DATELINE: STARDATE 50, Vulcan Not Romulan
With the 50th anniversary of the immortal TV series Star Trek occurring on this month of September, there have been several documentaries trying to honor and explain the phenomenon.
One was a complete catastrophe from History channel. It featured a panel of non-experts with insipid commentaries and personal anecdotes pertaining to nothing. There were a few interviews with the new movie series stars, but nothing really of some consequence except for Leonard Nimoy’s final interview.
On the other hand, the Smithsonian channel came up with a brilliant stroke. They gathered together historical restorers from two sources: one at the Smithsonian aerospace museum and another at a pop culture museum in Seattle.
Their missions were to restore the original 11-foot model of Star Trek Enterprise that had fallen into great disrepair. With loving and respectful talents, they treated the venerable old icon like some holy grail relic that rightfully inspired several, not just the Next, generations.
The second museum wanted to create re-create the bridge of Star Trek with the original props, including Kirk’s captain chair, no mean feat 50 years later when only a few collectors on a few precious models of tricorders, phasers, and communicators.
Interspersed with film clips from the original series including many of Spock saying, “Fascinating.” This documentary included actual scientists were influenced by the show. Astronauts, engineers, and medical people now bring to reality the science fiction of yore.
Indeed, there is a contest to create a genuine medical tri-corder. Another scientist is working on the warp drive. Another on tractor beams.
We found only one error in the documentary. In a sequence about cloaking devices and invisibility shields, they used a photograph of a Romulan. It was unfortunately a photograph of Mark Lenard, the actor who played a Vulcan ambassador and (most importantly) played Spock’s father. We can forgive this minor flub. The Smithsonian documentary, entitled “Building Star Trek,” was a marvel to behold.