Who were the main characters?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Lee-Sensei, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. Lee-Sensei

    Lee-Sensei Cadet Newbie

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    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?
     
  2. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    This should help

    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdjL8WXjlGI[/yt]
     
  3. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  4. HaventGotALife

    HaventGotALife Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    They couldn't afford to have a whole cast, so they had guest stars that appeared every week. :)
     
  5. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Will, Robot and Dr. Smith. :D
     
  6. Lucky

    Lucky Commander Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  7. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.
     
  9. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^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.
     
  11. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  12. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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: Feb 26, 2013
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.


    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.)
     
  14. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  15. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    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").

    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=..._group&ei=9FctUYH8J66RiQfPooDQDg&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.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And I didn't intend it to, because we're talking about a 1960s television series, not a 21st-century series. The ways in which the definition has begun to evolve in recent years as television has become more ensemble-driven are not relevant to the topic of TOS and which of its cast members qualified as regulars.


    Yes, the original idea was to gradually phase out the TOS cast and phase in a new, younger cast to take over the franchise. Instead, as the movies progressed, it was the new characters that got written out and the old guard that kept coming back. Presumably because the audience wanted to see the familiar characters and so nostalgia won out.
     
  17. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Shatner & Nimoy were singed for every episode in season one. Whitney & Kelly were main characters but were not signed for every episode. I think they found it easy to write for McCoy (who I think is in all but one season one episode, whereas Whitney appeared in only 8 out of 13 episodes, some of which were little more than cameos). They painted themselves into a corner with Rand because they made the unrequited passion too up front from the start and they kept having to pedal backwards to let Kirk flirt with other women instead of building from a low point as is common today. She was written out of Dagger of the Mind because it would have shown their relationship being bumped in a new direction that was too full on and eventually she was written out altogether for a variety of reasons but a couple of which were that she was too expensive to employ if they couldn't think of how to use her in a way that couldn't be done by a Yeoman of the week, and she was a millstone around Kirk's neck because if he shagged another woman he was effectively cheating on her, although it's as likely that behind the scenes reasons could have played a bigger role. I would certainly have preferred to see her stick around for one or two episodes per season. McCoy on the other hand was such a joy to write and so successful that he became a season two regular.
     
  18. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, I think you'll find that Whitney and Kelley were signed to 13-week contracts. They would have received some kind of minimal retainer to stop them taking other work during those 13 weeks, whether they were needed for a ST episode or not. Ideally, the writers were expected to use both characters if they could. That's partly what made it so desirable for the production to ditch Rand (GLW's health worries an additional concern, and presumably why she got written out of "Dagger of the Mind" at an early stage). She was simply too expensive for a character who wasn't getting enough lines in sufficient scripts, and the writers were stymied by her character being paired with the captain so closely and so early.

    GLW's "cameo" in "The Conscience of the King" was originally longer, but it was essentially a walk-on to fulfill her contract/throw her a bone. The 14th episode filmed was "The Galileo Seven", which GLW calls her "least favourite episode" ("Dagger of the Mind" being her second worst) because Yeoman Mears was a last-minute name-switch Rand replacement.

    Kelley would have had his 13-weeks renewal clause activated, but GLW was "let go".
     
  19. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Of course, that trend really began with The Motion Picture, in which no less than three potential replacement characters were killed off or went missing!
     
  20. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, even in the 60's there were leads, regulars, semi-regulars and recurring. Ultimately, I don’t think it had as much to do with the credits since that was contractually based and not necessarily how the show developed. Let's take the Irwin Allen shows as an example: Lost in Space and Land of the Giants listed all of their main cast up front in the opening credits. Yet, some of the characters in both shows were marginalized down to semi-regular status. In the case of Lost in Space, the lead was practically a highly paid a day player once Dr. Smith took over.

    However, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and The Time Tunnel only listed the two leads. The end credits listed EVERYONE, even the leads. You can still be a "regular" if you missed a couple of episodes. On Voyage, Bob Dowdell (Chip Morton) was indeed a regular, but he missed at least two episodes during the run. His credit at the end was also in a larger font, preceded by an "and." Starting with the 2nd season, Terry Becker joined the cast as Chief Sharkey and he was in every episode (except for a batch because of a contract dispute got him fired temporarily). Neither he nor Dowdell were semi-regulars, they were regulars. Arguably, Becker should have been moved to the opening credits, he was as important to the show as Kelley was on Trek. As for the three "end credit" cast members on The Time Tunnel who manned the controls, they were in every episode, but they weren't the leads. They were regulars.

    I see why you might use the credits as a guide, but it's not consistent across the dial. On Trek, the guys up front were the leads, with the back end guys being regulars, semi-regulars and recurring depending on their contributions to the series.