Treknobabble #60: The Future Begins (Two Hours Earlier in Vulcan)


Treknobabble is a continuing series of columns written by uber-Trekkie Reed Farrington in anticipation of the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie.

I thought I would use this Treknobabble to talk about a few recent Star Trek news topics that each probably don’t deserve to have a whole Treknobabble devoted to them. So I’ll be covering the bid by Vulcan to host a Star Trek movie premiere, a rumor of a new Star Trek television series, and the release of some international posters for the new Star Trek movie.

There’s a town named Vulcan in Alberta, Canada. Population: 1900. This city was named Vulcan even before Star Trek was televised; in 1910, a railway surveyor named the town after the Roman god of fire. In efforts to promote tourism, the town council decided to associate their city with Spock’s home planet of Vulcan. Since 1993 at the height of Star Trek’s popularity, they have hosted a three-day Star Trek convention known as Spock Days and Galaxyfest that attracts hundreds of fans each year. One non-resident even got buried there with a Star Trek themed tombstone. (And people say Trekkies don’t know how to have fun.) Even though not all the residents of Vulcan are Trekkies (most are farmers), some businesses and government offices remain Trek-themed all year round for visiting Trekkies.

Back in September of last year, the town sent a proposal to the new movie’s executive producers at Paramount. The town wanted to host the premiere of the Star Trek movie! This was no passing fancy either. They had consulted with Springfield in Vermont where The Simpsons Movie had premiered. And they even invited Riverside, Iowa and Linlithgow, Scotland, the future birthplaces of Captain Kirk and Scotty, respectively, to participate. But the really strange aspect is that Vulcan doesn’t have a movie theatre! (However, there are bi-monthly movie nights in the school gymnasium.)

Recently, Paramount denied the request for the premiere. This managed to generate some international headlines. At this point, I’m not sure whether some Paramount marketing person got a bright idea or whether Leonard Nimoy really decided to speak up on his own, but Leonard Nimoy started generating headlines with his endorsement of Vulcan. He supposedly had read the news, and decided to get involved. From what I know of Nimoy’s humor and nice guy disposition, this is the type of thing he would actually do without prompting.

The publicity stunt worked because my local newspaper ran a page two story on this news with a full-color photo of fans dressed as Klingons. Days later, Paramount’s compromise kept the news in the headlines: a lottery would be held to allow 300 of the Vulcan residents to see the movie for free at a theatre in nearby Calgary. And I believe the town would get a bunch of Star Trek movie swag as well. I think Paramount sort of missed the point of Vulcan’s bid for the Star Trek movie premiere, but it probably realized that Vulcan had already achieved its goal of generating publicity for the small town. I think Vulcan unrealistically wanted visitors to come to Vulcan for the movie premiere in order to generate tourism dollars.

I have a Trekkie friend who used to live near Vulcan, but he didn’t care to visit it while he was nearby. I probably should have visited Vulcan while my friend was out there. If you need a non-Trekkie excuse to head out that way, there’s a fantastic dinosaur museum near there called the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Many fossilized remains have been discovered around the abundant tar pits.

From dinosaurs, we move on to a young veteran of television. Bryan Fuller started out as a staff writer on Star Trek Voyager in the fourth season after selling stories to Star Trek Deep Space Nine. When Voyager ended, he had worked his way up to being a co-producer. He went on to create critically acclaimed television series such as Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, and Pushing Daisies. I have watched all the episodes of these series and I love each of these series. Strangely, I didn’t think much about his writing efforts on Voyager. His television series haven’t been hits with the general public. There is an offbeat quality to them that makes them suited for cult status.

In a recent interview, Fuller mentioned that he would love to create a new Star Trek series in Kirk’s era with a new ship and new crew. I believe he has mentioned this concept in the past, years before J.J. Abrams started working on the new Star Trek movie. This managed to generate some headlines about a possible new Star Trek television series. Some people thought that Abrams had veto rights in his contract for any Star Trek television series. Somewhat amused that people would think that he has this type of contractual power, Abrams has denied this.

When Star Trek was popular, there was the issue of oversaturation of Star Trek product. Also if people could watch Star Trek on television, then why would they go see it at a theatre? If the new Star Trek movie is a success, then there will no doubt be sequels. I would think that the actors are contractually obligated to participate in sequels if they are made, but I don’t know what a reasonable number of sequels would be. As for a new Star Trek television series, I doubt if they would let Bryan Fuller be in charge. J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5, has proposed some ideas in the past, but I don’t think anyone would hand the reins over to him either. I suspect the only person at the moment that they would entrust with a new television series would be J.J. Abrams. People think I’m a pessimist, but I’m not even going to speculate on the future of Star Trek when the new movie falls short of expectations, I mean, if.

Some international posters for the new Star Trek movie have been released. I guess the variations reflect the specific appeal of Star Trek to each market. And I suspect Dr. McCoy fans and Scotty fans will be upset. In the UK market, it seems the big three are no longer Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. McCoy has been replaced by Uhura in the UK posters that display only three actors. Since McCoy was supposed to represent the emotional aspect of the triumvirate, I suppose Uhura’s femininity will do as a substitute. The German poster has added Sulu and Chekov, but McCoy and Scotty are missing! I suppose this must be an indication as to the negligible importance of the doctor and engineer to the new movie. Must be no time for healing and miracles. The Italian poster dispenses with any actor photos and instead depicts a scene of San Francisco being annihilated. This might be wise since the actors are most likely unknowns to them, and destruction of planet Earth in movies seems to be in vogue right now. And it’s probably best to hide the fact that Star Trek might be a space movie.

With regards to the low profile for the minor actors in the new movie, the reason why the minor actors of the Original Series hated Shatner was that Shatner monopolized the spotlight. Doohan, Nichols, Takei and Koenig were under the impression that Star Trek would be about an ensemble of actors. Actually, if Roddenberry had been able to maintain this vision, Star Trek would have been groundbreaking for another reason with the first ensemble cast on television; however, television at the time focused on having a star on each television show. Naturally, Captain Kirk was the star. Spock’s unusual appearance made it natural for him to be a co-star. And the acting chops of Deforest Kelley as Dr. McCoy earned him a co-starring credit after the first season.

I would suspect that Pegg, Saldana, Cho, and Yelchin should harbor no jealousies against Pine, because the movie script is about Captain Kirk’s hero journey. So I’ll be briefly talking about the hero’s journey at the beginning of my next Treknobabble. The adventure continues…

  • I don’t know about the other guys, but Cho has a career of his own outside of the Star Trek realms, so I don’t think he would have any problem with not being the center of attention. All in all I doubt any of them would, especially if they are somewhat unknowns. They’re probably just glad to end up in such a big budget movie in the first place, unlike the original show back in the day which was very low key.

  • 1138

    I will admit the last trailer for the movie was exciting but, the last commercial spot was boring as hell. I am up and down on this movie. A part of me thinks it has possibilities and to give it a chance. The other part of me is somewhat doubtful of it’s success. I really paramount should have waited another year or possibly 5.
    I for one am not a JJ fanboy and think his body of work is OK. The production design looks horrible and reminds of a fantasy movie vs a sc-fi epic. But I have to give it a chance and hope for the best for if this fails, Star Trek should not be revisited for another 10 years.

  • That last poster looks exactly like the one from iron man

  • That’s true Drew, I think it’s safe to assume the same man designed it.

    I hate everything about this movie, except that it’s Star Trek, and that is enough to not only make me go see it first chance, but make me excited to see it. How weird is THAT?

  • I think Star Trek curses any actor who has ever been a regular with the exception of William Shatner, because, hey, he’s Shatner. Well, even Shatner’s career hasn’t been stellar.

    1138, I’m really bewildered by people who comment that Star Trek should be given a rest. What exactly are people tired of? Why will time make things better? And for people who think they have answers to these questions, what makes Star Trek different from any other type of movie? Why don’t theatre owners close up shop for a year to get people more enthusiastic about going to the movies?

    Henrik, I eagerly await to read your review of the movie. Probably more than the movie itself.

  • Greg

    Reed: The majority of the actors that appeared as regulars on Star Trek weren’t good actors anyway.

    I mean, Whoopi Goldberg and Scott Bakula were already established and I think Patrick Stewart has done quite well for himself after Star Trek. 3 massive X-Men movies and a fortune in royalties doing voice work for Family Guy and American Dad.

    There’s no curse. Shitty actors don’t usually get a lot of work.

  • C’mon, Greg. Patrick Stewart had nothing to do with the success of the X-Men. And you’re using voice work as a sign of success for an actor? I know he does quite a bit of stage work and appears to get excellent theatrical reviews. But he hasn’t become a box-office star. And he hasn’t won Oscars or Emmys or Golden Globes. Those are my measures of success.

    People always said William Shatner is a shitty actor and I would have to concede based on a lot of stuff he has done. So how does one explain why he won Golden Globes and an Emmy for his portrayal of Denny Crane?

    Scott Bakula is guest-starring on Chuck. Hey, I love Chuck, but no one in Hollywood will be paying any attention to his performance.

    Essentially, there are no bad actors in Star Trek. There are bad roles, and a whole bunch of other factors that can make anyone look like they’re acting badly. All the actors on Star Trek have credentials, and the casting people on Star Trek are some of the best in the business.

  • Actually I’m with Greg on this one. Most of the TNG cast barely works on TV, let alone the movies.