Category Archives: Shatner

Comments on Star Trek by the Minute

What follows is a record of my comments on and conversations with the author for Structured Dream and his posts for Star Trek by the Minute

Star Trek by the Minute 022: Leap Without Looking

R. Anthony Steele said…
I always saw that scene with Scott and his nephew as Scotty’s throwing the cost of avoidable battle in Kirk’s face. It’s possible he expected Bones to be on the bridge, since that is where he seems to spend most of his time on the show.

In any case, while WOK is one of my favorites, I don’t consider it to be exactly ‘canon’. None of the films really work in the context of the original show (except the first one) since they are all products of the writer/producer/director team makes them.

Having said that, I have to say that I no longer consider myself a Trekkie or a Star Trek fan, after this last film. It’s dead for me now. I can’t think of anything that could have been more of a betrayal of the Trek that I followed and loved than this latest film is.

I have enjoyed every minute of the review that I’ve read so far. Thanks for writing it, it has saved me the pain of doing it myself, as I pointed out on my blog.

RAnt(hony)-ings – Star Trek

March 14, 2010 12:19 AM


BurntSynapse said…

Thanks for the feedback and the links, Anthony. You’re the type of fan I’m trying to reach, and I enjoyed your Abramination posts. I would like to read your TrekBBS posts; Are they accessible?

March 14, 2010 7:35 AM


R. Anthony Steele said…

if you go into the interface and do a search for ‘ranthony’ you should get all my posts in a list.

There’s really not much there, if I remember correctly. I reposted the RIP blog post, and was looking for feedback (it’s still there, in the closed thread) and then was attacked, repeatedly, for daring to ask where my posts went, and for not liking the film.

It’s funny. I used to run a Trek fanclub. When I see my former club members, almost all of them *love* the film. When they find out I don’t, the questions begin, and it almost follows a script.

“Loved the action” Yep, it was great.
“Loved the actors” Yep, they were great. They clearly all had respect for the characters they were portraying, and they did good jobs with what they were given.
“So, what don’t you like?” EVERYTHING else. A story would have been nice. Some science would have been good too (red matter. It would be funny, if it wasn’t in a Trek film) REAL FEMALE CHARACTERS sort of tops my charts of complaints. Where are they in this film?

I have a theory, and I wish I had the money and permission to give this a try. Take STV, and remove every special effects scene. Rework it with state of the art effects, and the budget this film had. I think it would be every bit the seller this film was. And it would be a real Trek film, to boot.

That film was thrown to Shatner as a bone, and the studio never got behind it. But it has some of the best scenes with classic characters interacting. There are some really bad scenes (the birth sequence, as someone else noted, is horrible) but mostly it suffered from a lack of a real effects budget. Compare the comic moments between the two films. I don’t see the difference.

…and yet STV is routinely panned as the worst film. Why? Because of the laughable effects, IMO.

Anyway, thanks for reading my linked posts.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 5:33 PM

Star Trek by the Minute 025 Safety Belts

R. Anthony Steele said…

The bike sequence is the moment in the film when I could no longer suspend disbelief. The antique car at the beginning, far fetched as that sequence was, was an artifact of the past.

Kirk’s bike is a tool of the modern age, and it has wheels, which is completely outside of the trek universe (It’s also why Nemesis doesn’t make it as a trek film, btw) and it’s appearance pulled me right out of the film. So much so that I couldn’t even enjoy the grand entrance of the under construction Enterprise.

The ‘giving away things’ comment in the novelization is probably a wrong-headed attempt to incorporate the (poorly conceived) notion of money and property in the ST universe that previous screen writers have failed to communicate in their own right.

They would have had to have some grounding in philosophy, money and ethics in order to understand it themselves, much less communicate it to others.

As you pointed out, the film addresses none of this, doing even less (if that’s possible) to incorporate past conceptions of Trek into the story.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 5:36 PM
Star Trek by the Minute 027 Three Years?

R. Anthony Steele said…
Glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed this. That was the first thing in my mind. Maybe they invented some Red Dwarf type games to pass the time. Soap suds slalom down the cargo ramp, perhaps.

Still, they aren’t the last Romulans alive, and they traveled to this time period to change the timeline. Why not just go to Romulus and CHANGE IT. Just a thought.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 6:10 PM

Star Trek by the Minute 031 Cheating to Win?

R. Anthony Steele said…
It’s been my opinion, since the announcement of this film, that this scene was the reason for setting the film as a prequel.

It should have been the shining moment in the film. I kept thinking how much I hated that smug bastard in the Captain’s chair.

Funny, I never felt that way about Shatner’s performances.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 6:37 PM

SciFi vs. Fantasy; worst moments in SciFi part 2

An old friend of mine recently submitted the opinion that there is no true SciFi except:

I would like to enter into the court Exhibit A: 2001, A Space Odyssey! Based on a book by Author C. Clarke and directed by the late and Great Stanley Kubrick.

Because 2001 contained only real science, and it’s the only film that has; so my whole problem with canon, and jumping the shark, was pointless because it was all a fantasy, not required to be internally consistent. Don’t take it seriously, it’s just entertainment.

It was a nice try, but not even 2001 stands up to that high standard for deeming something as ‘SciFi’. The climax of the film (if anything that moves so glacially slow can be said to have a climax. Don’t get me wrong, I like the film. The book was better) when Bowman transcends mere mortal existence and returns to Earth as the star child.

Depicting higher planes of existence takes the film outside the realm of science, and into the realm of speculation and/or fantasy. Technically all the ‘science’ in the film was speculative, because none of it could be proven to be possible at the time.

So, I’m sorry, but either everything from Forbidden Planet to the Matrix is in the realm of Scifi, or there hasn’t been a film made that can be called SciFi.

As for the shortcuts Gene took in depicting Trek (such as warp speed and the transporter) a good portion of them have been dealt with seriously by serious scientists, and they aren’t willing to state that the ideas would be impossible. I suggest you check out How William Shatner Changed the World for more on the subject, if you are really interested.

Which brings us to the objection about judging Star Trek (Star Wars, etc.) harshly based on canon. There’s nothing religious about the use of the word canon, at least in this context. It has to do with working within the established framework that defines the fictional future. I’m more than willing to grant creative license where retconning some small part of a character’s history just makes the story easier to tell (such as the origin of Zefram Cochrane which is alluded to in the classic episode Metamorphosis) it’s another thing entirely to sign on for complete re-writes of long held traditions within the framework (such as introducing a dune buggy in Nemesis just so Paramount can make a few extra bucks off product placement and merchandising; or accepting that Vulcans were in Star Fleet before Spock) if individual fans don’t have a problem with this, fine by me, but it still doesn’t make the film or series fit into canon.

At some point the weight of contradictions simply overloads the suspension of disbelief, and what is supposed to be entertainment is simply not entertaining anymore. Enterprise and Nemesis both fit into this catagory. The movies Final Frontier through First Contact, while they are all entertaining in their own way, really are bad Star Trek when taken in context; which is the only way a fan who has been watching since 1967 (me) can view them.

I have a complete sense of ambivalence about First Contact; and have had since I first saw it. As far as plot, story line, action content, etc. go, it’s a great SciFi film; one of the best Star Trek films as far as keeping the viewer involved in the story. At the same time, the Borg are cheapened for the sake of giving the movie a concrete antagonist for the audience to identify; simplified in a very un-Borgish way, giving a self-described collective (a collective of equals that could not sever the link to any of it’s parts) a leader. From that point onward, the Borg are no longer frightening in a back-brain creeping zombie-like fashion, but are in fact just a meaner, badder version of every other bad guy that Star Trek has encountered. For someone who understood the philosophical reasons why the Borg were so frightening as originally conceived, that modification is too much to accept without protest.

Did Star Trek become a parody of itself with First Contact? Not in my opinion. Like I said before that happened much earlier, With Spock’s brother, Uhura’s fan dance, Chekhov becoming a clueless ensign again after 30 years in the service, Kirk’s dialog with the shapeshifter, etc., etc., ad infinitum (don’t even get me started on that what’s-her-name character again) Becoming a parody of itself wasn’t the killing blow though. Not being entertaining was.

Since, as was pointed out in the counter opinion, this is about entertainment; and since I was not entertained by Nemesis and Enterprise, I’m understandably hesitant to trust Paramount to do anything right with Star Trek from now on. That will be the end of the franchise unless Paramount does the right thing with Star Trek XI. I’m not holding my breath on that one.

Star Trek: The Menagerie – Tuesday, 11/13, 7:30PM

Thanks to Barb and Goodman for the heads up on this event. One night only at the Gateway and Metropolitan. I’ve been watching the remastered episodes, it should be quite an experience to see them on the big screen.


From the Fathom Events website:

Star Trek: The Original Series

11/13/2007

Boldly go where no man has gone before to see two of the most famous “Star Trek: The Original Series” episodes – your local movie theatre! “Star Trek: The Original Series” will be beamed onto the big screen for only one night in select movie theatres nationwide on Tuesday, Nov. 13th at 7:30PM (local). This event features the original Season 1 episodes “The Menagerie” Part 1 and 2, digitally re-mastered in High-Definition and Cinema Surround Sound. Also included is greeting from creator Gene Roddenberry’s son, Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry and an exclusive 30-minute behind-the-scenes look at how the episodes were digitally re-mastered.
Event Synopsis:
“The Menagerie” features footage from the original “Star Trek” pilot episode titled “The Cage.” Leonard Nimoy as Spock is the only character that made it from the pilot to the “Star Trek” series – as well as Jeffrey Hunter in the role of the original commander of the starship Enterprise, Captain Christopher Pike.
The two-part episode features Spock and the familiar crew of the Enterprise including William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy, James Doohan as Scott, and Nichelle Nichols as Uhura. In this episode, Spock is on trial for hijacking the Enterprise, telling a strange tale of former Enterprise Captain Pike’s imprisonment on Talos IV 13 years earlier and the past crew’s attempts to rescue him – shown in “flashback” footage taken from the original pilot episode.
An in-theatre exclusive greeting from creator Gene Roddenberry’s son, Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry is included, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how the episodes were digitally re-mastered from the original negatives – including the reinvention of the old TV show special effects using new CGI animation, and the orchestral re-recording of the show’s theme music.
Please note: The event content will be shown in its original (TV) format, 4×3.


There is a list of theaters on the website as well. Click here.

Classic Trek Gets a Makeover

This could amount to sacrilege. They are updating the special effects for all 79 of the Classic Star Trek episodes, giving them all new computer generated effects shots.

I’m withholding judgment on this until I see the finished product. But I’m not holding my breath, either. The primitive effects are just fine with me. I don’t need my classic Enterprise to have ‘go fast’ stripes.

I’ve never seen the revised versions of the first two seasons of Red Dwarf. They went through a similar process of updating. Like Doctor Who and its ships on strings, there is something appropriate about old campy SciFi having visibly dated special effects, especially if there is an air of humor to the program.

On the other hand, I liked the revised versions of Star Wars, with the exception of the Whussification of Han Solo. So updated effects might be OK with me…

…and then there is the urge to tinker with the show. The episode “The Enterprise Incident” for example. Here’s a chance to finally put the Romulans in Romulan ships instead of the Klingon ships that were originally used. After all, why not? The Klingon Bird of Prey that is used for most of the movies and all of Next Gen owes it’s existence to the mythology that was built up around that one little slip up in Classic Trek. If the updates fix that problem, then why…?

Like I said, I’ll wait for the premiere. I’m just not holding my breath.


Read the interview over at Aint It Cool News with Mike Okuda and the rest of the crew that worked on the makeover. There’s also a Q&A over at Startrek.com and the original announcement from Paramount as well as images of the CGI models they will be using. I have to say, the ship does look gorgeous. But then, she always did.

From the announcement:

The most noticeable change will be redoing many of the special effects, created with 1960s technology, with 21st century computer-generated imagery (CGI). Upgrades include:

  • Space ship exteriors – The Enterprise, as well as other starships, will be replaced with state of the art CGI-created ships. The new computer-generated Enterprise is based on the exact measurements of the original model, which now rests in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
  • Show opening – The Enterprise and planets seen in the main title sequence will be redone, giving them depth and dimension for the first time.
  • Galaxy shots – All the graphics of the galaxy, so frequently seen through the viewscreen on the Enterprise’s bridge, will be redone.
  • Exteriors – The battle scenes, planets and ships from other cultures (notably the Romulan Bird of Prey and Klingon Battle Cruisers) will be updated.
  • Background scenes – Some of the iconic, yet flat, matte paintings used as backdrops for the strange, new worlds explored by the Enterprise crew will get a CGI face-lift, adding atmosphere and lighting.

The refurbished episodes also feature higher quality sound for the famous opening theme. The original score by Emmy Award-winning composer Alexander Courage, has been re-recorded in state-of-the-art digital stereo audio with an orchestra and a female singer belting out the famous vocals. A digitally remastered version of William Shatner’s classic original recording of the 38-word “Space, the final frontier…” monologue continues to open each episode.

However, when you read between the lines, there is some admission on the part of those involved in the process that there are some digital ‘fixes’ going into the regular scenes, not just the inserted FX scenes and bridge viewscreen images. Text ‘fixed’ on library screens, some of the aliens will be given ‘sparkle’…

…I’m still withholding judgement until I see it. Broadcast information can be found here. For Austin it will air on KNVA at 4:00 pm, Saturday, September 16th.

The Roasting Of Bill Shatner

While the trivia on the Comedy Central site was fun…

When it comes to the roast itself, I have to say, I think I’ve been out of circulation too long. I remember roasts back when they were on ‘regular’ television. I don’t remember the raunch level being that high. Actually, it couldn’t have been. The censors would never have let it on the air. Why they bothered to bleep out the little they did is a wonder to me.

Editing for content is generally a mystery to me anyway. If I tune in to watch The Terminator, I’m expecting to watch The Terminator, not some whitewashed film in which the killing machine doesn’t unload a full clip into his victims just to make sure they are dead. A film in which the (low) classic line “Fuck you, Asshole!” gets bleeped or changed. What’s the point in watching a film that has been modified like that? If you’re a bible thumper who gets upset at that kind of language and graphic violence, I daresay that a nicer version of the killing machine is not going to win you over. Why would they even tune in at all, other than to make sure the rest of us aren’t watching the filth that they object to?

Editing for content pretty much sums up why I don’t watch films on ‘regular’ television in the first place. Time was, I could watch movies and shows on cable channels and see them unedited; well, at least unedited except for the asinine pan and scan process, that is. But at least the content wasn’t modified to suit the squeamish. Highlander chops off heads, Terminator uses full clips, the horror films are in full gore mode, and people talk like average people rather than the cardboard cutouts in Mayberry. Apparently, this is no longer the case.

So I’m sitting there last night, watching without a doubt the raunchiest roast I’ve ever seen, and they’re bleeping the fucks and shits and whatever. Betty White can tell a joke about a cock ring (Not her best bit. When I watched the show through a second time I would have sworn that she was consciously imitating Don Rickles and Phyllis Diller, or Perhaps Ruth Buzzi, at different points in her routine, as sort of a salute to the old Dean Martin Roasts. Pretty funny) but she can’t say the word ‘cock’, you have to bleep it? On Comedy Central, a cable channel I have to pay for, part of a service I requested? After midnight, no less? I don’t get it.

I hate to break it to you people, I’m a pretty good lip reader these days. Partial deafness forces that on you (a condition Bill and I share) I saw her say the word. If I wanted to get offended, the joke itself would have been offensive, hearing the word would have made no difference. As it is, the fact that the content was edited at all is offensive to me.

Here’s the point I’m getting at. If something offends me, I don’t turn it on. I generally don’t watch Comedy Central because the raunch level is too high. Nothing at all to do with the amount of ‘cursing’ that goes on, and everything to do with the continuous blatant sexual references. I have a pre-teen in the house, he doesn’t need that kind of exposure, so I don’t watch it (the daughter stumbled in on The Succubus episode of South Park when she was about the son’s age now. She had nightmares about it afterwards. I’ve just steered clear of the channel since) I also don’t watch many of my favorite films with the kids in the room, and for much the same reason.

[The children generally don’t want to watch what I watch anyway (Discovery Channels, mostly) They want to watch Cartoon Network, which I have to turn off after Adult Swim starts. Something else I don’t get. A network that caters to children, that has pretty graphic adult content after 10 pm. Futurama is great. Family Guy, I just don’t get. It just gets lamer from that point on, until you hit the Anime at two in the morning. What’s with that? Why all on the same channel?]

I tuned in to Comedy Central after putting the kids to bed, because I suspected what I was going to be watching would be off the charts on the raunch scale. It was. I don’t even know if the wife will be able to sit through it. I don’t know why I bothered. The lame-ass ‘bleeping’ every few minutes in the middle of jokes that wouldn’t make the uncensored list in the first place just ruins the whole effect. What a waste.

Periodically, when watching network television, I catch the occasional promo for “the Network Premiere of (insert sex and gore fest film name here)” and I turn to the wife and say, “How are they going to make that film conform to network censor standards?” I never find out, because I either have the film on disk, or I can rent it. When it comes to Comedy Central’s offerings, I’ll probably never see the uncensored versions. I paid for it once already, and they shafted me on content. Why would I bother to pay for it again?

Expressions of Friendship

Every week brings another e-mail to the inbox, generally with a syrupy message about keeping in touch with family and friends and not winding up regretting things when you’re an old fart.

Look, I love all of you, OK? There is no need to send me a message seeking my affections and approval. Really, if you feel the need to reassure yourself that I am your friend, take my word for it, you’re my best bud. Just don’t hit “send” on that chain letter, please?

Also, for the record:
There is no “National Friendship and FAMILY WEEK
There is no “National Friendship Week

Here’s a quote from Break the Chain (one of three places I check for debunking information):

Official declarations of special-interest “weeks” usually come from legislators and governors. “National” weeks or days will most likely be declared by the President or Congress. Searches on the White House Web Site and FirstGov.gov for “National Friendship Week” turned up nothing – as I hoped they would, since I don’t really want government involved with my social life at that level!

Of course, special-interest groups can also declare special “national” weeks and days. Heck, if I wanted to, I could declare this week “The National Week of My Left Eyebrow.” There’s no law and no person keeping me from doing it, all I need is a good public relations campaign. Oh, and if I send out a poem about my left eyebrow via e-mail and don’t date it, it can be the week of my left eyebrow all year long!

I can say with one phrase (Carpe Diem!) what most of the “Friendship letters” take pages to get across; it’s just not that difficult a concept to grasp.

A better expression of this was heard a few weeks back on “The View” (no, I don’t watch the show, I was channel surfing during the day. No REALLY) When William Shatner was on plugging the Season Finale for Boston Legal. It’s also a song on his album “Has Been” (track title “You’ll Have Time“) which pretty much covers it.

I approach every day with the observation “this could be my last day” and I’ve done this for most of my life. That’s pretty much what he said, and that’s pretty much how I’ve lived for as long as I can remember.

I recommend it to you as “your friend”.

Now, I need to go start that chain letter concerning the “Week of My Left Eyebrow”…

Boston Legal, Jury Nullification, Euthanasia

Speaking of Boston Legal (I was) the episode “Live Big” (that aired on the 21st) features Alan Shore once again on the horns of an ethical dilemma. His client granted his Alzheimer’s afflicted wife’s request to have her life terminated.

I love watching James Spader’s characterization of Alan Shore. He’s so wonderfully dry. The contrasting relationship with bombastic ‘Denny Crane’ (William Shatner) makes an excellent sounding board (and vice versa) for discussion points within the episode.

Denny Crane: That’s how dad went. Morphine drip.
Alan Shore: How did you get the doctor to do it?
Denny Crane: “Denny Crane”. It was the real thing then.

Spader’s ‘Shore’ is clearly uncomfortable with the whole subject, but he believes that his client should not be labeled a criminal, and bases his closing argument on that very basic fact.

The A.D.A.’s argument amounts to: he broke the law, he’s a criminal, and we can’t afford to start down the slippery slope of allowing assisted suicide, what happens when people start getting rid of the old, sick people they just don’t want around anymore.

Shore’s argument goes like this:

The dirty little secret is; we went down that slope, years ago. Officially we say we’re against assisted suicide; but it goes on, all the time. 70% of all deaths in hospitals are due to decisions to let patients die. Whether it’s morphine drips or respirators, hydration tubes. With all due respect to the Terry Schiavo fanfare, patients are assisted with death, all across the country, all the time.

As for regulating motive, here’s a thought, investigate it. if we suspect foul play have the police ask questions, if it smells funny, prosecute.

But here, there is no suggestion that Mr. Myerson’s motive was anything other than to satisfy his wifes wishes and spare her the extreme indignity of the rotting of her brain. Can you imagine? Would you want to live like that?

I had a dog for 12 years. His name was Allen. That was his name when I got him. He had cancer in the end. That, in conjunction with severe hip dysplasia, and he was in unbearable pain. My vet recommended, and I agreed, to euthanize him. It was ‘humane’ which we as society endeavor to be, for animals.

My client’s act was a humane one. It was a sorrowful one. Mrs. Myerson’s nurse testified as to the profound love that Ryan Myerson had for his wife. Sometimes the ultimate act of love and kindness…

If you think this man is a criminal send him to jail. If you don’t, don’t.

His client is, of course, acquitted. A classic case of jury nullification, a legitimate finding by the jury that the law was wrongly applied in this instance.

Another example of why I love the show evolves afterwards. Once again in a conversation between Denny and Alan, the nature of “who’s life is it anyway” is explored. An excellent conclusion to the episode, and what I’ve come to expect from the show.

Looking forward to tonight’s episode.