Of late, I do not know why, but perhaps because the sun is scorching and the afternoons are very long, my thoughts keep returning to those Sunday mornings and especially to Star Trek. To the sensitive, emotional Dr. McCoy; to the emotions-tightly-under-control Mr. Spock; and to the oh-so-suave Captain James T. Kirk. [The way Shatner pronounced his name, you could virtually hear the dot after the T].
There was also the Russian Chekhov, to show that earth was one and the United States and the Soviet Union were pally-pally and part of the great galaxy. And, of course, the nominal Asian presence in Sulu. Though, some would argue that the treacherous Klingons in space were nothing but Russians with Japanese cast of features, these political analogies did not make an iota of difference to our enjoyment of the programme.
There were others too like Scotty, and Lieutenant Uhura, and those poor Red-Shirts who seemed to exist only to die and bring up the body-count. Of course, there were those who snidely remarked that Dr. McCoy too seemed to be there only to declare people dead rather than to save their lives. Incidentally, I did not realise that “He is dead, Jim” had become such an iconic line till my lap-top started showing it whenever google chrome crashed.
The Vulcan greeting was mandatory in school on Mondays and anybody who could do it with both hands was immediately deemed a Higher being. Furious whispers during classes meant that some point of the previous day’s episode was being debated. Phrases like ‘the final frontier’, ‘new worlds’, ‘where no man has gone before’ were used ad nauseam in literary compositions. And invariably, there would be a few Mr. Spocks in fancy dress competitions.
The sparring, the leg-pulling, the quarrels, and the reconciliation between characters, especially the primary three, kept us glued to our T.V. sets. Yes, I know it came almost twenty years late to the Indian shores, but so what? It was still a strange new world for us. And we Indians did crow a lot about former Miss India Persis Khambatta’s bald act as Lieutenant Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
In the late nineties, when Star Trek was telecast again, this time on Star World, India having acquired a plethora of T.V. channels, a young teenager, fresh out of school, asked me “Who are these weird looking people?” I knew then that a generational shift had taken place.
So many years down the line, some of them have crossed over to the final frontier (Sorry could not resist). DeForest Kelley whose death made it to prime-time News in India and whose obituary did read (yes, you guessed it right) – ‘He is dead, Jim‘; The, suaver-than- the suave Captain Kirk, Robert Lansing, who played the Space 007, Gary Sevens, in Assignment Earth and whose dialogue: “That, Miss Lincoln, is simply my cat” is unforgettable.
Gone too is Steve Ihnat, who played the tragically insane Captain Garth, in the melancholy named episode: Whom Gods Destroy. In fact, the wiki entry tells he died very young and had already passed-away by the time Star Trek was telecast in India. Sad.
Faded into oblivion are people like Skip Homeier who played Dr. Sevrin in search of paradise in The Way to Eden. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy hardly look like the same people. The uniforms look tacky and there is hardly anything special about the special-effects now. But so what? That series is still the only Star Trek for me.
And here’s a fan’s tribute to those years of Enterprise’s mission:
So, do you have fond memories of Star Trek too? Do share.
Submitted for Tuesday’s Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom.