Star Trekkin’

The times they are a-changin’.

This post seems to be older than 15 years—a long time on the internet. It might be outdated.

This was originally from Tidbits of Broomfield, Erie, Lafayette, Louisville, & Superior and written by Mary Hamilton:

  • Westerns ruled the airwaves in the 1960s, so it is no suprise that Star Trek was originally envisioned, billed, and sold as a “space western” with “space ships instead of horses”. The original pilot, “The Cage,” was notonly unaired, it was also “un-Kirked.” Instead of William Shatner as Captain James Kirk, Jeffrey Hunter played Captain Christopher Pike. The only characters to be carried over from the pilot to the regular series were Spock and Chapel (who was apparently demoted from second in command to a nurse by airtime).
  • “The Cage” was considered too cerebral and “too good for television.” After more filming, the NBC brass had three pilots to choose from. They settled on “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” Before the series closed, “The Cage” was reworked intot he two-part episode, titled “The Menagerie”.
  • It’s amazing that Star Trek became the phenomenon it is due to its original lackluster ratings. When first aired in September of 1966, NBC didn’t appreciate what it had. The Neilsen Ratings did not consider demographics, and the numbers were mediocre – it never hit higher that #52. Within three months, the show was on the cancellation block.
  • The NBC execs were caught off-guard by a strong write-in campaign, and the network ultimately chose to renew it. Unfortunately, without the knowledge that the core audience was the highly desirable young-adult age group, the show was ensured low viewership when it was relegated to the 10 p.m. Friday night slot. The year after Star Trek was finally cancelled, the Neilsens began examining demographics, and Star Trek’s audience was at last able to “discover” the show in syndication.
  • Though the original Star Trek only lasted three years, it spawned a number of progeny that filled the television airwaves in later years. Following The Animated Series (basedonthe original show), there was The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise.
  • The first movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, was originally developed as another TV series titled Star Trek Phase II. When the first film proved popular, it was naturally given the sequal treatment. The titles (or subtitles, rather) included The Wrath of Kahn, The Search for Spock, The Voyage Home, The Final Frontier, The Undiscovered Country, Generations, First Contact, Insurrection, and Nemesis.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country signified the end of an era. It was the last film to center around the same crew as the original TV series. But more importantly, it was the last Star Trek movie made before series creator Gene Roddenberry died. Though he disliked the script, Roddenberry liked the final product upon viewing it,just three days before his death. The feature film was dedicated to him, and the movie’s DVD release was dedicated to DeForest “Bones” Kelley, who passed away in 1999.
  • Roddenberry had an unusual method for developing alien characters. He would draw a line down the center of a paper, write questions onone side and the characters answers on the other side. This could go on for as many as a hundred pages per character. The show’s creator found humself being constantly corrected by Spock when he was in the midst of “questioning” the Vulcan/Human.
  • The character of Spock 0f Spock almost never made it to the screen, since the executives were nervious about his devilish looks and wanted him dropped. Roddenberry refused to do a second pilot with the character, but eventually he agreed to “keep him in the background.” After NBC bought the series, they actually airbrushed Spick’s ears and eyebrows to make them appear more rounded in advertisments. Of course, Spock’s appeal became evident within the first eight episodes, causing a program exec to demand to know, “Why are you keeping Spock in the background? Why aren’t you having more stories about him?” Interestingly enough, his popularity was greates among women, who, according to viewer polls, found him sexy.
  • “Stardates” were devised to remind the viewer that the show takes place in the future. Sticklers for such things might have noticed that there was often no set pattern to the dates. Rather than to explain away the inconsistency as a fault of the writers, Gene Roddenberry said that they regularly “adjust for shifts in the relative time which occur due to the vessel’s speed and warp capability.” Remember that the next time your boss asks about a report.
  • Star Trek was known to be a barrier breaker. As a testimoney to Roddenberry’s hopes and belief that the world in the future would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” he compiled a truely ethnically diverse crew, with characters representing various races and nationalities from Earth.
  • The first televised interracial kiss appeared on Star Trek on November 22, 1968. Actually, the kiss was written as an “interspecies” kiss between Spock and Uhura. When William Shatner saw the script, he said “Oh no! If anyone is going to get to kiss Nichelle, it’s going to be me!” Apparently, that was the right choice. One might wonder how Roddenberry felt about the kiss. According to Nichols’ autobiography, she and Roddenberry had fallen in love back when they worked on his shortlived series, The Lieutenant (before the days of Star Trek), but later chose to keep their relationship on a professional basis.
  • A number of Star Trek actors were the same age as the character they played. The first season of the original series takes place in the year 2266. It has been estimated that Montgomery “Scotty” Scott’s birth date is 2222. This would make the Cheif Engineer 44, the same age as James Doohan, the actor who portrayed him, at the time the show was first aired. Lieutenant Uhura was born in 2239, making her 26 during the first season, the same age of Nichelle Nichols in 1966 (according to her biography). One would wonder what this means for DeForest Kelley, who portrayed Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. In the pilot episode of The Next Generation, his character was 137 years old.
  • Sometimes, character names were chosen as tributes. A season two episode called “The Ultimate Computer” included a character named Commordore Bob Wesley. “Bob Wesley” was a pseudonym Gene Roddenberry used when writting for such shows as Highway Patrol and Have Gun Will Travel; Weley was Roddenberry’s middle name, and Bob was his brother. The Next Generation had a shuttle pod bearing the name “Onizuka”; Ellison Onizuka was an astronaut who died in the Challenger explosion.
  • Some of the names used in Star Trek were significant for the times. In an era of racial intolerance, the Swahili name for freedom, Uhura, was given to an African-American woman. Roddenberry also seemed to like “Tiberius”. He game the name to a character in his earlier series The Lieutenant, and, in one of the series’ best known bloopers, Kirk’s tombstone reads “James R. Kirk” in the pilot episde – but later, he is James T. (Tiberius) Kirk.
  • The show’s dramatic introduction is well-remembered by many television fans. Although Captain Kirks voice described the Enterprise as being on a “five-year mission,” the show only ran for three years. For Captain Picard’s monologue before The Next Generation, this text was altered to say “its continuing mission,” a better play since that series lasted seven season, longer than the original.
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