Saturday, September 10, 2016

Review: For the Love of Spock

Today at 5pm I'll be live Tweeting For the Love of Spock.

"I may not be the fastest, I may not be the tallest or the strongest, I may not be the best or the brightest but one thing I can do better than anyone else is be me."

The film opens with an interviewer quoting from one of Leonard Nimoy's poems. It's a perfect way to begin a film about a man who was so unique.

The documentary was originally intended to be about Spock and his impact on our culture.  After Leonard Nimoy passed away, Adam Nimoy realized the film would also have to talk about Leonard Nimoy's life and impact.  It made sense to then include something of Adam's story as well.  The result is a wonderful tribute to Leonard Nimoy and the Spock character.

The film takes us through Nimoy's early acting career including some great clips of his performances, including one from Gene Roddenberry's The Lieutenant which also features Majel Barrett.  The film then moves into the Star Trek years and makes great use of HD clips from TOS to remind the audience of some of Spock's most memorable moments and Leonard Nimoy's contributions to the series.  It recounts the stories of how the Vulcan nerve pinch and salute were created.

Adam and Julie Nimoy recall how their father was very present in their early lives but how his work ethic in the early 60s and during Star Trek made him less available to them.  The difficult tensions between Adam and his father provide a thread through the film that is resolved near the end when Leonard started "majoring in family and minoring in career" rather than the other way around.

This film is a highly enjoyable two hour journey into the life of a man I have idolized, studied and been entertained by since I was a child.  I thank Adam and Julie Nimoy for sharing their stories with us and giving Star Trek fans the opportunity to know both Spock and Leonard Nimoy a little better.  I highly recommend it.

For the Love of Spock is available in theatres worldwide and with behind the scenes extras on We are Colony.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Propworx 50th Anniversary Auction

On September 10, 2016, Propworx will be having a special auction of costumes, props and artwork to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek.  There are some lots of incredible quality including several that will be of interest to Vulcanologists.

First is Lot #0040 a Roman Phaser from Star Trek: TNG

Lot #0047 Spock Ear Prosthetics from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Lot #0048 Leonard Nimoy Director's Chair from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock from the collection of Joe Longo.

Lot #0053 & #0054 Romulan Senate Stools from Star Trek: Nemesis

Lot #0061 Unification Photos from Star Trek: TNG "Unification"

Lot #0062 Unification Photo from Star Trek: TNG "Unification"

Lot #0081 Vulcan Ear Prosthetics from Star Trek: Enterprise

Lot #0095 Romulan Shuttle Concept Art from Star Trek: DS9 from the collection of Gary Hutzel

Lot #0169 Ambassador Spock Concept Art by Robert Blackman for Star Trek: TNG "Unification"

Lot #0186 Perrin Concept Art by Robert Blackman for Star Trek: TNG "Sarek"

Lot #0194 Mintaken Concept Art by Robert Blackman for Star Trek: TNG "Who Watches the Watchers?"

Lot #0200 Sarek Concept Art by Robert Blackman for Star Trek: TNG "Sarek"

Lot #0204 Neral Concept Art by Robert Blackman for Star Trek: TNG "Unification".  Interesting, the character's name is spelled "Narel" on the artwork.  I wonder if this was an error or the spelling changed during production.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Starfleet Academy Experience

From May 13, 2016 until September 5, 2016 the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum hosted a new travelling exhibit called Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience.  Produced by EMS Entertainment under licence from CBS Consumer Products, the exhibit features original and replica props from across the franchise but the main thrust is a series of interactive activities designed to test guests on their suitability as potential Starfleet officers.

EMS Entertainment has also produced Star Trek exhibits that have travelled through other parts of the world over the last few years.  After today, the Academy Experience will move on from Ottawa to the next stop on it's north American tour.  A close copy of this exhibit is currently at The Intrepid sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.

I attended the Experience back in July and thought I'd share my thoughts.  There was very little content of specific interest to Vulcanologists, besides a display of screen-used prosthetic Vulcan ears and the moulds used to create them.

When you enter the Experience you are given an ID wristband that stores your information and connects you to a personal profile.  As you tour through the exhibits and complete tasks, the profile is updated and at the end you are told which stream of Starfleet you are most suited to (I was Communications/Command).

There's a wonderful large scale model of the original Enterprise upon which various scenes from Star Trek are projected.  In the case of the Ottawa Experience, there was also some projection of the Canadian flag.  I quite enjoyed that the Experience was tailored to its location.  By the way, this is not the first time the Powers That Be have chosen to launch a Star Trek exhibit in Canada. Back in 1996 for the 30th anniversary, Toronto was home to a fantastic Star Trek exhibit at the McLaughlin Planetarium and to a travelling exhibit called Federation Science which was housed at the Ontario Science Centre (I attended both and perhaps I'll post about them in the future).

Before you get to the interactive bits you walk through a corridor with a wonderful timeline of the key events in Trek history.  This really helps to set the stage (especially for non-Trekkies).  There is some information about Gene Roddenberry and the creation of the franchise and also some information about Treknology and how it has influenced real life engineers and designers over the years.

The six testing areas of the Experience are Command, Communications, Medical, Tactical, Engineering and Navigation.  As you pass through each area you are treated to appropriate props and costumes and profiles of Star Trek heroes from all the live-action TV series.

The Experience was clearly put together by people who are knowledgeable and who care about the franchise.  It ends with a trip to a Galaxy Class bridge where you engage in one final interactive challenge: the Kobayashi Maru test.  I spent close to two hours in the Experience as I lollygagged and closely examined all the props and costumes but it's designed to be done in about an hour.

I'm not sure where the next step on the tour will be but if it turns up near you I recommend going.  I had a lot of fun and it was a great way to celebrate during the 50th anniversary year.  As I noted above, I appreciated the Canadian touches.  I would be surprised if the Experience wasn't slightly tailored for each city that hosts it going forward.

In my case, I was also quite impressed by the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum.  I had never been before and it was great to see exhibits like the Canadarm and various mission patches from Canadian astronauts.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Rocket Mortgage Ads

Paramount and Quicken Loans are doing some cross-promotion in the lead up to the release of Star Trek Beyond.  They have released two commercials featuring a Vulcan called Sevek and his mate to advertise Quicken's Rocket Mortgage.

I can't evaluate the quality of Quicken as a company or their Rocket Mortgage as I have never dealt with them but I found the ads amusing.  The actors they cast as Sevek and his mate do a good job and I enjoyed the set decoration -- the Vulcan Lyre and paintings were nice touches.

Below are links to the two ads that have been released thus far.

Quicken has also updated their website with images of Sevek.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Book Review: The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years

The publishers sent me an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair review.

I've read pretty much everything that's ever been published about the making of Star Trek and I've been to many conventions and heard all the stories a hundred times so I was skeptical that this book would reveal anything new. I'm so glad I read it!

I expected a straightforward, narrative history of the franchise because I missed the words "Oral History" in the subtitle. After some brief introductions by the authors and Seth MacFarlane, this book is laid out in brief statements by those involved in the history of Star Trek. Innumerable interviews with cast, crew and critics come together to form a unique and wonderful history of the franchise.

At first, the format threw me off but I quickly became engaged in the story. Each segment is thoughtfully chosen to add a new piece to the puzzle. After a few pages I found it nearly impossible to put down and I spent the entire day with the book until I had finished it.  It left me wanting more and gave me a keen desire to pop in some Trek movies on Blu-ray!

It's true that I didn't learn much of anything new about the original series -- but there were some tidbits! Interviews with Gene L. Coon's secretary were especially revealing.  For me, where the history became really interesting was in the 1970s. This book does a great job of uncovering the history of the early Star Trek conventions and fanzines. It also provides a cohesive and logical account of the confusing period leading to The Motion Picture.

The latter half of the 1970s and the road through Phase II to TMP have always been sort of muddled but Altman and Gross do a wonderful job of clearing up the timeline and making clear the motivations of Paramount in bring Star Trek back.

From there, the journey through the remaining TOS films is fairly quick but you get a very solid picture of the events and the major players involved.  We read quite a bit from Walter Koenig and a bit from James Doohan but very little from George Takei and Nichelle Nichols. Perhaps this is because Nichols and Takei have already told their own stories fairly comprehensively in their own memoirs.

The book doesn't really tell the whole story of the first 25 years of Trek. The Next Generation is barely mentioned in passing. Instead, the authors have devoted this first volume to the original series and its films. I expect the second volume will tackle TNG from the beginning.

I recommend this book highly and cannot wait to read the second volume!  I expect this will become the definitive account of Trek's history. It should be required reading for those who are interested in in the production history of the franchise.

This first volume is available for sale on Tuesday and the second will be released in the Fall.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Propworx Star Trek Auction VIII

This past weekend, Propworx had their eighth Star Trek auction on Liveauctioneers. This was an auction for the Robert Blackman Collection; 152 lots of artwork, costume designs and crew gifts from The Next Generation through Enterprise.

There were three lots of special interest to Vulcanologists. The first was sketches for Perrin's (Joanna Miles) costumes in the TNG episode "Sarek."

I think Blackman did a great job with this costume. It has some touches that throw back to Robert Fletcher's movie-era work (including re-using the jewellery worn by the Vulcan maidens in Star Trek III).  The bright pink makes Perrin stand out as a non-Vulcan. It's reminiscent of the bright colours worn by Sarek's first wife, Amanda, in "Journey to Babel".

The second lot also features work for the episode "Sarek."  These sketches are for Sarek's aide, Sakkath (Rocco Sisto).

The third lot is sketches for Tuvok's (Tim Russ) civilian clothing. We've seen Tuvok in pyjamas a few times but these look quite similar to the costumes he wore in "Riddles" and "Endgame".