Wednesday, July 20, 2005

James Doohan, R.I.P.

Montgomery Scott James Doohan

One factor I've always liked about the original Star Trek series, is that it was a team effort. James T. Kirk could never go boldly on his own; he needed a ship full of people to get him there. And whom did he rely on to look after the ship?

Not the guy with the pointed ears (although "Beam me up, Mr. Spock!" is canon). Not the crusty country doctor. No, he relied on a man who couldn't change the laws of physics, who could play "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes and mean it, a man who always inflated his repair estimates because he knew the captain would use every bit of time he gave him -- in short, he relied on a miracle worker. He needed "Scotty."

James Doohan acted in a number of other roles. In the CBC television movie "Flight Into Danger" (which was remade into the big feature Airport) he played the civilian passenger who wound up in the cockpit of a jetliner trying to make an emergency landing. But it will always be as Montgomery Scott that this Canadian-born actor will always be remembered. And it's nice to know that he learned not to let the typecasting bother him:

In 1973, he complained to his dentist, who advised him: "Jimmy, you're going to be Scotty long after you're dead. If I were you, I'd go with the flow."

"I took his advice," said Doohan, "and since then everything's been just lovely."

The word is given: Warp speed, Mr. Scott.