Thursday, March 29, 2018

Fascinating Star Trek Trivia

March 29, 1968, 50 years ago: Star Trek airs the episode "Assignment: Earth." Robert Lansing plays Gary Seven, an interstellar "James Bond" (or, if you prefer, "Jim Phelps" of Mission: Impossible, which would later include Trek's Leonard Nimoy), whose alien superiors have given him technological knowledge far beyond that of a 20th Century human.

Lansing would be the only guest star to be mentioned in the opening credits of a Trek episode, rather than in the closing credits. A young Teri Garr (misspelled "Terri" in the closing credits) plays his unwitting assistant, a young Secretary named Roberta Lincoln.

This was supposed to be the backdoor pilot for a show featuring Gary and Roberta, as Trek creator Gene Roddenberry thought the show was about to be canceled, and he thought he needed a fallback show.

It turned out to be the other way around: Assignment: Earth was not picked up, and, after initially canceling it, NBC acceded to the wishes of the show's ardent fans, and brought Star Trek back for a 3rd season.

In this episode, Nimoy, as Spock, tells Captain James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner, "Current Earth crises would fill a tape bank, Captain. There will be an important assassination today, an equally dangerous government coup in Asia, and, this could be highly critical, the launching of an orbital nuclear warhead platform by the United States, countering a similar launch by other powers."

Just 6 days after the episode aired, on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated, and a malfunction resulted in the failure of the unmanned Apollo 6 mission. Indeed, the footage used for this episode’s fictional missile launch was of a previous unmanned mission, Apollo 4.

So we have a definitive date for this episode, the only one of the 23rd or 24th Century Star Trek series for which this is true. Even "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" – in the past for this crew but the future for the world below – gets no more specific than that "next Wednesday" will be the launch of the 1st mission to land men on the Moon, and the launch of Apollo 11 did take place on a Wednesday, July 16, 1969.

The deviation from the history that we know is on the coup in Asia: The closest parallel was the "17 July Revolution" in Iraq, 3 months later, in which Saddam Hussein ended up second-in-command.

Also on March 29, 1968: Lucille Frances Ryan is born in Auckland, New Zealand. We know her by the stage name she took after her first marriage: Lucy Lawless. The former star of Xena: Warrior Princess, now appearing on Ash vs. Evil Dead, has never appeared in any form of Star Trek, but she did play a Cylon in the rebooted version of Battlestar Galactica.

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We are now in the process of celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek -- specifically, what is now usually called Star Trek: The Original Series (or ST:TOS): September 8, 1966 to June 3, 1969.

This trivia is limited to TOS, and doesn't include Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-74), the movies, or appearances by the TOS characters in later series (as very old people or in flashbacks):

* James T. Kirk (William Shatner) defeated a seemingly unbeatable computer in 6 episodes: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", "The Return of the Archons," "The Changeling," "The Apple," "The Ultimate Computer" and "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky." ("That Which Survives" doesn't count.)

* Kirk got his shirt ripped in 8 episodes: "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (the 2nd pilot), "The Naked Time," "Miri," "Court Martial," "Shore Leave," "Arena," "Amok Time" and "The Gamesters of Triskelion." But only in "The Savage Curtain" was damage done to his pants.

* Spock (Leonard Nimoy) said the word "fascinating" 49 times, plus once more in each of the 1st 2 movies, and twice more in the Next Generation episode "Unification, Part II." Zachary Quinto used it once in the despicable J.J. Abrams reboot.

* There seems to be no definitive count on how many times Spock used the word "illogical." And it wasn't until "The Omega Glory" that he used "highly illogical."

* The Vulcan salute was performed 5 times, and the phrase "Live long and prosper" used 4 times, twice by Spock.

* Spock performed the Vulcan nerve pinch 12 times, and the Vulcan mind meld 7 times -- including in "The Enterprise Incident," when he used it to fool Romulans into thinking he had killed Kirk with a "Vulcan death grip."

* Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley) made 15 mentions of being a doctor, but only used the specific words, "I'm a doctor, not a... " 5 times: A bricklayer in "The Devil in the Dark," an escalator in "Friday's Child," a mechanic in "The Doomsday Machine," an engineer in "Mirror, Mirror," and a coal miner in "The Empath."

He never used it in any of the movies, although Karl Urban used it once in each of the 3 films in the Abrams reboot. The phrase was never used on The Next Generation, but was used by Phlox (John Billingsley) on Enterprise, used a few times by Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) on Deep Space Nine, and was beaten to death by The Doctor (Robert Picardo) on Voyager.

McCoy also said, "I'm a surgeon, not a psychiatrist" in "The City On the Edge of Forever," and used his status as a doctor to compare himself with a moon shuttle conductor in "The Corbomite Maneuver," an officer of the line in "A Taste of Armageddon," a physicist in "Metamorphosis," a magician in "The Deadly Years," a flesh peddler in "Return to Tomorrow," and a mechanic in "The Empath,"

And, in "Amok Time," after McCoy kept answering questions about Spock's condition with, "I don't know," Kirk asked, "You keep saying that. Are you a doctor, or aren't you?"

* McCoy pronounced 19 people (and "a lot of" Tribbles) dead, but only used the specific phrase, "He's dead, Jim" 4 times: For the unicorn dog in "The Naked Time," chief engineer Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) in "The Changeling" (Nomad had killed him, but then restored him to life), Hengist in "Wolf In the Fold" (an episode that also featured McCoy saying the only 2 examples of, "She's dead, Jim," of Kara the Argelian dancer and Lieutenant Karen Tracy), and Dr. Larry Marvick in "Is There In Truth No Beauty?"

Of Dr. Tristan Adams in "Dagger of the Mind" and Starnes in "And the Children Shall Lead"), he says, "He's dead, Captain."

* Bones never said, "Damn it" until the movies. This was the 1960s, and censors had different standards then. The only words even closely fitting the definition of a profanity in the entire series were uttered by Kirk: At the end of "The City On the Edge of Forever," he said, "Let's get the hell out of here." And at the end of "Bread and Circuses," he said of the planet whose parallel development to Earth differed by having the Roman Empire survive into the 20th Century, Kirk says, "Caesar and Christ, they had them both." But he did not use the name "Christ" as an exclamation.

* Scotty frequently dropped Scottish words like "lad," "lass," "bonny" and "a wee bit," and called the engines "my poor bairns" in "By Any Other Name." Responding to a troublesome situation in "A Taste of Armageddon," he said, "Aye, the haggis is in the fire for sure." But he never said, "I'm givin' her all she's got!"

* Hikaru Sulu was absent for several episodes in the 2nd season (1967-68), because George Takei was filming the John Wayne film The Green Berets.

* Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) confused things for "Russian inwentions" 6 times: The discovery of Sherman's Planet, the development of quatrotriticale, and Scotch whisky ("It was inwented by a little old lady in Leningrad!") in "The Trouble With Tribbles"; the phrase "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" in "Friday's Child"; the Cheshire cat for a creature from Minsk (which is actually in Belarus) in "Who Mourns for Adonais?"; and the Garden of Eden with "just outside Moscow" in "The Apple."

* Leningrad, of course, had its name changed back to St. Petersburg in 1991, but no one knew that would happen when the episode aired in 1967, or when Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (which also mentioned Leningrad) premiered in 1986.

* Nobody, in any version of Star Trek, small or large screen, ever spoke the specific words, "Beam me up, Scotty." Kirk did say, "Beam me up, Mr. Spock" at the end of "The Squire of Gothos," but it was usually, "(number of people) to beam up," or something like that.

* Time travel was used in 5 episodes: "All Our Yesterdays" (to about 3000 BC and about 1700, albeit on a planet other than Earth), "The City On the Edge of Forever" (to 1930), "Assignment: Earth" (to 1968), "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" (to 1969), and "The Naked Time" (back 3 days). A trip to 1881 was simulated in "Spectre of the Gun," so, for practical purposes if not literal truth, that could be counted as a 6th such episode.

It's worth noting that, while "Assignment: Earth" took place after "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" from the Enterprise crew's perspective, the past sequence took place over a year before.

* Not the same thing, but worlds that seemed to be parallels of Earth's past were visited in 7 episodes: "Who Mourns for Adonais?" and "Plato's Stepchildren" (in each case, ancient Greece), "The Return of the Archons" (it looked like the late 19th Century), "A Piece of the Action" (the 1920s), "Patterns of Force" (the 1940s), "Bread and Circuses" (it appeared to be the 1950s) and "Miri" (Spock estimated the world to be at around 1960). So that's 13 episodes, and you can guess why: It was cheaper to use mid-20th Century buildings already standing on the Paramount lot as sets.

* The Klingons appeared 6 times: "Errand of Mercy," "Friday's Child," "The Trouble With Tribbles," "A Private Little War," "Day of the Dove" and "The Savage Curtain."

* The Romulans appeared 3 times: "Balance of Terror," "The Deadly Years" (in that case, only their ships, not their people) and "The Enterprise Incident."

* An "Orion slave girl" appeared in only one episode, "Whom Gods Destroy," named Marta, played by former Batgirl Yvonne Craig. Vina (Susan Oliver) was depicted as one in the original pilot, "The Cage," and the footage was re-used for "The Menagerie," but she wasn't actually one of them.

And, contrary to Eddie Murphy's classic routine, Kirk never actually had sex with Marta, or any other "green bitch" -- only kissed her.

* So how many times did Kirk get "a piece of the action"? Split into passive and aggressive forms, his aggressive form tried to rape Yeoman Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney) in "The Enemy Within." In addition, he kissed former girlfriends in "Dagger of the Mind," and (sort of) "Shore Leave." He also had non-romantic reunions with former girlfriends in "Court Martial" and "Turnabout Intruder."

He also kissed women in "The City On the Edge of Forever," "Mirror, Mirror," "Catspaw," "A Private Little War," "Return to Tomorrow," "By Any Other Name," "Bread and Circuses," "Plato's Stepchildren" (Shatner and Nichelle Nichols, playing Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, had the 1st interracial lip-lock on U.S. prime-time TV), "Wink of an Eye," "Elaan of Troyius," the aforementioned "Whom Gods Destroy," "The Mark of Gideon" and "Requiem for Methuselah." So that's 16 women he kissed, averaging 1 in every 5 episodes.

But only in "Bread and Circuses" (with the Roman slave Drusilla) and "The Paradise Syndrome" (he married Miramanee, who later told him, "I bear your child") was it implied that Kirk had sex during the episode. (Being the 1960s, NBC couldn't actually show such a scene.)

Miramanee (Sabrina Scharf) did not use the word "pregnant." McCoy used it to describe the Tribbles. But he (or, rather, episode writer David Gerrold) goofed: He said they were "bisexual," when the word should have been "asexual," meaning reproducing without the use of a partner. That may have been the 1st time the word "bisexual" was used on U.S. prime-time TV.

* Despite the presence of Takei, Roger C. Carmel (who played Harry Mudd), and other actors later known to be gay, no character on TOS would have been depicted as such. But it has been retroactively suggested as such for Mudd (it would explain the earring, why he didn't seem to be affected by his charges' pheromones, and why he hated his wife Stella), and for Captain Merik and the Proconsul in "Bread and Circuses."

And, in 2008, the fanmade series Star Trek: New Voyages showed Kirk's nephew Peter recovered from his attack in "Operation: Annihilate!" to become an Enterprise security officer and have a gay relationship -- both made problematic by the character's age. Craig Huxley was 12 when he originally played the character in 1968; Bobby Rice was 25 when he first played the role in New Voyages.

* Married during the course of the show's run were an amnesiac Kirk in "The Paradise Syndrome" (he was subsequently widowed) and McCoy in "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" (the marriage was subsequently annulled). Spock was supposed to be married in "Amok Time," but T'Pring (Arlene Martel) had other ideas.

* Harry Mudd was the only specific antagonist seen twice, in "Mudd's Women" and "I, Mudd." He made a 3rd appearance in the Animated Series episode "Mudd's Passion."

William Campbell appeared twice, as Squire Trelane in "The Squire of Gothos" and as Klingon Captain Koloth in "The Trouble With Tribbles." Koloth and Kirk certainly acted as though they had dealt with each other before (perhaps as a nod to Campbell's previous appearance), and Koloth was intended as a regular foil for Kirk, but he never appeared on the show again.

John Colicos was the 1st Klingon commander shown, as Kor in "Errand of Mercy." Michael Ansara, then married to I Dream of Jeannie star Barbara Eden, played Kang in "Day of the Dove." Colicos, Ansara and Campbell reprised their roles, with full ridge-headed makeup, as old Klingons on Deep Space Nine.

* There were 55 characters who died on the show, including 28 red-shirted officers, 8 in gold, and 7 in blue. Dead or doomed "redshirts" have become an Internet meme. There's the joke about how a Redshirt met a Stormtrooper from Star Wars, and the Stormtrooper fired and missed, and the Redshirt died anyway.

Then there's the one where every character on the Bridge, including Kirk and Spock, is wearing a red shirt, and it's captioned, "If George R.R. Martin had written Star Trek," invoking Martin's willingness to kill any character on Game of Thrones.

* Kirk appeared to have been killed and revived in "Amok Time," "The Enterprise Incident" and "The Tholian Web." So did McCoy in "Shore Leave," Scotty in "The Changeling" and Chekov in "Spectre of the Gun."

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