Spock

Ever since I could remember, I’ve always loved watching Star Trek. With the recent death of Leonard Nimoy also came an unbearable urge within myself to binge watch old episodes of the series featuring Nimoy’s logical character Spock. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t pay tribute to this great character for my Wednesday Warriors weekly series.

Leonard Nimoy as Spock

Leonard Nimoy as Spock

For me, no discussion of Spock would be complete without relating how the character Spock has affected my life. I would find it easy to rattle off every episode the Vulcan took center stage and prove his cerebral superiority, but then I’m sure you can find something similar somewhere else. In that sense, I’d like to try something different.

When I was a kid, the few things I could count on that I knew would always remain the same were eating Cap’n Crunch on a Saturday morning while watching cartoons, and never missing my favorite episode of Star Trek. For all you folks wondering which series I’m talking about, think ancient. Think Sixties. Think of the hippie movement.

In those days, we had a glorious 20-inch color TV standing on four legs and only twenty-eight channels to surf. Twenty of which, for a kid like me, were nothing more than a collection of news, sports and weather channels–much like how it is today eight shy of a thousand. So, if I found a series worth watching, I stuck with it. I’d hunt for it every chance I got and I would make it part of my life by becoming a true fan.

Star Trek was one of those shows.

Spock

Spock

The idea of a starship drifting through space, discovering new worlds and new civilizations fascinated me. Aside from setting aside racial barriers, the show included a character that was the epitome of logic and not at all human. Actually, that’s not true. Spock was half-human. Yet, throughout the years, the draw I felt to the character, in spite of the character’s desire to understand the human condition, never faded. Spock had a way of identifying human frailties, and for the same reason, delivering Vulcan solutions wrapped as logical building blocks to an efficient society. He knew the human compulsion for self-destruction more than any other human could learn of it in a lifetime.

In my opinion, Spock represents peace. For the time, Vietnam was in the news nightly and the audience needed a release from all the blood they’d seen on the screen. The crew of the Enterprise brought a sliver of hope everyone wanted as a way to overcome the daily media onslaught. Spock’s quick, dry wit made him a memorable character in every scene of the series. I enjoyed watching him walk the audience through a logic problem that had even stumped Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). What seemed impossible to a mere mortal was an easy solution for a Vulcan. The added strength he portrayed as the all-knowing second-in-command made him a formidable foe for Klingons everywhere. Whenever they captured him, they could never figure out what to do with him. He defied their aggressive behavior with sound reasoning.

If Spock was real today, I wonder what he’d be doing. Would he be in politics? Or would he be working in the sciences? I’m still wrestling with that question.

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Do you have fond memories of Star Trek you would like to share?

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24 Comments

  1. Grew up with Star Trek. Played Star Trek. Was forced to be the bad guys because the older cousins said so. To Spock.

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  2. Great tribute. I share your sentiments. For me Star Trek is the Original Series, maybe the first two movies.Beyond that it was some kind of dodgy Replicant. The less said about the recent reboot the better.

    As for Nimoy and his Spock- what I recall most was his nobility, coupled with a sense of always a little separate from everything else and everyone, a distance there. But then again, that just makes that scene in Amok Time when he realises Kirk is alive just priceless.

    Somehow Nimoy made Spock greater than what he should have been- this was afterall ‘just’ a 60s sci-fi tv show that might have turned out as camp as Lost in Space or Batman even. Nimoy and his Vulcan rose above that and helped elevate the show.

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  3. If Spock was real he’d be a scriptwriter for Star Trek. Remember all his humanity and logic came from the show’s creators, which suggests that humanity such as Spock’s could be drawn towards art and charity. (With business and politics attracting whatever’s left!)

    What made Star Trek unique was it’s dealings with moral and philosophical questions and each character in some way embodying those dilemmas and the solutions. So, as we mourn the character let’s also celebrate the people – including Leonard Nimoy – who created the character: the writers, directors and of course Gene Rodenberry.

    Chris

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  4. Jack, this is a great retrospective/appreciation of Spock/Mr. Nimoy. I loved reading the memories of commenters, too. We had a TV; I think it was color. Beyond that, as far as the technology, ?? Honestly, I am more connected with the activity. Watching Star Trek re-runs–it seemed like a Sunday morning, but I could be wrong on that–will be forever connected in my mind with my dad making breakfast on Sunday mornings. As such, it is a really pleasant memory. The only original series episode I remember watching as a young kid (6? 8? 10?) was the infamous “kiss” episode (I grew up in the South, and even then–early 80s–it was shocking to see). ST4 was one of the only (the only?) movies I saw with my parents in the theater, and I loved it and its environmental theme, as well as Spock’s attempts to grasp how to use human vulgarities (awesome acting there, too). I grew up, however, on TNG and DS9 and have been a bona fide SF/F fan since my early teen years. I wish I could have met Mr. Nimoy. By the way, the Spock death scene in ST2: TWoK is unparalleled (brilliance) in its performance. Even Shatner did okay with that one. 🙂

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  5. I too grew up with the Original and Spock was my favourite. We only had black and white tv and 3 channels but ST was it. It embodied tolerance, acceptance and compassion, powerful images for a child. I wanted to live up to Spock, make him proud.

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  6. zathra

     /  March 11, 2015

    Star Trek was my 1st introduction to humanism, which sometimes made my mostly – religious raise their eyebrows.

    It also taught me the value of diversity. I was raised in a mostly WASP area of my hometown. The diversity of the Enterprise crew – Uruha, Sulu, Chechov, Scotty, AND Spock – helped teach me that there was more to the world than my little neighborhood.
    Later, I began to question why Spock was PRESUMABLY the only ” alien ” among 430 humans in the classic series ( You didn’t see more non – humans in the crew until the movies & ST : TNG, DS9 & Voyager ).

    Spock incorporated at least 1 element of Judaism into his character. Leonard Nimoy remembered an Orthodox Jewish hand gesture that was part of a benediction that became the Vulcan ” Salute ” – One half of the Hebrew letter ” Shin “. I always thought that was clever. & meaningful.
    Spock embodied rationality, Kirk embodied passion ( Make of that what you will 🙂 ), McCoy embodied the conciensce & morality most of the time.

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    • I agree with all of this except for one thing. Spock didn’t represent peace to me. He represented “order’. I lived in an often chaotic environment, where people just gave full vent to all of their emotions. regardless of the consequences and for me ,Spock was Quiet.

      He wasn’t loud or messy or angry and I tried mightily to live the earliest part of my life in the same manner. Calmly, rationally and courteously.And yes, he was my first introduction to the idea of compassionate, secular humanism. Caring about all people, not because God said so, but because they’re people and that’s enough.

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      • zathra

         /  March 11, 2015

        Yes, Spock was conflicted. Mostly because of his mixed – species heritage & his disagreements – never shown, but often implied – with his father about Starfleet vs. Vulcan Science Academy, later his ideas about bringing abt a reconciliation with the Romulans.
        He seemed to make peace with his human side after the events of ST : The Motion Picture, then again after his ” rebirth / resurrection ” in Star Trek III.
        I’m more like Dr. McCoy emotionally, but I admire the self – control & discipline that Spock exhibited. I think Spock would’ve made a great Buddhist.

  7. Being a bit of a pessimist, I sadly don’t think a real life Spock would have made it far; the world as it currently exists would either destroy his logic, ideals and ability before it really came into play, or someone who doesn’t appreciate such tools would have disposed of him in some way. For a slightly less depressing view, I’d actually picture him as some “garage inventor” or “armchair philosopher” type, who has all the answers, but lacks the means to get them heard or implemented.

    Myself, I was always more into Bones. Almost as smart as Spock (arguably smarter, within his own realm of expertise), but cranky and prone to causing trouble. Can’t imagine why… 😄

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    • zathra

       /  March 11, 2015

      Spock embodied rationality, logic & the value of intellect, Kirk embodied leadership, sometimes flawed, & passion, McCoy was their conscience, sometimes a moral guide between the logic of Spock & the passion & difficult command decisions of Kirk.

      Reply
      • He does typically play the middle man to his two mates, but on occasion has shown he can rise to either of their extremes if he needs to (if one or the other is out of commission or in an altered state of mind, for example). I think that’s why I like him. He’s sort of the Omega wolf there, doing what needs to get done and holding everybody together otherwise.

      • ” The Omega wolf “. That’s a Star Trek episode right there. There was a James Blish paperback ( ” SPOCK MUST DIE ” ) where he was split into two distinct halves in a transporter accident. Ah, the 70’s produced some interesting Trek literature.

      • I think I may have a copy of that sitting in a box somewhere around here. One of these days I should actually read them… too many books I need to get to. Heh.

      • zathra

         /  March 12, 2015

        I believe I borrowed the book from my cousin. ST fandom was pretty vital & active for pre – internet times. Now there’s a whole generation that can’t imagine life & the proliferation of pop – culture before the ‘net.

      • Perfect summary of the characters, Zathra!

      • zathra

         /  March 12, 2015

        Leonard Nimoy was not the first choice to play Spock. Strangely enough, DeForest Kelley was approached to play him. Then Martin Landau, but he & Barbara Baine were involved in ” Mission : Impossible “. Then, in the early mid – 70’s, Martin Landau went on to star in the short – lived ” Space : 1999 “, the 1st syndicated science – fiction series.

      • Totally watched Mission: Impossible and Space: 1999 when I was a kid. Loved Barbara Baine in both shows!

      • zathra

         /  March 12, 2015

        ” Space : 1999 ” was okay, but the idea of a giant nuclear waste dump on the far side of the Moon blasting it out of orbit was a tad far – fetched. Maybe Mr. Landau should’ve bailed from ” Mission : Impossible ” & tried to see what he could do with the Spock character.
        ” Space : 1999 ” also inherited a number of writers, producers & directors from classic Trek.

    • Bones is also one of my favorites. Definitely one of the most lovable, cranky characters on TV!

      Reply
      • I always thought so. Was kind of sad how they treated him in the latest sequels; he didn’t have some of the mediating and irritating yet invaluable traits of his previous appearances, in my mind.

  8. I actually started on the movies and haven’t seen much of the original. I’d catch a few episodes as they aired, but mostly Next Generation for me. So that’s where I now Spock from, but he still had this presence. Probably from the character and the actor.

    Now I do wonder what he would be doing if he was real. I’d go with science or teaching only because I think politics would be too illogical for him. Seriously, he’d be the lone adult in a room full of baby chimps.

    Reply

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