Saturday, December 20, 2008

"Strangers on this road we are on..."

Today a stranger left a lovely comment on the post about my mother's suicide. Her kindness reminded me of how much we affect each other, maybe without ever knowing it.

Then I read that Majel Barrett Roddenberry died December 18, 2008, two days ago. (The London Times obit, which is better than the NYT's. Now, if only the Economist will write one...) I shed a few tears in recognition of someone who'd been part of a Very Good Thing in my life.

Majel was one cool sci-fi dream as Number One (below, 1964), the Enterprise's original Vulcan-like first officer. She served with Captain Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) in the very first Star Trek pilot, "The Cage," which the network rejected. (Much of "The Cage" was later recycled in the two-part episode "The Menagerie," which you can watch here, along with the rest of the orginal series, free at CBS Classic Star Trek.)

"Get rid of the woman and the guy with the pointed ears," the network said.
The Satanic ears survived full strength, but the futuristic female got watered down and poured into a silly nurse outfit that never quite fit right.
I always hated Nurse Christine Chapel because I sensed that her smothering motherliness was the flip side of a Nurse Ratchet desire for domination. But come to think of it, maybe she was Number One, lobotomized.

Majel got her own back in later ST series, however, playing a brazen broad--and also the voice of the Federation starships' computers. She completed the latter job for the upcoming Star Trek XI before she died, so she has the last word, after all.

Godspeed, pretty lady.


Jennifer said...

I love that picture of Majel. Wasn't she an awesome Number One? She did the best she could with Chapel, I think, but damn it would have been cool to see her as a brunette and second-in-command...

I am so glad she managed to voice the XI Enterprise. It just wouldn't have been the same.

fresca said...

Isn't it a great photo?
I don't hold Chapel's ickiness against her too much--it was a pukey role-seeing as how she could do other things, like a perfect computer voice!