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

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Old March 19 2014, 08:41 AM   #1
GalaxyX
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Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricature?

I remember reading somewhere that George Takei accepted the role of Sulu only because Gene promised him that he wasn't going to play a "caricature" asian stereotype, which ended up being true.

However, it seems that they did not do Walter Koenig the same favor, and he ended up playing Chekov as a caricature of a Russian man. I remember reading his complaints somewhere, where he says that they had him say some strange things like "And I'm the czar of all Russias!"

Anyone have any idea of why this discrepancy?
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Old March 19 2014, 08:50 AM   #2
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

GalaxyX wrote: View Post
Anyone have any idea of why this discrepancy?
My guess: it was the midst of the Cold War. Having a Russian on the show at all was Making a Point -- and Chekov was serving the additional function of being Youth-Bait, hence the Monkees haircut -- so it was natural and much less threatening to play him over-the-top and for laughs.
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Old March 19 2014, 09:26 AM   #3
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

I was in high school when Chekov was introduced and I didn't like the character at all. All the "Russia this, Russia that" stuff didn't help either. He felt like a comic relief character to me, and was as out of place as Earl Holliman's Cook in Forbidden Planet. No problems with Walter though. I liked Sulu better, perhaps because he was there first.
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Old March 19 2014, 09:31 AM   #4
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

I guess it was a matter of the group dynamic, plain and simple. The bridge already had the dull and reliable straight guy in Sulu; when the new kid was introduced, the vacancy was for young comic relief only (spiced up with a bit of torturee-of-the-week), because there was a massive surplus of featureless yes-men on the bridge from one character already.

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Old March 19 2014, 12:22 PM   #5
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

Well, let's not forget that Sulu was a bit more weird to begin with (the hobbyist tendencies mainly, trying to convert everybody to whatever his latest fad happened to be), but I agree he was never on Chekov levels of being comedically over-the-top except maybe in Naked Time, and certainly once Chekov was introduced in Season Two then Sulu became the 'straight man' (so to speak ) at the helm, being the one who immediately reacted with amusement at all of Pavel's wacky antics (for example, in The Deadly Years).
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Old March 19 2014, 12:30 PM   #6
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

Chekov was OK. I don't know what you guys are on about.

Did you see some of the dull featureless characters in the other Trek series?

At least he had some sort of personality.
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Old March 19 2014, 01:01 PM   #7
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

CommishSleer wrote: View Post
Chekov was OK. I don't know what you guys are on about.

Did you see some of the dull featureless characters in the other Trek series?

At least he had some sort of personality.
Look at THE VOYAGE HOME, where Chekov is actually called "a retard," outright. And his otherwise bumbling around the streets of Frisco, acting like someone who should be made fun of. In THE SEARCH for SPOCK, they had him dressed up like Little Lord Fauntleroy, for reasons, unknown. In WRATH of KHAN, he betrays our beloved crew, under duress. I don't think STAR TREK did Chekov any favours, really, except for - perhaps - in THE MOTION PICTURE.
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Old March 19 2014, 01:09 PM   #8
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

2takesfrakes wrote: View Post
CommishSleer wrote: View Post
Chekov was OK. I don't know what you guys are on about.

Did you see some of the dull featureless characters in the other Trek series?

At least he had some sort of personality.
Look at THE VOYAGE HOME, where Chekov is actually called "a retard," outright. And his otherwise bumbling around the streets of Frisco, acting like someone who should be made fun of. In THE SEARCH for SPOCK, they had him dressed up like Little Lord Fauntleroy, for reasons, unknown. In WRATH of KHAN, he betrays our beloved crew, under duress. I don't think STAR TREK did Chekov any favours, really, except for - perhaps - in THE MOTION PICTURE.
I got no problems with Chekov until STV and STVI where he acted a bit stupid but frankly so did almost everyone else.

OK the outfit in ST3 was stupid too but so was McCoys.
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Old March 19 2014, 01:26 PM   #9
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

They also made him assault Mara in Day of the Dove, making him him both attempted rapist and torturee in the same episode.



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Old March 19 2014, 01:29 PM   #10
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

Roddenberry wanted a "hip mod" angle, and Chekov was brought in as a kind of a Davey Jones of the bridge crew...I remember reading that shortly after he was cast...multiple references at Star Trek dot com and wiki among others...
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Old March 19 2014, 02:06 PM   #11
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

BoredShipCapt'n wrote: View Post
They also made him assault Mara in Day of the Dove, making him him both attempted rapist and torturee in the same episode.



Kirk assaulted Rand in one episode, I also think Riker assaulted Troi when he devolved. Of course there was that infamous episode in VOY where Paris kidnapped and made babies with Janeway. OK its getting too ugly now.
Look I now realise I seem to be defending men assaulting women but its not OK under any circumstances. The only thing that mitigates it somewhat is that in all of those circumstances the the men were under the influence of something.
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Old March 19 2014, 02:33 PM   #12
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

I don't recall David McCallum playing Ilya Kuriyakin as a caricature on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and he was quite popular. Claudia Christian didn't play Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5 as a caricature either and she, too, was popular with the fans.

Chekov was an okay character and came off acceptably when he was played straight, but there was a tendency to indulge in silliness. He was hard to take seriously. Of all the characters Chekov is one that hasn't aged well because of the leanings to caricature. The accent alone was too forced.

On the flip side today a youthful character like Chekov could be played with attitude whereas Chekov is quite deferential and respectful of his superiors.
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Old March 19 2014, 06:00 PM   #13
GalaxyX
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

On the flip side today a youthful character like Chekov could be played with attitude whereas Chekov is quite deferential and respectful of his superiors.
What's funny is that nuChekov's absurdity is ramped up to 11 in the nuTrek movies. Just ridiculous. There's other ways to create comic relief IMO.

I feel sorry for Walter Koenig though.
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Old March 19 2014, 06:08 PM   #14
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

GalaxyX wrote: View Post
I remember reading somewhere that George Takei accepted the role of Sulu only because Gene promised him that he wasn't going to play a "caricature" asian stereotype, which ended up being true.
I thought Takei "accepted" the role because he was a working actor and they offered to hire him.

CommishSleer wrote: View Post
Riker assaulted Troi when he devolved
Worf.

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Old March 19 2014, 09:35 PM   #15
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Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

GalaxyX wrote: View Post
I feel sorry for Walter Koenig though.
Hey, he made out all right. After Star Trek went off the air he became an actor and a well-rounded person, with his own friends and keys and everything.
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