There's No Star Trek Like This Star Trek
Spock sings! This week, everybody does. I'm back with a review of the first-ever musical episode of the legendary sci-fi franchise, plus interviews with the stars. Oh, and today's news, of course!
It is Thursday, August 3, 2023, and former President Donald Trump returns to Washington today, to once again be the center of all our attention. And yes, I am also back! Thank you for once again rising up with me. After today’s news and other fun stuff, I’ll offer an explanation as to why this newsletter went dark for two months and a day, if you’re curious. What really matters, though, is what’s happening, so let’s get to it already!
On This Day:
For generations, school children were taught a sing-song rhyme, “In 14-hundred and 92, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” And it was on this day in 1492 that Christopher Columbus of Italy set sail from Palos, Spain with the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. But instead of finding a new route to India, China and the islands of Asia, Columbus and his crew stumbled upon the Bahamas, and later Cuba, Hispaniola, the Gulf of Mexico, and Central and South America, all the while unaware of what he supposedly “discovered.” His four journeys to the “New World” led to riches for Spain and other Europeans. But they left native populations a legacy of illness, death, robbery, captivity, enslavement and ultimately expulsion from their own lands.
On this day in 1982, Michael Hardwick of Georgia was observed by a police officer having sex with another man in his own home. Following his arrest, he challenged the constitutionality of the state’s anti-sodomy law, which in 1986 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld. The law stood until 2003, when the justices ruled in Lawrence v. Texas, striking down anti-sodomy laws nationwide. Last year, Justice Clarence Thomas opined that ruling should be overturned, like Roe v. Wade.
Here Now the News:
DONALD J. TRUMP TO BE ARRAIGNED IN WASHINGTON, D.C. TODAY: CNN
THE MAN AT THE CENTER OF THE TRUMP INDICTMENT: MIKE PENCE — Washington Post
WHAT WILL TRUMP’S DEFENSE BE? “FREEDOM OF SPEECH” — A.P.
WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG TO GET TO THIS POINT? The Nation
IS GINNI THOMAS — WIFE OF JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS — UNINDICTED CO=CONSPIRATOR NUMBER 6? — Newsweek
SEARCH IS ON FOR MORE VICTIMS OF KIDNAPPER WHO POSED AS COP: Oregon Live
STRIKING WRITERS UNION TO MEET WITH MOVIE STUDIOS FRIDAY: The Verge
JUSTIN TRUDEAU AND WIFE SEPARATE AFTER 18 YEARS OF MARRIAGE: Reuters
LIZZO ACCUSED OF HARASSMENT AND HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT: CNN
WHO WAS MISSING WHEN HOUSE REPUBLICANS INTERVIEWED KEY HUNTER BIDEN WITNESS, DEVON ARCHER? Only Oversight Cmte. Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), reports The Daily Beast exclusively. So, where was he? Eating barbeque with a friend, according to Instagram.
WHO DONATED $50,000 TO GOV. RON DeSANTIS’ BID FOR THE WHITE HOUSE? The Orlando Magic NBA team, reports CNN, noting the team is owned by the DeVos family (remember Betsy?), which claims the donation is not an endorsement and was made prior to the Florida Republican’s announcement he is running for president. Riiiiiiiight.
OKLAHOMA GOV. SIGNS “WOMEN’S BILL OF RIGHTS” EXECUTIVE ORDER: With paid shill and transphobic former swimmer Riley Gaines by his side, Gov. Kevin Stitt directed state agencies to use narrow definitions of “female” and “male” in his latest attack on transgender rights. He’s already signed laws targeting bathroom use, gender affirming healthcare and banning trans student-athletes from playing on sports teams matching their gender identity. —A.P. via NBC News
FLORIDA SHOCKER: EVIDENCE SHOWS STATE STACKED DECK IN REPORT STRIPPING MEDICARE COVERAGE FROM TRANS PEOPLE — Miami Herald
FEDERAL JUDGE IN OHIO DENIES “RIGHT TO BULLY” TRANS KIDS: Erin In The Morning Substack (You should subscribe! I did!)
TRANSPHOBES TARGET DOC MARTENS OVER ONE-OFF DESIGN CELEBRATING TOP SURGERY: Pink News
HEART DOCTOR FLEES LOUISIANA OVER ANTI-LGBTQ LAWS: NBC News
MORE THAN 80% OF U.S. LGBTQ WORKERS ARE OUT TO AT LEAST 1 COLLEAGUE: Bloomberg
CHINA INSISTS THAT IS NOT A HUMAN IN A BEAR COSTUME. REALLY. — NBC Nightly News
LIVING IN OR VISITING FLORIDA MIGHT GIVE YOU MORE THAN JUST A SUNBURN: LEPROSY ON THE RISE?!? — CNN
Star Trek Corner
MY REVIEW OF STAR TREK STRANGE NEW WORLDS EPISODE 9: “SUBSPACE RHAPSODY” — Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t yet streamed this penultimate episode, you may not want to read this right now. Click here to view, then come back and compare notes! First week is free if you sign up!
The headline here is: This week, Star Trek takes fans on a fun, fabulous diversion from its typical strange new world mission, to seek out new songs and one new thing nobody’s ever done and really should never do again.
What is that one thing? Keep reading, friends.
The most-asked questions I’ve received about this episode are… Was it any good? And, is it still Star Trek? The answer to both questions is a resounding YES! I thoroughly enjoyed it, with just that one minor exception (wait for it).
I will admit, as much as I love musicals on Broadway and in movie theaters, I am not a fan of this genre, where characters in a traditional TV show suddenly burst into song. Suffice to say, Cop Rock ruined me forever. See below:
Star Trek Strange New Worlds, for those unfamiliar, is a prequel series set years before the adventures of the original series from the 1960s.
Next most asked questions are, Does everybody sing? YES! Are the actors lip-synching? NO! I was seriously impressed with the range displayed by the cast, in particular Ethan Peck as a young Spock, and Anson Mount, who plays Capt. Christopher Pike, the commander of the Starship Enterprise before James T. Kirk.
In this series, Kirk is a lieutenant played by Paul Wesley, and yep, he sings, too. Eat your heart out, William “Rocketman” Shatner!
Spock’s solo number, “I’m The X” — a song sealing the end of his star-crossed romance with Nurse Christine Chapel — is haunting and moving. Another song, the lament by Christina Chong (“La’An”), “How Would That Feel,” is even more powerful both in its delivery and how it allows viewers to imagine what could have been for La’An, if not for those pesky Temporal Investigators from the future.
Chong is a recording artist as well as an actor, and her talents are on full display here. Carol Kane (“Pelia”) sings, too. EVERYBODY SINGS, OKAY? EVERYBODY!
The next question, of course, is the obvious one: WHY ARE THEY SINGING?!?
Screenwriters Dana Horgan and Bill Wolkoff and director Dermott Downs (a former child actor you might recall from Escape to Witch Mountain!) crafted a science fiction story that puts the original songs by Kay Hanley and Tom Polce into context: Something unexpected and unusual happens! The crew must come up with a plan to stop it from happening… before it’s too late!
Or, as Paramount+ publicity’s department explained: “An accident with an experimental quantum probability field causes everyone on the U.S.S. Enterprise to break uncontrollably into song, but the real danger is that the field is expanding and beginning to impact other ships — allies and enemies alike.”
More about that “enemies” part in a moment, but first, fans will enjoy a significant amount of plot development this week: Chapel, played by the incredible Jess Bush, not only puts chooses to her career ahead of her budding relationship with Spock, but celebrates her good fortune — an opportunity to study with Dr. Roger Korby, a character introduced in TOS (“The Original Series,” or as Ensign Brad Boimler calls the show, “Those Old Scientists”) — in a woman-empowering dance number that could have appeared in the Barbie movie.
And for fans who are really tired of Kirk popping up on the Enterprise so often, there is a reason for it this week: He’s learning how to be a first officer from the best in the fleet, Una “Number One” Chin-Riley, played by Rebecca Romijn. And his character introduces a plot point that dates back to the 1982 feature film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Kirk tells La’An his love life is, well, complicated by the fact he and Dr. Carol Marcus are going to be parents.
While that slams a sliding door — whoosh! — on what might have become of La’An’s decision to reveal her feelings for the alternate timeline version of Kirk, whom she met in “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” that is certainly for the best. After all, La’An’s ancestor — Khan Noonien Singh — is destined to become Kirk’s greatest enemy in a TOS episode and the blockbuster movie it inspired… as well as a J.J. Abrams film called Star Trek Into Darkness which, well, let’s not go there.
Now, if you’re still stuck on why Star Trek is doing a musical, then try this: This brand of the iconic franchise has truly gone where no one has gone before! An animated crossover with Star Trek Lower Decks… an episode last week that mixed the dark spirit of M*A*S*H with Band of Brothers and The Equalizer.. and a comic romp that posed the question: What if Spock became fully human and had to learn how to pretend to be Vulcan? All of it: fantastic.
So, with that track record, is it really a shock that the producers of Strange New Worlds took another bold but far stranger step into musical theater, with choreography, to boot, complete with… Klingons?
Wait, what? Klingons?
Yes, that’s where, in my opinion, showrunners Akiva Goldsman and Henry Alonso Myers boldly went too far.
They took a brilliant bit of casting — bringing back Bruce Horak, who played Hemmer last season (and in one episode this season), to play Klingon General Garkog — and then wasted it, by turning the Federation’s most fearsome enemy into the Backstreet Boys.
Is it funny to see Klingons burst into a song and dance number? Well, yeaaaah, okay, I guess, but… I dunno, that part just made me cringe.
And I’m not alone. Speaking with a fellow writer whose work also delves deep into The Final Frontier, we agreed that the singing and dancing Klingons scene was “Qeb,” which translates to English as “brutal.”
“But still a great episode,” said Cinemablend’s Mick Joest in a DM on X, you know, what used to be Twitter. “And on the flip side, I can say I felt the shame the Klingons felt.”
Joest writes that even the director questioned whether K-Pop Klingons was “jumping the shark.” Read his report in Cinemablend by clicking here.
Yeah. Gimme Klingons singing opera, or punk rock, any day, but this? Hooboy. Maybe you liked it? Let me know in the comments!
The true highlight of the entire episode is the absolute treasure that is Celia Rose Gooding, who plays young Ensign Nyota Uhura, the part originated by Nichelle Nichols. Like Gooding, Nichols was a singer who had a small number of opportunities to display her talent in the original series. This week, as we mark one year since Nichols died, I’d like to think she would be smiling to see Gooding blow us all away with her range and show-stopping performance. What a wonder she is!
Because of her and absolutely everyone involved, I give “Subspace Rhapsody” four out of give Vulcan salutes! 🖖🏻🖖🏻🖖🏻🖖🏻. Sorry, singing and dancing Klingons.
Before the writers and actors went on strike, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Gooding and Bush — both of whom identify as queer — as well as Melissa Navia, who plays the Enterprise pilot Erica Ortegas. She famously said “Everybody should be a bit queer!” We met as they joined their friends Wilson Cruz, Blu del Barrio and Anthony Rapp of Star Trek Discovery at this year’s Outright International gala, after speaking to me as part of a Paramount+ virtual junket. In-person, IMHO, is always better!
READ MY STORY IN THE DAILY BEAST: Click here!
ON MONDAY: MORE FROM MY INTERVIEWS WITH THE CAST THAT YOU HAVEN’T SEEN ANYWHERE ELSE!
HOW TO VIEW EVERY SEASON OF EVERY STAR TREK SERIES: Click here to subscribe to Paramount+
To my subscribers
So… here’s what happened. In the last edition of this newsletter, published on June 4, 2023, I explained the reason for my brief, four-day absence in my first post since the end of May, and I also promised I’d be back “tomorrow.”
Yeaaah, no, that didn’t happen, obviously. The first week of Pride Month had only just begun, and I was already exhausted from coast to coast travel and multiple appearances across Connecticut. There was so much more to come, and I had an enormous backlog of actual news stories to write, to support my family and me, which believe it or not I am still tackling! Oy!
Something had to give, and after six months of regularly producing this newsletter, week after week without a break, I decided — unfortunately, without informing y’all — that I desperately needed a break.
If you follow me on social media @lifeafterdawn, you’ll have noticed I didn’t even share all the amazing things I did in June until the 4th of July, including my visit to a Pride celebration hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris (that’s me behind Jazz Jennings and her brother Sander! That story is here, ICYMI).
But once I caught my breath, I still felt I wasn’t yet ready to return. So, I put my mental health first, and took time for myself. I’m grateful you’re still with me! In all that time, only one subscriber canceled, and dozens of new subscribers signed up (probably wondering, WTF?!?) Sorry! And thank you!
So, now you know. And I encourage everyone reading this to do what I did, if/when you’re feeling overwhelmed: Take time for you. Breathe. Reflect. And when you’re ready, get back at it. I am!
For now, the newsletter will be just four days a week instead of five, as I work my way back to full-speed. I think that’s for the best, and look forward to ramping back up to sharing Sunday night Bedtime Stories when I am ready.
That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back Monday morning with the stories you need to rise up and start your day. Until then… May your news be good news!
© 2023 EnniBuddy Productions - All Rights Reserved