It’s day two of the Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, and what a day it was. Highlights for the day include Max Grodenchik (Rom) and Aron Eisenberg (Nog) in character on stage, TOS guest stars, the sons of Star Trek (Adam Nimoy, Chris Doohan, and Rod Roddenberry), and more.
Rom and Nog Land At Star Trek Las Vegas
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine stars Max Grodenchik (Rom) and Aron Eisenberg (Nog) appeared onstage dressed as their characters. They began with a short skit where they mistakenly thought that they had landed at the Republican National Convention. Rom noted that, as Grand Nagus, he had come to Earth to determine which candidate would be best for business. Naturally, the Ferengi gravitated toward a successful businessman and chose to establish relations with Donald Trump. Rom was particularly impressed that Trump was planning to build a wall and make the people he is trying to keep out pay for it. However, Rom and Nog soon worried that Trump would build a ceiling that would trap them on Earth and make the Ferengi pay for it.
Grodenchik and Eisenberg quickly broke character and took questions from the audience. Eisenberg became particularly emotional when he was asked about his kidney transplant. For those who are unaware of Eisenberg’s history, he initially experienced renal failure as a teenager and received his first transplant. He later began to fall ill after the 2015 Las Vegas Convention and was soon on dialysis. He knew that if he did not receive a transplant, he would likely die. Eisenberg spent four months on the donor’s list and received his transplant in December from a neighbor. Eisenberg’s girlfriend created a Gofundme account to support both her as she took care of Aron, Eisenberg as he would be out of work, and his donor who would also be out of work. Thanks to so many Star Trek fans, they were able to cover their expenses during a particularly troubling time. Eisenberg choked up, profusely thanking the fans for their support through such a troubling time.
Eisenberg had nothing but praise for the DS9 writing staff for the arc they created for his character, as did Grodenchik. The actors did not know the full arc that the writers had for their characters, which led Eisenberg to worry that he was going to be written off the show when Nog was accepted to Starfleet academy. Eisenberg has a special place in his heart for “It’s Only A Paper Moon,” where Nog deals with the trauma of losing his leg and his post-traumatic stress from the war. Grodenchik noted that he absolutely loves “Little Green Men” and that the episode makes him laugh every time he watches it. Grodenchik was also impressed with Rom’s arc, going from the idiot brother of Quark and comic relief, to a character who learned to stand up for himself. Grodenchik commented that with Rom, he encountered an unusual case of learning from his character. Grodenchik felt that Rom had such a great heart, saw the best in everyone, and stood up for his son and others. Grodenchik noted that he sought to become more like Rom because he felt he lacked those qualities.
Both Eisenberg and Grodenchik noted that, while the Ferengi were often used for comic relief, they displayed some of the best elements of humanity. Examples included Rom’s close relationship with Nog, Rom standing up for Nog when Quark attempted to sabotage Nog’s Starfleet Academy entrance exam in “Facets,” and Rom’s turbulent, but close, relationship with Quark. Finally, Eisenberg was particularly proud of “The Nagus” where Commander Sisko was suspicious of Jake’s close friendship with Nog, implying a bit of a racist view from Sisko when he objected to his son having a close friendship with a Ferengi. Eisenberg teared up again when he recalled the scene where Sisko learns that Jake is teaching Nog to read, which helped Nog continue his arc and become a Starfleet officer. Eisenberg felt this was a great example of how Star Trek challenges racism and breaks down barriers.
IDW talks Byrne, Ellison, and upcoming projects
IDW’s presentation got off to an underwhelming start when it was announced that legendary writer/artist John Byrne would not be attending the panel due to travel delays. That didn’t deter
IDW Editor In Chief Chris Ryall and Group Editor Sarah Gaydos from entertaining the crowd with news about current and upcoming projects.
IDW has held a Star Trek license since 2007, and Ryall is pleased with what they’ve accomplished:
“When we first started, it was kind if like, there was 40 years of Star Trek comics over our heads, how do we stay fresh? What do we do that hasn’t been done? I think along the way we’ve been really good at finding unique stories to tell and unique ways to tell them.”
Ryall said that the process to get their critically acclaimed adaptation of “City of the Edge of Forever” off the ground was not easy, telling the audience, “I’m not sure who used more profanity – Harlan, when I asked him about doing this, or the network…so it was wonderful then that a few years ago, all the sides agreed that yes, we can do this thing, let’s have fun with it…and it came out wonderfully.”
The discussion turned to the “photostories” John Byrne has been producing over the past few years, where he takes stills from the original series and rearranges them in Photoshop to tell brand new stories. Ryall says that Byrne is having an absolute blast:
“He says it’s the most fun he’s ever had doing comics, and in 40 years of doing things like X-Men and Fantastic Four and all of that, it’s hard for me to believe, but as long as he’s having that much fun doing it and wants to keep doing it, we’re certainly happy to have him. They are a really unique way to tell comics stories.”
Talk then turned to upcoming projects, including a sequel to the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover and the new ongoing anthology series “Waypoint”. Regarding the crossover, Gaydos teased that “we’ll see who gets what ring.”
Waypoint will be released bi-monthly starting in September, and will feature anywhere from 1-3 stories from all the different series, with the opening issue focusing on TOS and TNG. They’re leaving the format very wide open, with upcoming stories done in the animated series and Gold Key styles.
Lastly, they spoke of the upcoming relaunch of the of the Kelvin Universe comic, titled Star Trek: Boldly Go, which is being restarted due to the changing circumstances after the events of Star Trek Beyond. It will be released in October.
Sons and Their Famous Fathers
In one of the more unusual panels of the day, Rod Roddenberry, Adam Nimoy, and Chris Doohan sat down with Scott Mantz and shared stories about their famous dads.
Rod spoke of finally understanding Star Trek:
“My father’s memorial service was a very powerful moment for me, and people went onstage and talked about how Star Trek inspired and influenced them, and I had been blind and oblivious to all that.”
He also said that there wasn’t a whole lot of Star Trek around the house when he was a child:
“We never watched Star Trek. At dinner, they would turn on game shows. I knew more about Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy than Star Trek! It’s amazing, but we never watched it at home. They never pushed me into it.”
Adam spoke of living with a very hardworking but somewhat distant man:
“Dad had a lot of trouble leaving Spock at work and bringing Leonard home. My dad was very introspective and very quiet and sometimes hard to relate to. We watched it [Star Trek] together as a family…and that was the way we shared, the way we sat down together and looked at the episode and talked about the episode. That was very exciting. Other than that though, my dad never discussed the work when he came home. He took it very seriously.”
Chris shared a very tribblacious story about being on the set:
“Anytime we would go to the set…we would stay in the shuttlecraft, and he’d lock the door and say ‘you guys stay in the shuttlecraft’. But one day, during “The Trouble With Tribbles”, we decided to step out. We’re looking around the sets where we knew they were filming, and we come across the set where the tribbles fall all over Kirk. I got my brother on my shoulders and he opened it up, and all these things fell on us. Scared the heck out of us. Buried in tribbles. We ran back and got back in that thing and I swear, not more than two or three minutes passed my dad came up to us and said ‘oh you’re such good boys’. And the truth is, about 25 years ago, I told my dad that story, I was too chicken to ever tell him about it – he got so pissed off at me!”
TOS Guest Stars Bring Love, Laughter, and Lt. Leslie
When a group of silver-haired Star Trek guests took stage Thursday morning, they learned that their stars had only risen in the last 50 years.
“I knew from the beginning [Star Trek] was going to be a big change on what was on television. I felt it in my bones,” said Laurel Goodwin, who played redheaded yeoman J.M. Colt from “The Cage”. “I turned down other gigs to do this. I’m so proud to be a part of Star Trek.”
Christopher Held, who played Lindstrom in “The Return of the Archons”, told the group, “I’m getting more fun out of this now than I did 50 years ago … Because who remembers 50 years ago!”
Eddie Paskey discussed how William Shatner gave his character a name after appearing as redshirt in so many episodes.
“You know what, Eddie needs a name!” Paskey recounted, noting that Shatner quickly settled on his daughter’s name and Lt. Leslie was born.
Paskey appeared in 57 episodes as a security officer who, remarkably, never dies. He is also technically in more episodes than Walter Koenig and George Takei.
Beverly Washburn, who played Lt. Arlene Galway in “The Deadly Years,” gave some particularly endearing praise to the gathered fans.
“To me, being a part of Star Trek is one of my fondest memories. So many of you come up to us when we’re signing autographs and you thank us for being here. But it should be the other way around. We should be thanking you,” she said, getting a little choked up. “I’m so overwhelmed by the warmth and how you make me feel so welcome… You are truly the greatest fans in the world.”
This got the biggest applause of the session.
Subspace Transmission Guys Open Hailing Frequencies on Film Studies
We’ve all heard the phrase “wagon train to the stars,” but two super-fans took us Thursday on a wagon-train to the wagon-train to the stars.
Hosts of the podcast Subspace Transmissions, Tyler Orton and Cam Smith, shared their insights as film students and Trek fans.
“We are nostalgic for 80s movies and angry about remakes,” Orton said. “In the 1960s, they were nostalgic about Westerns and the idea that their ancestors proved themselves as pioneers and what are we doing to prove ourselves?”
They walked through a list of 50s- and 60s-era films that influenced TOS, like Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Forbidden Planet, and Have Gun Will Travel, as well as even more modern episodes. “A Fistful of Datas” was inspired by Rio Grande, they suggested. (As well as, of course, Clint Eastwood’s A Fistful of Dollars.)
“Look at Deep Space Nine, it’s very much a frontier town. We have a barkeep in Quark, we have a sheriff in Odo,” Smith said.
The DS9 episode “Indiscretion,” where Kira and Dukat search for Tora Ziyal in a Breen prison, is the plot of the John Wayne film The Searchers, which incidentally co-starred Jeffrey Hunter. The episode and the movie even end with the same line, “Let’s go home.”
They also discussed the influence of noir films on Star Trek, with characters like Dixon Hill and even episodes like “We’ll Always Have Paris” (which takes its name from Casablanca). “The Mind’s Eye” is a retelling of The Manchurian Candidate, which features a brainwash victim turned assassin. The Narrow Margin, which features a redemption story of a hardboiled detective and two goons, is the same story as “A Simple Investigation,” but substituting Odo, Quark, and Rom.
Given that Trek encompasses almost 800 hours worth of canonical material (so far), writers have drawn from disparate sources beyond Westerns and detective stories. World War II films have influenced the franchise, as well as of course classic science fiction – both high-brow and low-brow. The DS9 episode “One Little Ship” is clearly borrowing from shrinking classic Fantastic Voyage.
“We had to do it. If we hadn’t, it would have been a crime against humanity itself,” according to a quote from Ira Steven Behr that they read.
Returning to the idea of 80s movies, they compared Indiana Jones to “Gambit” and “The Sword of Kahless,” Ripley from the Alien movies to “Macrocosm,” and “Starship Mine” to Die Hard, a comparison that writers have rejected.
“I don’t think there’s any arguing the influence,” Orton said.
“I think they had to cut the line ‘Yippe Kai Aye Mother Crusher,” Smith said.
“The Word is Given!” by Wrath of Khan’s Eisenmann
Ike Eisenmann, who played the ill-fated Peter Preston in Wrath of Khan, shared insight into his experiences in Hollywood and Star Trek on the DeForest Kelley secondary stage. One fan asked him about why things turn out so badly for so many child actors.
Noting that his gratitude for what a great childhood he had, Eisenmann explained that many child actors experience dizzying heights in their youth that don’t prepare them for the reality of adulthood, particularly if their career doesn’t continue.
“You turn 18 in Hollywood and everything changes,” he said.
Because of this, a lot of kids in Hollywood turn to alcohol, drugs, or other harmful behaviors to deal with the stress.
“A lot of young people have suffered for it, and it’s a real shame,” he said.