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So much has happened in the world of Star Trek these last few weeks, it’s difficult to decide where to start and what to report on!

But before that, I had an e-mail from a fan of this site asking me why I recapped news reports. He appreciated it, but was curious. It’s simple. When big news happens, we get disjointed drips of it from con reports, media releases and various interviews happening all over the place. Sometimes it’s put together afterwards by various sites, but that’s rare. It frustrates me, so I group it all together for other fans like me who enjoy and appreciate the reports we read, but would love to see them encapsulated in one article because it’s easy to lose track of them all thanks to the fact we all live busy lives. So, thanks for the question and hopefully this puts it all into perspective!

Now, back to this news update.

Thanks to the San Diego Comic Con and Star Trek Las Vegas, a lot of news has come to light: a new Klingon look for Disco season two, new Trek shows, a push to have Trek on CBS All Access all the time, casting announcements, the DS9 documentary, pay disputes for Kelvin-verse Trek IV and more.

I’ve chosen to focus exclusively on news related to the proposed new series’, and the upcoming Trek feature films.

So.  Proposed new shows?  Yes.  First up is a brand new set of mini-episodes called Short Treks, that have been created to give us some Trek content while we wait for season two of Star Trek: DiscoveryShort Treks is also a part of CBS‘s recently announced desire to have Star Trek content on CBS All Access 24 hours a day.

But that’s not it.  There has also been talk of a new animated series and, most incredibly, a new Star Trek project that brings Sir Patrick Stewart back as fan favourite Jean-Luc Picard.

Before we dive in to any of that, we need to look at couple of important casting announcements.  The first is the announcement we have a new Number One (the role originated by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry in 1964).

Rebecca Romijn, best known for her role as Mystique alongside Patrick Stewart in X-Men, X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand, has been cast as the new Number One.  She joins Anson Mount on the Enterprise for the second season of Star Trek: Discovery.

She and Anson are joined by Ethan Peck, the grandson of Hollywood Legend Gregory Peck, who will be playing Spock.

Spock?!

Though producers said they would not cast another Spock because it would be too hard to find another actor capable of following in the footsteps of Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto, it appears they have found a story and an actor that they believe will do justice to Spock and the two exceptional actors who have played him.  Spock is definitely in season two, and I admit I am excited about that.

Some have decried this as fan service, but I don’t have a problem with fan service if it’s done well, and if a wonderful story can be brought to life as a result.  Star Trek has a rich history full of exciting and compelling characters, why can’t we see them?  Why wouldn’t we?  If you were a writer or producer on a new Trek series, wouldn’t you want to use those characters if you could?

Some fan commentators have decried the implausibility of the Enterprise and Discovery being anywhere near each other, but that’s a rubbish observation.

Within the in-universe history of Star Trek, there were not that many ships out there in the earlier days of the Federation, and when you think about it, we actually don’t know the mission profile of the Enterprise in that time period.  Plus, there was a war that bled into Federation space and you can bet the Federation wanted its best ships nearby protecting people and assets.

What do we know about Pike’s mission in that time period?

Star Trek The Cage Poster

We know that he and his ship were returning from a battle, before intercepting the Talos distress signal that led to the events we have seen in “The Cage.”

The Enterprise was a heavy cruiser, and Constitution Class starships were the premier front line vessels of Starfleet.  The ships became known for their exploration missions, but Gene Roddenberry had a multipurpose role in mind for them when he conceived the series.  As every Trek fan knows, the concept for the show was based on a “wagon train to the stars” idea, with the Enterprise pushing the boundaries of known space, while also serving as a diplomatic vessel, a peace-keeping force and even, at times, a special escort for dignitaries.  As a premier front line vessel, there is every reason for it to be within warping distance of the Discovery, which, at the time the two ships come across each other, had only recently left Earth.

But, I digress.  Back to Ethan Peck, our new Spock.

Ethan Peck

The casting of Ethan has been given the seal of approval by the Nimoy family, with Leonard’s son, Adam, and daughter, Jule, along with their spouses Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and David Knight, that we learned about via a post on Instagram.

In that post, Ethan looks pretty damn stoked, and there appears to be genuine warmth shining off of Adam in particular.

The Nimoy Seal of Approval

Ethan started acting as a young man.  He’s 32, and has appeared in the ABC sitcom 10 Things I Hate About You, Madam Secretary, Gossip Girl and That ’70s Show.

His enthusiasm for the role is apparent, and according to his girlfriend both of them will always remember the moment he got the call that he was cast as Spock.  Ethan apparently sat down on a nearby roadside curb and cried.

All of this makes me think that the appearance of the Enterprise, Pike, Number One and Spock in Star Trek: Discovery is a way of launching a sort of soft-backdoor pilot for a new series that focuses on Christopher Pike and his crew.  CBS wants more Star Trek on TV and has put Alex Kurtzman and his production company, Secret Hideout, in charge of that on a multi-year deal, so why wouldn’t they explore one of the least seen but most beloved Captain’s in Trek history?

Fans have been interested in Pike and Number One for many many years, and it’s a period of Star Trek history that would be interesting to do a deep dive into.  Star Trek: Five Year Mission, or whatever they would call it, would be a beautiful companion to Star Trek: Discovery and it would honour Gene’s original vision by giving life to the first characters he created.

When you think about it, Anson Mount is doing a LOT of publicity work for Star Trek: Discovery, and with two other actors now cast in two incredibly important and historic roles, why wouldn’t CBS take advantage of that and create something amazing?

If they didn’t, it would be a real waste of talent and time.

But, enough of my suppositions.   You probably want to know about the news that really has fandom going crazy.

Jean-Luc Picard is back.

Patrick Stewart and Alex Kurtzman announced the news at Star Trek Las Vegas.  They didn’t tell us a lot, because it’s very early days, but what we do know is:

  • Kirsten Beyer, it seems, had the idea.
  • Akiva Goldsman will Executive Produce the show.
  • It takes place approximately 20 years after Star Trek: Nemesis.
  • Pulitzer prize-winning author, Michael Chabon, is on staff.
  • James Duff will also Executive Produce.
  • Kirsten will be a writer on the show.
  • Patrick initially turned them down, but with some persistence from Alex and his team fell in love with the idea, remembering just how impactful Star Trek had been and still is in the lives of millions.
  • Patrick will be an Executive Producer on the series.
  • Picard might not be a Captain anymore.

This is what Patrick had to say, live on stage at STLV18:

Jean-Luc Picard is back.

He went on to talk a little about the older Picard we may meet.

He may not, and I stress may not, be a captain anymore.  He may not be the Jean-Luc that you recognise and know so well.  It may be a very different individual.  Someone who has been changed by his experiences.  Twenty years will have passed, which is more or less exactly the time between the last movie – Nemesis – and today.

He followed this with a guarantee.

It will be, I promise you, I guarantee it, something very, very different.  It will come to you with the same passion, and determination and love of the material and love of our followers and our fans, exactly as we had it before.

We don’t know whether or not Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton or Michael Dorn will be in the new show, but it is almost certain one or two or maybe even all of them will appear at some point.

LeVar, Gates, Patrick, Marina, Brent and Michael

Will this new Star Trek be an ongoing series?  It’s unlikely.  Patrick is in his late ’70s and in a couple of years time will turn 80.  Committing to an ongoing series as complicated as Star Trek would probably not be something he’d do.

It’s more likely this will be a mini-series, or limited special series of maybe six to ten episodes.

More news is certain to come over the next few months, but for now we don’t know much else. One of the best things about this announcement is that maybe, finally, these incredible, beloved characters will get the send off they deserve. I’m okay with Nemesis, but it’s not a great film and Picard and crew deserved a better on screen farewell. This new show might do that.

The new animated series?  Nothing has been disclosed about this but it has garnered a lot of interest from fans, because it can happen, literally, at any time in Star Trek‘s expansive history.  We could continue the five-year mission of Kirk and his crew.  We could discover brand new adventures on the Enterprise D.  We could even fill in the blanks for the crew of the USS Equinox after they were trapped in the Delta Quadrant, before the Voyager found them.  The possibilities are endless, which is why fandom is super-excited.

For now, we’ll just have to wait for news on that project and hope that something can be produced that is at least as good as Star Wars‘s successful foray into animation.

Lastly, the next Star Trek feature film has hit a hurdle.

Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth are reportedly holding up the fourth feature outing for our Kelvin-verse crew.

Why?  There is a little contention over their salaries.  Both Chris’s are blockbuster stars now thanks to films like Wonder Woman and the Thor series.  Their salary expectations are, as a result, a little different to what they probably were.

Star Trek: Beyond, while well received by fans, only made $343 million world wide.  That’s a decent profit when compared to the cost of the film ($185 million to produce, though this doesn’t include the film’s marketing budget), but it’s not enough to warrant a massive investment in a sequel.  Tent pole summer blockbusters need to make at least double of what they cost to be considered profitable.

This means Paramount will be looking to produce the as yet untitled Trek film for less, and part of that will be offering less money to its stars.  Which should be interesting.  There is not one of the main cast whose careers have not taken off since the release of the first Kelvin-verse film.  Some of their careers have gone stratospheric – particularly Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana and Simon Pegg.

All three actors are in demand, with Zoe in particular lined up for movie after movie after movie.

Karl Urban (Doctor Leonard McCoy) is confident both Chris’s will sort out the pay dispute, and that the movie will go ahead.  Paramount, however, have a very narrow window available to them to get the movie into production because of actor availability.  If it doesn’t happen soon, the planned fourth film will be abandoned, and we’ll have to wait another couple of years for Tarantino Trek, which is currently slated to be the fifth outing for the crew of the Kelvin-verse USS Enterprise.

What do we know about the new movie?  A few things.

SJ Clarkson

  • The basic premise is unclear, but we do know it unites James and George Kirk in some way.  There is a script, but it’s details are under wraps.
  • The film will be the first to be directed by a woman, with S.J. Clarkson being given that honour.  Clarkson is a British film and television director, best know to the rest of the world for Life on Mars, Dexter, Heroes, Ugly Betty, Bates Motel, Jessica Jones, Orange is the New Black and The Defenders.
  • The film will be the first Star Trek movie to be shot in the United Kingdom.

That’s pretty much it, for what we know about the next film, and major events in Trek.

As news breaks we’ll keep you updated here.

If you’d like to check out more Star Trek news, we encourage you to visit our two “go to” sites, TrekMovie and TrekCore.

Until the next update, Live Long and Prosper.

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A Brave New Adventure

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We’ve been a little quiet here at Star Trek: Sentinel because there has been so much Star Trek: Discovery news coming out that we kind of just wanted to enjoy it and let it wash over us, and didn’t feel the need to comment on it.

Now we stand on the eve of the launch of a brand new series and a bold new experiment in Star Trek.

Since the new series was first announced and up until today, we’ve all seen people expressing hope and excitement for the show and people nit-picking everything and heaping disdain on this new series every Trek fan should be looking forward to.

Georgiou and Burnham

It’s probably no secret that I am incredibly excited about the show.  I love Sonequa Martin-Green as an actor, I’m a huge fan of Kirsten Beyer, Akiva Goldsman and many other behind the scenes creatives, and I admire the risks everyone has taken to make this version of Star Trek relevant.

I’ve been disappointed, even upset by some of the negative coverage coming from some sites.  The amount of it coming from one particular sci-fi site (not a Trek one) has caused me to delete it from my favourites and move on.

Now that we’re literally only hours away from the first brand new episode of Star Trek television in 12 years, I thought it might be a good idea to point you guys toward a handful of excellent articles out there right now on websites staffed by professionals who are genuinely excited to see Star Trek: Discovery.

There are two sites in particular that have had extensive and exceptional coverage over these last few weeks:

TrekMovie and TrekCore.

TrekMovie, in particular has suddenly become one of the best, if not the best, Trek site ever.  Their coverage of Star Trek: Discovery has been spectacular.

TrekCore have always been amazing, and though they may be following a close second behind TrekMovie, their coverage has still been excellent.

Inside the Discovery

Here are some great articles from both sites.

Let’s start with the coverage of the recent Premiere, held a couple of days ago in Los Angeles – attended by many of the cast and crew of Star Trek: Discovery, and Star Trek royalty, Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner.

Nichelle, Sonequa and Bill

Sonequa and the cast get a blessing from one of the most significant women in modern science fiction, Nichelle Nichols.

TrekMovie gives us some photos from the Hollywood Premiere.

TrekCore‘s coverage of the Premiere.

For more on the “blue carpet” premiere event, visit both TrekMovie and TrekCore and look through their most recent articles.

Of particular interest to fans, the Season One Press Kit for Star Trek: Discovery has finally been released.

It’s beautiful.  The images above, and one a little earlier on in this article are from that kit.

TrekCore got the scoop on this one, so go check out their article focusing on the kit here.

Some of the things we’ve learned over the last few weeks are that the Klingon War with the Federation will play a major part in Season One of Star Trek: Discovery.

We’ve also learned that the war story will be wrapped up by the end of the 15 episode first season arc.

We don’t know what Season Two might hold, but it’s interesting that the Klingon conflict will fade out to be replaced by something else.

I think that’s a good idea.  Multiple years focusing on a war might get a bit a much – plus, there’s a lot more to Star Trek than Klingons and the war-arc has already been done and done well in Trek’s illustrious history.

Star Trek Discovery EW Photoshoot 1

If you want to catch up with all of the Star Trek: Discovery news, visit those two wonderful sites.

Right now, I am eagerly counting down the hours to Star Trek: Discovery‘s release on Netflix.

If I could have one wish over these next few days, it would be for my fellow Trek fans to give this show a chance.

A great deal of incredible talent has been brought together to bring this show to us, and a lot of love and care has gone into it.  Yes, it looks different to Star Trek: The Original Series and probably shares more in common with Star Trek: Enterprise and the J.J. Abrams Trek movies, but that’s superficial and necessary if we want to attract new viewers and keep Stat Trek alive.  The show and it’s producers are doing everything they can to be faithful to canon and to make us something we will love.

The internet has become an horrifically nasty place where people seem to think it’s acceptable, even ‘cool’ and funny, to be negative and sometimes even abusive, but Star Trek fans are better than that, and the worst of us are nothing more than a vocal minority.

I hope other fans who love all things Trek for everything that the shows stand for, and respect and attempt to live the ideals of Star Trek, embrace this new show and love it and ensure it continues for many years to come.

We’ll be back in a couple of days with a review of the pilot episode, which is titled “The Vulcan Hello.”

Until then, may we all and may Star Trek: Discovery especially, live long and prosper.

In the United States, Star Trek: Discovery premieres on CBS on the 24th of September with all subsequent episodes airing on CBS All Access.  In Canada Star Trek: Discovery will premiere on the 24th of September also, on Bell Media’s CTV and the Space Channel.  For the rest of us, Star Trek: Discovery will launch on Netflix on Monday the 25th of September.

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Discovery Update

Star Trek Discovery Update Banner April 2017

Casting announcements for Star Trek: Discovery have been coming at us at a steady pace for months now, but, despite the array of talent being announced, there was one actor CBS refused to confirm – Sonequa Martin-Green.

Until now.

A few days ago CBS finally confirmed Sonequa’s lead role in the new series and thanks to the producers of The Walking Dead, we learned why CBS had remained tight-lipped despite all the rumours.

It’s not a Star Trek spoiler, but it is a spoiler, so if you’re a fan of The Walking Dead don’t read past the spoiler alert image below…

Spoiler Alert

Sonequa’s character on The Walking Dead, Sasha, dies at the end of the show’s current season.

Those of you interested in the zombie apocalypse show might remember fans wondering how she’d do both high profile series – if the rumours were true!

Fans eventually decided that because season one of the new Star Trek series was only going to be 13 episodes long, there would be enough time for Sonequa to be in both shows.

Nope.

Turns out CBS and AMC had an agreement.  CBS would remain quiet about Sonequa’s casting, and AMC would be able to keep Sasha’s death a secret.

The news broke.  Everyone did their best to keep the secret, but all parties concerned essentially underestimated Star Trek fans and our hunger for new Trek.  Now Sasha is dead and everything can settle down a bit!

That wasn’t the only news about Star Trek: Discovery‘s lead role that broke this week.  Back when the rumour first emerged, we were told the main character would be called Lieutenant Commander Rainsford… which isn’t true.  The name of Sonequa’s character is a little unusual – for a female.

Sonequa Martin-Green is playing Lieutenant Commander Michael Burnham, not Lieutenant Commander Rainsford.

Michael?  Yep.  It’s usually a boys name, but is actually unisex.  I didn’t know that, and I admit it jars a little, but I have no doubt it will grow on me!

Sonequa has given her first interview regarding her starring role.  If you’d like to read it, visit TrekCore here.

In other Star Trek: Discovery news, an unexpected character will be popping in to torment Lieutenant Commander Burnham and the rest of the crew of the Discovery.

Harry Mudd.

Rainn Wilson of The Office fame has been cast as Harcourt Fenton Mudd, last seen in the Animated Series’ episode “Mudd’s Passion”.

Harry Mudd only featured in a total of three episodes – including the Animated Series episode mentioned above, but he made an ever-lasting impression on Star Trek fans.  You either love him or you hate him, but you can’t deny the fact he is an important part of Star Trek history.

It’s unlikely Harry Mudd will be a regular on Star Trek: Discovery, despite how incredibly talented Rainn Wilson is.  It is likely, however, that he might become a recurring character like Q, the Grand Nagus, Reginald Barkley or Shran.

It’s fair to assume that Rainn is Star Trek: Discovery‘s first major guest star, and that episode 3 or 4 of the new series will be peppered with Mudd.  Why episodes 3 or 4?  Because we know that episodes 1 and 2 have completed filming.

I wish I could say I knew when we’d find out which episode Rainn is in… but we still don’t know when exactly the series will be airing!

That is causing fans a little bit of distress, but every time I start to worry, I just remember the quality of actors who have been attracted to this series – and those fears fade away!

Finally, the First Lady of Outer Space, the eternally lovely Nichelle Nichols, has said she would love to make a guest appearance on Star Trek: Discovery.

No offer has been made to Nichelle that we know of, but with Star Trek casting it’s first black female lead, the woman who played a major part in redefining how African-American’s would be portrayed on television, thinks it would be a meaningful and appropriate decision by the powers that be.

As anyone reading this blog knows, I LOVE Nichelle, and it would be incredibly wonderful to see her in the new series, but even more wonderful to see her playing a role as important as the mother or grand-mother of Michael Burnham.

I’d love it even more if at some point, Michael Burnham married an Uhura.

Hopefully the Producers of the new Star Trek are listening.

That’s it for all of the latest news on Star Trek: Discovery for now.  As more news comes to light, we’ll feature it here.

Live Long and Prosper.

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Your Star Trek News Scan

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It’s been a busy month out on the final frontier, for both the new Star Trek television series, and a couple of our favourite actors.

Where to begin?  Since every Star Trek fan is waiting in anticipation for the new series to air, it’s probably a good idea to kick off our scan with Discovery.

What do Harry Potter and Star Trek: Discovery have in common?

Lucius Malfoy, or, more specifically, actor Jason Isaacs who played Lucius in the Potterverse, and will now be playing Captain Lorca, the commanding officer of the titular USS Discovery.

Seriously, how freaking amazing is this cast turning out to be?

Jason Isaacs… Michelle Yeoh… Sonequa Martin-Green… has any new Trek series had this many big names attached to it?

Alongside the announcement of Isaac’s transfer to the final frontier, came news that Mary Wiseman has also joined the cast as Starfleet Academy cadet “Tilly”.  All we know about Tilly is that she’s in her final year, doing placement aboard the Discovery.

If you’d like to learn more about Jason and his extensive acting career, visit his IMDb page here.  To learn more about Mary’s career, visit her IMDb page here.

In other Discovery news, a good number of the cast were seen out having a meal together in Canada, courtesy of Chris Obi’s Instagram.  Cast photo?  Not quite, but it will do for now.

Star Trek Discovery Cast Out to Dinner

The occasion?  James Frain’s birthday.

Despite CBS not having officially confirmed Sonequa Martin-Green’s casting, she was there alongside the entire cast.

Do we have any word on when Discovery will air?

No.

Last month we heard from CBS that the May launch had been pushed back, and that the series will now hit our airwaves in the US’s late summer or early Autumn (Fall).  No date has been given, and we’re all left feeling a little nervous about it all.

This is the third delay.  Chances are they just want to get as many episodes in the ‘bag’ for those in fandom who like to binge watch shows on their streaming services, but it’s more likely they’re still ironing out the kinks on the first season scripts.  The fact that we only just had Jason cast as the captain of the Discovery shows us that the casting process has taken longer than anticipated.  Which means, most likely, that pre-production has taken longer than everyone hoped it would.  Though the first episode should, by now, have wrapped filming, there are another dozen or so to go and if I were a writer on the series, I’d be doing my best to reduce the possibility of a ‘dodgey’ first season – something Star Trek series’ have all suffered from.

In other Star Trek news, two of our favourites have received Daytime Emmy Award nominations!

Congratulations to the eternally beautiful Nichelle Nichols, and everyone’s favourite Ferengi Armin Shimerman.

Nichelle has received her nomination for her appearance as Lucinda Winters in The Young and The Restless.

Armin has received his nomination for his performance in the Digital Daytime Drama series, Red Bird.

For more information, visit the always wonderful TrekCore here.

To wrap everything up for our first Astrometrics article (just a fancy name for a news roundup), we’ll close with a little more on Star Trek: Discovery.

Anthony Rapp, the new Trek’s Lieutenant Stamets, has spoken a tiny little bit about how proud he is, as a gay man, to be playing one of Star Trek‘s first openly gay characters.

If Discovery had been launched a little earlier, Rapp would have played the first openly gay character in Trek history, but of course last years’ Star Trek Beyond stole that mantle by revealing that everyone’s favourite helmsman, Hikaru Sulu, is gay.

To read the article on Anthony, check out TrekCore again, right here.

That’s it from Astrometrics.

Star Trek: Sentinel will be back as soon as any new information surfaces on the new series or the next film.

Live long and prosper.

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The First Lady of Outer Space

happy-birthday-nichelle-nichols-2016

It’s the 28th of December in the United States, which means it’s the First Lady of Science Fiction’s 84th Birthday.

Nichelle Nichols was born in 1932 in Illinois in the United States of America.  Before playing Nyota Uhura in Gene Roddenberry’s ground-breaking Star Trek television series in the 60s, Nichelle had already built a considerable career as a singer and dancer, as well as an actor.

Prior to being cast as the Communications Chief of the USS Enterprise, Nichelle toured the United States, Canada and Europe as a singer with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton bands.  But, we all know that.  We all also know how she was in Gene Roddenberry’s The Lieutenant before jumping into outer space.  Volumes have been written about this remarkable woman, and at least one of them by her – via her best-selling autobiography “Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories” in 1995.

Please join us in wishing Nichelle Nichols a very happy birthday.

Nichelle turned what could have been an unremarkable role into a permanent part of pop-culture history.  Over the years, Uhura has become iconic.

Nichelle’s trade mark good humour and refusal to give way to negativity struck a cord in many of us as we joined her in focusing on creating Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future.  Probably more than any other Trek actor except for Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, Nichelle has kept Gene’s vision at the forefront of everything she does.  As she’s commented in the past, Gene, like all of us, might have been a flawed human being, but his aspirations for humanity were beautiful.

To close out this article, here are five wonderful Uhura moments to remind of us of just how awesome this woman is and why she came to mean so much to so many of us over the years, and why she still does and always will:

Number Five:
This scene was cut out of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but was restored to the Directors Edition.  In it, one of the new crewmen of the Enterprise questions Kirk’s return to the Captain’s chair.

Uhura firmly puts that officer in his place, telling him their chances of survival just increased considerably.  In Star Trek, no one can give the “burn” like Uhura!

Uhura 3

Number Four:
A lot of Star Trek fans will cringe at this one, but the fan dance from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, is one of the best things about that film.

No one moves like Nichelle.

uhura-fan-dance

Number Three:
Uhura figures out a way to stop General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country… “well, the things gotta have a tail pipe!

Star Trek VI - Das unentdeckte Land

Number Two:
That kiss.  Kirk and Uhura locked lips in the original series, and people are still talking about it today!

Kirk and Uhura Kiss

Number One:
This is probably debatable for some people, but for me, it’s one of my all time favourite Uhura moments.  ‘Mr Adventure’ is remarking about how Uhura’s career is winding down, and she pulls a weapon on him and locks him in a closet before helping Kirk, Scotty, McCoy, Sulu and Chekov steal the Enterprise.

Like I said, no one gives the “burn” like Uhura.

uhura-takes-aim

Thank you, Nichelle, for being a mighty powerful woman and a mighty worthy inspiration.

Here’s to you, beautiful lady.  May you have many more birthdays.

If you want to send some love to Nichelle and you’re on Twitter, follow her at @NichelleNichols.

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A Future To Believe In

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Now that Star Trek is officially 50 years old (having celebrated its actual birthday a few days ago), it’s a good time for a die hard Trekker to reflect on his or her love of that particular universe – and why it continues to mean something to them years after their first exposure to it.

I’ve been in the middle of that process for a few months now, ever since the announcement of Star Trek: Discovery.  The recent release of Star Trek Beyond intensified it for me, and I decided to start talking to other Trekkers to see if I could find a common theme around what makes so many of us love Star Trek and keep loving it.

What I learned was Star Trek does two things really well, and both of those things resonate strongly with long-term fans:

  1. Star Trek shows us a future that’s worth fighting for, that’s worth dreaming about, and that’s worth wanting to help shape, and;
  2. Star Trek is a really intimate and personal experience for every single person who loves it, and that, possibly, is it’s greatest magic.

That second point is a frustrating one if you’re a show runner.  Star Trek does have a formula of sorts, but it’s a really hard one to get right.  Without exception, fans want challenging storylines that are provocative and insightful – which is scary for a show that needs to make money because, as Gene Roddenberry learned the hard way, you’re bound to piss someone off and risk alienating a segment of your audience.  Fans want a meaningful relationship with the characters which means you must get two things right straight off the bat – the writers room and the casting process.  Fans want it a little dark without losing the hopeful future Star Trek promises us… and despite craving intelligent science fiction we want that science fiction all wrapped up with pretty action set pieces that are full of amazing (and expensive) visual effects.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people about Star Trek these last few months, and for every single person there was always a deeply personal story attached to their love… “Star Trek was my ‘safe space’ when I broke up with my husband…” “Star Trek got me through bullying when I was a kid…” “Star Trek is what got me into the military…” “Star Trek was the thing that helped me set my moral compass…”

Those often amazing conversations showed me that while all of the above about challenging storylines and great VFX is true, the actual core ingredients are the characters and their dynamic.

Star Trek has a ‘secret sauce’, and that ‘sauce’ is its characters who are our conduit into that universe and it’s vision for tomorrow.

What I loved most, while talking to fellow fans, was that the characters who resonated with them weren’t always the obvious ones.  Yes, I heard a lot of Kirk love, Spock love, McCoy love, Picard love, Data love, Siski, Kira, Janeway, Seven, Archer, T’Pol and Trip love, but I also heard a lot of Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, Scotty, Geordi, Beverly, Deanna, Wesley, Quark, Jake, Odo, Dax, Chakotay, the Doctor, B’Elanna, Kes, Neelix, Harry, Hoshi, Malcolm, Phlox and Mayweather love.

In the original series, some of those characters never got the chance to say more than “Aye sir,” and “Hailing frequencies open, Captain,” yet they still effected people – and more often than not, deeply.  Why?  Because they were representative.  Sometimes in obvious ways – Uhura was a woman in a position of power and a black woman at that, Sulu was an Asian who wasn’t a normal 1960s stereotype, and Chekov was a Russian at a time when the US and Russia didn’t have a lot of love for each other… but they weren’t just representative in that way.  Uhura was an expert and a woman in command who could come out and honestly say “Captain, I’m frightened.”  Chekov was a whiz kid whose emotions were always written clearly on his face.  Sulu had a cheeky and sometimes sardonic sense of humour that now and again seemed to say “you’re a complete dick, Captain.”  Watch some of the original episodes and listen to Sulu’s responses to Kirk or Scotty when they give a command that seems to defy common sense.  Both Uhura and Chekov do that at times also.  These characters were representative of real emotion, sometimes overtly expressed, sometimes subtlety conveyed, and we fell in love with them because of that.

Those human moments in a show that was so different to anything else on television, delivered by personalities we could relate to, gave us an ‘in’ to Gene Roddenberry’s universe.

For me, it was McCoy, Uhura and Spock.  They were my pathway into the original Star Trek.  Beverly, Deanna, Wesley and Geordi my conduits into Next Gen.  Jadzia and Bashir my way into DS9.  Janeway, Kes, Chakotay and the Doctor my door into Voyager, and T’Pol, Phlox and Malcolm my way into Enterprise.  Each of those characters had qualities I possessed or aspired to possess and they resonated with me and still do today.

I grew up in the sort of neighbourhood where every week someone was stabbed, bashed, and in someway victimised, and as a child I needed something that showed me a future full of intelligent, compassionate people who fought to get rid of those horrific things from people’s lives.

When I was bullied at school, Star Trek was my retreat.  I could lose myself in that world and dream of a future that was brighter than the one I saw for myself.

As I hit my teenage years and then adult years, Star Trek started to shape my morals as a person and many of the idealistic concepts in Star Trek still guide me today – particularly IDIC and the idea that we are stronger together.

I became an actor in my late teens because I wanted to go to Los Angeles and get cast in Star Trek.  I did make it to Los Angeles, but never got the chance to be in Star Trek because I made it there a year or two after Enterprise went off the air.

I became a professional Counsellor because of Deanna Troi.  Even though I’m a guy, Deanna and her profession spoke to me and though we barely ever got to see her do any real work as a psychologist, I still invoke her preternatural calm and warmth when working with clients.

I’ve always known that Star Trek was one of the most important influences in my life, but I’d never really spent a great deal of time wondering why.

This year seemed to demand it, and I’m glad I spent a little time exploring and reflecting on what Star Trek means to me and why it’s still the world I retreat into when I need to recharge.

There are so many quotes and examples I could provide to illustrate all the ways in which Star Trek has affected me, too many actually, so instead I’ll just choose a few…

Kirk’s statement in The Final Frontier, that he needs his pain.  That speech still effects me to this day.  Our pain, our failures, and how we deal with them all, defines us.  There are so many experiences in my life that I wish had never happened to me, but I cannot deny their impact and how they have strengthened and shaped me.

Kira’s dedication to her spiritual life mirrored my own journey to understand some of the indefinable but poignant experiences we all encounter in life.

It was something similar with Chakotay.  His spiritual life and journey, though often mired in stereotype, was beautiful and I loved that it was included, but the fact he was a physically strong and imposing, but deeply spiritual and sensitive man was what hit me like a sledgehammer.  It hit me deeply, in the same way the startlingly beautiful and noble Uhura did and in the same way the generous, calm and gracious Deanna did.  As a 6’2″ guy who’s been described as physically intimidating, but who is softly spoken and by nature a pretty caring bloke, it was fantastic to see a man on TV who was also all of those things, and who chose to use his presence not to constantly threaten and intimidate but to nurture and support.  It was what I needed to see and it came at a time in my life where I was in danger of going off the rails.

You might be thinking… “hold on, what about Riker?”

Will was always a little too ‘big’ a personality for me to connect with.

Star Trek is unique in its ability to craft characters that are universal but speak to each individual viewer.  If there’s one thing the creative teams behind each show and movie did really well, it was creating characters we can relate to.  I don’t know if they consciously tried to do that, but that’s what they did.

Each series and each film had its ups and downs story wise, but the characters were always exceptional.  Yes, Kes didn’t have a lot of room to grow and Neelix had the odd issue and could be pretty damn annoying, but by and large the characters are the thing that makes Star Trek shine.  At least in my opinion.

As we look forward to Star Trek: Discovery, with each of us no doubt carrying a small wish list around in our minds, I personally hope that the creative team behind the new series get the fact that no matter what, the characters are our way into this new version of the universe, and that Star Trek really is an important and intimate experience for each of us and that needs to be respected.

Yes, we want great stories and we want allegory and we want brilliant special effects, but if Star Trek is to succeed it needs incredible characters and it needs a way to inspire hope in us and allow us to link with the show in a way that is meaningful.  It needs to be something that mirrors all of us, in some way, and tries hard to be relevant to this generation of young people as they look around for heroes to aspire to be like.

Star Trek is important.  It’s important to me, it’s no doubt important to you if you’re reading this, and it’s important to the world.

What do we have on television now?  Zombie hunters who are now borderline sociopaths, families warring over a stupid iron throne and committing atrocious acts in their quest for power, families backstabbing each other over musical empires or political ambitions… there’s not a lot of hope, and there aren’t many shows demonstrating a different, better way to be.

Star Trek did that, and it can do it again.

I hope Bryan and Alex and everyone else involved with Star Trek: Discovery truly appreciate just how important Star Trek is at both that personal, intimate level, and that much bigger, aspirational level.

Bryan has said the world needs Star Trek now more than it ever has, so I think he does get it.  I hope he is able to realise his vision with the amazing creative team he’s assembled.

So thank you, Star Trek.  Thank you for shaping me, and for shaping so many amazing people I’ve met, and thank you for not being frightened of shining a light in the darkness – even when shining that light hasn’t been popular.

I’ve had enough of the depressing, sarcastic, angst-filled shows on television these days.  So many are so devoid of hope it’s depressing.  I need and I want something that challenges me intellectually, and I need and I want something that reminds me of just how amazing we are as a species.

The bright future Star Trek describes is the future I want, and it’s a future worth believing in.

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Warp Speed Ahead…

Star Trek Beyond Reviews and Updates

Days before it is officially released, Star Trek Beyond has been declared a critical success… at least as far as most critics are concerned.

There are, of course, some who have expressed a little disappointment, but thankfully there are only a few of them.

To date (July 19), Beyond has a 91% “fresh” rating on trusted review site Rotten Tomatoes – which is pretty damn good!

HAPPY 50th, STAR TREK!

STB Rotten Tomotoes

If you’d like to read some of the reviews, see below.  Most are spoiler free, and those that aren’t contain minimal information.

TrekCore review

io9 review

TrekMovie review

TrekNews review

Blastr has a collection of comments/review snippets from various sources.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but will rectify that in… oh… two days.  It’s probably safe to say I cannot wait!

So… how good is the movie?  So good Paramount have already announced a sequel – that will, apparently, feature Chris Hemsworth (yes, that Chris Hemsworth).

For those of you who don’t remember, Chris starred as the father of James T. Kirk in 2009’s Star Trek.  He broke our hearts, valiantly sacrificing his life to save his wife, his son (who was being born literally as the USS Kelvin was ripped apart by Nero’s vessel), and many of his fellow crew.

That sacrifice would become a turning point for a young James Kirk, thanks in no small part to Christopher Pike, who uttered these now immortal words: “…your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes.  He saved 800 lives, including your mother’s and yours.  I dare you to do better.

We don’t know how George Kirk will return in the as yet untitled Star Trek IV, and I doubt we’ll find out for quite some time, but there are many ways in which a deceased character can make an appearance… via flashback (which is unlikely), as a recorded message, through a little time travel, or maybe even a crossover between the Prime Reality and the Kelvin timeline… it’s Star Trek, so the possibilities are endless.

To me, the most exciting possibility would be a crossover… so much potential in that one!

Star Trek Beyond is premiering in various locations around the world, and officially hits cinemas in three or four days – depending on which part of the world you live in.

According to a number of the reviews, it’s a worthy film to celebrate Star Trek‘s 50th birthday, effectively combining nostalgia and an old school Trekness with epic summer movie spectacle.

The latest film has been directed by Justin Lin and has been produced by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, and stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, the late Anton Yelchin, Sofia Boutella and Idris Elba.

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Star Trek Beyond Update – Reshoots Continue

Star Trek Beyond Reboot Banner

Thanks to Zoe Saldana’s Instagram feed, we have learned that at least one of the regular stars of the new Star Trek feature film series has been brought back to help with the reshoots that we started to hear about a few days ago.

Joining Zoe is Joe Taslim – and again, we found out about Joe’s involvement thanks to his Instagram.

Right now, we’re not sure if they’re sharing scenes with Shohreh Aghdashloo, but it’s probably safe to assume that’s happening.  Shohreh is playing a brand new character that appears to have been added just for the reshoots, and her character has been described as someone in a position of power in either Starfleet or the United Federation of Planets.

A recent report has also suggested Chris Pine has been involved in the reshoots as well – check out that article at TrekCore.

The TrekCore article states that the reshoots are almost done.  There still isn’t a great deal of information around what the reshoots are focusing on, but it would seem they take place on Earth, and they might be a new ‘coda’ for the film, wrapping up whatever adventure it is the crew of the Enterprise has survived.

As more news comes to light, I’ll post it up here.

Star Trek Beyond is scheduled for release on the 22nd of July this year, and stars Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Joe Taslim, Sofia Boutella and Idris Elba.

The film is directed by Justin Lin, and is being produced by J.J. Abrams.  The screenplay has been written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung.

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Welcome to 2016

2016 New Year Post Banner

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2016.  It’s a big one for Star Trek!

This year we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of a television and cinematic phenomena with a new feature film, more episodes of Star Trek: Renegades, and on top of those two wonderful events we get to watch the unfolding production of a brand new sixth live action series due for release in January 2017.

This year we’ll also learn the fate of Star Trek: Axanar.

So there will be a lot happening, and a lot we can look forward to on the news front this year.

What can we expect in the first six months?

Whatever Paramount and CBS have dreamed up to celebrate the 50th year of our favourite series, updates on the production of Renegades, previews of the two new episodes, and the eventual release of those episodes – one of which will be the swan song for Admiral Pavel Chekov and possibly also Admiral Nyota Uhura.  We can expect at least one more major preview for Star Trek: Beyond before its July release, and we should learn a lot more in the coming months about the new television series.  We might even get a teaser as a prelude to an actual preview later in the year.  In fact, we should, considering it is scheduled to air in a little over a year.  The teaser probably won’t be much more than a glimpse at some of the characters, but that will be enough considering how hungry we all are for news on the new series.  One thing I doubt we’ll see is the ship.  If the lead up is anything like it was for TNG, we won’t see the new ship until a month or two before the first episode airs.

We will definitely learn the fate of Axanar, and probably very soon.  The most recent news on the court case is that the Axanar team hope to settle out of court in a way that will still allow for the film to be made.

One thing I do know for certain, is that the Star Trek: Challenger blog will be there for all of it.

Thank you to everyone who has been following my blog, I deeply appreciate it.  Our readership is literally international, with the most hits coming out of the US, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe.

Here’s to an amazing and Trek-filled 2016.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Live long, and prosper.

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Star Trek: Renegades Update

Banner - Nichelle Nichols Joins Renegades

There was a wonderful little surprise awaiting me in my inbox this morning, as I checked my e-mails after staggering out of bed and fortifying myself with some coffee:

Nichelle Joins Renegades

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve probably caught onto the fact that Uhura (alongside Doctor McCoy and Sulu) is one of my favourite Star Trek characters, and that Nichelle, in particular, is a personal hero.

Finding that e-mail this morning was like having someone drop a beautiful early Christmas present in my lap.  Having the first lady of science fiction join the cast of Star Trek: Renegades just feels right – and it’s wonderful to see that every Trekker’s favourite Communications Officer is now an Admiral.

If you would like to read the official announcement, visit the Renegades Kickstarter page here, and as well as that announcement, you’ll also see that the Renegades team have surpassed their funding goal of $350,000 and are sitting pretty on $378,181.

Nichelle’s return to the Star Trek universe is something to be excited about, though I admit I am also a little worried.  The e-mail suggests (it doesn’t clearly say) that the next two episodes won’t just be Chekov’s swan song, but Uhura’s as well.

I can (just barely) deal with losing one beloved TOS character, but two?

All I can say, is that the Renegades guys had better send me tissues along with my reward for helping to fund episode two if they kill off both characters, because there will be tears if we lose both Admiral Chekov and Admiral Uhura!

If you haven’t yet become an investor in Renegades, I encourage you to do so.

Why?  Well… apart from it being Star Trek that actually takes place in the prime universe, and apart from the fact it’s REALLY good, there are 16 words, or eight names, that should convince you:

Terry Farrell
Robert Beltran
Nichelle Nichols
Cirroc Lofton
Aron Eisenberg
Hana Hatae
Tim Russ
Walter Koenig.

Not since Star Trek: Of Gods and Men have we had such a stellar cast of Trek characters all appearing on screen together.

It’s phenomenal.

If that’s not worth a few dollars, then I do not know what is.

My heartfelt thanks to the Renegades team for bringing such an outstanding cast together.  I do not know how they’re going to give all of these amazing characters the screen time they deserve, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

Here’s to “Requiem” parts 1 and 2.  THESE episodes will be a 50th Anniversary gift worth celebrating.

As much as I’m looking forward to Star Trek Beyond, I’m looking forward to Star Trek: Renegades “Requiem” more.

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