Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Essential Bole

For the mainstream Star Trek fan the passing of Cliff Bole means numerous references to The Best of Both Worlds and his status as one of the most prolific directors the franchise EVER saw.

And rightly so. Bole has his name stamped all over the landmark two-parter from 1990 but let's just look a bit further afield than (as is due) lauding praise on what is likely to be the most cinematic 90 minutes of TV Star Trek ever created. I sure as hell can't think of anything that has as good a story AND the direction to match and lift it into another league.

Bole could also happily lay claim to the fact he is one of the VERY few directors to have helmed both parts of a two parter, even more impressive when you think that this was a season cliffhanger with a three month gap between shooting sessions. For reference the others who achieved this feat were Les Landau (Time's Arrow), Alexander Singer (Descent), Winrich Kolbe (Basics) and David Livingston (Equinox).

But what else did Bole do besides this monumental behemoth of Star Trek? The straight answer is a flippin' lot. Twenty-five The Next Generation, seven Deep Space Nine and ten Voyager episodes.

Could we also forget that the seam-faced blue-skinned Bolians were named after him? Of course not but what were the key moments that Bole brought to the screen during his time with Star Trek? I've come up with three that immediately came to mind but I'm sure there will be more for others to add to this list....(yes I know there's nothing from Voyager but I couldn't think of a scene that stood out...)

To Be Continued...

Bole swings the camera round, the music builds and we focus in, just as all the crew are, on the acting captain as Riker sent the show into it's first seasonal cliffhanger. Yeah, it's the obvious one to start with but you try beating that for a way to end your season and you'd be pushing it. Simply one of the most memorable moments from the whole show and nicely all focused on the one person who didn't want to make the decisions and was questioning his career for the whole of the episode. Brilliance bottled.

It's All A Conspiracy

Bole sticks Picard on the Planet Hell set, adds some red filters, drops the lighting level and starts to build the suspicion and the tension with a secret meeting of some of Starfleet's most prominent captains. Who's who? Who's allied to who? Who knows what's going on - but this mysterious gathering suggests that something isn't right with the galaxy and Bole's direction to focus on each individual at a time indicates that allegiances are uncertain even within this group.

Jadzia Loses It

Not a stunning episode but Bole's transitions from Deep Space Nine into Dax's visions of the masked stranger accompanied by the haunting melody from her "missing" host, Joran. Perhaps more mysterious and certainly more unsettling than the meeting in Conspiracy it made for a more enjoyable installment since you were never sure when a change was coming. Indeed, that uncertainty helped echo what was going through Jadzia's mind as her past unravels.

Thanks for the memories Cliff Bole. 

9th November 1937 - 15th February 2014

Introducing: SKoST Modelling 101

With our increasing coverage of most (we'd be a little arrogant to say all) things Star Trek I'd like to welcome a new regular slot hosted by +Christopher Whitford, the curator of the Google+ Sci-Fi Fans and Modellers United Community.  

Chris is heavily into the Star Trek modelling world as you might have guessed and we're looking forward to learning a lot about just what it can take to transform a box of plastic parts into a replica to be proud of....

You know in the world of scale modeling you have the good ole standbys; your cars, aircraft, ships and then there are spacecraft which you can narrow down to sci-fi spacecraft and furthermore you have your Star Wars, Batman and then you get to Star Trek

Yes, the beloved Star Trek models and what a selection of them are out there. The classic Enterprise in a multitude of scales from 1/2500 to 1/350, the classic Klingon D-7, the Romulan Bird-of-Prey, Space Station K-7, Spock, the Exploration set, the bridge of the Enterprise, and the list goes on. 

From Enterprise to Voyager I am pretty sure there is a Star Trek model kit that you would want to build. "But how to get started?" 

I hear that question many times and the answer is the same - Research. Star Trek kits are out there for the beginner right through to the experienced modeler. 

My recommendation to the Novice Star Trek modeler is often this; the Polar Lights 1/1000 classic USS Enterprise. It is a simple kit, but by building it you will learn basics such as gap filling, seam filling, sanding, painting, applying decals and from there I would suggest a couple more of the 1/1000 kits by Round 2/Polar Lights. Just by doing those you will be surprised how you skills will increase with each model that you build. 

From there, try some of the other kits such as the AMT 18 inch Enterprise will teach you more than you will ever know due to its inaccuracies alone. These errors are well documented and there is a plethora of accurate aftermarket parts out here to help make it the star in you stash. Then there are the 1/350 scale kits that at current include the NX-01, the classic NCC-1701, and the Enterprise-A/1701 Refit which are the big boys - and big is the word coming in around three foot each and to make them stand out even more they absolutely need to be lit so another skill you will develop is how to light model kits. 

That pretty much wraps up my first post about Star Trek modeling. Next month we will go in to detail about what you will need to build your first  model and share some tips on how to do it on a budget. 

See you next time and remember get of here and go build something!

Interested in finding out more about the group? Why not drop by and take a look...HERE

Any questions or Star Trek modelling challenges? Why not submit a question below?

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Second Bite of the Cherry: Continues Goes Green

It's all green, green, green it seems at the moment for us at SKoST Towers.

Just as there was with the arrival of the much-delayed Kitumba from the Phase II stable, the Star Trek fanbase were going just as mental over LolaniWe'll dispense with the oft-used plot synopsis and just talk about the show. There's a lot to chew over I can say.

Pilgrim of Eternity relied on an established character and acted as a sequel to a story from The Original Series but here the web-series has cut loose and taken on a tale that is 100% its own. The results are mixed and even while I was listening to the theme closing the episode, just adding a few last touches to my inked notes I was still undecided as to my thoughts on the show. 

"Hmmmm..." I said in thought. My wife (of two days) looked up from the laptop "What's up?"
"I'm not sure what I thought of that...I want to like it but...."

I gurned a lot of facial expressions over the next few minutes trying to come up with an explanation, reasons - even just one conclusion...but nadda. Which is why it's taken so long to put finger to keyboard. 

The nearest thing I could equate Lolani to was a football match. It's a game of two halves. At first we're into a hostage rescue where the crew are prey to the wiles of the seductive Orion girl, Lolani (Fiona Vroom above) but then it's a murder story and at that point I was just finding it very uncertain and misfiring a lot. When legendary Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno turns up it switches again into a classic Star Trek tale of morals and right and wrong dilemmas of which Roddenberry himself would have been proud. That second section is very much powered by the excellent Ferrigno and the dinner scene just sparkles as the Orion slaver takes centre stage in what is the pivotal scene in the story and changes where the narrative is going. 

For me that arrival, that scene marked an important step and it's a shame it takes so long for Ferrigno to turn up. He's luckily not a scenery chewer and handles the role of Zaminhon with a rumbling grace that almost makes you want him to succeed. It's a heavy plot, moreso than Pilgrim of Eternity and certainly more detailed in it's thread. I found on occasion though that there were times where the proverbial "ball" was dropped or made my forehead go all Klingony with strife and confusion.

The journey to the arrival of Lou Ferrigno is a little tangled and the limited fan-funding did show through on more than one occasion which doesn't help this rather on-occasion powerful and multi-facted story. The dialogue is mixed and I seriously preferred Pilgrim of Eternity for it's story and script. Here there's a lot of hokey dialogue and on occasion there's a verge on cheesy but then there are some cracking scenes which help balance them out. At times I was half expecting Lolani to ask Kirk to tell her about that thing called love but we avoided that one at the very least. Vroom too seems a little uncomfortable but does give a sterling effort in the role - a shame that there are a couple of points where her makeup slips. She gives a layered performance here from frightened, bruised and battered slave girl through to her eventual form in almost a butterfly-like transformation that seems to take leaps and isn't that visible on the screen. It's those around her that change (and not due to the Orion Attraction) and there does seem a little bit of a disjoint in how it all fits back together at the end.

Ok, I'm being perhaps a little harsh and the fact that a lot of people went out of their way a lot to bring some new Star Trek to the fans always has to be given the highest praise but I couldn't get away from an uncomfortable feeling all the way through. I genuinely cringed at the dance scene but Mignogna's Kirk-Fu almost made up for it save for a few clear total misses that are "landed". Nice bit of a homage to some of Kirk's Greatest Hits and for that, well done Continues. However, while we're on the subject of Mignogna, let's talk Kirk. 

Vic's efforts in producing Continues cannot be faulted. The quality is there, the vision is there - as is a lot of Shatner. Whether he's negotiating, fighting or just taking a seat in the captain's chair, Mignogna exudes Shatner almost at every step. For some this might be welcome and truly fitting with the concept of "continuing" The Original Series even in the feel of the characters however I think that's where Chris Pine and James Cawley have an edge - making the role their own and not trying to match the unique qualities of the Shat. I applaud Vic for his interpretation of Shatner, but perhaps it should have been an interpretation of Kirk? That said, clearly this emphasises the love Vic has for the role and the passion for his work, again something we here at SKoST cannot deny - and he does get a chance to go full Romantic Kirk as well with a sly smooch thanks to those Orion pheromones.

Cast-wise, Lolani has a Big Four in the driving seat with Mignogna backed by the seemingly very young but still capable Todd Haberkorn as Spock, Larry Nemecek as Bones and Chris Doohan as Scotty. All do an admirable job to back up their placing in the opening credits and if Shatner and co had made it into a 1969 - 1970 season perhaps Doohan Snr would have made his way from the end titles to a more elevated status. The acting from these guys is great but sadly they don't get enough time to explore their roles here with the limelight firmly elsewhere. Larry is just grumbly enough and there's the right kind of twinkle in the eyes of Chris that would make his dad proud. Really good to see and with that pinch of their own personalities in there as well. My other concern thoiugh is for the actors behind Uhura (Kim Stinger) and Sulu (Grant Imahara). 

Sadly they get sidelined with barely a decent line between them for the duration of Lolani while better scenes and dialogue are headed off by crew addition Dr Elise McKennah (Michele Specht) and Kenway (Matthew Enway). McKennah has some wonderful sparring with Mignogna's Kirk and the relationship between the two does verge from flirty to comical on occasion but there does seem to be some good chemistry here that could do with more exploitation in future stories. I wasn't convinced by Specht's arrival in the show but her role as the counsellor has moved on greatly and works very well in light of the dealings with Lolani here. Indeed, Lolani's best scenes are when she is with either Mignogna or Specht.

Kenway's story is the larger focus here due to his involvement with the title character but I just don't buy the role. Is it love? What does he want? Kenway seems a little weaker than I might expect from your usual redshirt and his motivations do seem suspect by the episode's conclusion as do some of the decisions that Kirk makes by the end of the story. Getting teary-eyed and sentimental goes against the grain of the role itself that Mignogna has tried so closely to follow. The problem with Kenway is that we have a guest star helping a guest star which detracts from the main cast and some of the drama is lost because at least one of the main protagonists isn't key to series. Hopefully it won't be a one off performance and his return next time will help build the role - making him a one episode character will only weaken the story.

It also seems that the two big Star Trek series in Phase II and Continues have something of a Buck Rogers-faceoff going on with Gil Gerrard turning up in the recent Kitumba and now former Colonel Wilma Deering, Erin Gray appearing here, twice, as Commodore Gray. Definitely one of the senior brass you wouldn't want to cross, even on a good day. If you were also wondering that's Boba Fett from Attack of the Clones playing Ensign Tongaroga.

I had hoped for a little bit more grit however this is a story that would have fitted perfectly in the three seasons of The Original Series which is definitely where Phase II has an edge - they are pushing the boundaries and trying new things while Continues is doing just that - continuing. Kirk gets the girl, for a bit, replete with romantic music and there isn't even a glimpse of vaseline on the lens or soft focus. Admirably those fantastic behind the scenes people have achieved the true look of the 1960's series in lighting and overall mood. There's all sorts of purples and greens bringing back the feel of the original show. Even the external shots of the USS Enterprise feel more like the models by Matt Jeffries than the CGI stunners of Phase II. That said they are beautiful and set the mood superbly. Not that they look unfinished but just very authentic especially if compared to the Mike Okuda remasters of recent years. The sets too deserve a credit. From the bridge to the crew quarters through to the transporter room and the briefing room it's as though the production team literally beamed them straight out of the 1960s, added some twists to bring in 21st Century with a graphic or an effect to wow us.

I had planned to launch this review after the premiere of Phase II's The Holiest Thing to see how the two shows are comparing however with that delayed we chose to go with this as a solus post. With the benefit of a week or so's breathing space since the launch of Lolani it's a credit to the original show and all involved should be praised. My opinion still stands that it's not quite up to the level of Pilgrim of Eternity but yet there has been progress, development and everyone involved seems a lot more comfortable that in the previous installment. I also suggest that it would be harsh to compare this episode across to Phase II as they have a ten year headstart on experience at the least. By the end of the story there's a real sense though that Continues has captured the essence of The Original Series maybe in a closer fashion than Phase II. In fact it's better that the two shows do have some form of divergence that echoes from their very titles. 

While Lolani has been a slight disappointment it's still exciting to see a new episode of Star Trek brought to the screen for the fans at the least. Ok, I'll also admit that with two weeks of mulling over the show I'm beginning to see the attraction of Mignogna's Kirk (don't let on though). There's a lot of love and dedication evident here and while I've pointed out some niggles it's a step - more a staircase - above a lot of the fan productions that are loitering around the internet these days. 

Just one request I suppose - More Please - and soon.

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More News to Continue the Voyages...

We thought that These are the Voyages couldn't get any better. It was already (and we self refer here) probably the best Star Trek reference book ever written - but then Leonard Nimoy read it.

We knew that he had contacted author Marc Cushman over the content of the first season companion and recently we were even told from our Super Secret contact at Jacobs Media Press that there was something special coming because we weren't going to get a hardback copy of the first edition (Bah! we thought) but then this news broke and made our day. 

Jacobs Media Press released a new edition of These are the Voyages; The Original Series, Season One. The new edition has 80 additional pages based on an exclusive interview with Leonard Nimoy and material/photos from personal archives of contributors who contacted Marc after the first edition was released. 

Awesome! However not all was well in Trek fandom.

Now there's been a lot of discussion about this improved edition after fans bought the first which wasn't exactly the least expensive book produced only to find that a second was in the works/on shelves. The Facebook page for the book certainly gives the hint at some thoughts - Is it worth it? Why the hell wasn't the first book up to this standard? ...and the like (I've paraphrased there to give an indication so it's not precisely word for word but you get the gist).

It's a shame, if we're honest, that the first edition didn't work out the bugs, errors and teething troubles that have been highlighted and while the second edition does deal with a lot of the problems, we can see both sides here. It was never the author's intention to cause issues or anger from fans but only to produce an ultimate guide to the much-loved show. On the side of the reader we totally understand that forking out for the same book with corrections and updates isn't financially viable or desirable. 

Still, it is a good book and there's no denying it whether you have the first or second editions. We can only hope that the second and third season volumes don't go through the same process and are as perfect guides as possible on first run.
So what's the best way to find out about what's going on under the cover so to speak? Ask the author. Go to the source. Marc has been really communicative about the additions - the new Nimoy interview for instance now sits within the section dealing with the filming of The Cage and includes the origins of those distinctive ears within its pages. Not only does that add to the wealth of information but there are several other notable quotes and information including some more documents and memos from Robert Justman (right). The tragedy is that this information appears to have only been available after the original publication and therefore omission was unavoidable because Marc didn't know it was there in the first place.

Of those 80 extra pages a lot is taken with a ton of new, previously unavailable photos and Marc even pointed us to Balance of Terror and Arena as just two episodes which have benefited from the additional work. In the former the pre-production section is much expanded with the creative process as well as two or three new pictures including a personal favourite of the Commander Hansen on Outpost 4 -  not something I've seen before or how about preparing to film the cube ship in The Corbomite Maneuver? Take your pick as there are a lot more. 

I know this is going to be another mammoth reading project for me but I have some holiday time coming up and this will be top of the list. To fully detail all the changes would take a long time but I can see they have only been meant to enhance the experience not detract and I understand from Marc that it was not meant to be a bigger volume, just more thorough!

Has it been a success though is a big question. Well, how about the fact it's now available on Kindle in the United States, the UK, Australia and Canada. Top that off with the news that this book has also been translated into several different languages and will be available within days in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Mexico, and Brazil. There's surely no wonder Spock himself chose to be interviewed for such a work?!

In the near future we'll have some more news on this fantastic literary series and maybe even a word or two from the man himself, Marc Cushman.


We can now reveal that Season 2 will be available for pre-order through on Monday, March 3. The target publication date is March 25 and the book orders will be filled soon after that date.

Here's a sneak peak of the blurb currently available just to tempt you AND a first look at the new cover!

"For Gene Roddenberry and his talented staff and crew, launching Star Trek was a near impossible task. Keeping it on the air was even harder. Leonard Nimoy almost didn't make it back to the Enterprise for the start of Season Two. Lucille Ball gambled big in putting Desilu behind the chancy sci-fi venture, and would become the next to fall, losing her studio. Discover the real reason Gene Coon suddenly quit as series producer at the mid point of Season Two. Learn which stories by renowned science fiction masters never made it to the screen and why, and which episodes almost didn't make it in front of the camera. Read the memos from Roddenberry and his staff, and NBC, concerning all 26 Season Two episodes, and witness the continuing deception by the network over the TV ratings, and how the fans took on a corporate giant to save their favorite series."

These are the Voyages Season One is available now from Amazon priced £18.23 ISBN 978-0989238120

To see our full review click right HERE

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All images courtesy of Jacobs Media Publishing

Monday, 17 February 2014

Fiercely Independent: The Green Girl

The Cage; the pilot, the beginning and the episode that introduced us to the Orions.

But not just any old Orion. Star Trek Continues recently brought us Lolani and the return of the slave girls however The Cage gave us Vina. The original, the one that all who play and have played green girls look back to.

Today, February 13th would have been Susan Oliver's 82nd birthday and in celebration to her life and her imprint on the Star Trek universe we talked to someone who has made her story his mission and purpose in the last few years; George Pappy.

So, in a first for Some Kind of Star Trek here is our audio interview with the man behind the phenomenon that is The Green Girl as interviewed by +Clive Burrell 

Part 1: The History...

...Part 2: Currently...

Part 3: Moving forward, plus the Six from SKoST quiz...

When we interviewed George there was one other thing we did - made him the first person to attempt Six from SKoST - placing our interviewee against the knowledge base of one of the team. Here's the questions and the results as +Joe Hardacre took on the Orion Expert...

Which I think makes George Pappy our first Six from SKoST winner with five out of six and he also guessed the tie breaker of Chase Masterson who played a green girl in Of Gods and Men! (Prize under construction!)

Thanks also to +Mark Thwaite for some tireless editing and preparation to bring the interview to the site.

Did you know you can now join up with us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or even +1 us on Google+? If you didn't why not drop over there now!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Trekollections VI: The First Rule of Star Trek Club

Dorn to DS9.

I read the headline in Dreamwatch one more time to see if it would sink in any more. Only a year previous Deep Space Nine, the unloved child of the Star Trek universe, had been provided a lifeline and a revamp with the arrival of the USS Defiant and the introduction of the domineering Dominion. It hadn't quite worked. They were 99.9% there and this was the solution to get the elusive 0.01%.

Problem was that I'd really enjoyed season three and everything that the new improved series had introduced. In all fairness I was both excited and disappointed to read that Worf would be taking up a position on the station from the beginning of the fourth season. Did Deep Space Nine really need him? Was he going to fit in seeing as he'd been on The Next Generation for all seven seasons plus the recent Star Trek: Generations feature? Surely this was too small for Michael Dorn? I had no say in the matter and so would be have to wait until February of the following year (1996) to see The Way of the Warrior.

However I couldn't wait that long and my gran bought me the novelisation of the season four premiere for Christmas. At this time I was revising for my GCSE mock exams over the Christmas holidays (I was that dedicated) but Christmas Day was certainly not going to be the time to have my head in the books. That was until I got ill and stayed clear of everyone else for the day - the perfect chance to read The Way of the Warrior. It changed my thoughts on the coming series completely and I couldn't wait.

At this time it was always Deep Space Nine over Voyager which was entering its second season at the same time and the fourth year of the space station drama blew everything else out of the water. Worf was a great addition and it felt like the show had taken yet another massive leap forward and a considerable risk at the same time. It was one great episode after another but 1996 was also a great year for another reason. The Star Trek Experience made it to the UK and I got the chance to see it in Birmingham.

I've still not managed to get to a convention to this day so this was quite a big thing. Walking in you were presented with a replica of the TV series Enterprise bridge and of course its one of those things you have to have a photo of whether original or not. Before I could get into an adequate pose the guide who was overseeing the set asked a fateful question; "Do you want to sit on the set?"

Now that was a silly question as the answer was undoubtedly, "Yes."

So now the only picture which still exists in my possession from that day is of me on the mock up of the original USS Enterprise bridge apparently under guard by a Vulcan-salute waving The Next Generation uniform wearing exhibition guide.

That five minutes is actually something of a blur as I hadn't expected it to happen and it did so at a fair speed - in, photo, off and done. I wish now I'd taken more of a chance to look around the replica and get a few more pics. Oh well, the wonders of hindsight.

The exhibition featured a lot of costumes and sets, particularly from Generations. There was the original Enterprise-D transporter room, Picard's desk and chair from his Ready Room and his command chair from the bridge set. Alongside them were Soran's missile and his handgun as well as a few uniforms including Kirk's The Motion Picture admiral's uniform, and Troi's blue dress. At the time Deep Space Nine and Voyager were in their early years so there were only a few bits of makeup as well as the monolith from The Alternate and the holo-generator from Shadowplay. I just wish I could find the photos as I had quite a number!

These were the first real Star Trek items I ever came into contact with and I made sure that I went over the exhibition a few times before we went into the gift shop. One thing I do still have  is the half-size combadge I bought from the shop and the set of Star Trek First Contact collectors cards (four pictured left). Even back then I thought they were expensive for the mid-1990's! which is why I didn't buy a lot - most of it had probably been ploughed into the VHS collection.

The memory of that day has stayed with me very strongly and is one of the few moments where I have managed to come face to face with the objects directly linked to my favourite show. In fact it would only be in 2010 when I would finally meet someone who appeared in Star Trek.

First Contact was my film of the year and tragically the high point of The Next Generation's movie career by some distance. As an experience it was far more satisfying than Generations and one of the best movies of the whole series. When it came out on video it was an essential purchase and came with a holographic card which switched between Picard, Data and the Borg Queen to Locutus, the damaged Data and the Borg Queen in a slightly different pose. Admittedly Generations on VHS was a better and more expensive package as I spent a bit more and bought the limited edition numbered widescreen version complete with booklet and postcards. It was a lovely set however the DVD version obliterates it for quality with ease.

Now 1996 would be a year more focused on exams than it would be on the world of Deep Space Nine or Voyager which in turn reminds me that Star Trek was a part of my English GCSE. We had to do a presentation on something we were interested in, or at least some part of topic we had an interest in. While Star Trek itself would have been too easy and obvious I went for a little more of a curve ball and produced a five minute, prompt-card remembered talk on the career of William Shatner. It might have been due to my having recently read one of the two Memories books he wrote around that time!

While it was an education-heavy twelve months I would still buy some of the videos including The Visitor/Hippocratic Oath and Body Parts/Broken Link but there are two volumes which stick in my mind for other reasons apart from their episodic content. One was the Voyager Volume 2.7 which contained Dreadnought and Death Wish. Two great episodes but the reason I remember them so well is because this is the video my parents bought me when I got my GCSE results in August of that year. When asked what I wanted as a "well done" for my work it was only ever going to be Star Trek related and this Q appearance was top of my "Must See" list that year. It didn't disappoint and whether or not I view it through rose-tinted spectacles it's in my top five Voyager episodes and one of the best Q episodes ever made. 

The other volume was 4.12 from Deep Space Nine. Again, it's not the episodes that are on the cassette that make it significant in my life story but rather the sequence it kicked off over the next few years. We'll roll back a little bit actually here because there's more to it than a single volume. I might have said that 1996 was significant because of GCSE exams but it was also the year I would get my first girlfriend.

Kate was from the high school and we met while I was on a family holiday to Paris which was intended to help me with my French linguistic abilities in preparation for the upcoming exams (as you'll see I had quite an "educational" direction forced on me). Kate also liked Star Trek which certainly helped and I introduced her to Deep Space Nine. I was even nice enough to lend her my TV recording of Emissary. A week later however Kate returned the tape however she'd left it in the VHS player and her dad had recorded over it with something totally NOT Star Trek. Possibly One Man and His Dog or World Athletics. I was, as you can understand a tiny bit gutted however what I didn't expect was that my girlfriend would buy a replacement - the collector's edition - and give it to me. 

OK, that sets the scene and for my birthday in 1996 Kate bought me another video - the aforementioned 4.12 so that I would have seen all the episodes of that year as I had already purchased 4.13. I was very grateful and we watched it together. However about a week later she split up with me. It wasn't the end of the world but I got concerned when I bought Deep Space Nine volume 5.3 the following year and my girlfriend at that time split up with me on the same day. I was starting to see links between purchasing Star Trek and the end of relationships. Not a good sign really as In the Pale Moonlight was the video I purchased shortly before my next relationship also crashed and burned. The other thing I learned was that dating someone with an interest in Star Trek was more of a curse than a blessing.

1996 was also the 30th anniversary of the franchise marked out with two special episodes - Deep Space Nine's Trials and Tribble-ations and  Voyager's Flashback. The former excellent, the latter not so good. With the video releases being somewhat behind the US, I was still relying on magazines to get my info on upcoming episodes and these two were getting some major column inches. Trials and Tribble-ations was clearly the bigger featuring the space station crew alongside Kirk and co. It was all "Wow". The episode looked amazing and marked the 30th anniversary as more impressive than the 25th. We can only hope that the 50th in just three years time is honoured in style. I even forked out a few quid for the (very) thin novelisation that accompanied the episode.

Deep Space Nine by this point had firmly cemented itself as my favourite series with season five. Worf had turned out to be a brilliant addition and the show felt complete. The year also included some of the very best of the show including Children of Time and Call to Arms which concluded the year. As usual I'd already "looked ahead" to find out what would be happening and seeing that Sisko lost the station to the Dominion was groundbreaking. While Voyager saw the namesake ship taken over by the Kazon for a two-parter, Deep Space Nine stayed in enemy hands for six episodes and a never-before-attempted six part story arc. The series was doing Star Trek like never before and yet the following sixth season would push the envelope even more.

But what of my collection? What about all the other things that made up my Star Trek world?

I had a couple of posters up of The Next Generation crew in my room but I also had a few more models by this time. The USS Enterprise from The Original Series and the movie refit from The Final Frontier were now joined by three more vessels.

The first addition was the USS Excelsior from Star Trek VI. Smaller than the Enterprise-A it was a great little piece only let down by a cup-like stand that meant it kept slipping every time you walked near the shelf. The second and third were both Klingon ships; a Bird of Prey from Star Trek: Generations and the Vor'Cha cruiser introduced in The Next Generation. For many years these craft adorned the top shelf of my unit in my room but now, due to space restrictions they are currently all in storage in the loft waiting for the day when they can once again get their own place. The two Klingon ships are currently with me while the Excelsior is foam-chip packed at my parents' house.

There would be another addition to the collection shortly after however I'll keep you guessing for the moment. At this time modelmaking wasn't my forte and it's only recently that I've tried my hand at the plastic arts, namely the JJ Abrams-verse USS Enterprise which progressed slowly but is now finished and I'm very proud of the result.

I'd added some novels to the collection as well as Larry Nemecek's The Next Generation Companion, William Shatner's superb Star Trek Memories and Star Trek Movie Memories. They were read in a flash and added a lot to my knowledge of the series and the films through to Kirk's final appearance in Generations. Sadly other autobiographies from the crew such as Takei, Doohan and even biographies on Roddenberry have never lived up to the quality of these books in my opinion. A shame but Shatner appears to have cornered the market!

If you remember from previous editions of Trekollections Bondy and I were showing episodes of Star Trek in the library over lunchtimes and the audience had gradually increased towards the end of my GCSE exam year. When we came back to start A-Levels it turned out that there had been such a demand that one of our teachers, Miss Hurton, had started a lunchtime club to watch episodes and talk about the show. Bondy and I were installed to help run it and this would be my first attempt at writing a newsletter using early versions of Word and a rather temperamental printer. 

Each week I would produce the newsletter as well as quizzes and there would be showings of new episodes from both Voyager and Deep Space Nine. I've included this edition from early in 1997. I crammed a lot on from the looks of things including episode airtimes and dates, video reviews, news snippets and an episode of the month which in this case is the already mentioned Children of Time. I also used my 365 day Star Trek quotes calendar  for the script down the side.

It was great to produce this as my interest in English and journalism had already helped get me a work experience placement over the summer which eventually led to a five year holiday and eventually full time job with a local newspaper. Having a passion for writing had continued to drive me towards the creative aspect however not with Star Trek after I'd attempted and failed to write something distinctively different based in that universe. Apparently when Bondy and I left the club folded the following year as some of the kids attending wanted to expand to other sci-fi material which went against why it was originally set up - I'd have kept them in line of course!

So where are we now? About 1998? Was that all just a year's worth of Star Trek and me? Apparently so but what's left for us? Deep Space Nine's finale; Voyager returns to the Alpha Quadrant and some serious changes take effect on my time with Star Trek. Aside from that, I would be entering the leanest Star Trek period of my life...and it wasn't good.

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Friday, 7 February 2014

The Lure of Lore

Cut the cake and let's celebrate!

So this week saw Brent Spiner celebrating one more year and the internet will be awash with glowing reminiscences of how AMAZING he was as Data and that the character should never have been killed off in Nemesis and he was like, well, like the most AMAZING character ever in Star Trek. Dude - he was The Next Generation's Spock!

Cool. Yeah he was pretty good but let's not tread that path again. I want to talk, instead, about the other one. If you read the title it's fairly obvious - Lore. Quick stat-down for newcomers; he's Data's bro, uses contractions, bit mental, appears in four episodes (just) and introduces us to the Crystalline Entity. Y'see and we didn't even break the golden Thou Shalt Not Plot Synopsize rule. Tick that box.

So what about Lore? Well I like the guy if we cast aside that hideous Power Ranger costume the Borg made him wear in Descent. If Data had a family car, Lore would be tearing up the dust in a Ferrari with the law in hot pursuit. He's on the edge, sneaky; the Loki to Thor if you will. It's not that Lore is evil, he's a bit unhinged and it's not really his fault is it if we think back to his origins.

I suppose it's the classic evil twin story regurgitated to begin with but Lore is more than that - it's an unforgiving programming element, the seduction of emotion and just that little bit more human essence than his successive, less perfect brother. Indeed, Data's self-sacrifice in Nemesis is the final marker against his brother. While Data is willing to die for others, Lore remains a survivor, looking for another way out of a fix, the resourceful one of the pair (or three if you count B-4). It's Soong's desire for that perfect synthetic child which draws out the worst in Lore, creating a monster from the dream of android perfection. Indeed, Data could hardly be seen as perfection and maybe that's the point - perfection is impossible.

Maybe that's what marks him out as a more natural leader. He is willing to experiment, attempt new things that are a little bit dubious but help him personally. Ok, he's pretty selfish in that respect especially when it comes to his mutilation of the Borg in Descent, Part II however Data is far more neat and childlike in his investigations - comedy, beards, comedy beards, sneezing, Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare are all taken in as though through the eye and the understanding of an infant grasping them for the first time.

That might be more true in the earlier seasons and +Alex Boag-Munroe said the other day to me that it really ground just how much Data smiled in the first two years. Lore however always had that opportunity. What he lacked was the family and the fall-back. There was only ever himself he had to look out for and essentially it was down to Soong's programming he was a bit, well, psycho wasn't it?

Datalore introduced us to the "evil twin" and while it's not a classic we do get the understanding of what went "wrong" with the first model. Lore is the angry teenager of the Soong family, cast aside by his father and takes advantage of the less developed, younger sibling - but yet he's the exciting one, living on the edge and taking risks and doing deals. He thinks nothing of the safety of others to fulfil a goal and this seems to be a common factor if we look at the typical evil twin story that numerous TV series have done in the past. Hey, let's even give a nod to The Enemy Within and the twin Kirks.

Brothers on the other hand layered the Lore character nicely, showing him as even more slimy and deceitful than before. Not only does this absolutely showcase the brilliance of Spiner playing a trio of roles, mainly in the same scenes, but where he truly marks out the differences in Data and Lore. The darker twin has not necessarily evolved rather he's survived, clawed through existence to this moment.

Lore is the injured son (or plays as such for a short while) but there's always another motive, something he's calculating at the back of his mind that makes you just a little uneasy - and why the heck is everyone apart from Data always so happy to see him?! Lore himself mind is always happy, gaining another tactical edge over his brother with the theft of that shiny little emotion chip. While Data has no emotional (!) attachment to the item it's another moment that gets logged but you have to give credit to Lore and maybe in turn to Soong for creating a being that can deal with the range of human emotion and motivations so effortlessly. 

While it's not the best installment of the show, the seventh season opener Descent, Part II does bring finality to the loose Lore trilogy. Here that self-importance and singular determination to spread his wonderousness to others is truly fulfilled. He has followers, he has emotions and he has ultimate control over his lesser, more controllable brother. He is the true cult leader and when the story completes it is as though he has completed a journey as he is deactivated once more. Data's journey might be to become more human and finally grasp emotions however Lore's in this area should be to understand the emotions and gifts he has but his jealousy and selfish nature are always there, chiseling away to overrule him.

The role of Lore certainly lets Spiner open up the acting wings a little more and display just what he's capable of when given the chance. Data was perhaps the role for which he will more prominently be remembered but as excitement and intrigue go, Lore is the much more multi-faceted. He's the Equinox to Janeway's Voyager if you will and certainly for Spiner an opportunity to chew some scenery - and himself along the way. 

So yes, hope you had a great day there, Mr Spiner and let's not forget that Data wasn't all you brought to the Star Trek universe. 

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