We are preparing for a big party and a crowd to watch the latest mayhem and kabooming around the Galaxy.
It is the longest running sci-fi saga along with Dr Who, but unlike Dr Who it has gained more credibility as the years go by. And today we are shifting the furniture in the US Room to resemble the Bridge for a celebratory 50th Anniversary on the 8th Sept. The Taverners will all raise a glass to Capt Kirk and his diverse, multicultural band of colonial oppressors who bring the Federation, lasers, photon torpedos and food generated from thin air to reluctant aliens.
And what a 50 year adventure it has been. Andrew Fenton dropped in to speak about it and many joined in. He wore a red shirt.
Star Trek’s enduring appeal as iconic TV series turns 50IT was 50 years ago this week that TV viewers first saw a spaceship blasting across the screen as William Shatner intoned the now immortal words: “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise …”No one watching Star Trek’s first episode on September 8, 1966 (actually the sixth made but the network wanted it to screen it first because it had a monster) would have thought five decades later the series would have become a multi-billion dollar franchise and pop-culture phenomenon.
Many actors as obscure as Shatner was back then have come and gone. Many a bit part player met his grisly end wearing a red shirt. Although it has to be said that the statistically (or Vulcan ) minded will tell you that proportionally more yellow shirted chaps and chapesses died, followed by a slightly smaller proportion of blue shirts. Red shirts were the least likely to die on an 'Away Team, but there were more of them.The original series spawned four live action spin-offs (The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise), an animated series and 13 big-screen adventures, plus an entire industry of merchandise from action figures to Klingon dictionaries.
JJ Abrams’ successful reboot in 2009 — blending the original concept with the fun and adventure of Star Wars — reinvigorated the franchise. Hardcore fans didn’t always appreciate the changes but the films struck a chord with the mainstream, taking more than US$1.1 billion between them.
To me and some customers here the most telling thing was the creativity of the back-room people. The scripts were 'so-so' adventures, just in space rather than on Earth, but they introduced things we had never seen or used. Tablets for instance. This was waaaay before even personal computers and yet here were hand-held , half-page sized handy computers. And the 'mobile phone' - the 'Communicator' - which eventually saw reality in the flip-top mobile phones. It took a while.The most exciting news for Trekkies in years is new TV series Star Trek Discovery, due January next year on Netflix worldwide (CBS All Access in North America). Set ten years before the original series, it promises cable style story arcs and comes from a key creative team bringing together different eras of Star Trek including showrunner Bryan Fuller (Deep Space Nine) Alex Kurtzman (reboot screenwriter) and Nicholas Meyer (The Wrath Of Khan).George Takei, Sulu in the original series, remembers thinking Star Trek would be lucky to last a year. Filming the 1965 pilot he recalls telling James Doohan (Scotty): “I smell quality with this show — the script is literate and very original and spine-tingling and the actors are all top notch. That means … we’re not going to last very long.”He was right: The “five-year mission” rated poorly and only got a second season due to the its “quality” advertising demographics as many doctors, psychiatrists and professors were fans of the show. Season three only came about after 116,000 letters protesting the rumoured cancellation flooded in to NBC. But a later timeslot and budget cuts meant the third season was the last.After just 79 episodes Takei says “we found the most devastating adversary was not the Klingons or the Romulans … but the NBC programming executives.”.
It will take a while longer for Transporters to come along and for the food dispensers that make food and drink from the stray molecules in the air.
It will be even longer, I think for that strangest of all aspects of life aboard a Starship. No toilets. Never do we see Captain Kirk caught short with his underpants down. Never do we hear Scotty say "It'll be at least ten minutes before the ships moves, Captain. I'm having some trouble with my own movement". No curving corridor with its sliding doors has a sign next to any saying 'Gents' or Ladies' or 'Aliens'. They have to beam down for that sort of thing. No wonder there is always a queue for an Away Team. Death is an acceptible risk !
With any normal show that would have been the end, but something about Star Trek resonated and the series began to become more and more popular each year through re-runs. (Associated Press called it “The show that wouldn’t die” and in the mid-1980s it was still the most popular syndicated show in America).
Modern fan culture began with Star Trek — the first major Star Trek convention was held in 1972, the forerunner of enormous events like the annual Comic Con. Trekkies became known worldwide.The success of Star Wars (1977) set the team off on their first big screen adventure in 1979. Six instalments featured the original crew, before The Next Generation team took over in the 90s for four more films, winding up with the franchise-killing Nemesis in 2002.Fans consider Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to be the best movie in the series.
The Pine Kirk is a big step forward. Despite Shatner's legacy, we never saw before how Kirk became Kirk. Pine showed us. Indeed, when we look at the 'beginnings' of Kirk we can now hope that one day small, annoying boys diagnosed with ADHD and behaving occasionally like little shits will not be medicated into small aliens. They need life's lessons, sound mentors and challenges to take their extra-ordinaryness and turn it into mature, daring leadership.For Chris Pine, Captain Kirk in the reboot, the appeal of Star Trek lies in humanity overcoming its differences to work together, aided by technology. “(Look) at the original bridge of the Enterprise: A black woman, a Russian man, an Asian man, an alien and a white man all working together in a time of great civil and social and world unrest. There is a primal element of humans that wants to tear each other apart but there’s also a social element that knows we have to work together because that is the only way our species will survive.”
Star Trek has always used the future to comment on today’s issues. “(By creating a new world with new rules I could make statements about sex, religion, Vietnam, politics and intercontinental missiles … they all got by the network,” creator Gene Rodenberry said.Ahead of its time in race issues, Star Trek featured one of the first onscreen interracial kisses between Kirk and Uhura. Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) remembers civil rights lead Martin Luther King Jr talking her out of quitting because of the potent symbolism of having an African American woman on the show.Now 85, Shatner, who played Captain Kirk, says it’s hard to wrap his head around the fact the show has lasted a lifetime: “Five lifetimes for a dog and three for a horse when you come to think of it!” he says.
|Anton Yelchin, Chis Pine, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban|
Hmmmmmm. Gays in Space. Must be something in the food.Shatner has a DVD box set out to coincide with the anniversary, featuring five of his Star Trek docos called The Captains: A Journey Through Time. His understanding of Trekkies has evolved over time — writing Get A Life! he came to the conclusion that fans didn’t attend conventions to see the actors: “In fact I discovered through a lot of interviews they were coming to see each other,” he said. Later on he changed his mind and decided “the secret behind it all, it came as a shock to me ... has to do with telling a story trying to explain things that are inexplicable”. In other words Star Trek helps us understand worm holes and quantum physics through myths, the way “The Greeks must have explained finding large bones that we now know are dinosaurs, as a race of giants.”The new Star Trek movies are of course very different to the old show: the ‘emotionless’ Spock punches Kirk and kisses Uhura and Sulu’s character is now gay in tribute to Takei.
“There are some changes to the basic structure of Star Trek that I personally wouldn’t have done because I am a traditionalist,” says Shatner, but adds the old movies had a box office ceiling of around $100 million, “So JJ has found the solution to getting a larger audience by all these things he’s doing.”
Few seem to mention that the underlying social order seems to be semi-demi-socialist. It is never mentioned. No-one is allowed to mention it, I guess. Really dim people don't make it into the Star Trek world unless they are aliens. The poor are never seen, like in a Chinese city when International dignitaries come visiting. No-one gets paid a salary that I have seen. Those food making machines will change the world in more ways than one.Takei says Star Trek remains as relevant today as it was half a century ago because the issues the original show dealt with remain — from warfare to racism — but the show posits a future where we can actually solve them.
Spock will even have his own Vulcan beer.
Personally, I have enjoyed most Star Trek episodes and films. I liked even Janeway! - although her side-kick Number One with the tatts was a wimp of the first water. Jean-Luc Pickerd was an excellent 'philosopher-Captain', ( I even named a cat I had after him) although some of his crew were 'iffy' - Deanna the Empath was a pain, frankly and almost as awful as her mum. Seven of Nine was a very curvy lady !! The strange cook was a mistake, as was getting rid of Kes. The Captain of Deep Space Nine was almost as badly painted as a Picasso.“When you just look back 50 years we have advanced on many levels — medicine, engineering, we now have a Rover on Mars. So we are making progress,” he says.“Gene (Roddenberry) was an optimist … he had a core faith and belief in the human animals ability to innovate, solve problems, invent and that we will find some way to move on.”
Thank goodness for a manly chap like Worf. He can drink in the Tavern anytime. I would even have him as a Bouncer.
The new lot are fine enough although the baddies are getting more bizarre by the time-shifting eons. Simon Pegg is a great casting. Quinto is a fine early Spock.
I am looking forward to customers coming along each dressed as a character and having a fine time in the '10 Forward' we are constructing in the Tavern just for the occasion.
Drinks will be on the house and include many quite alien ones provided by my Supplier.