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Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek’

Star Trek: Beyond, a fitting 50th tribute

In Entertainment, Media, Movies, Opinion, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on August 8, 2016 at 9:14 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOIn 2009, Paramount Pictures released “Star Trek,” a modern, big screen, retelling of the classic science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry. Directed by J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), the film offered fans an alternate beginning to the life of Captain James T. Kirk, played by Chris Pine.

Abrams’ take on nearly a half-century of Trek lore angered a good portion of the fan base. In this first foray into Trekkie land, he managed to hit the delete key on some very important story canon. And, just to make the point that he could do whatever he wanted with the franchise, in the second film, Star Trek: Into Darkness, he did it again.

This time, he brought back Khan (played by “Sherlock’s” Benedict Cumberbatch), Kirk’s nemesis from the original series and again in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Since the origins of Kirk and company were altered, the Enterprise didn’t stumble upon Khan’s derelict spacecraft as it did originally, but ended up fighting him anyway thanks to a power-mad Starfleet admiral.

Once again, fans reeled. As a fan myself, my opinion is that it was a terrible film. It was a bad copy of the first Star Trek II (now that’s not confusing is it?). So where would they boldy go next? Well, fortunately, with Abrams having been snatched up by Disney to take over the Star Wars world, they needed new leadership.

When the first Abrams Trek was released, I had the privilege of reviewing it for my hometown newspaper. While I enjoyed the film, I, like many of my fellow fans, found it lacking a “Star Trek” feel. It was more action and less “human.” I could live with the alternate universe concept, after all, it’s “Star Trek” and you can do anything you want with it. But the complete disregard for the character-driven humanity that Roddenberry injected into the franchise in favor of a nauseating level of lens flare and CGI effects was a bit much for me.

Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) in Star Trek: Beyond   Photo Courtesy MovieWeb.

Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) in Star Trek: Beyond Photo Courtesy MovieWeb.

This summer, Paramount released the third in the alternate Trek series, “Star Trek: Beyond.” And, in my humble opinion as a lifelong fan, this time they got it right. Co-written by Simon Pegg, who plays “Scotty” in the films, “Beyond” offers more of what “Star Trek” is famous for – the human struggle to achieve and make a difference.

With numerous nods to the original by way of images, original series dialogue and character interactions, “Beyond” is the first in this series to make this fan actually want to see it again – and again. It’s just a fun movie. It’s “Star Trek” again, well, almost.

As good as it is, “Star Trek: Beyond” still lacks something, but we can’t have Shatner and Nimoy back on the bridge. Nor can we go home to the comfortable captain’s chairs of the 1980s feature films. But, with a fourth film already given a green light and a new TV series set for streaming video in 2017, “Star Trek” may have finally found its second wind.

I’m still in favor of J.J. keeping his director’s chair over at Lucasfilm and staying away from the Starfleet world indefinitely. He just doesn’t get it. Not that I really think he gets “Star Wars” either, but I don’t care as much about that.

To me, “Star Trek” is not space fantasy, but science fiction in the best sense. It offers a positive vision of our future and suggests that we can be better people, that humanity is worth saving and any film or TV versions from here on should perpetuate that concept

With the passing last year of Leonard Nimoy (Spock prime) and the recent tragic death of Anton Yelchin (Checkov), this film could have been a painful reminder of loss. Fortunately, “Star Trek: Beyond” is a wonderful tribute to original Enterprise crew, all of whom get a quick photographic cameo, and it’s a fitting celebration of Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary. I’ll be seeing it again for sure, and so should you. Live long, and prosper.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.

 

 

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Remembering “Spock,” actor Leonard Nimoy

In Entertainment, Movies, National News, Opinion, television, Theatre, Uncategorized, World News on March 3, 2015 at 1:43 pm

DIH LOGO

In 1982, fans of the science fiction franchise, “Star Trek,” more commonly referred to as “Trekkies,” or the more accepted, “Trekkors,” took a kidney punch when Leonard Nimoy’s character of Mr. Spock died at the end of the film “Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan.” But, thanks to the miracle of science fiction, Spock was resurrected and the Starship Enterprise continued to boldly go where no man had gone before.

Sadly, fans must now face a more painful and permanent fact of life as they mourn the passing of the actor who, for nearly a half century, portrayed their favorite pointy-eared alien. Leonard Nimoy passed away on February 27th at the age of 83 at his home in Los Angeles following a long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

As a lifelong fan there is no way to adequately convey the sadness of losing such a talented performer whose on-screen character inspired so many. Mr. Spock, Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, and the rest of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew, were great sources, not only of entertainment, but incredible inspiration for individual achievement and social change.

spockNetwork executives originally told Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry to, “get rid of the guy with the ears.” But, thanks to Mr. Nimoy’s talented development of the character,  Mr. Spock became a quintessential part of “Star Trek’s” hopeful future in which everyone worked together to eliminate hunger, pettiness and poverty.

Such a vision is still somewhat unique – and often poked fun at – in the science fiction genre, which more often paints a dark, pessimistic outlook for man and a holocaust-ravaged world of tomorrow.  But with Spock’s presence, a bright future for mankind seemed more plausible. In Spock, Mr. Nimoy created the embodiment of chaos with focus, logic with feeling, and understanding with wonder.

I have been incredibly fortunate on a couple of occasions to have had the chance to meet and speak to Mr. Nimoy, as well as see him perform. At one Star Trek anniversary convention I attended, he invited questions from the audience. He chose my raised hand from several dozen other hopefuls seated nearby and I didn’t waste the opportunity.

A bit stunned at having been selected, I stood up and managed to ask something from the original “Star Trek” pilot episode that I’d been wondering about for years. With a genuinely amused laugh, he thought for a moment and informed us that he’d never before been asked about it.

Then, he answered with a detailed, behind the scenes story and directly thanked me when he finished. I will never forget that. Naturally it was cool even to be picked out of hundreds, but I was far more privileged to have given Leonard Nimoy even a tiny moment of entertainment in return for all he’d given us.

Mr. Nimoy played Spock for the last time in the most recent “Star Trek” film, “Into Darkness,” and, although he will be most remembered for his logical alter-ego, he also performed in dozens of other movies and television programs over the years. Besides “Star Trek,” he’s probably most remembered for his time on “Mission Impossible” and, more recently, in the TV drama, “Fringe.”

Besides being a gifted actor, Mr. Nimoy was a director, poet, photographer and activist. In the “Star Trek” animated series Spock is quoted to have said, “Loss of life is to be mourned. But only if that life was wasted.” Clearly, his was certainly not wasted.

Any of us should be so lucky as to have touched even a fraction of the lives Mr. Nimoy did, and in so many positive ways. To all those mourning a loss, remember the burden will ease over time and those we lose really aren’t gone, as long as we remember them. Live long and prosper.

If you would like to know Gery’s convention question to Mr. Nimoy and what answer he gave, read the BONUS MATERIAL at the end of this article.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

  

BONUS MATERIAL:
Question from Gery Deer to Leonard Nimoy in a talk at the Star Trek 35th Anniversary Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Gery L. Deer: Mr. Nimoy, in the Star Trek pilot episode, “The Cage,” you beam down to the surface of planet Talos IV with Captain Pike and a landing party. As you walk around the planet set, you appear to be limping and I wanted to know if you could tell us why? I’ve heard people say it had something to do with your boots, or the set floor, whatever. I just wondered what the real reason was.

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer in one of the uniforms designed for Star Trek II-The Wrath of Khan

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer in one of the uniforms designed for Star Trek II-The Wrath of Khan

Leonard Nimoy: (Laughing) You’ve been worried about that all of these years, why I was limping? Well, I have to say I have never been asked about that before.

(The crowd of about 1,200 in the room was really laughing at this point and applauding.)

Leonard Nimoy: Well, I’ll tell you because I really don’t want you to be troubled by this any longer. (More laughter). If you remember in the story there was some discussion about a fight that had taken place on a planet several weeks prior.

As the story goes, the Enterprise crew was ambushed and there was a battle in which crew members were killed or injured. Spock was supposed to have hurt his leg in that fight. In television and movies, you often shoot scenes and story lines out of sequence and the scenes where the fight takes place would have been in another episode to go before the events in The Cage had Star Trek had been picked up without any changes. Then you’d see Spock get hurt and know why he’s limping later. (Crowd applauds.)

Leonard Nimoy: (Nimoy, looking back again at Gery) That’s why I was limping and now you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Thank you for that question, that was really the first time anyone has ever asked me that. (Mr. Nimoy gives Gery the Vulcan salute and the crowd applauds again.)

END.

 

 

Star Trek Continues: Resurrecting an icon on the web.

In Local News on February 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm

By Gery L. Deer

DEER IN HEADLINES – Special Edition

(1967) Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock and William Shatner as Capt. Kirk

(1967) Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock and William Shatner as Capt. Kirk

It’s been almost a half-century since actor William Shatner first took command of the Starship Enterprise on Gene Roddenberry’s “wagon train to the stars,” space opera called, Star Trek. The show set a new standard for science fiction television and became an unparalleled phenomenon; a mirror which reflected the social and political issues of the torrential 1960s disguised as a simple action adventure series.

Today, 6 television series ( TOS, the animated series, TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise) and 12 big-budget feature films later, the human adventure continues on the internet with free, fan-produced episodes mirroring the original program. These low-budget, passion-driven productions vary in quality and professional look, but they are certainly keeping the Star Trek franchise alive and in its original form.

Fan made web series are not uncommon, generally produced with little or no money and volunteer crew. But what makes Star Trek different is the level to which fans and entertainment professionals have come together to recreate the Enterprise and its universe so … respectfully and in remarkable detail.

I just watched the most recent webisode of Star Trek Continues (STC), developed by a joint venture between Farragut Films, Dracogen Strategic Investments and producer Vic Mignogna. Continuing Captain Kirk’s original five-year mission aboard the USS Enterprise – cut short by network cancellation – STC’s production crew has recreated the look and feel of the original series, right down to the last Light-Bright-inspired, gumdrop control button.

There are other fan-based Star Trek reboots out there and I have been a fan of all of them. But, so far, Star Trek Continues has my greatest admiration; not because I dislike the other ones, but because of the overall production quality and desire to please the fans as much as themselves.

Todd Haberkorn as Mr. Spock and Vic Mignogna as Capt. Kirk

(2014) Todd Haberkorn as Mr. Spock and Vic Mignogna as Capt. Kirk

Many of these productions seem to pay homage to the original Star Trek, but take their own approach to it. I prefer STC because they’re not trying to ‘improve’ on the original. Technically, they’re using state-of-the-art production quality. But the application of that technology, at least from a layman’s point of view, seems to be tempered with a careful effort to make sure they don’t overshoot the personality of the original.

Additionally, each character is brought alive by the actor in his or her own manner, never trying to “spoof” or “parody” the original 1960s style. That’s a particular challenge for anyone sitting in William Shatner’s old captain’s chair given that his dramatic delivery of broken dialogue has always been fodder for ridicule. Fortunately, the actors taking up the gold, red and blue are doing it their way while fully representing the spirit of the characters.

Star Trek Continues Enterprise - 1701 bridge set. (Photo courtesy Star Trek Continues Official Facebook Page)

Star Trek Continues Enterprise – 1701 bridge set. (Photo courtesy Star Trek Continues Official Facebook Page)

Taking up the center seat as the unflappable Captain James Tiberius Kirk is actor Vic Mignogna, who, among other titles, is also the project’s executive producer. Todd Haberkorn dons the pointed ears as Mr. Spock and, for the first two voyages, Larry Nemecek joins the trio as curmudgeonly ship’s surgeon, Dr. Leonard McCoy.

Chris Doohan as "Scotty"

Chris Doohan as “Scotty”

As if in some parallel universe story, STC’s “Mr. Scott,” is portrayed by Chris Doohan, son of the late James Doohan (1920-2005), the actor who played the original Enterprise Chief Engineer. Doohan has had a little help with his dad’s accent but fans are grateful he took on the iconic roll his father made so beloved by millions – and the likeness is truly uncanny.

Plus, fans of Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” program will recognize the young man piloting the Starship Enterprise as none other than Grant Imahara, who has taken on the part of Mr. Sulu. Of course, it wouldn’t be Star Trek without a compliment of disposable red shirts. Fear not, Trekkors, STC has more than you can shake a phaser at, including Battlestar Galactica’s Jamie Bamber (Lee Adama), who is the first red shirt to take one for the team in their premier episode.

Effects for Star Trek Continues are done through state of the art computer imaging based on the original models. Here is their version of the Enterprise.

Effects for Star Trek Continues are done through state of the art computer imaging based on the original models. Here is their version of the Enterprise.

Along with the nostalgic look, fan shows also try hard to meet the intellectual standards of Star Trek’s original run. Gene Rodenberry once said, “There are smart people out there on the other side of the television tube,” and he was right.

But back then, he wanted to deal with difficult topics at a time when television was still portraying Leave It to Beaver as “normal” life in America. Star Trek Continues is keeping to the creator’s original intent. In their second episode, titled, “Lolani,” for example, Kirk and company deal with the issues of slavery, human (or in this case, alien) trafficking and gender equality.

It’s tough to get those types of stories past the network overseers even today. Fortunately, however, a few “enterprising” fans have found a way to once again go boldly where no one has gone before and engage the minds of the viewer without insulting their intelligence.

Like its reconstituted web series counterparts, Star Trek Continues might simply be the dream of a bunch of Trekkie nerds who just want to dress up in pointed ears and sit in the big chair (being one of them, I can empathize). But with thought-provoking, original stories, top of the line acting and professional production, the program is, in my amateur opinion, far better than most of what Hollywood is producing for television today. If you have a chance, I highly recommend it.

Here are some links to Star Trek Continues as well as other Star Trek fan productions.

Star Trek Continues – http://startrekcontinues.com/

Star Trek Phase II (New Voyages) – http://startreknewvoyages.com/

Starship Farragut – http://www.starshipfarragut.com/

 

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Author’s Note: I want to thank Alex P. Michaels, from the Official Star Trek Continues FB page for correcting me on the number of Star Trek TV series there were in all. I originally had 4 listed, yet forgot about DS9 and the animated series; odd since I loved that show as a child and still watch it occasionally on Netflix. Thanks again.

Lost in space, the salvation of classic TV online

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Media, Opinion, sociology, Technology, television, Uncategorized on March 13, 2013 at 12:00 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

gsspI’ve written in the past about the lack of creativity coming out of Hollywood these days and it seems increasingly worse. Reality television flows through the airways like so much Typhoid-infested water, riddled with disease and parasites. Thankfully, like an oasis in the desert, modern technology has provided a welcome respite from the gunk that is today’s network television.

By monthly subscription, online video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video offer TV junkies instant access to more than a half-century of programming. Forget waiting a whole week for the next fix of Gilligan’s Island, Cheers or NYPD Blue, now I can watch anytime I want to, day or night, episode after delicious episode from pilot to finale.

These services were originally intended to provide instant access to the same movies you used to go to the video store to rent. But for those of us who prefer bite after bite of tasty episodic television, they serve up a veritable buffet of broadcast entrees ranging from exciting 1950’s westerns like Gunsmoke to angst-filled dramas of the nineties like Beverly Hills 90210.

No more will my television fix need to be delayed by thoroughly staged yet somehow unscripted shows like The Bachelor or bad refits of The Gong Show like The Voice or American Idol. If you don’t’ know what the Gong Show was, your probably too young to understand any of these other references either.

But, Danger Wil Robinson! Because of Hollywood’s continual reinvention of the wheel, when you finally rediscover your favorite old show, you have to be sure which version you’re watching. Is it the new Knight Rider or classic Knight Rider. The Hoff is a classic? Now I just feel old.

Do you recognize this vehicle? Hint - it was on a live action Saturday morning kid's show in 1976.

Do you recognize this vehicle? Hint – it was on a live action Saturday morning kid’s show in 1976.

If you prefer your TV tray filled with something more modern but still thoughtful, well-written and engaging, you can forget the networks. You’ll need to subscribe to cable or satellite services for AMC, BBC America or other high-end channels.

Award-winning programs like Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Doc Martin, Sherlock and the new runaway hit, Downton Abbey, have successfully lured fastidious viewers from Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC for several years. What’s that you say? You don’t have cable? Fear not!

All you need is high-speed Internet, a computer, tablet or even a smart phone, and these programs are just an app download away. Faster than Trump can say, “You’re fired,” you’ll be whisked off to a land where all of life’s problems are solved in a half-hour and no one called Snookie would have ever been allowed on the air.

Ah, the good old days – when the same B movie actor in a rubber carrot suit tormented the Robinson family on Lost In Space one week and sent the crew of the Submarine Seaview rocking and rolling on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea the next. Back then, no one worried whether the lines were politically correct and the very idea of product placement was barely a glimmer in some Mad Man’s eye.

With my remote as my time machine, I can go back there again with a mere click of the play button or a tap on my tablet screen. The down side is that there’s always another episode waiting out there, somewhere in the ether. I move from one to the next, losing all track of time and action. Did I feed the cat? Is this still Tuesday? Oh well, I can figure all that out after I find out who shot JR Ewing. Of course, they just went and killed him off again –this time for keeps (RIP Larry Hagman).

When the rest of the TV landscape seems empty and foreign, these characters feel safe and familiar, like old friends I’ve lost touch with. But even after just enough time to write these few words, I feel out of the loop again, so I better get back to watching. Sometimes you still wanna go where everybody knows your name.