TV Review: Star Trek: Captain’s Log and more discussion of Trek

By Joe Viglione
Chief Film Critic, Entertainment Editor

The Biography channel, now known as Bio, has a captivating one hour special hosted by William Shatner entitled “Captain’s Log”. The official Bio TV site describes it as “Cast members from the original Star Trek series join host William Shatner for interviews and film clips from the ground-breaking series.”

It’s a good combination of snapshots from the original series taking some of the great acting moments between Leonard Nimoy, Jane Wyatt and Mark Lenard on 1967’s “Journey To Babel” as well as the interaction between Kirk, McCoy and Spock.  An emphasis on the diversity of the cast is made in this program with Nichelle Nichols telling how she wanted to leave after the first season only to be convinced by Dr. Martin Luther King at an NAACP meeting that her role as Nyota Uhura.

Walter Koenig, George Takei and James Doohan are also on hand stating the obvious to Star Trek followers, though the redundancy is for the viewing pleasure of the uninitiated and hardly gets boring for those immersed in Star Trek lore. If anything, a biopic like “Captain’s Log” proves the staying power of Star Trek, because many of us have seen and heard it all before, and we don’t mind seeing it all again.

This is not to be confused with the DVD “Captain’s Log: A Fan Collective” which reportedly contains “at least three episodes from each of the five “Star Trek” TV series.” Joan Collins and Bill Shatner add to the classic “City On The Edge of Forever” while there are introductions and interviews with with Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula and Shatner.

Box Office Mojo reports (and allows us to reprint) that the estimated gross for this weekend’s movie watching attendance (as of May 10, 2009) has Star Trek at #1 and Wolverine at #2

1. Star Trek (Paramount)

$72.5 million | 3,849 | $76.5 million | 1

2. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Fox)

$27.0 million | 4,102 | $129.6 million | 2

These films both left Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past, Obsessed and 17 Again in the dust.

Science Fiction and Fantasy stories were treated as second class citizens in both the television and film industries. “I find your lack of faith disturbing” Darth Vader said in Star Wars and he, no doubt, proved the lack of vision a true folly. Why we don’t have hundreds of episodes of the original Star Trek is a true cultural faux pas. Logic is rarely employed when money dictates the needs of the many, and those decisions are made by oftentimes unqualified executives without a clue.

The Dark Knight was the ultimate break through that sequel after sequel can improve upon the financial reward, and this writer’s instincts tell him that the next Star Trek is poised to be one of the biggest moneymakers of all time if those in command go back to the source, as The Dark Knight did by bringing back The Joker, and if Star Trek returns to Talos IV, the story that was the genesis of Star Trek, the pilot. It featured an alien race who created a simulated reality as in the Matrix film trilogy. The possibilities are endless.

The Usenet groups are buzzing over the current Star Trek film, and search engines return a plethora of information on the new movie. It’s an “undiscovered phenomenon”, if you will, how much is being written on the current Star Trek and Wolverine, interestingly enough, is losing ink because of the focus on this reinvention of something as essential to America as Coca Cola – which is why I brought up the “New Coke” reference earlier on this site.

It wasn’t to knock “New Coke” or the late Roberto from Coca Cola. It is actually a tip of the cap that marketing genius can be employed and how much more satisfying it is than forcing people to pay money to endure an infomercial such as 1997’s travesty, “Batman & Robin” featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger

Director Joel Schumacher gave us none of the tension found in his classics “A Time To Kill”(1996) or “8MM” (1999), instead, he took his own Batman Forever (1995) down a few pegs more turning the iconic figure of The Batman into a parody. Where Michael Keaton and Tim Burton took advantage of the Batman for their own edification, Schumacher nearly single-handedly destroyed the franchise. The relatively unknown Christopher Nolan, a jack of all trades in the film world, made the most of the opportunity.

Hindsight being 20/20, Joel Schumacher fares worse than the executives at Decca Records who passed on The Beatles, because Schumacher has the skills and failed to put any of the drama of 8mm into Batman, where it belonged.

History has many examples of people interfering in the making of great art. Art, somehow, has to ram its way through to the consciousness of the public,something tender has to generate an invisible toughness, a very strange balance, in order to survive.

Survival of the fittest, as Darwin might say. I’ll be commenting more frequently on television and film on TMR Zoo so send your ideas over on what you’d like to see more discussion of.

I’ll be commenting more frequently on television and film on TMR Zoo so send your ideas over on what you’d like to see more discussion of.