Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Star Trek: Space Seed

Episode: "Space Seed"
Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 1, Episode 22
Original Air Date: February 16, 1967
via Memory Alpha
Khaaaaaan!!!

"Space Seed" introduced Khan Noonien Singh, a villain who continues to fuel Trek stories in the 21st century.   Khan is the leader of a group of genetically engineered super-humans discovered aboard an early model Earth vessel adrift in space.  Amazingly, the group had been preserved in a sleeping state for centuries, before being awoken by our heroes.  Khan and his gang attempt to take over the Enterprise.  The story explores the nature of man as Captain Kirk and his friends wrestle with Earth's troubled past and Khan questions whether the character of humans has advanced apace with technology.

*****
via Wikipedia
Ricardo Montalbán (Khan) was a genuine television legend.  The long-term success of the character is due in no small part to Montalbán's charismatic screen presence.  The actor was born Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán y Merino on November 25, 1920 in Mexico City.  Despite spending most of his life in the United States, he remained a Mexican citizen until his death in 2009.
via Corona Coming Attractions
From the beginning of his career, Montalbán was a trailblazer for Hispanic actors.  Upon arrival in Hollywood, the studios wanted to change his name to Ricky Martin but he refused.  In 1949, he became the first Hispanic actor to appear on the cover of Life magazine.  Over the years, he played other ethnicities as well: Japanese in the movie Sayonara, for instance.  The character of Khan, in fact, is supposed to be Indian.
via Wikipedia
Montalbán's most famous role was Mr. Roarke in Fantasy Island, which ran from 1977 to 1984.  However, he is almost as well-remembered as the longtime spokesman for Chrysler, extolling the virtues of the "Corinthian leather" upholstery.  He had numerous other screen roles and a long career in Spanish-language radio dramas, preparing him well for voice-over work later in life.  He was even a capable singer, starring opposite Lena Horne on Broadway.  He devoted much of his career to advocating for minority actors, co-founding the Screen Actors Guild Ethnic Minority Committee in 1972.



Montalbán reprised the role of Khan in 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, undoubtedly his most enduring big screen performance.  Wrath of Khan is considered by many to be the very best Trek film and Montalbán is a big reason why.  Benedict Cumberbatch proved a worthy successor playing the part in 2013's Star Trek: Into Darkness

Montalbán was married to his wife Georgiana Belzer for 63 years.  The couple had four children.  He died of congestive heart failure at the age of 88.

14 comments:

  1. It's a good thing he didn't use Ricky Martin since that name is taken now. ;) I watched this episode after STID and it really holds up. He had a mesmerizing amount of confidence and charisma.

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  2. I don't think the episode is nearly as good as the movie, so thank goodness the movie was made!

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    1. See, now I'm eager to watch the movie again, and I only just watched it a few months ago. I'd never seen the episode before so I'll enjoy this new perspective.

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  3. I had no idea Fantasy Island ran for so long.

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    1. No kidding! I remember it was on right after Love Boat. My sister and I were devoted to LB but usually only caught the beginning of FI.

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  4. "From hell's heart I stab at thee..." was much better uttered by Khan than by Captain Ahab, I say.

    I haven't read a Star Trek novel in probably 20 years, but I did see some recently written books set in the 1990s (when Khan's "Eugenics Wars" were supposed to happen) that tell us how we were able to get through that decade without hearing about it. Turns out Gary Seven was involved in the cover-up... :-)

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    1. Revising history to align with the Star Trek universe - I love it!

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  5. Harve Bennett had never seen an episode of Star Trek when he was hired to produce STII, so he decided to start at the beginning and watched every episode and came up with Khan as the perfect villain.

    What's interesting is that this is a first season episode, but in the movie, it's Chekhov who recognizes the planet name 'Ceti Alpha V...however, Chekhov wasn't introduced on ST:TOS until the second season.

    The fact that Ricardo Montalban played this genetically modified superhuman villain, then came back so many years later and played him again, complete with the bare perfect chiseled chest, is just awesome to me.

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    1. Good catch on the Chekhov thing!

      Khan's a great villain. I'd say "Balance of Terror" is still my favorite episode so far and Mark Lenard's Romulan Commander is, if anything, a stronger character than Khan but the poor guy dies. To resurrect him for a sequel would be so wrong. So, Khan's the better choice.

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  6. That voice !
    I remember this episode and the movie. One of my favorites.
    Your doing so great on these reviews, lots of interesting facts and the comments just keep getting better and add more information.
    I always feel like thehamish when I comment.
    woof this is gud im' likin this hahahahahahahahaha

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. The voice is amazing - no doubt about it. That's part of why I think Cumberbatch is the right man for the recast. His voice is compelling for different reasons, but compelling nonetheless!

      Always delighted when you chime in, parsnip!

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  7. Such an awesome actor. Loved his Khan, both in this episode and in ST2.

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    1. Absolutely. He's the best reason to see that movie.

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