It was a sad day for geeks everywhere when we learned of Leonard Nimoy’s passing. While we noted the sad event last week we also wanted to take some time to collect our thoughts and pay our respects to this great man and geek idol. Here now are the collected thoughts from the Gabbing Geek crew.
Ryan: It’s true for most Trek fans. We may have wanted to be Kirk but we were Spock. Space adventures weren’t created by Star Trek but they were perfected on the Enterprise. Because it wasn’t all about shooting aliens, although that happened. It was about exploring. And exploring is scientific. Take Spock off the Enterprise and you had a regular military expedition to the unknown. But with Spock and his importance to the mission, science was made important. It was a revelation and a revolution and all of us geeks appreciated it in ways we maybe didn’t realize at the time.
My first experience with Star Trek wasn’t from the TV show or a movie or even from a comic or novel. I was at a summer camp when I was eight or nine and a friend mentioned the show to me–intrigued, I asked him about it. Since he was a hardcore Trek fan he could recount many episodes, which he did, over and over at my request. That’s how I came to learn about Star Trek and most of all, Spock. Later I found VCR tapes of the show (ah, the old days) and re-runs late at night and I gradually came to love the show myself.
For an emotionless character, Spock was actually the heart of the entire show. He was the lens we could view this future world through and the motivation for more than half the movies made with the original cast. Oh, and he fell through a time-hole and rebooted the franchise. Not bad.
Of course, that’s all Spock, the character. Which would be different from the actor if it weren’t Leonard Nimoy. He didn’t play Spock, he was Spock in all the right ways. What he brought to the character was himself and what he created will truly live long and prosper.
Watson: Although I always favored Wars over Trek, I still appreciated the crew of the Enterprise. First amongst them in my admiration was Leonard Nimoy. He was by far the best actor in TOS and even made a decent film or two as a director. Mostly, though, despite being a A-list Trek icon, I liked Nimoy because he seemed to be a decent guy. Never bitter. Never angry. The greatest testimony to his character was that of all of the warring autobiographies of the original cast over the years, Nimoy always came off well; beloved by both factions of the cast (Which consists of the Shatner only faction vs. the Everyone Else But Shatner faction.) Perhaps the quote from Wrath of Khan best sums up Spock AND Nimoy, “Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.”
Jenny: I am happy to have lived in a generation that got to see and enjoy the spoils of such a wonderful actor. I love what Nimoy brought to the character Spock. Not only did you see the logical aspect to every situation (thanks to him), but you also got to see calculated emotion (love, anger, sadness, confusion) that sometimes broke through. It was within those “humanizing” moments, that we all identified with Spock, and aligned ourselves with his heart & mind. Not only was he a great actor, but he never took himself too seriously. Who doesn’t love his famous rendition of The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins. As a LOTR & Hobbit fan, I am forever in debt to him for this wacky yet adorable sing-a-long.
Tom: Before I could really call myself a geek, or before I had much of a concept about what Star Trek really was, I knew who Spock was. Spock was fascinating. It wasn’t the ears, though. Well, not just the ears. It was the demeanor. For a stoic character who lacked emotions, Nimoy made something out of Spock. He gave Spock a soul that many of the rest of the crew lacked. He took a character that had been given a bare bones outline and created a whole culture for the Vulcan race. The closest we have to that on Trek after Spock may be Michael Dorn doing the same for the Klingons with Worf, but Nimoy came first.
But there was more to Nimoy than Spock. He wrote poetry, did photography, and acted on the stage. He resented Spock, then came to appreciate him. And he must have been one of the coolest guys to work with. I saw George Takei get interviewed once about how everyone on the old Trek, except for Shatner, knew he was gay and accepted him. He specifically cited Nimoy as being encouraging for him to be himself.
I can’t say I’m surprised he’s died. His health has been declining for a while now. His last few prominent acting jobs have been voice work (Transformers 3) or just his face (Star Trek Into Darkness). His character on Fringe took him more and more off-screen while including him when possible, such as a Sims-ish CGI episode. He probably brought more people to sci-fi than anyone else before George Lucas, and he’ll be greatly missed by fans everywhere.
Jimmy: I’ve always been more of a Next Generation fan. I’d go so far as to say I don’t really care much at all for the original series outside of a couple of the movies. But I do love the characters. Spock, Kirk, Bones, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, Uhura, Steve Red Shirt (RIP). There’s just something about those characters that transcends stealing starships to find God or bashing lizard men over the head with foam rocks.
Of all those characters, I’m sure I’m not alone in liking Spock the most. He was easily the most interesting and entertaining. And since he was the only non-human of the main cast, his heritage and customs opened many avenues for storytelling. It also allowed him long life and the ability to crossover into Star Trek: The Next Generation in a more organic way than being trapped in a transporter beam for 70 years.
It was great to see him in the new movies. Even if his appearances might not have made sense or were basically just for the sake of passing the baton to the next “old” generation.
I think one of my favorite recent Spock moments had to be on the Big Bang Theory when his figurine had a running dialog with Sheldon.
Of course, all of this would not have been possible without the man himself, Leonard Nimoy. From what I know, I think struggled with the popularity of Spock and being typecast. (I can’t name another thing he was in.) But I think he did grow to embrace it as he saw the love people had for the character and their appreciation for all he’s done.
Mr. Nimoy, you will be missed. And thank you for giving us one of the most iconic characters ever, geek or otherwise.