Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm a bad Star Trek Fan

I enjoyed the original Star Treks when they first went into syndication when I was little. It was something different. It wasn't until Star Trek movie came out and The Next Generation first aired that I became a true fan.

Let's set something straight. I'm no 'Trek Geek'. I don't question plot points and harp on discrepancies. (well, there was one, but we'll talk about that later) For me, it was like any other show that you all watch and know the characters. The original series had plot points that, had they been a regular show with humans, the censors would have yanked it off the air. But in one episode Gene Roddenberry had Frank Gorsham (Batman's original Riddler) as an alien who was half stark white on the left side and half jet black on the right side and was the ruling part of his planet. There was species tension with those on his planet who were white on the right side and black on the left. On Star Trek you could get away with that, but on real TV you couldn't say the white people were rulers over the lesser blacks to make a point about equality among the races.

Gene Roddenberry saw the beginning of The Next Generation and infused his beliefs for the future into those and subsequent Trek ventures (Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise) All through these years, and other ventures of Roddenberry's, there was one major force that was behind him and often placed INTO his visions... his wife Majel Barrett. She was Nurse (then Doctor) Chapel, from the beginning of The Next Generation onward, she's always been the voice of any Starfleet computer, and she was Luwaxanna Troi on The Next Generation (which I think she secretly liked most... where else can you show your ass and be in character!?).

Back in 1998 I went to my one and only Star Trek Convention. I was living in Atlanta, it was at a hotel just 2 miles away and I saw that Majel Barrett was the guest speaker. Gene Roddenberry had passed away just a few years earlier and I thought she'd be interesting to talk to and BOY was I right. I walked in the hotel and while I appreciated the length that some fans go to, it still struck me a little comical to see all the folks dressed up. But she took them all in stride and was a fantastic speaker. Afterwards I was standing at the entrance of the room watching her speak to people as she was leaving and she caught my eye. While still talking, she started walking over toward me and said "My you're a tall one! How tall are you?" and then subsequently started up a conversation about me. I SO wanted to ask her more in depth questions, but had the feeling that she was tired of talking about herself and Gene and just wanted to shift focus for a little bit and I obliged her.

So it is with a pang of guilt that I find out today, January 23, 2009 that she passed away just over a month ago. I can't believe I didn't hear about it, but the feeling is the same. She was a very interesting lady who had the pleasure of a fantastic ride and of being a part of it. She did tell me she wouldn't have changed a bit of her time with Gene, otherwise she wouldn't have helped carry it on afterwards.

Majel, You will be missed. The ship's computers won't quite be the same.


Stephen Rader said...

Wow, you got to meet her! What an amazing woman!

If only she had played "Number One" for more than just the "un-used, then re-tooled" pilot. I would love to have seen what she did with that role. She will definitely be missed.

Just Kevin... said...

It sounds not like you're a bad Star Trek fan but a good Star Trek fan. But, IMHO, if you've been to a convention, you're a Trek Geek. Just like if you use IMHO, you're spending too much time on the computer. ;-)

Ben said...

Wow, I'd have loved to have met her, especially in the way you did. I've watched Star Trek ever since I was, well, me and have thus grown up with the various incarnations of Majel Barrett too. She always came across as a very decent and dignified human being who didn't just pay lip service to the values the show espoused.

I have yet to attend any conventions. I very much doubt I'd wear a costume.

That said I met Tom Baker (the 4th Doctor Who) once and just stood there grinning like an idiot, unable to speak.