One Perfect Shot: TOS ‘The Enemy Within’

The Enemy Within is a dramatic examination of the human psyche and all the good and bad things that go along with it. When Kirk is split into two halves by a freak transporter accident, Jim quickly finds he can’t function as Captain without the aggressive, animalistic nature of his opposite self. The episode is interesting on a number of levels, most especially how the interplay between the “big three” – Kirk, Spock and McCoy changes as Jim’s assertive side wanders the ship in search of Saurian brandy.

As a kid, I always found episodes where the main characters behaved unusually the most difficult to watch and ‘Enemy’ falls squarely into this category. The normal, sure-footed Kirk is given to second-guessing every order as he slowly but surely turns into a mere shadow of his former self. Just as painful is the “evil” Captain who drinks, throws fits of uncontrollable anger and almost manages to rape Yeoman Janice Rand. To his credit, William Shatner does a remarkable job of making the two halves seem like completely different people. One smarmy and creepy, the other gentle and timid. Neither is our Captain however, and the quicker we get them back together, the better.

This episode’s perfect shot comes as Kirk and Spock descend into Engineering to try and safely capture Jim’s ‘dark’ self. I love how this shot is framed with the two characters conversing between the massive engines of the Starship Enterprise. There are many important duo’s in Star Trek, the most beloved of which is Kirk and Spock. Here we see the pair working together yet again to save not only the crew but Captain Kirk’s very existence. Trust me, it won’t be the last time.

Next we find out if beauty does indeed come in a pill, courtesy of Mudd’s Women.

One Perfect Shot: Star Trek’s ‘The Naked Time’

You were expecting Sulu with his rapier perhaps? When fans think of season one’s ‘The Naked Time’, the image that most likely comes to mind is indeed George Takei as Sulu in full Errol Flynn mode. For myself however, the episode is much better represented by the shot above where Spock struggles with his inner self after contracting the Psi 2000 virus. The story gave Leonard Nimoy the first notable opportunity in the series’ run for viewers to get a glimpse of the emotional struggles Spock faces as a half-vulcan, half-human being.

Spock stumbles into the briefing room and futilely attempts to get control of his emotions. Overcome with waves of sadness and anger, he clutches the computer, desperate to hold onto his logical, analytical side, both literally and figuratively. The sickness overcomes Spock until he witnesses how it has effected his friend and Captain, Jim Kirk. The amount of character development that goes on in this short scene is amazing and therefore earns a spot in my One Perfect Shot roster.

Next on the slate, two halves of Captain Kirk don’t necessarily make a whole in ‘The Enemy Within‘.

One Perfect Shot: TOS ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’

Originally filmed as the historic second pilot to Star Trek, ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before‘ is yet another story of humans acquiring god-like abilities. The episode re-used much of the production design from the original pilot of ‘The Cage’ including sets, costumes and props. DeForrest Kelly and Nichelle Nichols had not yet been cast as Dr. McCoy and Lt. Uhura and the show didn’t have its familiar opening narration, the last line of which comes from the title of this episode. Roddenberry pitched several scripts to NBC as the second pilot including ‘The Omega Glory’ and ‘Mudd’s Women’. In the end it was ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’ that caught the studio’s eye, probably due in-part to the knock-down fist fight between Kirk and Mitchell Gene specifically wrote to help sell the show as his “Wagon Train to the stars“.

Our perfect shot features Gary Lockwood as Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell and Sally Kellerman as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner staring at their eerie reflections as they realize they’ve evolved beyond normal humans. The other-worldly effect of the glowing eyes was achieved by sandwiching wrinkled tinfoil between two scleral contact lenses which covered the entire eye of the actors. Lockwood quickly discovered how extremely uncomfortable the lenses were and found he could only see if he tilted his head back, allowing him to peer out the tiny eye slits in the foil. To his credit, the actor used this to enhance his performance and gave Mitchell an increasingly arrogant gaze as his mutation eventually overtook him. For a time, fans speculated that Mitchell’s character might be the villain in the second J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek feature film Star Trek Into Darkness, but we all know who that turned out to be instead. 🙂

Next on the slate, then Enterprise crew gets freaky-deaky in ‘The Naked Time‘.

One Perfect Shot: Star Trek’s ‘Charlie X’

Poor Charles Evans. Stranded on a planet of inter-dimensional aliens since the age of 3, Charlie had no one to teach him the finer social graces. The result is a self-centered teenager with the ability to bend the entire world to his will, kinda like Justin Bieber on psychic steroids. ‘Charlie X’ isn’t one of my favorite episodes of classic Star Trek, but I was surprised how difficult it was to select the one perfect shot. By this time in its production, Star Trek’s visual style had started to be defined. Blocking, lighting and pacing were starting to come together and the result makes ‘Charlie X’ more visually cohesive as a result.

I chose this single shot for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the gorgeous background that frames Charlie’s face, but also because it perfectly illustrates what the episode is all about. The lone teenager, flush with power and hormones, desperate for acceptance, daring Kirk to push him. Charlie gives off a creepy vibe throughout the story and this shot visualizes it to a tee.

Next time we go ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before‘.

One Perfect Shot: TOS ‘The Man Trap’

This episode of classic Star Trek always creeped me out as a kid, and with good reason. An alien creature who can assume the appearance of anyone, roaming the halls of the Enterprise in search of its next victim. The original series’ ‘The Man Trap’ oozes with mystery and horror and saves the best bit until the very end when the Nancy Crater, otherwise known as the Salt Vampire, reveals herself to the crew and the audience. Our perfect shot takes place just prior to that bizarre ending as Nancy has tossed Spock aside like a rag doll and has Captain Kirk firmly in her hypnotic gaze.

I always found it a bit of a stretch that Professor Crater could survive for almost two years alone on M-113 with Nancy and not get the salt sucked right out of him. Given how many crew members end up dead, you’d think her appetite was almost insatiable. Then again I guess it’s kinda like fasting for weeks, once you’re surrounded by food after having gone so long with so little, you kinda want to put your big pants on and sail right on into salt-town.

Next up is one of my least-favorite Star Trek episodes – ‘Charlie X‘. This should be interesting. :-/

One Perfect Shot: Star Trek’s ‘The Cage’

My good friend Dave Caolo has started something neat over on his Tumblr blog. He’s posting a definitive single frame or “shot” from each of episode of the classic TV show, The Twilight Zone and I gotta admit, it’s pretty cool. So cool in fact that Dave has inspired me to do the same with one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Star Trek: The Original Series. I’ll try to post one shot a day (although I’m pretty sure that won’t really happen) until I get through the entire three seasons. What I promise I will try and do is pick the most iconic, gorgeous and definitive shots from each of the 79 episodes of Star Trek and give a brief description of why I picked them.

Why Star Trek? Simply put, the show changed my life. It captured my imagination as a boy and never let go. Each week I journeyed to strange new worlds and in the process I became life-long friends with Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy. It inspired me to do well in school, be tolerant of people’s differences and dream big. So where do we begin? Why, at the beginning of course! Our first entry is from the Star Trek pilot “The Cage”. Considered “Too cerebral” by the network suits at NBC back in the day, “The Cage” didn’t originally air as the first episode of Trek, but was later re-cut into the first season, two-parter The Menagerie.

Our perfect shot is quintessential Star Trek, the sinister Talosian alien keeps a watchful eye over Captain Pike and the captured crash victim, Vina. I considered a shot of Vina herself as the iconic green Orion slave girl to represent ‘The Cage’ but the Talosian with his alien costume, throbbing cranium and classic Trek back-lighting won the honor. I can already tell it’s going to be difficult to pick a single frame to represent each episode of classic Star Trek, but at least it gives me an excuse to watch them all yet again in glorious HD. I hope you enjoy this series of posts, I think it’s going to be fun. Next up – ‘The Man Trap‘!

All hands! Fasten seat belts!

This page may take a few moments to load, but if you’re a Star Trek fan like I am, it’s worth it. Some geeks recently trained their image stabilization software towards the decks of the Starship Enterprise with hilarious results. These animated GIF’s show what the director and crew saw while filming these scenes for the various incarnations of Star Trek.

The original series used the shakey cam all the time so it’s really fun to see just how these shots were choreographed. I’m struck by the sheer number of people who were apparently on the bridge at the time of this impact. I love the blocking ballet that George Takei as Sulu has to do here to not only get out of his chair, but somehow hit the floor without breaking his neck. Well done, George, well done!

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Meanwhile on the set of 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the Enterprise takes a hit and once again no one is wearing seat belts. DeForrest Kelly is in his usual position for bridge scenes (above and behind the Captain) and once again he goes flying on cue, but this time to the right. It is me or is Kirstie Alley kinda phoning it in here as Savvik? So much fun!

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Fast forward to S7 of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s episode Force of Nature. I could watch this stabilized clip on a loop for days. I love how everyone’s doing their own little stylized dance to convey the rocking of the Enterprise. Jonathan Frakes clutches his chair and appears to simultaneously steady himself AND rock the chair convincingly for the camera. The Hekaran scientist with Worf on the 2nd level struggles to hold on while the ensign in the back lurches, helping to complete the illusion. Oh, and Patrick Stewart may be the only person I know who can make shaking for the camera actually look cool. Okay, maybe not.

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I love this hilarious gif of Next Generation’s Brent Spiner as Data pilots the Enterprise through a particularly violent jolt. You can imagine the crew member standing just off camera waiting to give his chair and console a good WHACK! when the director calls action. I wonder how many takes this took to get through without Brent cracking up.

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This last GIF is from the Original Series but it’s almost 5mb, so if you want to take a gander, click here. Classic TOS fun!

The Worf of Starfleet

I love this fan trailer for The Worf of Starfleet for a couple reasons. First, it’s just well made. It makes Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation look totally bad-ass. Second, it highlights how badly Next Generation wants to be shown in widescreen. Seeing the TV show formatted like this makes it 1000x more epic. It’s a shame the new blu ray discs of Next Generation are still formatted 4:3 for the small screen, but that’s not their fault. Next generation really was before its time. In the meantime, you can never have enough honor. Enjoy!

(hat tip @davidcaolo for the link)

Ode to the Federation

Fashionably Geek is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs thanks to gems like this. This wonderful silver necklace is the perfect gift for that stylish Trekker in your life. Created by the Rice Hat Samurai Studio, the necklace is an elegant graphic translation of both the Star Trek combadge and the Vulcan Idic symbol. Their Etsy shop also offers something for Doctor Who fans as well, so beam on over and scoop these prizes up before it’s too late.

[Via Fashionably Geek]

Game of Bones

I love word play and puns probably more than I should and so when I see a funny bit of merchandise combining two of my favorite franchises in a clever way, I spring into action to snap it up. Such is the case with this hilarious t-shirt from Redbubble featuring Star Trek’s Leonard McCoy posing as Ned Stark from George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. If you’re a fan of either series then I’m sure you’ll want to hightail it over and grab it while you can. Dammnit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a king!

[Via Fashionably Geek]

Star Trek: TNG 25th Anniversary Posters

If you’re heading to San Diego Comic-Con this year, then be sure to stop by CBS’s booth (#4129) for some awesome Star Trek related goodies. To help celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Next Generation and release of season 1 on blu ray, CBS has released a set of graphic posters any Trek fan is sure to love. You can follow the official StarTrek.com twitter account for updates on when they’ll be giving away postcards and prints at SDCC or just order them online. The posters come in different sizes and although they seem a bit pricy, they just may be your cup of tea.. Earl Gray, hot. Engage!

To Boldly Build…

Being the geek that I am, there are things I would like to own and then there are things that I want. This incredible hand-crafted LEGO set of gear from Star Trek: The Original Series definitely falls into the later category. Created by master builder Tommy Williamson, the amount of detail and precision on these pieces is really stunning, especially on the phaser (HA! Get it?!). If I could buy the plans and parts for these models I would do it in a vulcan heartbeat. You can see more images on Williamson’s Flickr page, and be sure to check out the promo video for the Tricorder for a neat surprise!

[Hat tip: @iconmaster for this post]

Most Fascinating

Most Star Trek fans like myself have seen and digested it all when it comes to Trek. This is especially true for the Original Series, so when David recently pointed me at the incredible birdofthegalaxy Flickr stream, I was a little flabbergasted. The collection has dozens of behind-the-scene photos from the set of Star Trek, and are are chock full of gems like the aging puppet head of Balok from ‘The Corbomite Maneuver’, designed by Wah Chang (seen right).

My favorite photos have to be those of the original Enterprise hero model. There are a number of great shots showing extreme angles, but the ones from Space Seed are my absolute favorite. So many of these images are new to me it was like discovering the show all over again. If you’re a fan of Star Trek, do yourself a huge favor and set aside time to treat yourself to these amazing images of the stars, props, wardrobe and sets of Star Trek: The Original Series.

Fine Art from the Future

File this one away for that Star Trek fan in your life who has everything. Artist Charity Wood has launched a new website called Bye Bye, Robot which aims to bring officially licensed Star Trek prints to a living room near you. These beautiful, hand-signed and numbered fine art prints are bold, campy and bring the best of the Original Star Trek Series to vibrant life. Via a press release at StarTrek.com, Wood promises these pieces are just the first in a series that will eventually depict imagery from TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise.

Personally, I can’t wait to see what Wood eventually plans to offer. I’d give my last Tribble for a fine art print of The Defiant from Deep Space Nine, but honestly, what Trek fan wouldn’t want a giant Gorn portrait hanging in their ready room? Make it so!

Nimoy Beams Up to ‘Big Bang’

If you’re a fan of Star Trek and CBS’s geeky comedy The Big Bang Theory, then this is the stardate you’ve waited for. Sources at TVLine.com report the March 29th episode of Big Bang will include a long-sought guest appearance by none other than Star Trek’s own Leonard Nimoy.

Fans of Big Bang well know just how obsessed Jim Parson’s character, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, is with both Spock and the actor who plays him. Other Trek vets such as Wil Weaton, LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner have all made appearances on the hit comedy, but Nimoy is the vulcan we’ve all been waiting for.

Even though Nimoy will only be heard and not seen, this has to be a huge coup for Bill Prady and the rest of the cast of The Big Bang Theory. I can’t wait to see how they work Nimoy into the story and hope it will eventually lead to more guest appearances. After all, it’s only logical.

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Star Trek: The Sexed Generation

Totally immature, totally tasteless and absolutely hilarious! When I hit the play button I was sure this Trek parody would end up being too long, but by the time it was over, I didn’t want it to end. Can’t imagine the effort it took to find & edit all these clips. The bits with Geordi & Wesley are my favorite, the 4:13 and 6:30 marks almost made me fall out of my chair. Engage and enjoy!

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All I ask is a tall ship…

Thanks to the generosity of a friend, I’ve been lucky enough to beta test the new MMO, Star Trek Online from Cryptic Studios. The game is set to launch in early February and at least for this Star Trek fan, it’s a winner. Playing around in Gene Roddenberry’s universe has given me a new appreciation for the art direction of designers such as Matt Jeffries and Michael Okuda. Designing anything is challenging, but designing interiors, user interfaces and uniforms of things that have yet to be must be especially difficult.

Most beloved of all the designs of Star Trek is perhaps the bridge of the Starship Enterprise itself. The bridge is the command center of the ship and is often the focus of action on both the big and small screens. Jeffries’ original utilitarian layout eventually gave way to more modern looking interiors, but the basic design (center command chair, flanking support positions) has withstood the test of time. The bridge is such an integral part of Star Trek that due to popular demand, the developers of Star Trek Online recently announced they were implementing them for individual ships within the game. Virtual captains told Cryptic they wanted their “big chair” and the game designers responded in kind.

All of this got me thinking about which starship bridge I liked the best. The answer has to be that of the Enterprise-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation. To many Trek fans this bridge seemed more like a hotel lobby than a high-tech command center, but I always admired its sleek curves, high-tech surfaces and muted colors. The original TV design was modified slightly for Star Trek Generations (seen here) to accommodate new science/tactical stations, giving the set a more cinematic feel.

Designed by Andrew Probert, the bridge of the Enterprise-D was the ultimate set for the weekly TV series. The layout was big enough to allow the actors room to move around comfortably as well as give characters space for private conversations, tucked away from prying ears. The raised back level provided an elevated platform that made Worf look even more imposing while offering Geordi and Data stations where they could work out solutions to the problem of the week. The set also introduced flanking seats to those of the Captain’s something that Star Trek Voyager would also adopt.

In contrast to The Next Generation’s warm earth tones, the bridge of the U.S.S. Voyager presented TV viewers with the cool grays and electric blues so often associated with science fiction. Created by production designer Richard D. James and illustrator Rick Sternbach, the interior design of the bridge of Voyager introduced subtle under lighting techniques that contributed to the “deep space feel” of the show. This design also reduced the traditional two-man con and navigator positions to a single console, putting emphasis on Captain Janeway.

I love the look of these two sets because they put the focus on the characters and their actions rather than the technology all around them. Some production designers tend to get out of hand with their creations and let the look of the set overpower its inhabitants. Voyager’s and Next Gen’s bridges are awesome examples of futuristic interior design precisely because they don’t go overboard. Compare these simple designs to the complex bridges of the Enterprise-E or the franchise reboot and you’ll see Star Trek art direction run amuck. Overlapping lines, textures and lens flares get in the way of the action and detract from the audience’s ability to focus on the characters.

Designing anything, even a fictional universe is an art form. More so when a large part of that universe’s appeal centers around details. Through the years, those entrusted with designing the bridges of Starfleet have evolved and molded it again and again. These talented artists have put their stamp on Gene Roddenberry’s original vision of the future and given Trek fans a place they could easily call home. Star Trek Online will soon give players a chance to roam the bridges of some of the most beloved starships in Star Trek history, all from the comfort of their computers. So until we can all afford to build a bridge in our basement, a virtual one has to be the next best thing.

My Most Anticipated of 2010

With so much to look forward to in the coming year, I thought I would assemble a list of just some of the things I’m anticipating most. All of the things on my list have been in development for a very long time, and all of them are coming to a head in 2010. If you’re like me, then you know at least a one item on this list, if not then hopefully you’re in for a few pleasant surprises.

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Star Trek Online

Video Games

When Star Trek Online finally beams down in February of 2010, the game will have been in development for over 6 years. This massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) has the potential of being the best online experience since Blizzard’s hugely popular effort, World of Warcraft. Players will be able to command their own starships, explore strange new worlds, and team up to defeat classic Star Trek enemies such as the Borg and Klingons.

Historically, video games based on the Star Trek franchise have not been widely successful. I have a feeling that Star Trek Online is about to change all that. How do I know? I’ve played it. That’s right I’ve sat in the Captain’s chair and I am here to say STO is a winner. I can’t divulge much due to the closed beta NDA except to say that Cryptic Studios has managed to capture this Trekkie’s heart with their incredibly fun and detailed futuristic universe. Star Trek Online enters public beta in January of 2010. Unfortunately no Mac or Linux version is planned for launch, but there is a logical alternative. If you own a fast Mac and aren’t afraid to run Windows via Boot Camp, there’s no reason you can’t go where no one has gone before. Make it so!

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The Pacific

Television

From Producers Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, the team that brought us the Emmy Award winning miniseries, Band of Brothers, comes The Pacific. I first wrote about this HBO 10-part drama back in April of 2007 and have been waiting for it ever since. The original Band of Brothers was a tour de force showcasing the gritty realism and heroic courage of WWII in Europe. The Pacific aims to tell the story of a small group of Marines in the Pacific theater of battle and includes an almost entirely unknown cast of actors.

The Pacific is based on two memoirs of U.S. Marines: With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge and Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie. The series will tell the stories of the two authors and Marine John Basilone, as the war against the Empire of Japan rages. According to Wikipedia, the series will feature well-known battles involving the 1st Marine Division, including Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, and Okinawa, as well as Basilone’s involvement in the Battle of Iwo Jima. While Band’s battle scenes rivaled anything on the silver screen, it was always the thoughtful stories of the men who fought and died for their country that made the series so compelling. The Pacific is set to air on HBO in March of 2010.

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The Return of Futurama

Television

You just can’t keep an animated robot and his hilarious best friends down. After a pre-mature cancellation by Fox in 2003, Futurama found new life in syndication thanks to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and Comedy Central. The show’s creators, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen teamed up and briefly brought Futurama out of deep freeze with the release of 4 straight-to-DVD movies, the last of which was released in early 2009. On June 9th, 2009, Comedy Central announced that they had picked up the show for 26 new half-hour episodes which are due to start airing in mid-2010.

I’ve been a personal fan of this deeply funny show since the first day it aired on Fox. While I have enjoyed the DVD films, the 1.5 hour format really didn’t suit Futurama and the stories lost focus. I’m confident that returning to the 1/2 hour format will make all the difference as the writers, producers and voice actors once again lift us to new heights of geek-filled fun. Plus, I’m dying for new material for my Futurama icon sets!

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Super Mario Galaxy 2

Video Games

When it was released in November of 2007, Super Mario Galaxy quickly became hailed as one of the greatest video games of all time. As the flagship title for the new Nintendo Wii, Galaxy brought the beloved Mario series to a whole new level. The game challenged gamer’s preconceptions of 3D level design as Mario dashed and jumped around and across entire planets on his hunt for Power Stars. Adding to the game’s impact were the over 20 fresh and epic musical tracks scored by composer Koji Kondo. Although few sequels live up to the thrill of the original, knowing Shigeru Miyamoto as they do, Nintendo fans everywhere are anxiously awaiting Super Mario Galaxy 2’s appearance sometime in 2010. Count me among them.

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Apple iPadd

Technology

Rumors of the mythical tablet computer from Apple have been swirling for the better part of a decade, but it wasn’t until the iPhone came along that the possibility of such a device seemed real. Add to that slips of the tongue from newspaper and magazine publishers, supposed patent filings and oodles of fake mock-ups and suddenly rumor becomes reality. If speculation is to be believed, then the iPadd (my pet nickname for the device ode to the ubiquitous tablet computers from Star Trek) will arrive sometime in March or April for under $1,000.

When all is said and done, the bigger question might be why is Apple making a tablet computer in the first place? The answer seems to be to do for books what the iPod did for music, that is to revolutionize it. Steve Jobs is apparently setting Apple up as the direct competitor to the hugely successful Kindle from Amazon, and that’s just fine with me. Call me crazy, but I think if you’re going to let users download and read books in bed, that device should have built-in backlighting. Oh, and color would be great too.

I could easily see my trusty iPadd coming in handy while I watch TV to tweet a snarky comment or to look up a movie reference. I could also see myself propping up the device on a nifty stand to display the recipe du jour as I cook. Oh yes, if and when the iPadd comes, I’ll probably find a way to talk myself into needing it along with millions of other consumers. Curse you Steve Jobs!

• • •

TRON Legacy

Movies

This long-awaited sequel to Disney’s original TRON has geeks everywhere spazzing out. The story follows Flynn’s son Sam as he attempts to track down his missing father. Inside the cyber world audiences first visited in 1982, the programs have become more advanced, video games more violent and cyberspace more deadly.

The sequel will feature original TRON stars Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn and Bruce Boxleitner as Tron himself. Given the advancements that have been made in computer special effects in the past 28 years, TRON Legacy promises to be a visual spectacle unlike anything movie goers have ever seen. Disney has scheduled the release date of the film as December 17th, 2010, a year and a few days from when I write this. Only time will tell if it’s worth the wait.

• • •

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One Fan’s Perspective on Star Trek

SPOILER WARNING: This post contains major spoilers for J.J. Abrams’ new film Star Trek. I mean really, really big spoilers. If you don’t want to know about things that might ruin your enjoyment of this movie, then you really should stop reading now and go somewhere else.

So much has been said and written about the new Star Trek film from J.J. Abrams that it seems to make little sense to write my own thoughts up. But seeing as Star Trek has been such a big part of my life ever since I was a little boy, and given that I’ve often written about Trek in the past, I figured what the heck.

Overwhelming consensus seems to be that the film is “Great!”, “Fantastic!” and “Fabulous!” Of all the guys from work that I went to see the movie with, I think I was the only one who came out of the theater not jazzed. I think Corey might have had some reservations too, but overall he was very excited about it. Did I like it? Yes I did. Did I love it? No I didn’t, at least not yet.

The Good

There are tons of things in the new film that I liked and others I even loved. In no particular order they include:

The cast: Every actor in the film did a wonderful job of translating their character for a new generation. I especially enjoyed Quinto and Pine as Spock and Kirk, but also thought Simon Pegg as Scotty was wonderful and was surprised by the turns put in by the actors behind Checkov, Sulu and Uhura.

The twists: I had seen so much of the movie in the commercials and trailers leading up to its debut that I thought I knew what was going to happen. I was surprised and delighted therefore when Kirk wasn’t the one under Uhura’s bed, but was under her Orion roommate’s instead. Same goes for the scene with Kirk sitting in the Captain’s chair with his black shirt where Spock tells him to “Get out of the chair.” It was wonderful and went against what I thought was going to happen going in.

Spock rejecting the Vulcan Science Academy: Loved this scene to death. Quinto played it to a perfect Spock “T” when he asked the elders about his “disadvantage” and basically told them to go to hell. If you had put Nimoy in that scene instead, it wouldn’t have played any differently. Brilliant stuff.

The action: It was quite a roller coaster romp from start to finish and had great pacing. The time seemed to fly by while we were in the theatre which is always a good sign.

Uhura & Spock: I thought the scenes with Uhura and Spock becoming close would bother me, but they didn’t at all. They were played very well by both actors and Abrams’ direction here was wonderful. I can’t wait to see where this goes in the sequel.

The Meh

• The music: Totally didn’t live up to Star Trek standards. The main theme (which Louie pointed out was used in almost every track of the film) seemed like it *wanted* to be Star Trek, but was just slightly off. I kept expecting to hear the familiar Next Gen theme at points in the movie, but didn’t.

• Engineering: Being the die-hard Trekkie I am, I didn’t really appreciate the way Engineering looked more like a chemical plant from 24 than the heart of the flagship of the Federation.

Enterprise in Iowa: Sorry, but the Enterprise was never built on the ground. It just wasn’t and the entire ship was never intended to land either. If Roddenberry was around today he would have told J.J. this small fact to his face. A totally unnecessary and pointless scene that would have at least been semi-credible if it had taken place in San Francisco instead of Iowa.

The Bad

Abrams’ wanting to have it both ways: The studio promised us that this wasn’t “Your father’s Star Trek” and made a big deal about how everything was different. In reality, the only things that were different were the things Abrams wanted changed. There were so many TOS classic references that when they were thrown in, they seemed oddly out of place. More than a few of them seemed gratuitous. If you’re going to promote the film as all new Trek, have the space balls to see it through to the end.

The Kobayashi Maru: As a huge fan, this was the scene I was looking forward to the most. I had run this classic tale of how Kirk beat the no-win scenario in my head dozens of times. I had always imagined it that Kirk reprogrammed the simulation just enough to make it seem like the rescue was plausible through heroic actions or sheer guile. What we got instead was a smug, overly-cocky Kirk eating an apple while everyone around him is astounded to find that the simulation has been reprogrammed. The most throughly unsatisfying bit in the entire movie.

The destruction of Vulcan & death of Spock’s Mom: Listen, I get that this probably only matters to geeks like myself, but it does. The destruction of Vulcan negates HUGE portions of Star Trek history and cannon. Sure, this is an “alternate reality”, and it was probably necessary for several of the plot points, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. You know how you felt when Lucas made Greedo shoot first? The loss of Vulcan is like that for me.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what I think of Star Trek. Everyone seems to love it and have hailed it as a wonderful re-boot of the series. To be honest, I’d rather have new Star Trek movies than not, so I can live with the parts I didn’t like, at least for now. I think by the time the inevitable sequel comes I’ll have come to terms with the disappointing parts of Star Trek and learned to see only the good stuff. After all, there is a great deal in the new film to like especially since I don’t enjoy being called a dickhead.

Just Like Grandma Used to Replicate!

Back in April of 2008, a bunch of friends and I started the Sci-Fi Cast. It was designed to be a podcast where we could get together and chat about geeky stuff like Battlestar Galactica and science fiction in general. Now a year later, the Sci-Fi Cast is going strong, although the same cannot be said for BSG.

In recording our podcast over this past year, I’ve found that are most interesting and funny episodes are the ones where we pick a topic and just discuss it. These are the times when our geeky brains float unfettered in the deep reaches of sci-fi space. Episodes like 13.5 where Dave and I discussed the age-old question of Kirk vs. Picard, or episode 22.5 where Jen, Dave & I picked our most over and underrated sci-fi movies.

I’m happy to report that our latest recording is just such a journey. In episode 27 we talk about our favorite science fiction technology, how we’d use it in our day-to-day lives and the potential pitfalls that would crop up. I have to say it’s one of our funnier outings and I think you’ll really enjoy it. If you love sci-fi, then beam on over and check out episode 27 of the Sci-Fi Cast today.

PS – Don’t forget to nominate your favorite moments of Battlestar Galactica for our “Toastie Awards” which we’ll be recording this coming Tuesday. Time is running out and we need your help. Thanks!