The second day of the 2017 Las Vegas Star Trek Convention galloped onto the stage as an unbelievably nimble octogenarian Walter Koenig bounded up on his imaginary horse, going on to share with us how he saves the best things in life for his left hand. But of course you would, wouldn’t you?
Throwing back to his conversion into Pavel Chekhov and the growing behemoth of The Original Series after the doldrums of his less conspicuous acting life pre-Star Trek, Pavel’s infectious enthusiasm and energy was as clearly visible today as it is through all his recent Star Trek universe contributions including of course the Renegades series.
Factor in an engaging discussion by Eugene Roddenberry and Trevor Roth’s about the conception of The Next Generation, the usual warm hum around the venue of clicking and flashing Nichelle Nichols photo-ops, Walter Koenig’s extensive signings, mid-queue chatters of the hotly anticipated Star Trek: Discovery display room’s contents, Klingons discussing events so-far over at the Starbucks counter and the odd Service Tribble nipping at your ankles and you have a pretty good indication of this year settling into a very cosy groove.
Suzie Plakson transformed into K’Ehleyr
The real highlights of the day got firmly underway with the as ever affable Suzie Plakson’s live makeup transformation into K’Ehleyr, care of the genius hands of John Paladin. A rather strange moment descended on the room upon the makeup completion when K’Ehleyer’s spirit possessed Suzie’s body for a few minutes to share a few revelations of the after-life, her blossoming friendship with Jadzia Dax and a certain Duras’ demoted status as a ship-hand begging in death her forgiveness for his actions in life.
More details cannot be shared with this readership after TrekNews.net were sworn to secrecy on our integrity together with the whole room as to the contents of her message.
The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine guest star panels
With Suzie returned to us safely nursing a slight headache, up next came a panel of fabulous guest stars from both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine – Daniel Davis (Moriarty from TNG’s “Elementary, Dear Data” & “Ship In A Bottle”), Bob Gunton (Captain Benjamin Maxwell from TNG’s “The Wounded”), Deirdre Immershein (Joval from TNG’s “The Captain’s Holiday” & of course Lieutenant Watley from DS9’s “Trials & Tribble-ations”), Deborah Lacey (DS9’s Sarah Sisko) and Julia Nickson (Ensign Lian Tsu from TNG “The Arsenal of Freedom” & Cassandra from DS9’s “Paradise”). It’s panels like these beaming with such depths of talent and diverse backgrounds where the anecdotes from the Trek Universe and beyond really begin to fly – this was no exception.
Bob Gunton recalled the underwhelming performance of Shawshank Redemption’s box office as being due to a summer release slate including Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction. Nevertheless, he receives as much love and praise for his role as the Warden as he does for Captain Maxwell, having noted that he was “in kind of an incestuous way deep into the Trek DNA” having trodden the boards with Brent Spiner prior to his appearance.
Daniel Davis remembered being recalled for reshoots on the first of his two guest appearances to hear Sir Patrick Stewart welcoming him back to the set “to raise the bar again.” Deirdre couldn’t contain her deep respect for Daniel any longer claiming him to be the greatest living theatre actor and the single best Hamlet ever, much to his humble embarrassment. Daniel spoke of his performance as Moriarty having to “throw everything out the window” about the character’s villainy given the holographic component and its implications. It turns out the reason for such a long (4 year) gap between the 2 episodes he performed in was due to legal issues after the Arthur Conan Doyle Foundation took issue over rights implications from the first episode – we’re all very grateful that got resolved!
Deirdre Immershein recalled how central her friendship with Rene Echevarria was to being cast in her guest appearances. Deborah Lacey spoke of her excitement at being cast on DS9 and working with such an incredible cast & crew such that she would spend time on set on days she wasn’t filming so enjoying the company of her co-stars. She went on share how Avery Brooks made her a better actor. Julia Nickson talked about her close relationships with Colm Meaney (given the absence of Keiko!) and Michael Dorn on DS9 and her own thrill at being cast in her TNG role a mere 6 hours before shooting would begin in LA – while she and family were still on vacation in Mammoth. The drive down was a swift one.
A remarkable panel for the talent and wealth of experience on display, such a focal element of what makes the Trek canon unparalleled in the sci-fi universe and all the more privileged to witness and reminisce for a roomful of Khan devotees.
Enterprise BBFs: Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating
The last 4 panels of the day offered a flourish of fun rising to the crescendo of the Voyager boys in full effect, but first, it was another brotherly duo’s turn to light up the Rio Pavilion stage with tales of their casting and on-set antics – the hilarious Connor Trineer and Dominic Keating. Self-confessed BFFs, the two took to the stage accompanied by a bevy of Trek beauties leaving them to hold the room in thrall for the next 45 minutes.
Recounting tales of John Billingsley squawking much to Jim Conway’s chagrin, cut-short emotional scenes owing to ill-refrigerated bottle-show dry-ice igloos sets on Shuttlepod 1, Connor not quite recognising the gravity and impact of the Star Trek universe he’d been cast in only to find himself praying to Rick Berman not to get fired, Dominic accepting the name Malcolm despite thinking he looks nothing like one, Jim cutting & printing a take on Connor’s least favourite version doing a pirate joke only for everyone to find out they were cancelled a week later – the tales rolled off until suddenly it was all over and we found ourselves left to wait another year for more frolics.
As Dominic said, “they were halcyon days,” echoed with Connor’s sentiment that he misses “the gift of putting him on every day”. As Roger offered we all miss them together and wondered how it might be interesting to see how these guys are still doing now, Section 31 having faked Trip’s death etc. Hope is indeed a good thing – though perhaps not so much Connor’s pregnant man nipple.
Voyager Guest Stars: Don Most, Anson Williams, Megan Gallagher, Alissa & Heidi Kramer and Jeff Yagher
From Enterprise to Voyager, we were treated to another powerhouse panel of acting talent and a touch of true Hollywood royalty in the return to the stage of Happy Days’ Anson Williams (Potsie) & Don Most (Ralph).
The panel having respectively become an entrepreneur, a realtor, singer and dancer, writer and more, the diverse group reminisced on their families and careers post-Star Trek. Of particular note was Anson Williams’ relation to second-cousin ‘Uncle’ Dr. Heimlich of the eponymous maneuver and Anson’s idea for the development of a product called Alert Drops following a conversation with said ‘Uncle’ one day about the effect of adding citrus to the nerve running down the tongue. His subsequent creation of Alert Drops to prevent the major issue of drowsy driving throughout the country was rooted in some fascinating science and sounded awesome. Don Most shared with us his love of jazz, swing & big band as a young boy without ever having had the chance to do the standards – including during his time on Happy Days and Star Trek – having only in the past few years managed to band together and get on the road, now on the back of a full jazz album release, national tour and bookings coming in left right & center. Jeff & Megan are both still working in the industry, Jeff as a writer on some successful tv & feature projects, Megan performing in recurring roles on Suits and Chance in addition to parenting twins. Outside of discussing their time on Trek, everyone took a moment to honor their Trek producers, writers, and crews for the attention to detail just how amazingly slick they were enabling everyone to leave on time and get a huge amount done every day without running over, techno-babble perhaps being the one challenging but essential component for Megan and Jeff to grapple with.
Voyager panel with Robert Beltran, Robert Picardo, Garrett Wang and Ethan Phillips
A fun TNG guest stars panel of pros Natalija Nogulich, Steve Rankin, Camilla Saviola and Dey Young swung by in a flash before the day’s crescendo hurtled onto the stage in the form of the Voyager boys’ panel with Robert Beltran, Ethan Phillips, Garrett Wang and Robert Picardo. Speeding on to reminisce over their casting, the fun they had over 7 years and what they wish their characters might have done, these guys owned the room and for 45 minutes had everyone in the palm of their hands bellowing with laughter at the anecdotes.
Discussing how they got booked their roles, Garrett’s story endures the most, having grappled with the casting agent from hell as she gave him full on method-style wrist burns in her office to elicit “real pain” from him for his reading.
Ethan shared his sense of comfort returning to the STLV family, feeling so at ease in front of convention crowds and wishing he achieved the same sense as easily while treading the boards in his acting roles nowadays. On the same topic, both Roberts spoke of their forthcoming returns to the theatre in the UK.
Picardo is about to head to Edinburgh to work with another doctor, the inimitable Sylvester McCoy, for the Fringe Festival there, while Beltram will be at York’s Royal Theatre playing Macbeth in their production in 2018. Discussing Voyager and its trials and tribulations a few memorable stories appeared – the camaraderie as ever shone through wrought as it was from the earliest episodes of Season 1 and, as Ethan put it, the fact that “suddenly I was having fun and that went on for 7 years”. Imitations and ribbing capped off a stellar session with a welcome drop in from George Takei care of Garrett’s on-point take on his nasal fricatives following on from a dead cert Jimmy Stewart care of Robert Beltram and Ethan Phillips’ equally nailed Johnny Carson. Almost good enough for us to forgive him his “tea-slurping’ British jibe upon hearing the news of Beltram’s UK theatre plans.
Some fond and perhaps overly thought out (Garrett) potential scenarios involving relationships with Seven (“Six of One” & “Half a Dozen of the Other” were Picardo’s proposed names for Seven & Kim’s twin offspring) led us to the final straights and the ever sincere gratitude shown by all fans for the body of work these fabulous fellows put into making Voyager such a memorable show. In particular a couple of audience members – an Afghanistan military veteran and a disabled Trekkie who grew up with a love for everything Voyager – made the point of thanking the guys for their efforts, all very much humbly appreciated.
So the close came and the crowd rose to their feet and bid the gentlemen a fond farewell until next time and with that the second day of the convention was at an end thanks to a rocking finalé from Sons of Kirk with Gary Graham throwing out his hardest struts of the day.
STLV 2017’s possibly busiest 2 days take place tomorrow with perhaps the greatest anticipation as the TNG crew roll into town, this reviewer bumping into the ineffable Q himself John de Lancie, pristinely coiffeured silver goatee traipsing along the Rio corridor case in hand ready in anticipation for the events to come. 30 years ago the greatest sci-fi series ever made was reborn and tomorrow the chance to revel in that with the entire cast of 1701 D’s crew in tow is an enticing and thrilling prospect indeed. Make it so!
More Star Trek News From STLV 2017
- ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Writers Talk ‘Roddenberry Rule,’ Story Arc, Klingon Perspective
- ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Cast Reveal 24 Different Klingon Houses, First Image of Cmdr. Kol
The TrekNews.net team is in Las Vegas to cover this year’s convention. As we have in years past, we’ll cover all the breaking news and provide exclusive photos from STLV on TrekNews.net. We’ll also be live-tweeting throughout the event. To stay up-to-date, follow @TrekNewsnet on Twitter, TrekNews on Facebook, @TrekNews on Instagram and TrekNewsnet on YouTube.
Neil Henderson is a Dubai-based British-born Digital Multimedia Content creator moving to California with his wife in the next few months and attending his first ever Star Trek Convention. His love of tribbles borders on the obsessive, but then we all know that’s ok, right?