Home, James, and don’t spare the dilithium!
The sad loss of Leonard Nimoy is a good time to pay homage to the original Star Trek series, never off our screens and now digitally remastered. Here are three things about Trek-world that I find fascinating:
From Vejur to Nomad to Landru, the universe encountered by the Enterprise is littered with fascistic hardware dedicated to imposing martial law and exerting mind control over glassy-eyed sentient beings, or else rooting out and destroying ‘imperfection’ (later modified, in the case of cybernetic hive mind the Borg, to ‘assimilating’ other species). But when Nomad (originally a probe launched by Earth in ‘the early 2000s’), swans about the Enterprise waging eugenics war on ‘inconsistent biological life forms’, James T confounds the pesky know-all with a few simple paradoxes until it starts to steam like a boiled kettle, moans ‘error, error, cannot compute!’ and then, caught in the loop of its own imperious logic, politely self-destructs. Kirk performs the same nifty trick with Landru. Brilliant.
Is that a tricorder in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Women have made it into space aboard the fleet’s flagship, but they still have to dress like cocktail waitresses, flutter their falsies and whimper, ‘I’m frightened, Captain.’
Meanwhile, it can be logically deduced (in a galaxy where split infinitives abound) that every planet with a complement of females has gravity. How else would those two strips of Bacofoil stay in place? This led my dad to speculate that it must also be nice and sunny whence these limpid-eyed handmaidens hail, ‘otherwise, wouldn’t she own at least one warm jumper?’
Getting back to Nomad’s pursuit of perfection and eradication of anything less, it concludes that Mr Spock ‘functions efficiently’, finds ‘the primitive’ Scottie not irredeemable, but gets all hot under the circuit boards on meeting Lieutenant Uhura, declaring ‘this unit is a mass of conflicting impulses. It cannot be reordered.’
‘That unit,’ declares Mr Spock, arching perfectly plucked brow, ‘is a woman.’
Says a lot for ST that even now, I find that funny.
Life, Jim, but not as we know it
From polystyrene rocks to beehive wigs and sliding doors that don’t quite hiss on sync, ST is the spiritual progenitor of Acorn Antiques, and all the better for it. Some great creatures featured too. Who can forget the lumbering Gorn, too busy keeping his enormous Frank Sidebottom-sized head from overbalancing the rest of him to catch up with Captain Kirk in a game of interplanetary cat and mouse over polystyrene-strewn hill and dale. Then there’s omnipotent toddler Trelayne, who, with the universe his to command, decides to dress up like Liberace, capture a few human dullards and torture a harpsichord while sniffing camply ‘you will behave yourselves hereafter, won’t you? Or I shall be very, very angry.’
His foppish petulance and gavel-waving hypocrisy foreshadow Q, the omnipotent giant stroppy toddler who bedevils Captain Picard in The Next Generation. Lovely conceit, though. Power corrupts. Absolute power turns you into a foot-stomping pre-teen who never asked to be born and won’t go to bed until he feels like it.
It’s been said many ways, many times, but the appeal of Star Trek will endure forever – as will the legacy of Leonard Nimoy.