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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Space Seed: Where Khan Begins!

05.26.2013 – Star Trek: The Original Series never got the highest rating in the 1960s but it has built itself a cult following that preceded with the revival in the big screening in The Motion Picture.

But the status of the franchise would put itself up one more notch when they brought in The Wrath of Khan.

The one true villain that put Star Trek in the map of science fiction mythos thanks to the memorable performance of the late great Ricardo Montalban. Any Trekkie, casual or even passing fan would be familiar with this poetic tyrant.

Khan Noonien Singh a product of genetic engineering breed of “supermen” who along with 72 others were put to cryogenic state and was sent in space in a ship known as “SS Botany Bay” in the original Star Trek universe. Of course anyone would know by now that Khan played a huge role in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness an alternate universe that rebooted the franchise by J.J. Abrams.

But before the new generations of Trekkies should come to appreciate Benedict Cumberbatch and his growing Cumberbitches (as coined by him during is talk show guesting in promoting the new film) as Khan there’s no other actor ever to have brought the character to justice with those masculine biceps than Ricardo Montalban.

Montalban the original Khan brought the character to life during season 1 episode 22 of “Space Seed” in The Original Series. Though the character was shot to popular villainy not until 1982 Montalban brings his super manly-ness in the small screen playing the tyrant awaken from a hundred years of sleep.

They really planted a “Space Seed” that would launch Star Trek into the biggest franchise that would give birth to a Genesis of series in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and the prequel Enterprise.

The later series in Enterprise which would pay tribute in bringing “Mini Khans” in a three episode arc (Borderland, Cold Station 12, & The Augments) of the doomed final season that would acknowledge not only the famous tyrant but Data’s great grandfather in Dr. Arik Soong (played by Brent Spiner) who started his breed of genetically enhanced humans but would abandon it in favor of a new research and the rest was history.

Of course “Space Seed” won’t be appreciated now for the production of this episode as it was originally aired on February 16, 1967. Too campy for some but for any Trekkie who grew up or saw the syndication would definitely get a kick out of Ricardo Montalban flexing those biceps for the women who adored William Shatner as James T. Kirk.

The “wife” Khan mentioned in TWoK was actually Lt. Marla McGivers (Madlyn Rhue) who perished upon being left with the rest of the SS Botany Bay crew in Ceti Alpha V appearing in this episode selected by Kirk to join him with the away team because she specializes in late 20th-century history and culture. Indeed she gets all impressed with Khan being all machismo that Star Trek has always been sexy even JJ Abrams had made it more “sexier” for the next generation of Trekkies.

The fight scenes would look laughable as Kirk’s hair gets loosen up but the dialogue and interaction with Dr. McCoy (DeForrest Kelly) certainly was memorable as trying to find out how Checkov fits in this episode and every Trekkie knows he won’t appear until season two. But Walter Koenig who played Pavel Checkov joked that “Khan remembered Chekov from the episode after he took too long in a restroom Khan wanted to use.”

But a trek novel which is non-canon to the TV series established the first encounter all too well. Though it would still confuse any new Trekkie who ventures back beyond the universe J.J. Abrams has established with the new film. Various fan theories (and explanations in Trek novels) have been created to account for this; most assume that Chekov was a 'redshirt' security guard and was simply not assigned to bridge duty during the events of the episode.

“Space Seed” would eventually set a tone for TWoK and it definitely pays tribute to the character Ricardo Montalban would portray again 15 years later.

The episode would become the genesis also in books, comics, and other media not to mention the recently released action figures from Diamond Select Toys depicting the fight scene between Kirk and Khan that would define an image of this series.

For those who fascinates the curiosity and if you plan to see Star Trek Into Darkness or have watched the film, but no idea of the character’s back story who Khan Noonien Singh. Try to go back to history even though its dated have an open mind in appreciating the beginnings before Cumberbatch’s Khan would say… “Shall we begin?”

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