Showing posts with label trek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trek. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Grace Lee Whitney, Star Trek's Yeoman Janice Rand, Merges with The Infinite

It seems that actress and singer, Grace Lee Whitney, has passed. Fans of the original Star Trek show will remember Whitney as Yeoman Rand, Captain Kirk's sometimes love interest, especially during early episodes of the series.

We're very sorry to hear of her passing.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Trek Watch: Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home

As we say good-bye to Leonard Nimoy, I wanted to give one of the Star Trek movies a whirl.  And Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home seemed a good choice.  It's lighter, was directed by Nimoy, and has a strong character thread for Spock.

just a couple of bros, trading colorful metaphors

I'm actually a fan of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, not the least because it truly felt like an episode of the original show taken to its logical extreme - exploration leading to realization of some greater truth about humanity, etc... And the direction by Robert Wise is impeccable.  I'm also a fan of Star Treks II and III, both great action movies, expanding on the ideas from the TV series, both the commentary of The Star Seeds and the pioneering science you'd see Kirk and Co coming upon from planet to planet, episode to episode.

Star Trek IV, of course, picks up the threads of II and III and completes a trilogy of related movies, sending the crew of the Enterprise home to face court-martial for the events of the prior two movies.  Spock has returned to life in the events of III, and keeps up a stoic as he finds his footing.  And, of course, the world will end if we don't travel back into the past, enjoy a Michelob and grab some humpback whales.  Returning to the roots of Trek, Star Trek IV sets up a conflict that can't be resolved with phasers or photon torpedoes, setting up what a wacky adventure for our faithful crew in the 1980's.

Of course, y'all don't need a plot synopsis of Star Trek IV.

And, of course, it's not like I haven't written about the movie before.

This movie marked another evolution in Spock's character - the movie where he fully accepts his human nature and the inherent illogic of humanity as part of his own nature.  His mother's reminder that his friends have substituted the "needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one" was ignored to save him, he in turn applies to the comatose Chekov.  And he embraces the human notion of "guessing" rather than working from facts and numbers.

It's not the A Plot of the movie, but it's interesting to see what must have been on the minds of Nimoy and Harve Bennett, who acted as story developers but also as Director and Producer, respectively (for you kids who weren't around yet, saving the whales was kind of a big thing back in the '80's).

Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy Merges With The Infinite

We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted, in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most.... human.

This one hurts, y'all.

I only post about folks who've gone beyond the veil when it's personal, but this one...  Leonard Nimoy meant a lot to generations of us folks who grew up with Star Trek.  I was too young to get it when DeForest Kelley passed, and was saddened when James Doohan went, but now we've lost Nimoy.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Single Question Posed is Answered - Star Wars or Star Trek?

Gerry asks:

Not sure if you've ever come out on either side of this, but the public demands an answer: Star Wars or Star Trek?
The short answer is:  Planet of the Apes.

pew pew pew!

The real answer is - I grew up loving both, and never understood why I had to pick one over the other.  To me, that was sort of like picking Dragonslayer over The Secret of NIMH.  I kind of felt they were two different animals (one is fantasy, one is space adventure) and I could enjoy both, but I do get that it's like the need to pick either DC or Marvel and then go online and defend your stance from a religious perspective.  It's the internet.  You want to feel that there's logic to your gut feeling.

In my youth, Star Wars certainly got a lot of extra weight as it was the franchise that was being merchandised like crazy.  I never had any official Star Trek stuff until college, I think, when Jamie's Dad got me a Next Generation badge for Christmas (I was touched).

But let's not take any short cuts.  Let's take a really, really long look at this, shall we?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Signal Watches (and spoils) - Star Trek: Into Darkness (the title that made no sense)

Y'all know I love my Captain Kirk, Uhura and McCoy.  I have and wear a shirt with the image of Leonard Nimoy that reads "Spock is my homeboy".  My clock at work bears the image of the Enterprise.  I was ridiculed in 4th grade Reading class for wanting to be on Enterprise away teams when I grew up.  By the teacher.

I understand that one must reboot and refresh a franchise from time to time.  For goodness sake, I'm a Superman fan.  The trademarked character is more about how he's been interpreted in various incarnations than he is about any particular story.

I just don't think JJ Abrams is much of a writer or director.  And its possible Chris Pine isn't much of an actor.


What is true is that by the time Star Trek: Enterprise aired, the Star Trek franchise had become so insular and inward looking that it was basically extended fan service.  I don't even know if the show was good or not, as I found myself just... not caring that it was on as I saw it jumping back through the hoops I'd found all-too-familiar after multi-year runs of ST: TNG, DS9 and Voyager (a show I wanted to like, but found everyone but Janeway kind of perplexingly flat.  At least she got to make command decisions and wrestle with saving her crew).

Friday, April 5, 2013

Oh, Did You Just Figure Out That Maybe Disney Buying Star Wars Means Everything You Liked About Star Wars is Going to Getting Demolished?

Shoemaker sent me this article from i09.  It's basically about how, the afterglow of Disney's purchase of Star Wars and the sudden lay-offs, etc... start to settle in, someone realized that Disney probably doesn't give two Jawa farts about the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

As I said in my email response to Shoemaker: no kidding

once again, your avatar for what will happen to everything you once loved

Even when the first Expanded Universe stuff hit the shelf when I was in high school, I didn't read it.  I guess by the time those books arrived, I was pretty well aware that studio executives weren't going to care that some sci-fi authors wanted to write Star Wars books when it came time to make new movies, and those studio execs were going to include George Lucas and his associates.  When movies that moved past the conclusion of Return of the Jedi did happen, they'd be so much bigger than a series of fantasy books, that the books would just sort of disappear into the ether as non-canonical, leaving a herd of nerds wondering how to reconcile the irreconcilable, narratively speaking, in their minds.

Of course, for two decades we had Uncle George backing up the books - which I doubted he ever read, but he knew that without his stamp, those books wouldn't be taken seriously nor purchased by Star Wars fans.  And that meant less dough, so best to just approve them and worry on it later.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Star Trek Wars, Jenny Olsen, and so much I missed while I was on hiatus

A lot happened while I was out.  Presidential Inaugurations.  The Sixth Gun got optioned for a TV show.  I watched a handful of pretty good movies programmed by Eddie Muller on TCM.

Anyway, while I was out I guess people online put together than Jimmy Olsen will not be Jimmy Olsen, but Jenny Olsen in the movie, Man of Steel.  I am sure five years ago that would have launched a 3000 word column from me on why it would be better if WB would respect the history and we'd all be snarky and sneer knowingly at the studio people for making some bad decisions.  But...

Yeah, I guess I don't really have the energy to get worked up about it anymore.  The studio is going to do what the studio is going to do, and it's not like they won't get my ticket on opening day.  Or that the prior five Superman movies really did anything with Jimmy as a character.  In fact, he got more to do in Supergirl than in pretty much any other film.

Not without precedent

I will always like the Silver and Bronze Age Superman comics, I think Jack Larson was great, but I think I'm kind of past thinking Superman is any one, particular thing.  I have my opinions of what works and what doesn't, but the past decade around Superman has really been about DC and WB wrestlimg with what they think Superman is or can be.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: "Trekkies 2" and "The People vs. George Lucas"

I watched these two docs back-to-back, trying to clear out some of my Netflix queue, but also to try to wrap up the number of docs I'm willing to watch about folks obsessing around a particular bit of geek-culture.  It seems like there's a built in audience around these things, so they get made and we can have movies about ourselves as geeks, and that's okay.  Having a movie that reflects the culture built up around a franchise is relevant if not important in understanding the context of that bit of media and why and how it fits in with the broader culture.

The two movies catch two powerful franchises and their fanbases at about the same period, around 2009ish, as Star Trek was more or less out of production and the audience is - you hate to say it - probably in decline as it aged out and maybe moved on as the content had both diminished over a few less-than-stellar series and hadn't had a great movie in quite a while.  Star Wars was, of course, Star Wars, and the final installment (at time of filming) had left audiences with mixed feelings.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

this summer, Star Trek will take my money

Here's the trailer for the new, action-packed-looking Star Trek.

I'm actually pretty comfortable with the complete distortion of Roddenberry's Star Trek that the new series has become.  Well, I'm uncomfortable with it, but what am I going to do?  Not watch new Star Trek?  Ha ha ha ha.


Anyway, I'm looking at this wondering about the episodes "Charlie X" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before" rather than anything to do with Khan, but we'll see.

Also, is it wrong that I wish they found a home for George Takei in this movie?  Yes, probably.  But I just like George Takei.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Trek Watch: s1e3 - Where No Man Has Gone Before

There's really endless commentary out there on Star Trek, but I really do want to watch the whole original series in order, so you may see some comments from time to time.

Technically, "Where No Man Has Gone Before" is episode 3 of Season 1.  It features a young and terribly fetching Sally Kellerman as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner.  Rumor has it this is the episode that the filmmakers may be basing part of the plot on for the next film.  I have no idea if that's true, but the episode is a pretty great Trek story, even if Sulu isn't on the bridge, Scotty is a bit part, and there's no Dr. McCoy to be seen.  And absolutely no Uhura, which is ALWAYS a mistake.

In fact, this episode was intended to be the pilot, but as so often happens - the episodes were aired out of order making this Episode 3.

confession:  I'm still envious of Shatner's haircut from Trek.  That and "The Draper".  Man, I could never really pull either off.

Some Trek nerd actually knows how this game is played

The Enterprise enters a strange field at the edge of the galaxy that imbues Kirk's pal, Lt. Commander Gary Mitchell, with awesome mental powers.  And we face the age old dilemma of a man losing his humanity as he gains super powers.  

I'm shocked at how strong the show was coming right out of the gate as fairly potent sci-fi, even if they have to resort to fisticuffs to solve the problem.  

Also, they were still figuring out the uniforms.  Command is in gold, science is in blue, but they have funky collars and Spock is in command gold.  Do not approve.


The formula isn't there quite yet, but the solid foundation for the Enterprise is taking shape quite nicely.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Neil DeGrasse-Tyson Helps Confirm What I Already Knew

That the original USS Enterprise is an amazing starship.

thanks to Jordan for the video and link.

Apparently this was a fun panel at SDCC 2012 in which a bunch of folks have a sort of spirited but mock debate over whether this or that geek item is better. Tyson was attending the Con, but he was simply attending in the audience for this panel. However, one does not simply just have Neil Tyson in the room and not have him weigh in on matters of import such as "which spaceship is the coolest?".

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer TV: Sherlock & Star Trek

The shows I do watch are ended for the season, or wrapping up.  There are only a few episodes left of Season 5 of Mad Men (and last week's episode made me sad), Mythbusters carries on destroying everything in the name of science - even when its clear that Jamie and Adam are not really invested anymore, Parks & Rec has called it a day for 2012, and I've not seen a new American Experience since April, I think.

So its time for me to try to catch up!


You guys have recommended Sherlock to me a few times, and so last night I finally watched the pilot on Netflix.  And then tonight I watched the second episode.

Y'all, that was pretty good, right?  I mean, I'm not wrong on this?

hello.  We're British.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Trek Nation (2010)

At this point I think there are as many documentaries about Star Trek as there are Star Trek movies.

I'll be honest with you, I have very warm childhood memories of Trek, and I like the movies, but I am not a Trekker, I'm a bit more of a Trekkie.  I rarely get to watch reruns of either the original series or Next Generation.  I never watched much Voyager, DS9, Enterprise or the short-lived Animated Series.

I have, I suppose, muted enthusiasm for certain brands of Trek, especially those that weren't overseen by Gene Roddenberry.

Trek Nation (2010) isn't actually about the fandom of Star Trek, but the relationship between Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and his son, Rod Roddenberry, and Rod's discovery, as an adult, of the impact his father had on the world.

Sure, the Sci-Fi conventions are all there.  The geeks in their Klingon suits get coverage, a few of the aging stars of the franchise get some camera time and interview terrifically well, but far fewer of them than you'd expect.  But  to ask Shatner to reminisce about who Gene Roddenberry was isn't really the focus.  You do get just an astounding amount of behind the scenes footage, archival stuff, candid stuff...  its impressive what they dug up.

The interview subjects also include series writers like DC Fontana (turns out DC is a lady.  I did not know, but very in keeping with Trek, I think), George Lucas and Stan Lee talking about the impact of Trek and a bit of why it worked, and what that might have said about Roddenberry the Sr.  Also included are writers and producers from the later series, leading right up to JJ Abrams talking Trek with the son of Roddenberry.

That Rod Roddenberry so clearly did not know the man with whom he lived until his father died in 1991 is in every bit of the movie, and even if it can tilt toward familiar hagiography at times, its through the eyes of the grown man both thrilled and injured to see his father's legacy and he becomes a part of it.

I do wish they'd dug a bit deeper, perhaps.  There are some ellipses that could have used a full stop when it comes to how and why the Roddenberry men weren't close, but it doesn't feel incomplete.

I caught this as a two-hour broadcast on the Science Channel, just FYI.  I wasn't sure if it counted as a movie of 2012, but I'm counting it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Comics I read and Chris Roberson's "Memorial" comes out on Wednesday

As a reminder, Chris Roberson's hotly anticipated new series Memorial starts on Wednesday. If you're in Austin, he'll be at Austin Books and Comics in the afternoon from 1-4 to sign copies (I'm getting my copy signed).

If'n you haven't read any of Chris' work, this is a great opportunity to jump on and see why I keep talking about this guy.

Some other stuff:

Tintin - Secret of the Unicorn: I'm the guy who keeps going "oooooooooh...!" at the trailer for the new Tintin movie, and so I read the book Secret of the Unicorn this week.  Its a very manageable volume, but also, apparently, part 1 of the story.  So, while I was a bit thrown by the fact that the story didn't actually end, I also just emailed Austin Books to see if they had a copy of the subsequent volumes.

As you know, I'm a Scrooge and Donald Duck fan, and this is in roughly the same sort of vein of high adventure, but with a lot of goofy stuff happening around the characters and our heroes being a bit off-kilter themselves.  Its also amazing how much of a master of the form HergĂ© was as far back as these stories first appeared. Today's action strip artists could most certainly learn quite a bit about pacing and scene management from Tintin.

Incorruptible Volume 4: I've been a fan of Mark Waid's "superhero" work at Boom! with the pairing of Irredeemable and Incorruptible. I did fall a bit behind on my reading of these series, and I'm now trying to catch up, but I hadn't forgotten how much I like how Waid's exploring the central thesis in each book of the hero turned mad/ WMD, and the villain who, in a world gone crazy sees the only sensible thing to do is fight on the side of the angels, even if he has no idea how that works and the people around him are all terribly, humanly uneven in their own approaches to life.

Just a great series for the superhero fan who can't deal with another reboot, civil war, etc... Its some dark stuff, but its smartly done and is genuinely building a coherent storyline. Someting I'm not sure you can say about most of the New 52.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: Star Trek/ Legion of Super-Heroes Crossover

To begin with:  I've been utterly compromised.

In order to retain whatever passes for journalistic integrity around here, I should mention that Saturday night I had a couple of cocktails with Ms. @Allisontype and her husband, writer of this comic, Chris Roberson.  Excellent people.  All the stories are true.

Also - ask them about their Halloween cookies.

I had intended to do my review of this book prior to the evening, and failed.

So, here's more of an informal discussion of what I'll say up front is a really fun comic.

I am totally okay with Phil Jimenez doing nothing but drawings of Uhura and Saturn Girl forever

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Star Trek IV" and "Gilda"

Yesterday we spent the day helping Wagner move into her new pad down here in South Austin, so by the evening, I wasn't excactly pressing Jamie to make sure we got a night out on the town.  An order to Domino's later, and we had our evening mapped out.


I'm no true Trekker (I'm more of a Trekkie), but I love some original-cast, original-series Star Trek.  For Christmas, Jamie had got me a Blu-Ray set of the first 6 Trek films, some of which I haven't watched in years. 

I think we all knew about Trek growing up, but I wasn't really sold on the premise until 1984, when my folks moved us to Austin and Trek ran every weekday afternoon on the local UHF channel, KBVO.  No need to recount much more here, as, thanks to the power of the internet and 8 years of blogging, I've already done so elsewhere. 

Kirk and Spock try to decide if Pier 39 is too touristy

But what I would recount here is that seeing Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in the theater was an eye-opening geek-tacular experience in my youth.  Yes, its the sit-com episode wherein the crew travels to 1987 to recruit some humpback whales in order to prevent an alien intelligence from accidentally destroying Earth with their megaphone.  But it was also the movie where people were so excited, they were cheering, standing up to applaud, etc...  really, pretty incredible.

The movie holds up remarkably well, and the Blu-Ray edition I have cleans up all the fx and optics that had gotten a little funky over the years.  The plot is, perhaps, a little silly, but its good, clean fun, and does what sci-fi does so well, and that's uses a metaphor to explain the issues of the day (ie: we need to be careful how we deal with our planet and the species we share it with, as we cannot predict the tragedy their loss will bring us). 

Also, it gives us all the line we use (inaccurately) when we see ourselves flying into the Bay Area:

Kids today won't get the scant Cold War references either as Chekov gets picked up as a Russian spy on our naval vessel, the USS Enterprise, nor the stalemate of Federation vs. Klingon that plays out in the bookend scenes. 

Its also unfortunate that we don't get a bit more time to explore the Enterprise crew dealing with the late 20th Century or get more cultural comment (and it is kind of hilarious that the single-use device, the communicator, is the size of a brick).  But I can say that to this day, when my computer at work does not do as I say, I still find myself repeating Scotty's condescending "hellllloooo, computer...".  (Yes, I work on Windows machines.  Don't judge me.)

Anyway, I still love this movie.

Oh my Goodness, Rita Hayworth
After Jamie toodled off to bed, I watched Gilda, a post WWII decidedly noirish flick about everything from tungsten cartels to romantic obsession, to philiosophizing men's room attendants.  Starring Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth, its a reminder of what an "A" noir looks like in comparison to, say, 5 Against the House

Not the most subtle advertising for why you should watch this flick
I'd pose the question of whether or not the movie would have been made without Casablanca as a predecessor, as it seems a product of somewhat similar setting, characters, etc... only without anybody having anything honorable to fight for, and sinking into noirish territory rather than the turn to the just-cause that Casablanca provides as the alternative. 

It does, however, feature Rita Hayworth as Gilda, the quickly-obtained wife of a shady night club owner, who has good reason to butt heads with his strong arm, Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford).  There are some comparisons one could make to the Coen's development of the Tom/ Verna/ Leo triangle in Miller's Crossing, although here its all a bit more...  tuxedo-clad. 

The role of Gilda is remarkably well-written, with some seriously snappy dialog, and became the role Hayworth would be associated with for the remainder of her life.  She would also inspire looks and other characters in countless movies afterward.  And I find it hard to believe Jessica Rabbit, and countless other "oh, that woman singing is trouble" scenes would have existed without Put the Blame on Mame

Its definitely a film I'll want to watch again, and not just because of Rita Hayworth.  There were a lot of plot threads, some things I'll want to see again as per how whole scenes were thought through (such as the use of disguises during the Carnival sequence), etc...  Its a smart, clever movie and I can see why it turns up in so many lists.

As easy as it is to just want to applaud Rita Hayworth for her Hayworthness, Glenn Ford and George Macready are also both really good as well.  I haven't seen all that much of Glenn Ford's work, but I can see why he was a popular actor.
I hear San Antonio residents will be able to see it on the big screen this summer as part of the TPR Summer Film series!  So, you know, go check that out when NathanC begins promoting the film season.