Saturday, July 22, 2006

Star Trek rant

Oh, I am so critical when I watch some things, I annoy myself! Don't even get me started on TV commercials. There are SO many stupid ones on this year, and yet there are others which have the most amazing soundtracks.

Anyway...I have been enjoying Star Trek today. Three episodes: One Original, and two Next Generation.

Stuff I've noticed:

1) The make up in the 60s was SO obvious. And why oh why did Capt. Kirk have to wear grey eyeshadow?
a) He walked around sucking his stomach in, must have been tiring to the extreme when he was showing someone martial arts moves in this episode and he had no top on.
b) He always, always did the smouldering eyes without variation.
c) Then there were the extras who stalked about stiffly as though very conscious of their figure-hugging costumes. By the 90s they'd gotten used to the idea...

2) Why were frontal face views of women always shot with a nylon over the lens? If Capt Kirk was talking to a woman, he got the nylon on lens too.

3) When two people were in intense discussion in a battle of wills, their faces were cast in shadow with a shaft of light across their eyes.
It's like how in Indian movies, the betrayed woman is always standing by a window with a stricken expression on her face, tears in her eyes, with lightning behind her, and there's a giant fan somewhere to make her hair and robes fly about, as if an extra dramatic touch were needed.

4) Why are the beings from alien planets always (8 times out of ten) so angry and short tempered and shouty, and the humans have to go in and back them down while teaching them patience and compassion?
And they live in such dark spaceships or such wild planets...

5) In the rare instance that the aliens are more compassionate and gentler than us, they have slender figures, or no substance at all like clouds or points of light.

Look, even now, a second ago the crew were being sentenced to death on a stormy planet by some Judge in a hooded robe, next second (something happened while I was typing), Commander Reiker is strolling about discussing Sun Tzu with his erstwhile Judge. The Farengi are running about like monkeys.
Judge: Should I kill them?
Reiker: Then they would learn nothing.

I do like how Capt. Picard says, "Make it so."

OK, enough now. I just felt like fretting a bit. Don't get me wrong, when I was little I used to come home from school and put on Star Trek. I love sci-fi, just need to balance it out with a little reality check.


The Moody Minstrel said...

Oh, no...NOW YOU'VE DONE IT!!!

I'll skip 1. No comments are needed.

2. When I was a teenage Trekkie I often wondered about that, too. Actually, it's classic cinematography, at least for '60s TV. The "nylon on the lens" view softened the woman's visage, making her look sexier or at least more divine. As for Capt. Kirk getting nyloned, I guess it's because the woman looking at him was getting all bleary-eyed.

3. Same as 2. The director thought he was adding dramatic (though ritualized) impact. I guess it's no different from Noh actors in Japan using standardized gestures to express certain emotions.

4. Roddenberryism #1: humanity will win out over everything.

Actually, I wonder even more about why the overwhelming majority of "alien" species in this galaxy (at least in TNG onwards) are humans with funny things on their noses or foreheads. At least they are always sexually compatible. That's all that seems to matter.

5. Humans just aren't that compassionate. Deal with it!

Trivia point: Many of the expressions used by Capt. Picard, such as "Make it so," "Engage," and "Number One" to refer to his first officer were actually used by Capt. Pike on the very first Star Trek pilot movie, The Cage (later resurrected as the two-part TOS episode, The Menagerie). The Cage was flatly rejected by the networks, but Roddenberry was invited to try again with a reworked version retaining the U.S.S. Enterprise and "Star Trek" premise, but with the following modifications:

1. include explanatory narration ("Space...the final frontier...) in the opening sequence, but eliminate the (corny) lyrics from the theme,
2. have a more macho captain (i.e. Kirk),
3. have a male first officer (since Majel "Nurse Chapel/Ambassador Troi" Barret[-Roddenberry] was the first Number One!),
4. ditch the strange, ritualized expressions ("Make it so," "Engage," etc.) in favor of more "accessible" language,
5. make the sets, particularly on the Enterprise, less cluttered (since the original bridge had flex-mounted monitors at every station)
6. put all visible crew members in uniform (since, in The Cage, the corridors of the Enterprise were filled with people walking around in mod dress!)
7. ditch the guy with the ears!!! (Fortunately, Roddenberry refused to compromise on this one point. In fact, he pointedly used Spock as the replacement for his female Number One! Interestingly, in The Cage Spock is rather emotional...and leers a lot!)

One of my biggest gripes about Star Trek in general has been its lack of continuity. Except for the times when DS9 and Voyager were serials, it seemed like major developments were forgotten and never seen again. In TOS Lt. Leslie is killed in "Obsession" only to reappear, unharmed, a few episodes later. In "The Enterprise Incident" Kirk steals the Romulan cloaking device and Scotty figures it out, but it only appears in Federation use in U.S.S. Reliant in DS9...and only because the Romulans installed it! Of course, apologists and/or writers are able to explain some of the inconsistencies away (such as the change of Klingon anatomy), but one nagging point still bothers me:

As you said, the Farengi act and move like monkeys (i.e. alien) when first introduced. When they next appear, however, their behavior is fully human. WHY???!? WHY?!?!??!? Are Star Trek's writers so unable to handle the idea of a truly alien alien race?!?!?!???

Woah...speaking of long posts...and a need for a reality check...

Olivia said...


I've done nerdy posts, but by finally bringing up the topic of sci-fi, I have admitted geekiness.

Well, Jia Li, Steli and I have often discussed it and now it's out.

So Minstrel - thanks for all the explanations. Now we all know you are into it!

Obviously the phrases "make it so" and "engage" were resurrected in TNG and DS9.

What's TOS? And I can't remember what the latest (cancelled) series is called.

I'm sad Star Trek was cancelled. I watched it just for the sake of watching Star Trek and enjoying the situations, the fanciful gadgets, the new worlds.

The Cage sounds like fun to watch.
I was surprised today, watching Kirk's female crew, to notice they were in Micro Mini skirts. I saw the entire micro fad in detail recently at the V&A Museum (you know!) costume department - there's a current 60s and Mod exhibition on.

Indeed they were so short that a pair of "micro bloomers" for lack of a better word had to be worn underneath. So if it showed at least your undies were invisible. Now, babies wear this, but then there you go, it was also the age of the babydoll dress.

Back to Star Trek, I guess not creating totally alien races, and just putting makeup on humans was due to budget constraints, and maybe even a reluctance to perhaps alienate (haha) the viewers and finally not to remove the focus from the mission/story itself.

If someone had said "Write an essay on Star Trek" I'd have replied, "No way, I don't know enough about it."

Well, years of study, including things I didn't understand, have proven one can write about nearly anything.

And, just like Tooners, I LOVE long comments! This is the point of a discussion!

Roxandra said...

Oh I am a complete Trekker. At least I loved TNG and DS9 and of course TOS is a must! (TOS stands for The Original Series btw). My all time fav is Spock. I think he is dreamy, yessss! But I do drool over Picard's diction and voice. YUMM I always loved RP. "Teddibly" sexy! And of course Data is just adorable and very funny, especially in the beginning when he is still learning about being human. Though I watched most of Voyager I didn’t really like it and I never really got into Enterprise which was that last series.
Live long and prosper. Not to mention... Kaplah!

tooners said...

Never watched the Star Trek episodes altho I did go see the movies. Was never a big fan of it.

I did love another sci-fi show... the one w/ the Robinsons... and the robot. It was cheesy.. but I so loved it!! Shoot, can't remember the name of it to save my life.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Just for the record, yes, I am an admitted geek, but one with limits...and one foot squarely in reality (a Capricorn trait? ;-)). I grew up with Star Trek, so I've been a fan of the show and its various incarnations since I was a preschooler. Naturally, I can quote all kinds of trivia. However, I have never been to a convention, I don't collect memorabilia, I don't belong to any clubs, and I don't speak any of the languages.

Okay, I do know a few words of Klingon, such as "Qap'la" and "Maltz, jol yiCu," but THAT'S ALL!!!

Tooners, you're talking about "Lost in Space". That was another one I loved to death in my childhood...but the movie totally f****d it up!!!

"Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!"

tooners said...

aaahhh YES! It was Lost in Space! I loved that show as a child myself. And yes, the movie sucked big time.. such a disappointment. And you know, I still even watch the reruns if I see one... altho I don't think I've seen one since being in Bahrain.

ok... now, I'm officially stunned that I 'blog know' someone that speaks Klingon!!

Btw, was thinking of you guys tonight. I watch Boston Legal and Captain Kirk is one of the attorney's on this series... every time I watch him, I think of Star Trek. He's actually not bad. ;)

Olivia said...

Rox - The Original Series, doh!
I love RP too, but of course you knew that, I mean look at my bookcase!

I used to be intrigued by Data when that series was out. Later I watched poor old Voyager because T'Pal (sp?) intrigued me - another Vulcan, let's see her develop an emotional side!

Tooners - glad to know I'm not the only person who forgets things and blogs it. I nearly typed out the whole process by which my mind blanked at Vulcan and I had to - *gasp* - look it up!

Minstrel - methinks thou dost protest too loudly :P

It seems to be a particularly male trait to pick up these things. A friend of mine at uni used to spout whole Monty Python sketches. Had us in stitches.

"Lost in Space" I watched, as ever, for the cool effects.
That spaceship defies all the laws of physics, starting with its size and shape. I say no more.

Tooners again - It makes my eyes water to watch Shatner now. He is so puffy and tight all over, I think if he breathes too much or bends over, his head will explode. I bet he has high blood pressure.
(The girdle must be partly to blame.)

But he looks perpetually uncomfortable...not that much change from his younger days, only he's rounder.

We don't have Boston Legal here. We only see him in the UK Kellogs All-Bran (?) ads.

lunaliar said...

Liv, I wish more people were like you in that they balanced their sci-fi with a little reality check

Mikeachim said...

I'm a scifi geek. I have plenty of issues with Star Trek (and I generally can't stand Star Wars) but I still loved the whole fantasy/scifi TV genre, even though I never thought it was Quality TV.
And then this came along. Dark, gritty, adult, uncompromising, controvertial and goose-pimpling. Makes everything else look like it's for kids.
The future's suddenly rather Good.