Posted by: David Stewart | December 20, 2009

When Star Trek collides with 24

When you create something, did you ever leave a little bit of graffiti where nobody would see? I did once, and you can see it here in this scene as well.

It’s after 11:00PM in the White House. After a tumultuous day of terrorist attacks which included airplane crashes, chemical spills and release of a biological agent, the president’s chief of staff (named Ethan) has had to resign in disgrace.

In other words, just another day in the life of “24”, the espionage thriller on US television. Let’s pick up the thread of conversation in the oval office as the president considers options for replacing Ethan:

President: “Bob Justman’s been associate counsel for the past three years. He and Ethan worked very closely together.”

Adviser: “He’s certainly qualified to be chief of staff.”

“But?”

“After what’s happened today, I think you should be looking outside your administration.”

“An insider has a leg up. Chief of staff has a steep learning curve.”

“I think you’re underestimating the value of a fresh perspective.”

“You have someone in mind.”

“I do. Rick Berman.”

“Would Rick even consider leaving the private sector?”

“He’s made his fortune. I think he’d jump at the chance to serve his country.”

This is throw-away dialog. We never meet any of these potential candidates. The dialog is meant to set up a more significant plot point in a few beats.

But for the fan of the many series of “Star Trek”, this is high art. Bob Justman was the long time associate producer of the original Star Trek series and was a show runner for “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Rick Berman took over the reins of executive producer of the Star Trek franchise from creator Gene Roddenberry and oversaw many Stark Trek series and flims.

Why such an obscure homage to “Star Trek” in the dialog of “24”? It turns out that several producers of “24” were also on the production staff of the venerable “Star Trek” universe.

Manny Coto is the co-executive producer of “24” and was the show runner for “Star Trek: Enterprise,” the ill-fated last series. Brannon Braga is the other “Trek” alum on “24’s” staff, having served as executive producer for both series.

This is a little love note, from one professional to another. The audience would never know.

I’m reminded of some software that I wrote 15 years ago where I slipped in a similar little Easter egg. Suffice it to say that every computer that my company produced was shipped with the date of my birthday written in a particular location.

(If you really must know, I used it as a code which showed that a disk label was valid. I was even complemented by the later maintainer of the code because it obviously was a good bit pattern. Right, that’s why I chose it!)

I love these times when the artist peels back the canvas and winks at the viewer. So long as it’s not too distracting.

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