Saturday, July 9, 2016

Rocket Mortgage Ads

Paramount and Quicken Loans are doing some cross-promotion in the lead up to the release of Star Trek Beyond.  They have released two commercials featuring a Vulcan called Sevek and his mate to advertise Quicken's Rocket Mortgage.

I can't evaluate the quality of Quicken as a company or their Rocket Mortgage as I have never dealt with them but I found the ads amusing.  The actors they cast as Sevek and his mate do a good job and I enjoyed the set decoration -- the Vulcan Lyre and paintings were nice touches.

Below are links to the two ads that have been released thus far.

Quicken has also updated their website with images of Sevek.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Book Review: The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years

The publishers sent me an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair review.

I've read pretty much everything that's ever been published about the making of Star Trek and I've been to many conventions and heard all the stories a hundred times so I was skeptical that this book would reveal anything new. I'm so glad I read it!

I expected a straightforward, narrative history of the franchise because I missed the words "Oral History" in the subtitle. After some brief introductions by the authors and Seth MacFarlane, this book is laid out in brief statements by those involved in the history of Star Trek. Innumerable interviews with cast, crew and critics come together to form a unique and wonderful history of the franchise.

At first, the format threw me off but I quickly became engaged in the story. Each segment is thoughtfully chosen to add a new piece to the puzzle. After a few pages I found it nearly impossible to put down and I spent the entire day with the book until I had finished it.  It left me wanting more and gave me a keen desire to pop in some Trek movies on Blu-ray!

It's true that I didn't learn much of anything new about the original series -- but there were some tidbits! Interviews with Gene L. Coon's secretary were especially revealing.  For me, where the history became really interesting was in the 1970s. This book does a great job of uncovering the history of the early Star Trek conventions and fanzines. It also provides a cohesive and logical account of the confusing period leading to The Motion Picture.

The latter half of the 1970s and the road through Phase II to TMP have always been sort of muddled but Altman and Gross do a wonderful job of clearing up the timeline and making clear the motivations of Paramount in bring Star Trek back.

From there, the journey through the remaining TOS films is fairly quick but you get a very solid picture of the events and the major players involved.  We read quite a bit from Walter Koenig and a bit from James Doohan but very little from George Takei and Nichelle Nichols. Perhaps this is because Nichols and Takei have already told their own stories fairly comprehensively in their own memoirs.

The book doesn't really tell the whole story of the first 25 years of Trek. The Next Generation is barely mentioned in passing. Instead, the authors have devoted this first volume to the original series and its films. I expect the second volume will tackle TNG from the beginning.

I recommend this book highly and cannot wait to read the second volume!  I expect this will become the definitive account of Trek's history. It should be required reading for those who are interested in in the production history of the franchise.

This first volume is available for sale on Tuesday and the second will be released in the Fall.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Propworx Star Trek Auction VIII

This past weekend, Propworx had their eighth Star Trek auction on Liveauctioneers. This was an auction for the Robert Blackman Collection; 152 lots of artwork, costume designs and crew gifts from The Next Generation through Enterprise.

There were three lots of special interest to Vulcanologists. The first was sketches for Perrin's (Joanna Miles) costumes in the TNG episode "Sarek."

I think Blackman did a great job with this costume. It has some touches that throw back to Robert Fletcher's movie-era work (including re-using the jewellery worn by the Vulcan maidens in Star Trek III).  The bright pink makes Perrin stand out as a non-Vulcan. It's reminiscent of the bright colours worn by Sarek's first wife, Amanda, in "Journey to Babel".

The second lot also features work for the episode "Sarek."  These sketches are for Sarek's aide, Sakkath (Rocco Sisto).

The third lot is sketches for Tuvok's (Tim Russ) civilian clothing. We've seen Tuvok in pyjamas a few times but these look quite similar to the costumes he wore in "Riddles" and "Endgame".

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Fifty-Year Mission

I'm very excited to read these two new books by Mark Altman (Free Enterprise) and Edward Gross!

The first volume, covering the first 25 years of Trek history, will be released on June 28th. It can be pre-ordered here.  The second volume, covering the last 25 years, will be released on August 30th. It can be pre-ordered here.

Watch this space for a review once I've read them!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Book Review: Leonard

The good folks at St. Martin's Press sent me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

William Shatner has written a whole series of memoirs, most of them with a focus on his Star Trek experiences.  I have to be honest and say that I didn't really enjoy most of them.  I often felt overwhelmed by the voice of the Shatner Persona and I frequently felt an attempt by Shatner to distance himself from Star Trek and the fans that have given him the lifestyle he has.  This book is different.

Here, I sense a maturity and honesty that was lacking in most of Shatner's other memoirs.  There was some of this in Up Till Now but in Leonard, I have the sense that William Shatner is becoming more comfortable with himself and his role in Star Trek fandom and I'm tempted to say that some of this was a result of the example set by Leonard Nimoy.  In the other books, I sensed an almost desperate need for the writer to be entertaining but here, he is actually just sharing from his heart.

The book begins with Shatner setting up the parallels between his own life and Leonard Nimoy's.  They were of an age, both from Jewish families that escaped Europe and both became fascinated with acting in childhood.  He goes on to discuss how they met and worked on Star Trek and how their friendship grew, not while the show was on the air, but in the 70s when they began to attend conventions together.  It seems logical to me that they would grow closer through this experience. No one but those few people who were involved in the show could possibly comprehend the Star Trek phenomenon and even those people sometimes took decades to really understand and come to terms with it.

This book is a love letter to Leonard Nimoy.  Shatner outlines Nimoy's career and describes the pleasure that Nimoy found in poetry and photography.  He discusses Nimoy's family life, struggles with alcoholism and the results of smoking and he talks about what he learned from Nimoy.  Shatner shares memories and quotations from other actors who worked with Nimoy (mostly Steve Guttenberg and John DeLancie) and also from Leonard's son, Adam Nimoy. Those who haven't read either of Leonard Nimoy's memoirs will discover new things about the man in this book.

It has been nearly a year since Leonard Nimoy left us and during that time I have been unable to watch any Star Trek with Nimoy in it.  His death continues to have a huge impact on me but I think I've now had enough time that I can go back and enjoy the work he left in the world.

William Shatner's Leonard is a portrait of the artist who had millions of friends across the globe.  It is the story of two men who lived through an unprecedented cultural phenomenon and who found friendship in the process.  Like most people who encountered him, William Shatner is a better person for having had Leonard Nimoy in his life and this book is well worth reading.  Trekkies will note a few small errors in Shatner's memory but they don't detract from the overall experience.  I felt a sense of closure about the loss of Leonard Nimoy when I came to the end of this book and I think other Trekkies will appreciate the truths Shatner reveals about himself in this memoir.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

For the Love of Spock

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, Adam Nimoy is making a film about his father, For the Love of Spock.

There was a successful Kickstarter campaign and the film is now on it's way! The official site is here. The Facebook page is here.