details are different and you can't confirm it because it's, you know, always in the background". Riiiight.

I say there were no "extra" versions, ever, and that supposition is supported by years of research, not guesswork. If someone has information to the contrary, by all means please pass it along to me. I live to learn.  But I think I'm on pretty solid ground here.

I contacted Heritage with my concerns and this was their reply:

"Dear Mr. Hillenbrand,

Please see attached photos where background actors are wearing similar jackets to the one Heritage is offering in our upcoming November 12th auction.  I’ve spoken to the consignor of this piece and he obtained it directly from Paramount Studios a number of years ago. He’s “in the business” so it makes sense he would have this costume piece. It is not a fan made piece as you speculate below.  It is actually quite well-made and detailed if you could see it in person.  It was worn by one of the background actors probably in the scenes I’ve attached here – it was not worn by one of the main actors and is not a “hero” piece.  Hopefully this addresses your concern.

Best,
Margaret Barrett
Director / Entertainment & Music"

The scene she refers to is this shot from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home :


The only problem with that theory is that several of those maroons shown were later sold at auction and were the same as all the other versions. They were no different from the main cast uniforms in any way. And we know that they reused jackets from earlier films over and over so that they didn't have to go to the expense of making new ones, especially for bit players. All trek films had super-tight budgets. These are facts, not guesses.

Regarding the Paramount mention, it's actually possible that this is a Paramount copy created for things like the old Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas. They created copies of many Starfleet uniforms and various aliens for those venues. Perhaps this is one of those. It would actually explain the missing clasp. I suspect there might be Velcro under there in place of the clasp which is commonly used on theater costumes to make them easy to take off and on. But who knows?

So here's the bottom line on this piece. It is either:

1. A rare, never-before-seen "extra" version which has never, ever been shown or proven to exist

or

2. It's a very nice (though inaccurate) copy.

Guess which one I'm going with? I'll let you decide for yourself as to whether or not this piece is what they claim. But here's some additional food for thought.

This piece has been up for auction for weeks and has not garnered a single bid, despite have a very low opening number. If this were real, I know of any number of people who would be hot after it, myself included! Yet there it sits, languishing in loneliness. Which is what it deserves, after all. Heritage needs to up their game, especially on something as simple as this. It makes them look like fools in this writer's opinion.

Don't be fooled by fools.

LLAP

Don

Thursday, September 29, 2016

SINCE CBS DIDN'T GIVE US A 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL, LET'S WATCH THE 25TH AGAIN

While it was nice to see a couple of Star Trek 50th Anniversary shows appear on History Channel and The Smithsonian Channel, there was no "official" celebration on CBS and Paramount, the actual owners of Star Trek. In light of that, let's watch the 25th Anniversary special that was originally broadcast on September 28, 1991.

It was a simpler time!


LLAP,

Don

Thursday, September 15, 2016

TOM HANKS SNUCK ONTO WRATH OF KHAN SETS BECAUSE HE'S TOM HANKS

Everybody's favorite actor, Tom Hanks, is also a Star Trek fan as evidenced by his various Trek insider comments over the years. Here's his latest where he talks about his "greatest day in Hollywood":

LLAP

Don