Part of the genius of the first version of “Star Trek” was pairing the three distinct personalities. Known by many today as the “trinity,” these characters had their own point of view and motivations, which often conflicted with each other. Composed of Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and McCoy (DeForest Kelley), these three individuals were the glue that held the crew and the show together.
Today many look back at this trinity of characters and dismiss it entirely, saying that the combination of Kirk / Spock / McCoy was simply lifted from “Gunsmoke,” a western show which predated “Star Trek” by a few years.
Kirk and Spock
Shatner, in his book “Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man,” wrote about the special relationship between these three characters, which started on television and lasted into six feature films.
“Kirk relied on Spock unfailingly for his advice, knowing it would never be encumbered by any thoughts of personal gain or tempered by emotional constraints,” wrote Shatner. “But he also depended on him to share the burdens of command. With the exception of Dee Kelley’s McCoy, Kirk had to maintain the distance of command from the rest of the crew. That can be a lonely place if there is no outlet, and Spock provided that outlet for Kirk.”
“The friendship that develops between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy is not automatic,” Harvie told StarTrek.com in 2017. “It is not something that happens with ease, and it does not appear to come naturally for either McCoy or Spock. It is only with a lifetime of shared experiences and the unwavering commitment to the flourishing of the other in their midst that seemingly insurmountable differences become fodder for friendship.”
No matter what the genesis or creation of these characters, there is one thing that is certain — they worked well together. In fact, they worked so well that they even appeared in two seasons of animated stories and were portrayed by entirely different actors in the so-called “Kelvin” trilogy of Trek films.
‘The Man Trap’
But this was not the original plan. Thanks to a recent episode of the “Inglorious Treksperts” podcast, hosted by screenwriters Peter Holmstrom and Lisa Klink, who interviewed Ben Robinson and Ian Spelling, who collaborated on the new book: “Star Trek: A Celebration.”
Both guests can be considered ‘Treksperts’ in their own right: Robinson is the chief force behind the “Star Trek” model series created by Eagle Moss, and Spelling is a respected journalist who has been reporting on Trek for over thirty years.
According to the conversation, Robinson said that George Clayton Johnson, who wrote “The Man Trap” episode, wanted to make the most essential friendship between Kirk and Montgomery Scott (James Doohan). “The Man Trap” was the first episode of Trek to be broadcast in the United States and set the tone for what fans would come to expect from the series over the next three years.
“Johnson had this idea that, ironically, he was going to make Kirk and Scotty best friends,” said Robinson on the podcast. “Because he [reasoned that] ‘If you’re on a submarine or on a destroyer or something like that, the captain and the chief engineer are the two most important people.”
Scotty and Kirk
“The [Executive Officer] is less of a big deal, but the engineer — he’s the one person who can tell the captain ‘no.’ You know?” said Robinson. “‘The engines will not take it — honestly they won’t. We’re not doing that.’ And [George Clayton Johnson] had written it in.”
“The original version of ‘Man Trap,’ it’s Scotty and Kirk who go down to confront Professor Crater,” said Robinson. “And he said he told Jimmy Doohan all about it and what a great scene he’d written for [Scotty].”
“And then when the script comes out, it’s Kirk and Spock instead,” said Robinson. “Jimmy was unhappy.”
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