Report from Shore Leave
Written By: Randy Hall
Published: Issue 15
First, let me apologize for not having a column in last week's newsletter, but work got hairy just as I was preparing to leave for one of the biggest conventions I attend every year, and between doing panels and talking with friends and other fans I only see at cons, it came down to a choice between writing and snoozing, and I fell asleep while trying to decide. Sometimes, life gets in the way of Trek¼
But as long as I have Shore Leave on my mind, let me share with you some of the "fascinating" things that happened during one of the largest fan-run cons on the East Coast.
There was only one Classic Trek guest, Lawrence Montaigne, who played Stonn in "Amok Time," which just happens to be my favorite episode of the original series. This was also one of his first convention appearances, and he sold many autographed pictures. I bought one, which he cheerfully personalized after I told him how much I enjoyed that episode and "Balance of Terror," in which he played a Romulan subcommander.
I have to admit that I enjoy seeing folks like him get a chance to mingle with the fans and make a few quatloos on the side for his part in the Star Trek phenomenon. Even though he's now bald on top with gray hair on the sides, he still sounds like Stonn when that character "made the ancient claim" after T'Pring chose Kirk as her champion instead of him.
As usual, I took 50 BBK flyers with me, which I placed on the "fan table" five to 10 at a time. By the end of the con, 48 of them had been picked up, and I hope these folks will soon join our ever-growing ranks.
While there weren't any Bring Back Kirk panels this time around, I took part in several discussions, including one on "Sulu and the Excelsior" on Friday night. Usually, it can be difficult to coax people to join in a discussion, but not this time. My biggest problem as moderator was trying to keep only one person talking at a time!
There was a great deal of enthusiasm for more Classic Trek (especially TV movies on UPN), though one part of the discourse surprised me. Whenever anyone mentioned an aspect of current Trek that might lead The Powers That Be to consider going back to Trek's original roots-such as the disappointing box office take of INSURRECTION-many persons could hardly hold back their expressions of dissatisfaction and frustration at how the phenomenon they once loved so much had fallen on hard times.
Now, I realize that the individuals who attended this panel were more likely to support Classic Trek than the "average fan." However, I can say with certainty that there's a contingent of people (and those who attend conventions tend to be persons who are more devoted to Trek than your regular TV viewer) coming ever closer to simply giving up on Star Trek.
I came across similar sentiments at a panel on "The Future of Trek," during which a different group of people voiced many of the same concerns. With Insurrection setting very few fans on fire and Voyager one season away from the REALLY final frontier, several people voiced the troubling possibility that such shows as Farscape, Earth: Final Conflict, and Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda could take Trek's place among many sci-fi fans. And it was difficult for me to disagree with them, since this is the first year in a long time that my favorite sci-fi program isn't a Star Trek series. (It's Stargate SG-1, by the way.)
All of those shows and more (including Buffy, the Umpire Slugger-uh, Vampire Slayer) were discussed on other panels, and I had more than my share of fun along the way. In one of the video rooms, they showed GALAXY QUEST, and I thoroughly enjoyed moderating a chat on that movie, which included discussing the many, many references to Star Trek and Tim Allen's sympathetic portrayal of the William Shatner/Captain Kirk character. My final comment on that film was this: "I wish STAR TREK X would be half as much fun as GALAXY QUEST. What am I saying? STAR TREK X probably WILL be half as much fun as GALAXY QUEST!"
When the weekend was over, it was sad to go back to the world of electric bills and pesky telemarketers, but I'm planning to attend at least a few more conventions in the months to come.
Did anyone attend the Creation cons held in Memphis, Tennessee, and Houston, Texas, the weekend of July 8-9? One of the guests at both of those overlapping gatherings was Grace Lee Whitney, Classic Trek's own Janice Rand. And I'm sure there were at least a few original series stars at Fantasticon in Los Angeles, California, this past weekend. If you went, tell me about it by writing to RandyHall@aol.com.