OK, Everyone gone? Oh - yes, everyone has gone… Hmmm… Well, it's just you and me, sexy reflection!
Standby for nerdgasm!
Well, it's an exciting time for Star Trek fans - there was a major announcement at the San Diego Comic Con about the new Star Trek film yesterday. Of course, being a huge fan in the wrong time zone, I sat up late last night checking the internet for the news as it came filtering in, and quite frankly I'm a very happy boy today.
Let's back up a bit. I've been a Star Trek fan for a long time. I can distinctly remember the first time I watched the show. It was the early eighties, and the episode was 'Operation: Annihilate!' (still, to this day my very favourite episode) – the one where the neural parasite (or "flying pizza" as I called it) flew onto Spock's back. And just a few years later Sparky Ma took me to see Star Trek III: The Search for Spock at the grand old cinema in Staines that they later tore down and replaced with a block of flats and a soulless multiplex. I think The Search for Spock is what really sold me on Star Trek; I loved the scene where Kirk and his crew stole the Enterprise, only to sacrifice it later to save their friend. And I remember the seven-year old me getting home and immediately drawing a picture of the Enterprise, only to wipe it out in an explosion of fiery orange and red felt-tip moments later - sacrificing my Enterprise just as Kirk had sacrificed his.
I was hooked. I even rescued my brother's old toy Enterprise - the one that I always joked fired polo mints from the front of the saucer section - from being thrown away in the late eighties after he'd battered and abused it and tried to turn it into the movie version by ripping off the orange plastic deflector dish.
There's been a lot of Star Trek since that time, and unlike a lot of fans I've pretty much enjoyed it all. Yeah, there's been a few duff episodes here and there, but after 700-odd hours that's bound to have happened; and anyway, I've always found something to enjoy. From Picard to Sisko, Janeway to Archer, I've followed it all. But really, for me, it's always been about the original series - Kirk and Spock (and not forgetting, of course, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov).
I can't begin to describe how much I've admired the original series cast over the years. I used to hate it when a new Star Trek movie came along and all people would do was focus on their age. So what if Kirk looked older? Hell, I prefered the original cast as they aged; I thought they were cool, dignified, heroic. I remember seeing their final movie together - Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - in early 1992, in the same cinema where I'd seen Star Trek III years earlier. And while I was enthralled by the incredible science fiction adventure unfolding on the screen before me, I also knew that I was seeing these characters for the last time. Yes, I knew they'd live on in the multitude of novels published each year, but it wasn't only Kirk and Spock I was saying goodbye to - it was Shatner and Nimoy too.
Three years later, of course, Kirk returned in Star Trek Generations, only to die as he passed the torch to The Next Generation cast. But Kirk without Spock just wasn't the same. It wasn't right. And while I relished every subsequent movie as they came out (yes, even Nemesis), I never felt like they quite captured my imagination like the adventures of the original cast.
Over the last few years I've met a fair few Star Trek actors, both for work purposes and on those rare occasions when I've decided to head to an event like Collectormania. I've had lunch with Nicole de Boer, chatted to Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, Conner Trineer, and Jolene Blalock, but on the four occasions when I've met members of the original cast (all at signings) I've *literally* fallen to pieces. The first one I met was Nichelle Nichols; I stood in front of her, probably went "umm…," and then admitted that I was completely speechless. She was very gracious and sweet, and laughed gently at me, and I just wanted to hug her. Majel Barrett (Gene Roddenberry's widow) called me "a sweetheart," and I turned to jelly.
But the big two… Shatner and Nimoy…
I met Nimoy first, at a sci-fi convention in docklands. I'd had a long journey up there, then queued to get in, and then, when I was queuing AGAIN to get Nimoy's autograph I wondered why the hell I'd bothered. All that changed when this towering figure, with a coat drapped over his shoulders like a mafia don, power-walked past me with a group of security guards scurring after him. Nimoy is *cool.* I watched him intently as he sat down, tested the pens set out for him to sign with, then started signing. When it was my turn, I walked up to him, put my chosen photograph in front of him, and just stared. He signed it, and pushed it back towards me. Then I thought, hell, just go for broke - and I stuck out my hand. By this time Nimoy was looking to his left. All of a sudden he turned back to me, grabbed my hand, and flashed a really broad grin at me.
I met Shatner later that same year. Marcosy and I went to the Collectormania fair in Milton Keynes specifically because Shatner was going to be there. We were queuing up when this abrasive woman stood at the front of the queue and shouted some orders down the line: "no more than one item per person, no photographs, no personalising of items, do not speak to Mr. Shatner…" That sort of thing. Then HE arrived. Obviously the line moved pretty quickly because of the abrasive woman's demands, but when I got towards the front I decided I was going to just go for it, and as he signed my picture I said "congratulations on your Emmy" (this was just after he'd won his first one for 'Boston Legal'). Suddenly Shatner turns to look at me, and a smile appears on his face. "Thank… you," he says, in that unforgettable Shatner way. I spent the rest of the day in a bit of a daze.
And so back up to speed. We've known for a while now that there's going to be a new Star Trek film, and it's going to be directed by JJ Abrams, and that's all great. But in the back of my mind there's always been a little doubt, because as great as Abrams' stuff is, it's been a pretty open secret that he intends to go back to the original series, to the early days of Kirk and Spock, and that's, y'know, sacred. You can't do the original series without Shatner, Nimoy and the others - and certainly not since DeForest Kelley and James Doohan passed away.
Or can you?
Yesterday at the Comic Con they announced that Zachary Quinto from 'Heroes' is going to play a younger Spock, and I think that if they ARE going to go back to the original series then this is great because by all accounts he's a pretty good actor, and he looks like a young Nimoy. But what really got me (and you can check this out for yourself HERE, around the 03:05 mark, where you can actually hear someone shout out "oh my god!") was when Abrams said:
"It it going to be an amazing honor to get to say 'action' and 'cut' to this gentlemen. He is going to put the pointed ears on one more time for Star Trek. Ladies and gentlemen Leonard Nimoy."I'm not afraid to say that that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand-up, and generally made me a wee bit emotional. Because Leonard Nimoy turned down a part in Star Trek Generations 13 years ago, and Leonard Nimoy retired from acting, and now Leonard Nimoy is coming back to Star Trek as the older Spock. And if that's not a ringing endorsement for this new movie I don't know what is.
And all of a sudden, I feel a little bit like that seven year-old boy watching Star Trek III all those years ago. I think Star Trek is in very good hands, and I think that's just a little bit awesome…