The soul of “Star Trek” is Gene Roddenberry’s original vision. And though 55 years have passed since that vision aired on NBC Television, there are still many who have “what if” questions about that show, which turned into a franchise and cultural phenomenon.
On a recent episode of the popular show, “The Inglorious Treksperts,” Mark A. Altman and Daren Dochterman wondered aloud what would have happened to Roddenberry’s show had the guy playing Captain Christopher Pike not left. What would “Star Trek” be like if Jeffrey Hunter stayed on as the leading man?
As Altman explained, Hunter left the show because his wife convinced him that he was a “movie star” and should not be on TV. William Shatner replaced him, and the captain character changed dramatically. Much of this was due to Shatner’s performance.
“A 19-inch TV was a big TV, and you had to emote to reach the viewer,” said Altman. “You had to come out of that screen in order to be … so you see a lot of big performances.”
Altman went on to say that Shatner’s theatrical background gave him the ability to connect with the viewers on 1960s television. In contrast, Hunter’s style was more subtle and cerebral.
In a way, fans will now get to see what it would have been like had Hunter kept on as Pike and if NBC approved “The Cage” as the first pilot for “Star Trek.”
Thanks to the Star Trek Day event, which was streamed from Hollywood over Paramount+ and on the StarTrek.com website, fans know more about what “Strange New Worlds” will look like and what characters will be on the new U.S.S. Enterprise.
The Big “Strange New Worlds” Announcement Video
Anson Mount, who fans met as Pike during Season 2 of “Star Trek: Discovery,” will resume his role. Spock will be portrayed by Ethan Peck, and now fans know Number One’s real name. Instead of just her title or nickname, Rebecca Romijn will be “Una Chin-Riley,” the first officer of the Enterprise.
Paramount shared images from the show, which is still in production, detailing the show’s retooled uniform and streamlined look. Mount said that the production designers used the 1960s aesthetic and combined that with a modern sensibility.
“The sets are really next level,” Mount said. “The first time I got to see the captain’s quarters….”
“They are sexy! The captain’s quarters are sexy!” Romijn said.
Producer Henry Alonso Myers said that the new Enterprise set is awe-inspiring.
“Everything works,” said Meyers. “When you touch things, they react. The monitors are running things. We have an incredible motion graphics department.”
While that sounds incredible, the real news was who the new actors would be playing on the show. As we covered a while back, “Strange New Worlds” cast an eclectic group of actors to fill out Pike’s crew.
Fans have been speculating which roles they will fill and if they will be parts that we are familiar with. Most notably, Trek fan Danny Epperson tweeted his speculation that Celia Rose Gooding would be Uhura. And it turns out that Epperson was correct. Here’s a look at the rest of the crew for the “Strange New Worlds” Enterprise.
Gooding as Uhura
Like Epperson guessed, the daughter of Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. will be Uhura for “Strange New Worlds.” This will be a younger version of Uhura than we got to know in “The Original Series,” as she will be just a cadet. Paramount also decided that her first name Nyota should be official canon. This was the character’s name in all Kelvin films but never mentioned in the Prime Universe. Gooding will join Nichelle Nichols and Zoe Saldana as the third actress to take on the role.
Babs Olusanmokun as Dr. M’Benga
Another classic character comes back from the TOS days for SNW. Dr. M’Benga was played initially by actor Booker Bradshaw and was essentially the backup doctor on the Enterprise. If Dr. McCoy was absent, Dr. M’Benga was in charge. Dr. M’Benga appeared on two TOS episodes, “A Private Little War” and “That Which Survives.”
Christina Chong as La’an Noonien-Singh
We can only speculate… but it seems that we’ve seen the name Noonien-Singh somewhere before. Of course, this is the surname of the most powerful villain in Trek history — Khan Noonien-Singh. Will La’an turn evil and lash out too? We shall all have to watch and find out.
Melissa Navia as Erica Ortegas
While we don’t know much about her, Erica Ortegas could be Roddenberry’s security officer on the Enterprise-D. After watching the film “Aliens,” Roddenberry was taken with the rugged character, “Vasquez.” He wanted to have his own Vasquez aboard the Enterprise, who would be in charge of security. Instead, he got Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) and eventually Worf (Michael Dorn). This could be Akiva Goldsman and Myers giving Roddenberry what he always wanted, 40 years later.
Jess Bush as Nurse Chapel
Bush is an Australian actress and model and will bring Nurse Christine Chapel to “Strange New Worlds.” It was pointed out on the live stream that both Chapel and Number One were both played by Majel Roddenberry, so these two characters have never been on screen together before.
Bruce Horak as Hemmer
Actor Bruce Horak will appear on “Strange New Worlds” as an alien named Hemmer. Not much is known about this character, and he did not appear on “The Cage.” Hemmer could be an Andorian, but that species is usually a much darker blue.