14 Things You Didn’t Know About Star Trek31
By Steven Novak
14 Things You Didn’t Know About Star Trek
Science fiction has long been a bastion for creative, thought-provoking, and insanely original storytelling. Whatever the medium, the genre is representative of how vast our universe can possibly be. Such is the case with KoldCast TV’s hilarious sci-fi series Zerks Log, which follows hapless alien captain Zerks Ganymedwski as he navigates the most treacherous recesses of outer space.
The sci-fi genre has created some of the most financially and critically successful franchises in the history of entertainment. Holding a special place on that list of the world’s biggest sci-fi franchises is Star Trek. In honor of Trekkies everywhere, we’ve compiled a list of fourteen things you might not have known about one of science fiction’s greatest universes – the universe of Star Trek.
Zerks Log, Episode 1: Captain, At Last
1. The USS Enterprise was originally named the Yorktown.
Believe it or not, in creator Gene Roddenberry’s original treatment for the show, the USS Enterprise wasn’t actually named Enterprise. Nope, Gene was aiming for a very “wagon train to the stars” sort of thing and called the ship the Yorktown. The characters were also quite a bit different. No Captain Kirk? Say it ain’t so Gene!
2. Jeri Ryan, aka Seven of Nine, played hard to get… four times.
The role of Star Trek Voyager’s curvaceous Borg, Seven of Nine, was offered to actress Jeri Ryan four times before she finally accepted. The actress eventually relented and poured herself into that gray, wonderfully body-hugging suit only after repeated lobbying by executive producer Jeri Taylor.
3. Scotty had a hand double.
The most famous engineer in all of Starfleet only had four fingers on his right hand. James Doohan, who played “Scotty,” actually lost his middle finger in WWII. In scenes where close-ups were required, a set of stunt hands were necessary. It is noticeable on a few rare occasions though. Keep your eye out during the famous “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode and you’ll spot it.
4. Leonard Nimoy was not first choice for Spock.
The role of Spock was originally offered to screen legend Martin Landau. Landau, however, declined and Leonard Nimoy was brought in instead. While Landau might have been good, a Nimoy-less Trek is a difficult thing to imagine. Here’s another weird bit of trivia: Leonard would later go on to take over the role of the disguise expert on the television show Mission: Impossible when Landau called it quits.
5. Geordi’s visor was actually a modified auto filter.
The famous visor of Star Trek The Next Generation’s Geordi La Forge, played by LeVar Burton, was actually almost an afterthought. The visor was whipped up on the first day of shooting by the effects crew, and pieced together with little more than an automobile air filter and a bit of quick thinking.
6. The Borg was originally a race of insectoids.
Though it’s difficult to imagine, one of Star Trek’s most famous alien races, The Borg, was originally written as insectoids. The change was made for no reason other than budget constraints. Would they have lasted as long as they have if they’d been a bunch of insects instead of a collective of half-human, half-machines? For the answer to that, you need to look no further than Star Trek Enterprise’s Xindi years later. The answer is no.
7. Star Trek’s most famous line was not original.
Turns out the most famous line in all of Star Trek – to boldly go where no man has gone before – was actually taken almost verbatim from a White House booklet on space issued after the Sputnik flight in 1957. It is also arguably the world’s best-known example of a split infinitive. Were it grammatically correct the line would be, “to go boldly.” It wouldn’t sound as cool though.
8. Gene Roddenberry rests peacefully in space.
The ashes of both James Doohan and series creator Gene Roddenberry have been shot into space. Space Services Inc., the company that organized both launches, actually sent Roddenberry’s ashes alongside those of controversial 1960’s icon Timothy Leary in 1997.
9. Watching all 726 episodes including spin-offs and 11 films back-to-back would take three weeks.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that you decided to purchase every season of every Star Trek series on DVD. Let’s say you wanted to watch all 726 episodes, including the spin-off’s and all 11 films, in chronological order, back to back, without taking a single bathroom break or stopping to eat. You’d be watching Star Trek for three weeks. That is, if you survived that long.
10. The character of Major Kira Nerys exists because Michelle Forbes was too busy.
The character of Major Kira Nerys, on the highly underrated Star Trek Deep Space Nine, was actually a last minute addition to the cast. The Next Generation’s Ro Laren, played by Michelle Forbes, was originally slated to be the resident Bajoran on the station but Forbes had no interest in being nailed down to a series at the time. This gave the creators a chance to re-imagine the role and the new series – proving a welcomed snag.
11. Jadzia Dax’s spots were hand drawn every day rather than stenciled.
Though it might be difficult to believe, the famous spots covering the curves of Deep Space Nine’s Science officer Jadzia Dax, who was played by actress Terry Farrell, weren’t stenciled on. Nope, they were hand painted each and every day by series make-up artist Michael Westmore. The process sometimes took over an hour.
12. Kate Mulgrew, aka Capt. Janeway, should thank Genevieve Bujold for her role.
Not only was Kate Mulgrew NOT originally cast as the character of the starship Voyager’s, Captain Janeway, she actually didn’t get the part until after the show had begun shooting. Genevieve Bujold took up the role originally, then abruptly quit a few days into the filming of the first episode. After watching the scenes shot with Bujold, the producers should look back at it as a blessing in disguise.
13. Mick Fleetwood, of Fleetwood Mac, shaved his beard for Star Trek.
Strangely enough, British-born musician, drummer and namesake of the blues-rock band Fleetwood Mac, Mick Fleetwood, appeared on a single episode of Star Trek The Next Generation. Even more strangely he was completely unrecognizable as an Antedean dignitary – after shaving his legendary beard.
14. Star Trek is credited with the first interracial kiss on television.
The kiss between Captain James T. Kirk and his communications officer Uhura in an episode titled “Plato’s Stepchildren” of the original series was actually the very first interracial smooch on American network television. Though NBC had ordered two versions of the scene shot – one with the kiss and one without – it’s been said that William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols flubbed the non-kiss scene, therefore forcing NBC to go with the lip lock.
Zerks Log, Episode 2: Frustration
Zerks Log, Episode 3: Morale
Steven Novak is a writer, illustrator, graphic designer and admitted lifelong nerd with an embarrassingly large DVD collection. He is currently working and living in the Southern California desert. His most recent fantasy/action adventure novel, “Forts: Fathers and Sons,” is available everywhere books are sold.