One fan’s tribute to a fallen star
My review of I Am Spock (1995)
(Rating 5 of 5)
On February 27, 2015 we lost Leonard Nimoy. As a lifelong Star Trek fan the loss of Mr. Spock is a painful one, and over the last few weeks I was trying to think of a right way to pay a tribute to him. I could go on about how Star Trek mattered in my life and his part in it. However on this blog I normally just review history books. Then I thought for a moment, back when I was in Middle School and High School I primarily read Star Trek novels. My first ever non-fiction book was I Am Spock. It was a bit of heavy reading for an eighth-grader, yet that was where my interest was. The book was a follow up to his earlier book I Am Not Spock that he wrote in the seventies and was trying to clear up some false impressions that the earlier book caused. So I have decided to do a small review of this book. Now there is one slight problem, although I still own the book I don’t have it with me. It is in my storage shed. So I am going to be doing this mostly from memory so there will be no direct quotes and I am only going on about the parts that I have a strongest memory about.
SPOCK WAS ALMOST LOST EARLY
When Star Trek’s first pilot, the Cage, was first reviewed by test audiences Spock was one of two characters that was not well received. The other was the female First Officer, who we only knew as “Number One.” (The idea of a woman giving orders to men was not an acceptable thing for polite society.) The studio was willing to give the show a try but all the characters had to go except the captain, who they would have to recast because Jeffery Hunter who played Pike left for a movie career and became Jesus. The creator, Gene Roddenberry, tried to save the two characters that the studio hated the most. They gave him a choice: the Vulcan or the woman. According to Nimoy, since Roddenberry later married Majel Barrett who played “Number One,” the running joke was Roddenberry kept the Vulcan and married the woman because he couldn’t do it the other way around, at least not legally. Or as Mr. Sulu would like us to point out, it was not legal in the 20th century.
|Might have been Trek, only Spock would go where none had gone before|
NIMOY WAS NOT PREPARED FOR FAME
One of the funny stories that Nimoy told in the book was a time he got a call from a fan. The fan was shocked to find Nimoy in the phone book. Then the flood happened the phone started ringing off the hook one fan after another kept calling Nimoy in hopes of talking to him. If he had any doubts about Star Trek’s popularity that would have ended it.
WILLIAM SHATNER IS A HARD MAN TO KNOW
It appreciates a special sort of person to appreciate William Shatner’s humor. And lucky for Shatner, Nimoy was such a person. If he had been anybody else I don’t think this would have ended in a lifelong friendship. When they were doing the show, Nimoy liked to ride his bike to work. Shatner thought it was really funny to hide Nimoy’s bike on him. As time would go on Shatner would be more and more creative about where he would hide it. The final straw came when Shatner, a Doberman breeder, had the bike surrounded by his trusty Dobermans. Nimoy decided to drive his car, Shatner reported a ‘strange car’ in the parking lot and it was towed.
|Spock, thank you for being my friend. If weren't for you no one this cast would even like me.|
I AM NOT SPOCK WAS A ‘MISTAKE’
Although he enjoyed writing the book, especially the parts where he had dialogue between himself and his character, he regretted writing I Am Not Spock. Most people, except really loyal Star Trek fans, did not read the book. However many people had heard of it and the negative sounding title gave the rise to the myth that Nimoy hated Star Trek. (This is a problem that was similar to the response to William Shatner’s appearance on SaturdayNight Live.) I Am Not Spock and its reputation would be brought up often in interviews and would be the main motive for writing this book.
In addition to I Am Not Spock, another reason people might have questioned how much Nimoy liked Star Trek he did have a lawsuit going due to use of his likeness by the studio. This lead to Nimoy not being in the discussion for the aborted series Star Trek Phase II, and delayed him signing on to Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
|Image that inspired a lawsuit|
HARD TIME KILLING SPOCK
There were two things I learned about the death of Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. The first was they had to rewrite the script because a rumor was circulated about Spock’s death. Originally Spock was supposed to die half way through the movie and the rest of the film was going hunt down Kahn for killing Spock. They rewrote it to have Spock have a fake death of the start of the movie (Kobayashi Maru) and have his actual death come at the end of the movie. The second thing I learned was although he was okay with Spock dying for most of the filming, when it came time to do the death scene Nimoy described as feeling as if he were a condemned man going to the gas chamber.
STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK WAS A MISSION IMPOSSIBLE MOVIE
After Star Trek came to an end, Nimoy took a role on the Mission Impossible series. What Nimoy like the most about it was the teamwork aspect. Each episode had every character have a special role in order to have their mission be a success. When directing Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Nimoy took elements from Mission Impossible. The entire plot to steal the Enterprise was done as a tribute to that TV series.
Also the design for the Excelsior was picked by Nimoy out of a series of proposed designs and Nimoy decided on the winning design because in his words it looked the most like the Enterprise. Nimoy's poistion was if Starfleet were real the ships should look like the were designed by the same people. One of the rejected designs became the Stargazer.
|Nimoy thought these images made it look like the engineers all came from the same school|
In the original series, it was established that Vulcan men every seven years go to the phase called pon farr. With pon farr occurs the Vulcan must mate or have fight to the death. On the Genesis planet Spock body, absent his mind which McCoy has, has regenerated and reverted to childhood. He begins to age rapidly causing him to age rapidly. This causes him to pon farr every twenty minutes. Saavik, a female Vulcan, takes Spock off camera and they have lots of sex. One of Nimoy’s producers thought the fans would laugh at this, Nimoy claimed they wouldn’t and made a bet. Nimoy claimed that he won. He thought it was because the audience was mature, I think it was because they didn’t get it.
|A lucky young Spock|
THE NEXT GENERATION APPEARANCE
As hard is maybe to believe, there was a time where fans of the Original Series and the Next Generation didn’t get along too well. At one point they were sitting at different places at the convention. At one convention he was asked if he would go on The Next Generation if asked. He informed the attendees not only had he been asked he had already accepted. The audience went nuts. Spock’s appearance on The Next Generation was good, but not as good as Scotty’s.
ALWAYS WOULD GIVE AN AUTOGRAPH
Early in the book, Nimoy told a story that when he was a kid he met a famous actor (who I can’t remember for my book is still in storage) and the actor refused to give young Nimoy an autograph. He was so upset that he made a vow always to give his autograph when asked. Now I have no idea that if in that last two decades if he was physically able to keep that promise, however it is always something that would remember about him.
I regret not having been able to meet Nimoy. I also regret not knowing until after he died that he was a big of a Patriots fan as myself.
Rest in peace, Mr. Spock.