Remembering D. C. Fontana, Star Treks Woman of Two Worlds - Christ and Pop Culture

On Monday, December 2, Star Trek followers have been saddened to be taught of the passing of Dorothy Fontana. Hardly a family title in another circles, D. C. Fontana (her writing moniker) is a legend amongst Trekkies, one of many key heroes in crafting the enduring legacy of The Unique Sequence. As a author and story editor, she created a number of the reveals most memorable moments and guided the depiction of its best-known characters.

Fontanas characters weren’t written to dramatize a Christian anthropology, however due to their mental and emotional authenticity, they can not assist however achieve this.Changing into a author was Fontanas lifelong dream, however the 1960s tv studio world into which she entered was not all the time welcoming of feminine contributors. After working her manner via particular person scripts, her numerous secretarial jobs took her into the orbit of Gene Roddenberry, Star Treks creator. Roddenberrys standing as a champion of womens equality is difficult, however he inspired Fontana to submit scripts, which she did, receiving credit score underneath her initials to disguise her gender. After the profitable reception of her early episodes, Charlie X and Tomorrow Is Yesterday, Fontana took over as story editor halfway into the primary season following the departure of two different writers from the job. She held this place via season 2 and continued to contribute within the reveals final season. She would go on to write down briefly for Star Trek: The Subsequent Technology in its inaugural season and likewise contributed scripts to Star Trek: The Animated Sequence, Star Trek: Deep House 9, and even the fan-produced Star Trek: New Voyages.

From the beginning, Fontana was a girl caught between two worlds. Star Trek was extra open to feminine voices than many reveals of its days, that includes episodes penned by writers like Margaret Armen, Jean Lisette Aroeste, Judy Burns, Joyce Muskat, and even eventual Lamb Chops Play-Alongside star Shari Lewis. Solely Fontana had any manufacturing obligations, nonetheless, and her scripts embrace a number of the most memorable moments within the sequence, considerably deepening Roddenberrys mythology and establishing its best-recognized figures. Not surprisingly, given her context, she appears to have been notably drawn to characters who, like her, have been compelled to navigate liminal areas, uneasy boundaries. So it’s little surprise that above all, she gravitated towards storylines about Commander Spock and his household.

Fontana reduce her enamel in Trek with Charlie X, which wound up being one of many first episodes to air. Even at this early stage, her trademark pursuits have been evident. Charlie Evans (Robert Walker Jr.) was the only real survivor of a ship that crashed on the planet Thasus. The indigenous Thasians bestowed their unimaginable transmutative powers on Charlie to protect him in his infancy, however as he boards the Enterprise to reunite together with his personal species, hazard rapidly ensues. Charlie is a youngster with all of the passions of adolescence, however no human has the facility to self-discipline him due to his Thasian talents.

Charlie Evans, the super-powered, hormonal teenage boy could appear to have little in frequent with Fontana, the 27-year-old former secretary who scripted his dialogue. However caught as he was between energy and helplessness, between childhood and maturity, between human and Thasian tradition, Charlie was torn by his liminal statusand Fontana, the lady in a mans world, knew a factor or two about that standing.

Nonetheless, it was not till her third credit score that Fontana would actually discover her favourite technique of exploring these unstable boundaries. Roddenberrys Star Trek could have pushed TV limits in illustration of girls and minorities for its day, but it surely was nonetheless essentially targeted on the dynamics of three males: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. None of those characters have been with out battle, however probably the most clearly conflicted determine was, after all, Spock. And in him, Fontana appears to have discovered a form of kindred spirit, a sequence common who was, fairly actually, a baby of two worlds.

It was Fontanas script for This Aspect of Paradise that earned her the place of story editor. On this episode, alien spores on an agrarian world push human coloniststhen many of the Enterprise crewinto smiling docility. In its unique conception, This Aspect of Paradise targeted on a romance with Lieutenant Sulu. Whereas such a sub-plot would have added some good dimension to an under-utilized character, Fontana realized that the plot would make the proper car for exploring the usually reserved Spock. In her eventual draft, Fontana offered a person caught between his feelings and his dutyduty to his race, responsibility to his ship, responsibility to his captain.

On this filmed model, Jill Irelands Leila Kalomi tells Spock, Theres no want to cover your interior face any longer. And when, underneath the spores affect, a grinning Spock tells Kalomi, I like you. I can love you, it’s a cathartic second. This will get upended when Kirk undoes the spores results, rupturing his First Officers passive pleasure with anger, which then slides again into stoicism as he realizes, I dont belong anymore. Even then, Spocks closing evaluation of his expertise is combined: I’ve little to say about it, Captain, besides that, for the primary time in my life, I used to be blissful.

I dont declare to know the entire interior lifetime of Dorothy Fontana within the late 60s and past, when she negotiated life as a feminine TV author. However the methods wherein she returned to characters who enact double lives upon themselves appears unlikely to be completely coincidental. Generally, she was aided in that effort by visitor stars who memorably delivered to life her conflicted figures. Julie Newmar in Fridays Baby ferociously embodies Eleen, a girl whose energy in her patriarchal world largely facilities round her unborn baby. William Marshall brings each hubris and dignity to his function in The Final Laptop as Dr. Richard Daystrom, whose pathos in cultural context turns into implicitly intensified by his standing as a black man. Joanne Linvilles function strikes even nearer to house as the feminine Romulan Commander in The Enterprise Incident, a girl in energy for whose emotional vulnerability canand willbe used towards her. And who can neglect in Journey to Babel the poignancy of Spocks mother and father, Sarek and Amanda, whose traces are delivered with such beautiful nuance by Mark Lenard and Jane Wyatt?

Not surprisingly, many of those performances are sturdy partially as a result of these actors have been interacting with Nimoys Spock. Linvilles Romulan Commander is drawn to Spock as a result of she regards him (maybe rightly) as a potential kindred spirit, one other particular person caught between the Scylla of need and the Charybdis of obligation. Sarek and Amanda incarnate the 2 halves of Spocks break up consciousness, cause and emotion. But it’s the genius of Fontana and her actors that the Spock household drama of Journey to Babel by no means devolves into simplistic binaries. Sarek and Amanda are themselves roiled by their betweenness: Sarek really loves his spouse and his son, whereas Amanda acknowledges that Vulcan logic is a greater manner than human emotionalism, earlier than conceding that it isnt simple. Fontana would later return to this dynamic in Yesteryear, her solely contribution to Star Trek: The Animated Sequence, wherein Spocks traumatic childhood on Vulcan is explored. So powerfully did this script transcend the constraints of its half-hour kids-show format that it was the one episode from the sequence ever to be regarded with quasi-canonical standing within the Trek universe.

Why did Fontana discover Spock so compelling? For a similar cause she helped us to search out him so compelling: as a result of for all his apparent alienness, Spock was in different methods (to cite Star Trek II) probably the most human. Not one in every of us is complete or purewe are all beings in pressure. These tensions won’t be as stark as Commander Spocks logic/emotion dichotomy. They may or won’t be as totally evident socially or culturally as they maybe have been in Fontanas personal life. Her expertise allowed her, regardless of and throughout the limitations of her day, to present voice via her characters to the methods marginalized teams should function in contested spheres.

However had her characters been emblems solely, symbols of oppression, they might by no means have taken on the afterlife in fandom that they finally achieved. Quite, Fontana crafted a bridge, from her personal liminal expertise to the worlds of her viewers. Any Christian is aware of that our lives by definition should be outlined by paradoxes and unusual borderlines. We’re made in Gods picture but, in our sins, topic to his curse. We’re residents of Heaven dwelling on earth, on the earth however not of it. We’re known as to be all issues to all folks. We’re one physique however totally different members, taking part in totally different roles.

Fontanas characters weren’t written to dramatize a Christian anthropology, however due to their mental and emotional authenticity, they can not assist however achieve this. That’s as a result of her characterseven (particularly?) the aliensare profoundly human, and the Christian religion presents probably the most compelling account of our full, tempestuous humanity. Whether or not trustworthy congregants or skeptics, all these with minds and hearts can hear her phrases throughout the many years and, throughout the lives of the characters talking them, can discover themselves.


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