Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek” vision includes a view of an evolved humanity, where people have settled their petty differences and all work toward one common goal. Earth is united, and humans toil not for riches but to increase the knowledge of their species.
These lofty goals of Roddenberry’s future often made the writers of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” upset. They called the limitations of human disagreement “Roddenberry’s Box,” according to the co-host of the Inglorious Trekspert podcast, Mark A. Altman. He discussed “Roddenberry’s Box” on a recent episode of the Treksperts, with guest host, Ashley Edward Miller, who described the constraints Roddenberry placed on the writers.
“Roddenberry looked at his stories as a way of talking about people as we evolve… as we become better,” said Miller, who is a well-known screenwriter. “And in many ways, those aspirational qualities that he wanted to imbue his characters with… and society with… I think at times were over-interpreted into a lack of conflict.”
In essence, Roddenberry thought that in the future, people would not squabble over little things. And in some ways, the cast of “The Next Generation” lived up to these high expectations. Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, and the rest of the TNG cast are well known for their love of each other. ScreenRant wrote recently that Stewart and the cast were “BFFs,” which stands for “best friends forever.”
The same cannot be said for the cast of “The Original Series.”
The scuffles among the actors from TOS have been well documented. From Walter Koenig’s comments to Leonard Nimoy’s bitterness and the anger of James Doohan. But none of these situations can hold a candle to the rivalry between William Shatner and George Takei. It seems that their comments, public or otherwise, are the stuff of decades-long legend.
Shatner vs. Takei
At the comic and science fiction gathering, AwesomeCon, which took place over the weekend of August 20-22, 2021, both Shatner and Takei appeared and spoke before thousands of fans in the main ballroom at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Shatner spoke on Aug. 20, and Takei spoke on Aug. 21. They did not speak or appear together.
After some opening comments, Takei asked for questions from the audience. The very first person who spoke set an interesting tone. He asked:
“I went and saw William Shatner yesterday,” said the young man. “And that was a real treat. I’m sure a lot of us in the room would’ve liked it if the two of you … on a panel together….”
A slow roll of laugher started in the hall.
“Is he still here?” Takei asked.
The young man said that Shatner was no longer at AwesomeCon — but Shatner was still in the building, signing autographs and posing for fan photos.
“But I was just wondering, what did he ever do to you that was so terrible that you can’t stand to be in the same room with him?” the questioner continued. “Given the history… it must have been something really horrible.”
The audiences’ chatter and laughter rose again as they waited for Takei’s response to this awkward question.
“Read ‘To The Stars,’” said Takei, a reference to his autobiography. The audience laughed and applauded. “You have not read ‘To The Stars,’ have you?”
“No,” said the questioner.
“Read it,” said Takei. “Your question is answered there.”
Again, the audience laughed and applauded with approval. Takei continued.
“But he is a charming guy… a witty guy,” said Takei. “And he’s the quintessential Captain Kirk. I mean, no one could have done Captain Kirk as well as Bill did. He brought his own arrogance … I could go on all afternoon.”
The audience roared with laughter.
“With the book, you’ll have your answer,” said Takei. “Enough?”
The young questioner agreed. Takei then went to the next audience member to hear their question.