So what do I ask Shatner?
Still setting up the interview as I write this. The PR agent also offered interviews with just about everyone who was ever connected to Trek - it's a big rolling show due in Mpls in mid-August, and I can talk to Neelix or Dax or Trip or Jeffrey Coombs (he played two great characters, so that's why I refer to the actor's name.)
I don't want to talk to any of the actors. I want to talk to the characters they played.
It is unwise to assume that any of them were fans in the same sense as the viewers. Why should they be? It was a job. They sat under hot lights on a set wearing makeup and said lines and joked with the crew. Nothing beeped when they pushed a button; the set did not rock when they took a phaser hit and inertial dampeners were momentarily unable to compensate; they did not hear the music swell, nor hear the thrum of the engines as they walked down a corridor. All the people we liked were actually other people, and to confuse them with their roles is nonsense, and to expect them to be able to channel the character or inhabit it for the purpose of an interview two decades later is delusional. We had emotions when Voyager used the transwarp corridor to return to Earth and the ship was met by the fleet and fireworks. (Well, some emotions.) They thought: I'm out of work.
Perhaps that's the direction I should take. But I put in a request for a character who appeared in the original show and the sequels, and I think that might be interesting.
All the shows in the world to watch, and I watched Trek last night. Original Trek. I am halfway through "The People vs. OJ Simpson," which is good; halfway through Agent Mulder's "Aquarius," which is the 60s the way I like 'em - told from the Establishment point of view, with absolutely zero reverence for the hippie-shite. I started "Stranger Things," which hooked me right away with its blatant 80s homage. The synths. The domestic palette and clutter. The music, the tech. The fonts! I am watching "Bojack Horseman" M - Th, and after four eps I am still convinced it's the best animated series since the Simpsons' second - to - fifth season run. But last night I watched TOS Trek.
Not at first. There was a new COPS. Get this: the officer rolled up on some guys in a car in a driveway, phoned in by a neighbor, didn't belong. The driver was compliant but sparky. The passenger was twitchy and hinky and broke away from getting cuffed, which led to a tussle - during which A) the officer called in reports of what was happening on his radio with his free hand, and B) the driver filmed it all on his phone describing police brutality. When the passenger had settled down he had bags and bags of weed in his pants, and more in the car, bagged and ready for sale. A STUNNING development.
But the real treat was the third sequence. The female cop was describing how she couldn't do anything without her twin sister, and sure enough, the other cop in the car was her TWIN SISTER. Blondes. Bonus: they were in VEGAS. Blonde twin Vegas Cops. BTVC. Why is this not a series? They pulled over a guy for having bad plates; smelled weed; got him out. He must have been freaking: I am high, the cop pulled me over and I AM SEEING DOUBLE. He said he was a guitarist; one of the BTVCs asked him what he played, and while I can't remember the exact phrase it was clear she was asking what type of guitar he played. He said he played "awesome" guitar. Later one of the BTVC got out her phone and showed pictures of her and her sister with guitars, because they were musicians as well, and the other BTVC's husband had been a drummer for Air Supply. I mean. Come on. BTVC. It has to happen.
Then Trek; it was the Nomad ep. Red shirt death toll: four. Off-screen death toll: about four billion. And it ends with laughter on the bridge, the usual summing-up joke that played on the old Jewish-mother "my son the doctor" bit, which made you think of Alan Sherman. The phrase "my son the folk singer" had nuances and references common to the era that no one born in 1980 would get today. It makes you wonder how many of these phrases we've lost - we're left with "23 skiddooo" and "I love my wife but oh you kid" and precious little else. Some people would want to go back to 1927 with a camera.
I'd be content with a tape recorder.
We begin a new action-packed series of cliches, repackaged in slightly diffent form!
You can tell we're dealing with government agents, because there's handcuffs!
Now THIS is how you start a serial:
But wait! There's more! Attentive readers will note that we've seen that truck-through-the-dock-warehouse stunt before? We have; twice. But this is a different angle! Meaning, they reversed the film.
We soon meet two truckers who are not hijacked, yet, and they have some expository dialogue that explains what they're carrying: precision instruments for Government Stockpiles. We meet a Government Man, who's meeting with some trucking industry CEOs. Is one of them the Crimson Ghost?
No, that was the last serial. But it's the same set and the same guys, I swear. Here are the guys, one of whom is the Secret Evil Phantom-type person.
Guilty! Well, no, maybe it's this guy . . .
He looks like he should be a henchman for an effiminate supervillain. Or a department store shoe salesman in 1952. Guilty! But maybe it's this guy:
Mild-mannered, to say the least. It's probably him. Make your selections; we'll find out in three months.
The Government Man introduces our hero, Hal, who is a big-deal broad-shouldered aw-shucks Government Man.
So far no Plucky Gal Friday, but the serial is young.
Hw thwarts a hijacking in progress, but it's done quickly. Twelve minutes pass without a fistfight, which is not a good sign - but then there's another staple, the running gun battle between the cops and a hijacker, and they shoot out his tire. And so:
Okay we GET THE POINT. It's nothing but vehicles over the cliff. Our hero Hal realizes that the hijackers must need a lot of warehouse space, so he checks all the warehouses in town. This is not difficult, because as we've learned, the world of the serial usually consists of 10 locations, tops, and about as many people. He stumbles on the right one quite quickly, though, and Hal and another agent enter a garage populated by three guys. You know that's going to get fisty.
One of the agents distracts the gunman with great subtlety:
In the annals of hat-attached fighting, this might set a new standard:
The crooks go down a trap door into a secret cellar that's connected to a shaft with a hand-operated rail car, because SPECTRE wouldn't pop for the motorized model. This is my new favorite serial moment:
Wait, that's good, right? Because the bad guys have leaky gas now. No: they throw the can overboard and toss a lit Zippo on the trail. And so:
All things considered, a solid entry. Problem: the Crimson Ghost spoiled us for mysterious villains, and there's no technobabble thingama ray. Yet. No Spunky Gal Friday, either. Can any of these perils be overcome? Join us next week as we say "maybe. Doesn't matter much."
Why, would you look at this. Look what's back for its 20th year. See you around!
Oh - the Shatner interview was remarkable.
I spoiled Star Trek Beyond for him. I spoiled Star Trek for Captain Kirk.