Monday, February 2, 2009

Abraham Lincoln and Captain Kirk? "Lincolns" appearance on Star Trek

It is rare that a fictional tv series is able to capture the full hearted feelings of a important historical personality. The original Star Trek tv show was able to capture the essence of Abraham Lincoln on one of its episodes. I have been a Star Trek fan since 1986 and have enjoyed the show from Kirk to Picard.....sorry I am not a fan of Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise (the other three Star Trek tv series).

During the original Star Trek third season Lincoln made an appearence in the episode "The Savage Curtain" which first aired on tv on March 7, 1969. In the show Captain James T. Kirk (played by William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (played by Lenard Nimoy) are forced to fight alongside such historical figures as Abraham Lincoln of Earth and Surak of Vulcan by aliens who want to understand the concepts of "good" and "evil." The Enterprise is surprised to detect life signs coming from an apparently lifeless planet. During the ensuing investigation, an image of Abraham Lincoln appears on the viewscreen.

"Captain’s log, stardate 5906.4. Who or what has been beamed aboard our vessel? An alien who has changed himself into this form? An illusion? I cannot conceive it possible that Abraham Lincoln could have actually been reincarnated. And yet his kindness, his gentle wisdom, his humor, everything about him is so right."
Lincoln makes a brief tour of the ship, then invites Kirk and Spock to beam down to a thousand-kilometer Earth-like region that suddenly appears on the sensors. Kirk seems all too ready to admire the "illusion," whereas McCoy and Scotty insist that the whole affair is a setup to lure Kirk and Spock to their deaths on the planet's deadly surface. Kirk and Spock accept the invitation, and discover themselves locked in a mortal combat of good versus evil, with the good represented by themselves, Lincoln, and Surak (the legendary Vulcan philosophical leader), and evil represented by four archetypes, including Kahless, founder of the Klingon Empire; Zora of Tiburon; ancient human conqueror Genghis Khan, and the charismatic but thoroughly despicable 21st century tyrant Colonel Green. The planet's denizens reveal themselves to be a race of rock-like beings, the Excalbians, who often stage such combats to learn more about alien philosophies. Since Kirk refuses to fight, the aliens raise the stakes by damaging the Enterprise's matter/antimatter equipment, which will cause the ship to "blow to bits" in four hours – unless the "good" side manages to defeat their opponents.

"Supplemental log, stardate 5906.5. Engineer Scott reporting. The Enterprise is doomed to explode in two hours if Captain Kirk is defeated by the enemy on the surface of the planet. The enormous power of the Enterprise has been neutralized and we sit here watching, unable to assist."
Of course, Kirk and Spock prevail, and are allowed to beam back to a miraculously repaired Enterprise.

During the episode, Lincoln (played by actor Lee Bergere) did an excellent job playing Abraham Lincoln. He even has a mole on his right cheek just like Lincoln did although it is really makeup. One of his best lines in "The Savage Curtain" is a comment that he makes to Captain Kirk. Here it is:

"We fight on their level.
With trickery, brutality, finality.
We match their evil.
I know, James. I was reputed to be a gentle man.
But I was commander in chief...
during the four bloodiest years of my country's history.
I gave orders that sent...
a hundred thousand men to their death...
at the hands of their brothers."

To me that is something that Abraham Lincoln would say but it has been wrongly attributed to the real Lincoln.

Another exchange that is interesting is Lincoln's brief conversation with Lt. Uhura. For those people who are not Star Trek fans, Lt. Uhura is played by actresses Nichelle Nichols who is African-American.

Uhura: Excuse me, Captain Kirk. -

Kirk: Yes, Lieutenant.

Lincoln: What a charming Negress. Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know in my time some used that term as a description of property.

Uhura: But why should I object to that term, sir? In our century, we've learned not to fear words.

Kirk: May I present our communications officer, Lieutenant Uhura.

Lincoln: The foolishness of my century...had me apologizing where no offense was given.

Another fun exchange occurs later in the episode. During the "good" and "evil" battle, Spock's hero is captured by the enemy and Lincoln volunteers to save him. To do this Lincoln must secretly enter the enemy camp and rescue Surak (Spock's hero). Kirk refuses to let Lincoln go. Here is the exchange.

Lincoln: James, James. Remember, I was something of a backwoodsman. I doubt that you could do what I was bred to.

Kirk: I can't let you risk it, Mr. President.

Spock: I am no longer president.

Lincoln is killed in the attempt and once again he is sacrificed for the good of others.

"The Savage Curtain" is a great episode and being a fan of Abrham Lincoln makes this episode even better! It is highly recommended to any buff even if Star Trek isn't their thing. Check it out, you might be surprised. Also, check out these pics, this is a great representation of President Lincoln. Lincoln is Kirk's hero and Shatner does a great job connecting the two characters. Expressing sadness over the death of Lincoln.

Kirk: They seemed so real. And to me, especially Mr. Lincoln. I feel I actually met Lincoln.

Spock: Yes, and Surak. Perhaps in a sense they were real, Captain. Since they were created out of our own thoughts,how could they be anything but what we expected them to be?

Kirk: It was so hard for me to see him die again. I feel I understand what Earth... must have gone through to achieve final peace.

Its great stuff, if you get a chance then check it out.

The fictional Abraham Lincoln on the original Star Trek tv series


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