As promised, here begins our coverage of the Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration in Las Vegas!
To ensure smooth access to the panel sessions and special events on Day 1, we took advantage of pre-registration the previous evening. Despite this, we were still faced with a depressingly long queue. We were rewarded for our wait with a surprise in our registration packs: a Star Trek 50 commemorative coin. This was a nice touch!
I rounded out the evening with a preview visit to the Vendors’ Area. Although the convention hadn’t officially begun, Garrett Wang (Harry Kim, Voyager) was already there manning his own table. I happily purchased a Captain Proton t-shirt from him while he complained at fans about not being promoted from ensign. Clearly, time doesn’t heal all wounds. He bid me farewell by offering me a “sci five” (a high-five in the shape of a Vulcan salute).
What struck me upon arriving at the convention centre is how broad the appeal of Star Trek is. People from all walks of life were lining up for their registration packages. I couldn’t count the languages I was hearing. There were couples, families, groups of friends, and (c’mon, it’s Star Trek) distinguished loners. There were elderly folks and children. There were Klingons and Romulans, Bajorans and Cardassians, all brought together in a mutual love of all things Trek.
Day 1 Round-up
The first thing to get going on Day 1 (Wednesday the 3rd) was the Vendors’ Area. Garrett was there again, this time armed with many more photos for autographing. In another part of the room, Connor Trinneer (Trip Tucker, Ent), Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed, Ent), and Nicole de Boer (Ezri Dax, DS9) were doing photo ops and signing autographs. As you can imagine, the rest of the large hall was filled with posters, t-shirts, model ships (some of which fly!), insignia pins, and even Enterprise pizza cutters and uniform-patterned dressing gowns / bathrobes for sale.
I managed to buy a kitschy mutated Tom Paris from the loathed Voyager episode “Threshold”, complete with mutant offspring, for a mere $10 US:
One of the highlights of the Vendors’ Area is the MAC Cosmetics Stage, which features a replica Original Series transporter room, TNG Ten Forward, and Voyager engineering section complete with pulsating warp core. Surely spurred by the growing and lucrative cosplay industry, the stage had cosmetics specialists on hand to demonstrate products and techniques.
We’re not yet at the high point of the convention for costumes, as the Costume Parade is on Saturday morning. But today saw its fair share of Klingons (both ridged and unridged), Vulcans, Andorians, Trills, and Starfleet officers — a surprisingly large number of whom were dressed as Enterprise-era officers. But a Gorn Santa (a Gorn in a Santa Claus suit handing out presents) and a guy with a shuttlecraft on his head were also spotted.
While out-of-theme, a couple of Jedi and a very well-done Tom Baker Doctor were also around.
Panel Session: Robin Curtis and Eric Menyuk
One of the first celebrity panel sessions featured Robin Curtis (Saavik, STIII and STIV) and Eric Menyuk (Traveller, TNG). Much of the brief session focused on the controversial topic of who was the “better” Saavik, Curtis or Kirstie Alley, especially as Alley, who has traditionally shied away from these conventions, will be turning up later to this one.
Panel Session: Enterprise actors John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox), Gary Graham (Soval), Connor Trinneer (Trip Tucker), and Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed)
These actors delivered a lively session! In the midst of a lot of laughter and reminiscing, John Billingsley discussed how the Xindi saga of the third season of Enterprise — both the way in which the story was told and the controversial airlock torture scene — had been influenced by the popularity of 24 at the time.
Billingsley also sang a few lines from a song he made up about how certain non-bridge officer actors work fewer hours than their bridge officer counterparts:
Six days off and the check still comes….
Trinneer also revealed that Trip had originally been named Spike but network rules had forced them to change the name as Buffy and Angel already had a Spike!
TRINNEER: If there were a fifth season, I would have fought strongly for not being dead.
The session closed with the house band performing “Faith of the Heart”, the Enterprise theme song!
Special Preview: The Life of Spock and memories of Leonard Nimoy
We were treated to a special preview of the upcoming documentary The Life of Spock directed by Leonard Nimoy’s son Adam, who was on-hand to answer questions. The film, which should see at least a limited theatrical release this fall, looks to be very interesting!
Later, some emotional footage from Leonard Nimoy’s final convention was shown.
Klingon Talk Show: Gwynyth Walsh (B’Etor), Bob O’Reilly (Gowron), and J.G. Hertzler (Martok)
This was the undeniable highlight of the day, with Walsh, O’Reilly, and Hertzler appearing in costume. What they lacked in appearance (O’Reilly and Hertzler’s makeup left something to be desired, which makes you appreciate the work that must go into costuming these shows), they made up for in hilarity and raucousness.
Rather than being interviewed by the hosts, they took the reigns of the session themselves, giving it a Klingon talk show format, with a mix of stand-up comedy, rap, dancing, and Q&A with the audience. (They rapped out a song titled “We’re the Klingons, Baby” to much audience applause.)
Things got even wilder when they started taking questions. When asked what attributes they felt they brought to Klingon culture in their portrayals, Walsh joked:
When asked which hair conditioner Klingons use, Walsh upped the ante again with:
Bull semen. It’s strong and viscous.
This started a running gag, mostly carried on by Hertzler, in which the answer to most questions were either cleavage, bull semen, or both.
Hertzler also insisted that question-askers ask their questions in a Klingon way, and even left the stage and pretended to strangle one belligerent asker.
Also, according to O’Reilly, the worst thing about being Klingon is:
We were sworn to secrecy on this, so please keep that one to yourselves. 😉
They closed their show by inviting all of the audience members dressed as Klingons to the stage for a sing-along of the “Warriors’ Anthem” from DS9, led by a fan dressed as Kes from Voyager. She had the lyrics (in Klingon!) memorized by heart and it was actually a stirring rendition!
Sets, Promenade, and Quark’s Bar
I should also add that there is an awesome collection of sets around the convention hall: a TOS bridge, a TOS transporter room (separate from the one on the MAC stage), a bank of Borg regeneration alcoves, and a life-size Guardian of Forever that fans can pretend to jump out of for photo ops.
There’s even a Promenade hall with a Bajoran prayer wall and Quark’s Bar (where a spiked Raktajino is served). As I write this, I’m listening to Chase Masterson (Leeta, DS9) sing Star Trek jazz on the Promenade stage. And now she’s undressing a fan on the stage….
TV Series Details?
One of the hosts mentioned that something to do with the new television series might happen on the weekend, the nature of which was not made specific. I’m staying tuned for whatever this is!