Live Long and Prosper: A Conversation with Star Trek Super-fan Alex Greene
Marking the return of one of the most iconic and influential global television franchises in history, the debut season of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY: SEASON ONE arrives on Blu-ray and DVD November 19 from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution. The four-disc Blu-ray and DVD collections will feature all 15 Season One episodes of the CBS All Access original series, along with a trove of compelling featurettes and other special features.
From VFX to set design, composing the series’ score to make-up and prosthetics, the special features will provide an unprecedented look at the making of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.
STAR TREK: DISCOVERY follows the voyages of Starfleet on their missions to discover new worlds and new life forms, and one Starfleet officer who must learn that to truly understand all things alien, you must first understand yourself. The series features a new ship and new characters while embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation of dreamers and doers. STAR TREK: DISCOVERY stars Sonequa Martin-Green (“First Officer Michael Burnham”), Jason Isaacs (“Captain Gabriel Lorca”), Doug Jones (“Lt. Commander Saru”), Shazad Latif (“Lt. Ash Tyler”), Mary Wiseman (“Cadet Sylvia Tilly”), Anthony Rapp (“Lt. Paul Stamets”) along with guest stars James Frain (“Ambassador Sarek”), Rainn Wilson (Harry Mudd) and Michelle Yeoh (Captain Philippa Georgiou).
The Fan Carpet’s Marc Jason Ali had the opportunity to talk with Star Trek superfan Alex Greene about the home entertainment release of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY: SEASON ONE…
Let’s just start at the beginning. How did you first get involved with Star Trek?
Well I’ve been basically a fan of Star Trek for a very long time, one of the earliest memories I had was way back when I saw an episode of Star Trek with the actress Lee Meriwether, she played one role in this thing which was this holographic creature, this was sort of back when hologram hadn’t even been invented and to me she was one of the most terrifying Star Trek villains I’d ever seen and she just appeared and disappeared at random times and not through some transporter effect and about half way through that episode, the power cut out, and I didn’t get to see it again for about 15 years so that was one lurking memory in the back of my head. So that’s an example of how I really got involved in Star Trek, a scary “back of the sofa” memory that stayed with me for days basically.
And essentially that was basically it, I was just involved with it as a fan as you would be and I found the convention circuit and found amazing people and they awoke a much deeper appreciation of the show than just normal fans because they described how they’d fought for this particular show with a cosmic political philosophy which is something that is explained in the show but basically this thing about how we can survive all our trials as a species if we just put aside all the horrific things like bigotry and hatred and we embrace diversity and that sort of thing and basically the show became iconic across the world because of that political philosophy and from that point on I was a deeply committed fan, but it all started with a “back of the sofa” moment way back in my childhood.
So obviously that deep love has seen so many different iterations of Star Trek over the years like we’re coming into season 2 next spring, Star Trek: Discovery, the latest iteration. How have you found the current series and how it differs with other series that you’ve grown up with?
Oh it is an amazing series, I mean, comparing, for example, Discovery which is the series set 10 years before the episode called “The Man Trap” where Kirk’s mission began in the original Star Trek, and sets 10 years in the Federation’s history before Kirk’s first mission. And it’s interesting to see the chronology of the events taking place there from the very first episode which began with the Klingon T’Kuvma starting up with actual working Klingon “they are coming” that it sounded a Klingon declaring something out of a John Carpenter movie, that was for him what the Federation was a source of horror as it where and it was interesting to see that the very first thing in that was an aliens point of view of the Federation instead of the humans point of view which is this lovely comfy cosy sort of thing and then to see the empire and from that very beginning was like the whole universe was turned upside down if you’re looking through alien’s eyes and thinking “oh I know what they’re talking about” cultural appropriation and assimilation, gentrification and then all of a sudden… this is a dramatically 21st century philosophy that they’re actually talking about, a political issue, in keeping up to date with philosophy and that is what Star Trek is about, that’s how I sort of appreciated Discovery from the beginning and it just kept on coming there was hardly anything that I would call a duff episode so far, I’m not going to do any spoilers because there might be some people who haven’t even seen the series yet, they may not have seen it because they don’t have a Netflix subscription, they don’t have CBS All Access, so they probably haven’t seen the series yet so I can’t.
I don’t feel obliged to spoil very much, I will say that they bring in some amazing actors to play roles of characters who I thought of as iconic, there was one chap who plays Harry Mudd, the first time since Roger C. Carmel made the role famous in the original series, there’s the new chap James Frain as Sarek whose the same Sarek whose the father of Spock, there’s the historical continuity with the original series and I will spoil one thing because words probably spread out that they will encounter Spock in Season 2, actual Spock, but he won’t be played by Leonard Nimoy and it’s not played by Zachary Quinto, he’s played by a new chap whose name I can’t remember but trust me after the first time I see him act his name will be engrained within my memory.
So yeah something to look forward to both at the onset of the first season, the one that I’m talking about now being the one that’s coming out on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday with all these different extras and everything, but the one I’m looking forward to is they’ve actually got the Klingon language subtitle option because I’d very much like to see, just like the one on Netflix is, I can actually see every line of dialogue of Klingon spoken on the show, in the English language ones, so that was one thing about this series that’s made it so different from the original series for example, the original series is just language really it was all done in English but with this one, you can sort of experience it in a sort of multimedia thing, like you can see the Dutch translations of Philippa Georgiou’s words, if we wanted to hear Michael Burnam speaking in Swedish or French or something like that I’m sure they can provide you with either the subtitles or dubbing, depending on what packages will be available.
So basically we’re still talking about the experience of a particular series and why it reinforces, for me, that philosophy that was mentioned in the original series, we didn’t get to start with the infinite diversity and infinite combinations sort of philosophy reached towards the end of the third series of Star Trek: The Original Series, but Discovery embraces it right from the beginning with its diverse cast, it’s two major gay characters for example, in the form of Dr. Hugh Culber and Lt. Paul Stamet in engineering, Dr. Culbert is basically the ship’s medic and Stamet is in charge of engineering as it was, working on an experimental drive on a ship called the Discovery which is the same as the title of the show, and of course the protagonist, the main protagonist is Michael Burnham who is a woman, a young woman, who was brought up on Vulcan, she is human, but brought up on Vulcan as Sarek’s adopted daughter, there’s a lot of history when you realise she is the adopted sister of Spock and she is played by Sonequa Martin-Green whose an actress I’d very much like to get to meet at the conventions one of these days, she is brought up under the tutelage of Captain Philippa Georgiou who is played by the remarkable, and I would call her a legendary actress, Michelle Yeoh, whose from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
That’s right yeah.
And I will say one thing, she is an excellent martial artist and I will spoil one teeny tiny detail, at some point during this series, which you can see on DVD and Blu-ray, you do get to see her fight and she is most impressive to she’s definitely kept her martial arts….
I should say she’s definitely kept her touch with the martial arts, she’s an amazing fighter and there’s a really powerful action scene and everything and she comes across as the ultimate badass, she’s an actress I’d like to get to meet at some point. The cast is just amazing, Jason Isaacs who is, if you’re familiar with the Harry Potter franchise, he’s Draco Malfoy’s father….
Lucious Malfoy there he is, and he’s in there and he’s playing the role of the Discovery’s Captain, goes by the name of Captain Gabriel Lorca, I’m not going to say anything about the character as such but when the character is introduced and when the ship is introduced it’s all very suitably mysterious and, misty and very strange and you get to wonder “what’s going on here?” so basically you’re in the same position as Michel Burnham and you’re just following through each step along the corridor and there’s other mysteries, “what’s going on here?” what’s going on there?” that sort of thing, it’s not like everything’s laid out in front of you.
So that’s one other thing as well about Discovery it’s not quite the same as the other ships, the other Enterprise’s, the Defiant where everything was all laid out in front of you, in this case there’s things going on, there’s corners of the ship that haven’t been explored and you haven’t been to anything like these and then you have the other incarnations of Star Trek and it always makes you want to delve more deeply and figure out “what’s going on?”, “will you be going round that corner again?”, “what are those chaps doing over there?” and that sort of thing, you know. So, that’s why I’m guessing it’s more in the name than you think, the word “Discovery” is definitely part of the show finding out what’s going on, definitely something that’s worth investing your time in and of course buying the DVD and Blu-ray or getting a Netflix subscription and watching it there as it where.
Absolutely, I watch the series because I love the series I think it’s great, the way that it ends with the introduction of the Enterprise, were you happy with that, with the direction that the series took?
I was hoping not to spoil that bit but you’ve done it, you’ve broken the seal as it where on the spoiler, but yes at one point in the show just to spoil it further they do encounter the Enterprise and so far and leads directly into season 2 which is out on CBS All Access and Netflix next year from January 17th I think, that’s when everything really starts, well put it this way is in the fire as it where and there’s all sorts of thing happening and big events are occurring in that series that make the events of this first season seem like a small storm in a teacup basically and it involves Mr. Spock and it’ll presumably involve Sarek played by James Frain again and there’ll be characters being reprised from the first season, they’ll be appearing back in the show. You know that Doug Jones the creature from The Shape of Water?
Yeah the one that won the award, the Oscar….
Yeah he’s Saru
He’s Saru, we get to find out a lot more about his character as well so I’m looking forward to that because of all the aliens that I’ve seen in Star Trek, Saru is definitely my favourite nowadays because he’s an amazing actor in his own right but the character is played with such conviction and it kind of reminds me of Pierson’s Puppeteers from Larry Niven’s space stories way back in the 70s and 80s and I’d have to explain Pearson’s Puppeteers are creatures with extremely sophisticated minds but they are ruled and governed by fear because every Pearson’s Puppeteer is a coward at heart and they are really fast and they have a really powerful kick which is like an evolutionary trick, there’s one episode when Saru does that kick and basically very nearly flattens the human that he kicks, it’s the sort of thoroughbred kick that you would expect from being kicked by the hind legs of a very big and powerful racing horse, I think it’s a blow that you never forget and that reminded me so much of Pearson’s Puppeteers from Larry Niven’s universe, and when you see Doug Jones playing Saru in the episode I’m just talking about, I’m not going to mention it by name he is actually terrifying he can move so fast, he’s an amazing actor and I think that’s why Saru has become my favourite and he’s one of the main draws of the show for me, I mean apart from the huge draw of having actors like Michelle Yeoh for example, so yeah that’s one of the things as well that’s a definite draw for someone like myself about this series coming out and just the sheer quality of acting that they do, both on their own and together because you can see that there’s this chemistry between the actors and the characters they portray everything just sort of fits together whether they are sort of falling apart in their relationships and friendships or they’re coming together or they’re reconciling over these things that are taking place or they’re arguing about some detail of ethics and that sort of thing, and oh I should say there’s some pretty good representation of numerable diversities as well, where they have an actress who very convincingly plays someone who is on the autistic spectrum and the character is Ensign Sylvia Tilly, Cadet Sylvia Tilly in Season 1, she’s an Ensign I think in the second season and she’s played by Mary Wiseman very, very convincingly actually, I didn’t realise she was what you’d call “neurotypical” she didn’t have autism but she must have rehearsed it and must have found out and done a lot of research from people who are actually autistic because everyone pointed to her and said “yeah she’s playing someone who’s on the spectrum very strongly” and I thought “detect that as well” as you can probably imagine from our conversation over the last few minutes.
Yeah. Just before I let you go, a few months ago it was revealed that Sir Patrick Stewart is going back to his role as Jean-Luc Picard, is that something that excites you?
I had the privilege of meeting Sir Patrick back when he was just Patrick Stewart and this was back in 1988, it was early on Season 1 of The Next Generation had just finished and he was back home on hiatus and he’d just arrived at Birmingham International Airport, he was on his way home, and he stopped by a hotel called the Birmingham Metropole which at that time was hosting an Easter Mayday Star Trek convention and he brought the entire hotel to a standstill I mean absolutely every part of it, it was like a scene from Star Trek where the entire Enterprise had been deserted and there wasn’t anybody there at all so he’s just walking along empty corridors, reception was empty, every single part of the place had been vacated, the staff, the attendees, the convention management, they had all gone to the main hall where Patrick was delivering his remarkable speech and I got to meet the chap afterwards and he’s an astonishingly astute actor.
So rather as a person coming back to this role that he’d been done with since Nemesis come to realise that there’s new stories to be told about Jean-Luc Picard. I am so looking forward this series because, first of all, it’s Patrick Stewart back on the screen and second of all it’ll be Jean-Luc Picard back on the screen and I can’t wait to see what they’ve got coming up and see how they’re going to bring back Picard in some way so I’m very, very much looking forward to that.
I was floored when they announced that he was coming back, I saw the video footage on Facebook and I was absolutely dumbstruck, you know, it was like finding out Santa Claus was real, for me anyway.
Right okay, well great. Well I’ll leave it there it’s been an absolute pleasure to speak to you, thanks very much, enjoy the series, I know I will be I’ll be watching it week to week if they drop it again, even though I think……..it’s a good show anyway but I think it’ll probably do better as a bingeable thing.
Well they’re talking about bringing out new spin-off series as well, including one with Michelle Yeoh as the main character as well and there’s a little spoiler in that she’s not currently working for Starfleet, the Federation but I’m not going to say anything further as it where because it’s a very interesting direction they’ll be taking if they do bring in Philippa Georgiou as a main character in a spin-off series but it’s all looking very good in the Star Trek universe, never mind what the critics say, critics don’t watch the show, if they did they’d be bringing their prejudice along with them and as someone once said “always challenge your pre-conceptions or they will always challenge you” and if you take anything from Star Trek you can pick up that.
STAR TREK: DISCOVERY: SEASON ONE IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY & DVD NOW