7.08.2013

Captain's Blog pt. 40: To Boldly Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Americans are reeling in the wake of recent revelations regarding the abuse and proliferation of the surveillance state apparatus. Yet for nearly three decades, they were being spied on far more comprehensively from an entirely different quarter: The Future.


Starfleet, in collusion with NBC, Paramount, and CBS, ran a spy ring that makes the NSA and KGB look like rank amateurs on Open Mic Night.

And it all started at a little bar, "where everybody knows your name."
Chilling and revealing words, hidden in the heart of a melody and lyric known the world over.

It is unclear exactly when the Bull and Finch Pub (popularly known as "Cheers") on Beacon Street in Boston, Massachusetts became Starfleet's "window on Fin de Si├Ęcle Americana." But prior to their involvement, it was visited by at least one other visitor from the future:

Commander Kruge
Prior to the events of The Search for Spock, the Klingon commander underwent a prolonged deep cover mission, one of obvious importance to the Empire, given the extensive cosmetic surgery Kruge underwent for the full immersion assignment.
Kruge's cover was "Phillip Semenko," an eccentric painter. So dedicated was Kruge to the mission that he spent time in prison after engaging in an all-out orgy with members of the Harvard football team rather than break cover. (As relayed to Diane in the second part of "I'll Be Seeing You.")

Nothing is known as to the purpose of Kruge's mission - some say he was killed by Admiral Kirk on secret orders to snuff out whatever it was he learned or had been up to - but it included at least two other high-profile/ hide-in-plain sight infilitrations:

No show was safe.
Many have interpreted Kruge's appearance in the Back to the Future movies as coded messages through time to Klingon Command. Indeed, "Great Scott!" when translated to Klingon is a seemingly gibberish group of numbers. The code has never been broken.
As a result of all this, Starfleet was alerted to the potential of the Bull and Finch as a hub for temporal operations. When Rick Berman was brought on board The Next Generation, it was likely his connection to Cheers (one of the shows under his purview as a producer at Paramount) that sealed the deal.

Time Quisling?
Incidentally, he is rumored to appear as a bar patron in the background of the last Cheers episode, "One for the Road," but I was unable to find him. A special Dog Star Omnibus no-prize to any reader who finds the proper screencap. (The man in the picture above is Bob Broder.)
Diane may have become suspicious as a result of her brief involvement with Phillip Semenko, but it took the appearance of Admiral Janeway as "Janet Eldridge" to fully draw her attention to the conspiracy.

She seduced and recruited Sam Malone, whom as we shall see, played an ongoing role in the conspiracy in the years to come. ("Strange Bedfellows.")
Diane chose to leave the show rather than go along with the operation. When she threatened to reveal what she knew, she was nearly "suicided" in the early twenty-first century.
She was replaced, of course, with one of Starfleet's own, in season 6.
Janeway's mission was a complete success. From that point on, Sam Malone's heart belonged to Starfleet. Witness the evolution of the character over the series from conflicted recovering alcoholic to one-dimensional womanizer: all the better to deflect his true mission as host and enabler to an increasing roster of spies from the future.

Sam, numb with complicity, on the set of Nimoy-directed Three Men and a Baby.
Sam with his "handler," Guinan. Like Caesar, he was surrounded on all sides; surrender, or be removed.
Nicholas Colasanto threatened to go public with what he knew, with tragic results:

 
After he died via "natural causes" (no autopsy was ever performed,) he was replaced by Woody Tiberius Boyd, his name a pointed warning to other cast members to keep their mouths shut. Meet the new boss.
Shortly before Diane's departure, another away mission was performed by Commander Data, but it, like 100% of Data's away missions...

 

ended in disaster. 

After being tried and acquitted for attempted homicide, he nearly blew his cover in the episode "Never Love a Goalie," telling Diane "Why don't you check your stupid little notebook?" on his way out the door. An ominous reference to the intel Diane had squirreled away.
The rest of the cast, though, fell into line and were duly rewarded for their cooperation:

Lilith, in the TNG episode "First Contact."
Norm opted to travel to the future rather than risk exposure and ended his days as "Morn" on Deep Space 9.
Cliff Clavin, at first glance, seems to have no further involvement with the conspiracy after Cheers went off the air in 1993.
But it is widely believed it is Cliff who is the real "Future Guy" in Enterprise.
This would have been revealed in later seasons of the show, had Starfleet not ended its espionage operation.
It wasn't just the main cast who were put to use.

Paul Wilson, who had a recurring role as "Paul" on the show, returned for a stint on Boston Legal
as well as "Loquar" on Voyager. ("The Void.")
Daniel Davis first appeared as Norm's boss on "The Peterson Principle"
As well as played Moriarty on two episodes of TNG. (Some suggest he fell out of favor with the Department of Temporal Investigations and was demoted to playing the butler on The Nanny as punishment.)
Keene Curtis, who played "John Allen Hill" on Cheers, returned as Old Man #2 in the Voyager episode "Sacred Ground." And was never seen again...
After Cheers went off the air, Starfleet continued to keep tabs on things, first (logically enough) via Frasier:

 
 
Operation: Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs was even greater a success than anticipated. No one suspected a thing.
then, re-positioning Sam Malone in an extended-cover assignment, Becker:

Terry Farrell (aka "Jadzia Dax" on Deep Space Nine) was initially assigned to keep an eye on Danson and espionage operations, but she was abruptly terminated after 79 episodes on the show. No excuse was ever given, and she refuses to discuss the matter in interviews.

Was she, like Diane before her, let go for fear of what she might say?
What is known is that Levar "The Cleaner" Burton was brought in for a mysterious cameo - along with Leonard Nimoy - late in Becker's run. When asked how he came to be on the sitcom, Burton said "Two are flying, one is not." When asked to clarify, he locked his hands together and held them out from his chest perpendicularly, asking, "Will no one help the widow's son?" Then disappeared. Reporters were ushered out of the interview room and paid handsomely never to repeat what they saw or heard.
Rene Auberjonois appears to have taken control of the espionage ring shortly after Deep Space Nine stopped production. In addition to guest-starring on Frasier (perhaps delivering messages/ coordinating / keeping tabs on Grammar) he joined the cast of Boston Legal, where William Shatner had already established a base of operations.

Boston Legal also starred Seven of Nine on several episodes and included scripts by Phoef Sutton, a producer on, you guessed it, Cheers.
Many have speculated that writers on both Voyager and Enterprise tried to warn the public through cryptic allusions and metaphorical episodes.

Such as "Future's End" for Voyager...
or in the Xindi storyline from Enterprise.
But whether these episodes had an impact on public awareness remains debated. What is known is that with the advent of the Abrams and co. Star Trek (2009) all espionage operations were dismantled once and for all. The film served as the "White Christmas on Saigon radio" to any and all operatives still engaged in the field, its message of timeline dismantling and rebooting a barely-coded message to close up shop.


Similarly, the visual design of muted pastels and lens flare has been interpreted as "distract" and "bedazzle," respectively.

And so we are left with a dubious IMDB patchwork of the most extensive spying operation ever devised by man. To what end? Ted Danson, Rene Auberjonois, Kelsey Grammar, and Rick Berman remain at large, immune to prosecution, protected by a public whose engineered credulity they so ruthlessly exploited.

Are we still being scrutinized by future spies and agents, like so many microbes under a microscope, or Victorian Man by the Martians of H.G. Wells? We will know for sure when we first read about the Presidency of Yelnik McGwawa.


And for some reason (he said sarcastically) Blogger won't let me embed this video, but what are we to make of this? Another warning? Bragging? Mental preparation for the rule-from-beyond for which Starfleet prepared a generation?

Only time, perversely, will tell.

12 comments:

  1. In 2006, I sat a couple tables over from "John Ratzenberger" at a nice little Thai place in Camarillo, California. Our eyes locked for a moment, and we both knew.

    Do with that information what you will.

    ReplyDelete
  2. As the final episode of Cheers was about to air, the rumor was the final customer who showed up only to be told they were closed was President Bill Clinton. It turned out not to be him, but a lot of people thought it was, anyway.

    All I can say is, thank god Shelley Long never made it onto any of the Trek series. Aside from the hilarious "Night Shift" I haven't liked a single thing she's done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Night Shift is great - been far too long since I've seen it. It deserves to be mentioned alongside Caddyshack or Stripes as seminal mythmaking/ comedy-filmmaking for its era, absolutely.

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  3. BUT HOW DOES "REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS" FIT IN TO ALL OF THIS?!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only Maj. Rayner Fleming knows for sure...

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  4. LATE ADDITIONS:

    A kind reader points out that "Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson) went back to keep tabs on Frasier as well in the episode Maris Returns Season 11 episode 7"

    And that made me think of some other recurring characters, such as the guys who played Gary (as in. Old Towne Tavern)

    He was played by Joel Polis, who also appeared in Voyager as Ny Terla ("Time and Again," s1e3) and in Boston Legal for an episode AND an episode of Frakes' Beyond Belief series.

    As well as Robert Desiderio, who has no Trek-related stuff at his imdb.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Christopher Lloyd credited as Story Editor on The Golden Girls is not the same Christopher Lloyd who played artist and home-wrecker Semanco.

    Alas, that Christopher Lloyd is a screenwriter who is responsible, most recently, for bringing Modern Family into the world.

    Before I declare this post (and your whole operation) and epic failure, fair McMetrogolwdynmayer, I will ease your suffering and embarrasment by pointing out that C. Lloyd, Screenplay Monkey, is responsible for several episodes of Frazier!

    What does it mean? Did Starfleet make an error and send TWO Christopher Lloyds to Earth to scramble our brains? Perhaps. But an easier explanation might be that no one has ever seen both Lloyds in the same place at the same time.

    Live long and Norm!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a common code name for that stage of the operation. How many more Christopher Lloyds will we uncover is the real question!

      Good eye, though, sir. All roads lead back to the Bull and Finch and the Rigel 7 New Hong Kong Flu...

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    2. If this is Christopher Lloyd, it's our fourth Christopher Lloyd this week. Where are you Bill? Look a-here. Over there, there's Cheers. And there's Moe's. And why, around the corner is the Center for Martian Communist Enterprise run by none other than David Ferry. Whatcha whatcha whatcha drivin at boss?

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  6. Also, this:

    http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_macmh6BlGH1r0xnvfo1_400.jpg

    Sam Simon, et al

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "But you didn't do anything!"

      "Didn't I?"

      ...

      (beams out)

      Delete