I am a collection of molecules called Johnny Tomorrow, and I am a traveler of space and time.
Sometimes my mother would interrupt me playing with my action figures to tell me that Star Wars was on TV. Before we got a VHS machine an airing of Star Wars would have been the only time to view it, so you can imagine my excitement. I would rush out of my room in my Han Solo pajamas only to realize that it was Star Trek that was on. My mother always got them mixed up. Perhaps it was a generational thing. Star Trek debuted in 1966 at a time when space exploration was at the forefront of people’s minds. Really besides the fact that they are both set in outer space, Star Trek and Star Wars are two completely different franchises. When the Star Trek movies started to come out in the 80’s they paled in comparison to the Star Wars films which drew a line in the sand when it came to the Star Wars Generation in how they felt about Star Trek. The main problem with the movie franchise was that it was portraying characters that were in their prime back in the 60’s so it seemed immediately dated. It wouldn’t be until they smartly revived the franchise for a new generation to rekindle the flavour of the original TV show in its mission to seek out new life, new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before. Still though when translating the TV characters to the big screen, they never quite hit the mark. In 2009 J.J. Abrams released his reboot of the franchise in what would be the 11th to hit the big screen, and despite a string of unsuccessful attempts, this one worked. The core of the success is probably due to returning to the characters that everyone fell in love with back in the 60’s: Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest of the gang, but setting it on a timeline before the original franchise, telling us the story of their origins. The inclusion of Leonard Nimoy, playing the older Spock alongside the younger Spock, played by Zachary Quinto, reminded people of one of the greatest science fiction characters of all time.
On July 27th the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre will be presenting the Star Trek reboot inside the planetarium theatre with aid of Harold the Star Projector. The Zeiss-Jena-Mach 1 Universal Star Projector came to Vancouver in 1968 from Jena, East Germany weighing just over 2 tonnes. His two heads, four legs and 32 eyes lend to a very alien appearance, but just like Spock there is a human side to Harold. While the logical precision of Harold’s instruments shows the sky at any moment in time, there are humans that have given him colour, personality, and even emotion. David A. Rodger was the original planetarium director and narrator of many of the early shows. John Tanner presented the very first show in 1968, and still continues to navigate Vancouver audiences through the skies in 2012, and Bill Reiter has lent his talents to give Harold his “voice”.
I have had the pleasure of working with all of these talents in my travels of time and space and look forward to the meeting of Harold and Spock on Friday.