Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Happy Retirement, Leonard Nimoy!

It's not comic-related, unless peripherally, but Leonard Nimoy just announced his retirement from show business. It isn't sad news, because it's not like he's going away. Certainly, he played a wide variety of other roles, but Nimoy has left an indelible mark on pop culture with his Mr. Spock characterization. I just finished watching the first season of the original Star Trek and spent a great deal of that time largely focused on Nimoy's performance. It's subtle, engaging, shows a flair for the comedic and incredibly sympathetic; all this while playing a character supposedly without emotions. He also managed to keep his dignity while sporting a bowl cut, pointed ears and shaved eyebrows.

Sure, Mr. Spock and other charming aliens are familiar to us now, but imagine how bizarre and silly he must have appeared to audiences tuning into NBC back in 1966. Yet by the end of the show, Spock-- as portrayed by Nimoy-- was a star. Even during the first season, you can see writers adding more and more Spock to the stories. I give the credit almost solely to Nimoy's ability to pull off something that must have seemed impossible at the time; once writers saw what he could do with the character, it unfettered their imaginations and we ended up with so many wonderful moments in episodes such as "City on the Edge of Forever" and "Amok Time."

And not once do you see Nimoy flinch or give even the most ridiculous scenes and dialogue anything less than total commitment. Even lumbering around in the atrocious "Spock's Brain," in which the dialogue and personality-free nature of what he was given to do in the script strikes me as the producer's punishment for Nimoy's protectiveness and stewardship of his role, he tries to make it work.

That the real Nimoy is so dedicated, likable and thoughtful is a bonus. Those of us who are Star Trek nutcases have been lucky to have had him around for so long, willing to put on those ears and bring Spock back to life on so many memorable-- and occasionally, ludicrous-- occasions.

So congratulations, Mr. Nimoy, and thanks!


RAB said...

I shudder to think of anyone knowing just how often I used to listen to this record.

(Which makes my decision to mention now somewhat puzzling. Forget I said anything! Move along, nothing to see here...)

Joel Bryan said...

I know you've seen the video for "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins!"