Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Star Trek & Nathan Phillips Square


Twice Toronto has made an appearance in the Star Trek universe and twice it's been thanks to Nathan Phillips Square. When our new City Hall first opened in 1965, Viljo Revell's design was the cutting edge of modernism. The curved concrete and clam dome were the stuff of the future. Even now, they have something of an otherworldly feeling.

The first time Toronto showed up in the Star Trek universe was in 1969. It wasn't on television, though: it was in a silly Star Trek comic book called "The Ghost Planet". Kirk and Spock beam down to a world surrounded by rainbow rings, only to discover that it's been ravaged by war. The city they beam into lies in ruins, but there's Toronto City Hall, still standing. Nathan Phillips Square was the inspiration for the art. Kirk and Spock eventually discover the warlords responsible for the carnage (identical twins both named Justin) who trick the crew of the Enterprise into disabling the rainbow rings (which somehow force the Justins to be peaceful) so they can resume their war against each other. Eventually, the good guys realize what's happening and McCoy projects film of the rings into the planet's atmosphere to trick the Justins into putting down their weapons.

The second time was on Star Trek: The Next Generation — an equally brief appearance. In the episode "Contagion," the crew of the Enterprise investigate the destruction of a Federation ship. It turns out that it was destroyed by an alien probe from the long-dead Iconian race. The Iconians had the technology to travel all around the universe through portals; the probe traveled through a portal on auto-pilot and tried to re-write the programming of the Federation ship, which accidentally blew it up. When Picard and Data and Worf all travel to the deserted Iconian homeworld to investigate, they discover the portal technology. And at one point, the portal cycles through some of the possible destinations — one of which is Nathan Phillips Square.

While some other Iconian probes try to re-write the programming of the Enterprise — and of a nearby Romulan ship — the crew figure out to fix it:

They just reboot the ship's computer.

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Nathan Phillips Square was also home to celebrating of Star Trek's 25th anniversary in 1991. George Takei, James Doohan and Nichelle Nichols all came. There's a YouTube video of that here. "I've had great experiences here in this city," Doohan says, "I'll be back here as often as I possibly can. And not only that, I've already made the step to see if I can reserve some seats for the World Series."

 Some people say our City Hall makes a third appearance, too,  in an episode of the original Star Trek called "All Our Yesterdays." But that's not true. I just finishing watching it and it wasn't there — a fact confirmed by the Star Trek wiki. I imagine the confusion is probably caused by the fact that the episode also featured alien portals.

I first learned about the appearance in the Star Trek comic book here. Screenshot via this blog here. And there's a bit more info about City Hall and the Iconians here.

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