Monday, June 29, 2009

Infinite Regress Hamlet

Hamlet. Dir. Catherine Hardwicke. Perf. Emile Hirsch. Overture, 2011.
A new film version of Hamlet, one staring Emile Hirsch, is about to be in production. It isn't due for release until 2011, so we'll need to hold back any enthusiasm we have for a while so that we don't use it all up too far in advance.

The film will (if all goes according to the current plan) be set in an east-coast college (here's to Shakespeare adaptations that are not set in high school!) whose President has been murdered.

Although Bardfilm's policy on film versions of Hamlet is "the more the better—and, if they're good, that's better yet," I know that the question of whether we need another film version of the play has been bandied about. And there are many answers.

One that I've been thinking about recently comes from the play itself. Near his death, Hamlet says this to Horatio:
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
To tell my story. (V.ii.346-49)
When the first Hamlet told the first Horatio that, he started the progress of infinite regress. Horatio has to turn around and start us off at the beginning of the play again. Near the end of that play, the Hamlet Horatio is telling us about tells the Horatio Horatio is telling us about to tell his story; that Horatio starts us over at the beginning—and so on. We're caught in an infinite number of Horatios telling us about an infinite number of Hamlets.

I suppose it's better than an infinite number of monkeys banging on an infinite number of typewriters. Or at least, it's quieter.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Undead Again with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Undead. Dir. Jordan Galland. Perf. Jake Hoffman and Devon Aoki. 2008. C Plus Pictures, 2008.
Every now and then, news of the film Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead comes up. I've been waiting with bated breath (a phrase from Merchant of Venice—did you know that?) for its theatrical release for about two years.

While waiting, though, I've been immensely entertained by the "Shakespiracy" videos they've created. They are spot on in their parody of both conspiracy theories in general and bad Shakespeare scholarship in particular. Combined with a reasonable-sounding narrator, the result can be devastatingly funny. Observe:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Quick Reminder—and a Sonnet Competition

Love's Labour's Lost. Dir. Paul Mason Barnes. Perf. Doug Scholz-Carlson, Chris Mixon, Andrew Carlson, Brian Frederick, Christopher Gerson, Evan Fuller, Tarah Flanagan, Shanara Gabrielle, Katy Mazzola, Nikki Rodenburg, Michael Fitzpatrick, David Rudi Utter, Eva Balastrieri, Jeremy van Meter, Jonathan Gillard Daly, David Coral, Nick Demeris, Katie Bowler, Moira Marek, Duncan Halleck, Theo Morgan, Ceci Bernard, Chris Bernard, and Mitchell Essar. Great River Shakespeare Festival. Winona, Minnesota. 2009.
The Tempest. Dir. Alec Wild. Perf. Eva Balistrieri, Andrew Carlson, David Coral, Nick Demeris, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Michael Fitzpatrick, Tarah Flanagan, Brian David Frederick, Evan Fuller, Shanara Gabrielle, Christopher Gerson, Kate Mazzola, Chris Mixon, Doug Scholz-Carlson, Nicole Rodenburg, David Rudi Utter, Jeremy van Meter, and Tessa Wild. Great River Shakespeare Festival. Winona, Minnesota. 2009.

Yesterday was the opening night for the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota. I haven't yet seen the shows (but I shall—and a write-up will follow), but, knowing the company, some of the actors, and the director, I'm confident that these are productions that you must not miss.

Further, they're having a sonnet competition! Brush up on your iambic pentameter and submit something.

But, more importantly, get your tickets and see some delightful Shakespeare!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Last-Minute Shakespearean Father's Day Gift Ideas

With just a week to go before Father's Day, you're waiting anxiously (I'm sure) for the books and DVDs and diamond-studded power tools that you ordered Dear Old Dad to arrive.

But what if shipping is delayed? What if they packed the wrong book? What if the DVD is in PAL-2 format, unplayable where Dear Old Dad lives?

Don't worry! Here are three quick and easy gift ideas for your father:
  1. A Shakespeare Mask. Print one of the portraits of Shakespeare (I've used the image from the First Folio—see image above) on heavy card stock. Cut around the head and cut holes for the eyes (trying not to think of Gloucester as you do so). Tape this to a stick or ruler. Voilá!

  2. A Shakespeare Play. Dad would love to see you—and other members of your family, if you can rope them in—put on a shortened version of one of his favorite plays. How about the opening of King Lear—you know, where he asks his daughters which one loves him most?

  3. Shakespeare Author Cards. This game is marvelous fun for the whole family, but dads are particularly partial to it. Click on the URL and follow the directions.
There you have it! Soon your dad will be saying (if you are female) this:
I have a daughter--have while she is mine--
Who, in her duty and obedience, mark,
Hath given me this! And I love it. Thanks! (Hamlet, II.ii.119-121)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"Well, well, thou hast a careful father, child." —Romeo and Juliet

King Lear. Dir. Trevor Nunn and Chris Hunt. Perf. Sir Ian McKellen, Sylvester McCoy, Romola Garai, William Gaunt, Frances Barber, and Monica Dolan. 2008. PBS, 2009.

Several Shakespeare DVDs have been released recently—just in time for Father's Day! Be a careful child to your careful father and choose the perfect gift: Shakespeare.

Of them, the most vital is Ian McKellen's Lear (directed by Trevor Nunn). What better gift could you give (or receive) for Father's Day? Kick back with Dear Old Dad to learn about fatherhood from the master of the English language with a superb actor in the lead role. Doctor Who fans will appreciate the fact that the Fool is played by a former Doctor (Sylvester McCoy).


Edward II was written by Christopher Marlowe—but if you would like to follow the conspiracy theorists and believe that Marlowe (before he became Marlowe) was really Sir Philip Sidney, who did not die fighting in the low countries, but, instead, became a spy for Elizabeth I, changed his name to Kit Marlowe, faked the death of Marlowe in a pub brawl, became both William Shakespeare and Thomas Dekker, and, eventually, successfully disguised himself as King James I, demoting the real monarch to stable boy, third class, then this play becomes more Shakespearean. In any case, a much younger Ian McKellen plays Edward II in the newly-released DVD of the 1970 production.


For the acting father (I mean, the father who acts), try this marvelous (yet expensive) series:


Alternately, try Judy Dench's Titania in this 1968 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream:


I asked our library to by An Age of Kings about two months ago, and I'm looking forward to reviewing it once it gets processed into the system.


Finally, it would be lovely to watch a number of thirty-minute animated version of Shakespeare plays with your dad and / or your children. This is what you need to do that:



Click below to purchase the films from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).


Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Why speaks my father so ungently?"

Coville, Bruce. William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Illus. Leonid Gore. New York: Dial, 2004.

The answer to the question above ("Why speaks my father so ungently?"—taken from The Tempest, I.ii.445) may be that you neglected to consider carefully your Father's Day gift for him!

For Shakespeare-interested fathers of younger children, consider the remarkable adaptations of Shakespeare plays by Bruce Coville. Well-illustrated and retaining some of Shakespeare's language, these books are sure to intrigue children (and fathers) of all ages!


Click below to purchase
one or all of Bruce Cogville's Shakespeare adaptations
from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).





Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Whew!

“The Next Doctor.” By Russell T. Davies. Perf. David Tennant, David Morrissey, Dervla Kirwan, and Velile Tshabalala. Dir. Andy Goddard. Doctor Who. 2008 Christmas Special. BBC Wales. 25 December 2008.
Finishing the complete guide to Shakespeare and Star Trek (for which, q.v.) was a hard and time-consuming task. Thank goodness it's over. Now we can move on to other, non-science-fiction related incarnations of Shakespeare in film.

We'll start with a brief glimpse from the new series of Doctor Who episodes!

It's pretty much "Doctor Who Views a Cyberman PowerPoint Presentation in the 1800s." There are a few images of Shakespeare and of the Globe stored in the Cybermen's thumb drives, and the Doctor views them.

It's not "The Shakespeare Code" (for which, q.v.), but it's something Shakespeare-related! Perhaps the Cybermen, having read up on "The Shakespeare Code," knew that they had to get some quality Shakespeare research done. It points toward the truism "The more Shakespeare you know, the better off you are."


Links: The Episode at IMDB.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete

All the Shakespeare to be found in the Star Trek universe is provided here, complete with interesting and entertaining commentary. This is a compilation, in chronological order by broadcast or release date, of quotations from Shakespeare, allusions to Shakespeare, or borrowings from Shakespeare in various and sundry Star Trek episodes and films. Each of the entires below has appeared previously at Bardfilm.

The First Major Integration of Shakespeare and Star Trek

“Conscience of the King.” By Barry Trivers. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, Arnold Moss, and Barbara Anderson. Dir. Gerd Oswald. Star Trek. Season 1, episode 13. NBC. 8 December 1966. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

Besides a title reference (and some arguably Shakespearean-sounding language in the famous opening monologue, including the iambic pentameter* line "To boldly go where no [one's] gone before"), this is the first episode to grapple with Shakespeare in a major way.

And it does so quite well—and quite optimistically. Hurtling through space in the twenty-whatevereth century, Macbeth and Hamlet are still part of a theatre company's repertoire. And even then, innovative things are being done with the script—we see Macbeth stab Duncan, though the text leaves that offstage. At least, that's the case with the Folio printing—perhaps they've discovered a Quarto of the play in the twenty-whatevereth century.

In any case, we get part of Macbeth here at the beginning of the episode. Toward the end, we get a bit of Hamlet, too (with a little Julius Caesar thrown in for good measure). And that part spills over into the plot of the show, in which a crewman seeks revenge for the murder of his father (and mother): Hamlet's own (partial) predicament.

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* All right, I admit it—I conflated "man has" into "one's" to make the line fit the requirements of iambic pentameter. So sue me. Actually, if anyone from Paramount is listening, please don't sue me. Consider it, rather, a tribute. And forgive any liberties.

Shakespeare and Star Trek Incomplete?

“The Devil in the Dark.” By Gene L. Coon. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Nichelle Nichols. Dir. Joseph Pevney. Star Trek. Season 1, episode 25. NBC. 9 March 1967. DVD. Paramount, 2007.

More than a year has passed since Bardfilm put together the definitive and complete post on all the Shakespeare that appears in Star Trek.

Alas, we spoke too soon.

This week, Bardfilm will be filling in the blanks and adding these new comments—retroactively, as it were—to the "Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete" post.

Picture the scene for this Shakespeare allusion. A single guard paces the battlements. Strange things have been happening in this Elsenore-esque place. Hearing a noise behind him, the guard turns and delivers a line—the first line, in fact—from Hamlet: “Who’s there?” (I.i.1):

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The only problem is that the Francisco analogue blows his line. Instead of a good and proper "Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself" (I.i.2), we get an "It's your relief, Sam." Ah, well. You can't ask for everything! At least we get the setting and the first line, even if no further allusions to Hamlet appear in this particular episode.

P.S. We don't even get a "For this relief, much thanks" (I.i.8), though it would be an entirely appropriate response to Francisco's altered line.

Star Trek and Julius Caesar

“Mirror, Mirror.” By Marc Daniels. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Nichelle Nichols. Dir. Jerome Bixby. Star Trek. Season 2, episode 4. NBC. 6 October 1967. DVD. Paramount, 2007.

Shakespeare tends to show up in alternate universes, and I find that encouraging. I would rather not deprive any universe of its Shakespeare—whether it’s the Star Trek universe or an alternate universe within the Star Trek universe.

In "Mirror, Mirror," several members of the Enterprise crew have inadvertently switched places with their counterparts in a universe that is much harsher and infinitely more cutthroat than their own.

When he heads to his alternate-universe quarters, the Captain Kirk we know is surprised to find a woman there. He’s also surprised to find out how conniving and power-hungry she is. Because Kirk is behaving unusually and is being unusually reserved in sharing confidences with her, Lieutenant Marlena Moreau assumes he’s found a way to be ambitious beyond the dreams of avarice. She says, “If I’m to be the woman of a Caesar . . . can’t I know what you’re up to?”

Of course, merely mentioning Caesar doesn’t automatically guarantee a Shakespeare allusion. But more than the name is at work here. In Julius Caesar, we find a parallel scene. Portia stands in a similar situation when Brutus declines to share his thoughts with her. She asks to share his confidences with these words:
Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
Is it excepted I should know no secrets
That appertain to you? Am I yourself
But, as it were, in sort or limitation,
To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed,
And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs
Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus' harlot, not his wife. (II.i.280-87)
I admit that “If I’m to be the woman of a Caesar . . . can’t I know what you’re up to?” is a poor substitute for this majestic and affecting speech, but the circumstances and the emotions of the two women match up. Observe:

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Another avenue for exploration—additional evidence that Julius Caesar may be behind this reference—might be found in the fact that the alternate universe is something like the Roman Empire at its worst. Assassination is a common means of advancement—indeed, an attempt had been made on Kirk’s life by a member of his own crew before this scene takes place. But that possible deeper analysis is beyond the scope of this post.

Shakespeare and Star Trek: The Revenge of the Bard!

“Catspaw.” By Robert Bloch. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, Antoinette Bower, Theo Marcuse, Michael Barrier, and Eddie Paskey. Dir. Joseph Pevney. Star Trek. Season 2, episode 7. NBC. 27 October 1967. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

Some time ago, Bardfilm had a series of posts on the integration of Shakespeare and Star Trek. I attempted to be complete, but I soon discovered a number of gaps in my coverage. I apologize.

Fortunately, I intend to fill those gaps with another series of posts—a series that will culminate in one gigantic post containing The Complete Works of Shakespeare in Star Trek!

For the record, I learned of some of these gaps from other lists (for example, this one), but many of these are my own discoveries.

The earliest gap to fill (chronologically-speaking) is a possible allusion to Macbeth (rather than a direct reference to any play) in The Original Series. Here, Bones, Spock, and Kirk have landed on The Planet of the Scary Things, and they (like Macbeth and Banquo) are met by three witches:

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As I said, it's much more of an allusion than a quotation, but I think there's a connection that involves more than just the number of witches. One thing is the "Very bad poetry" noted by Mr. Spock.

The witches, in addition to saying "Go back . . . remember the curse" any other scary things, close with these lines:
"Winds shall rise, and fog descend.
So leave here all or meet your end.
Mr. Spock's assessment isn't far off. And that's the key to connecting this with Macbeth. There are segments of "very bad poetry" in Shakespeare's play—mostly given to the witches, and mostly not written by Shakespeare. For example, this speech Hecate makes is frequently said to be a non-Shakespearean interpolation:
How did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death;
And I, the mistress of your charms,
The close contriver of all harms,
Was never call'd to bear my part,
Or show the glory of our art?
—III.v.4-10
The Star Trek witches' bad couplet is quite as bad as any one of these!

Harry Mudd Quotes As You Like It; James Kirk Quotes Hamlet

“I, Mudd.” By Marc Daniels. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Nichelle Nichols. Dir. Stephen Kandel. Star Trek. Season 2, episode 8. NBC. 3 November 1967. DVD. Paramount, 2007.

“I, Mudd” presents two direct—though admittedly more incidental than not—quotes from Shakespeare.

Harry Mudd, in responding to a series of accusations from Kirk, ends the inquisition by saying, “And thereby hangs a tale.” He’s quoting Jaques (who is, in his turn, quoting Touchstone) in As You Like It.
’Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
And after one hour more ’twill be eleven;
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale. (II.vii.23-27)
Later, Kirk, in an attempt to confuse the logic circuits of the robots that hold them all prisoner (I’ll spare you the details), asks one of Hamlet’s rhetorical questions: “What is a man?” It’s similar to the “What a piece of work is a man!” speech he gives Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Act II, scene ii. But it’s exactly like the speech he makes while pondering Fortinbras’ sally on Poland:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more. (IV.iv.33-35)
At the end of his speech, Norman (the chief android) points out that "Dreams are not real." I think Kirk is about to launch into “I could be bounded in a nutshell,” but the plot moves on before he can do so:

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Take Arms Against a Sea of Tribbles

“The Trouble with Tribbles.” By David Gerrold. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and James Doohan. Dir. Joseph Pevney. Star Trek. Season 2, episode 15. NBC. 29 December 1967. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

Shatner, William. “Hamlet / It Was A Very Good Year.” The Transformed Man. Decca, 1968.

I nearly forgot Captain Kirk's famous version of the "To be or not to be" soliloquy from Hamlet.

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All right, so it didn't happen exactly that way. I've taken the audio from Shatner's 1968 album that combined the classics of literature with modern song lyrics—all in the inimitable style of William Shatner—and grafted it to the "Trouble with Tribbles" episode. It actually works, in a weird, wild, wonderful way.

Star Trek, Having Taken a Stab at Macbeth (Ha!), Turns to Romeo and Juliet

“By Any Other Name.” By D.C. Fontana and Jerome Bixby. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, and Walter Koenig. Dir. Marc Daniels. Star Trek. Season 2, episode 22. NBC. 23 February 1968. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

I have seen this episode listed with the annotation "Kirk misquotes a line from Romeo and Juliet"—but he doesn't. One may object to his delivery, but not to his accuracy.

[Update: Yes, he does misquote the line. I can't think how I missed it before, but Kirk says "any other name"; the line actually reads "any other word." Thank you. —Bardfilm]

[Update to the update: No, he doesn't misquote the line. Apparently, he's quoting from Q1, which has "name." Q2 through Q4 have "word," as does the First Folio, but Kirk has clearly spent his time at the Folger Shakespeare Library studying their copy of Q1. Thanks again! —Bardfilm]

In this episode, some crazy aliens have taken on human form and intend to take the crew of the Enterprise back with them to their home world. Wistfully, Captain Kirk quotes from "a great human poet, Shakespeare."

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Although it's never been publicly recognized (to my knowledge), the episode goes on to borrow themes from Othello: Spock, an Iago analogue, helps defeat the aliens by increasing their emotions—notably, jealousy. If I had the resources (among with I include time), I would dub over some of Spock's speeches to the chief male alien with Iago's lines, creating something truly rich and strange. Though perhaps more strange than rich. Some day, perhaps.

Is this the Promised End of Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete?

“Is there in Truth no Beauty?” By Jean Lisette Aroeste. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, and Walter Koenig. Dir. Ralph Senensky. Star Trek. Season 3, episode 5. NBC. 18 October 1968. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

Pride goeth.

I'm not quite sure how I missed it, but I took one more look at the Memory Alpha Shakespeare Page, noting as I did so that my own ideas about an Anthony and Cleopatra connection in "Elaan of Troyius" had been incorporated into that page, and I found a Shakespeare quote that I had missed completely.

I've written on “Is there in Truth no Beauty?” before (for which, q.v.), but I neglected to note a direct quote from The Tempest.

After giving us a bit of Byron (included here as a bonus for those who like a little English Romanticism as a side to their Bardolotry), Spock (who is sort of combined with an alien creature named Kollos at this point—again, I'll spare you the details) quotes The Tempest, pointedly calling up the most famous speech by the Miranda of The Tempest and delivering it to the Miranda in the Star Trek episode who is the other Miranda's namesake:

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The speech, spoken by Miranda in Shakespeare's play, is delivered, instead, to Miranda in the Star Trek episode. She replies with the comment Prospero makes in the play.

I still have an inkling that there's more of Othello than The Tempest about this episode, centered as it is on the theme of jealousy. But I can't deny the quotation.

I also can't deny that Kollos later says, through Spock, "This thing you call language, though—most remarkable. You depend on it for so very much. But is any one of you really its master?" Is this the equivalent to Caliban's "You gave me language, and my profit on't / Is . . . I know how to curse" (I.ii.363-64)?

And a bit later still, Captain Kirk says this to Miranda: "With my words, I'll make you hear such ugliness as Spock saw when he looked at Kollos with his naked eyes. The ugliness is within you!" Is that Hamlet's speech to Gertrude? Hamlet, after all, says, "Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge; / You go not till I set you up a glass / Where you may see the inmost part of you" (III.iv.18-20). Similarities may be found here.

Humbled, I note that these are the last Shakespeare allusions I've been able to find in the Star Trek universe. There may be others, and I'm open to having them pointed out to me!

Star Trek Sonnet 57
“Plato’s Stepchildren.” By Meyer Dolinsky. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, Michael Dunn, Barbara Babcock, Liam Sullivan, Ted Scott, Derek Partridge, and William Blackburn. Dir. David Alexander. Star Trek. Season 3, episode 10. NBC. 22 November 1968. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

Late in its run, The Original Series turned to the sonnets, giving inspiration and helpful hints to Poetry Slam Participants the world over (the trick is to crawl on your stomach, acting as if every word is being forced from your body against your will).

That's what's happening to Captain Kirk, anyway. The bad guy wants to be entertained, and he's able to force Kirk to recite Shakespeare sonnets—or, to be precise, at least Sonnet 57. Take a look at that section first (other sections will be inserted below).

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Here's the sonnet in question:
LVII.

Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend,
Nor services to do, till you require.
Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour
Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour
When you have bid your servant once adieu;
Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought
Save, where you are how happy you make those.
So true a fool is love that in your will,
Though you do any thing, he thinks no ill.
Before you complain that Kirk's delivery isn't absolutely top-notch, look at the act he's following:

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Yep, that's Mr. Spock, smiling! He hasn't smiled since the pilot episode! And what's that he's saying / reciting (together with Captain Kirk)?
I'm Tweedledee; he's Tweedledum:
Two spacemen marching to a drum.
We slith among the mimsey toves
And gyre among the borogoves.
My goodness. That's even worse than the "Very bad poetry" that Mr. Spock critiqued when they met the witches! Even a crawling, forced delivery of Sonnet 57 will be better than that!

But, I suppose, there is some interest in Kirk's choice of sonnet (or is it the bad guy's choice?): "Being your slave" catches up the idea of how foolish it is to think that, whatever the beloved may do, it cannot be ill. Perhaps there's something, too, in the fact that Kirk doesn't complete the quatrain, breaking off before the final word. But maybe that's just Dr. McCoy's interruption.

For those of you who would like to see the complete sequence, here are the two parts put back together:

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"Wink of an Eye": Shakespeare-Inspired Star Trek Title


“Wink of an Eye.” By Arthur Heinemann. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Nichelle Nichols. Dir. Stephen Kandel. Star Trek. Season 3, episode 11. NBC. 29 November 1968. DVD. Paramount, 2007.


I'm indebted to the good people of Memory Alpha and their post on William Shakespeare for this Shakespeare reference.

It falls into the category of Shakespearean titles for Star Trek episodes. "Wink of an Eye" is a phrase whose first extant use is in Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale. The character who speaks it is "First Gentleman"; his main role is to report the events surrounding the off-stage recovery of the King's lost daughter. In his exit line, he declares himself anxious to get back to seeing the spectacle rather than reporting on it: "Who would be thence that has the benefit of access? Every wink of an eye some new grace will be born. Our absence makes us unthrifty to our knowledge. Let's along" (V.ii.109-12).

The title card above will suffice as evidence of this Shakespearean title, but a relevant excerpt from The Oxford English Dictionary would not be amiss (click on the image below to enlarge it):


[Editor's Note: I wonder why the phrase "It happened in a nictitation of the eyelid" never became common.]

Making deeper connections between the episode and the play from which its title may be taken cannot be made with any certainty. The phrase had become, by the 1960s, common enough that its use here may not be specifically from Shakespeare. However, there is one interesting parallel. The episode involves beings who live at such a high rate of speed that other beings appear to be statues; the play involves a woman who appears to be a statue but who [spoiler alert] re-animates herself at the end of the play. But I won't press that point!

Trekking of a Shrew: Star Trek's version of The Taming of the Shrew

“Elaan of Troyius.” By John Meredyth Lucas. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and France Nguyen Van-Nga. Dir. John Meredyth Lucas. Star Trek. Season 3, episode 13. NBC. 20 December 1968. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

The old saying goes, "First Season, Hamlet, Second Season, Romeo and Juliet, Third Season, Taming."

Actually, I don't know of an old saying that says that, but perhaps we can start that here (although my attempt to make the phrase "It wouldn't be a cliché if it weren't true" into a cliché never caught on). The old / new saying is at least true of ST: TOS.

In this episode, the Enterprise must transport a shrew who needs, at the very least, civilizing, if not actual taming. Or that's what the opening sequence suggests.

The "Elaan of Troius" episode is frequently cited as a Taming spin-off. But, honestly? It seems to have throwing dishes and not wanting to be married in common with the Elizabeth Taylor film version, but not too much else. On the other hand, that's enough! Enjoy!

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"Elaan of Troyius": Alternate Allusions to Shakespeare

“Elaan of Troyius.” By John Meredyth Lucas. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and France Nguyen Van-Nga. Dir. John Meredyth Lucas. Star Trek. Season 3, episode 13. NBC. 20 December 1968. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

Photo Caption: France Nguyen, as Elaan of Troyius, quotes Hamlet, I.v.94 (part of Hamlet's father's ghost's speech to Hamlet).

The last time I wrote about "Elaan of Troyius" (for which, q.v.), I was following the conventional wisdom that says that the episode is a derivative version of The Taming of the Shrew.

And there are elements of Taming there. Elaan is a female character operating out of the normal bounds of her society, forced by a patriarchal system that she despises to marry when and whom they want her to marry. No wonder, margianlized as she is, that she starts throwing things at Captain Kirk! Who wouldn't? (Then again, many people have wanted to throw things at Captain Kirk, not all of them marginalized, oppressed female characters!)

But, beyond this character transplantation, there's not much in the way of plot borrowing from Taming.

However, the episode does quote from Hamlet (see the caption of the photo above) and (I'd like to make the case for this) does allude to Antony and Cleopatra.

First, the outfit, the behaviour, the treatment, and the attitude of Elaan herself is very similar to Cleopatra's (in Shakespeare's play). She also has astonishing control over men—in the episode, it's by use of tears with certain sci. fi. chemical properties; in the play, it's love.

One remarkable place where the two overlap is on the bridge of The Enterprise. As you know, Cleopatra proves disastrously distracting to Antony during the Battle of Actium. Elaan proves similarly distracting to Captain Kirk when the Klingons are attacking:

Elaan's declaration "I want to be by your side" is met with a curt "Your presence here is interfering with my efficiency" from Captain Curt—I mean "Kirk." They leave the bridge at that point.

Later, Kirk breaks into Antony's soliloquy "I have fled myself; and have instructed cowards / To run and show their shoulders" (III.xi.8-9).

No, he doesn't, really. But he might as well have!

Perhaps the connection could be more firmly substantiated between this episode and "The Perfect Mate" episode from Star Trek: The Next Generation. But at least the Hamlet quote is unequivocally from Shakespeare. After all, where else would you find the phrase "Remember me"?

Shakespeare, Sonnet XVIII, and Star Trek

“Whom Gods Destroy.” By Lee Erwin. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, and George Takei. Dir. Herb Wallerstein. Star Trek. Season 3, episode 14. NBC. 3 January 1969. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

The sonnets are not as often the subject of Shakespeare and Film related material as we might expect. The BBC's A Waste of Shame (for which, q.v.) is the only full-length film treatment of the subject matter of the sonnets that I can think of. More often, sonnets are simply a way to call a certain flavor—usually a romantic flavor—into a film.

As is its wont, Star Trek does something weirder than that. In this case, some insane aliens have taken over the psychiatric ward. One of them recites a poem she wrote this morning (and then goes on with an old, old joke—you'll see):

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Here's the sonnet in its entirety—I typed it up this morning!
Sonnet XVIII
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Echoes of The Tempest in Star Trek Episodes

“Menagerie, Part I.” By Gene Roddenberry. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, and George Takei. Dir. Marc Daniels. Star Trek. Season 1, episode 11. NBC. 17 November 1966. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

“Is there in Truth no Beauty?” By Jean Lisette Aroeste. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, and Walter Koenig. Dir. Ralph Senensky. Star Trek. Season 3, episode 5. NBC. 18 October 1968. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

“Requiem for Methuselah.” By Jerome Bixby. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, and Walter Koenig. Dir. Murray Golden. Star Trek. Season 3, episode 19. NBC. 14 February 1969. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

It may be grasping at straws, but three episodes of Star Trek (The Original Series) seem to have plots similar to the plot of The Tempest. Unlike a quotation from or an allusion to Shakespeare—and unlike a derivative version of one of Shakespeare’s plots—these Shakespearean plot echoes are less tangible—less certain—but they are still conceivable.

The first and last listed above (“Menagerie, Part I” and “Requiem for Methuselah”) have what might be called “Brave New World” moments. In the first, the crew discovers the survivors of a spaceshipwreck; the youngest was only a baby when they crashed and has never seen anyone other than the scientists with whom she was shipwrecked (something of a derivative of Forbidden Planet—which is, itself, a derivative of The Tempest—here).

The last seems even more akin to both The Tempest and Forbidden Planet (there’s even an extremely powerful robot programmed to defend its master—which is, by the way, a connection to Forbidden Planet rather than The Tempest, though Caliban serves as a model for the robot in that film). In “Requiem for Methuselah,” an older man and his young and beautiful ward are living along on a planet. For Rayna, the ward, the arrival of Kirk (et al.) reveals the “brave new world” filled with “many happy creatures.” The older man’s jealousy is akin to Prospero’s reluctance to have his daughter marry Ferdinand too quickly.


"At last I've seen other humans" = "O brave new world"

“Is there in Truth no Beauty?”—the middle episode—is slightly more tangential. It has a character named Miranda, but she’s not unacquainted with other people. She becomes intensely jealous of anyone who becomes too familiar with the ambassador that she is transporting. The ambassador is a Medusan—a being of pure internal beauty . . . and absolutely repugnant to human sight. Could this be Caliban?

The connections between these three episodes and The Tempest are intriguing, but they cannot be completely substantiated.

Next time, I’ll argue that “Elaan of Troyius,” the episode most frequently cited as a parallel to The Taming of the Shrew, has more affinities with Antony and Cleopatra—and even a Hamlet-related moment! Stay tuned!

P.S. The "Requiem for Methuselah" episode needs some clarification, especially in light of the Wikipedia article on it, which currently states that Flint possesses "original copies of Shakespeare" (which I take to mean manuscripts in Shakespeare's hand). The older man on the planet has lived for centuries. He was Johannes Brahms, Leonardo Da Vinci, and many other famous people—but he was not necessarily Shakespeare. The Wikipedia entry is misleading in this regard (at least, it is in its current incarnation). Flint (the older man) owns a First Folio of Shakespeare (see image below), but there's no indication that he has any manuscripts in Shakespeare's hand. I'd correct the Wikipedia entry, but it's nice to be smug about something! Indeed, that may be what Flint is feeling so smug about in the image below.



Two Additional Shakespeare Allusions in Star Trek: The Animated Series

“The Practical Joker.” By Chuck Menville. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, and George Takei. Dir. Hal Sutherland. Star Trek: The Animated Series. Season 2, episode 3. NBC. 21 September 1974. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

Star Trek: The Animated Series offers a quote from King Lear late in its run. Earlier, it provided two near quotations.

The first is based on a speech from 1 Henry IV. Falstaff says, "The better pat of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have sav'd my life" (V.iv.119-21). Kirk's version is the usual paraphrase: "Discretion is the better part of valour."

Kirk also modifies Polonius' "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't" (II.ii.205-06), giving us "There is a method to this madness” in place of the more cumbersome phrase:

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And the idea that The Enterprise is seeking revenge makes the entire episode into a Hamlet derivative!

Well . . . not really. But you can see how easy it is to get carried away.

Animated Star Trek, Animated Shakespeare
“How Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth.” By Russell Bates and David Wise. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, and George Takei. Dir. Bill Reed. Star Trek: The Animated Series. Season 2, episode 5. NBC. 5 October 1974. DVD. Paramount, 2006.

We leave behind The Original Series for the time being, planning to return to it later to examine a few plot similarities between it and various Shakespeare plays.

Our next stop is at a place I didn’t even know existed—at least, not until I spotted it at our local library about two years ago: Star Trek: The Animated Series!

The only Shakespeare reference that I noticed in the series is both a title reference and a quote. The episode itself is mainly forgettable. An ancient Aztec alien returns to earth to see how his children are getting along, and he finds that they don’t need him anymore. Hence the aptness of the title and the quote. Because the reference is so brief, I’m not including a clip; however, I offer these subtitled screen shots for your edification:




Don't be Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth

“How Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth.” By Russell Bates and David Wise. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, and George Takei. Dir. Bill Reed. Star Trek: The Animated Series. Season 2, episode 5. NBC. 5 October 1974. DVD. Paramount, 2006.

Let's avoid the sharpness of serpent's teeth all the time—but particularly on Thanksgiving.

As a reminder and an object lesson, here's a clip from Star Trek: The Animated Series! Animated Kirk begins the clip by saying "Just an old, lonely being who wanted to help others." That's not a direct reference to Lear—it's to some sort of ancient Aztec alien that they've just encountered. But it might actually be one way of reading his character.

In any case, the message is the same. We desire others to be thankful:

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And keep those serpent's teeth to yourselves!

Spock Displays his Well-Rounded, Liberal Arts Education

Star Trek: The Voyage Home. Dir. Leonard Nimoy. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and George Takei. 1986. DVD. Paramount, 2003.

And so, we move to the motion pictures (though I will get to the episodes that are just title references and to ST: TNG—don't you worry).

The Original Series offered considerable scope. In the movies, Hamlet takes the upper hand. Is it because the studios can't afford to be as obscure in a feature film?

In any case, The Voyage Home offers only a small quotation from Hamlet. But, for those of you who know its plot, they could have shoved in a quick "Very like a whale" every now and then!

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Quotation from King Lear in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier?

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Dir. William Shatner. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and George Takei. 1989. DVD. Paramount, 2005.

I'm not sure that much commentary is necessary here; the image says it all.

A Klingon character in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier utters a near-quotation from King Lear. In Shakespeare's play, the quotation has two additional words:
I am a very foolish fond old man. (V.vii.59)

Discoveries in The Undiscovered Country

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Dir. Nicholas Meyer. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and George Takei. 1991. DVD. Paramount, 2004.

After this post, we'll move from The Undiscovered Country to other matters, but an examination of the use of Shakespeare in that film has led my mind into tangential territory that I find interesting.

All the Shakespeare in that film is given to the villain. The good guys just watch as their author is misused, abused, appropriated, and twisted—all without even so much as a "base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave" directed at him.

I've repeatedly said that Shylock's "Hath not a Jew" speech is almost impossible to play unsympathetically. In my research for posts on this film (especially on the Nazi use of Shakespeare in the Second World War), I discovered that a version of Merchant of Venice was broadcast on German radio—as incitement to anti-Semitism—on the day before Kristellnacht.

Shylock must have been portrayed with all the worst presumed characteristics of Jews. But I wonder. Could no one hear those lines sympathetically? In the aftermath, did no one think of those words and reconsider?

In the clip I posted in the previous entry, General Chang says the lines, and we fail to sympathize. But, of course, he hasn't been tickled, he hasn't been pricked, and he hasn't even been wronged. Therefore, his claims are ludicrous—we don't have to accept the conclusion of "Hath not a Klingon" because we don't have to accept the premise. But it was surely different in Germany in 1938.

Wasn't it?

Pulling Out All the Stops: Allusions to Six Plays (and Two Sherlock Holmes References [one a Shakespeare quote] as a Bonus) in Star Trek VI

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Dir. Nicholas Meyer. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and George Takei. 1991. DVD. Paramount, 2004.

In the grand conclusion to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, General Chang gets a little carried away, piling reference upon reference, allusion upon allusion, and quotation upon quotation from Shakespeare into his militaristic taunting. Including the trial scene, we are treated to excerpts or paraphrases (or translations into Klingon) of no less than six plays: Richard II, Henry V, Hamlet (in Klingon), The Merchant of Venice, Henry V (again), The Tempest, Julius Caesar, Julius Caesar (again), and—finally and conclusively—Hamlet (in English).

I've collated them—and all the other Shakespeare allusions in the film—into the clip below, and I've provided the quotes (as uttered in the film, not as printed in authoritative sources) below the clip below. For the Klingon, I used The Klingon Hamlet (for a link, see below), so its spelling must pass as authoritative.

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The undiscovered country.
Hamlet, III.i.78
taH pagh taHbe'.
Hamlet, Klingon Translation, III.i.55
To be or not to be, that is the question.
Hamlet, III.i.55
A brave new world.
The Tempest, V.i.184
Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Romeo and Juliet, II.ii.184
Have we not heard the chimes at midnight?
2 Henry IV, III.ii.214
Let us sit upon the ground / And tell sad stories of the death of kings.
Richard II, III.ii.155-56
. . . assume a pleasing shape.
Hamlet, II.ii.599-600
Once more unto the breach, dear friends!
Henry V, III.i.1
taH pagh taHbe'.
Hamlet, Klingon Translation, III.i.55
Tickle us, do we not laugh? Prick us, do we not bleed? Wrong us, shall we not revenge?
The Merchant of Venice, III.i.64-66
The game's afoot!
Henry V, III.i.32
Our revels now are ended.
The Tempest, IV.i.148
Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war!
Julius Caesar, III.i.273
I am constant as the northern star.
Julius Caesar, III.i.60
To be or not to be.
Hamlet, III.i.55
[Dr. McCoy's comment ("I'd give real money if he'd shut up") is not from Shakespeare, though it may move us as much.]

Please note that one last brief allusion (incorporated into the video clip above) is found in the mouth of another bad guy ("gal," I suppose, really). Hamlet says that "the devil hath power / T'assume a pleasing shape" (II.ii.599-600). This baddie admits to having the same power:


Update (6 August 2012): The phrase "undiscovered country" is repeated at least twice more (once in the plural) in the course of the film—toward the film's end. Here are two still frames showing those quotations:



Mix One Part Hamlet, One Part Tempest, One Part Romeo and Juliet, and One Part Henry IV, Part 2. Mix Well.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Dir. Nicholas Meyer. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and George Takei. 1991. DVD. Paramount, 2004.

We're still in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country today, mining it for more Shakespearean fragments. I didn't offer a lot of commentary on the previous clip (the one that ends with Chekov looking skeptical at Shakespeare "in the original Klingon"). The reason that is so funny (and the reason I left the reference to "Earth—Hitler—1938" in the clip below) is the Nazi appropriation of Shakespeare in World War II. The common story is that the Nazis claimed that Shakespeare had really been written in German, but the English translated him into English and stole him away from his rightful heritage. I haven't found that claim in a scholarly source, though I have found statements noting that Shakespeare was to be treated as a German author when non-German playwrights were banned.

In the clip below, you get not one—not two—not three—but four, four, FFFFFOUUURRRR Shakespeare references for the price of one!

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Klingon Appropriation of Hamlet

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Dir. Nicholas Meyer. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and George Takei. 1991. DVD. Paramount, 2004.

Some of my favorite connections between Shakespeare and Star Trek come in this film. In this scene, we are reminded that Shakespeare, as we know him, is only an English translation of the far-superior original:

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Shakespeare in the Next Generation

“Encounter at Farpoint.” By D. C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Denise Crosby, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, and DeForest Kelley. Dir. Corey Allen. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 1, episode 1. Syndicated television. 28 September 1987. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

It doesn't take long for The Next Generation to pick up the habit of incorporating Shakespeare into its dialogue. In the very first episode, Picard pulls out that delightful line from Henry VI, Part II as a critique of the strange courtroom experience the crew is having:

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Shakespeare and Star Trek Week is Here!

“Naked Now.” By J. Michael Bingham and John D.F. Black. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, and Michael Dorn. Dir. Paul Lynch. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 1, episode 2. Syndicated television. 5 October 1987. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

You have been remarkably patient, waiting through many tangential topics and Shakespearean haiku—not to mention other hurly-burly, helter-skelter, pell-mell miscellanea. But it's here at last. Shakespeare and Star Trek week has arrived.

I thought about beginning with the first ever Shakespeare reference in a Star Trek episode / film / spin-off, but I thought it would be better to segue there through a Merchant of Venice-related moment.

I've said that the "Hath not a Jew" speech is almost impossible to play unsympathetically. I wouldn't say that this version is unsympathetic, exactly—it's more humorous than anything—but it could be construed at mocking. However, I think we should take it in the spirit in which it's delivered: funny.

To set the scene, I'll tell you that Data is an android who has aspirations to be truly human. In this episode, a virus is sweeping the ship, making those who are infected with it behave as if they were intoxicated. As an android, Data should be immune, but he starts behaving in the following odd manner:

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One more Shakespeare Quote from a Q Episode

“Hide & Q.” By C. J. Holland and Gene Roddenberry. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Denise Crosby, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, and John de Lancie. Dir. Cliff Bole. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 1, episode 10. Syndicated television. 23 November 1987. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

They always seem to quote from Shakespeare when Q shows up. I'm not entirely sure why, but I think it may have to do with the idea that Q seeks to understand human nature—and who has more to say about the emotions and actions of human beings than Shakespeare?

At the end of "Hide and Q," an episode in which Picard and Q exchange Shakespeare quotes (for which, q.v.), Data gives us a brief quote from Polonius as a way of indicating why the crew wants to be who they are:


Polonius' speech to Laertes is awfully long-winded, but it concludes with those eminently-quotable lines—and the ones that must follow as the night the day: "And it must follow as the night the day / Thou canst not then be false to any man" (I.iii.79-80). Apparently, that bit of Polonius' advice is as applicable far in the future as it was in the past.

Bonus! Video clip of this Shakespeare quote!

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Shakespeare's Enduring Legacy, Imaginatively Extended to A.D. 2363

“Hide & Q.” By C. J. Holland and Gene Roddenberry. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Denise Crosby, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, and John de Lancie. Dir. Cliff Bole. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 1, episode 10. Syndicated television. 23 November 1987. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

The second Shakespeare reference in The Next Generation takes place in the second episode (for which, q.v.). The third reference comes along with the second appearance of the entity known as Q.

Q is an omniscient, omnipotent entity who shows up periodically to tease or to test the human beings on the Enterprise. In this scene, he's thumbing through Picard's Globe Illustrated Shakespeare . He give us a bit of Hamlet, followed by a modernized-to-the-year-2363 version of Jaques' "All the world's a stage" speech from As You LIke It. A sampling of Macbeth follows, to which Picard responds with some more Hamlet, specifically, this:
What a piece of work is a man. How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty. In form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel—in apprehension how like a god!
Picard says he's saying this sincerely—without Hamlet's irony and without (though he doesn't say this outright) Hamlet's "Yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust" that tends to take the edge off the lines. When Picard compares man to a god, Q (who is an omniscient, omnipotent entity, remember—something of a god himself) is appalled. And rightly so!

What we tend to forget about that speech, especially when it's taken out of context, is that Hamlet is talking to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who have already admitted that they are working for the King. Although Hamlet's purposes in uttering this in particular to people he knows will report what he says to his nemesis are unclear, it is clear that we can't take it at face value. At face value, it's quite an appalling claim!

I prefer the passage that may lie at the back of it: Psalm 8:3-5.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
But back to the scene in question. Here it is!

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“Conspiracy.” By Tracy Tormé and Robert Sabaroff. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Denise Crosby, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, and Wil Wheaton. Dir. Cliff Bole. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 1, episode 25. Syndicated television. 9 May 1988. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

Every time I think my Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete post is complete, I find just one more reference to Shakespeare.

Near the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation's first season, the captain of the USS Enterprise has a secret meeting with the captains of three other starships. One of those ships is named the USS Horatio.

Some may think that the starship is named for Horatio Nelson, but I think it more likely to have been named after the character in Hamlet. Watch the salient points in the clip below and see if you don't agree:

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Alas, poor Horatio.

The Horatio is an ambassador-class vessel. In Hamlet, Horatio's involvement with the new reign of Fortinbras at the end of the play makes him a de facto ambassador. The Horatio is associated with a large amount of wreckage. In Hamlet, Horatio is associated with all those dead bodies lying around the stage. It's pretty clear that the ship is named after the character in Hamlet, making this one more Shakespeare allusion in Star Trek.

Note: For more connections between Hamlet and Star Trek, try The Noble Heart of Star Trek, a recent project by a student at The George Washington University. 

Data Quotes Sherlock Holmes Quoting Shakespeare

“Elementary, Dear Data.” By Brian Alan Lane. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Diana Muldaur, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Rob Bowman. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 2, episode 3. Syndicated television. 3 December 1988. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

Completing my collection of Shakespeare references in Star Trek (for which, q.v.) has proven more difficult than I thought it would be. This week, I'll be adding a few small moments that I overlooked—even though I wonder if some of them count.

For example, is it Shakespeare when the person being quoted is clearly Sherlock Holmes—even if Sherlock Holmes is quoting from Shakespeare? In this clip, Data has taken on the role of Holmes, and he concludes his deductions with "The Game's afoot" (Henry V, III.i.32).

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Data does extend Shakespeare's original contraction to "The game is afoot," but he doesn't extend "afoot" to "a foot," which would create an interesting image.

Star Trek and Sonnet 18

“The Schizoid Man.” By Tracy Torme and Gene Roddenberry. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Les Landau. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 2, episode 6. Syndicated television. 23 January 1989. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

Shakespeare's sonnets come up with surprising frequency in Star Trek episodes. Captain Kirk was forced to recite Sonnet 57; here, Captain Picard freely relates the closing couplet of Sonnet 18. In the episode, he does so to indicate the realization he's come to—that someone else's brain has been downloaded into Data's head (So long lives Data's head, it will give life to that second brain). Yeah, I know. Weird.

But that's only the ostensible meaning of the couplet in this context. The more significant part (and the part that's developing into an overarching thesis about Star Trek's Shakespeare use) is that Shakespeare's words allow humanity the opportunity to understand themselves better. In this imaginary, science fiction context, "So long lives this" is wrapped up in the futuristic setting. Shakespeare's words have lived this long; humanity will live this long, too.

Here's the clip; the full sonnet follows it.

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XVIII.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Star Trek and Sonnet 29

“The Measure of a Man.” By Melinda M. Snodgrass. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Robert Scheerer. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 2, episode 9. Syndicated television. 13 February 1989. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

Not long after the last quotation from a Shakespeare sonnet, The Next Generation returned with another. This time, the opening lines of Sonnet 29 give the characters the opportunity to contemplate the piece of work that is a man.

The question in this episode is whether Data, an android, is the property of Star Fleet or whether he has autonomy. The character who reads the sonnet wants to take him apart to learn more about him; not unreasonable, Data has objected and announced his resignation from Star Fleet.

But, once again, that's the surface level of the use of the sonnet here. Data, in attempting to become human, allows the other characters (and, of course, the audience) to think about what it means to be human. The rest of the sonnet (see below) is one way to answer that question.

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XXIX.

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Data as Henry V

“The Defector.” By Ronald D. Moore. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, and Michael Dorn. Dir. Robert Scheerer. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 3, episode 10. Syndicated television. 1 January 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

Chronologically, the clip below precedes the one in my previous post. This encounter that the Enterprise has with Shakespeare is one I've already written about. But that was a long time ago in a galaxy far . . . oh, wait a minute. Wrong Star-related quotation.

In any case, Data plays the role of Henry V in this holodeck presentation of the play:

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Playing the Dane v. Channeling the Swan; or, Shakespeare and Star Trek—The Enduring Legacy

“The Defector.” By Ronald D. Moore. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, and Michael Dorn. Dir. Robert Scheerer. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 3, episode 10. Syndicated television. 1 January 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.


There is a distinct difference between "playing the Dane" (i.e., "jumping the shark") and merely "channeling the Swan."

[Those sound like three different and complicated dives we'll see during the summer olympics this year, but they're meant to indicate ways of incorporating Shakespeare into a television show.]

Star Trek—whether original, next, or miscellaneous—frequently channels the Swan, but I don't think it can be said to play the Dane when it does so.

In the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation , Data and Captain Picard work on a scene from Henry V. Though it's not the best Henry V you'll ever see, it's not too bad. In a later post, I'll show you a Henry V to decry to the ages!

In the meantime, try this scene on for size:

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"Do you believe these . . ." allusions to Shakespeare in Star Trek?

“Yesterday's Enterprise.” By Ira Steven Behr. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner. Dir. David Carson. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 3, episode 15. Syndicated television. 17 February 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

The line I cite in this post is almost certainly not deliberately drawn from Shakespeare—but only almost certainly.

The episode contains this line: "Do you believe this . . . Guinan?"

Perhaps the connection is more between the way the line is delivered in a film version of Hamlet that I've seen very frequently, but I hear an echo of a line Polonius delivers to Ophelia: "Do you believe his . . . tenders, as you call them?" (I.iii.101).

I include both lines in the clip below. You be the judge:

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Note: Polonius' quote above comes from Hamlet. Dir. Kevin Kline. Perf. Kevin Kline and Diane Venora. 1990. DVD. Image Entertainment, 1990.

It was a television show. Take it for all in all, we shall not look upon its like again.

“The Most Toys.” By Shari Goodhartz. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Tim Bond. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 3, episode 22. Syndicated television. 5 May 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

We return to Shakespeare and Star Trek with a moment that most of the commentators have missed.

In this episode, Data is stolen away by an enormously devoted Trekkie, but the other members of the crew think he has blown up. Captain Picard, glancing at a copy of Shakespeare he had previously given Data, finds a bookmark on the page where Horatio questions Hamlet about Hamlet's father. It becomes a statement on the humanity of Data:

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Star Trek Deconstructs the Romantic Use of the Sonnets

“Ménage à Troi.” By Fred Bronson and Susan Sackett. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, and Michael Dorn. Dir. Robert Legato. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 3, episode 24. Syndicated television. 10 June 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

And sometimes, Shakespeare and Star Trek just get silly.

I've written about this episode before, mentioning the slight inaccuracies in the quotations and the unamused look on Worf's face, but I didn't include a clip of all the silliness that surrounds them.

We're treated to sections of Sonnets 147 and 141, after which we jump to Sonnet 18. A smattering of Othello rounds out the jealousy Picard is attempting to portray. Then Picard adds a sliver of Alfred, Lord Tennyson—just to round things off.

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Shakespeare and Star Trek

“Ménage à Troi.” By Fred Bronson and Susan Sackett. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, and Michael Dorn. Dir. Robert Legato. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 3, episode 24. Syndicated television. 10 June 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.


Image Caption:

Worf is uncertain about Shakespearean love poetry.

I was attempting to clean out a folder of images, and I came across these. At some point, we may have to have "Shakespeare and Star Trek week" at Bardfilm (there's enough material, believe it or not, for a large number of posts), but that will have to wait. In the meantime, I have these screenshots of Jean-Luc Picard quoting Shakespeare sonnets to establish his love for Deanna Troi's mother.


A slight misquotation. Sonnet 147 begins with these lines: "My love is as a fever, longing still / For that which longer nurseth the disease."


Back on track, Picard continues the line in perfect iambic pentameter.


Switching to Sonnet 141, Picard quotes with greater accuracy.


Picard counts backward to see if he has quoted the lines with precision. He's checking for pentameter while ignoring iambs at this point.

"The fault is not in our Stars but in our Trek."

“Legacy.” By Joe Menosky. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Robert Scheerer. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 4, episode 6. Syndicated television. 29 October 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

In this clip, Captain Picard alludes to Cassius' speech tempting Brutus in Julius Caesar:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. (I.ii.140-41)
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Juliet at Darmok

“Darmok.” By Joe Menosky and Phillip LaZebnik. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and Paul Winfield. Dir. Winrich Kolbe. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 5, episode 2. Syndicated television. 30 September 1991. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

The Star Trek episode "Darmok" is much more often noted for its interest for linguists and linguistics than for anything Shakespearean. There's far more Gilgamesh, actually, than Shakespeare in it! However, there is an intriguing reference halfway through.

The premise of the episode is that communication with the aliens is impossible. The universal translator can translate some of the things they say ("when the walls fell," for example), but these sporadic phrases make little to no sense in the context. Eventually, the crew discovers that the Tamarians use a language that is almost entirely metaphoric (leaving Saussure, Derrida, and Lévi-Straus out of it for the moment). Here's their discussion of the problem:

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Interesting, yes? But it's even more complicated than that. The image of Juliet on her balcony used as an example here does not have to be an image of romance. It could be an image of anticipation or loneliness or patriarchal oppression or imminent disaster! It could even be an advertising image for an architectural firm. In fact, it probably is!

The image in the play is similarly polysemic, presenting almost all these possibilities and more. The complexities of Shakespeare are only compounded by the complexities of language.

And yet, if I tell my beloved that she reminds me of Juliet on her balcony, the context implies one of these concepts to the ultimate exclusion of all others. That's right: an advertising image for an architectural firm.

Can I help it if my beloved designs balconies for a living?*

*She doesn't, really. But it's a bit funnier that way.

Star Trek's Mot the Barber Cites Shakespeare

“Ensign Ro.” By Michael Piller and Rick Berman. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and Michelle Forbes. Dir. Les Landau. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 5, episode 3. Syndicated television. 21 October 1991. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

Brief let me be.

The Barber of The Enterprise rattles on and on at the beginning of this episode—rather like Polonius, come to think of it—until he finally hits upon a quote from Shakespeare. It's a bit like an infinite number of monkeys typing away at a keyboard, I suppose—though that may not really give Mot his due.

In "Ensign Ro," a Shakespearean title is used as dialogue in a Star Trek episode. The more usual course is for a scrap of Shakespearean dialogue to be used as a title in a Star Trek episode.

In any case, here it is:

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The Dark Lady of the Star Trek Sonnets

“The Perfect Mate.” By René Echevarria and Gary Perconte. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and Famke Janssen. Dir. Cliff Bole. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 5, episode 21. Syndicated television. 27 April 1992. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

In a more obscure, more tangential approach to the sonnets, "The Perfect Mate" offers a few tantalizing allusions that are not (necessarily) drawn from any specific sonnet.

The plot seems a bit silly to me. The woman has the ability to detect what a man would want in a wife and to become that very thing. For Captain Picard, such a women would be strong, attractive, mysterious, knowledgeable about cosmic archeology, and (this is the part that seems less silly) something of a Shakespearean.

Alas, the Captain is unable to contemplate matrimony—particularly in this instance: the woman is pledged to marry another.

Take a look at the clip first; I'll return with some commentary after you've done so.

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The conclusion—"I only hope he likes Shakespeare"—isn't a bad exit line.

We're given an allusion to "the dark woman of raven brows and mournful eyes of Shakespeare's Sonnets." The line almost alludes more to a millennia of critical work on the sonnets than to the sonnets themselves, but there are a few lines to which they may be pointing:
Sonnet 130 says that "black wires grow on her head" (4).
Sonnet 127 declares that "my mistress' brows are raven black" (9).
Sonnet 43 reads (in part) ". . . in dreams they look on thee, / And darkly bright are bright in dark directed" (3-4), but that sonnet is usually thought of as addressed to the young man instead of to the dark lady.
I suppose that the sonnet most at work in the twelve-word allusion above is 127. We have the raven-black brows, of course; we have, moreover, the eyes that "mourners seem" (10).
CXXVII.

In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty's name;
But now is black beauty's successive heir,
And beauty slander'd with a bastard shame:
For since each hand hath put on nature's power,
Fairing the foul with art's false borrow'd face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower,
But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress' brows are raven black,
Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem
At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Slandering creation with a false esteem:
Yet so they mourn, becoming of their woe,
That every tongue says beauty should look so.
And there's one last issue: was it cheating to have Mr. Data (as she calls him) help her swot up her Shakespeare to show Captain Picard just how compatible they would be together? Is this the female singer's version of "Brush up your Shakespeare / And the women you will wow?"

Star Trek's Midsummer Night's Dream

“Time’s Arrow, Part 2.” By Jeri Taylor. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Les Landau. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 6, episode 1. Syndicated television. 21 September 1992. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

Shakespeare can be used as an excuse or a distraction. In this clip, it's both. It serves as an excuse to explain the odd behavior of the crew of the Enterprise, who have travelled back in time to Mark Twain's San Franscisco. Ah, they're actors! Putting on a Shakespeare play! What could be more natural? It also serves as a distraction to the comic-relief-providing landlady, who keeps popping in at inopportune moments to demand the rent.

Many of the actors in the Star Trek franchise have performed in Shakespeare elsewhere (Patrick Stewart being the most noted example). I wonder what Data would be like as Puck in a more complete production of the play. Hmmmmm. Well, until that happens, we have his "Wither wander you?" to contemplate:

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Star Trek's Q and Lady Macbeth

“True Q.” By René Echevarria. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, Olivia d'Abo, and John de Lancie. Dir. Robert Scheerer. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 6, episode 6. Syndicated television. 1 November 1992. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

Allow me another genuinely micro micropost.

"True Q" offers another example of Shakespeare that has become part and parcel of ordinary English conversation. Q incidentally quotes from Macbeth, giving us Lady Macbeth's "What's done is done" (III.ii.11-12). I only wish the writers had followed it with Lady Macbeth's similar—but, oh! How different—later quotation: "What’s done cannot be undone" (V.i.64).

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When Captain Picard Shuffled Off

“Tapestry.” By Ronald D. Moore. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and John de Lancie. Dir. Les Landau. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 6, episode 15. Syndicated television. 15 February 1993. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

The last missed reference also comes to us from the contributors to Memory Alpha, who noted a Shakespeare allusion in Season Six. Q reappears—and this sort of thing always seems to happen when Q appears—in Captain Picard's afterlife.

And Shakespeare is there, too.

More specifically, a line Hamlet delivers—"When we have shuffled off this mortal coil . . ." (III.i.66)—is re-delivered there, Q making one small change to Hamlet's line, substituting "the" for "this."

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And there you have it! All the Shakespeare in the Star Trek universe—or all the Shakespeare I've been able to find in The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, and the films. Beyond that I decline to venture. At present.

A Rare Allusion to Cymbeline in Star Trek

“Genesis.” By Brannon Braga. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Dwight Schultz, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Gates McFadden. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 7, episode 19. Syndicated television. 19 March 1994. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

I acknowledge that my previous two (at least) posts about Shakespeare in Star Trek may have been stretching it a bit, but we're back on solid ground here.

In this episode, the hypochondriac Barclay is worried that he may be suffering from a particularly Shakespearean illness: Cymbeline Blood Burn:

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The skeptics among you may point out that the condition is spelled "Symbalene" in the captioning to the episode, and those same skeptics may point to the entry on Symbalene blood burn at Memory Alpha; however, those individuals may have overlooked two important points in their skepticism. First, the disease is likely named for this quote from Shakespeare's Cymbeline:
Thou basest thing, avoid! Hence, from my sight!
If after this command thou fraught the court
With thy unworthiness, thou diest: away!
Thou'rt poison to my blood. (I.i.125-28)
It's clear enough that a poison in the blood was enough to inspire the name of this condition, but the second point clinches it. Barclay had originally thought he was suffering from "Terellian Death Syndrome," which could be spelled "Tyrellian Death Syndrome" to indicate its connection to the character Tyrrel from Richard III. Tyrrel, as you know, is the one who dispatches the two princes in the Tower of London. If any Shakespeare character could be equated with a Death Syndrome, it's Tyrrel.

Star Trek's Tempest

“Emergence.” By Joe Menosky. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Cliff Bole. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 7, episode 23. Syndicated television. 22 May 1994. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

It's been nearly a month since Shakespeare and Star Trek week began here at Bardfilm. I imagine that it's about time to wrap things up with some final clips and some final commentary.

The Tempest is very good on endings. The number of scholars who have considered it to be Shakespeare's farewell to the stage is very great. I think that that may have been in the minds of Star Trek's writers as they neared the end of their seventh—and last—season.

In this episode, Data is trying to put on a production of The Tempest, but he's interrupted: the Enterprise runs amok, goes crazy, and gives birth, which is the reason for Data's confusing remark at the end of the clip (I conflated the beginning and the end of the episode into one file). Please excuse the darkness of the clip: as you'll see, it was Data's decision, not mine, to have it so dark.

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Hamlet and the Merchant of Venice Walk into a Pub in Fair Verona—On Another Planet

“Birthright, Part 1.” By Brannon Braga. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and Paul Winfield. Dir. Winrich Kolbe. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 6, episode 16. Syndicated television. 7 March 1993. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

“The Ensigns of Command.” By Drew Deighan, Ronald D. Moore, and W. Reed Moran. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and Paul Winfield. Dir. Les Landau. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 3, episode 2. Syndicated television. 19 March 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

“The Outrageous Okona.” By Burton Armus. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Billy Campbell, and Whoopi Goldberg. Dir. Robert Becker. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 2, episode 4. Syndicated television. 12 December 1988. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

Since I’ve added to the total sum of human knowledge by pointing out three episodes from the Original Series of Star Trek that draw their plots from Shakespeare, I thought I’d try to double that sum by pointing out three Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes that do the same.

“Birthright, Part 1” is a derivative version of Hamlet. Sort of. In it, Worf has been told that his father—a father treacherously killed—is still alive, and he goes to seek him. Hamlet, of course, finds a ghost; Worf finds a group of Klingons, but not his father.

He does, on the other hand, find a Horatio analogue—one who paraphrases I.ii.211-12 (“I knew your father. / These hands are not more like”) into “I knew your father well, Worf” (see image above).

In “The Ensigns of Command,” a group of aliens called “The Sheliak” are notorious for wanting to stick to the exact wording of a written contract. Eventually, the specifics of the contract itself are employed against them (see the image below, which contains a segment of the Treaty of Armens—Paragraph 1290, the “Third Party Arbitration Clause,” to be specific).

Well, that’s clearly a version of The Merchant of Venice, right?

You might not be convinced—yet. Take another look at the aliens’ name. They are the Sheliak. Sheliak. Shyliak. Shyloiak. Shylock! Yes, Shylock has been extended into an entire alien species, still crying, “I crave the law” (IV.i.206)!


Finally, “The Outrageous Okona” gives us a Romeo and Juliet. Yes, I’m grasping at straws here. There are two households, both alike in dignity, and neither one wants their child to marry the child of the other. Yup. Romeo and Juliet. Only less tragic. And in space.

Next time, there are some miscellaneous things to wrap up, but we are nearly at the end of our lengthy survey of Shakespeare and Star Trek.

Screen Shot Shakespeare: Star Trek Title References to Shakespeare

“Dagger of the Mind.” By S. Bar-David (Pseudonym) [Shimon Wincelberg]. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Nichelle Nichols. Dir. Vincent McEveety. Star Trek. Season 1, episode 9. NBC. 3 November 1966. DVD. Paramount, 2007.

Fairly frequently, the connection between Shakespeare and Star Trek is merely titular. [All right, junior high readers—you can stop laughing now.] The titles are drawn from Shakespeare, in other words, but the plots have only the most superficial connection—if that—to their titles.

Unlike “By Any Other Name” and “Conscience of the King” (for which, q.v. and q.v. respectively), episodes that (more or less—and sometimes less than more, I'll admit) connect their Shakespearean titles with Shakespearean matter in their plots, these episodes, called "titularly parasitical" by a scholar in the field (for which, q.v.), have a title that alludes to Shakespeare but don't do much beyond that. [Junior high readers may need a bit of time here to repeat the phrase "titularly parasitical" a few times amidst giggles. Now we can go on.]

For your convenience, I've provided screen shots of the title cards of these episodes, together with citations (in proper MLA form) for each and (where it seems appropriate) some commentary.

The first connection between Shakespeare and Star Trek is listed and pictured above: “Dagger of the Mind.” The allusion is to Macbeth, naturally, but the plot doesn't take us too far along those lines. It's about a prisoner who escapes from the Tantalus Penal Colony. [Hello? Junior high readers? Can we come back to the subject for a minute? Please? All right. Quiet down now. Quiet! That's better. Thanks.] Anyway, he's from this penal colony [Oh, come on!] where they make the prisoners see what they want them to see. That's all. Except here's a screen shot of the pharmaceutical delivery that begins the episode:




“All our Yesterdays.” By Jean Lisette Aroeste. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and James Doohan. Dir. Marvin Chomsky. Star Trek. Season 3, episode 23. NBC. 14 March 1969. DVD. Paramount, 2008.

In "All our Yesterdays," time travel saves people at the end of their civilization. The Shakespearean title gives it a tone that "People Jump Backward in Time Before their Planet Explodes" didn't really have. The allusion in the title is to Macbeth's "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" speech. I suppose something could be made of the way the civilization stands at its "last syllable of recorded time"—but I'm not going to do it.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Dir. William Shatner. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and George Takei. 1989. DVD. Paramount, 2005.

I suppose the allusion in the title here might be considered more illusionary. In my mind, I connect the "final frontier" with the border "from whose bourn / No traveller returns" of Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy. But I could be convinced that they have very little in common. This is not true of the next title, however.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Dir. Nicholas Meyer. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and George Takei. 1991. DVD. Paramount, 2003.

Clearly, the reference here is to the "Undiscovered country from whose bourn / No traveller returns," although one of the Klingon commanders defines it as "the future" (for which, q.v.). In this film, Bones and Kirk think that they will never return when are sentenced to life imprisonment on a penal asteroid. [That's enough, junior high readers! Oh, I give up.]


“Remember Me.” By Lee Sheldon. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Denise Crosby, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, and Wil Wheaton. Dir. Cliff Bole. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 4, episode 5. Syndicated television. 22 October 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

Hamlet's father's ghost gets the credit for this allusion.


“Devil’s Due.” By Philip Lazebnik and William Douglas Lansford. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Tom Benko. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 4, episode 13. Syndicated television. 4 February 1991. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

All right—this one is very tentative. Shakespeare uses the phrase "to give the devil his due" twice (in 1 Henry IV and in Henry V).


“The Mind’s Eye.” By René Echevarria and Ken Schaefer. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner. Dir. David Livingstone. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 4, episode 24. Syndicated television. 27 May 1991. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

Once again, Hamlet is mined for a title.


“Thine Own Self.” By Ronald D. Moore and Christopher Hatton. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Winrich Kolbe. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 7, episode 16. Syndicated television. 14 February 1994. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

And again with the Hamlet reference in the title!

I'll try to return to deeper integrations of Shakespeare in Star Trek next time.

Screen Shot Shakespeare II: Additional Star Trek Title References to Shakespeare

“Sins of the Father.” By Drew Deighan, Ronald D. Moore, and W. Reed Moran. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, and Paul Winfield. Dir. Les Landau. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 3, episode 17. Syndicated television. 19 March 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

A list that I've used to fill in some of the gaps from my other attempt at "Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete" mentioned the episode entitled "Sins of the Father.”

I have dealt with Shakespearean titles in Star Trek episodes in a previous post (for which, q.v.), but I hadn't considered that one. It is true that Launcelot says, "Yes, truly; for, look you, the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children: therefore, I promise ye, I fear you" in Act III, scene 5 of The Merchant of Venice, but the phrase is such a commonality, both then and now, that I am skeptical of a direction connection to Shakespeare, as I was with “Devil’s Due" in the earlier post.

Further, the phrase is a biblical one, drawn from Exodus 20:5, although most of relevant translations (the Geneva Bible, for example) use "iniquity of the fathers" instead of "sins of the fathers" (The exception is the Bishop's Bible, which reads "I the Lord thy God am a gelous God, and visite the sinne of the fathers vpon the chyldren"). All that is very interesting, and may require additional research, but the main point is that the phrase is biblical first and Shakespearean later.

We have this, then. A phrase that is common during the time of Shakespeare is used by Shakespeare, becomes (perhaps) even more common, and then is used by Star Trek. Does that make the title a quote from, allusion to, or reference to Shakespeare? It would be hard to argue that it's direct, but it may be present.

But if we include "Sins of the Father," should we also include "The Dauphin"? The word is often used in Shakespeare's history plays (e.g. (one among many), Henry V says, in Act I, scene ii, "We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us; / His present and your pains we thank you for"). That may be going too far. All the same, here's the image and the information about it, just in case!

"The Dauphin." By Scott Rubenstein and Leonard Mlodinow. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, and Paul Winfield. Dir. Rob Bowman. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 5, episode 2. Syndicated television. 20 February 1989. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

Secrets of the Star Trek Title Sequence Revealed

“Title Sequence.” Star Trek. Seasons 1-3 (Original Series); Seasons 1-7 ( The Next Generation). DVD. Paramount, 2002.

From its beginning—from the first word of its title sequence, in fact—Star Trek has been deeply indebted to Shakespeare. In this clip and in the text below it, I reveal the allusions to Shakespeare made in the opening title sequence. For the first time, you may trace the origins of the word "space" and the name of the multiple Enterprises that fill the screens of Star Trek lore:

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“I could be bounded in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space[: The final frontier].”
—Hamlet
“Goes it against the main of Poland, sir, or for some [final] frontier?”
—Hamlet
“With her I lived in joy; our wealth increased / By prosperous voyages [of the starship Enterprise].”
—Aegeon
[These are the voyages of the starship] Enterprises of great pith and moment.”
—Hamlet
“Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of late, / Made emulous [five-year] missions ’mongst the gods themselves.”
—Ulysses
“O brave new world, [O strange new worlds] / That [have] such people in [them]!”
—Miranda
“I thank your majesty, and her, my lord: / These words, these looks, infuse new life [and new civilizations] in me.”
—Titus Andronicus
“Sound drums and trumpets [to] boldly and cheerfully [go where no one has gone before]; / God and Saint George!”
—Henry V

Countdown to the End of Shakespeare and Star Trek Week

“In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II.” By Mike Sussman. Perf. Scott Bakula, Jolene Blalock, and John Billingsley. Dir. James L. Conway. Star Trek: Enterprise. Season 4, episode 19. United Paramount Network. 29 April 2005. DVD. Paramount Home Video, 2005.

As the Star Trek franchise grew and expanded, it took Shakespeare with it. However, it seems to have confined him to an alternate universe.

I've mentioned this episode before, but I did not provide, at that point, a video clip of the scene.

In this episode, we're placed in an alternate universe, and a ship from the regular Star Trek universe has found its way there as well. The universe of the episode is harsh and unrelenting—and it doesn't care for Shakespeare! I suppose that's one way to tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys: Tell me what you do with Shakespeare and I will tell you what you are (to paraphrase Brilliat-Savarin).

But the fact that this is the only reference to Shakespeare in the entire Star Trek: Enterprise series (a prequel to The Original Series) isn't enough to redeem the series. The only way I managed to choke my way through it was by watching it at three times the speed with the subtitles on. At that speed, it's actually not a bad show!

This is the last known reference to Shakespeare in the Star Trek universe—but I couldn't bear to end with it. I plan two posts to wrap up this subject—look for them soon at a blog near you! Actually, this blog.

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I wanted to compare our major works with their counterparts in the other universe. . . . The stories were similar in some respects, but their characters were weak and compassionate. With the exception of Shakespeare, of course. From what I could tell, his plays were equally grim in both universes.

"I wish your Enterprise to-day may thrive." —Julius Caesar, III.i.13

Star Trek: Generations [a.k.a. Star Trek VII]. Dir. David Carson. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Billy Campbell, Alan Ruck, Whoopi Goldberg, and Malcolm McDowell. 1994. DVD. Paramount, 2004.

With the image above, Bardfilm wraps up its survey of Shakespeare in Star Trek. Combing through the wreckage of The Enterprise, Captain Picard is delighted to find his Complete Works of Shakespeare intact.

It's not a bad image for what Star Trek, in all its permutations, has done with Shakespeare. The show has quoted Shakespeare, decontextualized Shakespeare, alluded to Shakespeare, borrowed from Shakespeare, and done many other things with Shakespeare, but Shakespeare comes out intact.

The overarching interest in these uses of Shakespeare in a pop culture icon like Star Trek is that they are both engaged in the same project. Shakespeare takes real human beings and puts them in situations that enable us (and them) to study and to learn about the human condition—its behavior, its faults, its depravity, its redemption. Although the circumstances may be unlike any that we are likely to experience (I'm not, for example, in line to the Throne of Scotland, however much I'd like to be), we—through Shakespeare's characters—learn by experience about our own guilt and sin as we see Macbeth's guilt and sin played out on stage. As we learn about our own need for redemption, we also discover means for working out that redemption. I hope I'll never be as hypocritical as Measure for Measure's Angelo, for example, but I can certainly learn about mercy and redemption by watching him through that play.

Star Trek also puts human beings (and Betazoids and Romulans and Sheliak and Vulcans and Tholians and Klingons and others too numerous to mention here) into situations that show us (and them) something about humanity writ large. Star Trek, being what it is, has a less-Calvinistic (I'm just starting work on a paper I've been commissioned to write on Shakespeare and John Calvin—more on that as time progresses) position on human nature than does Shakespeare, but its characters are still seeking redemption for humanity.

There you have it. Star Trek, seeking to understand the human condition, turns to Shakespeare to aid it in its own—um—enterprise.

Hamlet's Father's Ghost's Speech in Paramount's Star Trek's Troi's Revenge

Star Trek: Nemesis [a.k.a. Star Trek X]. Dir. Stuart Baird. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, and Brent Spiner. 2002. DVD. Paramount, 2003.

In the worst of all the Star Trek films to date lies the final Shakespeare quotation of all the Star Trek films to date:
Remember me. (Hamlet, I.v.94)
The quotation had been used before—in an Original Series episode (for which, q.v.) and as the title of an entire Next Generation episode (for which, q.v.). In this film, it's used as a cry of revenge rather than (as in Shakespeare's play) a cry to revenge.

Deanna Troi has been psychically abused by the bad guys in this film; in this scene, she uses her empathic abilities to target the bad guys' cloaked ship:

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And there you have it. Captain Picard's cry of "Fire at Will" is as likely to be a reference to Will Shakespeare as to Will Riker (in other words, not very likely), so the Shakespeare allusions in Star Trek stop at "Remember me." And that is, all in all, not a bad place for them to stop—even if the film itself is pretty bad.

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Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2012 by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest