Hello again, fellow trekers...
It's not every TV show that becomes a cultural phenomenon.
"Star Trek" seemed to be just another semi-successful cult show
in the late 1960's. It certainly seemed that way to the NBC
network, which cancelled it after only three years. For any
other low-rated show with only about 80 episodes, that would have
been the end, but something strange happened. Rerun day after
day on local stations, the show took on a cult status, and became
more popular as time went by. Eventually, the original show (TOS
to trekers) went on to spawn a series of successful movies and
several other "Star Trek" TV shows.
Looking back on the early show, it's kind of hard not to
laugh at the cheesy sets and low-tech special effects. They were
probably the best available for TV at the time, a sign of the
changes that have taken place in movie magic over the years. The
tribbles in one of the best shows of the original series look
pretty poor next to the alien creatures of today. They look on
screen pretty like what they are, dead little blobs of fake fur -
not so different from William (Captain Kirk) Shatner's hairpiece,
come to think of it. (Kirk's store-bought hair hardly ever
looked the same from one shot to another. Think that it's any
accident that all of the other male captains have been bald?)
At it's best, any entertainment will hold up a mirror to
reflect the society of its time and make you think about problems
and solutions in an entertaining way. Despite its flaws, "Star
Trek" often did that. It also presented a positive view of the
future, where people of all colors - even including greens and
blues - can find a way to work together. And engineers
especially love the show because the engineering people are the
heroes - for once!.
Starfleet commendations this week to: Mark Becwar, Nnamdi
Elleh, Vic Parrhysius, Sylvia He, Kerry Miller, Dale
Frederickson, Jerry Taff, Beth Butler and Peter Adler. Thanks as
always for your contributions. One to beam up... Very funny
Scotty. Now beam up my clothes!
Live Long and Prosper!
LEGAL STUFF: They tell me I have to say that "Star
Trek" is a registered trademark of Paramount Pictures,
which retains the rights to all of the characters, as
well as the names of all shows mentioned and anything
else they can get their bloody hands on. There, now
tell those movie lawyer types to go hug a photon
NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS?
Before we get on to "Star Trek," there's one item of old
business to get out of the way. Last week on Sunday Funnies, we
talked about the TV station in Birmingham, Alabama that fired its
entire news department. The station manager of WBMG-TV, Eric
Land, had announced at that time that he would have a new staff
in place by the beginning of January. That didn't happen, and
the news staff left as of December 31st. The station will have
no local newscast at least until February, and will have to make
due with airing filler programs until then.
The station management says now that this is what they had
intended all along, saying, "... it's necessary to eliminate the
current news product until the new CBS 42 is unveiled in a
direction dictated by comprehensive market research."
[ In other words, they haven't a clue what to
do to make the ratings higher, and it was
harder than they thought to hire people to
work for a manager who would give the staff
pink slips as a Christmas present. ]
TWELVE STEPS TO TREK...
A well-known psychologist who has studied the "Star Trek"
phenomenon was quoted recently in the London Times. Sandy
Wolfson said that her research showed that as many as ten percent
of fans meet the clinical definition for addiction, even going
through withdrawal symptoms when the show is not on.
Further, she says, like other classic addictions, they seem
to require increasing doses to overcome their tolerance levels.
THINGS THAT NEVER HAPPEN IN STAR TREK
- The Enterprise runs into a mysterious energy field of a type
it has encountered several times before.
- The Enterprise goes to visit a remote outpost of scientists
who are perfectly alright.
- Kirk gets into a fistfight and doesn't rip his shirt.
- Some of the crew visit the holodeck and it works perfectly.
- The crew of the Enterprise discover a totally new life form,
only to find out it's really a well-known life form wearing
a funny hat.
- The crew of the Enterprise is struck with a strange alien
plague, for which the cure can be found in the well-stocked
- An unknown ensign in a red shirt beams down as part of an
away team and lives to tell the tale.
- Captain Janeway's hair remains consistent for more than one
- Kirk doesn't end up kissing the guest-female and she doesn't
sacrifice herself for him.
- Odo transforms himself into something else, and decides he
likes it so much he'd rather stay that way.
- The Enterprise successfully ferries an alien VIP from one
place to another without serious incident.
- A power surge on the bridge is rapidly correctly diagnosed
as a faulty capacitor by the highly-trained and competent
engineering staff. The fuses work fine and there are no
- The Enterprise is captured by a vastly inferior alien
intelligence which they easily pacify by offering it some
- A major Star Fleet emergency breaks out, but fortunately
some other ships are in the area and are able to deal with
- Counsellor Troi states something other than the blindingly
- Spock (or Data) is fired from his high-ranking position for
not being able to understand the most basic nuances that
anyone says to him.
- Somebody takes out a shuttle and it doesn't explode, crash
or lose power.
- The Enterprise goes into battle and the shields work just as
designed to protect everyone on board.
- The Enterprise visits the Klingon Home World on a bright,
- Picard doesn't have to pull down his tight-fitting shirt.
- Wesley Crusher tries to upgrade the warp drive and they work
better than ever.
- Guinan forgets herself, and breaks into a stand-up comedy
OUTTA SIGHT DEPARTMENT...
Computer people have always been big "Star Trek" fans, of
course. Here are a couple of fun web sites for those of you with
- You Can't Do That On Star Trek!
A fun parody site with made up pictures of
past and present "Star Treks", like Tuvak
Shakur and Captain Kermit the Frog.
- Sing Along With Captain Kirk
Give a listen to William Shatner as he bleats
his way though "Mr. Tamborine Man" and "Lucy
in the Sky With Diamonds" from his 1968
album, "The Transformed Man." Trust me - he
has a voice that could curdle milk. If your
computer will play .WAV files, you can listen
to short takes from the original songs, but
have plenty of time before you try this - the
files are big. You can also hear Leonard
Nimoy (Spock) sing, and even Brent Spiner
(Commander Data) from his album, "Old Yellow
Eyes Is Back."
- Klingon Language Institute
The place to go if someone calls you a DenIb
Qatlh pujwI' naQ bIQ! (Weakling Denebian
Slime Devil) and you have trouble thinking of
a response. This site will sell you a
language kit to learn the Klingon language
made up for the movies and later TV shows.
SO, IS PLOMIK SOUP KOSHER?
The famous, split-fingered Vulcan salute is actually copied
from the blessing a Jewish rabbi gives his congregation. The
hand position is supposed to represent the Hebrew letter "Shin"
of the word "Shalom" (meaning peace). I suppose that means you
could make a good case for the Vulcans being the lost tribe of
EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW, I LEARNED FROM WATCHING STAR TREK
- Seek out new life and new civilizations.
- Non-interference is the prime directive.
- Keep your phaser set on stun.
- Humans are highly illogical.
- There is no such thing as a Vulcan Death Grip.
- Live long and prosper.
- Having is not so pleasing as wanting; it is highly
illogical, but often true.
- Tribbles hate Klingons and vice versa.
- If you're wearing a red shirt, be extra careful.
- Like the Klingons, your enemy can become your friend.
- Enemies are often invisible - like Romulans they can be
- Don't put all your ranking officers in one shuttle craft.
- When your logic fails, trust a hunch.
- Insufficient data does not compute.
- If you can't fix it, just ask Scotty or Geordi.
- Even on our own world, sometimes we are alien.
- When going out into the Universe, remember: "Boldly go where
no one has gone before."
© 1998 by Bill Becwar. All Rights Reserved.