Flight documentaries: “For the Love of Spock.”


Nine hour flights home from Italy are a bummer. You can read, nap and drink as many free adult beverages as they’ll keep feeding you, but that’s about all. The good news is that these days, the in-flight entertainment offers more options than ever before. The bad news: Most of these options include the usual array of wretched mass market films and television series.

On our most recent flight from Rome in November, at least there were a few good documentary films on tap. They paired well with cans of a beer I’d never expect to see on an international flight: SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale. Corporate placement or not, it was a welcome change from the usual Heineken.

The fourth of four documentaries I watched in November was the most moving, at least for me. When the J.J. Abrams reboot of the Star Trek franchise was announced, I yawned. Never a Trekkie, I’d seen some of the movies with the original cast, and thought little about the topic.

However, when the first of these films appeared in 2009 and my wife dragged me to it, the tears were flowing. Something obviously hadn’t occurred to me, as stated succinctly by film critic Ty Burr.

Trading on affections sustained over 40 years of popular culture, Star Trek does what a franchise reboot rarely does. It reminds us why we loved these characters in the first place.

The 1960s series had far more impact than I’d imagined. Even as a child, I was a McCoy kind of guy, but of course Leonard Nimoy’s Spock also resonated. The documentary is as much about Nimoy’s son as the actor, and it isn’t perfect, but many gaps are closed. I recommend it without reservation.

The film looks at the life and career of actor Leonard Nimoy, and his iconic character Mr. Spock. It includes interviews with cast, crew and people connected with Star Trek, fans at conventions, as well as personal memories.

The documentary’s home page lists the platforms for viewing.


Flight documentaries: “Fastball” — the pitch, not the band.

Flight documentaries: “All Things Must Pass,” or the rise and fall of Tower Records.

Flight documentaries: “Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans.”