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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In Loving Memory

Leonard Nimoy Tribute

Those of you who are regular viewers of the Emmy Awards probably know they host an “In Memorium” section every year, where the industry recognises the achievements and impact of those television stars who have taken their final voyage to Shakespeare’s Undiscovered Country.

This year “In Memorium” paid tribute to two bright Star Trek stars, the legendary Leonard Nimoy, and writer/producer Harve Bennett – the man often lauded as the saviour of the Star Trek movie series.

Harve Bennett and the crew of the Enterprise 1

TrekNews have a link to the tribute which you can watch here.  Leonard is featured at around the 3:20 mark.

Leonard Nimoy was, and for many always will be, Spock.  Though the actor originally bucked against that, he eventually came to accept it, and, like a lot of us, love Spock.

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard was born on the 26th of March 1931 in Boston Massachusetts, and passed away in February in Los Angeles.

As Spock, he touched millions of lives around the world – inspiring many of us and helping a lot of us feel less alone.  Spock was an underdog.  The only Vulcan in Starfleet, he was half Vulcan and half human and barely accepted by either.  He was torn between two worlds and two cultures and that difficult reality spoke to many people in the 1960’s, and continues to speak to millions today.  Spock was, and still is, a hero for anyone who has ever felt isolated and alone or in some way divided and confused.  Leonard injected so much subtle emotion and pathos into the original Spock that the character will live on for generations.

Leonard’s career was long and varied.  As the only Star Trek actor to appear in both the very first pilot (“The Cage” in 1964) and the second pilot (“Where No Man Has Gone Before” in 1966), as well as every episode of the original series, all six original series films (two of which he directed), Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the J.J. Abrams reboot (both 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness), he was embraced by multiple generations – but he was more than Spock.  He was also an accomplished director, poet, author and photographer and acted in multiple other productions throughout the course of his life.

Since Leonard’s passing there have been many tributes to him, most of them quite beautiful.  Just Google his name and you’ll find a number of them online.

While the Emmy tribute is brief, as they are honouring many stars who have passed away, it’s always wonderful to see a person remembered by their peers.

Rest in peace, Leonard.  I still can’t believe you’re gone.

Harve Bennett and the crew of the Enterprise 2

Harve Bennett really did save the Star Trek film series.

While some fans love Star Trek: The Motion Picture (I’m one of them) and some rank it as their least favourite, it did meander a bit and the film failed to create any real sense of jeopardy for the crew of the Enterprise.  It did very well at the Box Office, but it was an expensive movie that many thought failed to capture the spirit of the original series.

Rather than abandon the potential of a film series, Paramount turned to Harve Bennett and gave Star Trek one more chance on the big screen.

Harve more than delivered.  He was the head of a creative team that produced what, for many fans, is still the absolute best Star Trek film of all time – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Born on August 17 1930 in Chicago, Harve started his professional life in the US Army serving in the Military Police Corps.  After the army, he worked for CBS, then ABC where he became the Vice President of Daytime Programming.

He worked with Aaron Spelling, produced shows like the Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman and Rich Man, Poor Man.

When recruited to breathe new life into the Star Trek franchise he took to it with zeal.  As well as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Harve Bennett went on to produce Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (which he also acted in).  But, he didn’t just produce, Harve wrote STIII:TSFS, co-wrote STIV:TVH and co-wrote the story for STV:TFF.

Harve Bennett Star Trek V

Though Harve finished his time with Star Trek after the less than successful Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, his positive impact on the franchise cannot be denied, and he is remembered fondly by the actors and fans of the series.

Harve passed away only a few days after Leonard on the 25th of February this year.

Thank you, Mr Bennett, for everything you did for Star Trek.

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TOS Audience Weren’t Ready for a Gay Character

George Takei Banner

Internet and Star Trek icon, George Takei, has recently discussed Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek, and an issue close to his heart, explaining why there was never an openly gay character on the original Enterprise.

George appeared in a Big Think video where he discussed his time on the original series, including telling the world how Gene Roddenberry came up with the name ‘Sulu’.

Among the stories George shares is one about Gene’s reasoning for nixing any story lines that featured homosexuality.  He begins by talking about how the ratings fell for the first run of the episode ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’ when it aired back in November 1968, and that it gave Gene a nasty reality check.  For those of you who have been living in an alternate dimension, ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’ is the episode where Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner shared the first televised interracial kiss.  It was the reaction to that historic television moment that slapped Gene in the face and made him realise he had to be a little more careful.

Kirk and Uhura Kiss

Television stations in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia refused to air the episode and apparently the south went up in arms.

When that happened, Gene remarked “I’m treading a fine tight wire here. I’m dealing with issues of the time. I’m dealing with the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and I need to be able to make that statement by staying on the air. If I dealt with that issue (homosexuality) I wouldn’t be able to deal with any issue because I would be canceled.”

George goes on to say that Gene did try incredibly hard to make the starship Enterprise a ‘starship Earth’, but had to balance the reality of the times with his desire to break new ground and push a humanist, inclusive vision of the future.

If you’d like to read more, I found the article on (awesome site).  You can skip over to their website and have a wander about, or if you just want to read the article and see the video right away click here.

George Takei

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The Shat Speaks

Star Trek Created by Gene Roddenberry

William Shatner, aka The Shat, is possibly one of the most contentious figures in Trek Lore.

He’s charming, irascible, controversial, insightful, egotistical and laugh-out-loud hilarious.  In one moment he can be self-deprecating, and in the next self-promoting.

Captain James T. Kirk

And I love the crap out of him.

But I never used to.  I didn’t like James T. Kirk as a character, and didn’t give any thought to William Shatner the actor until I watched the oft-debated Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.  I know most fans don’t like that film, but I do. In fact, in the last decade I’ve re-watched it more than any other TOS film.  Yep, some of the effects suck, and Sybok… WTF?!  But Kirk’s speech about needing his pain struck a cord in me and it shifted my perception of the character – and then I started to pay attention to the actor, in time for the wonderful Boston Legal.

As a person, you either love him or hate him.  As an actor he’s both adored and mimicked, and even now and again ridiculed.  As a director, he didn’t really get a chance to shine.  There are some shots in ‘The Final Frontier’ that, as a film and TV major and a working actor and director, I just love.  Bill has a wonderful eye.  When you step back, you can get a feel for what he was trying to achieve, and you can see that he genuinely tried to honour each of the classic seven.  It’s unfortunate that he was never allowed to fulfill his vision with Trek-V.  I would have loved to have seen him get another shot at the directorial-centre-seat.

The Shat recently answered a bunch of questions via Twitter, and a new Trek news site I stumbled across a couple of months ago has all the news… including something I don’t think I’ve ever heard before, beyond the usual rumours – he was approached to play Captain Kirk on TNG.

The new site (old to some of you no doubt) is TrekNews and the article can be found here.

Go check it out, and take a swim through their site.  It’s pretty damn good.

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To Boldly Go

Uhura and Nichelle

If anyone was going to do it, it was Nichelle Nichols.

ABC News is reporting that Star Trek living legend, the always stunning Nichelle Nichols, will be travelling on the NASA SOFIA flight next month (September) when it takes off for the Earth’s stratosphere.

SOFIA stands for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, and though it won’t be going into space – it’ll be getting pretty close.

Nichelle took part in an “Ask Me Anything” celebrity Reddit session a few days ago, where she said:

“In September, I’m travelling on a NASA SOFIA flight, a second generation Airborn Observatory, which I am honoured to have been invited to.  SOFIA does not, sadly, fly into space.  It’s an airborne observatory, a massive telescope mounted inside a 747 flying as high as possible.  I was on a similar flight, the first airborn observatory, back in 1977.  It’s an amazing experience, you get a totally different perspective than from Earth.”

Fans of Nichelle are aware of her long relationship with NASA.  For those who aren’t, after the cancellation of Star Trek the original series in 1969, Nichelle started volunteering her time to a special project with NASA to recruit women and minorities to the Space Program through a company she helped run called Women in Motion.  The program was a phenomenal success and its impact is still felt today.

Uhura 3

Nichelle has long been a vocal advocate for space exploration, and has served since the mid-1980s on the Board of Governors of the National Space Society.

In the ABC article, Nichelle also goes on to talk briefly about the original Star Trek series, and her willingness to return to the franchise if she was ever asked.

You can find the article here, and another at 1701News.

For those of you interested in learning more about NASA, you can visit their website right here.

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Nichelle Nichols Returns to the Convention Circuit

Nichelle Nichols

You can’t keep the Queen of Star Trek down.

Another one of my very favourite Star Trek news sites is 1701News, run by Michael Hinman who owns Airlock Alpha and the Nexus Media Group.

I’ve been a fan of Michael’s for quite a while, ever since I stumbled across his SyFy website before the SyFy Channel purchased the name and he re-branded it as Airlock Alpha.  Michael is the sort of writer who engages me, and often challenges me because sometimes I agree with everything he says, and then at other times I want to crawl into my computer and slap him.  I love his insights and I really enjoy his writing style.

His great Star Trek news site is reporting that the beautiful and inspirational Nichelle Nichols is back on the convention circuit after the minor stroke she suffered early in June this year.

Uhura 6

To read Michael’s article and check out the dates for Nichelle’s return, click here.

For my part, it’s wonderful to see Nichelle back in action.  Uhura holds a special place in my heart.  It was Uhura who attracted me to Star Trek and had me give it a chance when I was a child who – at that time – was a huge fan of the original Battlestar Galactica and a devotee of Star Wars.

Welcome back, Nichelle.  82 years young and going strong.

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