Destination Star Trek London: Post-Show Diary
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Shadowlocked brings you the real truth on Destination Star Trek London - honest thoughts from honest Trekkies. May they live long and prosper...
Last weekend was a dream come true for many a Trekkie or Trekker (which one are you?), with the arrival of Destination Star Trek London and five Captains together at last.
Anyhow, for those of you who weren't able to go, why not check out our own Richard Cosgrove's article on the historic gathering of the five Captains, or his article covering the other top highlights from the show; or, my very own detailed diary that follows, checking out what the weekend was like for the fans whilst infusing these very thoughts with my own...
So have you ever heard of the 'Many worlds theory'? Well there's no doubt that going to a fan convention is entering a different world - a parallel dimension, if you will. When you make that a Trek convention it's doubly so. No other meeting place of fans and celebrities can compare to a Star Trek gathering for sheer levels of devotion to a show and its cast.
Now, how do you make a convention even more spectacular and fans even more whipped up into a kind of zealous frenzy? Here's how: get all the actors that have played the series Captains together, with a host of crew and cast from all the series, and 'beam' them down to Docklands in London; before sprinkling with a dash of fandom - a heaving mass of which most have never had the chance to see their idols in the flesh!
It's been a long road, getting from there to here...
It's been ten years since the Star Trek franchise machine rolled over the pond to the UK. And so, to celebrate, the organisers planned to break the record with the most number of Star Trek fans wearing uniforms all together in one place. They did it with around 1083 people dressed in an array of costumes.
There’s a lot that’s been covered from the talks but there was far more to the weekend than some stalls with plastic phasers, Enterprise earrings and overpriced posters. This was a once in a lifetime Star Trek event certainly any aficionado would not want to miss. But also, it was an important piece of media history to be part of.
Day One - Friday 8.00 pm
Loaded with equipment and a rucksack, we arrived at the hotel reception to become suddenly surrounded by a group of women dressed in the the organiser’s Star Trek T-shirts. It felt like were we in the convention centre already. The conversation was excitable and the mood buoyant, despite a number of long journeys.
They were fans - of that there was no doubt - and had worked tirelessly to ensure everything was in place for Friday’s opening events. Sadly I wasn't able to make the opening and Rich Cosgrove had gone up earlier to cover things. I brought my wife along and one of my daughters. My other daughter was more interested in travelling to France for some strange reason, on an exchange programme. Meh (avec gallic shrug).
Friday 8.45 pm
After settling in, I did what any good Trek expo attendee should do...sought out the nearest watering hole. With a beer in hand and a spring in my step, I found a table and settled down to my own sci-fi musings, taking inspiration from the wonderful environment I found myself in and the series that had spawned it all.
Friday 10.00 pm
With my notepad filling up with notes and beer-stained corners, I called ‘time, gentlemen’ and made my way to the room. It was then that I saw Denise Crosby. I'd previously interviewed her while she was in Spain the week before, so with that in mind - and the carefree confidence that only alcohol can provide - I thought I'd try to see if I could get a quick word in (fat chance I thought). Walking up to her, the group she was in stopped talking to look at me. Crap - they must think I'm a nut. Yes...that's just it...but I'd gone this far, and could qualify my intrusion.
"Denise, I spoke to you last week."
"Oh, you're Marcus!" - she said, with honest recognition and a wide grin.
I was surprised that she even remembered the conversation. She introduced me to two Hollywood notables and we had a quick chat. I'm probably biased now, but I truly admire Denise for her amazing ability to remember people and actually give a darn. She's brilliant to talk to, has so many stories, and is also extremely funny. Plus, even though she probably hadn't realised it...she'd made my weekend already.
Day Two: Saturday morning breakfast 8.30 am
We all sat down for a fry-up. Denise came down next to us with her friends and got stuck into a more refined continental. René Auberjonois, the actor who played Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (yes and he played Colonel West in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country), strolled in and said 'good morning’. Breakfast was memorable. Mushrooms just right. You should always serve them with a good helping of Star Trek legends.
Excel Centre 9.00 am
Got inside pretty quick. Decided to queue with everyone else as the press office wasn't open. Great opportunity to speak with fans and meet some very interesting people in and out of costume. The atmosphere was clearly one of anticipation.
Inside the hall it was bustling. Found a floor plan. I sure wasn't going to spend £10.00 on a brochure, being a skinflint journalist. So took pictures of one. Cheeky me. Now, have £10 and a floor plan - Marcus 1 - criminal pricing 0.
Now realise that, when you consider this is a three day event, there's not a lot of stuff you can do without spending even more money than the ticket price to get in. You have to pay for everything. Note to self: must see what else we can blag from the press office.
Wandered around the merchandising. Saw massive savings on DVDs and then saw massive price rises on collectables. No goody bag today methinks.
Called Naz from PR agency. Poor thing had been up so late last night...safe to say my call was an unwelcomed sight, to start off with at least. Obviously on a roll, I decided to ring the editor and wake him up as well (some people, eh?). Well, he was already up. [Ed's note: Course I was up...the world of sci-fi waits for no man!] Gave feedback on the show; editor had seen posts on Facebook. Wants more. Hope my batteries last the day.
Two areas for watering and nutrition: the Klingon Zone at one end of the hall, and the Federation Zone at the other. Not a drop of Romulan ale between the two – great pity.
This place feels like a hangar in Area 51 with the aliens running loose. Not a lot of show banners or the usual regalia that you wold expect at a comic con. But of course this isn't really a convention in that sense. This is an incredible photo opportunity unlike any other. Yes there's a few stalls set up in the fan zone for people to join Star Fleet Manchester and the UK arm of the Leonard Nimoy Fan Club (sans the star himself); but, in general, walking around there's not a lot to look at apart from lots of queues of cadets, admirals, Andorrans, Vulcans, Klingons and humans waiting eagerly to get various pictures, posters and memorabilia autographed.
And that...is what today is about. Fry-up is settling in stomach nicely. Have sufficient sausage and bacon reserves to continue without shelling more coins for the local fare.
Wandered the hall taking pictures and posting to Facebook to give our loyal readership live updates.
Man, I feel like Jason Bourne on a mission; weaving through the crowds looking for a target and feeding back intel through my iPhone and iPad. How ironic that those device concepts were on a TV show in the 60s. People thought Star Trek was a silly show and it got canned pretty quick. It’s just another aspect of the incredible legacy of Star Trek.
Oh, and another note to self: if anyone takes the piss out of warp travel and teleportation, send them those recent articles on quantum physics. That'll get them laughing on the other side of their Newtonian faces.
Feet getting pretty sore. Ran into a Female Borg drone. Pretty scary. It made for a nice shot, but then kept bumping into her all day. Hope she doesn't think I'm stalking her.
4.00 pm - 02 Arena
Bumped into a group of three off-duty Federation officers. They must have been off-duty, as they were hanging around the docs liquored up and smoking nonchalantly. I mean...ah, in any case just watch the interview [link to video] to see what they thought of Star Trek Destination London.
5.00pm - Excel Centre
Family unit hungry and tired. Happy with the day. Wife got a stack full of photos with William Shatner and Patrick Stewart. The ‘Shatmiester’ looks the same in all the photos. Perhaps this is what you have to do to keep sane after having your photo taken with half the population of earth. It would make anyone a bit dazed.
Day Three: Sunday - 9.30 am breakfast
Got up late. Too much booze after the wife found a rather delectable off-licence stocking the finest array of alcoholic beverages. Now feel like my head is full of tribbles.
But onwards and upwards...it's time to beam up a smile and make haste to the convention centre.
9.50 am - Excel Centre
Got to press office. Seen Naz. She doesn't kill me for waking her up...instead she is lovely and fresh-faced. We get access to the talks so I can watch Scott Bakula and William Shatner.
11.05 am - Scott Bakula
We go in to see Scott Bakula talk. Things that stick in my head: never knew he could sing so well...and never knew the story about him and John Barrowman. Is it really true Bakula signed Barrowman's ass 'Patrick Stuart was here'? Very entertaining talk. The crowd goes wild and I really do actually miss Enterprise as a series. It got so good after 9/11. Then it got canned like most things I like. Studio bosses have no logic to them.
Bakula got some very interesting questions from people. Some questions make me think that there are a few people here that need a restraining order.
12.30 pm - William Shatner
He can still make the crowd go wild and you can see he knows how to give them what they want. True to his personality, Shatner can make you feel you are in an intimate situation and are being given an insight into his mind. It's slick, well delivered and, if you've read his memoirs, it all just comes to life.
Shatner talks about his disastrous experience with making Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. It was hilarious and revealing into how too many compromises can utterly destroy the premise for a good movie.
Being 81 does not seem to slow William Shatner down. His sense of humour is brilliant - in fact it seems to get better with age; a sort of refined excellence now exudes from the man. He also discussed how he persuaded Chris Pine to come to the studio where Shatner was making a documentary about the Star Trek captains. Shatner gets a table and chairs and sets them up in the road upside the Hollywood studio. He then goes on to challenge Pine to an arm wrestle. He never says who wins but it broke the ice and they made a brilliant programme.
The most powerful thing William Shatner left people with was his answer to how he approached the death of Captain James T. Kirk. He said that Kirk always had a sense of wonder about space, planets and aliens (especially alien women I think, but who can blame him?). It seemed right that death would simply be another adventure for Kirk. He would want to know what was on the other side and what adventures would await him. I couldn't help think that Shatner held exactly the same view. As a role model you could do worse than the old codger. People love him. A lot.
Sunday 4.00 pm – travelling home
The replacement bus service for the DLR was a sick joke after the weekend of living in the future. The present sucks. I think a lot of Star Trek fans think this screwed up world sucks and that Trek in all its forms gives them a bit of peace and succor. While I would say there's better places to get succor, I have nothing but admiration for the single sentiment of fellowship expressed by such a large number of people.
From fans to cast, there is a lot of love for Star Trek and actually for each other (in general). May you all 'live long and prosper'. Ha! An article I can finally use that line in without sounding a total tool. Possibly.
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