Monday, August 30, 2010

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."

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.

Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

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).

Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

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:

Friday, August 27, 2010

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:

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.
Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"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!

Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.
William Shakespeare at Memory Alpha

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

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)
[Note: A similar line occurs in Othello: "O, thereby hangs a tale" (III.i.8).

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:

Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

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:

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.

Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.

Monday, August 23, 2010

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):

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.
Links: Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Richard the Second and Queen Victoria

Young Victoria. Dir. Jean-Marc Vallée. Perf. Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend. 2009. DVD. Sony Pictures, 2010.

A brief but telling selection from Richard II appears in the recent period drama Young Victoria.

The actors in the closet-drama-within-the-period-drama are reading from part of the play during which Richard begins to lose heart—it's not long after the lines quoted here that Richard delivers his famous "let us sit upon the ground / And tell sad stories of the death of kings" speech:
Not all the water in the rough rude sea
Can wash the balm off from an anointed king;
The breath of worldly men cannot depose
The deputy elected by the Lord:
For every man that Bolingbroke hath press'd
To lift shrewd steel against our golden crown . . .
Welcome, my lord. How far off lies your power? (III.ii.54-59, 63)
Only part of Salisbury's reply is audible:
. . . discomfort guides my tongue
And bids me speak of nothing but despair. (III.ii.65-66)
The remarkable aspect of having these particular lines from this particular play presented at this particular moment is that an insurrection is seething outside the palace. And the remarkable aspect of that is that it's not the first time a Queen of England has found a performance of Richard II connected with rebellion.

On 7 February 1601, Shakespeare's company was paid—and paid well above their ordinary revenue—to put on a production of Richard II. The Earl of Essex was planning to mount an insurrection to topple Queen Elizabeth the next day. He and his supporters thought either that the play would rally the people to their cause or that viewing the play would give them courage to go through with a dangerous and deadly operation.

Afterwards, in extreme pique, Her Majesty purportedly said, "I am Richard—know ye not that?"

Echoes of that monarch's encounter with Richard II resound in Queen Victoria's:

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

William Shatner on William Shakespeare

Why Shakespeare? Dir. Lawrence Bridges. Perf. Jan Wieringa, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and William Shatner. 2004. DVD. NEA, 2004.

"Shakespeare, to me, is a little weird." —William Shatner

That's the most memorable quote from a less-than-memorable interview DVD. The premise of the film is interesting—let's interview a bunch of people about what Shakespeare means to them—but the execution of that premise is disappointing. The film is only slightly over twenty minutes long, and its organizational method isn't clear.

But it does spend about two minutes of time with William Shatner. His organizational method isn't any clearer than the DVD's, and he seems to think Shakespeare wrote in Old English "that we can barely understand."

[Editor's Note: Beowulf was written in Old English, The Canterbury Tales was written in Middle English, and Shakespeare wrote in Modern English. Pet peeve settled. Thank you.]

But, amongst the strange phrasing and layperson's terminology, Shatner is pointing valuably (and volubly) toward his sense of what is universal in Shakespeare:

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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

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 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) 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