George Takei’s performance as Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek: The Original Series stands as one of the most iconic characters in TV history. Continuing to appear in numerous Star Trek movies and TV shows over the years, Takei holds his role of Sulu near and dear to him.
In Star Trek VI: Undiscovered Country we learn that following his Enterprise years Sulu would sit in his own Captain’s chair aboard the USS Excelsior. While the movie didn't center too much around Sulu and his crew, his scenes were enough to excite fans to send in massive amounts of requests for a Sulu Trek series.
“They mounted a huge tidal wave of letter writing, and by then we were in the email age, too. When we were on television, they were fan mailing us with pen and paper, but after that movie, fans inundated Paramount with email pleas for a new spin-off series called ‘The Excelsior with Captain Sulu’. Those executives at Paramount didn’t see and didn’t hear, [so] they missed that opportunity. But the fans thought it was a great idea, and it surely would have been a huge, monstrous, galactic success,” said George Takei in an interview with StarTrek.com about the fan campaign for a Sulu series.
Despite the passionate request from fans, Paramount didn’t jump right away at the chance to make the series. Grace Lee Whitney, who had appeared in both Star Trek: TOS and Undiscovered Country with Takei, revealed that the potential show was instead given a test run.
For the 30th anniversary of Star Trek, both Takei and Whitney made guest star appearances in Star Trek: Voyager. In the episode, Janeway and crew looked back at the time when Sulu was Captain of Excelsior that would be a trial run for a possible new series.
“They told us it was a (backdoor) pilot for (an Excelsior) mini-series. I’d said, 'Why don’t you do this show and bring us on every three months in an episode? We could bring in all of the people, one at a time, from the original show?' But they couldn’t get enough people to support it,” said Whitney about the test run episode.
Fans are still passionate as ever about Takei’s return to the final frontier. While we may not get a show like Star Trek: Excelsior, there may be hope yet for a Star Trek: Sulu series.
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