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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old February 25 2013, 06:00 AM   #1
Lee-Sensei
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Who were the main characters?

I haven't been a big fan of Star Trek until recently. Recently I watched a video where Shatner said that Sulu wasn't a big part of the show. That surprised me. So who were the main characters?
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Old February 25 2013, 06:21 AM   #2
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Re: Who were the main characters?

This should help

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Old February 25 2013, 06:27 AM   #3
Wingsley
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Re: Who were the main characters?

The actual format of the original series (TOS) from 1966-69 was more centered around Shatner to start with. Look at the 1965 pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and you'll see it. TOS wasn't exclusively the Bill Shatner show; Leonard Nimoy as second-in-command Spock was billed on the marquis credits with Shatner.

It wasn't until the show's second year that DeForest Kelley was also recognized in the opening credits as Dr. McCoy. All the other familiar faces were supporting actors playing what were considered background characters. Those characters (Scott, Sulu, Uhura, Chapel, Chekov) took on a life of their own as the show evolved.

The show still centered around Kirk, but that concentration softened quite a bit as these other characters became more visible.
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Old February 25 2013, 06:56 AM   #4
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Re: Who were the main characters?

They couldn't afford to have a whole cast, so they had guest stars that appeared every week.
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Old February 25 2013, 07:43 AM   #5
Maurice
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Re: Who were the main characters?

Will, Robot and Dr. Smith.
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Old February 25 2013, 07:52 AM   #6
Lucky
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Re: Who were the main characters?

Kirk, Spock and McCoy were the big 3 and the stars. Sulu, Uhura and Chekov were the supporting players. Scotty seemed to be somewhere in the middle.
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Old February 25 2013, 09:54 AM   #7
ZapBrannigan
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Re: Who were the main characters?

When the first movie was planned, a major business decision was made to treat Sulu, Chekov, Uhura, and Chapel as important characters who were going to fly with the Enterprise wherever it went. That was good for those actors but I think it was bad for STAR TREK.

I can totally see treating Scotty that way; he had by far the most important job of the group, and it was a job that a very senior man could plausibly stay in.

But the other supporting characters were people who simply would not still be with Kirk after ten years and more. Assuming they all stayed in Star Fleet and were all competent, they'd have to climb the ladder and become commanders at least. Which they did.

And if you keep them on the same ship with Kirk and Spock, you now have a crowd of "commanders" with no subordinates on the bridge. They had to be still pushing simple buttons on Kirk's orders like a kid out of the academy despite their supposed high rank. It strained credibility (as did their rusty acting skills).

Just as those supporting roles were cast with young people in 1966, so the movies should have brought in young people with new character names in 1979. From the TV series, they should have kept just Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty-- both for plausibility and because they were the best actors by a mile.
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Old February 25 2013, 03:39 PM   #8
Christopher
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Re: Who were the main characters?

It was common for TV shows in the '60s to center on only one or two leads and have everyone else be recurring/supporting players. Originally TOS was very much a star vehicle for William Shatner -- already an acclaimed rising star for his stage and screen work -- but Leonard Nimoy ended up stealing the show and getting the most fan mail by an enormous margin, so the network pushed for him to be more centrally featured. DeForest Kelley also proved popular enough for a promotion to the regular cast.

But if you look at the end credits for the early episodes, Grace Lee Whitney (Yeoman Rand) was generally billed fourth, after Kelley. Takei, Doohan, and Nichols were listed after them in the guest credits (under "And"), and not in a consistent order. Once Whitney left, the others started getting billed more prominently, though not consistently. And the series never had more than three official regulars, Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley.
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Old February 25 2013, 11:52 PM   #9
Harvey
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Re: Who were the main characters?

The series never had more than three actors billed in the main titles, but Doohan, Whitney, Takei, and Koenig were all signed to multi-episode contracts which were renewed (or cancelled, in Whitney's case) every thirteen episodes. That makes them regulars in my book -- just not main characters.

(I believe Koenig began as a day player and was upgraded to a regular; as far as I know Nichols and Barrett were always paid as day players.)

Of course, in practice, all of the supporting actors I have listed were "regulars" and are listed as such in The Making of Star Trek.
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Old February 26 2013, 12:51 AM   #10
Christopher
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Re: Who were the main characters?

^I've always taken "regular" to mean someone who appears in, or at least is credited in the main cast list of, every episode. The supporting TOS players were never more than semi-regulars. Even Kelley was missing from two first-season episodes. Nichols was in 65 episodes, Doohan in 64, but Takei in only 51 episodes and Koenig in only 35.
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Old February 26 2013, 10:40 PM   #11
TREK_GOD_1
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Re: Who were the main characters?

Maurice wrote: View Post
Will, Robot and Dr. Smith.
Sulu was the series lead. He was such a commanding visual presense that he did not need much dialogue, or scenes. The audience felt how in charge he was, and how Kirk always looked to Sulu for approval, orders, etc.
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Old February 26 2013, 11:21 PM   #12
Lance
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Re: Who were the main characters?

Christopher wrote: View Post
^I've always taken "regular" to mean someone who appears in, or at least is credited in the main cast list of, every episode. The supporting TOS players were never more than semi-regulars. Even Kelley was missing from two first-season episodes. Nichols was in 65 episodes, Doohan in 64, but Takei in only 51 episodes and Koenig in only 35.
This is pretty much my take on it too. In season one Shatner and Nimoy were the only 'regulars', the rest of them were recurring players. Season two seen Kelley being added to the list of regulars alongside Shatner and Nimoy. I don't know the ins and outs of Doohan and Takei's contracts. I imagine they were on some kind of a retainer -- but, episodes certainly weren't obliged to use them like they were the "big three" stars. I think out of the entire second tier cast, Doohan was probably in the strongest position, as his character seemed to strike a chord with people, and the production team found themselves wanting to make more use of him. Nichols was indisputably in the weakest position. Not a slight on either the character or the actress, but she was only being employed as a day player and whether she appeared or not was entirely at the discretion of the producers.

Some confusion set in for the proposed 1970s 'Phase II' series and TMP. I think the assumption was made in the 'Phase II' bible of many of these secondary characters having a greater importance to plots (there was some doubt as to whether Shatner would even remain with the series beyond its first 13 episodes, and Nimoy was of course gone completely). As the movies progressed, the status quo of Shatner-Nimoy-Kelley reasserted itself, though the supporting characters had kind of finally become indispensible by that point.

Last edited by Lance; February 26 2013 at 11:36 PM.
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Old February 27 2013, 12:24 AM   #13
Christopher
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Re: Who were the main characters?

Lance wrote: View Post
I think out of the entire second tier cast, Doohan was probably in the strongest position, as his character seemed to strike a chord with people, and the production team found themselves wanting to make more use of him. Nichols was indisputably in the weakest position. Not a slight on either the character or the actress, but she was only being employed as a day player and whether she appeared or not was entirely at the discretion of the producers.
Except that, as I said above, Nichols appeared in one more episode than Doohan did. Although it's true that she was rarely given as big a role to play.


As the movies progressed, the status quo of Shatner-Nimoy-Kelley reasserted itself, though the supporting characters had kind of finally become indispensible by that point.
Except that Sulu kept getting short shrift. His promotion-to-captain subplot was dropped from TWOK, and most of his big scenes (meeting his ancestor, stealing the helicopter) were cut from TVH. And even though he got his own command in TUC, that left him absent for most of the film. (Then again, Uhura was the most sidelined one in TSFS.)
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Old February 27 2013, 01:15 AM   #14
Harvey
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Re: Who were the main characters?

Christopher wrote: View Post
^I've always taken "regular" to mean someone who appears in, or at least is credited in the main cast list of, every episode. The supporting TOS players were never more than semi-regulars. Even Kelley was missing from two first-season episodes. Nichols was in 65 episodes, Doohan in 64, but Takei in only 51 episodes and Koenig in only 35.
We're obviously just going back and forth over semantics here, but I would point out that your definition doesn't fit certain contemporary series like The West Wing and 24 which had large ensembles of regulars, but didn't feature every one of those actors in each episode.
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Old February 27 2013, 01:49 AM   #15
Therin of Andor
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Re: Who were the main characters?

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
so the movies should have brought in young people with new character names in 1979.
Which, of course, was the intention of ""Phase II": Decker, Ilia and Xon. And later movies (when begun, ST II was to have been a telemovie) adding a male "Dr Savik", who became the female Saavik, and Kirk's son, originally Dr David Wallace (his mother was from "The Deadly Years").

From the TV series, they should have kept just Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty-- both for plausibility and because they were the best actors by a mile.
Well, the biggest problems during the "Phase II" planning: Shatner would only agree to sign for the first half-season of 13 episodes and, if his movie career had taken off, he'd have backed away to semi-regular guest spots in later eps. And Nimoy was steadfastly refusing to sign. It took Robert Wise, a feature film upgrade, a pay-off for previous neglect of misuse of his Spock image (ie. the Heineken beer billboard - see https://www.google.com.au/images?q=H...g&ved=0CCMQsAQ ) and a "favoured nations" contract to win him over.

The rest were brought into "Phase II" because they all had their own fan followings - even Grace Lee Whitney was being brought back - and the thought of a "cast reunion" was how the new series was gaining most of its publicity.
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