Walter Mencken 2:37 p.m., March 1
OK, Mr. Abrams, Super 8’s a Hit — Back to Star Trek Now?
Supposedly, J.J. Abrams’ sequel to his Star Trek reboot has been written and in “pre-production” for over a year now. Now that Super 8 appears to be the cash cow he and all of Hollywood were banking on, isn’t it time to get back to boldly going where neither Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman, nor Brannon Braga had gone before?
I'm not a big fan of the original series (Next Gen is much better), but there were some fun movie moments in the recast restart that caught the funny vibe of a lot of the 1960s episodes. But the rest of the movie was indistinguishable from any number of mediocre sci-fi films, with nothing Trek-like about it, least of all the actors playing the original cast characters.
Only the guy from Heroes playing Spock seems to grasp his predecessor's work (probably because Nimoy is in the movie too, and probably coached him on-set), other than a couple of quick moments from the guy now playing chief engineer Scotty (who should have had a larger role in the movie) –
Funny about the guy who played Bones - he seemed more like the character as written in the better Trek novels than like his TV predecessor. Since the books tend to add a lot more character fine tuning than TOS, in a way the new guy is a better Bones than DeKelley - the new guy certainly brings a lot more instant- personality than De did when debuting on the air in Trek's Man Trap/salt vampire ep, one of George Clayton Johnson's poorer stories (tho he had very little info about the show when he wrote it). It took awhile for DeKelley to get his grumpy groove on –
It may seem silly, but I have a huge problem with Scotty being portrayed in the new movie as someone who would have used Captain Archer's pet beagle Porthos (from the Star Trek: Enterprise series) in a transporter experiment that resulted in Porthos being left in transporter limbo somewhere in space.
Well, at least the same thing happens to Scotty himself in the original non-altered timeline, where Scotty rematerialized years later on Picard's ship. But I take great exception to the notion of him not only endangering (and losing) Archer's beloved (and famous) dog, needlessly (any living creature would have worked - or rather, NOT worked), but then Scotty seems to find this a funny tale to tell. I find this intolerable, matter how young and rash he may have been at the time ----
I've never thought much of most Trek fan fiction, but now I have an idea for a "Return of Porthos" story that would sure as Hell teach that alternate timeline Scotty an ass-biting lesson or three ---
Shabby way to treat one of the few pets ever seen or referenced in the Trek universe(s), other than the Shelat Spock grew up with, Phlox's medicinal animals, Data's cat Spot and, I guess, tribbles ---
Now then, while I’ve got your ear, wanna hear about the time Gene Roddenberry yelled at me and stuck me with a meal bill??
I was one of several people being considered to write a mass-market biography of Roddenberry, the writer/producer to thank/ blame for the revered/reviled Star Trek phenomenon. Roddenberry and his wife, veteran Trek actress Majel Barrett [Nurse Chapel on the original series], sent word that they wanted to meet with me and with writer David Alexander at separate occasions, to get a feel for our respective approaches to the project.
My interview took place over a poolside brunch at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and all seemed to be going well at first. Roddenberry was explaining how he wanted this to be an unbiased "warts and all" account when he excused himself to visit the men's room.
This left me in the position of making small talk with his wife, who had played many characters in the various Trek incarnations (including the Enterprise's computer voice). At that time, she had a recurring role on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Lwaxana Troi, the flamboyant mother of Enterprise crewmember Deanna Troi.
I mentioned to Mrs. Roddenberry that I enjoy the way her character is portrayed as being far into the Autumn of her life, yet still shown as very sexual, amorously pursuing a twitchy Captain Picard and taunting him with a rotating roster of competing suitors, once even going into pheromone-frenzied "heat" and, in another episode, turning up nude on the Enterprise promenade.
"Yours is one of the most sexual characters on the show," I was telling her, just as Roddenberry stepped back up to our table.
He apparently misheard me...
"For chrissakes," Roddenberry bellowed loud enough to make the orange juice in my glass ripple like the scene in Jurassic Park where T-Rex is approaching. "I walk away for five minutes and come back to find you hitting on my wife and telling her she's the sexiest thing on Star Trek!"
At first, I thought he was pulling my leg, impressing me with acting skill hitherto unsuspected on my part. But then he was grabbing her arm and nearly yanking her to her feet, before either Mrs. Roddenberry or I could clarify, muttering "This is why I never bring my wife out in public any more."
Before a reaction could so much as register on my face, they were off the patio, out the doors and making their way toward the valet parking lot, leaving me with a breakfast bill of $57 for three orange juices, muffins, coffee and two fruit salads.
David Alexander completed his nearly 600 page love letter to Roddenberry after the Star Trek creator passed away in 1991 and the book became a mid-level bestseller. I ended up scripting two much-less-circulated comic book bios about Roddenberry and his (quite lovely) wife, both of them unauthorized but neither unflattering.
Awhile back, after Roddenberry passed away, Majel Barrett autographed a copy of her comic for me at a San Diego Comic-Con. When I reminded her who I was, she apologized for the way her husband's jealousy resulted in me losing a primo writing gig.
"God love him," she said with weary affection, "he believed I was the most beautiful creature on Earth and was convinced every other man in the world wanted to steal me away from him."
(My signed prize from Mrs. Roddenberry...)
"Former Local Co-Creating Newest Star Trek Adventures" -- Former Babylon 5 drone Patrick McCray is one of the people behind Star Trek: The Continuing Mission, a fan-made noncommercial, nonprofit enterprise, not necessarily authorized by Trek owners at Paramount, but not discouraged either... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...
"Field Of Screens" -- Cover story 7-6-06: Complete theater-by-theater history of San Diego drive-ins thru the years, including interviews with operators and attendees, dozens of rare and unpublished photos, vintage local theater ads, and more. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...
"Before It Was The Gaslamp: Balboa's Last Stand" -- Cover story 6-21-07: In the late 70s/early 80s, I worked at downtown San Diego's grindhouse all-night movie theaters. This detailed feature recalls those dayz, the death of the Balboa Theatre, etc., including interviews with operators, vintage local movie ads, and more. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...
"Pussycat Theaters: When 'Cathouses Ruled California" -- for the first time, the inside story of the west coast Pussycat Theater chain of adult moviehouses, which peaked in the '70s but later died out. Company head Vince Miranda owned and lived part time at the Hotel San Diego, operating several other local theaters downtown and in Oceanside, Escondido, etc. Told by those who actually ran the theaters, with a complete theater-by-theater encyclopedia covering every Pussycat that ever screened in CA -- http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...
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