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The Charisma Factor 17.05.2009

Posted by Commodore Mendez in Star Trek Stuff.
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Alien pet sounds

Alien pet sounds. "I confess, Cap'n, I tuck the wee furry fellas into my pants when I'm drinkin' Romulan Ale during a cold night in space."

Dear Batman-Villain-Not-Served-Well-in-The Dark-Knight,

The new movie highlights what was perhaps the most important element from the Original Series: charisma. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, dammit, Jim, but charisma, pure, cinematic charm, is what separates TOS by galaxies from its progeny. (Yes, I am in part addressing your “Spoiler-Free Zone,” May 8, 2009.)

TNG was nice, sure, couple of well written episodes here and there. Only Picard, Data, and Yar had any screen presence as characters/actors. The rest of the cast  had the screen weight of balsa wood. An episode focusing on Riker might as well have been an episode focusing on his chair. Which also lacked charisma. It looked like it had been stolen from the local Howard Johnson’s. (Riker also had an annoying tendency to lean forward, at approximately 67 degrees, as if he never quite got his space legs and was always in danger of falling down on his job as a beard-wearer.)

DS9 has some nice characters/actors, but much of what they did was weighed down a heavy sense of self-importance (“We’re the Trek where protagonists are mean and don’t always get along!”). On the other extreme, VOY was completely devoid of any weight, except for two spectacular weights at the end of the third season. But that was just crass pandering. That worked, frankly, as an attention-grabber, if nothing else. Hehe, I said, “Grab.” And the less said about ENT, the better.

The cleverest part of the new movie is not its Spock-rigged time-travel plot — which even a reset-addicted VOY did in a more interesting way, but its casting. The actors, buff and gleaming, have great chemistry and screen presence. They’re not all pretty boys — it’s easy to know how much prettier young Shatner is than Chris Pine (in fact, Pine should never be photographed from his left side — yikes!). But Pine has charm and brings heart to his role. Take that, Chakotay!

Like you, I am not quite convinced by Quinto. Something is off there. I can see the character’s struggle, but at times he just seems stoic, not alien. Nimoy brought a  sense of spirituality to his portrayal. Quinto looks good on screen and has the snobbery and the ready-to-spring strength. Maybe it’s because he’s still young Spock. Or maybe it’s because very few people since TOS have portrayed Vulcans well. Certainly, by the time ENT came around they were portrayed merely as super-uptight humans with IDIC symbols up their green-blooded patooties.

The rest of the cast is fine, with Urban doing a fine DeForest Kelley impression. He could use more screen time. I hope the producers don’t forget how important McCoy is to the Enterprise triumvirate. The new Chekhov has different hair, which funny enough is just as annoying as Classic Chekhov’s hair. I can see where they tried to give him and Sulu and Scotty more depth using little flourishes (old accent jokes, navigating nerves, alien assistant, respectively), as part of McKee Screenwriting 101 and so that perhaps that would not end up as window-dressing the way so many of the cast did on the TOS movies. The new Uhura was good, but it says something that her extra flourish involves an intimate relationship. That’s what women get in the future that make them interesting. Not nerves or pet aliens. Well, unless Spock is her alien pet. What does that say? When they have sex, do you think he purrs like a tribble, and that’s what does it for her? Or does he, as we all suspect, yell, “Mommy” in Vulcan?

Yours in Oxytocin (Not OxyContin),

Dom DeLuise’s Unionized Fluffernutter

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