Destination Star Trek 3 kicked off in style on Friday with a screening of The Wrath of Khan on the Enterprise Stage, the largest of the three stages that'll be bustling with stars and events all weekend at the Excel Center in London. Fans got to experience the movie in all its glory thanks to a crisp HD version of the terrific TOS saga being shown. And after the lights went up, post-screening, director Nicholas Meyer stepped onto the stage to share his memories of making the film.
He recounted how, unfamiliar with Trek at the time, the script he received and the episodes he'd been given reminded him of the Horatio Hornblower books. "The whole nautical element descended from that," he said. Based on seeing The Motion Picture, he didn't understand, "why the interior of the Enterprise resembled a Holiday Inn or why they wore pajamas." So it was his mission on Trek II to "make it more claustrophobic."
Around the same time Meyer was on stage, Nichelle Nichols, looking gorgeous, started posing for her photo ops. The line snaked throughout an impressive portion of the main room. "I'm so happy to be here," she told StarTrek.com. "Even after all these years it's wonderful to see old friends and new friends."
To give you some perspective, the DST3 floor space resembles a giant rectangle, with sections devoted to photo ops (several, actually for actor shots, but also an Enterprise Bridge and two Borg alcoves), autographs, a publication alley, a Klingon Zone (in which to eat, drink and grunt), an art gallery, a gaming area and booths with all manner of products -- from shirts to posters, Trek Blu-rays to personalized 3D figurines and much, much more.
There's a museum, too, a sprawling space featuring props and uniforms, etc. Among the highlights: Brent Spiner's STX director's chair, a menu from Quark's Bar at Star Trek: The Experience (how about Flaming Ribs of Targ to eat and a James Tea Kirk to drink?), a Romulan rifle from Star Trek (2009) and Nichelle Nichols' bathrobe.
And in addition to the Enterprise Stage, there are two other stages -- the Voyager Stage and the Excelsior Stage -- that will be used throughout the weekend for star talks, makeup demonstrations, auctions, trivia quizzes, One Trek Mind LIVE sessions and more.
Over on the Voyager Stage, the day's first session there was Tomorrow Is Yesterday: Bringing the Tech of Trek to Life, led by David Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft and a lifelong Trek fan. "Star Trek showed me, as a kid, that technology is supposed to be a force for good. It's supposed to be transformative. It's why I got into IT. It's why I work for Microsoft."
However, he argued, "We suck at change." Case in point: keyboards, which were created, in essence, 143 years ago for manual typewriters, so that the keys didn't hit each other. Yet even now, as we use computers, the letters remain in place on our keyboards. Coplin also talked about Microsoft's Cortana. It can speak Klingon because "the guy who does coding for Cortana is a huge Star Trek fan." At the end of the day, Coplin stressed, "We have to overcome. We have to adapt."
Over on the Excelsior Stage, StarTrek.com blogger Jordan Hoffman led a spirited debate at the first One Trek Mind LIVE panel of the weekend. The goal was to pick the top 10 TNG episodes. "The Inner Light" won the day, while "Tapestry" made the Top 10, something it didn't do during a similar poll in Vegas. Could it be a British thing?
Back on the Voyager Stage, several more sessions kept fans entertained. First, Casey Biggs, Aron Eisenberg and Max Grodenchik had everyone laughing as they teased each other and shared old stories. Oddly enough, though they'd all done many conventions, this particular trio had never been teamed up before. Biggs noted that "DS9 was the black sheep of the Star Trek family.
TNG was still on, so they left us alone." Eisenberg concurred, saying, "There wasn't a ship going from point A to B. So the stories came to the space station. The writers needed to show the life on the station. That was good for (the many recurring actors and characters). Later, a fan asked the guys if they took anything from the set. "I took my teeth," Grodenchik said, referring to Rom's chompers. "No one else would want them."
Next up were The Women of Star Trek, with Hana Hatae, Suzie Plakson and Alice Krige, with an energetic Anthony Montgomery moderating.
Krige was asked about the Borg Queen's demise, which prompted this much-cheered comment: "I don't think she's dead. She's out there. And I think she will come back when she's ready." Plakson played several roles on Trek. Her favorite? "The Q," she said. "I loved being so arrogant."
And the night ended back over on the Enterprise stage with an Opening Ceremony hosted by Jonathan Ross, a popular British presenter who knew his Trek and bantered with each Trek guest. The room was packed and loud as fans welcomed all the guests, some introduced solo and others in groupings.
Next was Brent Spiner. Ross asked if he would ever consider playing Data again which Spiner replied "if I was the only TNG cast member."
John De Lancie followed with wondering if he had real Q powers, what he'd do. The De Lancie answer would be "I'd wish everybody to be happy," while the Q answer would be, "I'd like to put organized religion back in the bottle."
And on it went: Gates McFadden and Denise Crosby.
Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn and LeVar Burton with Marina showing off her Tottenham Spurs tattoo.
The Enterprise Blues Band featuring Steve Rankin, Vaughn Armstrong and Casey Biggs promoted the evening's party and their concert.
And Anthony Montgomery took the opportunity to introduce his comic book series to fans.
Nichelle Nichols, escorted by Robert Picardo. "We're together," Picardo said. "We met on the plane and and fell in love." And the two kissed passionately, to tremendous applause.
They were followed by Andre Bormanis, Ronald B. Moore and Larry Nemecek.
William Shatner joined Ross on stage with the two bantering -- and quite amusingly -- about whether or not he may appear in the next Trek movie.
Ross then introduced the trio of Hana Hatae, Alice Krige and Suzie Plakson.
The duos of Ethan Phillip and Tim Russ.
And the new movie franchise's Karl Urban and Bruce Greenwood.
Ross peppered Nicholas Meyer with multiple questions about Ricardo Montalban's chest, while Aron Eisenberg and Max Grodenchik displayed more of their great chemistry.
James Darren sang a few notes of music, drawing cheers.
And it all ends with a radiant Jeri Ryan discussing the challenges of coming on to Voyager mid-run and admitting she took a cool piece of the set when it was all over. "I have the Borg alcove in my game room," she said. "It's in there with the pool table, and the lights still work!"
Visit StarTrek.com again tomorrow for a recap of day two. Sure to be among the highlights: a TNG reunion moderated by William Shatner.