For the American television viewing public, it began on a Thursday evening in September of 1966. September 8th to be specific. That was the night that “Star Trek” first aired, on NBC. One has to wonder if the executives at CBS who turned down the chance to air Star Trek who turned it down because they were already working on “Lost in Space;” regret that decision.
In honor of the release of Star Trek Beyond and the fact that Star Trek has been around for so long and is still going strong, here’s some background and trivia about the the Original Series and the films directly connected to that show. True fans of Trek will know most, if not all of this but it is worth reviewing.
The first pilot for the show was “The Cage”, which was not aired as originally produced until October of 1988. Material from this episode was used in two first season episodes, “The Menagerie Parts I and II.” The only credited members of the cast of The Cage to appear in the series were Majel Barrett and Leonard Nimoy.
The first episode aired on September 8, 1966 was not the second pilot, which was ordered by NBC. It was “The Man Trap”, which was the only Star Trek credit for noted writer George Clayton Thomas, who wrote Logan’s Run. The second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was the third episode aired. It was in that second pilot that the name of Captain Kirk appears with the middle initial R, rather than the T it became in the episode “Court-Martial” later that season.
Counting The Cage, there were 80 episodes of the original Star Trek (TOS) produced. Leonard Nimoy was the only actor to appear in all 80. Eddie Paskey appeared in more episodes of TOS than either George Takei or Walter Koenig, although he was never credited. Most of his appearances were as “Lieutenant Leslie.”
During the production of TOS, George Takei missed nine episodes while he was filming The Green Berets with John Wayne.
It was William Shatner who insisted that his name appear in the opening credits of TOS in larger typeface than the names of Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley.
James Doohan lost the middle finger of his right hand during World War II, but it is only visible on-screen a few times during the TV episodes.
Series creator Gene Roddenberry wrote lyrics for the show’s opening theme and was therefore entitled to 50% of the royalties, even though the lyrics weren’t used.
Although never mentioned in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the character played by Stephen Collins, “Commander Decker” is presumed to be the son of “Commodore Matt Decker” who dies in the TOS season 2 episode “The Doomsday Machine.”
Persis Khambatta, who portrayed the Deltan navigator, “Lieutenant Ilia” in Star Trek: The Motion Picture had to shave her head for the role. She was so concerned that her hair might not grow back she convinced Gene Roddenberry to purchase insurance in case that happened and damaged her career. Her hair did grow back. Sadly, she passed away from a heart attack at the age of 49 in 1998.
I will confess to being one of the people who tagged Star Trek: The Motion Picture with the pejorative nickname “Star Trek – The Slow-Motion Picture” because of its sluggish pace.
You never see Captain Kirk and Khan together on-screen during Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. All of their communication is by view screen or via communicator. This is because Ricardo Montalban was busy filming his TV series, “Fantasy Island” during the production of the movie.
The reason that actress Madlyn Rhue did not reprise her role as “Lieutenant Marla McGivers” from the TOS episode “Space Seed” in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is because she was suffering from multiple sclerosis and was confined to a wheelchair at the time. This is why her character was one of the members of Khan’s crew that died at the cilia of the Ceti Eels.
In the scene in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, George Takei initially objected to being called “Tiny” in the scene where he knocks a very large security guard unconscious. But when he saw the audience laughing at the sequence at a test screening, he withdrew his objections.
Nicholas Meyer, who directed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and would later direct Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was the first person offered the chance to direct Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. There are reports that he refused because he firmly believed that Spock’s death should have been final. Only he knows for sure.
In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the whale hunters are speaking Finnish.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was the last appearance by Majel Barrett as “Nurse Christine Chapel” although she went on to a recurring role as “Lwaxana Troi” in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
Jane Wiedlin of the all-female band “The Go-Gos” has a cameo in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home has a running time of nearly two hours but there are less than two minutes of shots of the Enterprise in the film.
Most fans of TOS consider the odd-numbered films to be inferior to the even-numbered movies. The worst of the odd-numbered films is thought by many to be Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. The film’s poor performance at the box office in the U.S. caused it to be a direct to video release in a number of foreign markets.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was the final big-screen appearance of Laurence Luckinbill (as of 7/24/2016). It was also the only Star Trek film to be nominated for a Golden Raspberry for Worst Picture.
Legend has it that actor Christian Slater framed his $750 paycheck for his walk-on role in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry died within three days of viewing Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The film is dedicated in his memory.
TOS generated an animated series (TAS), “Star Trek: The Next Generation” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Star Trek: Enterprise.” All except TAS are currently running in syndication.