Thursday, January 5, 2017

USS Enterprise NCC-4077

In 1991, David Ogden Stiers made a guest appearance on "Half A Life", a season 4 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I watched TNG when it originally aired, and I remembered being delighted to see Maj. Winchester again!

What I didn't know was that there was an Easter egg buried in the show, as a nod to Mr. Stiers' former TV gig. Look closely on one of the control panels in Engineering, and you'll see a familiar set of numbers:

I never knew about this gag until it was mentioned on the great Mission Log podcast, an episode-by-episode look at Star Trek in all its forms. Nice job, ST: TNG art department!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

William Christopher, 1932-2016

Dear Bill,

I hope you don't mind me calling you Bill, considering that we've never met. But every time I saw someone on the show refer to you, it was as "Bill", not "William." Plus, you seem just so darn friendly that I didn't think you'd mind.

I've never been a believer, of any stripe, but if I had been stationed at the 4077th, I think I would have sought Father Mulcahy out--just to "kick it around", as he liked to say. Father Mulcahy was always so wise, so warm, so understanding, that even though we didn't share any of the same beliefs, you infused the character with such a basic humanity that I never thought you would judge me, no matter how much I might screw up.

You were asked once what M*A*S*H was about, and you cheekily said: "It's about a chaplain in Korea." And while that wasn't strictly true, your presence on the show always offered a stark contrast to the other characters, and the show would have been severely diminished without your presence. And when Father Mulcahy got a big moment--like in "The Interview", "Mulcahy's War", "Dear Sis", or "A Holy Mess"--you knocked it out of the park. In those moments, the show was about a chaplain in Korea!

I grew up on M*A*S*H, and it was an enormous influence on the person I am today. Decades later, I'm still miffed that AfterM*A*S*H--which I watched, er, religiously--was cancelled so unceremoniously, and your character never got a proper goodbye. I like to think Father Mulcahy kept hanging out with his 4077th pals, and continued making life better for anyone who came to him for help. Like the character you so brilliantly played for over a decade, you brought a lot of joy into people's lives.

Rest in peace, William--Bill--Christopher.

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