“Star Trek Discovery” coming to CBS All Access in 2017!

CoFQpb4XgAEGpwgBryan Fuller has announced some details about the new Star Trek show coming in 2017 to CBS All Access.  The title of the new show will be Star Trek Discovery and the ship will be the USS Discovery NCC-1031.  The design is heavily based on the Star Trek Planet of the Titans Enterprise that Ralph McQuarrie designed back in the 70’s.  Check out the official tweet & preview video below!  Fuller also said that Star Trek Discovery will not be not episodic. Instead the writers are telling stories like a novel, chapter by chapter.  He also confirmed that it’s set in the prime universe (not the Kelvin timeline)! 

I think the name is a wonderful tribute to the Discovery Space Shuttle, currently on display in the Smithsonian.  But it also speaks to the best of Star Trek– the sense of adventure and exploration!

Of course now I have many many more questions.

  1. When is the show set?  This doesn’t look like a TNG era ship.
  2. Who is in the crew? I can’t wait to hear about casting!
  3. Fuller also said that Janeway is his favorite captain!  Here’s hoping for a female captain in Star Trek Discovery!

 

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Star Trek Beyond : In Theaters NOW!

IMG_3511Hello!  This is Mike reporting.  Ben and I went to see Star Trek Beyond this weekend.  I hope to do a full review post later, but I just want to say I LOVED IT!!   It really focused on the character relationships– characters that we’ve known for 50 years so clearly we have strong feelings about these people.  As hardcore fans, this crew is like part of our family.  Star Trek Beyond respects these family members.  Let’s just say, I teared up a couple of times.

The moment when Sulu’s family greats him at the spacedock… I’m still overwhelmed.  It was a simple scene that means A LOT for gay Trekkie.

Bottom line– GO SEE STAR TREK BEYOND TODAY!!

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The Big Chair

Bryan Fuller tweeted out what we assume is a picture of the Captain’s chair for the 2017 tv show!  Here it is!

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JJchairIt looks great, right?!  I love the wide arms- plenty of room for control panels.  It seems to be inspired by the Kelvin timeline USS Enterprise chair.  The more I look at this bridge the more I like it.  That include’s Pine-Kirk’s command chair.  I love the width of it!  It really “commands” the room.  I’d love to know what the controls on the arms do.  Bottom line– it’s a great chair on a great modern bridge.

VoyChairWith this posting, I decided it might be fun to take a look back at previous captain’s chairs.  Some are better than others.  I mean, poor Captain Janeway had to share one computer interface with her first officer.  It just doesn’t say “COMMAND”.  Maybe it’s because her seat isn’t centered in the bridge.  The CO and XO’s seats split center.

Build the Enterprise Captain's ChairCaptain Picard went thru a few chairs but the one that stands out is the USS Enterprise D chair from seasons 2-7 of The next Generation.  It looks comfy, right?  It’s only beige chair in our list, that’s for sure.  By itself that color choice might look odd, but in place on the bridge it fits right in.  The D bridge was designed to look comfortable and welcoming.  It was a ship of exploration on a mission to make peaceful contact with new species.  A comfy bridge makes perfect sense.

captain_kirk_chair_beauty_shotBy far the most famous command chair is Captain Kirk’s from The Original Series. This chair was built from an actual executive office chair from the 60’s.  Of course it was modified, but it still keeps that mid century design aesthetic.  This is the chair a young Mike Jones used to pretend he had.  I even make mock-ups of the control panels and taped them to the arms of my Mom’s recliner. This is a classic. It’s here to stay. I just wish it had a head rest (like the one if “Mirror Mirror” does).

340584_10101051236430835_2010239513_oOf course there are many more captains chairs from the TV shows, the movies, etc.  Picard upgrades to a dark red leather chair in the Enterprise E.  Sisco had a nice chair in the Defiant that had free-standing control consoles on both sides.  That was a cool idea.

So- which is my personal favorite?  I have to go with Kirk’s classic chair!  It’s held up in pop culture for 50 years and isn’t going anywhere soon!

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Sky Cinema releases new “Ultimate Star Trek Crew” video

Check out this awesome Star Trek video from #SkyCinema in the UK – boldly going where no channel has gone before…

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Mike’s Ranking of the Trek Movies

every-star-trek-movie-posterStar Trek Beyond comes out this week!!!  Are you excited?!?  I know I am!  In preparation for the new movie (#13 to be exact) I’ve been watching the entire Trek movie canon. It’s been a fun journey and I thought I’d rank the 12 films here.  This is entirely my personal preference– I’m not a film critic, just a trekkie.  🙂

The Worst

startrek-v-kirk-spock-mccoy12. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier – By far the worst Star Trek film.  But Star Trek is kind of like Pizza.  Even when it’s bad it’s pretty good.  There are some great scenes in this film- especially with Kirk, Spock, & Bones around the campfire.

Sovereign_Crew_Quarters11. Star Trek Nemesis Often called the film that killed the franchise, the main problem with Nemesis is often put squarely on the director, Stuart Baird.  He lacked an understanding of the characters and Roddenberry’s universe.  Still, it’s better than V.

Star-Trek-3-Kirk10. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock – Honestly, the only reason I watch this film is that it bridges the gap between II & IV and without it Spock’s journey is incomplete.

 

The Good

main-star-trek-into-darkness9. Star Trek Into Darkness – Again, this film has its moments but overall doesn’t fit into the Star Trek universe.  Meant as an homage to Star Trek II, the film borrows too much of its plot from the classic.  It feels more like an issue of the IDW Star Trek comic book series than as a major motion picture.

o-STAR-TREK-INSURRECTION-facebook8. Star Trek Insurrection – I really struggled with where to put this film on the list.  It could go much higher, actually.  It holds up as a really good 2 hour episode of Star Trek TNG.  But lacks that special something that makes a good motion picture.

Star-Trek-Generations-19947. Star Trek Generations – This was the first Star Trek film I saw in the movie theatre.  It holds a very special place in my heart because of that.  I love seeing Kirk and Picard working together.  Honestly, sentimentality puts it so high on the list.  I mean, my god, the Enterprise D looks AMAZING on the big screen!!  Sadly, it’s destroyed in the film.

The Great

ST_1L6. Star Trek (2009) – The first 10 minutes of this film are the most emotionally powerfully Trek on film.  Director JJ Abrams does a great job bringing Star Trek to a new generation.  It would be much higher on the list if 1) the plot didn’t rely so heavily on unbelievable  conveniences or lazy writing 2) the engineering room didn’t look like a brewery and 3) the villain was developed better.

StarTrekTMP015. Star Trek The Motion Picture – Some people call this “Star Trek The Motionless Picture” because it’s a high concept slow moving intellectual film.  This is pure Roddenberry, baby!

 

voyagehome4. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – Most non-trekkies (can we call them muggles?) would site this one as their favorite.  My husband calls it “the one with the whales”.  This is Trek comedy at its best!  And it has a nice little environmentalist message in the end.

The Best

stfc3. Star Trek First Contact – By far the best of the TNG movies, First Contact proves that Picard’s crew has what it takes on the big screen.  It’s thrilling, funny, scary, and all around perfection.  My only problem with this film is the villain.  The Borg are the ultimate Star Trek villain, but the creation of the Borg Queen undercuts what makes the Borg so scary.  They are terrifying because they cannot be reasoned with.  They are a hive mind- a mass of being with one single thought and goal.  They are not conflicted, they are Borg.  Paring all that down into a Queen makes them much more vulnerable.

maxresdefault2. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – This is my Star Trek!  I didn’t catch this movie in the theatre- but I owned on VHS as soon as it came out.  I was 12 at the time and I was OBSESSED with The Undiscovered Country.  I wore out that VHS tape.  I used to move my mom’s recliner into the middle of the living room and pretend it was Captain Sulu’s chair in the open scene.   When the shockwave hit the USS Excelsior I would throw myself onto the couch and hell “TURN HER INTO THE WAVE!”.   Years later this film still holds up.  Now  I understand the parallels with the cold war and Nicholas Myer’s brilliant direction.  Now I get teary eyed at the end when each actor’s signature signs off.

5-things-you-might-not-know-about-star-trek-ii-wrath-of-khan-30th-anniversary1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn – I don’t mean to sound like cliché but Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn is the ultimate Star Trek film.  Period.  The credit goes to Nicholas Myer and producer Harve Bennet who took the leftovers from The Motion Picture & a tiny budget and relaunched the franchise helping it to fulfill its potential.

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George Takei Clarifies…

In other news, George Takei has clarified his statement on Sulu being gay on Star Trek Beyond.  Most media outlets quoted him as being “disappointed” but the reality of his opinion is more complicated than that.  I’m going to post his entire statement here.

Good morning from Montana! I’ve been here relaxing on vacation, but have noticed that many of you have been following the “gay Sulu” story and wanted to know why I’m being such a sourpuss. I’m writing to set the record “straight,” if you will.

When the news first broke, I gave a lengthy telephone interview, but the headlines have been misleading. Apparently, controversy makes for better sales! Let me be clear: I am not disappointed that there is a gay character in Star Trek. On the contrary, as I made clear, I am delighted that the Star Trek franchise has addressed this issue, which is truly one of diversity. It is thrilling to know that future generations will not see LGBTs go wholly unrepresented in the Trek universe.

On the specific question of Sulu being gay, when I was first approached with the concept, I responded that I hoped instead that Gene Roddenberry’s original characters and their backgrounds would be respected. How exciting it would be instead if a new hero might be created, whose story could be fleshed out from scratch, rather than reinvented. To me, this would have been even more impactful. While I understand that we are in an alternate timeline with the new Trek movies, for me it seemed less than necessary to tinker with an existing character in order to fulfill Gene’s hope of a truly diverse Trek universe. And while I am flattered that the character of Sulu apparently was selected as an homage to me, this was never about me or what I wanted. It was about being true to Gene’s vision and storytelling.

Gene had wanted long ago to include LGBT characters, and we spoke personally and specifically about the lack of them. Gene understandably felt constrained by the sensitivities of the time. Some fifty years ago, even TV’s first interracial kiss, between Kirk and Uhura, caused our ratings to plummet as the show was censored across much of the South for that scene. Gene made a conscious decision to make the main characters heterosexual, and worked within those parameters to tell incredible stories that still challenged many cultural values of the time. So the lack of gay characters was not some oversight by him; it was a conscious decision with which he grappled. I loved Gene as a friend, and I respected his decision and the context under which he created these stories. On this 50th year anniversary of Star Trek, my hope was to honor his foresight and bravery, as well as his ability to create discussion and diversity despite these constraints.

But Star Trek has always pushed the boundaries and opened new opportunities for actors, including myself. I am eternally grateful to have been part of this incredible and continuing family. I wish John Cho well in the role I once played, and congratulate Simon Pegg on his daring and groundbreaking storytelling. While I would have gone with the development of a new character in this instance, I do fully understand and appreciate what they are doing—as ever, boldly going where no one has gone before. Star Trek will live long and prosper.

I for one am glad that he clarified his feelings and can understand where he’s coming from.  The character of Sulu means a lot to him and I’m sure from an actor’s perspective it rubs him the wrong way to see this change in Sulu.  But as a gay rights activist he must be happy that Star Trek is FINALLY getting on board with LGBT representation!

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Beyond Reactions are Beyond Great!

A few folks have been lucky enough to see a preview screening of Star Trek Beyond and they have taken to Twitter with some amazingly positive comments!  Here are a few highlights:

I am SO EXCITED to see this movie!  I have tickets for the 3 movie marathon at AMC Theatres on the 20th.  The only problem is I’m currently recovering from a back injury and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to sit in a theatre for 3 films in the row.  But nevertheless, if I don’t end up seeing it on the 20th I’ll certainly see it on the 22nd. 🙂  I look forward to posting a full review after that!

 

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Sulu is Gay! [Updated]

SuluIDICStar Trek Beyond has premiered in Australia and as we are all trying to avoid reading any spoilers, one little tidbit of information has leaked all over the internet.  According to Melbourne Herald Sun  Lt. Hikaru Sulu is the first main character in Star Trek history to be gay.  The creative team of Simon Pegg and Justin Lin decided to develop Sulu’s character in this way as a nod to George Takei, the original Sulu, who came out in 2005.  Since he came how, Mr. Takei has been a champion for gay rights & marriage equality.  Personally, he is one of my biggest heroes and I think this a wonderful tribute to him.

Takei has always said that he played the character of Sulu as a straight man.  That being said the character’s sexual orientation was never spelled out on screen.  We learned in Star Trek Generations that Sulu has a daughter named Demora Sulu but nothing about the rest of his family.  Perhaps the prime universe Sulu raised Demora with a same sex partner like the Kevin timeline Sulu is!

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 2.13.26 PMIn fact, the closest we come to learning about Sulu’s orientation is in the TAS episode “The Magicks of Megas-Tu”. The crew gains magical powers and Sulu conjures up a female companion.  It’s implied that this is a sexual companion– but again not really stated out loud.  Maybe he just wanted another person of Asian decent on the Enterprise!

Well now I’m dying to know more.  Who is his partner?  Are they married?  Is he in Starfleet?  Is he back home on Earth with little Demora?  I guess I’ll have to wait to see the movie to learn more.

—–UPDATE—–

 

According to the Hollywood Reporter, George Takei isn’t happy about Sulu being gay.

“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.

Apparently John Cho spoke with Takei about the idea a while back.  But George urged him and the new creative to write a new character instead of altering an existing one.  Here is a excerpt from the Hollywood Reporter article:

Takei tried to convince him to make a new character gay instead. “I told him, ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted.'” (Takei had enough negative experiences inside the Hollywood closet, he says, and strongly feels a character who came of age in the 23rd century would never find his way inside one.)

Personally, I’m just too excited about the existence of a gay character in Star Trek to really care that it’s retconning one of Gene Roddenberry’s original creations.  As I said before, the writers seemed to avoid putting Sulu in any sexual situations at all.  That left the door wide open for him to be gay.  I don’t think Sulu was ever in the closet either, I think we just never saw it come up on screen.

It pains me to disagree with one of my heroes, but I think George should let this go.  A gay Sulu is good news for Trek.  Moreover, its important for the LGBT community to be represented in Star Trek– a utopian vision of our future.  If things really will get better, as Gene Roddenberry predicted, I want to know that someone like me can be a part of that future!

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U.S.S. Enterprise Returns to Smithsonian

The original U.S.S. Enterprise was recently restored to her previous glory and upgraded with LED lights to be put on permanent display inside the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.  Let’s take a moment to look at her thru the years.

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Fan Film Future

I love Star Trek fan films!  Ever since I first stumbled up on Star Trek: New Voyages years ago I’ve followed this growing genre with glee.  In fact, as I pointed out in a blog entry made almost exactly one year ago- the fan films have largely carried the franchise during these years when there hasn’t been any new Star Trek television in production.

For years CBS & Paramount have turned a blind eye to these amateur productions.  Basically they have let us all play in their sandbox with little to know objections.  That is until Axanar overstepped and started calling itself an “professional independent film”.  You can read more about this over at axamonitor.com but to make a long story short CBS & Paramount sued Axanar and while that case is still pending they have released a set of guidelines for any future fan productions.

While I’m glad that fan films will continue to be allowed, and I hope we still get to see some amazing stuff come out in the future– I’m also rather disheartened by how strict these guidelines are.  Let’s take a look at the entire rulebook and I’ll make some comments.

Continue reading

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