Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Three in Three

This week has seen three birthdays associated with the Star Trek franchise.

The 6th saw another year through for Nog, Aron Eisenberg (44) while the 8th saw Michelle Forbes, aka Ro Laren, celebrating.

Both are key characters in the franchise and I have something planned in regards to Nog for the coming months. It would have been live today but there are other things to sort aside from writing on here! For the record Eisenberg played Nog right from Emissary through to What You Leave Behind as one of the recurring guest cast. His is probably one of the most developed and expanded roles that Deep Space Nine brought to the franchise taking him from medical supply thief to Starfleet officer and war veteran in seven years. Oh - and Aron even turned up in one episode of Voyager as a Kazon in season two's Initiations. All the (belated) best wishes!

Michelle Forbes also guested - but before she became Ro - in The Next Generation as Dara, the daughter of Doctor Timicin in Half a Life. That role helped secure the role of the Bajoran ensign who would appear sporadically through the fifth, early sixth and penultimate episode of the seventh seasons. While Forbes is reknowned for turning down the chance to move across as first officer on Deep Space Nine there were a few key moments that defined her, namely her first appearance which brought the Bajorans immediately springs to mind. I'd probably add her interlude with Riker in Conundrum into the mix and would absolutely add her swansong of Preemptive Strike in the top three. In the show we never got to find out if she was among the casualties when the Jem'Hadar wiped out the Maquis however the novel series has her back in Starfleet and most recently commanding the brand new Deep Space Nine station in The Fall.

The 7th however is probably the most interesting of the three as it would have seen the 90th birthday of Gene L Coon. While his link to Star Trek is solely in the realms of The Original Series if it wasn't for this man then the landscape of show may have been very different. Coon produced the show from Miri to Operation: Annihilate! and then Catspaw through Bread and Circuses. That's a pretty impressive resume to begin with however spin that just one step further - Coon was responsible for some of the biggest introductions and original "game changers" of the show. Ever.

Take a look at the list here (right) of his writing credits. Yes, some of them are teleplays (co-credited) but what a list to have your name on. You're the man responsible for bringing the Gorn, the Klingons , the Horta (in a frantic four day writing session), Zephram Cochrane and (take a breath), Khan Noonien Singh (version one) to the screen. The mind boggles at the genius that was and the mind that was lost so abruptly in 1973 at the age of 49. It's made even more tragic in the note that Coon only discovered he was terminally ill a week before his death.

He was offered a spot on The Animated Series  but declined and I would love to speculate what he would have brought to The Next Generation - might the Klingons have been more prominent in the first season? Would the Borg have become a lesser villain? Who knows. What we can say is that he was essential in shaping the franchise in it's formative years and for that we must thank him.

On a slight flipside however and under the pseudonym of Lee Cronin, Coon was responsible for some of the antics of the crew in season three. While budget restraints brought about the basic and unfinished look of Spectre of the Gun, there is little that can't - or hasn't - been said about Spock's Brain. It's a shame that such an episode does blot a phenomenal portfolio of stories that have become much lauded over time. Could you imagine Star Trek without Kirk fighting the Gorn on Cestus III? Neither can we. More than that, Coon's mind inadvertently meant that The Wrath of Khan would be made  when Nicholas Meyer chose Khan as an interesting villain to build a movie around. In turn that means we have to give Coon a nod when it comes to Star Trek Into Darkness as well. Not bad to think that his legacy has lasted since 1966 is it?

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