Thursday, 22 November 2012

Destination Start Trek London

Posted by Rosemary Rushmer

Ok, so I am a Trekkie...(always have been, always will be – feel better now I’ve ‘fessed-up’).

A couple of weeks ago I went along to the first Star Trek convention in the UK for ten years – Destination Start Trek London at the ExCel centre. I was amazed at the number of people who turned up, the place was mobbed. There were fans dressed as ‘Q’, Klingons, STNG crew members and lots of female ensigns from the original series, even one Seven-of-Nine

Poster of William Shatner as Captain Kirk at Destination Star Trek London; Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters
Now, these were people who could really get into the spirit of things! It was colourful, crowded and loud. I felt a sense of community…literally thousands of people who shared the same love of a TV franchise, each eager to see and to learn about their own favourite series, characters, plots and behind-the-scenes news. It was simply – completely out-of-this world…and fun! 

I listened as Sir Patrick Stewart discussed the similarities between Shakespearian drama and the sets, plots and acting on STNG, and was persuaded by his insights. I smiled as I saw the ages and mix of people there and wondered what enabled the franchise to have such ‘reach’. I was in awe as I stood just centimetres away from the Heroes of Star Trek – the Original Series, who, each week as a child, had beamed me light years from my small home to alien and exotic worlds. I remembered the gift of imagination and ‘what if…’ they helped me realise and how (I hope!) that has never left me. 

I was intrigued as the producers (Ronald Moore and Brannon Braga) talked about the creative aspects (and compromises) behind the plots. They recalled how when they created the Cylons in Battlestar Gallactica their aim was to create the most despicable, evil and scary villains possible and planned to clad them in hi-tech uniforms to achieve this. However their dreams were cut-down by financial constraints. 

They next tried to computer-generate the Cylons in uniform, but the technology was not possible. Then, the ingenious twist occurred to Ron Moore – ‘why put them in uniform? Why not make them look exactly like us?’ The ‘creative process’, (and its clash of pressures), resulted in a villain, undetectable, and much more formidable. It opened up plots which were not possible if we had been able to spot the Cylons before us. It set me thinking about getting research evidence into practice (typical!). There will always be multiple pressures, and the need to change tack, but maybe, this could lead to better blended solutions. 

To end the weekend, my youngest son went to get an autograph from Data, and was surprised when Brent Spiner told him that had he been raised in the USA, his nickname would be ‘Bert’ – so guess who has a new family nickname (one small comment can change a life forever…sorry Robbie!) 

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