Friday, June 27, 2008

Communicator Ettiquette

In the wake of my thorough enjoyment of William Shatner's "Star Trek Memories," audiobook-style, I'm making a little summer project of watching the re-mastered ST:TOS on TV Land. So shiny, so colorful! Of course, I orginally watched most of these episodes on my mother's black & white TV in the 70's, so the saturated colors aren't part of my personal sense memory of the show. And to tell the truth, there are a number of episodes I haven't seen since then, making them practically new to me. I was certainly struck anew by the still-relevant political commentary of "A Taste of Armageddon" the other day. (That's the one where the war is conducted bloodlessly, thus diminishing the incentive to find peace.)

For a certain group of people, inside stories about Star Trek are how we learned how television was made. I credit David Gerrold's "Inside"/"Making Of" books for my earliest understanding of script formatting, the notes process, and production realities. For the current generation, I believe that Buffy fandom served the same purpose of illuminating the process.

So there I am, blissfully watching "Errand of Mercy." And there's Kirk, in the middle of an impassioned plea to the Organian Council, when his communicator beeps. And what does he do? He answers it! Of course, it's only through 21st century hindsight that it seems like poor etiquette, but holy crap, any fool knows you don't answer your cell phone in the middle of a meeting! What a boor!

I try to cast my mind back to the days before cell phones. In a world where a ubiquitous pocket communicator was the stuff of fantasy, it must have seemed perfectly natural that when that thing beeps, it takes priority. And I suppose even today, in a military context, if the line to HQ or from the troops buzzes, you don't let it go to voice mail. Still, it was pretty jarring to see Kirk demonstrate so little respect for the people he was there to "help," that he would leave them hanging while he took a call.

No comments: