Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played “Mr. Spock”, the Science Officer on the original StarTrek TV series, passed away of cancer today, at age 83. I believe that he will always be remembered, by “Trekkies”, as the quintessential cast member of StarTrek. And, oddly-enough, it was a show that hardly got off the launching pad before NBC originally aborted it.
The original five-year mission started when the Starship Enterprise blasted-off in 1966, on a 23rd-century mission, on behalf of the “United Federation of Planets”. Its mission was to investigate the Universe beyond ours–thus going “where no man has gone before”. Mere science fiction, you say?
I can recall one of what, I believe, was the funniest Saturday Night Live skits–a mock-up of the Enterprise “bridge”, with John Belushi as Commander James T(iberius) Kirk, and Chevy Case as Mr. Spock. They were trying to outrun, what appeared to be, a little automobile, presumably dangling on a string. The auto, perhaps having greater warp-drive, caught the slower Enterprise. Elliott Gould, portraying a network executive, was there to advise the Captain that his mission had been terminated–and the show cancelled. The link is as follows: http://www.hulu.com/watch/19313.
The Trekkie Nation rebelled and, after a short hiatus, the original TV series, albeit quite cheesey by today’s technology standards, returned. That original five-year mission has continued on for years, and years, through re-runs, a number of spin-offs and several full-length movies. As it turns out, NBC had no clue as to what it originally had.
Our Son, Andrew, was the Air & Space Nut in our Family. At an early age, he pointed-out that StarTrek was much more than fiction: it also dealt with real science, and oh so much more. The original series was the first to include a multi-racial cast on TV. It dealt with: the need for “warp” (multiples of the speed-of-light) speed in the vastness of Space; the question of what time-travel might jeopardize through a backward trip; and the need for some sort of peace on Earth before we can attempt to conquer new worlds. (Protect the home base.) Heady stuff!
A number of today’s technologies were influenced by first being suggested on StarTrek. They are: stealth (“cloaking”) technology in planes and ships; cell phones (“communicators”); needle-less injections (“hypospray”); optical tweezers (“tractor beams”); tasers (“phasers”); voice recognition (“universal translator”); bionic eyes (Georgi’s “visor”); available, but not ready for sale yet, “torpedo coffins”; video conferencing or “Skype” (“telepresence”); various devices (“tricorders”) that display vital medical signs, heart functions, air quality, etc, and, of course, 3-D technology (the “replicator”).
Perhaps the cast of the various renditions might never be considered for their acting talents; however, in the case of StarTrek, the most astute audience–the Fans–know that the show is truly much more than just a sum of its parts. And, above all, Mr. Spock, the “Vulcan”, has always been considered the key ingredient. Leonard Nimoy, as “Spock”, had always displayed the charm, the intelligence, and the oh so subtle occasional hint of humor that has kept Trekkies coming back for more and more.
With the passing of Leonard Nimoy, we know that life is but a journey, a mission that must end, and that what you leave behind is all that you have. You truly cannot take it onto the next mission. Live long and prosper, Spock (LLAP)!