Friday, February 27, 2015

The Final Frontier

Spock (Leonard Nimoy):          "Random chance seems to have operated in our favor."
Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley):  "In plain, non-Vulcan English, we've been lucky" 
Spock:                                         "I believe I said that, Doctor" -- Spock 
(The Doomsday Machine, 1967)

Noting the passing of iconic actor Leonard Nimoy at age 83.

The show was from another age. The "special effects" were special then, rudimentary (almost comical) now. TV's had tubes, removable to be tested at the drugstore. There were three channels, four if one counted the nascent PBS entry on UHF (whatever that meant). Late in the afternoon, with our "Rangoon, Burma calling" antenna on the roof, Star Trek was attainable from Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. 

Captain James T. Kirk (played by the nearly universally detested William Shatner) always got the girl, but Spock got the best lines. Allegedly emotionless, Nimoy could make even the most deadpan of delivery ooze with engaging dryness. Informed that "nobody helps nobody but himself" Spock sighs. "Sir," he says, pained expression stealing the scene, "You are employing a double negative." When Kirk wins a war of words with a killing machine Spock's compliment has two very sharp edges - "Your logic is impeccable, Captain. We are in grave danger."

Nimoy played other parts after Star Trek but never quite shook off the role of Spock. Among the books he wrote were I Am Not Spock in 1975, followed twenty years later by I Am Spock. The Star Trek movies rekindled the voyages of his alter ego and renewed our relationship with him.

Star Trek strode brilliantly ahead of its time with scripts about mutually assured destruction, proxy wars involving balance of power and the ever delightful notion that some cultures will imitate anything, even the Roaring Twenties. Center screen, just behind the overacting captain, was half human, half Vulcan Spock reminding us of the yin and yang inside of all of us.

Live long and prosper exploring new worlds and new ideas, Mr. Nimoy.

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