What a week this has been in Trekland, eh?
Another anniversary celebrated on franchise premiere airdate, Sept. 8… and a Star for our own Walter “Chekov” Koenig on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A big chunk of my recent days was spent amidst the latter—the actual “Star” ceremony for Walter, plus the festivities organized for fans and friends by Sky Conway’s Planet Xpo the weekend prior. You’ve seen and read all about the goings-on here at startrek.com and elsewhere … but it’s events such as these that really provide cause for pause, and maybe some reflections taken “between the lines” of actual happenings.
For one thing, the fans who made it to Walter’s weekend festivities remind me anew that this is not a stagnant phenomenon we spend our time with. Fans from as far as Australia, the UK and Germany, Trek’s traditionally strongest and oldest foreign markets, made it to honor Walter—but they weren’t the only ones. Even though travel and fees do require a certain amount of coin, the crowd was still full of newer fans. Coupled with the folks I met in Vegas who were rookies at not only that event but to any convention at all—even their hometown, multi-genre bash—Star Trek fandom is a healthy and vibrant thing. And those worries about franchise stagnation a decade ago seem far away indeed.
And that was a thought I tried to share with those on hand for the opening of Saturday’s screenings with Walter at the Egyptian Theatre, where I had been asked to kick off the weekend with some thoughts and interaction on not just our honoree, but Star Trek in general. As a show-of-hands poll predictably revealed, this crowd did indeed skew to veteran fans—who were exactly the folks I wanted this day to get my new point: IDIC.
That’s right, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination: the original Gene Roddenberry Vision Thing, crystallized back in 1968 and couched as Vulcanese but obviously meant as all the broad-minded philosophy underpinning everything Star Trek. This veteran fan crowd of course knew that, but perhaps not the way I applied it: to fans themselves.
As I shared that day, it took European fans to make me realize how the entirety of Star Trek’s boosters today were not all watching week to week in 1966… or even 1987. World events and pop culture are not a part of the experience bound up in all 737 hours of Trek for all viewers — in fact, no one’s personal story with Trek is like any other. And that’s never more true than now, not only for our foreign brethren, but for Trekkies right here in the U.S. of A.… especially those just now finding the Prime Universe after having joined the family after J.J. Abram’s entre in 2009.
If that all sounds, well, obviously duh, try this angle for size: Trek’s popularity and the march of time means, inevitably, that a day will come when no fans saw their faves in prime time NBC in 1966… or first-run syndication in 1987… or headlining UPN in 1994, or 2001. Just as with Sherlock Holmes or Superman and Batman, Trekfans will eventually come along who never had that original “I was there” connection—only the chance to livestream it on Netflix, or 3D projections in their Home Holodeck, or whatever. And they won’t care, because the message will still be the thing…. a hundred years from now. And hopefully far longer.
Not that we don’t hope for future memories of all-new weekly Trek or movie premieres, of course… but just savor THAT one for a moment. And then consider this, my other takeaway of the weekend: Call it a resolution, of sorts.
For even as we tritely toss around truisms, last weekend’s celebration really was The End of an Era. We may say as a fact that “Walter is the last of the original cast to receive a Star on the Walk of Fame,” but we act as if that’s expected, or typical. Seriously? Name another series, whose entire main cast has been so enshrined—especially from the 60s, a TV era when the format dynamic was “lead role/second banana/other guys.” Walter’s achievement is truly another feather in the cap of why Star Trek overall is special—not just in sci-fi or television, but pop culture—nay, culture itself. And kudos to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce (and all Walter’s supportive fans) for recognizing that.
Which is why this was truly An Event Such as This. And why I kept kicking myself that I did not attend Jimmy Doohan’s ceremony, the last Trek Star unveiling, back in 2004. What was I thinking? I had the proximity and means—and we were even part of his Retirement Celebration program the weekend prior. But there were too many Communicator or Fact Files deadlines, I suppose, to make it myself. Fortunately it was all filmed—a fact underlined Saturday as well when Wende Doohan shared footage of the late Neil Armstrong’s heartfelt comments to her hubby at THAT event, never seen in public since the live audience.
My point is, conventions and the like happen every year, but some moments truly are one of a kind—the literal and figurative definition of “unique,” as it should be. We all have our budget and logistical limits, obviously, but recent days have led me to vow never to miss such events again—such as the make-up Westmore Family Star ceremony in 2008 with Michael, or Leonard Nimoy’s farewell convention appearance at Creation Vegas last year.
And that’s why, I suppose, I’ve become more and more bent on preserving our Trek heritage when I have a chance to do so, with projects like The Con of Wrath documentary, or my new Trekland: On Speaker interview archive CDs. Gene’s Star Trek vision shows no let-up in attracting new fans, whether first-run or re-run… but they obviously won’t have the chance to experience what we’ve all seen, variously, and we need to make sure they can still get at least a taste of that texture.
Or why I keep urging local fans to do the same thing in their own neck of the woods—and smiling when I see it happening.
So what’s the most memorable Star Trek moment you’ve ever been witness to, if you have been so lucky? Or what’s been the Trek event, planned or unplanned, you likewise regret not being on hand for?
Larry Nemecek, author of The Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, Star Trek Magazine columnist and longtime editor of Star Trek Communicator, is currently producing The Con of Wrath, a documentary about the most “glorious failure” convention ever. He will also host the 2013 return of the “Hollywood to Vegas: Trek Film Sites” tour for Geek Nation Tours; click HERE for details. Larry shares his years as Star Trek author, historian, consultant and insider at conventions and on larrynemecek.com. His posts and original video chats with all your favorites are at Treklandblog.com, plus @larrynemecek on Twitter and Larry Nemecek’s Trekland on Facebook.
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