Over the years, I have stood in the no man’s land between two warring factions. A conscientious objector, refusing to be drawn into their bloody war. I am that rarest of creatures. I am a fan of both Star Trek and Star Wars.
With the recent release of trailers for both The Last Jedi and Star Trek Discovery, I’ve once again seen people talking in terms of having to choose a franchise. I don’t get it. I’ve known people over the years who have genuinely told me “Oh i’ve never watched Star Trek. I’m a Star Wars guy.” and think that’s explanation enough. Like the two franchises are somehow incompatible and watching both will cause a chain reaction that will melt your face.
It’s the same as the old Marvel or DC argument. I don’t understand the “or” in there. I absolutely love Spider-Man, he’s my favourite superhero of all time. My Top 5 is actually pretty Marvel heavy (although it changes all the time), featuring Deadpool, Daredevil and Penance along with Spidey. They’re all amazing and they sit in my all time faves list alongside Batman. Marvel or DC? My answer will always be an infuriating “Yes.”
I wish we geeks could all just get along and in a bid to promote peace between our people, I have decided to show how Star Trek and Star Wars are forever entangled, via as many other geek-centric franchises as I can cram in. In this very special Six Degrees, we’re going from Kirk to Skywalker.
My love of Star Trek began at an early age, largely thanks to my dad. He’s a huge fan of every series of Star Trek, even Enterprise. Yeah, that show got more hate than it deserved but with that theme tune, it is hard to love.
Before Enterprise, however, there was TOS. The Original Series. Admittedly, TOS was well before my time, running from 1966 to 1969 before being cancelled. Hard to imagine that the series which 50 years on is still filling cinema seats and selling DVDs by the barrowload was once binned because of poor ratings. In fact William Shatner never expected to get beyond season two and was preparing himself for new projects well before the show actually ended.
Ah, Shatner. The original Enterprise Captain. I mean, not actually, because there was Pike and before him Captain April and then of course there’s Archer in Enterprise, but let’s face it, Kirk is the original. He’s the standard by which future Captains would be measured. No-one ever said to Picard “Hey, you’re good but you’re no Captain April” and if they had, he’d have asked “Who?” and then drank some Earl Grey tea. Hot.
There’s our jumping off point. We begin where my love of sci-fi began, with Shatner and Star Trek. The question is, where to go next?
That’s where. I often doodle these spider diagrams when i’m working out the Six Degrees posts. As I’ve said before, I figure out all of the links without the aid of Google and then fill in the trivia afterwards. The mess of scribbles above somehow makes things clearer.
If you look, you’ll see a lot of criss-crossing lines of connection and there are multiple ways to go from Trek to Wars, but using that tangled web I discovered a set of links which takes us through some of the biggest franchises out there, starting with a cross Generation connection. That capital wasn’t a typo, because I am of course talking Star Trek: The Next Generation.
In 1994, Star Trek: Generations* became the seventh Star Trek movie to hit cinemas worldwide and I watched, utterly delighted, as Kirk and Picard came together on screen to ride horses, chop firewood and eventually battle a particularly villainous Malcolm McDowell.
With the torch passed from Captain to Captain, Sir Patrick Stewart would go on to play Picard in three more films. He should also have appeared in one more series of The Next Generation but Paramount made the decision to end the show after seven seasons as they feared the films would be less successful if the television series was still running. I’ve looked at that idea from all angles and I can NOT figure it out, so by all means drop me an email if you can explain that to me.
Though he has often spoken fondly of his time in the Captain’s chair, Sir Patrick admitted that he probably wouldn’t have taken the role if he had known how long the series would run. An ardent supporter of the stage, he found it difficult to return to theatre work due to his seven year absence and also found that he had developed a mild case of Shatner Syndrome, otherwise known as post-Trek typecasting.
Of course, he wasn’t short of work post Star Trek and it was during a rare turn as a bad guy in Conspiracy Theory in 1997 that he was approached by director Bryan Singer. His desire to work with Singer overrode his reluctance to accept a role in another movie franchise and three years later X-Men hit cinemas, starring Sir Pat as Professor Charles Xavier.
Every great telepathic leader of a mutant superhero team needs a powerful villain, of course, so who better than the truly wonderful Sir Ian McKellen. His portrayal of Magneto is one of the best things about a film franchise which admittedly took a few wrong turns from time to time and was also the beginning of the most adorable pairing in the world. Stewart and McKellen became firm friends during filming and have remained so ever since, with Sir Ian performing the ceremony at Sir Pat’s wedding in 2013. They’re the cutest couple that ever wasn’t.
Sir Ian McKellen is and always will be one of my favourite actors. As well as his star turn as Magneto, he is hilarious in the sadly short lived ITV sitcom Vicious, was chilling in Apt Pupil and his performance as Death in Last Action Hero was nothing short of brilliance. I love the man dearly. He also appeared in a little known series of indie flicks called The Lord Of The Rings. Oh, you’ve heard of them?
I kid, of course. The Lord Of The Rings and Hobbit trilogies have made more money than Scrooge McDuck** and Mr Burns could scrounge together between them and have probably set the bar for fantasy epics for the rest of time. Although the incredible special effects are essential to create the lavish worlds of Tolkien’s masterwork, it’s the brilliant casting that brings the characters to life. McKellen is, of course, the absolute embodiment of Gandalf. I can not now re-read the Rings trilogy without seeing Sir Ian in that role. The other members of the Fellowship are equally excellent and one of them provides my next link. I promise, we’re nearly there.
Gimli, the Fellowship’s token dwarf, is played brilliantly by the wonderful John Rhys-Davies. I always found it funny that Davies plays the diminutive Gimli and yet at 6 foot 1 inches is actually slightly taller in real life than his friend and rival, Legolas, played by Orlando Bloom. That’s assuming that my internet research is right. That’s interesting, right? Maybe not, i’ve been working on this for hours so you’ll have to just roll with it.
Davies has had a long and interesting career in film and cinema. He starred as Professor Arturo in one of my favourite sci-fi series of all time, Sliders, as well as appearing once or twice in Star Trek: Voyager as a holodeck representation of Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s his appearance in another major film franchise which gives me my final link, however. John Rhys-Davies played Sallah in two out of the three Indiana Jones movies. No, I refuse to acknowledge the existence of Crystal Skull.
Of course we go straight from Harrison Ford as Indy, to Harrison Ford as Han Solo and then on to Hamill as Skywalker, but that’s not quite the end of the piece. I’d like to point out some of the other links I could have made. For one, we can go straight from John Rhys-Davies to Hamill if we’d used the video game Star Citizen, but I didn’t know that until I started digging online. That’s nothing, though.
If you go from Shatner to either George Takei or the late, great Leonard Nimoy, you get to Big Bang Theory. Takei played himself (during one of Howard’s masturbatory fantasies) and Nimoy played the voice of Spock, offering advice to Sheldon. Love it or hate it, that show has attracted some fantastic guest stars, including the voice of Vader himself, James Earl Jones, along with a brief appearance by our dearly departed Princess and General, Carrie Fisher. So, Shatner to any of the Big Bang cast to Carrie to Mark Hamill. That’s the shortest I found, but not necessarily the most interesting.
One of my favourite routes was going Shatner to Nimoy and once again Big Bang Theory, then moving on to Nathan Fillion who also guest starred on the show. From Fillion, we get to Firefly (of course) but also Buffy, which also starred Eliza Dushku as Faith. Dushku went on to play a PVC clad cat burglar in Kevin Smith’s Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, which also featured Mark Hamill as CockKnocker. Yup.
Long story short, there are hundreds of ways to link Star Wars to Star Trek. I picked the one that took me through some of my favourite franchises to show that Trek or Wars, the whole wonderful world of geekdom is hopelessly entangled. It’s a big, beautiful mess and we should be glad to be a part of it. Play nice, kids.
*Star Trek Generations is in my Top 5 orphaned punchlines post. Intrigued? Of course you are. Click here to give it a read.
**Now voiced by David Tennant in the reboot of Duck Tales. That’s not a link, it’s just very, very cool.