Shakespeare Aboard the Enterprise

By Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall (Rated G)

While isolated in my rural estate here along Beer Can Road and County Dump Extension I have been dragging hoses, reading Robert Frost, saying bad things about the ‘possums pillaging my vegetable garden, and considering Star Trek:

Star Trek: The Movie works much better if you don’t think of it as a Star Trek movie but as maybe a Robert A. Heinlein movie with Star Trek characters. Still, the pajamas are awkward.

There are no Methodists in Star Trek. Nor are there any Baptists or Catholics or Jews. Once in a while Spock goes to his room to meditate in some sort of vague, fuzzy way, or maybe he’s just smoking a cigarette, but there is seldom a hint of a deity.

In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan the eponymous anti-hero, brilliantly played by Ricardo Montalban, almost seems to be quoting Satan from Milton’s Paradise Lost (he’s not, though) in his dying, hate-filled repudiation of any concept of the good, even his own value as a created being, in his pathetic obsession with revenge: “From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee. For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.”
Pretty gamey stuff, but when we consider the equally pathological responses on popular InterGossip sites, Khan seems to reflect the intellectual and ethical lapses of our time.

The story arc of films II, III, and IV do consider thoughtfully the possibility of the existence of the soul, and V considers the possibility of God.

Both in the various series and in the films William Shakespeare pops up so often that he might as well be one of the crew. He certainly deserves credit for the many plots, sub-plots, quotations, allusions, and moral themes that are a constant in Star Trek.

James T. Kirk is the guy you’d want covering your back in a cafeteria rumble, but Jean-Luc Picard is the guy you’d want sitting next to you during an exam.

And why “Jean-Luc?” Captain Picard’s beverage of choice is Earl Grey tea (Twining’s, no doubt) and he is more Shakespeare than Shakespeare. He’s so English that you expect some crop-headed harridan wearing sustainably-farmed sneakers to run onto the set screaming, “Decolonize this bridge!”

Lieutenant Uhura – the adult aboard the starship.

Lieutenant Sulu – a Boy Wonder in search of his Batman, but don’t call him “Tiny.”

Ensign Chekov – like Ilya Kuryakin from The Man from Uncle, an adorable little Commie. He probably beams Federation secrets to Saint Petersburg / Leningrad.

Commander Spock – probably not much fun at a party.

Commander Scott – give him a wrench, a roll of duct tape, a multi-tester, a technical journal, and a dram of Scotch and he’ll re-float and re-build the Titanic within four days. Okay, Captain Kirk, for you, two days.

For the duration of the isolation Patrick Stewart, now Sir Patrick (but he wears his knighthood lightly), reads each day a sonnet by Shakespeare with the occasional amusing aside and sometimes a firm dismissal, every schoolboy’s dream: “I don’t like Sonnet 9…I’m not going to do it. Because nobody’s going to make me.”

Image from wikipedia

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