Interesting news item from IEEE Spectrum reports on the first prototype of a Tricorder medical scanning device. I was unaware that a Tricorder X Prize competition (in the same family as Space X for commercial space flights) was in progress.
Leonard Nimoy passed away yesterday at the age of 83. I could think of no better way to mark his passing than re-watching Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. The film is a remarkably poignant and moving eulogy for arguably the most iconic TV character of all time.
From the film…
Kirk: We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.
McCoy: He’s not really dead. As long as we remember him.
Nimoy’s Spock is a giant among Science Fiction characters, and as an integral part of Star Trek’s legacy, he inspired us to look forward, to imagine (and create) a brighter future. He was also a good guy.
I remember the story that has made its viral rounds on the Internet recently, about Nimoy’s touching response to a biracial girl in a teen magazine in 1968: Spock Responds to a Young Fan
I also remember the story of Nimoy holding out from signing on to one of the Star Trek movies until Nichelle Nichols and George Takei got better deals. Nichols and Takei were offered considerably less than the other members of the cast.
There are lots of people who write about their favorite Star Trek episodes, but I thought I’d try something different. I’m going to list my favorite Star Trek episodes to hate. To loathe. To rip apart, piece by putrid piece, on the Internet or at the pub.
You see, this evening I watched the notoriously bad Deep Space Nine episode “Profit and Lace”. It features Quark in drag. Yeah. Here’s the trailer:
I have all of Deep Space Nine available on demand from the cable company, and even though I profess to be a total Trekkie, I am woefully incomplete in watching the entire canon. I haven’t watched most of Voyager, only watched about a third of Deep Space Nine, and missed the back half of Enterprise. I’m told that Deep Space Nine is the best of all these, so I dove right into Season 6 and intend to watch to the end, before maybe starting again from the beginning.
So my wife and I have worked through most of Season 6 (pleasantly surprised), and came upon “Profit and Lace”. Afterwards, I turned to my wife and said “Weird, but that was pretty entertaining.” She said, “What the hell are you on? That was a nightmare. Maybe the worst episode ever.” I thought it was a funny take on women’s rights (Ferengi woman were finally given the right to wear clothes!) and it was progressive given how backwards Ferengi were about gender. My wife thought the whole episode was sexist and creepy and just… just horrible.
I agreed it was bad, but at least it was entertainingly bad. If I were to pick a worst episode at this point, it would have been a bit earlier in the same season. The episode was “His Way” and featured Odo learning to woo Kira from a holographic lounge singer, Vic. That episode was INTERMINABLE for me. We had to watch the improbably sentient and inexplicably powerful Vic sing an entire song while Odo pretended (yes PRETENDED) to play the piano.
However, the online vitriol against “Profit and Lace” is far more intense. It brings to mind the concept of fans targeting an episode that is so tonally different from the rest of a series that it becomes legendary in its badness.
For Star Trek: The Next Generation, that episode is probably “Samaritan Snare”, where a bunch of… simpletons, let’s say… abduct Geordi and force him to fix their ship. “We look for things. Things we need. Things that make us go.” Cringe. Nonetheless my brother and I still quote lines from it to each other, to this day.
My wife says the corresponding episode from Star Trek (The Original Series) is “Spock’s Brain”. I haven’t seen that in a long time, so I’ll have to re-watch that to see if I agree.