Wednesday, August 10, 2016

"STAR TREK DISCOVERY" WILL HAVE FEMALE LEAD – SET 10 YEARS BEFORE ORIGINAL SERIES

Star Trek Discovery, the new Trek series due out in January from CBS, will have a female lead according to Showrunner Bryan Fuller speaking at CBS's Television Critics Association press event. Interestingly, the lead won't be the ship's captain, but rather will be a lieutenant commander.


A unique point of view

This will be the first time any Trek has moved away from the POV of the ship's captain. “We’ve seen six series from captain’s point of view,” he explained. “To see one from another point of view gives us a richer context.” Who will fill the role has yet to be determined. “It’s about who’s the best actor,” he said. We're going to delve into something that was for me always very tantalizing and to tell that story through a character who is on a journey that is going to teach her how to get along with others in the galaxy," Fuller said . "For her to truly understand something that is alien, she has to first understand herself."

Set 10 years prior to The Original Series in the Prime Universe

The show will NOT be set in the movie universe as created by JJ Abrams for his film series (THANK GOD!). It will take place ten years before Kirk, Spock and company set out on their Five Year Mission. That's far closer than I thought it would be. On a related note, Fuller mentioned that he loved the character of Amanda Grayson, Spock's mother who married the Vulcan Ambassador Sarek. Amanda was played by the great Jane Wyatt in the TOS episode "Journey to Babel" and in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Does that mean the character will actually appear in some way? Will a young Spock appear? Holy crap!

Gay characters will exist

Fuller, a gay man himself, stated that "Absolutely we’re having a gay character ." That element is one of the last taboos to be broken by a Star Trek production and it's long overdue. “What can we say about diversity in every role,” he added. “We’ll probably have a few more aliens than you typically have on the show. We wanted to paint a picture of Starfleet where we’re going to have new exciting aliens and also new imagining of existing aliens,” Fuller said via Entertainment Weekly.

A new visual style?

Fuller addressed the nature of a story that takes place 10 years before another show made in 1966 (TOS). "We can redefine the visual style,” he said. “We get to play with all of the iconography of those ships and that universe. Since we are doing this series in 2016 and all of the other series have been produced [at a time that] isn’t as sophisticated as we are now with what we can do production-wise, we’re going to be reestablishing an entire look for the series — not only for the series, but for what we wanted to accomplish with Star Trek beyond this series.”

This, frankly, confuses the hell out of me.  If you change the style, then this is not actually set in the Prime Universe, but one similar. If you change the visuals, you change the story and the universe in which it takes place.

This sounds like a defacto reboot. And I'm all for that!

LLAP,

Don

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TV'S NEWEST TREK HAS A NAME – STAR TREK: DISCOVERY – AND A NEW SHIP TO GO WITH IT

Little has been revealed about the upcoming CBS Star Trek show that will debut in January. At long last we've finally been given something concrete. Revealed at Comic-Con 2016 by Executive Producer Bryan Fuller, below is a glimpse of the show's featured ship. Take a look and we'll talk.



Here's my take.

First off, the title is in keeping with the last three Trek shows which were named after their ships (or station). "Discovery" is also in keeping with Star Trek's Mission Statement: "explore strange new worlds..." and all that. So it works on many levels.


The ship we see features a design that was created way back in the late 70's by designer Ralph McQuarrie of Star Wars fame. McQuarrie was hired in 1977 to design a new Enterprise for a Trek film that never got off the ground called "Planet of the Titans". Small cardboard study models were made of two of his designs and these models made very brief and very minor appearances in later Star Trek productions, but no detailed models for featured use were ever made so this makes the first-ever use of this design in any significant way.

Concept models of McQuarrie's designs


Renderings of McQuarrie's take on a new Enterprise
Keep in mind that at the time of their creation, no other Enterprise had been designed. These were a decade before Next Gen and 2 years before The Motion Picture.

McQuarrie's spacedock design is clearly seen in the new footage



Even if you don't know McQuarrie or his work on Star Wars, you can definitely see the influence of such things as the huge Star Destroyers – designed by McQuarrie for George Lucas – at work here. And while I've always found these to be interesting approaches, I have always thought the proportions were not very elegant. The huge triangular secondary hull dwarfs the saucer. The engines seem too insignificant.

In short, this design is butt ugly, in this fan's opinion. So I think it's unfortunate that they went to this particular well for a ship design to be featured heavily in a new production. It's my opinion that no featured ship should be blatantly unsophisticated. This seems to be just that.

Here's stills that show how they interpreted McQuarrie's design into a finished form:





There are some significant differences. The basic proportions of the saucer to the secondary hull are changed to create a larger overall saucer size which I think is a good thing. The engine size has been upped as well.

But the overall take-away for me is that this seems to be an intentionally crude ship design. The cages over the engine domes are almost steam-punkish. The engines lack any real sense of grace, at least from the limited angles we are given. And when combined with the music, this ship has an almost Klingon feel to it, mostly because of the triangular hull's forward-thrusting engines.

I'm not crazy about it but CBS has stated that this is a concept piece so hopefully it will be finessed (improved) a bit. A lot. A whole lot.

As for what the trailer actually tells us about the show, we actually get a few hints with some detective work.

First off, there's the aforementioned crudeness to the design. Is it meant to evoke an early era of Starfleet design, ie: before The Original Series? Perhaps.

Then there's the ship's number, 1031. That puts it well ahead of the Enterprise's 1701 registry number, again pointing to a pre-TOS setting. The ship's name features the "USS" designation which was not used in Star Trek: Enterprise, a show that was set a century before TOS. So, if we put it all together, the clues point to this being set between Enterprise and TOS. Exactly when is anybody's guess at this point. So I'll do just that and guess that it is squarely between the two eras so as not to crowd one or the other in its story-telling.

Fuller reiterated that the show (which will be abbreviating DSC) would not be episodic in nature, but would be structured “like a novel,” telling stories “chapter by chapter” across episodes. He also stated that it would take place in the Prime Universe, ie: NOT in the JJ Abrams film universe. Hallelujah!

As for the quality of the show, that is totally unknowable at this point. We'll have to hope that with people like the great Nick Meyer and Bryan Fuller on board that it will be a voyage worth taking.

Let's hope!

LLAP

Don

Monday, July 25, 2016

"ALL STAR TREK" TAKES FANS DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH ALL FIVE TREKS BACK-TO-BACK

H&I (Heroes and Icons, a network I never heard of until recently) now has the rights to all five Trek shows and began showing them last night in what they have dubbed "All Star Trek". They showed every first episode of every Trek show back to back (and will continue showing all five shows daily). And while everything past TOS will require two nights to complete the first episode showing due to their two-part nature, it was nonetheless an amazing experience that I just happened onto. I was channel surfing when I came across the opening of "Man Trap" in all its 60's over-saturated-color-goodness. I started watching and didn't stop for five hours!


There were so many things that struck me as I went from one era of Trek to the next (yes, I even watched Voyager and Enterprise!). An almost overwhelming sense of nostalgia hit me with every new show until I hit Enterprise. I think it's just too recent to evoke those types of feelings. The older the show, the stronger the emotions were. A sense of time and place swept over me with each version. With TOS I was suddenly a young teen discovering Trek in syndication like millions of others. TNG came along a year before my son was born and Farpoint evoked strong feelings of that point in my life. I remembered waiting for it in high anticipation. DS9 came along the year I went into business. Voyager (which I've never been connected to) was simply a twenty-year-old show and so still evoked feelings of that era. It was a shock to me when I made the realization that it actually started in 1995. I had never thought about it being that old. Enterprise was simply Enterprise.

The main take-away I got from the experience was something I always knew but never understood with such razor-sharp certainty: TOS was the best-realized of all the shows from the get-go. All the others chose to do the "origin" thing where we see the crew meeting each other for the first time and getting to know each other in a gradual way as we the viewers did. But TOS started out – amazingly! – with fully-realized characters. They were in the midst of their five year mission and everyone already knew everyone and were comfortable with each other's abilities. There was an instant familiarity from the very first scene and it informed the show from then on. BTW, I realize "Man Trap" wasn't the first show shot (it was the third if you include the pilot). But even so, with just those two other stories under their belt, Star Trek was fully-realized almost instantly.

It's long been my opinion that the first two seasons of every show thereafter were the weakest of the their respective runs. I gave up on Voyager and Enterprise after their first two season because, for me at least, they were just too mediocre. What struck me about seeing both Farpoint and Emissary was the power of the leads. Without Patrick Stewart and Avery Brooks, I can't help but wonder if those two shows would have survived, let alone flourish. Stewart especially had the power to take ho-hum stuff and make it interesting. Without that strong hand at the helm (pun intended) I think the shows would have floundered given the mediocrity of their writing in the early going. To this day I still can't watch "Code of Honor" or "Justice" (or ten others I could name!) even with Patrick Stewart!

It's a fascinating experience to move through forty years worth of Star Trek in one sitting. I highly recommend it! Check out the details at H&I's website:

All Star Trek


LLAP

D

Friday, July 22, 2016

STAR TREK BEYOND: THE MISSING SCENE

For me to see it, Star Trek Beyond will need a key scene right at the beginning that I'm pretty sure doesn't exist. It would go something like this:

Please drop me a line if I'm mistaken and this scene is ACTUALLY THERE!!

LLAP

Don

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: THE TOS ENTERPRISE RESTORATION IS COMPLETE!!

The newly-restored Enterprise model is now in its new berth! Here's the details from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum:

The Enterprise model, a genuine television star of the 1960s, now rests in the south lobby of Milestones (near the Independence Ave. entrance) in a new, state-of-the-art, climate-controlled case. From the center of the Hall, the restored Enterprise rests with its camera-ready side on full view. Walk around to the back to see the less-decorated port or left side, where the wires bring power to the internal lights and motors. The model’s internal lighting has been replaced with modern LEDs, which will come to life at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm local time each day. An interactive touchscreen attached to the case allows visitors to learn more about the model, Star Trek, and the Museum’s long interest in imagined spaceflight.

She's a beauty, all right, and now in a true place of honor:



More to come!

LLAP,

Don

Sunday, June 26, 2016

FANTASTIC ORIGINAL SERIES LIRPA FROM "AMOK TIME" IS ON THE AUCTION BLOCK. AND IT'S THE REAL DEAL.

Starting June 29 and going on for three days, Profiles In History's Hollywood Auction 83 has some staggeringly cool and rare props and costumes going all the way back to the 60's and The original Series. One of the most amazing of these offerings is a prop familiar with all fans of TOS – the Vulcan Lirpa as seen in the classic episode "Amok Time".

The claim is that this is one of the two actually used in the filming of the episode. Does that claim, hold up? Let's check it out.

Here's the main shot of the prop that Profiles is selling. Be sure to click on it for the large version with plenty of detail.


Usually, with any piece offered from TOS, it's super-tough to truly authenticate it unless it comes from the estate of someone like Gene Roddenberry, Matt Jefferies, Leonard Nimoy or Robert Justman. Even then, you have to be careful because things get mixed up over time.

In this case, though, authentication is a pretty simple matter because the piece can speak for itself, something that is incredibly rare for any Trek piece. Because of the size and nature of the prop, its details are easy to see both now and in an amazing still image from its original use back in 1967. The blade was made from aluminum, though it was blunted to avoid any real carnage. But it looks very deadly in use in part because the blade is burnished in a realistic way. And that burnishing tell us everything.

Check out this still from the actual episode, especially the Lirpa's blade:


Notice that it has lots of great detail because it's so large and prominent in the shot. This is something that is almost unheard of with most Star Trek props. You hardly ever get a close-up of a Phaser or Communicator and those were used throughout the show's three-year run. But here's a prop that was only used in a single episode, yet we get this amazing image for reference.

So let's now look at them side-by-side and see what we can see:


I took the image from the episode and inverted the tones – lights become dark and darks become lights. I did this because, due to the nature of metal objects, lights and darks are purely a result of the angle of the camera and the lights. By inverting the values, we can see what the tones would look like with lighting similar to what Profiles has used. And the results smack you across the face.

The various burnished areas show a high degree of matching. Since it was undoubtedly done by hand with a random outcome, any kind of match would be hard to manufacture. The details are not just similar but exact. Keep in mind that it's had almost 50 years to pick up additional nicks and flaws. I think the photo evidence is very conclusive – this is the Lirpa held by William Shatner back in 1967 as he sparred with Leonard Nimoy on Desilu's sound stage.

That's freakin' amazing.

That said, I'd like to be clear about something. I've never inspected this piece first hand. And it's impossible to say that its not a reproduction done specifically to fool the eye. But I've seen and held a lot of props over the years and this match seems way to organic and perfect to be anything else but genuine, in my opinion.

This makes this piece one of the rarest and most amazing finds in Star Trek collecting history. A couple of years ago the long-lost Phaser Rifle from "Where No Man Has Gone Before" came out into the light, much to the delight of fans everywhere. This piece is much like that.I have no idea where it's been for 49 years, but I'm very happy to see that it has survived, and in very good condition, too.

The word "rare" get overused these days, especially regarding Star Trek. But this is one time when it's definitely not hyperbole. This sucker is super-amazing-to-the-nth-degree-rare.

Did I mention it's kind of unusual?

Check out the entire catalog here:

Profiles Star Trek Auction

LLAP.

Don