February 19, 2007

Beyond the Final Frontier, to the Sale Rack

Nimoy is hosting a new two hour "doc" on Star Trek, premiering tonight on the History Channel at 9 p.m. EST. I was excited about it until I read this and this:

"Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier" initially takes die-hard Trekkers where many have gone before. For two hours, a History Channel press release promises, the documentary "examines the series as a global cultural phenomenon." This mostly entails familiar episode clips, trite sound bites from the actors (George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew), and tired glimpses of costumed Klingons from the fan conventions that provide the performers with a steady stream of older-age income.

Trekkers have seen it all dozens of times before. So maybe "Beyond" is meant for newbies, should there be any in our beam-me-up soaked culture. OK, the aforementioned might make a semi-informative primer. But that effort compromises perhaps half the program's airtime, while the remaining focus is on something only devotees could love staff preparation for the October sale of 1,000 "Trek" props, costumes and other production relics at Christie's auction house.

So half the show is designed to bore Trekkers, while the other half should send nonfans fleeing. Great job, guys.

The two angles are interwoven randomly throughout the show's extreme length, too, just to drive every viewer batty. You know you're in for a long night when host Leonard "Spock" Nimoy takes an introductory stroll through a warehouse opining about the auction: "How did this happen, why did it happen, and what were the results?"

Dull enough. But then, after showing costumes being appraised and props being uncrated, the program doesn't answer those questions. Supposedly the idea was to get these collectibles into the hands of the fans. Oh, really? It had nothing to do with making money? And who got the proceeds? How much did it total? You won't find out here.

Instead, you'll learn that a Picard uniform sold for $9,000, a McCoy space suit expected to fetch $6,000 to $8,000 was bid up to $120,000, and a 5-foot Enterprise-D spaceship model used for special effects went for a whopping $500,000. You'll hear series participants intone how their work has "become part of the American mythos," opine on the show's "morality plays," and, lest we forget about that sale, extol how every fiber of the production has "recognizable emotional value."

You also get to see a '60s clip of McCoy saying, "I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer," and to watch the auction buyers drooling over pricey purchases as shipments arrive in London and Sweden. If only we could also see their faces when the credit card bills arrive.


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