Amid the deserved tributes to the late Harold Ramis, it was easy to miss the announcement on Tuesday of the passing of director Clifford John Bole.
Yet, news of Bole’s passing deserves better than to be dismissed like a late-in-the-day memo given his contributions to genre television.
In a career spanning over 30 years, Cliff Bole directed key episodes of some of the small screen’s most popular science fiction series, including The Six Million Dollar Man, Fantasy Island, V, Millennium, MANTIS, Harsh Realm, The X-Files and Supernatural. His name is also on episodes of several other shows beloved by fans of fantasy telly, among them Charlie’s Angels, McGyver and Mission: Impossible.
It was Bole’s work on the Star Trek franchise that is probably his most significant contribution to the popularisation of televised science fiction, however.
He directed episodes of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Moreover, those credits include several segments that helped to establish the credibility of the franchise’s first revival among not only fans of The Original Series but also the science fiction community in general and the wider public.
Outstanding among these episodes were ‘The Best Of Both Worlds’, Parts 1 and 2, which, between them, received five Emmy nominations, winning for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. His other TNG credits include ‘Hollow Pursuits’ and the second instalment of ‘Unification’, which were also nominated for Emmys.
Bole never got major recognition for directing Star Trek. Fortunately, though, his memorable work will be deservedly marked in the franchise’s mythology by the Bolians, a blue-skinned alien race that was named after him. They were introduced in The Next Generation and occasionally reappeared in all three Star Trek series that Bole worked on.
Star Trek has since withered as a TV show, but it only lasted as long as it did because Bole and directors like him pointed it across generational and pop culture boundaries. Being the father of an extraterrestrial species is therefore an appropriate tribute to a man who helped to make a world of difference to the credibility genre TV now enjoys.
Cliff Bole died on 15 February 2014 aged 76.