People are always telling me to go watch the original Star Trek series. Some recommend it for the lulz, others because they genuinely love it, but my answer is always the same, “thanks…but no.” I usually go on to explain that my grandmother raised me to be a Next Gen girl and that while I’m sure that the other Star Trek series are very nice and all, there’s just something about Jean-Luc Picard that makes me go weak at the knees.
This is mostly true.
The whole truth is…Chekov scares the shit out of me.
I’ll pause while you rotfl at me. Finished? OK, great.
Of all scifi characters great and small, for me the most terrifying one of all isn’t a Dalek, a Borg, a Scarran, or anything you’d think. It’s a human. A Telepath. A Psi Cop by the name of Alfred Bester.
He is conniving, meticulous, remorseless and cold. The kind of villan you’d find in the real world, a puppet-master who plays a long and ruthless game with our heroes. The very first babylon 5 episode I ever watched includes a voiceover of Bester reciting just how royally he’s fucked over just about every character on the show (most without their knowledge), ending with, “Yes, I’ve had a nice day :)”
Of course, all this speaks to the amazing acting talent of Walter Koenig. To be able to first create as memorable character as Chekov, and then *completely* reinvent himself as Al Bester is a remarkable achievement. And even within Babylon 5, which has a pretty solid acting cast, his presence in a scene elevates the entire episode up into the stratosphere.
I once told Walter Koenig about all this. It was Dragon*Con of 2007 and he was sitting at the unfashionable end of the actors/author’s room. I passed him on the way to visit the equally unfashionable Farscape actors, and did a double take when I saw him. There was no line, so I walked up and said hello…and since meeting famous people makes me act like a 12-year-old, I started gushing about how much I loved him on b5, but how terrified I now was by Chekov. He sort of blinked at me, and I went bright red, admitting that he probably thought I sounded crazy. He smiled a little, nodded and said, “Well, I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
tl;dr: whenever I see Checkov…I see Bester. I have been known to stand up and shout, “No!! Don’t trust him, Kirk!! He’s a Psi Cop!!” in the middle of an episode. And hence, I really just *can’t* watch Star Trek: The Original Series.
Incidentally, Walter Koenig is finally getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!!
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