Monday, May 17, 2010

Latest Issue of Star Trek Magazine Features Look at the Star Trek Movies

Each of Star Trek's 11 cinematic odysseys comes under the spotlight this month, as we present a one-stop guide to the voyages of the U.S.S. Enterprise on the big screen, from Admiral Kirk's encounter with V'Ger over 30 years ago to last year's blockbuster battle between his alternate self and the time-displaced Romulan Nero. With contemporary reviews, analysis and an illustrated cast list, you'll soon be able to tell your Khans from your Shinzons.

Guest star David Warner recalls working on the Star Trek: The Next Generation story "Chain of Command."

It was in Stratford that David Warner first met Patrick Stewart, whom he later starred alongside in The Next Generation's "Chain of Command, Parts I and II".

"When I was doing Hamlet in 1965, Patrick was just starting in Shakespeare," he remembers. "I was playing Hamlet and he played the Player King. I was on stage with him all the time when he did his speeches, and I was absolutely mesmerized. I just couldn't take my eyes off him. Over the years, I followed his career, and so it was a great thrill to see from a distance him doing Star Trek, and take off with that, and then of course being asked to do two of the episodes."

However, Warner's role as the despicable Cardassian interrogator Gul Madred only became his at the last minute. "I took over from somebody who fell out, at two or three days' notice," he reveals. "I couldn't learn the lines, because science fiction is like another language to me, so they very kindly wrote up a lot of the dialogue for me, so I had to read it on boards! I wasn't thinking at all about ‘acting' it. I was more concerned about getting the lines out!"

The scenes between Picard and Madred make for uncomfortable but intense viewing. "It's great to do," he enthuses. "To play scenes with an old mate, it's wonderful. I'm not against doing ensemble pieces, but within the context of a thinking person's action series, to have a two-hander like that - it works!

"But as I say, I was really more concerned about the lines being there! From what I gather, nobody has any idea that I was reading them."

Of his three Star Trek roles, Warner considers Madred his favorite. "Even though it was an episode of a TV drama, I felt my input with Patrick in The Next Generation was far more than in any of the big-budget films," he says. "It was a really important character, whereas in the films you seem to get swamped. When there are two of you playing a scene, it's far more fulfilling than when you're sitting on the deck of the Enterprise for a reaction shot.

Our regular Dispelling the Myths column this time looks at the Romulans and the Klingons - who are really "The Honorable Ones"?

There is a belief in Star Trek fandom that when the franchise returned to the screens for adventures in the 24th Century, it didn't just add to the existing mythos, but inverted some of it. Specifically, there is a belief that, in-between the original Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation, the attributes, codes and morals of the two big alien empires were deviously switched.

Allegedly the Romulans were once proud warriors with an admirable code of honor, while the Klingons were base thugs who scorned such concepts. Then along came TNG, and suddenly the Klingons are always portraying themselves as being ultra-honorable, while the Romulans are cast as sneaky and dishonorable thugs.

Even the very first book writing about the creation of the show, Gene Roddenberry and Stephen E. Whitfield's The Making of Star Trek, tells us that to the Klingons ‘honor is a despicable trait.' It looks pretty conclusive, on a casual first glance: proud, honorable Romulans and sneaky rule-breaking Klingons in the original series, switched for thuggish Romulan warmongers and proud Klingons thereafter.

In truth, we didn't really see enough of either race in the original series to sufficiently set in stone anything that could then be considered switched later. The Romulans only appear twice in the original series - three times if you count stock footage of a ship in "The Deadly Years" - compared to around 60 appearances in the later shows. Likewise the Klingons only appear in person in seven episodes of the original series, with over 100 appearances following in the later shows, and it is these later shows which focus on their honor.

It is easy to see how the perception came about. The main problem with interpreting these traits is that word ‘honor.' To most of the people reading this, and most of the people who made the various Star Trek series, ‘honor' means chivalric honor specifically. No doubt the Klingons would indeed find chivalric honor a complete waste of time, but chivalry is only one particular society's type of honor, not a synonym for honor overall...

Read the full stories in issue 26 of The Official Star Trek Magazine ­on newsstands May 11th, 2010.