Saturday, 22 March 2014

Lots of Birthdays!


It's a Bumper Birthday two weeks ahead with a whole host of names who have appeared or been involved with Star Trek celebrating another year ahead.

In fact there are a few very notable names - two Klingons, a Q, an engineer, an empath, a Vulcan, the only man to beat the No Win Scenario, a legendary writer and the man responsible for creating the look of many an alien over the past few decades. (DC Fontana 25th March 1939 and Michael Westmore 22nd March 1938 not pictured above!)

So where am I heading with this? Well, while a lot of sites will, of course, go loopy over the birthdays of The Shat and Mr Nimoy on the 22nd and 26th respectively yet I want to just take a break from the norm and celebrate the work of two of these figures from the franchise in the form of J G Hertzler and Michael Westmore.

Yep, an unusual combination but then we're not known for keeping to the norm are we?! That's not to say that any of the others are lesser mortals or ever less worthy of birthday shout-outs but I have to admit to being something of a Martok fan. J G Hertzler also has the claim to be in the first scene of Deep Space Nine, acting in the role of the Vulcan captain of Sisko's ship, USS Saratoga  as well as Roy Ritterhouse in Far Beyond the Stars, the shapeshifter Laas in Chimera and the Hirogen champion in Voyager's Tsunkatse. Also he'll soon be seen in the fan production Star Trek: Axanar as Captain Samuel Travis. While all worthy of a mention none come close to his brilliance as Martok (changeling or not!).

While we first saw the general in The Way of the Warrior it wasn't until season five's BIn Purgatory's Shadow that we met him properly. For me he was one of the key secondary cast of Deep Space Nine from that moment. Martok was the archetypal Klingon, believing in the glory, the honour and certainly the thrill of battle as well as proving to be a valuable asset and ally to Sisko during the later years of the series. More of a thinker and a planner than other Klingons we had met, there was always a glint in that eye that betrayed something more - a man of many layers and definitely a great counter to both Worf and Gowron. This of course gives me a blatant excuse to round out three of his greatest moments.


Becomes Chancellor

With just a touch of help from Worf, Martok takes the reins of the Empire from the apparently glory-hunting Gowron. Well-deserved there and it's, for me, one of the best episodes of the final ten (Tacking into the Wind) if only for the epic hand to hand fight that has been brewing since the mid-point of The Next Generation let alone The Way of the Warrior. Martok's relunctance to accept the mantle of leadership is absolutely in keeping with the character who has always wanted to be a warrior in the ranks rather than giving the orders - something even alluded to in his choice of a Bird-of-Prey as his flagship.

Vs Worf

While Sons of the Empire isn't going to make your top ten, it's a good solid Klingon episode that sees Worf assist Martok in gaining the respect of his crew on the Rotarran and return to the warrior form that had eluded him since escaping from the Jem'Hadar prison camp. It's a significant turning point in the character and sets him up well for the events of the next two years. It also leads Martok to welcome Worf into his family's house since the House of Mogh no longer exists.

Drinking Blood Wine on Cardassia Prime

Now a controversial one. While Sisko and Admiral Ross might not have approved it's a good nod from the writers back to a reference in season six that the three of them will be drinking together on Cardassia when it falls to them. Just to see Martok savouring victory is worth the admission price alone. One of the things Deep Space Nine always managed successfully was their ability to drop hints in early and then bring them to reality a year or so later when you least expected it. Or had just damn well forgotten.

We could also have included his first appearance fighting the Jem'Hadar or perhaps his reluctance to command the Ninth Fleet but for me, these are three of the strongest memories I have of Hertzler's character. Honestly this doesn't do it justice and I'll be putting a larger piece together soon.

Then there's Michael Westmore. The face of the 24th Century you could say. Responsible for the look of many a creature from The Next Generation through to Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise and the later four classic movies we'd like to pay homage to his top three creations.


Cardassians

Those classy spoonheads appeared back in The Next Generation before becoming the staple baddie of Deep Space Nine for a few years as well as providing that show with a ton of backstory. Reptilian in look it's instantly recognisable and incredibly intricate when you start to really examine the structure of the neck and how it's actually very, very skeletal on the outside. It's not just one piece though as each section around the eyes, ears and chin are all separate bits that combine to create the finished look. Think about doing one and then consider that there were a lot of these guys walking around for seven years.

Odo

One that went through a heck of a lot of changes over the course of Deep Space Nine - in fact even over the course of a season as Auberjonois' features were blended more and more into the smooth face with those three distinct worry lines on the forehead. Perhaps the even more challenging part of Odo's creation was his disintegrating states we saw in The Die is CastBroken Link and later as part of the virus spread to the Great Link in the final ten part arc. It's one thing to create a great character makeup but another to destroy it and still make it look good....

The Trill Spots

It's the classic, the one that gets quoted over and over again but you know what? It's brilliant. Every episode and for every day the Trill spots were hand painted onto Terry Farrell to portray Jadzia Dax. We all know that each set was numbered but it's just one of those things that shows how dedicated to his art Michael Westmore was during his time with Star Trek. To think that every set was different and to have the patience to do that for six years!

So Happy Birthday this week and next to this host of Star Trek stars! Perhaps you have a favourite moment we haven't highlighted or one from the others who are celebrating. If you do, why not drop it in the comments below!

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