Wearing Red Shirt Finally Proves Fatal


From Redmond, Washington comes the sad news that James "Scotty" Doohan—the man who kept the starship Enterprise flying through countless dilithium shortages and transporter malfunctions and, by being the first Canadian to become a superstar with a fake Highlands accent, prefigured at least 70 percent of Mike Myers' career—has died at the age of 85.

In a 2002 interview with Nick Gillespie, Gilligan Unbound author Paul Cantor described Star Trek's forward-looking vision of an Americanized galaxy as indicative of '60s-era hopes for globalization: "You see all the elements of specifically American self-confidence in Star Trek, too. There, American democracy is 'galacticized.' In one out of two episodes, Capt. Kirk shows up and ruins any regime he encounters, especially if it smacks of aristocracy or theocracy." How essential was Scotty to Trek's egalitarian vision? The character always appealed to my own preference for workaday pluggers over glamorpusses, and in CNN's obit, Doohan has some unkind comments about William Shatner's camera-hogging, but this is not the time to revive old spats.

Fans may differ on which episode was Scotty's high point, but I'd have to go with "Wolf In the Fold," wherein the chief engineer is falsely accused of being a pan-galactic Jack the Ripper. Even here, tellingly, Scotty was overshadowed by the great John Fiedler, who gave the performance of a lifetime as an officious bureaucrat (and who also left us grieving recently). Even in Starfleet, the life of a working class hero offers few rewards. RIP.