Thursday, 8 September 2016

Five decade Mission

Fifty years ago today, an Asian, a Scotsman, a Russian and a Vulcan warped into the stars…

As I’ve mentioned before, my Mum loved Star Trek, so the original enterprise crew became the first family outside my own who I spent time with with. 
In my pre- teens I spent a period in hospital and Mum bought me a book to read, called The World of Star Trek by David Gerrold, the follow-up to his better known ‘Making of…’ book. Reading this marked the point where I left merely being an appreciative viewer behind, and became a fan.  I got to peek behind the ‘Savage Curtain’, and suddenly I knew stuff about the actors and production crew, not just the characters they played and the stories they wrote.  

I didn’t become a Trekker until I went to Nepal many years later, but this is when I became a Trekkie.

With the greatest respect to you children of the 90s, Star Trek is only Kirk and Co for me. 
I’ll always prefer to boldly, not baldly, go and tend to regard the subsequent TV spin-offs as inessential adjuncts.   

It’s been many years since I’ve seen it, but even the animated series felt more like Trek to me than the self-important, emotionally-disconnected procedurals which followed in later decades.  Lets move on before I say anything nasty, though it may already be too late...
I love the first six films, to varying degrees, and honestly believe the second transcends it’s parent franchise to become a true classic in it’s own right. And I’ve yet to see the latest, but have thoroughly enjoyed the first two ‘rebooted’ films.

Almost 40 years of cinematic Trek
So when I got an email two years ago asking if I wanted to contribute to a collection of essays marking the golden anniversary of golden Trek, called Outside In: To Boldly Go, I hesitated for only as long As it took me to push the reply button.

Outside In: To Boldly Go is a collection of essays written by 116 learned, witty people.  And me. Available now for pre-order at

The premise was simple:
With the 50th anniversary of Star Trek on the horizon, it’s time to do something different. Over the decades, we’ve all heard the standard opinions on these episodes. With Outside In: TBG, the aim is simple: say something different. Something interesting. Or something completely gonzo.

My love of Wrath of Khan made me go straight to the story which introduced that character, and incredibly Space Seed was free. But as the editor, Robert, said “loving something too much doesn't always lead to the most innovative article :-)

So I chose a third season episode which has always stayed in my memory.  It’s not generally regarded as one of the best, or most loved, and I doubt it was one of the better budgeted, either. But love is blind and I’ve always loved the Day of the Dove - the one where a disembodied entity smuggles aboard the Enterprise and incites the crew to battle a group of Klingons at liberty on the ship. The creature amplifies and feeds on violent emotions but eventually Kirk and Klingon commander Kang realise they have to overcome their differences to avoid mutually assured destruction.

There’s even a Khan connection - Michael Ansara’s performance as Kirk’s Klingon ‘opposite number’ is so charismatic that he was almost chosen as the returning “Big Bad’ for Star Trek II, before being edged out by Ricardo Montalban’s genetically modified Indian Prince.

From what I’ve gathered from the proof reader’s remarks my contribution has divided opinion, and I certainly didn’t chose an expected route in looking back at The Day of the Dove.  I won’t say anything more about it  until To Boldly Go is officially released, so for now lets raise a glass of Romulan ale and wish the original crew of the Enterprise, and absent friends, a very happy fiftieth anniversary. 

In the (final) words of a certain starship captain, which also define why this is my Star Trek: “It’s been fun.”

This fantastically detailed Anniversary poster by artist Dusty Abell
features every single original series episode.

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