Common characteristic of memorable lines / line readings

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by gottacook, Feb 4, 2020.

  1. gottacook

    gottacook Captain Captain

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    Not sure why or how this came to mind, but these lines (all among my very favorites) have a common point of emphasis:

    Spock to Kirk, "Journey to Babel": "Captain, Ambassador Sarek and his wife are my parents."

    Spock to McCoy, "The Tholian Web": "Doctor, I am in command of the Enterprise."

    Flint to K/S/M, "Requiem for Methuselah": "I... am Brahms."​

    There may or may not be other examples of this pattern, but each of these really landed.
     
  2. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    True, but that's not the only thing that makes a line resonate. Sometimes the line itself is poetic:
    From "Where No Man Has Gone Before"
    MITCHELL: Remember those rodent things on Dimorus? The poisoned darts they threw? I took one meant for you.

    And then Kirk completes the stanza. It's literally a little poem.

    Sometimes the actor takes an ordinary line and punches it up for emphasis:
    From "Arena"
    McCOY: This SHIP, our ENgines, our WEAPons, it's just inconCEIVable that we are imMObilized.

    That doesn't happen by accident. That's Kelley earning his paycheck, making the dialogue sound more important.

    Shatner made his soliloquys memorable by figuring out where to put the emphasis, where to pause, where to go fast. The "Risk is Our Business" speech, the Preamble to the Constitution. That was his wheelhouse. He was a true artist.
     
  3. Foxhot

    Foxhot Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ''WHO put the TRIBblesintheQUADrotriticale???''
    SPOCK: ''I believe it was Lt. Ramalamadingdong.''
     
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  4. gottacook

    gottacook Captain Captain

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    Although I'm familiar with "Who Put the Bomp," actually the rhythm of Shatner's line better fits "Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder?", a popular song from around 1900 best known from a Bing Crosby recording made decades later.
     
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  5. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    Good example by Zap above about Dee Kelley doing a great job with that line in Arena. I have some significant issues with how McCoy is written in some episodes, but DK was always up to the acting task no matter what the writers put in front of him.

    Nimoy did a great job with both of those lines gottacook quoted. James Daly too with the Brahms line. Interesting that they all involve the verb "to be." I never thought of that.

    As for Shatner, this is one of those instances when the parodizing can be funny, but it also underscores what a great actor the guy is. Almost every Star Trek episode - even Tholian Web when Shatner is absent for most of it (I still can't believe they pulled that off) - has one or more pieces of fantastic line delivery by Shatner. Including the ones everyone hates. Examples from (e.g.) Plato: "*I* did." And of course "You're very good at making speeches, Parmen. Just make sure that this one sinks in. Now move aside." Both delivered just perfectly.
     
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  6. Methuselah Flint

    Methuselah Flint Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Agreed! I think the TW/Shatner absence we discussed a while back - perhaps either he was happy for the break or he simply had no choice in the matter?

    Regarding McCoy - what episodes do you think he was badly or perhaps not very well written in?
     
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  7. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    Yeah, I think you're right; that was discussed, and not all that long ago. I don't recall the discussions well and am not sure anyone reached any definitive conclusions. I do think that - while I'm no Harvey - I have enough "situational awareness" of Star Trek that I would remember if there was a well-known behind-the-scenes backstory, like for example Shatner's father sadly passing away during the filming of DITD. But maybe not. I figure he was probably happy for the break, and the whole cast and crew were pretty much aware by TW that the show wasn't coming back. At least not until its resurrection in movie form! :beer: :biggrin: (Yay!)

    If anyone knows better please chime in.

    Good question.

    As I've gotten older McCoy has failed to resonate with me as much as he did when I was a kid in several episodes, which makes me sad. Now, it was definitely the writing and nothing Dee Kelley did; he was a great presence in every scene and a very skilled actor.

    Most examples of what I mean involve tiresome antics fighting with Spock, or even Kirk. For example, the only thing that mars OBS for me - and it's still one of my firm top ten episodes - is that McCoy is a complete jerk to Kirk (heh) the entire show and is completely unhelpful to the resolution of the crisis. He does apologize to Kirk eventually, but the apology comes out of nowhere, does nothing to acknowledge the characters' friendship, and ultimately rings hollow. McCoy then manages to get in the "pitchforks and pointed ears" dig at Spock at the end. It's just extraneous and honestly does the character a disservice.

    Then there are McCoy's actions in G7, which honestly should have earned him a court martial along with Boma. (Contrast this with Scotty's smooth professionalism, respect for Spock and the command chain, and rebuke of Boma.) I get that they were establishing conflict and that many of us Star Trek fans found the comparatively Kumbaya atmosphere of TNG boring at times, but they just went too far in assassinating McCoy's character.

    The sequence in Gamesters about McCoy - this time regrettably joined by Scotty - openly questioning Spock's search for Kirk/Uhura/Chekov, and loudly and on the bridge no less - is mitigated by the fact that Spock handles it perfectly, and McCoy and Scotty both appear to gain new admiration for the first officer. But it still comes off clumsily.

    Final example - and these aren't the only ones - PaS. McCoy is angry with Spock for some reason about his handling of the asteroid situation, but seems less interested in rescuing his friend Jim than getting in digs at Spock. Again, he apologizes with the "we blamed you, well we were wrong" bit but it's TWO MONTHS later.

    There are many counterexamples where McCoy was written well, or showed genuine compassion for Spock, in conflict-related situations - Tholian Web, SB, PLW, B&C, and even AOY - but the four I mentioned and some others just bug me a bit.
     
  8. Foxhot

    Foxhot Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You're very good at making speeches, Parmen. Just make SURE...........that this one sinks in.''

    Imagine a........scene with Christopher----Walken, acting with....Allison HANNIGAN and SHATner..........it would no doubt be...........halt-ing to say the least.
     
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  9. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    Ha. I like the Shatner transcription technique you've invented. "Disguising your [line reading] will make no difference." Not sure about Ms. Hanigan although I do like her, but Walken is another great actor with an easily parodied means of delivery that may cloud appreciation of his ability.