Star Trek is my first nerdy love. Without it, I would not be the nerd I am today. I’ve said before that I literally have no memory of my life without Star Trek. Watching The Original Series with my parents on Saturday nights is one of my earliest memories and, although I was very young when The Next Generation came on the air, I was not so young that I don’t remember watching it for the first time very clearly. In my humble opinion it is, quite simply, the greatest franchise ever created.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Best of Both Worlds” is arguably one of the greatest cliff hangers in the history of television. So, when my friend Mike reminded me that it was going to be playing in movie theatres across the country this past Thursday evening in all its remastered glory, I immediately bought my ticket.
I love seeing stuff from my childhood on the big screen. In a relatively recent phenomenon, they’ve started bringing movies back to the theatres for limited runs. Movies like Star Wars, Top Gun, Jurassic Park, and The Lion King. It’s so much better than remaking a movie and introduces them to a whole new generation. When I lived in Los Angeles, they would have events where they would play a movie on the big screen for the first time in decades, then have people who worked on the movie do a Q&A panel afterwards. My NerdBFF Geek Outlaw and I went to one of these for Ghostbusters and LOVED it. Events like that are one of the few things I miss about living in LA.
The lights went down and we were immediately treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “The Best of Both Worlds, part I & II” that included interviews with the people involved and fan reactions to the season three cliffhanger. Some highlights:
– Patrick Stewart recalled how a woman pulled up next to him while driving, rolled down her window, and shouted “You ruined our summer!” and a guy walking past him in the NY subway, paused in front of him momentarily and said “You’re keeping it real.”
– The late, great Michael Piller wrote the episode thinking he’d be leaving the show and someone else would have to figure out how to get the crew out of this mess. Of course, he ended up sticking around and had to clean up after himself.
– For some reason, I never put two and two together that Elizabeth Dennehy (LCDR Shelby) was Brian Dennehy’s daughter. Which is weird because I LOVE Brian Dennehy. Turns out he didn’t really want her to do an episode of Star Trek. Elizabeth didn’t really know anything about the franchise. It was one of her first auditions after moving to Los Angeles and she didn’t know enough about it to be intimidated. She also didn’t realize that it wasn’t like working on a soap opera (where you apparently get several hours to just sit around and learn your lines) and was completely unprepared the first day of shooting. She learned quickly and never made that mistake again.
– I’ve never been one to notice hairdos, but once Elizabeth Dennehy pointed out how much hairspray was used in her updo, I couldn’t help but notice how it affected other people’s hair.
Especially Dr. Crusher’s, whose hair pretty much didn’t move when she turned her head. It was like a gloriously shellacked red waterfall.
– They showed how they achieved many of the special effects and how they remastered them for the Blu-ray. The hardest part was the starship graveyard at Wolf 359, mostly because of their limited budget.
– I’m always struck by how the actors have to pretend like they’re being jostled around when the ship is struck by enemy fire. When I was a kid they had an attraction at Universal Studios in which members of the audience were called up to participate in some scenes from Star Trek. We got to see firsthand how they put together an episode, including having to fake being bounced around in your seat. So I‘ve always known that this is how it’s done. But it’s quite funny to see the actors do it over and over again, take after take, with a completely straight face.
Then it was time for the episodes, which they combined to make a feature length presentation. In case you haven’t seen the episodes, here’s a little summary/background information:
First seen in the 2nd season episode “Q Who” (thanks to Q playfully tossing the USS Enterprise right in the path of a Cube), the Borg have been on the Federation’s mind for years. None more so than Admiral JP Hanson and Lieutenant Commander Shelby who have been working tirelessly to develop weapons and defenses based on what they know from the Enterprise’s encounter. They assumed it would take the Borg a certain amount of time to reach the Alpha Quadrant but they severely underestimated the Borg’s capabilities and they arrived much sooner than planned. The Borg’s goal is to reach Sector 001 aka Earth. To do this, they need to tap someone’s brain, someone who has the knowledge they need to get around the Federation’s best laid plans. They choose Captain Picard, assimilating him into the Collective, making him their spokesman, giving him a killer mechanical six-pack, and dubbing him “Locutus of Borg.” To my knowledge, Locutus is the only Borg who is ever given a name as opposed to a designation (ie, Seven of Nine). Despite the friction in their relationship, Commander Riker and Lieutenant Commander Shelby must work together to rescue Picard and stop the Borg from reaching Earth.
When the third season ended abruptly with Picard as Locutus and Riker telling Worf to fire on the Borg Cube, a collective (heehee) uproar went up in the Star Trek community. No one knew what was going to happen or if Patrick Stewart would be coming back to the show, not even the showrunners. Speculation was so great that someone wrote a fake script in which the whole thing was a prank orchestrated by the Q Continuum.
“The Best of Both Worlds” is critical in Star Trek cannon. It provides a major part of the back story for the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and is the basis for the movie Star Trek: First Contact.
After the ending credits, we were delighted to watch a blooper reel featuring outtakes from many different episodes. Some of the highlights included stumbles over the technobabble, forgotten lines, Worf blurting out that he never played with little boys, Guinan cursing, and Lieutenant Richard Castillo asking Tasha Yar to call him “Dick.” It was a lot of laughs that were missed by at least half the audience who walked out during the ending credits.
Speaking of credits, I must say, it was amazing to see the opening credits on the big screen. Every time I ever watched them as a child, it was always on our little 1980’s-era tube television set. As an adult I’ve watched them on my nice flat screen TV but NOTHING compares to seeing it that big and whispering the words along with Patrick Stewart in movie theatre surround sound. They are some of my favorite words in the world and I’ve known them by heart since before I could read:
“Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life, and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one as gone before.”
Thanks to Mike for being my nerdy Star Trek buddy!
One last note: folks have been asking me to put out a calendar for the last couple of years and I finally got around to doing it with the amazing artistic talents of my sister-in-law, Reba. It’s really an awesome calendar. It’s got every nerdy holiday you can imagine, plus a super handy convention calendar, and some never-before-seen pictures that will never, ever be seen anywhere else. I know it’s almost May but it’s worth it to get the 2013 calendar. Besides, if I don’t sell these, then there probably won’t be one next year so, ya know…buy one 🙂 Since it is almost May, they’re super discounted (I promise you I’m not making a fortune off of them) AND I’ll sign it if you want.
Buy one here: http://hotnerdgirl.com/shop/