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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Great Moments in Star Trek History: The Early Years

As a bonafide Star Trek: The Original Series fan (but not a Trekkie or Trekker - heavens no - are you mad?), I keep close tabs on trivia and facts about the series. Here then is an underground collection of great moments in the history of this illustrious, demented television programme:


September something or other, 1966 - Star Trek airs for the first time anywhere on Canadian television. Nobody notices, because in 1966 Canada is merely a giant wasteland, populated by native tribes and lonely Mounted Policemen named Dudley.

September 8, 1966 - Star Trek premieres on NBC, knocking off the Petticoat Junction spinoff "Lulabelle's Knickers" which was deemed too racy for network television due to overuse of the word "heiney."

September 9, 1966 - A N.Y. Times critic refers to Star Trek, writing, "Man, I shouldn't have taken all that acid last night," and "William Shatner dominates the screen with his stilted, wooden, yet dynamic prescence. He also dominates the screen by constantly stepping in front of his co-stars." Judith Crist mistakenly refers to the show as Star Truck in TV Guide, wondering why the truckers were dressed so oddly and shooting at each other with laserbeams.

November 22, 1966 - The notorious "lost" episode "Kirk's Pickle" is aired during the family hour. During the show, Dr. McCoy utters the infamous line, "It's dead, Jim." NBC burns the footage and declares that episode never aired anywhere in the universe, "except possibly on CBS," causing Walter Crokite to soil himself in anger. Later, in 1997, George Takei would produce 28 copies of the show that he personally saved from the flames.

December 24, 1966 - The famous Christmas episode is aired, featuring Sammy Davis Jr. as Kris Kringle and Frank Sinatra as a Scrooge-like Klingon named "Peth-Tert-Lawh-Fort." Dean Martin has a cameo as Spock's long lost brother "Sparky." Fans of the show learn that the Enterprise is actually powered by magical reindeer from the planet Rigel 6 and the whole "dilythium crystal" bit is simply a ruse to keep Scotty out of the minibar in his room. The crystals are merely rock salt, ground up for the cast margaritas.

September 12, 1966 - Chekov, played by Walter Koenig, is introduced to the programme to attract fans of the Monkees, a programme that lasted about as long as Star Trek on network television. He is a Russian character with a pronounced accent. Joe McCarthy audibly denounces Chekov from the grave as "a commie bastard." Richard Nixon merely observes that, "He doesn't really look like Davy Jones at all, does he?" Later Koenig plays bass on 4 tracks from the Monkees hit album Squeal.

March 12, 1967 - James Doohan makes the first of several attempts on William Shatner's life when he plants a phaser set to "overload" in Shatner's dressing room. Unfortunately for Doohan, the phaser is a mere prop, like all the other ones on the programme. Shatner later has Doohan's legs broken as a practical joke.

December 29, 1967 - The episode The Trouble with Tribbles airs on network television. Unfortunately, NBC forgets to edit out the scene where DeForest Kelley loudly shouts, "What are all these hairy balls doing in the Sick Bay?!" The scene is recreated by Dave Chapelle on his programme Chapelle's World in 2004, only replacing the word "balls" with something not printable on this blog.

July 12, 1968 - William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy simultaneously release albums of "popular music." The music industry has a momentary slump that executives now refer to as "The Black Hole of Death." Ironcially, on the same date, Deforest Kelley plays Vegas and sings a medely of Elvis and Beatles hits to a standing ovation. Later he claims he opened the wrong door and "just winged that mother" after he found himself on stage.

July 14, 1968 - William Shatner claims to have played both Vegas and Atlantic City on the 12th... at the same time. He later claims that he is Elvis.

November 22, 1968 - Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner exchange the first interracial kiss on American network television in the episode Plato's Stepchildren. Nichols later describes the kiss as "sucker-like." Shatner claims in 1992 that he "got to third base" during the episode.

June 3, 1969 - The final episode of Star Trek (The Original Series) is aired on network television. In this episode, Shatner has to play a James Kirk who is taken over by the mind of a shrewish, homicidal, egocentric woman. The episode is penned by James Doohan, who claims to have based it on "some guy I work with." At the wrap party, DeForest Kelley pulls a groin patting everyone on the back.


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