Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hunting Gorn in California's Antelope Valley

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

I would never call myself a Trekkie, but there are a few Star Trek (The Original Series) episodes that I have always liked.  Anyone raised in NYC in the 70s can probably remember the 6PM nightly Star Trek broadcasts on Channel 11 (WPIX).

My all-time favorite episode is Arena (originally aired on 1/19/67); the episode known for that awesome rubber-suited lizard-alien called the Gorn.  I even admit having owned a Gorn action figure.

The Gorn's slow, bow-legged walk and ability to toss and be hit by large boulders was just too cool.  There was not much to his costume.  However, in the remastered/re-released modern version of the episode, the Gorn's eyes blink; something that did not happen in the original airing. I could have done without the change.

When I moved to southern California and was returning from the high desert (Mojave), I was traveling through the Antelope Valley, just west of Palmdale on CA-14, when I saw angled rocks that triggered some memories.  Research told me this was Vasquez Rocks Park, in Agua Dulce.  It was at Vasquez Rocks that Arena (as well as more than 300 other movies and TV shows), was filmed.

Here is a screen capture of the Gorn captain getting ready to go "mano y mano" with Kirk with the distinct angled rocks of Vasquez Rocks Park in the background.  In reality, where they are standing is part of the parking lot and the road into and out of the park passes through the center of the frame.  The tire tracks are pretty obvious.

Kirk and the Gorn captain about to go at it!
Same General View As in the Capture Above, But Viewed From 
On the Rocks and at a Slightly Different Angle

The Gorn only made one other TV appearance.  A computer-animated Gorn (named Slar) showed up very briefly in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode, "In a Mirror Darkly, Part II" (airing April 29, 2005).  I only know of this by researching the Gorn (how geeky is that?) and watching that episode on Netflix.  I have never watched any of the Star Trek spin-offs.  Anyway, I prefer the live-action, real Gorn of Arena. 

Iin the 2013 film Star Trek Into Darkness, Doctor McCoy referred to performing an emergency delivery of a brood of eight Gorn, noting "those little bastards bite!"  

2005 Computer Animated Gorn - Not All That Scary
My other favorite Star Trek (The Original Series) episodes are:
The Doomsday Machine (original air date:10/20/67) - Love that planet eating hollow log and the crazy Commodore Decker!
USS Constellation Getting Sucked into the Planet Eater

Decker About to Lose it as he and the Shuttle-craft Get Sucked into the Planet Eater
Assignment Earth (original air date: 3/29/68) - Terri Garr at 20 years old and a hot, shape-shifting black cat!
Adorable Terri Garr

Kitty Cat?

Not Actually!
Tomorrow is Yesterday (original air date:1/24/67) - The Enterprise v. an F-104 Starfighter and confused USAF MP's.
Pilot Being Beamed Back into His F-104
Confused MP Beamed Aboard the Enterprise   

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