Let Them Watch Tape

Written By: Randy Hall

Published: Issue 22


One of the underlying themes of this column has been (and probably always will be) the differences between conventions put on by professionals and cons run by fans. At pro events, there's usually one track of programming, and you can either sit in your seat and enjoy it, browse around the dealer's room, or spend some quality time in the little captain's room. This sometimes leads to folks in attendance complaining that "There's not enough to do here!"


But when fans get together for a con, there's usually a wide variety of activities ... even if you've seen the main guests so many times that you're on a first-name basis with them or have no quatloos to spread around the dealer's room. One of these alternatives is known as the video room, where videotapes of TV show episodes or movies are shown.


Depending on the convention, the video room can be a gold mine of recent films or episodes you may have missed (because life sometimes gets in the way of Trek). Some cons even show tapes of guest appearances from previous years' events. But mostly, what you see in the video room will be examples of the guest actors' work in Star Trek and other science-fiction TV shows.


For example, if William Campbell is one of the guests, you can expect the video room to show "The Squire of Gothos" (in which Campbell played Trelane) and "The Trouble with Tribbles," when he returned to portray Captain Koloth, Kirk's Klingon nemesis in that show. Similarly, if William Shatner is at the event, there'll be big James T. episodes like "The Corbomite Maneuver" or "City on the Edge of Forever" and maybe even Shatner's recent outings on 3rd Rock from the Sun.


Many cons still show most, if not all, of the Star Trek movies, right from The Motion Picture up through the most recent flick. (Insert your own Insurrection joke here.) Other recent sci-fi films, such as "The Matrix" and "Galaxy Quest", are also featured for the fans' viewing pleasure.


The programming for most video rooms comes from folks connected to the convention who've used their trusty VCRs to tape their favorite shows and agree to share them with fellow fans. Recently released movies are an inexpensive investment when you consider how much time they fill in a two- or three-day schedule. And with the arrival of DVDs of episodes and movies, I suspect we'll soon be seeing the additional material on those in these rooms as well.


Meanwhile, back at the BBK movement...


A video room can be another good place to reach fans who want James Kirk back. At the very least, placing BBK flyers in or near the room before and after a Classic Trek episode is being shown is a good idea if you feel uncomfortable handing them out yourself.


I have mixed feelings about distributing flyers when the film on the schedule is "Generations". First of all, I think that Kirk fans aren't eager to watch this movie any more often than we have to. Therefore, it's fairly logical to assume that most of the folks in the room are Next Gen fans who care little about the final fate of our favorite captain. Still, it can't hurt to put a few flyers around at the end in case some people are finally turned off by the shoddy death James T. received.


On the other hand, if you want to see "The Wrath of Khan" or "The Final Frontier" again, you just might be among people who feel as you do regarding BBK and might accept flyers inviting them to join our campaign.


Also, if you have tapes of Classic Trek episodes that feature one of the guests at the con, you might volunteer to loan them for use in the video room, especially if they're the special editions shown on the Sci-Fi Channel and hosted by ... well, you know who. And you might just ask if you can place BBK flyers in or near the room in return for the use of your videotape(s).


Still, video rooms are only one of the ways fan-run cons provide alternate entertainment for those in attendance. We'll be looking at some others over the next several weeks.


Convention Calendar:

If anyone is attending the Slanted Fedora convention in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina, this weekend featuring Leonard Nimoy as the main guest, I'd REALLY appreciate it if you can take some BBK flyers with you! This looks like a great opportunity to reach folks who are likely to be sympathetic to our cause. If you're willing to do this, please send me e-mail at RandyHall@aol.com as soon as possible!