Monday, May 11, 2009

Shatner's Star Trek cameo (if only they had consulted me)

Okay. I saw the movie. It was good. The time travel/double reality plot struck me as a little bit weak (is Spock's mother dead or isn't she?), and the snow planet monsters a little bit gratuitous. But it was a lot of fun, and the young folks playing the classic characters acquitted themselves well. One thing though -- why couldn't they give the kid playing Kirk brown contact lenses? Not that anyone asked me.

I do wish they had asked me, about that, and about other things. Why no tribbles, for example? And I'm glad Kirk at least ate an apple during the Kobyashi Maru training session, but that didn't seem quite sufficient a tribute to the fact that one of the charms of the old series was that these people were people who were, after all, at work, and who took breaks, had leisure pursuits, and ate actual food. Remember the old episode where Kirk's yeoman -- a girl -- serves him greens because he is on a diet?

And then there's the question of the movie's cameo appearance. Leonard Nimoy's "Spock Prime" was all right, but too extensive for a cameo. I recall reading somewhere recently that the producers wanted to work William Shatner into the story line in a cameo also, but just couldn't do it. Perhaps that's a polite way of saying "the dude wanted millions." If, on the other hand, they just couldn't think of a way to work him in -- well. That's ridiculous. Of course they could. They should have thought harder. If only they had consulted me.

I'm assuming, of course, that they could have written him into the script as an actor playing anybody, not necessarily playing "Kirk Prime" from the future. Why not? Shatner would have been huge fun as a janitor at Starfleet. As an instructor. As an ambassador.

Or this. To beef up the weakest section of the film, in which the preteen Kirk drives a car, really fast, as far as he can down an Iowa road and that's all.


Iowa, ca. 2240. A blazing hot summer day.

A preteen blond boy races an antique 20th century red sports car at 80 m.p.h. along a dusty road. He is scolded by a furious voice coming over the car's intercom system, shuts it off and keeps racing.

A police officer on a personal motorcycle/hovercraft catches up with him and orders him to pull him over. While the boy is distracted, a vintage 20th century pickup truck approaches his path from a farm in the distance. The boy and the cop both swerve and stop at the last minute to avoid a crash.

The dust settles. Doors slam as the three drivers emerge from their vehicles. The driver of the pickup is a good-looking woman in her mid fifties. She takes in the situation.

Woman: Well, at least you're in one piece. And so is the car.

Officer: You know him, ma'am?

Woman: A little better than I'd care to, sometimes, officer. Of course he was speeding?

Officer: Excessively. Driving far under age. In a stolen vehicle, I assume.

Woman: Not stolen. Borrowed, sir. That should get him some time off, almost like for good behavior (she glares at the boy).

Officer: What's his name?

Boy (quickly): James Kirk.

Woman: My nephew. My sister could never handle him.

Officer (to Kirk): You got a license and registrations, kid?

Kirk: What's registration?

Officer (reading a hand held computer): According to this, the owner is --

Woman: If you'll allow him to drive, you can both follow me back to my property and see that he stays there until my sister comes to get him and claims the car. (Quietly) She's had a rough time, officer. If we could get back before her husband -- before the car owner knows it's gone, that would be good.

Officer (hesitates, glances at the distance, then at his computer. Hands the computer to the woman): Punch in your name, address, and sign it. When I file the report, you will be on record as the responsible party. That's an expensive antique, ma'am. And I don't know your brother-in- law.

Woman (smiling, works the computer and hands it back): Actually you probably do. Apples don't fall far from trees. But I can handle him. Thank you, sir.

The policeman roars off in a cloud of dust. Kirk and the woman face each other.

Kirk: Why did you do that?

Woman: I think it's kind of stupid to drive off cliffs. How about you? And because ... you remind me of someone. (Businesslike.) Get in the car and follow me.

Kirk: Why should I? (Woman whirls on him.) Okay, okay.

They drive to a farm, get out of their cars, and Kirk follows the woman across a dusty open space, rutted with tire tracks, to a stables.

Woman (peering in): Hey?

In the shadows and shafts of light, an old but imposing looking man is brushing a horse.

Man (still working): You're back early.

Woman: Have we got a spare charger?

Man: The device, or the animal?

Woman: The device. I met a ... motorist in distress.

Man (turning slowly to face the woman and Kirk. Does he recognize the young son of the dead hero, George Kirk of the USS Kelvin? Possibly. Do we recognize William Shatner? Definitely): He's a little young to be a motorist, isn't he?

Kirk: That's why I'm in distress. (Glances at the woman.) The cops caught me.

Man: Evidently not.

Kirk: I mean, they did until ... she .... (Turning to the woman.) Thank you.

Man (still working): I see. That's better.

Woman: I kind of signed off for him -- on his good behavior, the car, everything. It's all going to be in the nice officer's report.

Man: Is it.

Woman: I thought you could look over his vehicle. It's a real antique. You'd have a lot to talk about. And then you could see that he gets home? I've got some things to do.

Man: I can do that.

Kirk: It's okay. I mean, I'm not that far from my house. I don't need any help. Thanks.

Man (putting down his brushes): I'm not sure you'll get too far in Starfleet with that attitude, sir.

Kirk: What do you know about Starfleet?

The camera lingers on lifetimes of experience in the old man's face. Who is he? We don't know. The next time we see the preteen Kirk, he'll be the young man in the bar ten years on.


Now I ask you. A brief cameo, a thrilling mystic jolt for the audience, no time-travel "Kirk Prime" problems, and surely no jillion-dollar fee for these few minutes for Shatner. I even throw in a good looking woman as a reference to, well, all Kirk's good looking women. Is she daughter, niece, wife? I throw in horses as a nod to the actor's hobby.

Now I ask you. Couldn't this have been fun? Why in the world didn't they consult me?

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