Palin cites New Star Trek Series in Gun Rights Decision: “Everyone Had a Phaser”

Star Trek is enough reason for justifying the Supreme Court decision today, according to once VP nominee Sarah Palin.  Poised to become the new captain of the USS Steadfast (in UPN and Fox’s new Star Trek Series–see past entries here and here), Palin gave a speech today where she cited as precedent the popular science fiction series, aired between 1966-1969.  “Sidearms protected everyone.  Everyone had a phaser.  This is the future.  So, we thank the judges for remembering not only where we’ve been but where we’re heading,” she said today outside her Alaska home.  She showed the crowd her own handgun, which she claims has stopped fourteen robberies, six alone by her next door neighbor, writer Joe McGinniss.

Palin excited the gun rights lobby (which is near frothing already for Palin) by endorsing the Supreme Court decision and by linking it to popular culture.  Seventeen unidentified men and women held up their iPhone 4s after having googled “shooting death” to show how many gun death entries are in the news for just today, June 28th.   “Those really effective background checks keep guns out of the hands of crazy people!” one of them shouted at Palin’s abrupt press conference.  [The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, an advocate for sensible gun laws, cite more than 100,000 people a year are the victims of a shooting]

Palin countered, “If it’s good enough for Star Trek, it’s good enough for the country that will be Star Trek one day.  After all, these are Americans in space.”

Bloggers have tried to explain the Federation of Planets to Ms. Palin (as she’s about to become a captain on the new series).   She twitters politely, “All captains of the series were American, everyone spoke English, and the military was in charge of ‘exploration.’  This makes it an American ship in space.  How much more American can you get than U.S.S.?”

The writers, once thrilled at writing the conservative adventures of rogue captains, were shocked at Ms. Palin’s link-up between Roddenberry’s vision of peace and her own gun-toting agenda.  “She’s obviously not familiar with the ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise’ alternate timeline.  Sidearms on the bridge crew were a sign that things had gone bad—not good.”

Palin is certainly a rogue Trek actor for the writers.  She has cajoled the writers into scripting outright sedition on the bridge.  “This is how real, honest people would talk if their President was a weak-kneed, educated liberal facing this kind of disaster.”  She refers to the Reckoning–that portentious, ominous, apocalyptic thing hurtling towards Earth–that is the tension backbone of the new series, Star Trek: Reckoning.

Writers have committed to one season.  My inside man in this writing group says, “I don’t think the fans could sustain the series past one season.  Just seeing how a conservative rogue group would f**k up the whole Federation would make them cry out for the Reckoning just to clean house.”

Another writer says, “We’re treating it as comedy.  And the best thing is that Sarah [Palin] is taking it dead seriously.”

The team of producers and the director, Chris Berman, want it that way.  “I think Palin, Gingrich, Cheney, Limbaugh–they’ll be able to pull it off because they believe in their beliefs so much.  It won’t even have to be acting.  And yeah, I agree with the sentiment of the writers— fans will be torn between which is worse for the Federation–conservatives or a giant meteor, wave, whatever coming to wipe out human civilization.  Both alternatives wipe out civilization.  It’s really the lady or the tiger, isn’t it?”

About the Trek reference in today’s speech, Berman says, “Any reference to Trek in popular culture helps the show.  When we air this series, Palin and the others will have done a huge favor to us by just being themselves and by mentioning the series.  We’re trying to give them as much creative control in this as possible.  Since we know nothing about what conservatives would actually DO with a starship, we’re learning from them how to go about creating these characters.  We’re looking at this as a cultural and creative exchange.”

He added, “Nothing is more alien to us than the Tea Party.”

Note: all content is intended as parody.  That said, Star Trek: Reckoning would be very interesting indeed.  References to Joe McGinniss in no way implies he is guilty of robbery, only implying that Sarah Palin would think he was.  

For NY Times editorial on how wrong the courts were.  

Gingrich cast as dreaming D’mi in new Star Trek Series

As a follow up to my last post about Star Trek: Reckoning, the hot, new, nearly top-secret co-produced ST series from Paramount and Fox, none other than Newt Gingrich has come aboard!  It’s very rare for working politicians to take time out to create good television for honest folks in the Midwest and the Plains, but it looks like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich will be on board.  

From my insider at Paramount, “The producers had actually wanted an actor, at first.  Sarah Palin’s the one who pushed the idea of Newt, saying in effect, that he ‘has the chops’.”  

I have to say, it’s an inspired choice.  Not an actor, but a politician—those are close, so I can see Paramount going for that.  But Gingrich is, shall we say, kind of from another era.  Most popular from the 90s and the man who brought us the doomed “Contract with America” and subsequently hijacked the presidency of Bill Clinton.  Now, I remember that.  But I don’t think most people actually remember Newt Gingrich, so it might not be a problem.  They won’t confuse his character with any thing of substance he might have done in the past.

Sometimes actors on Star Trek have such long-standing previous sci-fi characters (I’m looking at you Scott Bakula) that viewers can’t see them as something new.  I know this hindered my viewing of ST:Enterprise—kept waiting for Al to pop in (although watching Dean Stockwell in BSG, i completely forget he was ever Al on QL).  So, it may be that no one actually remembers anything important that Gingrich did, allowing him to kind of slip into this role and establish himself anew.  I mean, did anything he did really amount to much?  So that might allow him to start over as a character!

Just to recap: Palin will play Capt. Nalia Fergus of the USS Steadfast; she’s part of a group of rogue commanders who believe the dream prediction of the D’mi, that “the Reckoning”  will destroy the Federation.  Seeing a Federation President they don’t trust, nor believe he can protect everyone, they form an alliance to counter the Reckoning before it happens.  

Gingrich will play the D’mi (unnamed as of April 8) on-board the Steadfast, who lives in two worlds at the same time.  One is the dream and one is reality.  He is constantly unsure which reality he is living in.

“Which makes Gingrich perfect,” my writer friend at Paramount said, “He has a bit of experience nowadays with living in both fantasy and reality.”  He’s referring, of course, to Gingrich’s latest gaffe, putting words in Obama’s mouth that he never said.  Gingrich’s character will try to give advice to Capt Fergus (Palin) about how to avoid the Reckoning.  But he rarely ever sleeps—sleeping triggers the shift to the other reality–and so when he sleeps in one reality, he awakens in the other.

A great tension that the writers are building in is that he will begin to give information that proves false—about halfway through Season One.  He will claim that something Fergus has done has altered the future so that a “certain” event won’t happen the same, but in effect, there’s an idea that he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  I don’t even think that he knows that he lies; he’s a bit overwhelmed by the attention, by the focus, and by his power to direct Fergus, and the ships that follow her.  

I’m excited by this new Series.  I asked my friend why Paramount is delaying the formal announcement of Star Trek: Reckoning.  I’ve already had several people ask me when there will be more confirmed reports–and several people are searching on google for it.  

He says, “They’re testing the market right now, seeing what Red State America thinks about the idea.  They’ve never done a conservative focused Star Trek like this before.  They don’t know if they’ll have the audience.  But they’re basing it off of O’Reilly and Beck, Hannity and Coulter, and the current Tea Party constituency.  They figure people are tired of the way things have been done–and in that way, might be tired of Star Trek the old way—and want to see an overthrow, a rebellion—at least in science fiction, if they can’t have it in fact.”

I wonder if TV can play on that desire, that hope, of a people to want change so badly that they will accept the fictionalized version.  

“Well, you’ve seen The West Wing?  That was a George W. Bush era show–don’t tell me that wasn’t fantasy aimed at folks who wanted change!”  

He has a point.  

What I’m really interested in is this:  if the rogue group actually overthrows the Federation, will they make it more vulnerable to everyone else?  Will they make alliances with the Romulans?  The Borg?  Or will they naively think they can do better?  Fergus isn’t a seasoned captain; the D’mi doesn’t know what reality looks like; and they’re following a culture that believes in a bad dream….  they are hyping a monster that doesn’t exist.  

…will watching ST: Reckoning be akin to watching a train wreck in slow motion?

Palin Eyes Role in New Star Trek Series

Fresh from her announcement that she’s accepting a position on Fox comes bigger leaked news.  Former governor Sarah Palin is in negotiations for a lead role on a new Star Trek series, tentatively titled Star Trek: Reckoning, going into production this fall, ready to be aired on both Paramount and Fox in the Fall of 2011.  

If she accepts, Palin would play Captain Nalia Fergus of the USS Steadfast, one of the ships convinced of an upcoming battle which the Federation won’t take seriously.  Unlike past series, this series concentrates on multiple ships and the Federation–so some political intrigue.  Palin, of course, has to be a “rogue” captain! [I love it!]  

The series takes place after Voyager, with an expansive Federation, a bit more difficult to govern, a bit too relaxed.  The title, Reckoning, refers to an Armageddon-like disaster predicted by the D’mi, a culture that sees dreams as predictions of the future.  They’ve had a collective, planet-wide dream that involves the whole Federation, but very few are listening.  The show is about their attempts to convince the Federation to do something about an impending attack that could destroy multiple sectors.  In the premiere and first season, they are able to convince three ships, who will work tirelessly through the series to undermine the current administration, all while trying to create alliances with other ships through deception, manipulation and controlling the media.

The President of the Federation, a very powerfully-minded, but peaceful, Betazed, is unphased by a dreaming culture predicting doom.  Fergus, believing D’mi predictions, forms an underground alliance with two other ships (writers are arguing over names like the USS Sun Tzu, USS Pearl Harbor, and the USS Buchanan) to protect Section 001, Earth.  This show will be about a bit of infighting in the Federation.  

“They’ve done it before,” says one of the writers.  “The TNG episode, Conspiracy, the Maquis, and the Dominion, and even the threats of Species 8472–but these were mostly alien attacks, people posing as humans.  The Maquis sequence really opened up the door to talking about multiple sides within the Federation–or even political parties,” say writers who want to remain anonymous till Paramount’s April announcement. 

Still they’re excited about the series.  And about these rogue captains.  “They really distrust the President.  He’s too peaceful.  He can read their minds–which they hate.  He’s a negotiator, a diplomat, at a time when they feel like war is coming. The constant question on the table will be–are the D’mi’s dreams really accurate, do they have a political agenda, and at what moment do you take matters into your own hands?”  

One of them quipped, “It’s kind of like writing a series in the Mirror Universe, except this one is bad.”

The coolest thing is that Fergus’ first officer is Commander Nuuk, a walking, talking polar bear from some ice planet.  Earth apparently dropped off its Arctic species on this planet (yeah, climate change wiped them out on Earth) and they mixed with the indigenous life there–very similar–so you get a polar bear.  Fergus used to hunt bears.  Nuuk doesn’t know that, so this is going to be a source of tension, as she doesn’t want to admit it, but thinks of him as a trophy first officer.  She’s gonna have a D’mi onboard too–who has these waking dreams–who’s living in both reality and fantasy all the time, but can’t tell the difference.  

These are three ships full of conservatives.  I do think that a ship of conservatives gives the writers what they’ve always waited for–the ability to write in closeted gay characters.  There won’t be much open romantic intrigue because everyone’s uptight, not wanting to be revealed.  

Palin has expressed interest, according to one former aide in Alaska.  “She likes the character.  It’s so much like her–bold, aggressive hunting woman, now commanding a starship of conservatives, who move with her every command.  They fight for Earth, and they seek to protect the planet from its own bad judgment.”  

Palin is reportedly brushing up on Federation policies, which like Kirk, she will ignore and bend at will, and she’s learning Klingon–just in case.  She does have some concerns.  She’s asked to be written in as a mother, with small children on board the ship.  She wants to be assured of a four year gig (no death in season two).  She also wants to have her own ghost writer write in folksy things she would normally say, but now in a command-sort of way.”  

Paramount and Fox want to give her as much latitude as possible.  “We’ve never been able to pick up this demographic.  Usually we just get intelligent, science-oriented, techno geeks with a liberal, compassionate viewpoint.  We have the potential to scoop Red State America–the O’Reilly viewers,” says one assistant producer.  “We wouldn’t just have a fan base–we’d have an electorate!” 

McCain, a trekkie since William Shatner was a child, has said he’d always wondered how the Earth in Star Trek ever resolved pluralistic ideas.  “Never made sense to me why everyone agreed on Earth.  What happened to pluralism?”  And he has a point.  How did this series eliminate differences of opinions?  Where did the all Israeli ship go?  Or the Chinese ships?  Where were the rivals to get spaceships into space?   Did they sabotage each other?  Surely there was more fighting before we conquered space.  This series, McCain indicates, will “bring back the lipstick in realistic.”  No one knows exactly what he means.  

It does bring up interesting possibilities for the writers.  Could they keep the Star Trek fan base intact–those rooting for the Federation?  But those fans just might like a quirky, folksy rogue captain–plucky enough to cause a conservative revolution.  

Palin as Captain of her own ship?  What do you think?  She does wear red well.

 

 Shatner giving Palin the baton, the formal written permission to be as “rogue as she wants to be.”

____________________________

(this is, of course, a parody.  A wink to Sarah Palin.)

 

For more on the new Star Trek Series, don’t miss these entries:  Gingrich as D’mi, and Palin citing Star Trek to promote Gun Rights  and Red State America Wants Their Star Trek

Yes, Captain Kirk has a Character Arc

chris-pine-as-captain-kirkI don’t want anyone to miss this great discussion that Dave Wesley mentioned as a response to my earlier post.  He said that we ought to check out the discussion of character arcs in the new reboot of Star Trek

Frankly it’s a great discussion about writing.  Here’s KFM (Rogers) initial premise (SPOILERS):

“Captain James T. Kirk, the protagonist of the movie, does not have the development executive’s beloved “character arc.” He has no arc at all.

He starts as an arrogant sonovabitch, and becomes a slightly more motivated arrogant sonovabitch. He does not learn to sacrifice, he does not learn to work well with others — he takes over the goddam ship. He’s right all the time, he never doubts he’s right, and the only obstacle he occasionally faces is when other people aren’t sharp enough to see how frikkin’ awesome — and right — he is as quickly as they should.”

But read the responses and you’ll see a lot of varied ideas on character arcs.  Me, I think Kirk has a character arc.  (And I actually posted it on the responses to his post)–but in a nutshell:

Yes, he’s a sunovabitch through the whole movie, but he is a listless, aimless SOB at first, and he has to find purpose. He never thought his fighting, his rebelling, his go after the baddies ideas fit in well with tight-shirt Starfleet, ultra PC. And yet, it is a Kirk who transforms Starfleet.

Starfleet needs a person who thinks with his gut, and Kirk jumps into that role.  Both old Spock and Pike serve as catalysts to transform brawler Kirk into Captain Kirk.

I like Pike’s speech to him early in the movie:  “Have you ever felt you could be something more?”

I think this is one of the lines that resonates for the viewer.  Don’t we all wonder who we could be if we had the opportunity?  And the line from Spock’s past:  “You will always be a child of two worlds, fully capable of living in either one. “ And Spock has to make the decision where to be fully, and which side of himself to favor–Human or Vulcan.

The movie is about Destiny, and it screws around with time travel to ask the larger question about whether destiny is fixed or fixable.  I think the movie promotes fixable.

The whole discussion is worth reading, but here’s a great later post:

Both have arcs, and the arcs are definitely related because they are almost mirror images of each other. Even Kirk’s dead father is a mirror image of Spock’s dead mother.

Their arcs also cross each other when Kirk tries to gain control of the starship by picking a fight with Spock. Except this time, he doesn’t try to stage mutiny, but rather talks to Spock to get him to resign his post. Following this fight, Spock realizes that he has emotions and he can’t control them. At the end of the scene, Kirk realizes that if he is to be Captain, he has to stop being impulsive and Spock realizes that he can not be Captain with his spasms of rage, and that he will never be able to ignore his emotions.

The movie is good, but I think there’s a lot to discuss about how the movie moved towards good through the writing of characters we thought we already knew.  And character arc is important.  I don’t think that Abrams achieved his great story by NOT giving Kirk an arc–because Kirk is not static.  Kirk learns.  He learns how to adapt t0 and also transform Starfleet protocol to fit him–thereby creating the James T. Kirk of the TOS that we know, and the Starfleet that surrounds him.

In some ways, we learn a lot about how Kirk and Starfleet function with each other, and in spite of each other.

Star Trek: Playful, Exciting, Character-driven

spaceball-12947135322_30ab2b2c4fStar Trek has come a long way and just when you thought there were no surprises left, they show up.  I’ll admit, the last few Star Trek movies left me cold.  Nemesis bombed because the writer tried to copy too much from ST2 but without any of the heart.  Insurrection was a trite story line.  Abrams’ Star Trek reinvigorizes the franchise by giving us both old and new–it completely satisfies this Trekkie.

If you go, you will get a thrill ride, and you will also be reintroduced slowly to characters you thought you knew. Yes, everyone looks young and the sets look like Apple designed them, but that’s what it means to restart the series.  You will get your money’s worth from this movie.  Most people know these characters even if they aren’t fans–but they are reintroduced to us here in great detail.  And there’s lots in here for fans of the show–little touches that show that the writers know the whole series.

I’ll try to keep out all of the surprises.  But you already know that there is time travel involved, and it shows up at the very beginning.  And because of that, events are altered.  “Our destinies are not what they would have been,” says a young Spock.  This is okay.  Star Trek has thrived on the “might have been” storylines.  The Mirror Universe got a lot of play in nearly every incarnation of Star Trek; Tom Riker was a might-have-been Will Riker; Voyager had the two part episode “Year of Hell” and the Finale which changed and altered timelines.  Even ST: First Contact imagined a Borg-filled Earth.  So, it’s nothing illegal–it just gives the writers room to wiggle.  They got to play a little with the histories–legally –because a villain altered the timeline.

But that’s the premise.  The cool part of the movie is not what they changed, but what stayed the same.  We get to see some fine actors inhabit these characters and manage to put a bit of the former actor’s style into it.  You watch Chris Pine–slowly he becomes a bit of William Shatner; Quinto is a fantastic Spock.  I swear I can hear Kelley in this new McCoy!  Uhura shows her inner Nichols in a turbo-lift.  Sulu, Chekhov and Scotty all have their moments of channeling as well.  But the writers also let the actors play—play with these histories and parts.

The plot allows each character to be introduced separately. This is a brilliant maneuver.  instead of just dumping them all on the stage at once, we get to know each character in their context.  We meet Kirk and Spock as children, Uhura in a bar, McCoy on a shuttlecraft, Scotty in a Starfleet Outpost, Sulu as a pilot and in a fight, and Chekhov in a funny homage to ST4.

I wish Wolverine would have been this good.  This had just as much action as Wolvie, but ST had a unified plot, and well-developed characters we thought we knew completely.  In the same way Wolvie failed–by being a prequel with no surprises at all–Abrams managed to give us a bit of parallelism in the lives of these characters and the ones we already know.  And there are so many great and interesting surprises–what ifs–that are allowed to play out.

This is what revision should be.  The series was great, but Myth can revise a story and get to its essence, even if the details have somewhat changed.  I can accept both Roddenberry’s original and Abrams’ version–because this isn’t an arbitrary version.  It fits in with the timeline because Nero changed the timeline.  I’m cool with that.  Just as I’m cool with Janeway’s original arrival back on Earth, and “Yesterday’s Enterprise” (a fan favorite).

And J.J. Abrams, a big high-five to you and the writers from a long-time fan!  When I was seven, I took my photo with the wax figure of Mr. Spock, my dad on the other side of Spock.  I don’t have a costume–but I was once Spock at Halloween.  I don’t know Klingon, nor do I collect the series, or any of the paraphenalia, but I loved the stories, and I recognize Star Trek as American Mythos.  You’ve done a great job at bringing that to the surface.  Well done.  Do a sequel.

What Will You Do with this Symbiont You’ve Been Given?

jadzia_dax-002Recently saw a rerun of Deep Space Nine where Jadzia Dax is reviewing a possible Trill initiate. Just to clarify: Trills have the opportunity to join with a symbiotic species which will live through many hosts. Imagine a worm that lives off you, but also provides you with the lifetimes of all its previous hosts and the knowledge it’s accumulated. There are millions of Trills, but only a few thousand of these symbiants, so there’s quite a competition for them. It’s an honor to be joined. The host’s personality and the symbiant’s personality alters when they are joined, and they become a new person. “The two become one.” But because the symbiant has lived such a long time, its personality is pretty strong as an influence, and Trills try to choose for a host a pretty strong personality who has defined themselves before joining—not someone who has no personality or desires–someone who offers nothing to the symbiant, nor to society, but who just wants to live off the symbiant (ironic).

In “Playing God” in Season Two, Jadzia finds herself reviewing a potential host. The problem is that he is eager to get the nod from her, but not to add much to a symbiant’s life. He has no passions, no plans for his life. He is living his father’s dream–not his own.

I thought about this. Here was a man who was not doing anything with his life. He was hoping that the symbiant would give him a life….

How many times do we do that in a relationship? We cancel out ourselves to make sure there is room for someone else. We stop living because we want to be “joined” with someone. We’d do anything to be “joined” including becoming what they want…. and yet we forget that we could add to the mix too.

People are fascinating. We are attracted to them because they are fascinating. Even the most “serving” personality has thoughts and dreams that happen to no one else. We all can hear the death knell on a relationship when one person tries to eliminate what makes them “them” in order to get “joined.” And we all hear wedding bells when two strong interesting individuals get together–as two strong people, bringing something to the relationship.

So, what will you do with this life you have been given? And what will you contribute to your joining? How will you contribute to the world? What are your passions? Do this, find this, before you get “joined”—-you will contribute a lot to your joining–whether it’s a marriage, a workplace, a family, a faith.

Hmmm. We forget that sometimes–we Christians. God is not here to hollow out his creation and make them clones of Jesus. He needs something to work with. That’s why you gotta be the best Trill you can be as a host for such a cool symbiant. (Oh my, I’ve surely crossed a line—Jesus as Symbiant….) But I think it works. I’ve met too many Christian young adults who are empty vessels–no personality–save worry about not doing the right thing—who are hiding who they are and I think they get this message from well-meaning folks and colleges. Hey, good men and women, God doesn’t want “you” to be a robot, a device that he manipulates, downloads His thoughts and desires—he enjoys a cool person to talk with, to “join” with.

Give him one. The more interesting, the better.