My journey to Creation Entertainment's Official Star Trek Convention included a tacked-on trip to Sherman's Pleasure Planet (a/k/a the Carolina Coast for a week's stay with family), but now I'm back and ready to give my damage report.
As I did last year, I hosted four One Trek Mind LIVE panels in which I tried to share the joy and pain of crafting a top ten list (i.e., the Internet's warp core engine) on a specific Star Trek topic. In 2012 we tackled Best Fights, Best TOS & TNG Episodes and Most Useless Aliens. This year we mined for deeper dilithium.
First up, Best Supporting Character. Since the One Trek Mind Live audiences are natural-born lawyers, I quickly laid down the parameters. If the actor portraying the character was listed in the opening credits, they aren't supporting. Quark, therefore, isn't supporting. On the other end, they had to appear more than once. Trelane is just a guest appearance. So between Quark and Trelane: that's where Jumja stick lies.
The winner was no surprise. I even suggested we call this “Garak and the Next Nine.” Q gave the mysterious Cardassian tailor/black ops specialist a run for his latinum, as did the duplicitous Gul Dukat, but the audience agreed that the godlike member of the Continuum who started and ended The Next Generation should get the number two spot.
Some surprises: I thought Ro Laren would rank a little higher. She had many vocal supporters, but also a good number of people booing each time her name was mentioned. The other oddity was that no one, not even Harcourt Fenton Mudd, made it from TOS. For a while Vash was on the board, but even with me screaming “she's the interstellar Indiana Jones who won Picard's heart!” she got bounced. And my dark horse pick of Keenser, the li'l green guy from the reboot films, never was a real contender, though I got many to admit that he's a great addition to Star Trek. (I say “many” and not “all.” One heckler shouted out “he's worse than Jar-Jar!”) Alas, Liquidator Brunt's failure to rank prevented this from being a Jeffrey Combs trifecta alongside Shran and Weyoun.
Also: we've only got one Klingon – and it was Martok repping over all the Ks: Kor, Kang, Koloth, K'Ehleyr, Kahless (he appeared twice, kinda) and Kurn. Someone must have poisoned the Bloodwine.
The second panel was even more contentious – it was time to rank the Star Trek films.
Now, just because something has to come in last doesn't make it a bad film. Somebody has to bring up the rear! But others in the press (see Hollywood Reporter) felt the need to stir up some controversy.
Personally, I like the fact that we have Khan bookending the list here. As far as the inclusion of Galaxy Quest, it was none other than Denise and Mike Okuda who came to the mic to vouch for it. I'm okay with it on the list, as it really does represent the spirit of Star Trek, as well as being a love letter to the fans.
Before I move off this topic, I'll give my stock response when asked about Star Trek Into Darkness. The film has tremendous casting, dynamite action sequences and is propulsive and fun. So, other than switching the order of Generations and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I'm ready to sign off on how we ranked the films.
Our third panel was bright and early on a Saturday morning, but still we had plenty of fans ready to pick our Best Assembled Crew.
This was a little different – we wanted to create a fantasy team, the best (not our favorites) who would be able to work together and represent Starfleet to its fullest potential. It was difficult work, and it involved numerous changes. We initially had Uhura at Communications, a fan favorite, but after some testimony about Hoshi Sato's ability to do her duty before the Universal Translator, we had to make the switch.
There was trench warfare about O'Brien vs. Scotty as Chief Engineer, too. Some argued that O'Brien's ability to make sense of a busted-up Cardassian station proved there was no task beyond him, but “The Miracle Worker” had more crowd support. Having a position called “Wild Card” was perfect for Data, something of a Jack of All Trades, and this way we were able to slip Dax, with her hundreds of years of experience, in at Helm. There was no debate that Odo should be security (sorry, Worf) and while everyone loves Bones, we agreed that The Doctor is best for the job.
Hardly anyone disagreed that Spock was the perfect First Officer, but this caused some friction for the Captain's seat. You may be surprised to read that few were rooting for Kirk. Everyone loves and respects Kirk, but many came to the mic to testify that Picard is probably the best captain.
However! Picard was determined not to be the best captain for this crew. With Spock by his side, having Picard in the center seat seemed a little too cerebral. We needed an original thinker, and someone with a little more bravado. It soon became a protracted, near-dead heat of Janeway versus Sisko.
At the end, Janeway was voted the leader. Her ability to get the crew back from the Delta Quadrant by any means necessary – a crew that started off as foes – won her case. Her close ties with Tuvok suggested that she and Spock would work well together, and everyone wanted to see what off-hours with her and Scotty would be like. (If I were ever to write fan fiction, it might be just that.)
We knew we had the right crew when everyone felt a little bit of unspecified dissatisfaction – that's how compromise works!
Exhausted after picking the Best Crew, we still had to get up for an 8:30 Sunday morning panel to decide Who's Number Two?
We all schlepped to Las Vegas to celebrate the greatest every science fiction franchise – Star Trek - but what are the others on the top ten list?
As you could imagine, this began as a free-for-all. Consider that The Twilight Zone, Space: 1999 and The Hitchhikers' Guide To The Galaxy didn't even make our working list.
But many others did, including The Terminator and 2001: A Space Odyssey (it was one movie, but multiple books!”) Then they got nixed, causing otherwise nice, normal people to scream at me from their seats. To the woman whose heart I shattered when we finally scrapped Farscape, know that I didn't do it nonchalantly. And I promise that by the next Vegas Con, I'll watch the show.
I like that Star Wars comes in right in the middle at number five. Do you think Star Wars fans would return the favor at one of their get togethers? I am skeptical, but I like being the one handing out the olive branch.
On a personal note, I think I'd have Battlestar Galactica in the number two spot, but The X-Files received a groundswell of support. As one person put it, the character of Scully was a major step forward for women in science fiction. While no one would accuse Gillian Anderson of lacking sex appeal, prior to her a woman in sci-fi was (usually) eye candy only. Also, the show was way ahead of the curve in terms of maintaining a multi-season arc.
Leading One Trek Mind Live panels leave me a battered shell of a man. (If you think I'm joking, try getting yelled at my a man holding a Bat'leth before breakfast and get back to me.) But I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. I had a great time talking with fans and loved roving the halls during the rest of the four-day celebration. Watching an Android and Andorian singing “Love Shack” during the karaoke party is a memory I'll treasure forever. Or at least until next year.
About Jordan Hoffman
Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can also be seen on Film.com, ScreenCrush and Badass Digest. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels.
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