Monday, March 30, 2015

Character Insight No. 138: John Farrell

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.

Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we profile a recurring bridge crewman from early episodes of TOS, Lieutenant John Farrell.

John Farrell.jpg 
(This guy has a face made for radio, or communications in this case, courtesy

Farrell serves as a command track bridge officer and therefore is seen as one of many communications officers on the show as well as one of an even bigger list of navigation officers to appear on the Enterprise. His first appearance was one of his most notable, as he is manipulated by Mudd's women into supplying her with a communicator and the frequency to contact miners which he wanted to defraud with the women. He just can't avoid the wiles and charm of these women, much like many other crew members. This is the only time his first name Johnny is mentioned as well. 

Farrell also appears as a confused bridge officer when Captain Kirk is duplicated and both copies show up on the bridge to struggle for command in the episode The Enemy Within. His poise as a bridge officer showed much better in Miri, where he led the communications with a stranded landing party needing help in finding a cure to an ancient disease. 

This character was also written into several other episodes, but his scenes never made the cut. for example, his character was replaced in the final scripts that were shot for The Naked Time and Charlie X. However, apparently his character was not compelling enough to keep around past the first season, even though it is never addressed if he is reassigned or killed/missing in action.

Farrell does appear in a small number of novels as well, including My Brother's Keeper: Constitution, and the novelizations of several episodes including those he did not actually appear in on screen. According to the books and comics, he goes on to become an instructor at Starfleet Academy. Apparently command didn't work out, because those who can't do, teach.

Farrell was played by James Goodwin, who enjoyed a 30 year acting career with mostly one-off bit appearances in many television series as well as TV movies. his three appearances on Star Trek tie his most appearances on any one show. These shows include Little House on the Prairie, Chips, and Perry Mason.


Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Character Insight No. 137: Admiral Cartwright

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.

Welcome back to Character Insight! Having recovered from the epic hangover caused by hanging with all those Irish in the pub of Fair Haven last week, we now go back to the movies to profile Admiral Cartwright, from The Voyage Home and The Undiscovered Country.
Cartwright, 2293.jpg
 (Yet another "Badmiral", what a shock, courtesy  

Cartwright first appears as Starfleet Command's escort to the Federation President as Earth suffers from the attack of the whale probe on Earth. Cartwright helps explain the crisis to Admiral Kirk on the stolen Bird-of-Prey from The Search for Spock, allowing Kirk and the Enterprise crew to attempt the time travel mission to save the whales. So in a rare twist of fate, this Admiral doesn't start out as a complete jerk.

Apparently that mission broke Admiral Cartwright, however, or he just couldn't help himself from becoming the stereotypical Badmiral. Thus, when we see him two movies later at a security briefing on the weakening of the Klingon Empire at the beginning of The Undiscovered Country, he strongly advocates for an attack on the Empire to bring the Klingons to their knees rather than opening the door of peace between these factions. When Kirk agrees with Cartwright, the pieces are put in motion of a conspiracy to murder the Klingon Chancellor and Federation President to avert the peace effort once and for all.

To this end, Cartwright works with others like Valeris and General Chang to frame Kirk and Dr. McCoy after Chancellor Gorkon is killed. But of course, even with Kirk and McCoy sentenced to life in prison on work prison planet Rura Penthe, Cartwright and his cronies still couldn't avoid getting caught thanks to the efforts of Captain Spock and Captain Sulu on their respective ships to sniff out the conspiracy and save Kirk in time to prevent the Federation President's assassination.

Admiral Cartwright: Arrest those men!
Captain Spock: Arrest yourself! 

It's a pretty quick and shocking change from the President's right hand man in one movie to plotting his assassination two movies later, but that's the character arc the writers provided. Considering the script also originally called for Saavik to be a co-conspirator, perhaps this quick turnaround was supposed to shock us into taking deep thoughts about how deep convictions and beliefs can lead people to unbelievable behaviors and actions. It's an interesting allegory you also see in everything from real life to current shows like The Walking Dead.  

Cartwright was played by Brock Peters, who also played Joseph Sisko in Deep Space Nine. He had a long acting career highlighted by roles in To Kill A Mockingbird and Soylent Green.


Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Character Insight No. 136: Fair Haven (St. Patrick's Day)

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.

Welcome back to Character Insight! It's St. Patrick's Day, and since we've already done a couple of segments on Miles O'Brien, we will celebrate instead by looking at the most Irish holodeck destination shown in Star Trek, a little town called Fair Haven from Voyager, as well as a couple notable characters in the town.
 Fair Haven train station

 (Fair Haven, the Irish holodeck town, courtesy  

 Fair Haven is one of the many programs that Tom Paris makes during the Voyager's journey in the Delta Quadrant. The crew decides to spend extra time in this coastal Irish holodeck town to pass time while riding out a neutronic wave storm in the episode Fair Haven.

Thus, we are introduced to several interesting Irish characters about town. One of these is bartender Michael Sullivan at The Ox and The Lamb, who ends up attracting the affections of Janeway. Indeed, Katie O'Clare, as she's known in this program, goes so far as to reprogram him to be more desirable as a companion!

Quotes from Fair Haven
"Katie O'Clare, this is my wife, Francis...pleased to meet you"
"Oh, one more thing... access his interpersonal subroutines; familial characters... Delete the wife."
Quote from Spirit Things
"I've got a boyfriend who malfunctions."

In the first episode, Michael initially becomes angry about not seeming to win over O'Clare when Janeway retreats to the real world following kissing him and falling for him hard. However, she returns to spend significant time with him a few weeks later when the crew returns to the program in the episode Spirit Things. This relationship becomes vital when the crew needs saved from another Irish hologram named Seamus, who thinks Tom Paris and the Doctor are performing witchcraft and then tries to burn them at the stake.

Quote from Spirit Things
"If you can get a spirit to reveal his true name, you'll render yourself impervious to his charms!"

But thankfully, Michael convinces the others to let the Voyager crew go based on further information and discussions with Janeway. So the day is saved from another holodeck malfunction. At least this one is Irish, and therefore entertaining.

When not trying to burn spirits at the stake, Seamus is seen begging for beer money on many occasions as well as hitting on certain crew members you may know.

Quote from Fair Haven
"Saints preserve us."
"I possess superior hand-eye coordination."
"That's not all that's superior. The lily and the rose are staging a competition on your face."
"The fullness of your lips and the paleness of your cheeks - it's enough to make a man faint."
"Then, in that case, perhaps we should sit down."

Fair Haven provides a good Irish getaway with many romantic and personal relationship possibilities for the stranded crew. Even though it was a centerpiece of two dumb holodeck malfunction episodes, this was a nice change of pace and setting for this particular crew.

Seamus was played by Richard Riehle, who can also be seen in Office Space showing off the Jump to Conclusions mat. Michael Sullivan was played by Fintan McKeown, who also appeared in Game of Thrones as Amory Lorch.

 ------------ Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Character Insight No. 135: Data Clones (Soong androids)

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we review the various Soong-type androids similar to Data shown in TNG.
  Lal female.jpg
 (Data's daughter Lal, courtesy 
Data encounters or creates several Soong-type androids during his time on Enterprise, and they all have something to teach Data and the viewer about his own development as a life form. 

In order to recreate the work of his father and experience procreation, Data creates a daughter Lal in the episode The Offsping. Lal was able to improve on Data's own specifications, both in calculation power and in the ability to feel emotions, but this led to a cascade failure that terminated her neural net. This would foreshadow Data's own similar problems with adjusting to the emotion chip in the movies.

Lal quote
Lt. Cmdr. Data: What do you feel, Lal?
Lal: ...I love you, Father.
Lt. Cmdr. Data: [after a pause] I wish I could feel it with you.
Lal: I will feel it for both of us. Thank you for my life.
We also see previous models that did not work as well as Data. In the case of Lore, who was made right before Data, Dr. Soong failed to have a positronic brain that could handle and control emotions, therefore leading to a malevolent superiority complex in Lore. Lore has intense jealousy of Data, and he tries everything to try and kill him. Lore teaches Data the delicate balance between achieving emotions and losing control.

Lore quote from Brothers
 Lore: You'd be surprised, Data. Feelings do funny things. You may even learn to... understand your "evil" brother. To forgive him.  
An even earlier android model called B-4 was discovered during the Star Trek Nemesis movie. His brain and programming is very rudimentary, and Data and La Forge must work with him just to bring him up to speed to potentially be helpful. We are left not knowing how B-4 turns out, although the implication is that he could eventually replace Data, who perished in this movie.
B4 Quote from Star Trek Nemesis
Data: B-4, do you know where you are?
B-4: I am in a room... with lights.
B-4: [observing Riker] Why does the tall man have a furry face? 

Finally, we also see Juliana Tainer, an android replica of Data's mother who was created by Dr. Soong when the real Juliana was about to die. Juliana is unaware that she is an android and is programmed to self-destruct her positronic matrix if she ever finds out, giving her a natural death. Data bonds with her and discovers his affinity for music and art comes from her, valuable assets on the road to becoming more human-like.
Juliana Quote from Inheritance Dr. Juliana Tainer: And considering that giving you a creative aspect was my idea. Oh, your father didn't really see the point. He thought that since you didn't have emotions, there would be no real need for you to express yourself. Somehow, I had the feeling the opposite would be true.
Lt. Commander Data: I do not know for certain. But I believe it is during my creative endeavors that I come closest to experiencing what it must be like to be human.
Dr. Juliana Tainer: Well... I'm glad I insisted.


Each of these characters teaches us vital aspects of Data to help develop his character, building what may have been the most interesting character other than Spock in Star Trek history.
Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Character Insight No. 134: Best of Spock (in memorium)

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.

Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we honor the memory of newly departed Leonard Nimoy by continuing our "Best Of" series, this time looking at the best episodes and quotes featuring the iconic Spock character.  

Although this segment has honored the most important character of Star Trek by profiling him on the 50th and 100th installments of this segment, Spock will once again stand out as being the first character to be profiled 3 times on Character Insight. And he should stand out, given the character's vital role in making Star Trek relevant to so many people in modern society, including NASA astronauts.

("In character and in real life, he truly Lived Long and Prospered") 

One recurring character theme of Spock, which effectively speaks to many viewers who feel like they are in the minority in some manner, is the Vulcan need to control emotions versus the human need to express them. This internal conflict boils over at times, but also leads to quiet introspection as shown in these clips:

From This Side of Paradise:
"I am what I am, Leila. And if there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else's." - Spock, after he is cured of the spores' influence."

From The Naked Time:
Spock: I am in control of my emotions! Control of my emo -
[starts sobbing]  

From The Menagerie, which is typically regarded as the best Spock-centric episode of the show:
Captain James T. Kirk: Eh, Mr. Spock, when you're finished, please come back and see me, I want to talk to you. This regrettable tendency you've been showing lately towards flagrant emotionalism...
Mr. Spock: I see no reason to insult me, sir. I believe I've been completely logical about the whole affair.


Despite dealing with his own internal conflicts and emotions, Spock is a perfect first officer and right hand to Captain Kirk.  He shows his incredible loyalty on many occasions, as shown in these clips:

From The Ultimate Computer:
Mr. Spock: Computers make excellent and efficient servants; but I have no wish to serve under them. Captain, a starship also runs on loyalty to one man, and nothing can replace it, or him. 

From Amok Time:
T'Pau: [returning Spock's Vulcan salute] Live long and prosper, Spock.
Spock: I shall do neither: I've killed my captain and my friend.  

Spock, as a result of his adjustment to living with and working with humans, becomes a perfect Ambassador for working with the Romulans. The Romulans and Vulcans have genetic history in common, and nobody else can understand Romulans quite as well. Spock shows his knowledge and passion for them in TOS and in TNG, as shown in these clips:

From Balance of Terror
"Vulcan, like Earth, had its aggressive, colonizing period; savage, even by Earth standards. And if the Romulans retained this martial philosophy, then weakness is something we dare not show."

From Unification, Part II
Ambassador Spock: The reason for my coming here has never been more clear. The union of the Vulcan and the Romulan people will not be achieved by politics or by diplomacy. But it will be achieved. The answer has been here before us all along. An inexorable evolution toward a Vulcan philosophy has already begun. Like the first Vulcans, these people are struggling toward a new enlightenment. And it may take decades or even centuries for them to reach it; but they will reach it. And I must help. 

Spock provided us with some nice Vulcan lyre which we will use as intermission music, from Charlie X and from The Way to Eden.

And of course, we couldn't profile Spock without covering his frequent verbal sparring with Dr. McCoy. These two fight like spurned lovers, but they have a deep respect for one another despite the often incindiary and even racist comments between them.

From The Trouble with Tribbles:
Dr. McCoy: Spock, I don't know too much about these little tribbles yet, but there is one thing that I have discovered.
Spock: What is that, Doctor?
Dr. McCoy: I like them... better than I like you.
Spock: Doctor?
Dr. McCoy: Yes?
Spock: They do indeed have one redeeming characteristic.
Dr. McCoy: What's that?
Spock: They do not talk too much.

From Bread and Circuses:
Dr. McCoy: Quite logical, I'd say, Mister Spock. Just as it's logical that, uh... 20th-century Rome would use television to show its gladiator contest, or name a new car the Jupiter VIII.
Mr. Spock: Doctor, if I were able to show emotion, your new infatuation with that term would begin to annoy me.
Dr. McCoy: What term? 'Logic'? Medical men are trained in logic, Mr. Spock.
Mr. Spock: Really, Doctor? I had no idea they were trained. Watching you, I assumed it was trial and error.

From The Immunity Syndrome:
Mr. Spock: [Kirk has ordered a tractor beam placed on the shuttlecraft.] Captain, I recommend you abandon the attempt. Do not risk the ship further on my behalf.
Dr. McCoy: Shut up, Spock, we're rescuing you!
Mr. Spock: Why, thank you, *Captain* McCoy.

Finally, Spock shows on many missions that he has learned from the heritage of both his species, leveraging the best parts of human guile and deception when necessary to advance his logical Vulcan agendas. These clips show him reaching true harmony with himself. 

From The Enterprise Incident
Spock: I cannot allow the Captain to be further destroyed. The strain of command has worn heavily upon him. He has not been himself for several weeks.
Captain James T. Kirk: That's a LIE!
Spock: As you can see, Captain Kirk is a highly sensitive and emotional person. I believe he has lost the capacity for rational decision.
Captain James T. Kirk: SHUT UP, Spock!  

From The Galileo Seven:
Spock: It is more rational to sacrifice one life than six, Doctor.
Dr. McCoy: I'm not talking about rationality.
Spock: You might be wise to start. 

From Journey To Babel
Spock: Sarek understands my reason.
Amanda: Well, I don't. It's not human. Oh, that's not a dirty word. You're human, too. Let that part of you come through. You're father's dying.
Spock: Mother, how can you have lived on Vulcan so long, married a Vulcan, raised a son on Vulcan, without understanding what it means to be a Vulcan?
Amanda: Well, if this is what it means, I don't want to know! 


To close, I wanted to share one quote which summarizes my feelings from the past week: "Grief for one who lived so long would be illogical, yet my human emotions demand it."  Much like Spock himself, we all must struggle with internal conflict in this time of loss.  We can be happy Nimoy and his character Lived Long and Prospered, while at the same time being sad over the loss of what many of us think of as a favorite uncle or grandfather figure. 

Rest in Peace, Leonard Nimoy. And thank you for inspiring us all.

From The Wrath of Khan:
Spock: "I have been, and will always be, your friend." 

Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...