Life in the so-called Space Age
I have a cookie for the first person to tell me where the title of this comes from. There are many possible answers, but only one correct one.
So, tonight I watched “All Good Things” in TNN, as I wrapped up a week of watching the best of TNG.
God dammit all to hell if it didn’t reduce me to tears, at the end, seeing all my friends seated around that poker table. I thought, as I watched them, about how much I wished *I* was at that table…and I can admit something here, to myself, and to fandom: I miss Star Trek. I miss working with that amazing cast. I miss being part of that amazing show. Watching TNG all this week has been the closest I will ever get to watching lots of home movies, or reading a high school year book over and over and over again.
So many memories came flooding back over the past few days, and each of them could get their own entry, but then we’d never get to the end of SpongeBob Vega$Pants, the re-code of the site, and I’d probably lose my wife, somewhere along the line…so here are some of them, in list form:
*In the first season, when LeVar was driving the ship (before a certain strapping young ensign took over), the chairs we had were really reclined. More suited for sleeping, than sitting…and that’s what LeVar would do, all the time! When he was in a scene without any dialogue, he would sit in that recliner, VISOR securely in place, and just doze off. More than once, he got busted for snoring.
*In one episode, and I can’t remember the title, so you’ll have to excuse me, Patrick was strolling around the bridge, saying something about how we all needed to consider “the source” of something. Thing is, he was saying consider “the sauce“. I didn’t catch it the first few times, but Brent did, and he turns to me, at the beginning of a take, and, just as they are about to roll, he says, “Patrick wants more sauce.” I asked him what the hell that meant, because Brent was always fucking with me, and he says, “Just listen.” So they roll, we’re in the scene, and Patrick says that we should consider “the sauce”. I crack up. Out loud. I can’t help it. They cut, everyone looks at me, all pissed off, because it was okay for the adults to crack, but if The Kid did it, it was another thing, completely. I point to Brent, stammer that he made me laugh, and Brent just looks angelic (in gold, mind you. I think that helped him pull it off). Nobody believed me, until later, when someone else heard Patrick saying something else, in his, er…unique…accent, and Marina says, “I’m British, and I know that’s not how we talk. So I took the opportunity to point out “the sauce”.
*I remember the first time Wesley got to play in one of those poker games that they had on the show. I remember how genuinely thrilled I was, as a person to be in that scene, because I felt like I was finally accepted as something other than The Kid.
*It’s weird to watch TNG now, because when I watch “Enterprise”, my imagination fills in the ship around what the camera is currently showing…but when I watch TNG, my memory fills in the stage around the set…instead of picturing the rest of the corridors, or the Battle Bridge (my personal favorite set), I remember our chairs, and the craft service table…
I remembered, as I was watching “All Good Things” tonight, about something that happened a very long time ago, which I had forgotten about. Two things, actually, which, at the time, seemed to validate my reasons for leaving.
There was a big deal made about the screening of the final episode of TNG over a Paramount, and I was asked to attend. I agreed, mostly because I wanted to see my friends, but also because I was curious to see how they would have ended it.
They did the screening in a theatre at Paramount, and they sat all of us from the cast together in the theatre. I sat between Marina and Brent, if memory serves. Some of our more high profile guest stars had been invited, and there were some empty seats on the other side of our row where they would have sat if they’d shown…somehow I’m not surprised that Mick Fleetwood didn’t show… but John DeLancie is sitting behind me. That’s important, as you’ll see in a second.
Some stuffed shirt from Viacom gets up, makes some stupid speech that nobody wants to hear bout how great Star Trek is, and he introduces Rick Berman, who comes up to the podium, and makes another speech, about how great the last 7 years have been, and how it was through the work of some people, some people who are here tonight, that TNG was possible. Would those people please stand up? Patrick Stewart. Jonathan Frakes. Brent Spiner. Marina Sirtis. Gates McFadden. LeVar Burton. Michael Dorn. Denise Crosby. John DeLancie.
They all stand. The entire theatre is now on its feet, applauding their hard work, and commitment to the show. Berman is beaming as he applauds them.
They’re all standing up, except for me. Berman looked right at me, and didn’t call out my name. The son of a bitch knew that I was there, and didn’t call me to stand. Later, I asked him why he’d left me out, and he said he didn’t know I was there. I told him that I was the one person, who was sitting with the cast, who wasn’t standing up. Maybe he remembered making eye contact with me, after he called Denise, and before he called on John DeLancie? It sucked, it was petty and it hurt.
Another time, I was invited to a big party for the 25th anniversary of Star Trek, also at Paramount. Again, I can’t remember if this was before, or after the aforementioned snubbing. Again, they sat us all together, and again, there was a “stand up and be counted” thing. Only this time, it was with all 3 casts. Maybe you’ve seen the picture? All three casts are on stage, holding these miniature American flags, which were given to them by astronauts who flew them on various space shuttle missions. Again, I was left sitting, surrounded by empty chairs. I was so embarassed, as I sat there, feeling genuinely happy for my friends, from all the casts, who were standing on stage, and at the same time, I felt so tiny, and so lame…afterwards, I told Berman that I thought that was really shitty, and he said he hadn’t known that I was coming. Well, the thing is, when you’re the executive producer of Star Trek, you approve everything that goes on. Even guest lists.
I recall all this publicly, to maybe give some context to my remarks over the years, and to help you, my dear monkey, appreciate what I will say next: I am filled with regret that I left. Now, I know some asshole out there will say that I feel that way because I didn’t work as much after I left, but the truth is, that was by my choice. As soon as I was off the show, I realized that I could do whatever I wanted with my life, and I quit. Ran away to Topeka, joined a computer company, and discovered that I hated myself. I was truly disgusted with the person I looked at in the mirror each day, and getting away from the environemt I had always lived in was the only way to ensure that I changed all that.
You know who I would be if I had never left? Say it with me, my people: WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER.
So, regrets? I have a few…but then again, I wouldn’t be the person I am now, if I’d stuck around, and I like who I’ve become.
I’m not sure if this post makes sense…but I’m sure I’ll find out.