Mission: New York Day Two – The Next Generation, Discovery, Feminist Fandom, and Trek’s Film Stars

The second day of Mission: New York kicked off on the main stage with a reunion of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast including LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, and Marina Sirtis. Kelvin Timeline-stars Peter Weller and Bruce Greenwood

The most-anticipated panel of the convention was on Star Trek: Discovery with series consulting producer and writer Nicholas Meyer along with writer Kirsten Beyer. Beyer revealed that DSC would be a cross-media production involving television, novels, and comics.

The Next Generation

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LeVar Burton, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, and Marina Sirtis addressed a packed house at the Star Trek: The Next Generation panel on Saturday afternoon, with Adam Nimoy sitting in the front row watching. Once they got rolling, they tapped into that energy and camaraderie that this group is famous for, as they reminisced, teased each other, and answered questions from fans.

Sirtis talked about how Gene Roddenberry told her that in the 24th century, mental health would be as important as physical health, which is why he wanted a counselor on the ship–to de stigmatize it. She admitted that when she got the role, she bought herself a subscription to Psychology Today, and all she learned was that Deanna Troi was Freudian, since all she ever said to anyone was, “How does that make you feel?” She laughed. “I never gave a piece of advice in seven years!”

The group was asked what they’d like to Bryan Fuller to know as he’s working on Star Trek: Discovery. Frakes declared “We’re not dead!” (which got a round of approving applause) and Sirtis said she’d like to appear on the show as Lwaxana Troi’s grandmother. She also said, emphatically, that she’d like to be the computer voice, to “keep it in the family. Are you listening CBS?” she asked, and the audience appeared to agree.

 

Dorn admitted that the project he’d been pitching about Worf as a captain is gone. He said Star Trek: Discovery was the nail in its coffin; they don’t need another Star Trek TV project at the same time. Frakes talked about playing trombone with Phish, which has given him a gold record, and McFadden shared her memories of working with David Bowie on Labyrinth.

But it was when they were reminiscing about their days on TNG that things got fun. Dorn talked about Jonathan Frakes bouncing off the wall to the point that he went right through one, and all he could see was “these two little legs sticking out.” Sirtis said that there was one director who did two episodes in the first season and then said he was never coming back because they were “too rowdy.” Dorn has talked a lot about the difference between the mood on the TNG set and Deep Space 9, but this time Sirtis chimed in, describing it as so quiet when she stopped by to visit pal Terry Farrell on the DS9 set, that she asked her, “Did someone die?”

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They admitted that none one member of cast knew what  “Masks” was about, Dorn’s overacting, and the joy of having their episodes directed by Frakes.

The best fan question was about their least favorite merchandise that featured their own likenesses. Dorn’s was a plastic lunchbox that you opened up to hear his voice, and headless bodies on top. If you held it by the handle, you looked like you were holding Worf’s hair. Sirtis and McFadden complained that all of their action figures were unbearably ugly. McFadden liked her action figure, though, because when her son was two, she was looking at it,and he said, “Oh, a mommy doll!” Burton admitted he was happy with his, because “…they didn’t have Roots action figures.” Bottom line: they all loved being immortalized in Pez.

Frakes talked about going to his first convention in Syracuse in the 80s, and seeing the other characters for $40 and $50 and the rest in a pile with the sign, “Buy any action figure, and get Riker free.”

Trek Talks: Feminist Fandom

The Feminist Fandom panel was helmed by professional fan girls Amy Imhoff (Shoes & Starships; Legion of Leia), Angelique Roche (Ms. Foundation for Women and Black Girl Nerds) , Laurie Ulster (TrekMovie.com), and Holly Amos (CBS).

Unfortunately the panel directly conflicted with the Star Trek: Discovery panel, but the passion exhibited by the panel and audience members proves that the fandom is strong and speaks to everyone.

Speaking of a fandom for all, a discussion arose about how women often have to make their own cosplay because it has only been very recently that fandom merchandise has been available in female cuts and plus sizes. In fact, the founder of HerUniverse started her site because of the dearth of female-geared fandom products.

But one fan commented that she’s been coming to scifi conventions for 15 years, and she was thrilled to see how attendance among women has grown.

But the point was made that we now have so much more power through social media to express our love of Star Trek and other fandoms and that we should use that voice to influence the industry.

This wasn’t always the case. Women might have watched but they weren’t involved in the decision making process. There has been much contention over the last 50 years of Trek about the treatment of women, especially those of color. Kirk kissed women of practically every alien color, but when he kissed an human woman of color there was outrage and censorship in some parts of the country.

Many of the women of Trek have incredibly traumatic experiences that shaped their characters: Tasha Yar and the rape gangs of her home world, Kira Nerys and Ro Laren grew up under Cardassian cruelties, etc., but there are few male characters with comparable backgrounds.

However, we cannot forget the prominence that is given to Majel Barrett in the franchise. The studio might have refused to make her the first officer of TOS, but she WAS the ship. Later she was such a force as to intimidate Captain Picard and Constable Odo.

The various incarnations of Star Trek have always been a product of their times and dealt with the social issues at the forefront of people’s thoughts: TOS aired the first interracial kiss during a tumultuous time during the civil rights era, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Bryan Fuller has announced that Discovery will feature an LGBT character.

Star Trek is often defined by its bravery in advancing the boundaries of society and has often faced pushback from the powers that be. But the PTBs are changing, and we can expect Star Trek to raise awareness and continue the conversation about what it means to be human in all its infinite combinations.

Trek’s Hollywood Stars: Bruce Greenwood and Peter Weller

The Kelvin Timeline films made their presence felt Saturday afternoon when actors Bruce Greenwood and Peter Weller stepped onstage to talk about their long careers and experiences working on Star Trek.

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When asked if he’s had a chance to see Star Trek Beyond yet, Greenwood quipped, “I saw it this weekend.  It’s missing a character!”.

He spoke about how he approached the role of Christopher Pike and how his chemistry with Chris Pine informed the relationship between Pike and Kirk:

He started on the page.   There’s lots of history.  A lot of it had to do with the vibe Chris and I had.  When you have that thing going on with another actor you can flesh things out.

Weller said that while Admiral Marcus is one of the villains of Star Trek Into Darkness, the character doesn’t think of himself that way:

In truth when you’re looking at script objectively…he (JJ) put it best – the deal with Marcus is that he’s not really the villain.  He’s undone by his own hubris.

They both spoke poignantly about the recent loss of Anton Yelchin. Weller spoke of his personality:

Gifted intelligence and charm.  I was immediately taken with the guy.  He was an inspiring cat to be around.  He was remarkablke.  It’s sad.

Greenwood is still trying to cope with the loss:

Too surreal. He was one of those people who touched everyone around.  It was stunning that he was suddenly not there anymore.  It was just heartbreaking and continues to be.

 


More Mission NY Coverage:

Day 1 write up

Discovery Panel

Day 3 write up

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Good report!

You can read?

Plinkett, my old friend, you’re still alive?

BAAAAALLLLLZZZZZZZ!!! ;)

That’s my name. Don’t call me unless you need me! :>)

Another nice round-up, but the comments from Meyer which went unreported in yesterday’s article are still fresh in my mind. He advised a fan to “Lower your expectations”, so I’m bearing that in mind when it airs.

The io9.com site currently has an article called ‘Bryan Fuller Explains Why The New Show Is Called Star Trek:Discovery’ which goes into all his comments, as well as as few suspect ones from Fuller too.

The Meyer comments you mention are in our Twitter feed, we cover a lot of stuff as it happens there. These articles are more like broad overviews of the day. There’s more content to come, including more detailed write-ups of some of the events.

Thanks for the heads-up Matt. I’ve never bothered with Twitter, but it’s good to know that those comments were on it for those that do.

Yikes, if Meyer advised a fan to lower expectations, I’m not sure what to think. Meyer was the influence I was counting on the draw me into this thing.

Meyer said something to the effect of: if you think Star Trek has to conform to this set of standards that many of us can’t even articulate in words, then you’re only making it harder for yourself to appreciate it for what it IS, as opposed what you personally think it ought to be. You can’t please everyone, and as he so perfectly stated, fans can be terrible at knowing what they actually want — case in point, “You kill Spock and I kill you.” And here we are 30 years later and his decision to kill Spock, which went against every fan’s wishes, saved the entire franchise. Nick Meyer is a wise man indeed.

^^ This is the exact point Meyer was making. He was also talking about life. If you walk around with high expectations for yourself and those in your life, chances are you’re going to find yourself disappointed.

If you lower your expectations, you just may find some pleasant surprises.

*Whew.* Yeah, that is a lot different from “Lower your expectations”; I’d say it’s more analogous to “Try to get free of your preconceptions.”

Still hoping for a great show.

If you’ve followed Meyers over the years he has a clear understanding that regardless of their efforts they can NEVER meet fan expectations. So, lower your expectations, watch and judge it for what it is on its own.

The merchandise selection was much smaller than at Creation Con conventions and the autograph lines seemed nearly empty. I wonder why, the holiday weekend? The oncoming rain storm Hermine? Some kind of contract problems? There seemed to be many empty seats available.

Just Another Salt Vampire

Bryan Fuller has tweeted out a look at what the Discovery uniforms look like apparently (yes, for real): https://twitter.com/BryanFuller/status/771872524619489280

He tweeted that yesterday, we saw it, and we’re 99% certain it’s a joke. Fuller has a sometimes odd, goofy, sense of humor.

I see that the latest comments from Fuller and Meyer are featured in this article too –

http://www.darkhorizons.com/bryan-fuller-explains-star-trek-discovery-title/

While I’m certainly not expecting certain aspects of the classic TOS show to be replicated where it’s production design, character interactions, cinematography, or overall tone are concerned…the paragraph below has confirmed my feeling that I’ll enjoy this show MUCH better if I imagine it’s merely set in a totally unrelated ‘alternative universe’ to the one TOS is set in. –
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Fuller says the aim of the show is to “reinvent, re-explore, and reintroduce” familiar things about “Star Trek” that have been missing recently, most notably recognisable alien races, but at the same time bring in new ships, aliens, and technology to this universe.

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I reckon the look of the ship design in the unfinished teaser is likely to be a very good indication of how un-TOS-like the technology is going to look in this. This won’t matter a jot to any new audiences who are mainly familiar with J.J.’s own style of ‘re-imaginings’, but I have a strong feeling that this show’s ‘stylings’ are unlikely to mesh too well with the classic show in many instances.

And that’s okay…but I can’t and won’t look on it as being a ‘pre-TOS’ show set a few years before, no matter what is claimed by anyone. And I will get a lot more out of the show by doing so.

Too bad, in a way. Very simple, clean, and reminiscent of “The Cage” (which was probably the joke). They could have done worse, and just might.

You know, I’ve been watching the remastered episodes, and with the restored color correction, those TOS “gold” uniforms are seriously green now, which of course they really always were. Kirk’s wrap around and the command dress uniforms are clear confirmation of that.

Is it too late to go back to the true color scheme of green, blue and red? Or would the fans revolt? Lol

Weller definitely understood Marcus better than Orci did.

The question that’s never been answered is Spock’s other name. I know I couldn’t pronounce it. Then spell it.

D.C. Fontana — who was considered the “Vulcan expert” of the behind-the-scenes staff and who made up such Spockian details as the fact that his father was an ambassador and his mother a school teacher — revealed in an issue of the fanzine “Spockanalia” that she had intended his family name to be “Xtmprsqzntwlfd,” but since this is unpronounceable, there wasn’t really any way to get this said in dialogue during an episode.

So there you go — the lady who was in charge of Spock’s canon says his personal name is Spock and his family name is Xtmprsqzntwlfd.”

Disinvited@dodgit.com

If you all think that’s unpronounceable, you’ve never run across Superman’s Mister Mxyzptlk.

Since Spock explicitly SAYS it’s unpronounceable, I think I’ll believe him. :-)

Corylea,

Since, Mrs. Xtmprsqzntwlfd, not to mention Spock himself must be able to say it. I take it under consideration as one of his rare jokes.

If you all think that’s unpronounceable, you’ve never run across Superman’s Mister Mxyzptlk.

My frustration is every Convention is the same. The next generation cast is telling the exact same old stories and act out that detail every second weekend at every convention for the past 20 years I’m not trying to be a buzz kill. I would be excited to see them too if there was actually new content. But they will never talk to the crowd about their personal life, their relationships, their kids, their true interpersonal dynamics This convention is fun if you were going to one for the first time . How many times do They need to tell us that Star Trek was a “vision of the future” and that they all had a great time joking around on set But I understand the reality that no one has the balls to ask Michael Dorn if he has had a relationship in his life , why Marina sirtis never had kids, and if any of them have had a lung cancer diagnosis from the incredible amount chain smoking within the cast Nor is any of the cast going to volunteer actual interesting information about themselves as people. Therefore if it’s always going to be about Star Trek specifically then they should at least perform on stage as their characters, because that’s about as comfortable as they are going to get with new content. Let’s see a reunion convention where it’s not the actors on stage but literally Riker and Troi and crusher and worf are all talking to… Read more »

I don’t think that’s why people go. Whose business is it why someone doesn’t have kids? That’s so personal! You shouldn’t ask anyone that unless it’s a close friend. If they choose to keep some of their private lives private that’s fine. I don’t want to see them acting like their characters, either…are they supposed to put on a play? Is someone going to write it for them? And you want them up there talking about cancer? That sounds really depressing. I’d rather see their real-life rapport with each other and hear them tell stories and laugh with each other and the fans who are asking them questions. Which is exactly what happened. I get that you’re bored with it but I could not disagree more with your suggestions for what should go on instead. p.s. I hope you never ask anyone you’re not close to why they don’t have kids. It’s a terrible thing to pry into.

Ahhhh…. for a $500 VIP pass…. I think I’ll ask Troi anyway.

ST:EXP

Interesting that you should make that request because I was just reading this [Beginning to middle of LIVE CHAT is duplicated 3 times before the whole exchange occurs at the end]:

https://web.archive.org/web/20040804032348/http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/community/chat/archive/transcript/1080.html

“I’ve just come back from Germany. My first visit there in 14 years. And I had an extraordinary experience there at the convention in Bonn. I have been hearing from my ST colleagues about the ST fans there being so amazingly generous and enthusiastic. It was everything I could have hoped for. Now I’m looking forward to an appearance in Tulsa, OK on June 26 and 27th, where John DeLancie and I will be doing our “Spock meets Q” presentation live on stage. Tickets are available through Starbase 21. ” — Leonard Nimoy, STARTREK.COM chat, 05.13.1999

Speaking of feminism, will there be an article about the new star trek continues episode, which I trink was phenomenal?

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