Tag Archive: Star Trek


Review by C.J. Bunce

Walter Koenig may be best known as the youngest crewman on the original Star Trek, and he’s recounted his work and life during after the series and movies in his earlier memoirs Chekov’s Enterprise and Warped Factors: A Neurotic’s Guide to the Universe.  But there’s much more to this complex personality, and he shares his personal stories and his experience as an actor of stage and screen in New York and Hollywood in his new and updated autobiography, Beaming Up and Getting Off.  This is a continuation of Koenig’s Warp Factors, which covered his life only up to 1998, but the actor has updated his memoirs at age 83 with nearly 100 new pages looking back at a struggling actor making his way, including a filmography and a proposed but rejected story outline he submitted in 1990 for Star Trek VI.

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Like the split between fans of the third Star Wars trilogy and The Mandalorian, fans of Star Trek probably see themselves aligned to prefer either Star Trek: Discovery or Star Trek: Picard Or maybe there’s even a better contrast between Star Trek: Discovery’s first season worldbuilding vs. that series’ second season’s throwback concepts.  Was your favorite character the badass Mirror Universe Emperor Philippa Georgiou (formerly Federation Captain), played by the sly and fabulous Michelle Yeoh (the only actor onscreen who could actually immobilize someone in real life with her martial arts skill and the highest paid actress in Asia)?  Maybe it was the very Original Series-inspired engineer Jett Reno, who got the best dialogue and had the best style of any character in this decade of Trekdom, played by the brilliantly funny Tig Notaro?  Maybe it is the series lead, the very straight-laced Ant-Man and The Wasp-inspired sci-fi-meets-superheroine, Captain Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green?  Or maybe it is Anson Mount giving his own superhero performance as an early (and later?) famous Captain Christopher Pike of the familiar good ship Enterprise?  Turns out, if any one of the above fits the bill for you, Star Trek has something for you heading your way.

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picard

Now that the series has wrapped, a new hardcover book from Titan is taking a look at the long-awaited return of Patrick Stewart as beloved Star Trek Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Via a series of interviews with cast members and key crew, Star Trek: Picard–The Official Collector’s Edition provides fans of the CBS All Access streaming service show Star Trek: Picard with insight into the latest generation of Starfleet tales.  Now a retired admiral, Picard sets off on what might be a lost cause, protecting a young woman who may have ties to Data, the android who gave his life to save Picard the last time we saw the characters on the big screen in 2002’s Star Trek Nemesis.

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Looking for something to do at home?  Check out the Insight Editions Incredibuilds series of 3D wooden model kits.

As a follow-on to its Harry Potter crest, Hogwarts Express, Golden Snitch, and Time Turner, Firefly Serenity spaceship, Star Wars Death Star, Millennium Falcon, Star Destroyer, AT-AT, X-Wing Fighter, and TIE Fighter, Marvel’s Iron Man and Infinity Gauntlet, DC’s Flash helmet and Batmobile, Ghostbusters Ectomobile, Assassin’s Creed hidden blade, Disney Beauty and the Beast characters, and even Santa Claus, a monuments collection, and animal kingdom wooden model kits, Insight Editions has released its three latest 3D models, and they feature iconic ships from the Star Trek franchise.  Just released as part of its Incredibuilds line, you can choose from the original Federation starship U.S.S. Enterprise, the U.S.S. Enterprise-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation, or a Klingon Bird of Prey.  Or grab them all.

Recommended for ages 10 and up, each kit comes with a full-color 32-page softcover booklet discussing the specs of each vessel, the history, appearances, and notable Star Trek characters that have served on each ship, dozens of photographs from the TV series and movies, and a section discussing behind-the scenes materials.  Each is written by Dayton Ward, Star Trek novelist, all in the style of the fan-favorite technical sheets that once appeared in Star Trek magazines over the years.

 

Like all model kits, adult supervision is a good idea, and the need for patience to avoid breaking any parts–the nature of wood makes these easier to build than the more difficult to assemble and more breakable Metal Earth kit counterparts.  And these are a bit sturdier than the classic balsa wood kits you may be familiar with.  An easy to follow, fold-out instruction sheet is included for each ship, and a single sheet of laser-cut, FSC-certified wood with easy-to-assemble, punch-out pieces.

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PatrickPicard

Patrick Stewart is back again to save the day, and he’s doing it in two ways.  As Sir Patrick Stewart, he has begun reading sonnets and sharing his readings online.  And as one of our favorite Captains, Jean-Luc Picard, he’s sharing news of the ability for anyone to stream the first season of his new series Star Trek: Picard on the CBS All Access streaming service–free.

As most know, the master thespian was an actor in the Royal Shakespeare Company before appearing in Star Trek: The Next Generation and as Charles Xavier in the Marvel X-Men franchise films, including one of his landmark performances in James Mangold’s 2017 Oscar-nominated film, Logan.  On his social media (see his Instagram page here) Sir Pat has begun reciting a sonnet a day, in the hopes that “a sonnet a day keeps the doctor away.”  He has so far read Shakespeare sonnets 116, 1, and 2.

Patrick Stewart

And Tuesday he announced more good news for his Star Trek fans: “Our #StarTrekPicard season finale is Thursday, and starting today until 4/23, you can watch for free on @CBSAllAccess in the US with the code: GIFT.”  All you need to do is sign up for the streaming service and use the code GIFT.  Check out the CBS All Access website for full details.

Star Trek: Picard takes place twenty years after the events in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis, which resulted in the death of Brent Spiner’s character Data, and also after the events of Star Trek (2009), which resulted in the destruction of the planet Romulus.

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Connoisseur of all things Star Trek, author Dayton Ward is back next month with his next in-universe look at what makes the Federation tick in Star Trek Kirk Fu Manual: A Guide to Starfleet’s Most Feared Martial Art It’s a comical look at everyone’s first (or second) favorite Captain, in his familiar 1960s (or 23rd century) uniform and scene stealing stances, rendered for the willing student or old-school fan by artist Christian Cornia.  Providing a how-to manual of some of Captain James T. Kirk’s more eccentric hand-to-hand combat moves, it gives you some step-by-step instruction in being cool like Kirk, complete with excerpts from his personal log.

Who exactly is the Kirk Fu Manual for?  It’s for those who listened to our recommendations of Ward’s past humorous inside looks at the franchise, seen in his Hidden Universe Travel Guide to Vulcan (reviewed here at borg) and his Hidden Universe Travel Guide to the Klingon Empire (reviewed here).  And it’s exactly the right gift for your office party swap when you can’t figure what to buy, but you know your boss is a Star Trek addict.

Readers better pay attention, as they’ll find a check-yourself test at the end.  And a certificate for those who pass.  If Kirk Fu is not your thing, don’t worry–Spock steps in with alternative suggestions in a bonus section.  Take a look at a preview of the Kirk Fu Manual below, courtesy of publisher Insight Editions.

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Sometimes you wish you could go back in time, to decades past where life was simpler and you could grab a magazine at the local bookstore or grocery store rack to get a fix from your favorite movies or TV series.  Back in the 1970s and 1980s sometimes that meant Starlog, Starburst, or Space Wars, Fantastic Films Magazine, or even mags aimed at the younger set, like Dynamite.  Then people like Dan Madsen came along with fan clubs that resulted in titles targeted at specific, single fandoms like The Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine for Star Wars, and Star Trek Communicator and other titles under variants of those names.  Titan Magazines inherited management of these legacies decades ago, and is still putting out both Star Wars Insider and Star Trek Magazine, and it’s the articles from those mags that fans can “read again for the first time” as Titan launches three new compilation books, Star Wars: The Best of the Original Trilogy, Star Wars: Rogues, Scoundrels, and Bounty Hunters, and Star Trek Picard: The Classic Chronicles.

The two Star Wars books are tied to the anticipation for the release of the final chapter in the original Star Wars saga as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters in December and The Mandalorian series begins streaming in November.  And the Star Trek book is primed to get newer fans up to speed in time for the release of the Star Trek Picard television series.  If you collect the magazines, you have already read this content, but if you haven’t or you threw out your magazines over the years, this is your chance to check out Titan’s targeted looks back at these big franchises.

Vintage photographs, tie-in toys and other products, posters, interviews, and articles full of trivia are reason enough to take a look back through these books.  And those photographs include many you’ve probably not seen before–or at least haven’t seen in a long, long time.  Clocking in at 176 pages, each book has something for every fan of these franchises.  Star Wars: Rogues, Scoundrels, and Bounty Hunters is a must for anyone after lots of detail photographs of Chewbacca and your favorite bounty hunters, something from every previous Star Wars film through Solo: A Star Wars Story.  Star Trek Picard: The Classic Chronicles isn’t just about Patrick Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but is an overview of the entire series and films featuring the NextGen crew.  Star Wars: The Best of the Original Trilogy is perhaps the most nostalgic, with those marketing photographs and accompanying 1970s magazine style art that could have come straight out of Dynamite magazine.

Below are previews of all three books.  Catch up on the past–order these books at your local bookstore or comic book shop or from Amazon at these links: Star Wars: The Best of the Original Trilogy, Star Wars: Rogues, Scoundrels, and Bounty Hunters, and Star Trek Picard: The Classic Chronicles.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Actor Vic Mignogna, who has played Star Trek’s Captain Kirk on the fan-made series Star Trek Continues, has taken on an enormous task in his latest project, narrating the mammoth behind-the-scenes look at classic television and creator/producer Gene Roddenberry in an audio play adaptation of the Saturn Award-winning These Are the Voyages–ST: TOS Season One–nearly 29 hours in all.  Master researcher and TV historian Marc Cushman has meticulously crafted several volumes detailing the Golden Age of Television, including four volumes (and fifth on the way) of Star Trek history.  With the new audiobook, Cushman has assembled nearly 100 voice actors, including several Star Trek insiders quoted in the book, who returned to voice their contributions from Cushman’s first book in his series.  Among the voices you’ll hear writer Dorothy Fontana, writer Ronald D. Moore, actor Clint Howard, casting director Joe D’Agosta, actor Sean Kenney, and director Ralph Senensky, plus sons of Leonard Nimoy (Adam) and James Doohan (Chris) voicing their fathers’ quoted material, and other surprises, like Mythbusters co-host and Star Trek Continues actor Grant Imahara as the voice of George Takei.  The result is a fantastic way to kick back and enjoy the long-lost past and inner-workings of your favorite 1960s sci-fi series.

Marc Cushman’s adaptation of his own work, with Susan Osborn, smartly distills his lengthy first volume into the key narrative elements–Gene Roddenberry’s arrival in Hollywood, the development of Star Trek, Roddenberry’s assemblage of creators, directors, producers, writers, and actors for his series, and the episode by episode chronicle of the ups and downs of season one.  Mignogna is a fantastic choice to walk the audience along, a mix of 1930s radioplay storyteller and Ken Burns’ award-winning series of documentaries.  For anyone afraid of embarking on a lengthy 658-page non-fiction book, this is your answer.

Actor Vic Mignogna with Star Trek repeat guest actor Clint Howard.

Voice actor Ralph Miller really nails the talkative and often irritable Gene Roddenberry.  The less-known players in the story often provide the most interesting performances, men and women reproducing 1960s inflections and accents in a myriad of types believably well.  The dialogue in the book has a more lively feel and effect when spoken.  As an example, Gene Roddenberry and Matt Jefferies’ discussions (originally via written correspondence) over details of military components to be incorporated into the series sets provides for some humor in the drama.  Listeners will really get a good picture of these two negotiating over who was better able to sign-off on the look of the practical, visual bits of the series.  And the production values are spot on–These Are the Voyages–ST: TOS Season One is a well-produced, entertaining work full of trivia for Star Trek fans and classic TV buffs, presented in an unusual, unexpected way.

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We’ve been speculating about a new animated Star Trek for years (like back here at borg), and it’s sort of like the folks at CBS and Paramount listened to us.  Ideas of an animated Star Trek have finally taken hold of late, first with Ira Steven Behr’s Deep Space Nine documentary, and even more recently with announcements of three shows in development for 2020 or 2021: two animated shorts, an animated comedy series by Rick and Morty writer Mike McMahan about the lower decks crew of a Starfleet ship, and a Nickelodeon series aimed at kids.  Is there an interest in animated Treks?  We loved that replica costume company Anovos was offering pre-orders for a cool, purple–and screen-accurate–cartoon-style Klingon uniform. Unfortunately Anovos reported production was canceled for insufficient interest.  But Behr’s documentary amped up the buzz for the potential of the medium, especially as a way to bring back actors who may not want to appear in front of the camera anymore, via voice work.  Audio genius company Big Finish has made a big business of resurrecting most of its 50 year history of Doctor Who actors (and their companions) via new audio stories, even without the animated visuals.  Want more William Shatner as Captain Kirk?  This is the way to do it.

Just two months ago we reviewed here at borg television historian and researcher Marc Cushman’s latest brilliant deep dive into vintage television in his book These Are the Voyages: Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek in the 1970s, Volume 1 (1970-75) It is a highly recommended, monumental 764-page treatise on Roddenberry, his development of the animated series, and a guide to each episode with exhaustive behind the scenes crew information.  If the future of Star Trek is, indeed, animated, it makes sense another book is coming your way, this time a full color pictorial look at the classic animated series called Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series, and you can check out some preview pages below.

The animated voyages often represented the lighter side of Star Trek that was picked up on by Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer in their story for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, incorporating more bits of humor that would become an integral part of what makes Star Trek… Star Trek from then on.  One of the biggest curiosities of post-Animated Trek is not including the unique alien bridge officers Arex and M’Ress as characters in the movies and series since.  Both have only had appearances in DC Comics’ Star Trek monthly and various novels.  Years ago Gene Roddenberry acknowledged the costs–of requirements like heavy prosthetic and makeup–required of bringing these characters to live-action versions were too burdensome for television production, yet similarly styled characters have cropped up in Star Trek IV and V and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  With the kind of makeup work done by Oscar-nominated creator Joel Harlow in Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Beyond and Emmy-winner James MacKinnon for Doug Jones in Star Trek Discovery, a live-action Arex and M’Ress could happen.

Take a look at this preview for Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series, available for pre-order now here at Amazon:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Twenty years ago the last episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered, and for its anniversary a crowdfunding project funded a feature-length retrospective on the series.  Deep Space Nine: What We Left Behind will be familiar to any fan of Deep Space Nine who has delved into the special features found in the DVD sets or online via YouTube.  It’s full of those reminiscences, albeit updated, diehard fans have viewed countless times in interviews with cast and crew and via panels at the annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas.  But the unique feature for this new documentary is a reunion of writers from the series who sit down and block out what a possible next episode of the series might include.

Deep Space Nine showrunner and executive producer Ira Steven Behr leads the documentary, hitting the high points of his seven years creating Deep Space Nine, intercutting new and old interviews with key and supporting cast members, a few members of the production staff, co-creator Rick Berman and the man representing the business side of production, Kerry McCluggage, former chairman of Paramount Television Group.  Deep Space Nine: What We Left Behind does not look closely at the production from a design, costumes, props, music, or technical standpoint, but is almost exclusively focused on the writers and actors, and why the crew thinks its show was different from competing programs in the 1990s (although some art production familiar faces including Herman Zimmerman, Michael and Denise Okuda, and Doug Drexler make brief appearances).

The writers room reunion of Behr, Ronald D. Moore, René Echevarria, Hans Beimler, and Robert Hewitt Wolfe talking through a spec script idea for a new 20th anniversary reunion episode is a great guide for anyone wanting a glimpse at the process of developing a television show.  Backed by a cartoon art/Ken Burns-esque multimedia mock-up of characters and sets by artists Magdalena Marinova, Kai De Mello-Folsom, and Luke Snailham, it’s a better presentation format than watching more talking heads.  The result feels quite like a Brannon Braga or Ronald D. Moore series finale episode (see Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “All Good Things…” and Star Trek Voyager’s “Endgame”), complete with a time jump and appearances by grown-up regular players, in this case Jake Sisko and Molly O’Brien.  Vedek Kira?  Captain Nog?  With some make-up and new costumes, the writers’ episode creation would have actually made a fine final episode to the series, providing some resolution to the fate of Avery Brooks′ Captain Sisko.

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