Today TrekMovie continues our ‘Best of Trek 2008’ series with our picks for the biggest real world news stories of the year, with a Star Trek twist. In 2008 Trek continued to show that it is a cultural touchstone in the world’s of politics, science, media and even gossip and celebrity news. See below for our picks of the best.
BEST ‘STAR TREK IN THE NEWS’ STORIES OF 2008
As noted in our regular ‘Great Links’, ‘CelebWatch’, ‘Science Friday’ and other articles, Star Trek continues to have influence in popular culture and the media. The editor’s of TrekMovie.com have combed through the ‘real world’ news stories from 2008 and picked our favorites where the Trek franchise (outside the new movie and other products and productions) has become part of the story.
Best ‘Real World’ Trek News Story – Trekkie Elected President
Regardless of your political bent, you must be able to agree that it is pretty cool that the guy headed to the White House stated in a speech earlier in the year "I grew up on Star Trek…I believe in the final frontier" and greeted Leonard Nimoy at a fundraiser with a Vulcan salute (see TrekMovie story for more on Obama’s Trekkiness). It is not just TrekMovie that has noticed, just last week AP ran a story about the new President’s affinity for Trek and comic books with the headline "Obama to boldly go where no geek has gone before." Let’s hope that sometime next May someone asks Obama if he is going to see the new Star Trek movie, that is the kind of publicity Paramount would kill for. Someone get Wolf Blitzer on the phone, he already talks to holograms.
Obama…first Trekkie President
Best Gossip Story – Shatner/Takei feud
Star Trek’s William Shatner and George Takei have been not getting along for decades, but in 2008 this low simmer feud went right up to the front burner in the tabloids and talk shows all year long. As Trek fans it is hard to watch two of our heroes throwing barbs at each other in public, but like a roadside accident, we can’t take our eyes off it. The feud probably peaked shortly after Takei’s highly publicized wedding in the Fall with claims and counter-claims involving who was invited and was not, and we still don’t know (and maybe still don’t care). The latest round had some good news, as it looks like Takei will appear on Shatner’s Raw Nerve talk-show some time in 2009, so they can either fight to the death or bury the hatchet.
Best Outed Trekkie Celebrity – Megan Fox
There are quite a few celebrity Trek fans out there, and with all the buzz with the movie there seemed to be getting more attention. The set of JJ Abrams Star Trek movie seemed to be grand central station in 2008 with all sorts dropping by including Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford. And while Rosario Dawson is still our favorite Trekkie hottie, she outed herself on Conan last year, so for 2008 we pick Transformers star Megan Fox who was quoted in July saying "I’m a Star Wars fan. I’m a Star Trek fan. I’m a big nerd. I’m a big, giant comic book nerd." Welcome to the club Megan.
Beam up Megan Fox
Best Trek Reference – Big Bang Theory “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock”
References to Star Trek in modern pop culture remained as ubiquitous as ever in 2008, including a funny Gorn scene in Ben Stiller’s hit summer comedy Tropic Thunder. But this year the king of Trek references is the nerdy CBS sitcom Big Bang Theory and the best reference of the year is their variation of the ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ (below), although Sheldon getting a Nimoy Napkin was a close second.
Best Trek Science Story – Planet Vulcan discovered
It has been a big year in science, and we all dodged a bullet when the LHC went online and we weren’t all sucked into a black hole. But the biggest Trek related science news has to be the apparent discovery of the planet Vulcan (or something close enough). According to the non-canon Trek reference book, Spaceflight Chronology, Epsilon Eridani is the location of the Vulcan system. And in October of this year scientists using the Spitzer Space telescope made big news when they announced that they had discovered asteroid belts in the system and deduced the Epsilon Eridani contained ‘Earth-like’ planets.
Artist’s conception of the Epsilon Eridani star system
Best Treknology Story – Medical Tricorders coming soon
We are always hearing about breakthroughs that could lead to ‘Star Trek tech’ but often they are decades away from true Treknology (sorry but 3-D virtual reality goggles are no Holodeck). However in 2008, two separate teams at two separate universities in California have made progress towards hand-held medical devices that can perform detailed medical scans and even detect DNA, or esstientially taking big steps toward real world medical tricorders.
University of California handheld scanner (right) detects a simulated tumor
Saddest Story – Star Trek RIP
For a franchise that is in its 40s, it is expected for their to be passings, however in 2008 there were too many to bear. In just the last week of May we learned of the losses of three lions of the Original Series: director Joseph Pevney, composer Alexander Courage, and producer Robert Justman. Other Trek luminaries who passed away in 2008 include STIV composer Leonard Rosenman, as well as superfans Joyce Mason and Joan Winston. 2008 also saw the passing of sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke, who didn’t work directly on Trek, but (directly and indirectly) influenced many of the creators, including Gene Roddenberry. And just when we though this ‘annus horribilis’ was over, the ‘First Lady of Star Trek’ Majel Barrett Roddenberry passed away in the second to last week of the year. In this regard, 2008 can not end soon enough.
Goodbye to Majel and the rest of the Trek luminaries lost in 2008
More 2008 Lists to come
Still to come in the coming days are our lists for best official productions (episode, book, etc), best fan productions, biggest Star Trek movie stories, and Trekkies of the year…so stay tuned.