Resistance is futile: Star Trek exhibit draws big crowds to Vancouver PNE

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VANCOUVER - They've boldly gone where no man has gone before — and now they've been to Vancouver's Pacific National Exhibition, too.

Actors Brent Spiner and Marina Sirtis, who played Lt. Commander Data and Counsellor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation, thrilled fans Friday with visit to the Star Trek exhibition at this year's fair.

On the 25th anniversary of the iconic sci-fi show, the actors said they had no idea when they signed on to do the pilot that it would spawn a franchise that continues to this day.

"Work. They offered me a job which was going to last a year or 10 months, it was going to be the longest job I'd ever had on television and I said: Where do I sign," Sirtis said. "It was just a job, really, at the time. I wasn't a big Star Trek fan.

"Now, of course, I am, because, um, they bought me everything I own."

As they did a whirlwind photo shoot in the touring exhibit, Spiner said he had no idea what was ahead.

"I still don't believe it," he said.

"I don't take it particularly seriously, the whole oeuvre, but it's almost 50 years old, Star Trek, and when something hits half a century and it's still going, you have to take it semi-seriously. When it hits 100 years, it's a certified religion at that point."

This original series, starring William Shatner as James T. Kirk, debuted in 1966 and ran for just three seasons but became a cult hit, and the franchise was revived in Star Trek: The Next Generation, which debuted in September 1987.

There were 178 episodes of The Next Generation over the next seven years, and the cast appeared in four feature-length movies. The torch was passed to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which ran from 1993 to 1999, Star Trek: Voyager, 1995-2001, and Star Trek: Enterprise, 2001-2005.

The exhibit makes it first-ever Canadian stop at the Pacific National Exhibition, which continues until Sept. 3. There are 46 years of Star Trek history on display, including sets from the series, filming models, props, costumes and more from all five series and 11 feature films.

Tony Doblin, director of operations for the travelling exhibit, said there are more than 300 pieces of memorabilia, including Captain Kirk's chair from the original series.

There's a 10-foot replica of the Enterprise ship, prop weapons, phasers and an array of uniforms.

"All these amazing things that back then, in the '60s, were so totally so far ahead of their times. If you look at the original communicator, it's the original Motorola flip phone," Doblin said. "It's an incredible exhibition."

The most popular part of the exhibit appears to be the store at the end, where Trekkies can have their photos taken in a "transporter" and buy anything from a Spock t-shirt to an Enterprise pizza cutter.

"The highlight was Brent and Marina coming," said Jeff Witting, of Delta, B.C., a Trekkie who came dressed in the red and black uniform of an Enterprise crewman.

"I've grown up with it my entire life. There's always been a series and I think it just gives us all hope that there is a future for mankind."

Organizations: The Next Generation, Motorola

Geographic location: Vancouver, Delta

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