On a more serious note
So, I'm going to deviate somewhat from the stuff I normally write to touch on something serious for a change. I don't do this often, but in the best tradition of Star Trek itself I'm not shying away from a topical issue I feel is important to discuss.
Over a year into this ongoing pandemic we have a number of vaccines available around the world with even more on the way. Researchers, Scientists, Doctors, Nurses, and all manner of medical personnel in laboratories, hospitals, clinics, and tents have worked tirelessly (my own wife among them) for this moment. For many of these people the work has shifted from caring for the sick and dying, to vaccinating humanity against this disease. It's a vital, and necessary act.
Just as vital and for the good of our species - is the need for everyone able to receive a vaccination to do so.
The other day I took the first of two shots required for vaccination against Covid-19, and within an hour of that dose I encountered people who said that they had no intention of being inoculated against this virus. Not because they had any physiological reason to refuse the vaccine, but because they simply didn't want it. That disturbed me greatly.
I had encountered someone (more than one) with an ideological objection to a preventative shot against a viral entity whose very existence has been so costly to our entire world.
I thought of Star Trek, and medical personnel like Doctor McCoy, Nurse Chapel (eventually an M.D. herself), Doctor M'Benga and others like Crusher, Bashir, Voyager’s EMH, and Phlox - who searched for cures to deadly ailments usually under dire circumstances.
You wouldn't refuse medication from any of them, right? So why now?
There's actually quite a few reasons people give - allergic reactions to certain medical ingredients is one valid reason. But among the vast majority of people refusing to take their medicine, it really comes down to trust.
Distrust in today's institutions, in governments, in medical centers, and leaders.
Decades (in some cases centuries) of systematic, institutionalized inequality has eroded the trust necessary for some people to roll up their sleeves for a shot, and that can't just be hand-waved away.
But, like it or not - believe it or not... mass inoculation has to happen.
For your own health, for the health of people you love, for the health of people around you, in your community, in your country, and for your species, we all need to do the simple heroic thing and be vaccinated.
While worldwide clinical trials have largely proven that almost everyone can receive Covid-19 vaccines, there may be some who have underlying medical issues, and thus valid concerns about being vaccinated. With that in mind,
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has provided an info page to help people with these concerns which can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/underlying-conditions.html
People forget, but the Polio virus once raged around the world, destroying lives everywhere it went. When the Salk Vaccine became available, people took it.
When the later Sabin-Chumakov vaccine became available, even more had access to it and between the two vaccines numbers of world wide infections nosedived by 90%. Since then the number of cases reported each year has continually - significantly dropped.
For example, there were an estimated 350,000 cases reported in 1988; now contrast that against just 33 cases of wild Polio in 2018! Today, Polio has mostly been eradicated from our planet through the cooperation of nations around the world and because of ordinary people like you and me taking the vaccine.
That kind of success story can happen again, but only if everyone pulls together to see it done. It requires the same commitment to one another that Spock demonstrated so well in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan when he said;
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”
That axiom is perfect for the situation we find ourselves in today.
There are no magic words I have that can make anyone feel better regarding something they feel unsure about.
Some people out there - justified or not - feel that by rolling up their sleeve they are opening themselves up to a risk. Here again, Gene Roddenberry has something to say about risk in a scene he inserted into the script for "Return to Tomorrow."
"Risk … risk is our business.
That's what this starship is all about. That's why we're aboard her."
Captain Kirk was talking about a different circumstance than the one we find ourselves in today, but he's not wrong. There's risk in every decision we make in life. You can't live without it, but we can’t afford to let doubt keep us from taking those risks that benefit all humanity.
I know that our blogs are usually focused on the more fun aspects of our shared fandoms, but this topic is too important, and the price of inaction too costly to go without some measure of discussion.
As concerned citizens of our shared planet we ask that if you are medically able to do so, that you please consider taking the vaccine as it becomes available to you. You'll be doing more for yourself, your fellow humans, and our future than you may realize.
We have great things to do together, united by this common simple act as the people that inhabit Planet Earth.
Remember, “The Human Adventure Is Just Beginning.”
Live Long and Prosper,
If you live in the United States and would like more information about getting a Covid-19 vaccination as the rollout continues, please checkout NBC’s “Plan Your Vaccine” website which has useful tools for determining your eligibility and vaccination locations within the 50 states.
What's Happening with
STAR TREK Strange New Worlds
There's been a lot going on lately in almost every corner of our lives. The headlines are almost overwhelming. Winter storms, the continuing pandemic, freak tornados, presidential decrees, spring training, congressional actions...it's all a bit too much. So you could certainly be forgiven for missing perhaps my favorite piece of news - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has embarked on its first season of production.
Cast & Crew assembled this week at the new CBS Stages Canada near Toronto. Literally "The Stages that Star Trek Built" this is a brand new studio that houses no less than six soundstages, production offices, support facilities, and auxiliary services for large-scale television and film production.
The opening and continued expansion of CBS Stages Canada is proof positive of the enormous success of this modern era of Star Trek productions.
The standing sets for the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (and other locations as needed) are here, which allows Star Trek: Discovery to remain in production at the same time down the road in Shepperton Studios Toronto. Star Trek: Picard also got underway in LA this week, and this marks the first time since 1999 that two or more Star Trek television shows have been in near simultaneous production (DS9 season 7 & VOY season 5). This is turning out to be a great year for Star Trek’s 55th Anniversary!
So with Strange New Worlds on the horizon, it's worth discussing its place in the timeline. The last time we saw the Enterprise the year was 2258, and she was leaving Earth to undertake Captain Christopher Pike's second five year mission. This was after the U.S.S. Discovery left that era for the far distant future of 3189. After that we were treated to three more Short Treks involving one or more of the Enterprise's crew (though we're never told specifically when those stories take place).
2258 is a fantastic time for a series like this to be set in. It's close enough to TOS, but mostly unexplored in the timeline. We know that at this point in "the history of the future," Captain Pike's eventual successor is serving somewhere in Starfleet. He's most likely a Lieutenant aboard the U.S.S. Farragut and probably itching for promotion to Lt. Commander. And that's about it. Giving Strange New Worlds a whole new final frontier of stories to explore.
It's been said more than once by SNW's creators & producers, that this new show is something of a throwback to an earlier era of TV story telling style. The show is designed to feel more episodic (think "Planet of the Week''), than its sibling shows. And, more of an emphasis placed on the sort of morality/adventure mixture that Star Trek: The Original Series excelled at.
The Original Series itself is an important player in the development of SNW.
If done correctly, Strange New Worlds will be an important companion series to the original in fascinating ways. It will give us new adventures that will (hopefully) entertain and thrill new Trekkies and old, while at the same time preparing the way for the inevitable arrival of the Star Trek franchise's first & greatest captain. A captain I honestly hope we never really see in the new show.
Strange New Worlds is by all rights Captain Pike's show (as much as it is Lieutenant Spock's, and Number One's), and so I hope the producers can resist the urge to introduce us to his replacement.
I'd be happy with a cameo at the end of the last episode... maybe.
A handshake during the Enterprise's change of command ceremony. That would be enough for me. And should be enough for anybody. After all, science fiction has told us for decades that two iterations of the same person shouldn't meet. If that's the case then our Captain Pike just shouldn't hang out with our Captain Kirk.
I've heard a lot of fans talk about how much they love Anson Mount's performance as Captain Christopher Pike. I do too.
But, I would be remiss as a lifelong Trekkie if I didn't point out that on paper Captains Pike & Kirk are nearly the same character. Toss out the name change and back story (it's less than half an hour from Iowa to Mojave by standard shuttlecraft), and you have essentially the same character. Oh, when we meet Jeffery Hunter's Chris Pike in "The Menagerie'' when he's sullen and contemplating leaving Starfleet due to the ship's recent events. But that does not define who he was, and by the end of that adventure he's discovered his purpose again. He possesses a renewed sense of self and desire to explore.
That's the Chris Pike we meet in Discovery season 2. An energized, "ready for anything" Captain Pike. He's a charismatic leader with wit, and an effortless (seeming) command style. Remind you of anyone? Captain Kirk is (in almost any way that matters) Captain Pike and vice versa. If you can write one, you can write the other. Their motives, ways, and means are so similar as to be identical.
Thus if you like one, chances are you'll like the other. Of course everyone's perception is different, and I'll leave it up to you to see or not - their similarities.
Either way, I'm delighted. Any chance to go aboard the Enterprise makes me happy. I grew up to be a fan of the entire franchise, but The Original Series is my childhood home. It's the one place in all of Star Trek where I am most comfortable. I'm happiest "living" somewhere between 2233 and 2293 (look it up), and Strange New Worlds is going to take all of us there. Transport us all the way back to NCC-1701.
Look at that! No letters after the number and no alternate universe...
Just THE U.S.S. ENTERPRISE.
Its Home. I can't wait! ...Are we there yet?
John is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.
Did you know that from the very start of STAR TREK, a captain has always had the option of wearing a different uniform of the day from the rest of the crew?
During TOS, Captain James T. Kirk often wore one of two Command Green Wraparound Tunics. The First of these (and my favorite) can be seen in episodes like "The Enemy Within” and “Court Martial”.
I always thought it looked sharp. It's more structured and detailed than it's brighter second season counterpart.
I especially loved it's early first season “reverse helix” captain's rank braid on the shoulders.
Original Series costume designer William Ware Theiss was an absolute genius when it came to details and the braid on the shoulders is a perfect example.
On one level you can see where the shape he's chosen resembles the gold oak leaf clusters (sometimes called "Scrambled Eggs" by military service members) that adorn the bills of Command grade officer's service caps in the Armed Forces.
On another level Mr. Theiss is playing with a shape he used time and again and would eventually influence the design of the shoulders on his first season Next Generation uniform jumpsuits.
The green wraparound tunic Captain Kirk wears during the first season of Star Trek™: The Original Series is an optional tunic Starship captains are permitted to wear while on duty. The uniform displays his rank braid around the collar, and fastens using his Starfleet command division insignia.Shop Now
The Season two wraparound tunic is a bit less structured and so more form fitting than the season one version. It's also a slightly different weight of wool, and a lighter, warmer shade of green than the earlier version.
This style was worn in a number of episodes including "A Journey to Babel" and "The Trouble With Tribbles." Our replica of this famous uniform was designed with the invaluable assistance of the amazing Greg Jein.
Jein was gracious enough to allow us to examine an original 1967 wrap from his incredible collection. From this original William Shatner screen worn tunic we were allowed to take measurements, photos, and patterns, which enabled us to reproduce an extremely exacting replica that matches the original in every way including fabric weight and color.
This tunic uses custom-milled and dyed wool fabric and features second season captain's rank braid on the cuffs, Starfleet Insignia on the wraparound hook and loop fastener, and even utilizes the unique system of elastic “hook and eye” straps that attached the hem of this high waisted tunic to the uniform’s pants.
We worked hard to capture the essence of these screen-used original uniforms, so no expense was spared in faithfully recreating both of Captain Kirk's wraparound tunics.
We had the fabric custom milled & dyed, and discovered that the only way to attain the correct look and complex cornering was that each piece had to be hand stitched. A process requiring no less than three workers to complete each replica.
Of course the tunics feature Captain Kirk's Starfleet Command Division Insignia on the wraparound hook and loop fastener of his belt. And both of them utilize a unique system of elastic “hook and eye” straps that were used to attach the hem of this high waisted tunic to the uniform’s pants.
I love these uniforms! Command Green, and ready for anything.
Whether Captain Kirk was fighting himself, or trapped in a mountain of tribbles - he always looked cool in the final frontier!
John is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.