The Trek Trivia GameBy Michael Hinman
Posted at May 11, 2000 - 2:05 PM GMT
One of the things that has always fascinated me about Star Trek is the amount of trivia that has been generated.
Seriously, with 500 hours of television and 19 hours of movies (not even counting the novels and comic books) you could have enough questions to fill several seasons of Jeopardy, and an entire Trivial Pursuit game.
When I first signed on to America Online back in 1998, one of the things I liked to do was hit the Star Trek chatroom and start ripping away with question after question, finding ways to stump even the most prolific Trekkers. Every once in a while, I can be stumped as well, especially when it comes to episode names, etc. But I could almost hold my own when going head to head, or at least go down trying.
There is not a single motion picture in release right now that doesn't have some kind of Web site. The Internet launched the mega-success of the Blair Witch Project, and all Capt. Picard fans have been flooding The X-Men Web site, downloading the trailer and enjoying all the great things found there.
What's interesting to point out, however, is that the first movie to have a Web site dedicated to it officially, according to Yahoo!, was "Star Trek: Generations." If anywone was to start the cybermovie revolution, it would have to be Star Trek, wouldn't it?
Brand new Trekkies who may have come in late during the run of Star Trek: The Next Generation and early on in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager see Ferengis here and there. They are protrayed as fun, greedy creatures, who lack a few ounces of common sense. It's hard to believe that in TNG's pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint," the Ferengi were believed to eat people, and were the quinessential bad guys for much of Season 1.
When they didn't stack up to the Klingons of the original series, the Ferengi were almost left behind before they were reborn halfway through TNG's run. And speaking of Klingons, it's a common misperception that they were created by Gene Roddenberry. It was his colleague Gene L. Coon, however, who created the species. And if he were alive today, he would be making a very pretty penny.
The Excelsior Campaign has been growing big time with fans working hard to bring George Takei's character of Hikaru Sulu and the Excelsior to the small screen. We only knew Sulu to be captain of the Excelsior in one movie, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. What many people don't know is that one of the grudges Takei has against William Shatner is that we were actually supposed to witness Sulu be given command of the Excelsior -- in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. However, that specially-scened sequence ended up on the cutting room floor.
Unless you have read a lot of books about the early days of Star Trek, you may not know that a famous actress and comedienne was very influential in the very existence of Star Trek. That woman? Lucille Ball, of course. Desilu picked up Star Trek as part of several projects they took in for development for television. A funny note here is that when Ball took on Star Trek, she must have missed the meeting where the concept was originally pitched. Some people involved in the early days of Star Trek noticed how interested Ball was in Star Trek, and many didn't even realize she was a science fiction fan.
During one meeting, however, they learned the real reason why Ball wanted to see Star Trek succeed so much. While talking about the series in production, she asked how that show "Star Trek" was doing, the one where the celebrities go and perform for troops at war. I bet there was some head-smacking during that meeting ...
Lost in Space beat Star Trek to the air as the first weekly drama doing science fiction on a low budget. It was a major accomplishment for CBS at the time, showing that special effects of this nature COULD be done on a small budget. The funny thing is that most of those ideas that brought Lost In Space to the air actually came from Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry had pitched Star Trek to CBS and the people in the room were busily asking questions and taking down notes on how such an endeavour could be done within limited budget constraints.
Roddenberry was so confident that he had sold Star Trek, that he had already begun celebrating. He was very angry to learn later on, however, that Star Trek would not be on CBS. The Eye network had their sights on Lost in Space the entire time.
Many people know that DeForest Kelly was actually being considered for the role of Spock when Gene was first casting the show. But how many people knew that Marina Sirtis was not actually the front-runner for Deanna Troi on TNG until right before pre-production of the series started? The Powers That Be actually had another actress in sights for Troi -- Denise Crosby, who took the short-lived role of Tasha Yar instead.
I could go for weeks talking about all the fun trivia that has been created by Star Trek ... by the time I was done, I would have another 30 years of Trek trivia to go through just to keep up.
But probably one of the most ironic things I have ever found in Star Trek goes to Jeffrey Hunter, the true FIRST captain of the Enterprise that we saw in "The Cage" and "The Menagerie."
Hunter didn't return to do the second pilot because he wanted to pursue a movie career and because his wife thought it would ruin his career if he did science fiction. So instead of riding into superstardom like William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, Hunter decided not to come back to the show.
In 1969, just months before Star Trek was finally cancelled by NBC, he was shooting a movie outside the country. On set, there was an explosion near where he was working, and later died of a brain hemmorhage only weeks before the final episode of Star Trek aired.
Sometimes going with that gut feeling goes a long way ...
Michael Hinman is the webmaster of SyFyWorld.