Star Trek: The Original Series has spawned one of the biggest and most sprawling franchises in pop culture history. At the time of writing, it has included thirteen movies, eight live-action TV shows, three animated TV shows, and a series of TV shorts — and that's not even including the video games and theme park attractions. Star Trek is... well, as vast as space.
Nobody was more surprised by the massive success than the cast that first entered the USS Enterprise, and they especially didn't count on being in the series of movies starting with 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Some of the films were massive critical and financial successes. Others swung and missed. The cast, a little older each time, was left with questions as each movie wrapped up. Would there be another one? If there was, would the studio even bring them back?
Walter Koenig wrote about one of these periods of uncertainty; the fifth movie, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier had performed underwhelmingly at the box office. It didn't lose money, but it hadn't been the smash hit that Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was.
In Warped Factors: A Neurotic's Guide to the Universe, Koenig writes about how with Final Frontier disappointing, the studio was considering taking Trek in a new direction. "In this case, to do that meant reinventing Star Trek. To do that meant dumping the original cast and starting over."
"From what I could gather from my sources, the story was to be set in the past at the Starfleet Academy when Kirk and Spock were young cadets. Naturally, new actors would be called in to play their roles. No official announcement had been made yet and so we were hanging onto the most slender of hopes that the situation might still change. George [Takei], Nichelle [Nichols], DeForest [Kelley], and I had several telephone conversations regarding this situation."
It was during this stressful time that Koenig decided to add a little levity. He missed a phone call from George Takei, and when Koenig returned the call over a week later, Takei thought that there had been some news about the movie. So, Koenig had a little fun with him. "They've finally decided on the new movie," Koenig said, "it's been in all the papers-"
"Yes, yes?" Takei responded.
"They're going to do it in claymation."
"Oh my God!" Takei exclaimed, then after a long pause, "Well... are they going to use our voices?"
Fans know that the sixth movie did indeed happen, with the original crew, and in live-action. That was Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Oh, and when that new, young Trek movie in the past did happen with 2009's Star Trek, Koenig wasn't upset. In fact, he said at conventions that he was very amused to watch the new Chekov — Russian-born Anton Yelchin — have to imitate the fake Russian accent that Koenig chose back in the Sixties.
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