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  • 26 Sep 2022
    So this Picard guy, he's done some stuff before, well, Picard yeah?
    Very true, very true. In fact he was doing "it" for 15 years between 1987 and 2002 - but we're going to focus purely on the first seven in our third lesson, The Next Generation. Even more time specific, it's 35 years since the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D first took to the airwaves so what better time than this to dive into the show that hooked millions.
    Lesson Two on the movies probably felt a bit tasking so I waited for a while before delivering this latest instalment in your blagging - I mean education.
    This show is as much hallowed ground as the original, perhaps more so and you'll need to be Fact Loaded to start tackling it.

    The Crew

    Opening with Encounter at Farpoint, Jean-Luc Picard is a shouty man who doesn't like kids. Things do change for him. He quotes more Shakespeare, becomes less shouty but still can't abide kids especially the one he keeps telling to shut up. He stops the Klingon at Tactical from shooting a lot of things and you should always drop in something to do with contract negotiations and becoming a Borg to cover your tracks.
    Argument starter for ten: Better than Kirk
    His first officer - or Number One as he is called - is a bearded Kirk clone(!) called William T Riker. He has a subconscious obsession with obtuse angles and sitting down that make him an almost off-limits drinking game target. Too many have been hospitalised for his rakish stance at the side of Data during a red alert. He has a "thang" with the ship's counsellor, Deanna Troi but they keep it all calm in the show because it was years ago and was, actually just written for another pair of characters for a show that never got made.
    Argument starter for ten: Mention Wil Decker
    While you can bemoan the choice to listen to another trombone recital from Number One, how about focusing some attention on Lieutenant Commander Data (that's day-ta not dah-tah) who is seeking to become human but frankly gets more action than anyone else. He wants to be human which leads to much merriment and also some real tear-in-the-eye moments.
    Argument starter for ten: He uses contractions more often than they use the transporter
    Over in Engineering (but not for the first season!!!) is Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge. Unsuccessful with the ladies for all time, Geordi might be blind but he gets to see thanks to a heavily modified headband.
    Argument starter for ten: Wesley should have been Chief Engineer
    In Medical there's Doctor Beverly Crusher. The older you get, the more you realise she's hotter than Troi. She's got this "thing" for Picard that goes mainly unsaid and it's worth dropping that in whenever you spot her in season three of Picard. Plus points for mentioning she choreographed the Muppets in real life. Additional cudos for bringing up her unceremonious departure and reappearance (seasons one and three).
    Argument starter for ten: Sex Ghost
    Taking over from the very quickly departed Lt Tasha Yar as Tactical Officer (he tries to fire the phasers but gets told not to a lot) is Klingon Worf. Remember him, he's around almost eternally it seems (see also Deep Space Nine). Talk a lot about honour, bat'leth swords, bad parenting and prune juice and you will do no wrong.
    Argument starter for ten: This guy needs his own series!
    Finally there's Deanna Troi. Ship's counsellor who actually gets better as the show progresses. Sadly seems like window dressing for a good portion of the first couple of years but once they change her wardrobe up and try not to focus on pairing her with her mother for every story there's positives. She's part-Betazed (empath) so get ready for all the feels.
    Argument starter for ten: Why isn't she in uniform? She's an officer right?

    The Ship

    OK. It's been 7 decades and a bit since the original series so to show that, the ship now has a "D" slapped on the end of the NCC-1701 numberplate. It's big and part of the suitably named Galaxy Class. In fact it's ridiculously big and it can split in two parts but only when the budget allows them to take the big model out of storage to shoot it. You'll be very familiar with the sets because they get reused in the movies, Voyager... anything that will help save some money!
    Main places you'll need to be aware of aside from the bridge? There's an observation lounge for lots of talking and plot exposition, a bar called Ten Forward where Whoopi Goldberg serves drinks and gives advice (season two onwards). Of course there are the crew quarters, cargo bays that have no concept of health and safety and a standard set of exhaustive shuttles. One thing to know from the off is the wonders of the holodeck. Go anywhere, be anyone! This allows the crew the chance to effectively define the surroundings for their death given the number of malfunctions it incurs.

    The Seasons

    There are seven of them with (usually) 26 episodes in each with 178 episodes in total. Now I know that sounds worrying but hold on. There's no season long arcs that you need to keep track of. Yes, there are some recurring stories in there; Data and his evil twin, Worf losing honour, gaining honour and Klingon stuff, Geordi being unable to hold down a relationship for two weeks, Riker and Troi - but these are all sprinkled in. Just mention one or two occasionally to show you're aware of them and you'll be fine. There are some two-parters but that's probably the longest attention span you'll need (90 minutes - manage that?).
    Best to either decide if you hate or love the omnipotent Q who pops up a lot. His stories are a mixed bag of brilliant to meh. Oh and then there's the Borg. You might have seen them neutered in Picard' first season but here they are truly BAD ASS. Always compare them here and in the First Contact movie to the way they are poorly treated in Voyager once we reach that lesson.

    Key episodes

    Encounter at Farpoint - it's the first one. Q's in it. Ship separates. The trial never ends.
    The Measure of a Man - Data's clearly not/is a person/robot and I agree/disagree
    Yesterday's Enterprise - That's the "C" and it's come forward in time. Yar's back, only Whoopi Goldberg knows the timeline's changed. Got to send it back!
    The Best of Both Worlds - The Borg are back huh? And WHAT? They've made Picard a Borg? They're coming for Earth? Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!!
    Sins of the Father/Reunion/Redemption I & 2 - Klingon Civil War! Gowron dude! Those Duras sisters are creepy.
    Unification - Spock! He's on Romulus and it's all a bit cloak and dagger but he meets Picard!
    Relics - Scotty! He's on the Enterprise and he meets Picard!
    All Good Things... - It's the finale. Hang on a minute - 25 years into the future? Isn't that about when Picard is set? Well that didn't go to plan did it... Trial never ended by the way!
    So there you have it, Star Trek: The Next Generation in a bite-size format that will absolutely bowl your peers and soon to be Trek friends right over. Concerned that you'll have to watch more after this? Don't worry because I'm certain there'll be some snapshot follow ups to keep you up to date!
  • 24 Sep 2022

    Of all the Star Trek series, Discovery not only stands as the longest on air but also the show with the most changes during its four season run. Believe it or not, that mark is hit exactly five years ago this very day (in the US).

    To put that into perspective, that's only 55 episodes in total which is equivalent to just over the first two seasons of TNG. Yet we've seen huge changes in the crew, five huge story arcs and a time jump of 1000 years.

    All in a day's work for the crew of a Starfleet ship and now here we are, Coming Home and on the break to wait for the inevitable season five. Warning - possible spoilers ahead.

    Season four's promo work didn't help it from the beginning. Starting out with another potential anomaly threat to the Federation it looked like a rerun of season three and suggested that the format could already be getting tired.

    It seemed to be correct with the first episode seeing Book's home planet of Kweijan destroyed by the mysterious DMA (Dark Matter Anomaly) and more prevaricating about the Federation rebuilding. If truth be told, that first half of season four was a bit of a mess. The anomaly seemed like a good idea with its ability to appear and disappear at will. Danger could indeed come from everywhere. But the problem was that everything else seemed to be more or less disposable.

    For example, Adira was coming up as one of the more interesting characters on the show played by the wonderful Blu Del Barrio. The narrative around Grey's rebirth linked in well with Picard's own season end however by season end they were gone and Adira was relegated to background almost overnight. With Mary Wiseman stepping back and Tilly transferring to Starfleet Academy there seemed a natural gap in the cast but this didn't seem to be fully realised in this season.

    Even the "baddie" for the season in the shape of Shawn Doyle's Tarka wasn't a super villain or a moustache twirling nemesis as Ossyra played for the Emerald Chain. His lost scientist persona fitted more into a role fans would perhaps liken to Soran from Generations, driven by his personal need to get home rather than the bigger picture. Doyle's character didn't need to be evil to be effective in season four and after the host of enemies across the show it's one point that made a refreshing change. Tarka's relationship with Book hinged a great chunk of the season together and was a stronger thread to the overall arc right from the moment they decided to head off on their own.

    But let's also remember something fairly significant about this season. It was filmed during the pandemic and just for that it deserves a ton of praise for just existing. Look more closely and you'll see that the season has actually been very cleverly crafted. It might not be everyone's cup of tea and it's unusual that there aren't more fisticuffs, explosions but for the first time, Discovery kind of went really sciencey. Most of the 13 episodes are bottle shows, confined to either standing Discovery sets, Book's ship and Federation headquarters. There's only a trade station, an ice planet, Kweijan and the deserted world of the Ten-C that are new sets. Even then you might suspect they were repurposed. Even the 10-C themselves were CG and barely seen at that.

    If you have to give something to season four, it's the clever use of sets, space and storytelling given restrictions at the time to still manage to deliver a coherent arc. Perhaps the most impressive element of the season is that the conclusion didn't rely on the same hand to hand combat or battle situation that we've experienced many times before. Yes, the galaxy and more specifically Ni'Var and Earth were in danger but the answer came in the form of science rather than guns. Is this Discovery's most Star Trek solution ever? To have an alien race communicate mathematically, emotionally and chemically is inspired and truly franchise format breaking.

    The bulk of the second part of the season was dedicated to the Ten-C and the journey to locate them. For only the second time in Star Trek history has the story taken us outside of the Milky Way and into the utter unknown, even beyond the reach of the wonderful spore drive.

    But then that is what Star Trek was supposed to be about. Yes, there is the element of impending danger, the threat that Earth could well be destroyed but where season four of Discovery succeeded was in a peaceful solution that actually worked and made sense. Communication was the key and for the first time in its four season run it felt that we were boldly going. Star Trek was Star Trek and he Federation didn't need to shoot something a lot to win.

    The 32nd Century setting still feels uneasy but for a season troubled by very Earth-based challenges, this has to be seen as a success even if I wasn't blown away by the story as it seemed to be a tale already well-trodden in the franchise. Cudos also for the fact that both Detmer and Owosekun had more to do than sit at the front of the bridge for a season. While the latter was involved with the away team in season two's New Eden and Kayla Detmer has had some key piloting moments, this felt like the first time they were used to their full effect. The other bridge fillers were still around and as horribly under utilised but even this seemed to be a step forward in the audience being able to connect to not just Michael and Saru.

    I'm not going to say that this has been a great year for Discovery even taking into account the mitigating circumstances. The show still appears to be finding its feet in the 32nd Century with season four becoming more of a "season two" of a soft reboot. Where Discovery worked was through tying in its classic links such as Pike and Spock.

    Season four ended very cleanly. No loose ends, nothing to resolve at the beginning of the already green-lit season five. The distant future offers the chance to reset and go their own way but we have lost a lot of the familiarity of the franchise through such a prominent time jump and hopefully season five will correct the rot. It will be without the chains of a pandemic and therefore stretch out beyond the confines of the studio walls to embrace the challenges of the 32nd Century.

  • 22 Sep 2022

    Fluxx has been a game that's kept giving (Star Trek) editions for some time.

    Adding to the TOS, TNG, DS9 and VGR sets there was also the Bridge expansion which allowed the Kirk and Picard sets to be linked into a 20 card deck.

    But what about the other two packs? Surely Sisko and Janeway want to get in on the action? Adding a special Ezri Dax card was a nice touch for the DS9 set but we want MORE!

    As I've started getting back into playing a few rounds, the DS9 and VGR packs have become more of a go-to. The first two packs are great but we've taken to the characters and combos a little more. Of course this means we can't be far off an Enterprise pack?

    Well no. Instead of a fifth installment of this great card game, Looney Labs have chosen a slightly different path. Choosing to tie in two expansions, Archer and Porthos, Fluxx now has even more endless possibilities for us to explore.

    These two packs add in new Goals and Keepers which allow for the DS9 and VGR packs to be fully integrated into a 400+ deck that includes everything Star Trek that's come before. It's been a new lease of life for the game where the only options were to combine the TOS and TNG packs or play the later two as their own individual games but now the options are endless and there's the chance to combine between two and four packs and not all the time either.

    But enough of the advert(!), it's just a damn fine game that deserved an ENT tie-in piece. The major issue might be though that there's only Archer and Phlox included from a crew perspective so don't be expecting T'Pol, Reed, Tucker or even the NX-01 (big shame) in either set.

    The Archer pack contains several new elements to the game alongside new nine goals to draw the whole range of packs together. This set includes three new Keepers in the form of Archer himself, time traveller Daniels and from TOS’ All Our Yesterdays the Atavachron. New Creepers include Temporal Rift and The Xindi to add to the list of no-gooders to ruin your hand. There’s a new Surprise in Department of Temporal Investigations and a Meta Rule which allows multiple goals as long as they are from different packs, to be used at the same time.

    The Porthos expansion sort of continues the Enterprise theme with the eponymous canine appearing alongside Dr Phlox but we also see the inclusion of Data’s cat Spot as a keeper as well as Romulan Ale and Klingon Kor. The additional eight goals (Errand of Mercy goal was in my pack twice?) tie in each of the main packs with multiple characters being brought in to win the game. One New Rule also appears which allows all players to draw and play an additional card if Star Trek is on the TV. The final card included is an Action which lets you draw an extra card if you leave the room during the game and return almost as if nothing has happened.

    These additions do bring that extra spark to the proceedings and give Fluxx another new spin. With all the options and alternatives that between one and four main packs can provide this has meant that game length can be incredibly varied and no two games are even slightly similar.

    What is quite overwhelming is the volume of goals now. These two packs alone provide 16 new possible winning formulas. The challenge is that to take full advantage you would need to combine all four packs every time. That’s 400 cards and for that I’d say you’re only going to want to play with at least four players otherwise it’ll take days to complete. Ultimately only worth it if you're ever going to combine packs and more so if you're going to be using all four base editions.

    Played Fluxx or any of the sequel packs? What did you think?
    All our other Fluxx reviews can be found through THIS LINK
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  • 21 Sep 2022

    The reveals of Picard's third season trailer might have distracted you from the fact that Prodigy's first season (part two) is set for return this October.

    As I said a few months back, rather than individually go through every episode I wanted to be able to have a more educated overview and look back in sections. This, for Prodigy, seems like a good point to take stock.

    My thoughts ahead of it airing offered very low expectations of the show. It was for kids, I even grumbled at the animation in the first episode and wasn't planning on giving it a great deal of my time.

    How wrong was i. Because I went in without demanding greatness from the first frames and was aware that it wouldn't be as adult-orientated as Discovery or Picard likely made a big difference.

    While Burnham's journey in the 32nd Century seems to have meandered a little, Prodigy has remained untainted. The wokeness and community servicing that Discovery in particular has gone to town on is nowhere to be seen. Now, I get that Star Trek should be discussing current issues and scripting allegories just as Gene Roddenberry himself did back in the 1960's but there are some that would say Discovery is trying too hard to accommodate.

    Prodigy on the other hand isn't. This is a straight up action adventure that provides a gateway into the world of Star Trek for a younger generation. It still talks about teamwork, family and has a story and characters who are already developing but it's kept things simple and, ironically, quite down to Earth.

    Assembling a crew of aliens is one thing but to actually show character advancement in what is, at the core, a kids show is brilliant. All of the leads feel as though they are on individual journeys with some more prominent than others. Dal and Gwyn do tend to take the lead as the "acting captain" and the daughter of their nemesis, The Diviner but Rok too has been provided with serious development albeit in one episode.

    But let's not get too ahead. Prodigy's first season has been wholeheartedly (to this mid-point) a brilliant success. These first ten episodes have successfully introduced the cast, a new ship, told a mini story arc and still managed to step way for a few weeks with a great cliffhanger.

    With a strong learning towards its new elements and only sprinkling in a minor amount of existing Trek lore, Prodigy has done well to avoid the franchise's own self-loving and aim to embrace a totally new audience. The basics of the show, the Federation and our new crew have been set over this initial run of episodes and the writers have done a magnificent job of avoiding in-jokes and keeping their stories open and accessible.

    The ship is a very clear Starfleet design with the over-hull nacelles and a distinct primary/secondary hull shape that can be traced all the way back to its most original form in USS Enterprise NCC-1701. Yes, it's got some neat twists; lots of surface landings, a 3D vehicle printer, that extremely open glass-topped bridge, the Janeway hologram and the incredible protowarp drive - but it's still recognisably Starfleet and I goddamn want one.

    The crew are oddly relatable. Dal might be the captain-elect (by himself) but he has to share that centre stage with the equally capable and more mature Gwyn. But Dal is the new viewer to Star Trek, excited, interested and wanting to know it all. He is the avenue into the franchise that the Nickleodeon audience should be following. Rok has come on in leaps and, well, leaps from background to essential. Zero's Medusan nature has been touched on and visualised in one of the larger callbacks to the history of the franchise (Is There in Truth No Beauty? TOS S3) although Murf remains a complete enigma however completely indestructible he/she/they are.

    The only character to really have been left at the kerb a little is Tellarite Jankom Pog. He feels almost as neutered as the Maquis after Caretaker and the argumentative nature played on right from the first episode has been frittered way in weeks. Hopefully he won't be relegated to the Inspector Gadget of the team with his extendable arm as his only "thing".

    Now (spoilers) I had expected the Diviner arc to last more than the first half of the season but it has meant that this line of storytelling hasn't overstayed its welcome. It felt right to go in the direction the show took this plot and it felt conclusive and also the end of the beginning. The mid-season two-parter returning the Protostar and its crew to the mining colony where we started out ensured that loose ends were tied up although we know that there have been hints at the ship's purpose and final mission through these ten episodes.

    Nor at any point has Hologram Janeway felt intrusive. Kate Mulgrew's return has been a masterstroke. It has greatly benefitted the series and of all the returning characters we've seen across the recent shows, certainly Prodigy has nailed it both with this leading lady and the assembling of the crew for Dal's Kobayashi Maru sim.

    For long term fans there is still a sense of familiarity through the reminders of Starfleet, the design of the ship both internally and externally and, of course, that cliffhanger which leaves no doubt that the universe is all coming together. Would I be surprised to see one of the Prodigy cast turn up in a live series at some point? Not in the slightest and with the hints of an upcoming Academy show it might be sooner rather than later.

    I'm very much drawn towards Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks but in Prodigy there is the hidden gem of the current Star Trek catalogue and something that is wildly accessible by every generation with enough in there to draw in Voyager fans as well as a new, young generation who can then go on and discover the shows of the '90's.

    Leaving the season on a cliffhanger and by introducing the real Janeway aboard a very real USS Dauntless, the show has dropped a massive bombshell and a sharp left at the same time. Where is Chakotay? Will the Dauntless catch the Protostar and what the hell is Murf?
    Prodigy has a ton and a half of things to offer and is just heading in its own direction. Whether it's possible to dovetail it into one of the series occurring at the same time has yet to be seen yet it remains absolutely unique just as each other series has managed so far in this Kurtzman era.
    Perhaps the stories haven't minded much depth with the plots fairly straight-forward but it has managed to keep the audience interest at all levels and you can bet the second half of the season will deliver just as much if not more.
    Enjoyed this article? Why not like and share to spread the word!
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1914 Robert L. Swanson is born.
1932 Roger C. Carmel is born.
1947 Scott DeVenney is born.
1950 Cary-Hiroyuki is born.
1951 Jim Shooter is born.
1953 Cameron is born.
1963 Scott Lawrence is born.
1966 Fourth day of filming on TOS: "The Galileo Seven".
1967 Fifth day of filming on TOS: "Journey to Babel". Among the scenes filmed today is Spock and Amanda's conversation in sickbay.
1968 TOS: "The Enterprise Incident" airs. Second day of filming on TOS: "That Which Survives".
1969 The Eighth UK Story Arc begins in TV21 & Joe 90 #1 with the first of six installments.
1973 Alyma Dorsey is born.
1978 Thirty-seventh day of filming on Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
1982 Zero Kazama is born.
1983 Thirty-first day of filming on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
1988 Third day of filming on TNG: "The Child". Revised final draft script for TNG: "Where Silence Has Lease" is submitted.
1991 First day of filming on TNG: "A Matter of Time".
1993 TNG: "Liaisons" airs. Sixth day of filming on TNG: "Force of Nature". Final draft script for TNG: "Inheritance" is submitted.
1994 Fifth day of filming on DS9: "Meridian". Sixteenth day of filming on VOY: "Caretaker". Location filming takes place at the El Mirage lakebed, portraying the Ocampa homewold today.
1995 Fifth day of filming on VOY: "Resistance".
1996 Final draft script for DS9: "The Ascent" is submitted.
2000 Seventh and final day of filming on VOY: "Body and Soul".
2001 Fourth day of filming on ENT: "Fortunate Son".
2002 Fifth day of filming on ENT: "Singularity".
2004 Third day of filming on ENT: "Awakening".
2005 Star Trek: Enterprise season 3 DVD released in Region 1.
2013 Jay Robinson dies.
2015 Howard A. Anderson, Jr. dies.
2018 Yvonne Suhor dies.

View tomorrow's page

Memory Alpha New Articles
  • 01 Aug 2022

    On the night of Saturday, July 30th, 2022, the world lost another much beloved cast member of Star Trek: The Original Series with the passing of Nichelle Nichols at the age of 89. According to a statement to the New York Times from family spokesperson Sky Conway, the actress died of heart failure at her home in Silver City, New Mexico. Her son, Kyle Johnson, posted the following statement on the actress's offical website "Dear Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World, I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years. Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light, however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration. Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all. I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected. Live Long and Prosper, Kyle Johnson".

    Nichelle Nichols, born Grace Dell Nichols on December 28, 1932 in Robbins, Illinois, played Lt. Uhura, the beautiful and intelligent Communications Officer on the Bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the head of her department aboard the ship and a linguistics expert who handled all ship-to-ship transmissions and communiques to/from Starfleet Command, participated on the occasional landing party expedition, and was a technical specialist in the underlying circuitry of her Bridge workstation – effecting repairs when needed. As a highly skilled senior staff operations division officer, she was capable of substituting for other positions on the Bridge, and, indeed, was assigned to the navigation station by Mr. Spock in “The Naked Time” to replace Lt. Kevin Riley; and also took over Navigations from Lt. Stiles in “Balance of Terror”. In “The Galileo Seven”, while Spock was away in command of the shuttlecraft mission, Uhura manned the Science Station for Kirk and was the one who discovered the planet Taurus II where the shuttle had crashed.

    With her magnificent portrayal of the truly pioneering role of Lt. Uhura, Nichelle Nichols made television history and helped shape the social consciousness of the nation. Uhura was a character that completely broke down the stereotypes of those years – as a black female in a leadership role was simply unheard of in ‘60s television prior to TOS.

    Not all fans of the Original Series are aware that Nichols came extremely close to leaving the show at the completion of the first season; and had in fact met with Gene Roddenberry and resigned after filming the last episode of the year. It was an unanticipated historic encounter literally the next day that caused Nichols to re-evaluate her decision. As described in her autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1994):The following evening I attended an important NAACP fund-raising event. I was chatting with someone when a man approached and said, ‘Nichelle, there is someone who would like to meet you. He’s a big fan of Star Trek and of Uhura.’ I turned to greet this “fan” and found myself gazing upon the face of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” During their conversation, Nichols mentioned to Dr. King that she did plan to leave the series, and he literally talked her out of that decision with an impassioned and eloquent articulation of the importance of her continued presence on the show. From “Beyond Uhura” .. “’You cannot,” he replied firmly, “and you must not. … You have the first nonstereotypical role on television, male or female ... You have created a character of dignity and grace and beauty and intelligence. … You’re more important for people who don’t look like us. For the first time, the world sees us as we should be seen, as equals, as intelligent people.... Remember, you are not important there in spite of your color. You are important there because of your color.”

    Of course, not only did Nichelle Nichols remain on Star Trek, but on the night of Nov. 22, 1968 – with the broadcast of the 3rd season episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” – she stepped into the history books again by participating in the first televised interracial kiss, between a black woman and a white man (William Shatner), on American network television. Despite a high level of internal controversy about the momentous scene, with NBC executives becoming quite nervous about upsetting or angering audiences in the Deep South, and some well planned conspiracy on the part of Shatner and Nichols to deliberately flub every take of a network requested alternate version of the scene that would feature a fake, simulated kiss - thus leaving the studio with no usable footage except that with the real kiss – the episode in fact was successfully aired and received a tremendously positive response with much enthusiastic fan mail. Indeed, Nichelle Nichols noted in Beyond Uhura that just a single, mildly disapproving letter arrived at the studio, from a white Southerner who wrote: “I am totally opposed to the mixing of the races. However, any time a red-blooded American boy like Captain Kirk gets a beautiful dame in his arms like Uhura, he ain’t gonna fight it.”

    Between the ages of 12 and 14, Nichols had studied classical ballet at the Chicago Ballet Academy, and she began her entertainment industry career as a singer and dancer, performing with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hamptom before narrowing her focus to acting. She was also a dancer in the 1959 Columbia Pictures musical film Porgy and Bess, and a performer in the 1961 New York City-based musical stage show Kicks & Co. As an actress, Nichols appeared in an episode of Gene Roddenberry’s series The Lieutentant in 1964, and had also played television roles in Peyton Place, Tarzan, and a few other shows prior to being cast in TOS. In later decades, she would lend her voice to such animated series as Batman, Gargoyles, Spider-Man, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and Futurama; and, in recent years, the actress has made appearances on such live action/dramatic series as Heroes, The Young and the Restless, and Renegades.

    One of Nichelle Nichols most noteworthy non-acting endeavors was her volunteer work with NASA to assist in the recruitment of women and minorities into America’s space program. A tremendously successful project, Nichols was involved in the program that recruited Dr. Sally Ride – the first female U.S. astronaut; Col. Guion Bluford – the first African-American astronaut, and others. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space is well known to have been greatly inspired to reach for the stars by Nichols performance as Uhura while growing up watching Star Trek well before the TOS actress became affiliated with NASA. Since the mid-80s, Nichols also served on the Board of Governors of the Wernher von Braun founded National Space Society advocacy organization.

    On a personal note, like millions of fans around the world, I feel as if I've lost a family member today. I first met Nichelle Nichols in late July, 1976 at the Toronto Star Trek '76 convention held at the Royal York Hotel in my hometown of Toronto, Canada. All of the Star Trek stars at that event went out of their way to put the fans at ease and were very gracious with their time, even pausing to chat with each fan a bit after signing autographs for them. The same was also true of Ms. Nichols. At the age of 14, despite being awestruck in her presence, I somehow overcame my youthful shyness and asked Nichelle if I might give her a kiss. She smiled, and I recall her bringing her face close to mine and then allowing me to place an innocent kiss on her cheek. After that momentous experience, I was truly in heaven for days! And surprisingly, the story of that kiss does not end in July 1976. Seventeen years later, in the summer of 1993, when I attended a Chicago Dreamwerks convention and told Nichelle of our prior encounter, with no underlying desire other than to thank her for a past kindness, the lovely actress surprisingly rose from her chair at the signing table and stated "History should repeat itself." And this time it was a full kiss on the lips. I do feel so honored to have met this beautiful, inspirational, Star Trek legend several times over the years; and to likely be in a rare category of fans that can claim to have shared a kiss with her on multiple occasions! The world has truly lost an icon, trailblazer and one of its most beautiful and gracious souls, while the heavens have gained a new shining star. Nichelle's legacy will long be celebrated by future generations.

  • 17 Apr 2022

    Following the successful launch of Season 2 of the series in early March, Star Trek: Picard Production Designer Dave Blass released a breathtaking collection of concept art via his personal social media accounts, that focused on the design of the Sagan Class Starship U.S.S. Stargazer which was unveiled in the first episode of the season, that was so appropriately titled "The Star Gazer". As Mr. Blass commented on facebook, "Designing the newest starship in the Federation Fleet takes a lot of visualization and PREVISUALIZATION. A new Starfleet ship has not been seen fully in over 20 years, so this was a monumental task. The coordination between lighting, cinematography, visual effects, playback technology and the Art Department is key, so getting it done in the computer BEFORE we start spending tons of money, is key. I love big foamcore white models, but during covid, it was all Email and digital. Great work by Igor Vidyashev for the previs and his designs, James Addink did the heavy lifting for the Set Design team Sean Hargreaves, Scott Schneider, Tim Earls, James Chung, Daren Dochterman, Kevin Cross, Kyle Courter, Rob Johnson, Karl Martin, Alan Farkas and as always John Eaves and Doug Drexler contributed to details and layout and were all integral to the overall look of the U.S.S. Stargazer." Mr. Blass additionally credited "Blast shield Matthew Cunningham, Art Direction Mark Zuelzke, William Eliscu, Jann Engel, Dylan Bocanegra, Set Decoration by Tim Stepeck, Playback Todd Marks, Ben Betts, Larry Markart, Andrew Jarvis and Twisted Media. Graphic Design by Geoffrey Mandel and LCARS Upgrade by Michael Okuda". A selection of the stunning concept art imagery is reproduced below, with special thanks to Dave Blass and congratulations to the entire team on their exceptional work ...

    A behind the scenes shot of the production team at work upon the fully realized U.S.S. Stargazer Bridge set ...

  • 16 Apr 2022

    Presented below are some detailed photos of a Christina Chong screen worn La'an Noonien-Singh Pilot Style Starfleet Duty Uniform from the new Star Trek: Strange New Worlds television series, the 8th live action adventure series in the history of the franchise, which is set to premiere on Thursday, May 5, 2022 on Paramount+. This costume was recently on display in a special Strange New Worlds exhibit at Star Trek: Mission Chicago, a ViacomCBS sponsored fan convention that took place from April 8 - 10, 2022 at the massive McCormick Place center in Chicago, Illinois. This attractive design is highly reminiscent of the female two-piece Starfleet uniforms that were seen in the initial pilot episodes of Star Trek TOS - "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before" - which featured a colored tunic matched with black pants as the standard female duty uniform prior to the introduction of the famous TOS miniskirt design at the start of filming of the regular season episodes. Not only does this new design feature the two piece, black pants style of the pilot; but the tunic design is also characterized by long seam lines running down the left and right torso at the front of the costume - to replicate that feature of "The Cage" design. Similar to the other new Strange New Worlds uniforms, this costume is infused with some delightful intricate new details, such as a subtle repeating decorative pattern that utilizes the well known TOS symbols of the crewmember's assigned starfleet division - Command, Sciences, Engineering or Medical - actually incorporated into sections of the uniform's fabric that runs along the length of the arms and shoulder areas of the garment. All of the Starfleet uniforms in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds are the creations of Costume Designers Bernadette Cross and Gersha Phillips in the ST:SNW Costume Department.

    Special thanks to my friend and fellow Star Trek fan T.J. Babinetz, who attended the Star Trek: Mission Chicago convention, for his very gracious permission to display his detailed photography of this costume in this article. Just click on any of the images below to view an enlarged version ...

    Note the bands of straight edged rank braid, similar to the style featured in the first Star Trek pilot The Cage, which is different from the scalloped edge style that was instituted during the filming of the regular season episodes of TOS. Also, as observed throughout these recent photostudies, the color of the rank braid on the Strange New Worlds costumes will change based on Starfleet division: Command uniforms feature Gold rank braid, Science uniforms feature Blue rank braid, Engineering uniforms feature Red rank braid, and Medical uniforms feature Silver rank braid ...

    Note the near identical placement of the long seam lines running down the left and right sides on the front of the Strange New Worlds and TOS Cage female tunic designs ...

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