In which I demonstrate that I am the world’s nerdiest nerd

In a recent email exchange with the cofounders of this blog, known here as VThunderlad and Lefalcon, I shared some thoughts about Star Trek, including a synopsis of an idea for a new Star Trek movie.  Find the relevant bits below the jump.

ACILIUS: Here’s another interesting video.  It’s every episode of Star Trek at once.  You may remember that a year or two ago there was a fad for these videos, I didn’t get around to looking at any of them then.  I just saw this one a few days ago, it’s fascinating.  At first it’s just like the noise at a big party, dozens of voices at once, some music in the background, etc, then it converges on the theme song, then one by one the episodes emerge from the theme song.  The pre-opening credits segments were different lengths, so one of the fascinating things is watching the little thumbnail images to see the show go into and come out of the opening sequence.  So “The Cage” doesn’t have a pre-opening credit segment, it starts right in with the theme song, which is very much detectable over the din of the other 79 episodes, while “I, Mudd” has a segment that goes on so long it doesn’t finish the opening credits until 6:38 seconds in.   It is irresistible:

LEFALCON: > > The inevitable next step would be for some clever fans to reconfigure an episode,
> > so that other episodes appear to be playing on screens in the background of the
> > particular episode being watched. Hinting that the ST characters were
> > habitually watching the very series in which they were being featured.

ACILIUS: That would be great!  As we discussed previously (I think it was sometime during the Clinton administration, though it may not have been quite that recently,) the characters on Star Trek do spend quite a bit of time watching TV.  So the main bridge is oriented toward the massive viewscreen, and they are continually interacting with offstage characters or getting information about outside events by watching that screen or other smaller screens.
They even watch themselves and each other on screens in quite a few episodes.  What’s more, in those episodes the images on the viewscreens are shot in exactly the same style as is Star Trek itself.  So when our heroes watch Captain Kirk fighting the Gorn, for example, the camera zooms and pans in exactly the way it does on Star Trek, it even has the same pattern of reaction shots in closeup that the show has.  Obviously this is because they are using footage originally shot with the intention of being in the main fight scene, not in the part that’s on the “Enterprise” viewscreen, but it does suggest that the aliens have the same approach to montage as do the makers of the show.
In most TV shows, the characters don’t have TV sets, and rarely acknowledge that there is such a habit as watching TV.  I can’t think of another show that includes as much footage of characters watching TV and as much action predicated on information gained from TV as Star Trek, and I would be surprised if any other show so often implied that the characters are watching a show that is indistinguishable from the one in which they are appearing.  So it would indeed be brilliant if the screens in the background were playing other episodes.
They’ve done that relaunching of the series in the movies, which I’ve never gotten round to seeing.  The ads for them look horrible.  Anyway, I know they’re set in an alternative timeline where the events of the show never happened.  If they wanted to make those movies interesting, they could take a page from Philip K. Dick’s novels.  Just a few weeks ago I read Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle for the first time. In it, the Axis powers won the Second World War.  Germany and Japan occupy the USA; the main characters live in the Japanese-occupied zone.  The novel is mainly an Americans attempt to imagine what it would be like to live under the occupation of a foreign power, and it is quite insightful.  Anyway, in the novel a mysterious character has written a novel about an alternate history in which the Axis powers lost the war.  That novel, banned in the German zone, is hugely popular in the Japanese zone and circulates underground in the German zone, where it has attracted both a fervent following and the fierce outrage of the Nazi elite.  So the Nazis try to find and kill its author.  It turns out that the author used the I Ching to write the book, and one of the characters figures out that its events are closer to reality than are the events she knows.  In other words, she figures out that she is a character in a fictional work.
The next Star Trek movie could be like that.  Some shadowy character uses a mystical technique to reconstruct the events of the original show, and creates a series of videos dramatizing those events.  Since this person would be trying to escape detection, the videos s/he would create would look very strange, much less realistic than other media products of that future world.  They would be very similar to the actual episodes of Star Trek, but as Dick gave a twist to his story by having the events of the fictional novel-within-the-novel differ from the actual events of the 1940s in several important ways, so would these episodes be different in some important ways from the actual show.  At first glance, the audience would think they were clips from the actual show, only as the movie went on would they realize that the video was actually drawn from Space: 1999, Star Wars, and Jason of Space Command.  Also Land of the Lostand the later seasons of Lost in Space.  The maniacal Captain Kirk, enraged by the images of what might have been had he been the hero of a show produced under the influence of 1960s liberalism, rather than of a Hollywood crap-tacular produced in the post-9/11 era, plays the role of the Nazi assassin in Dick’s novel, setting out to find and murder the creator of the show.  The movie ends with Captain Kirk taking a sledgehammer to the graves of Gene Roddenberry,* Gene Coon, Robert Heinlein,** etc.
*I know that some of Gene Roddenberry’s ashes were shot into space.  I don’t know what they did with the rest.  In this movie I’m imagining, they were buried under a limestone marker which shatters under the blows of the evil Captain Kirk from the evil Star Trek movies.
**Did you know that the creators of Star Trek paid Robert Heinlein for the TV rights to his story “Space Cadet,” which was the basis for the show?  It’s true!  Robert Justman and Herbert Solow talk about it in their book Inside Star Trek (Pocket Books, 1991.)  As Desilu’s production executive, it was Solow who made the deal with Heinlein, so he gives a first-person account.
VTHUNDERLAD: > I think Scotty watches a lot of Knot’s Landing when he doesn’t have knobs to turn and tubes to crawl in, which, let’s face it, is most of the time.

ACILIUS: Actor James Doohan doesn’t get nearly enough credit for Scotty’s accent.  Anyone can imitate the Scots accents of today, or of some time in the past, but to imagine how people from Scotland might talk hundreds of years from now and to use that fabricated accent consistently for so long is quite an achievement.
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