Monday, May 1, 2006

Seeing Things

On Saturday afternoon, I went to see United 93. There were a total of 15 people in the theatre -- an ominous sign during opening weekend. I don't know if the small turnout was related to the beautiful weather (I happened to be in Calgary that day), or a general reluctance on the part of people to relive such painful memories, but I do urge people to see this film. It is not in the least bit sensationalistic, and it's all the more effective for that. Astonishingly, several of the key roles are played by the people who actually held them in real life, and they are absolutely captivating.

As it happens, Saturday was also my birthday, and Randy McCharles -- chair of the 2008 World Fantasy Convention, which will be in Calgary -- threw a party for my birthday at his house. It was terrific, and as part of it, we watched the fan-made Star Trek: The Original Series program In Harm's Way. It was my third time seeing it, and I totally love it. The script is terrifically clever, and involves a meeting between Captain Christopher Pike aboard the Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk aboard the Farragut (yes, the Farragut), and Commodore Matt Decker. The familiar Trek characters are all played by enthusiastic amateurs, and the guest-star roles are filled by professional actors who actually appeared in classic Trek: Malachi Throne as a Klingon captain, BarBara Luna as a human woman, and William Windom back in the saddle as Commodore Decker.

Sunday night, I watched the best-ever classic Columbo episode on DVD: "Any Old Port in a Storm," with guest star Donald Pleasance. The episode was directed by Leo Penn (who also directed some classic Trek episodes, and is Sean's father), and was written by, of all people, Stanley Ralph Ross, who wrote lots of classic Batman episodes. Absolutely first rate.


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