Star Trek 50th Anniversary: Anton Yelchin and Pavel Chekov
Much Talent Lost Too Early
Beloved young actor Anton Yelchin, born in Russia and arriving in the USA as a youngster, made a hit with American audiences in science fiction film roles that included the inimitable Pavel Chekov in Star Trek® reboot films I - III.
He was also Odd Thomas, Dean Koontz's young fry cook with supra-normal abilities.
His death resulted from a mishap with a vehicle he owned that had just been recalled for transmission problems. It was not an extravagant auto for a film star to own and we wish the manufacturer had prevented the problem that too Anton;s life.
Veteran actor Walter Koenig continues to reprise Pavel Chekov in new full length Trek episodes via YouTube.
Pavel ChekovClick thumbnail to view full-size
Both of Yelchin's well known characterizations will likely not be topped by other actors in the near future. His Chekov was seen for the last time during the first run of the 2016 reboot film, after his death, and audiences kept their eyes glued to him on screen.
You could hear people gasping in the audience, some even quietly weeping. He had made an impression. Many popular science fiction characters do so.
With the loss of Leonard Nimoy in early 2015, at which Zachary Quinto shed real tears in the 2016 Reboot film, and the death of Grace Lee Whitney (Yeoman Rand, TOS) just a few weeks later, the Star Trek® fan base was not prepared for the death of a cast member of the newest crew. Why should they be?
The Odd Thomas fans did not get to know him well enough. He suddenly disappeared from life as did Odd's love of a lifetime, Stormy, in the book and movie.
Anton Yelchin died in 2016, the year of Star Trek's 50th Anniversary (1966 - 2016) and the release of "Star Trek Beyond" in the cinema.
Paranormal Hero: The Fry Cook Odd Thomas
The well known fantasy-horror writer Dean Koontz has produced dozens of supernatural tales that include engaging characterizations. Many of the people in his books are looking for meaning in life and a number of them are looking to prove that God exists.
Koontz's writing is refreshing in that he includes quirky personalities, bizarre events, and uncanny coincidences. He is also a writer that can weave humor into suspenseful and dangerous scenarios so that it fits well.
The Odd Thomas series of novels begins with a book of the same name. Its first pages grasp the reader's mind with a unique cadence and world view in the language of the narrator that keeps the book in one's hands.
Anton Yelchin's untimely death in June 2016 in a one-vehicle accident with his Jeep that had been recalled leaves the roles of Odd Thomas and Pavel Chekov empty.
Who Will Be the Third Chekov?
Pavel Chekov I (Walter Koenig) is still seen in action online in YouTube feature length films with Nichelle Nichols (Uhura). In fact, he is now the admiral the always wanted to become.
Access these movies at YouTube via the use "Renegades", which produces the Star Trek: Renegades episodes.
You must tune in to see Uhura marry the Vulcan gentleman Stonn! We do not know what happened to T'Pring.
My choice for the next Chekov is an actor from Major Crimes - Graham Patrick Martin, who plays Rusty. However, I would love to see Michael Paul Chan portray a character in Star Trek.
Martin's two brothers and sister have also acted, so we could plan for a Chekov family in the reboot film series. At 5'7"' and age 24, he fits the physical profile for Pavel Chekov.
Russian Roots of Chekov
American actor Anton Yelchin, who was the new Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek reboot films, was also believable and likeable as Odd Thomas. Like our former Commander Chekov - Walter Koenig - Anton was of Russian heritage.
Odd Thomas: Just a Fry Cook
When I first learned about the Odd Thomas books and their protagonist short-order cook with extra powers, I pictured an unshaven man somewhere between 35 - 50 years old, beginning a new life out West after some mishap...I was wrong.— P. Inglish
A Hard Drinking Granny Woman
Reading the first chapter of the book, I wanted to know more about Odd Thomas. I wanted to know more of his background and more about what, at age 20, he was going to do with a long life ahead of him. What would the next 60 years mean to him?
Part of his world view comes from the life of his grandmother, evident in the above quote. Granny felt that God can be entertained by our actions, even stupid actions. Odd seem to approve. he does not approve so much of his other, who will not give him the straight story about how his name came to be "Odd."
A strange name can saddle a child for life with the inability to succeed. This may be a reason behind Odd's feeling that he is really not very important and that he can be a short-order cook for the span of his life. Many of my adult education high school dropout students with unusual names have felt those inadequacies, but so have some of those having more usual names.
For some individuals, one's background must be overcome and left behind in order to succeed in life. The ways in which Odd Thomas handles this fact gives the rest of us some ideas about our own lives to consider. For the present, Odd will be a fry cook and think about it.
Being a hard-drinking woman with numerous interests in addition to poker, Granny Sugars didn’t always spend as much time spreading God’s word as she promised Him that she would. She believed that God expected to be conned more often than not and that He would be a good sport about it. You can con God and get away with it, Granny said, if you do so with charm and wit.— Odd Thomas, Chapter One, Page 4.
Pico Mundo, California
Odd Thomas lives in a small desert town in Southern California and the desert is a place of mystery and beauty.
The fictional Pico Mundo, California is a somewhere around Palm Springs. California has over 100 desert towns. Pico Mundo might be any or non of them, or a magical Brigadoon that appears once a century. Immersing oneself in the storyline of the book feels that way. That is another reason a reader might not want to stop reading until the end. Some of us want the real existence of Brigadoon or Pico Mundo or Lilian Jackson Braun's Pickaxe City.
This book can persuade readers to consider ways of making their own lives more appetizing, developing values and relationships we appreciate in the mythical places..
The film Odd Thomas matches the book in that the set for Pico Mundo lies on real estate in Santa Fe, New Mexico.it is near desert land and resembles that of California desert areas.
The grill where Odd works is reclaimed wreckage of an old diner. It is now resplendent in golden woods, silver kitchen utensils, and glassware sparkling under comfortable lighting. Brick kitchen walls are fresh and attractive. The Pico Mundo Grille became the old Plaza Cafe with a new personality (see map below) and the owners added a Southside Grille that Santa Fe residents and visitors also enjoy.
Plaza Cafe Became Pico Mundo Grille
Anton Yelchin, Star
Anton Yelchin, Russian by birth, played a believable Ensign Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek® reboot universe. He makes a good transition to Odd Thomas and on film he looks as if he had fun portraying the part.
One difference is that Chekov's dreams of becoming an admiral never materialize (even in the YouTube based independent films continuing the stories), but many of Thomas's nightmares come true and evil spirits do materialize.
Sometimes Odd sadly does not have time to warn victims of disaster in his dreams and this grieves him. It causes him to wonder further about God and a purpose in living.
When I first learned about the Odd Thomas books and their protagonist short-order cook with extra powers, I pictured an unshaven man somewhere between 35 - 50 years old, beginning a new life out West after some mishap.
I was nonplussed by the actual character.
Odd surprised me - He is only 20 years old. He graduated from high school with nowhere to go. He thinks that he is unimportant, but prides himself in making the best pancakes in the region. Many people in the story line feel that he is very important, though.
The children in town love him and that is an accomplishment he can cherish for decades, even if he succeeds at nothing else than making fluffy pancakes and making children smile.
Thomas helps local constabulary with crime detection and solution and against stereotype, the PM Police Department appreciates his help.
In early film trailers as the one offered further below, Odd juggles pancakes with a spatula and does other diner tricks for the kids, much like the trained entertainment chefs at Japanese restaurants. He must like his work. He does not enjoy the evil spirits that come up out of the floor, unseen to anyone but himself. The special effects in the trailer and the film are very good.
I see dead people, but then, by God, I do something about it.— Odd Thomas
The Dead Stars Parade
A trio of deceased and famous personages follows Odd through his 20s. Through the first couple of books, it is Elvis Presley. Elvis cannot speak in his spirit form, but he can sort of mime and provide facial expressions. Odd talks to him, hoping to help him to eternity, solving whatever problem keeps the silent King of ghosts on Earth.
Odd says: “The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.”
When Elvis is ready to cross over into the beyond-the-blue, Frank Sinatra comes in to take his place for a while. After that, it is Alfred Hitchcock. Odd has an interesting life, even after his mishap.
Odd can see dead dog characters as well, fitting because Dean Koontz loves dogs and includes them in his books.
For the film version of Koontz's first book, Elvis is relegated to a large cardboard cutout in the corner of Odd's room. I think they could have gotten Bruce Campbell for Elvis’s spirit (see Bubba Hotep) and he would have been believable.
Bodachs are the evil spirits that Odd does not like to see. They are an omen to very bad occurrences in the near future. Sometimes, he cannot stop these events, so not all is happy, as in TV’s Early Edition. That show offered news headlines a day early to Kyle Chandler’s character in order to allow him to save lives and prevent injustices. Odd Thomas sometimes simply suffers from the knowledge of evils he cannot control.
Odd's second supernatural ability is a form of psychic magnetism, an ability to be drawn to places of import – usually crimes - by allowing his instincts to take over.
"Loop Me In, Odd One."
Stormy is Odd’s one true love. She lives in Pico Mundo and when Odd has a case, she can often help. She asks for information with her catch phrase, “Loop me in, Odd One.”
Once, at a fortunetelling machine that operates with an old Gypsy woman robot inside, Odd and Stormy received this fortune on a slip of paper: “You are destined to be together forever.” The fortune usually appears at the end of the Odd Thomas books on an otherwise blank page, haunting the reader.
Are relationships the product of fate or of God or are they accidents?
There’s probably a law against being as happy as I am right now.— Dean Koontz
Reviews of Book and Film
As I wrote this article, Amazon.com contained 971 customer reviews of the book with an average score of 4.5 stars out of 5.0. That is excellent praise on Amazon. Some readers who admitted disliking Dean Koontz books overall admitted to liking Odd Thomas, man and book. He is an intriguing and likable character.
Goodreads.com offers 4095 reader reviews and a total of over 150,700 book ratings for the book Odd Thomas at a 3.9 out of 5 star average rating.
Rotten Tomatoes, a popular film review site, at this time shows only 33 reviews for the film. the average review rating is 3.6 out of 5 stars, a bit blow the Goodreads book rating mentioned above. Ten reviews are from Top Critics from the high profile news media and only two reviews are good. A dozen other media critics from smaller newspapers and websites found the film engaging and entertaining and I agree with them. I look forward to a series of films made form each one of Dean Koontz's books in this series.
Dean Koontz's Opinion
- Dean Speaks About the Odd Thomas Movie; Dean Koontz
"There’s probably a law against being as happy as I am right now."
Odd Thomas's FriendsClick thumbnail to view full-size
America has seen dozens of films and TV series focused on spirits wandering the Earth and the phenomenon and superstitions surrounding it are centuries old. One film has a good explanation.
In Ghost Town, Greg Kinnear portrays a spirit wandering the world to keep an eye on his still living wife/widow. Near the ending, he gives the advice that ghosts do not linger because they are not finished with us [the living], but because we are not finished with them. I think Kinnear's character was giving good advice.
The series of Odd Thomas novels are all very good, with quirky characters and interesting plots. See the film of the first book, if you have the chance.
Some of the cast and crew of Odd Thomas:
- Stephen Sommers - Director, Screenplay Writer.
- Willem Dafoe - Chief of Police Wyatt Porter, who appreciates Odd's working with him.
- Patton Oswalt - Ozzie P. Boone, a writer and sculptor. In the book, his cat is Terrible Chester, who claims to be 58 years old.
- Addison Timlin - Stormy Llewellyn.
- 50 Cent - Shamus Cocobolo.
- Gugu Mbatha-Raw - Viola Peabody, a single mom who dreams her own death.
- Shuler Hensley - Fungus Bob Robertson.
"You are destined to be together forever."— Fortune Machine in "Odd Thomas"
© 2014 Patty Inglish MS