It has been a rough week for fans of “Star Trek” who have had to contend with the deaths of the legendary Nichelle Nichols and fan-favorite guest star David Warner as well as some intergenerational squabbling with the son of the show’s late creator being the latest to join the discussion.
William Shatner, who starred as the original “Star Trek” Captain James T. Kirk, is no stranger to making public comments that raise eyebrows, but many in the fandom were surprised at his take on new “Star Trek” shows at Comic-Con 2022 in San Diego.
During a “Shatner on Shatner” panel at the convention, the 91-year-old actor took questions from the audience, including whether he thought new shows like “Discovery,” “Strange New Worlds” and “Lower Decks” (known collectively as Nu Trek) stand up to the original. Shatner, invoking the name of show creator Gene Roddenberry, went on to offer some harsh criticism.
“I got to know Gene Roddenberry in three years fairly well,” Shatner said. “He’d be turning in his grave at some of this stuff.”
Roddenberry’s son disagrees
Rod Roddenberry Speaks Out
While Shatner may have gotten to know Gene Roddenberry “fairly well” working with him for three years, the late television producer’s son, Rod Roddenberry, no doubt knew him a bit better. In an interview with Screen Rant published on August 1, Rod Roddenberry offered praise for the new shows (“Strange New Worlds”, in particular), saying his father would like them.
“I think he’d be very proud of it,” Roddenberry said. “I think something that surprised me a bit is the uniqueness of each episode of Strange New Worlds. I’m impressed that they’re doing that.”
Roddenberry added that he isn’t the only one who feels that way.
“They’ve nailed it and fans are going crazy for it,” he told the publication. “And I’m so proud of all the creators.”
Giving Mom the Credit
Rod Roddenberry also took time during his interview with Screen Rant to offer praise to his late mother, Majel Barrett, who he said was the unsung hero of the “Star Trek” universe. Roddenberry explained that although it was his father’s brainchild, the show would have never come to be without the support his mother gave.
Barrett is probably best known to fans for her on-screen roles such as Number One in the original pilot and Nurse Chapel in the original series, both characters who were brought back for “Strange New Worlds.” She also appeared as Lwaxana Troi in various franchise shows in the 1980s and 1990s. Roddenberry said it was her work behind the scenes that was more important, however.
“My mother was there every step of the way,” he said. “I know many times my father was ready to walk out or leave or just throw his hands up. She stood by him and I’m so proud of her. I’m proud that these characters are coming back, even in some small way, to represent her and her character.”
Nu Trek Actor Responds
Roddenberry hasn’t been the only person to respond to Shatner’s comments. Social media sites erupted into debates between those who agreed and disagreed with Shatner’s assessment. In addition to those fans, one actor from a Nu Trek show disagreed publicly. CinemaBlend reported that Melissa Navia, who appears as helmsman Erica Ortegas on “Strange New Worlds,” took to Twitter to defend her show and others in the current generation of the 56-year-old franchise.
In her tweet, Navia points out that Shatner doesn’t watch his own work and questioned whether he had even seen the new shows he was speaking against.
Shatner does not appear to have responded.