Friday, August 27, 2010

Captain's Log: Conventions, Planets and Star Trek NCIS

Would J.J. Abrams' Star Trek (referred to here as Star Trek JJA) obliterate interest in the previous incarnations, more closely associated with Gene Roddenberry and those he tutored? This summer's conventions put that fear definitively to rest, at least for a few years more. Classic Trek stars were everywhere, playing to the same loving crowds.

Those crowds will get another chance in October at the Hollywood Xpo, which includes other s/f and related stars (from Ray Bradbury and Stan Lee to Richard Hatch) as well as other TV and film stars, but the lineup is Star Trek-heavy (Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, John Billingsley, Connor Trineer, etc.) and features stars of the Original series and films, and the independent films Star Trek: Of Gods and Men and InAlienable, many of whom are the same people: notably Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Alan Ruck and Tim Russ. Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry will also be there.

Though this is the first of what promises to be an annual event, the folks organizing it used to be called Planet Xpo, and they did the last two conventions I attended, first as a reporter ("Beam Me Up, Scotty, One More Time" in LA) and then as the host of the Soul of Star Trek panel (the 40th anniversary in Seattle.) The October 15-17 do is at the Hilton Universal City--more info at the web site.

Star Trek NCIS

We've careened through five plus seasons of NCIS on DVD this summer, and are finishing the 6th season just in time to start getting the new 7th season DVDs from netflix. I'm not going to explain this series for those who don't know it, but simply make a comment for those who do. (Though I will recommend it!) This insight came to me tonight, in fact, when I was struck by the character of Ziva, who as an Israeli is still learning American idioms, and does not use contractions. And that of course suggested: Ziva is Data!

Like Data and Spock, Ziva is an alien, highly skilled and intelligent but whose misunderstanding of human i.e. American behavior is often comical, while she's also physically stronger than everybody else. Like Data, Ziva does not use contractions. Even their names are similar.

It's interesting to figure out resemblances of the other NCIS characters to Star Trek/TNG, but the best actual correspondence is Ziva=Data. And I wonder if that was intentional.

New Worlds

Astronomers keep discovering new worlds around other stars. Last week scientists said they believe they've found an exoplanet closer to Earth's size than ever before, although it's actually about the size of Saturn. That's an artist's conception of it up there at the start of this post, as published in the New York Times.


The Democratic primary is over among Vermont candidates for governor who made their choice of Star Trek or Star Wars in the video below, but the election may not be. So far the apparent winner is Peter Shumlin (Star Wars) but by fewer than 200 votes, so the runner-up, Doug Racine (Star Trek) is calling for a recount. May the force be with him. Or should I say live long and prosper?

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