Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricature?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by GalaxyX, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. Alrik

    Alrik Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    According to GR it was just a story. I did some digging to see if I could find the story I remembered from long ago. No luck. But I did find GR's side of that.

    First off, I guess I miss-remembered the part about the suits wanting a Davy Jones knock-off. That was all GR, but his reason for making Chekov Russian were pretty much spot on. And GR was adamant that he had written to Pravda first letting them know that Chekov was to be introduced. It was NBC that said Chekov was in response to the Pravda article.
     
  2. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    It seems to me there's an obvious explanation here. When it comes to making a statement, you don't need to identify the Asian crewman as Asian because that's self-evident. Anybody with eyes can see that.

    But if you want people to realize that the mop-topped young white guy is Russian, you have to keep advertising that fact. Hence, the accent, the "Leningrad" references, etc.

    It wasn't exactly subtle, but it got the job done. It was hard to miss that Chekov was supposed to be Russian.
     
  3. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    Was there really an article in Pravda lamenting the lack of a Russian character in Star Trek? Or is that just part of the behind-the-scenes mythos we've been hearing about these past nearly 5 decades? That is what I would appreciate knowing, please.
     
  4. Alrik

    Alrik Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    ^

    The truth is, we'll never really know for sure. The main players ceased having pulses long ago. GR insisted that he sent a writer at Pravda a letter, letting him know that there was going to be a Russian crew member added. Supposedly, the Russian writer did some kind of article about it for Pravda. Now what that article said, or if it even still exists, I have no clue. Even if it is still around, I wouldn't be able to read it anyway. I does seem that NBC did put out a statement back in the day that Chekov was added because of the Pravda article. GR called BS.

    Koenig says its all BS, that they just hired him to be a Davy Jones knock off. The problem with that is, he wasn't even there yet. Add to that the fact that there are supposed to be memos between GR and the studio that would seem to support GR's story. :shrug:
     
  5. Vandervecken

    Vandervecken Captain Captain

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat


    Thanks Bill, this is great. Has links to eps not on youtube but on metacafe and others. :techman:
     
  6. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    Sulu was created to be "Pan-Asian" so that did play to Sulu not being ethnic Japanese ... until they killed that idea in the movies by giving the character a Japanese first name.

    Biggest caricature in TBBT would be Sheldon's mother Mary Cooper, talk about painting a character with a wide brush!!

    I thought that was Leonard Nimoy's family history, not Koenig's.

    :)
     
  7. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    They're both the children of Jewish Russian immigrants.
     
  8. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    The Pravda story always sounded like BS to me. I doubt that a show that nobody in America was watching at the time was on the Soviet Union's radar.
     
  9. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    I didn't really care for how that worked out, the same with "Nyota" Uhura. For years and years, they were Sulu and Uhura. Now with first names, I see them popping up in all kinds of productions. It reminds me of Hawkman comic books in the 80's. He reveals his Carter Hall identity, and all of a sudden his mask kept getting knocked off in battles, now that his identity is conveniently known, of course! :rolleyes:
     
  10. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    The name "Nyota" floated around fandom for decades before being made official. "Hikaru" was first used in Vonda McIntyre's novel The Entropy Effect.
     
  11. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    Hikaru Sulu's first name was revealed in the original film franchise. And Sulu was not created to be "pan-Asian" that I'm aware of; he was created to be an American -- in TVH I believe they specify from San Francisco -- who happened to be of Asian ancestry and otherwise was not Asian at all, more of a Western-style Renaissance Man. (Hence the character's hobbyist enthusiasms.)

    Timewalker is right, Uhura had her first name unofficially in fandom for many, many years before it became canon. That feels right and natural: as long as I've known the character, I always thought of her as Nyota Uhura. :)
     
  12. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    Geoffrey Mandel's U.S.S. Enterprise Officer's Manual, published in 1980, gives Sulu's first name as Itaka and his birthplace as Tokyo.

    But then, it also says Spock's "other" name is Xtmprszntwlfd. :wtf:
     
  13. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat


    You could say the characters were created for a 1960s audience, and in Sulu's case retconned for the '80s and on.

    I'm at work now, but I think The Making of Star Trek states that Sulu is half Japanese and half Chinese. I don't recall it saying he's originally an American, but we can see he is completely assimilated to the U.S., so it adds up the same. Post-recon, he is just Japanese.

    George Takei said in recent years somewhere that he was fine with his character being named after the Sulu Sea, even though it's not a Japanese surname, because "a sea touches all shores."
     
  14. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    TMOST says this:
    Exqueeze me . . . samurai don't have a sense of humor?

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Bixby

    Bixby Captain Captain

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    Personally, I find both first name choices for Sulu and Uhura to be incredibly clunky. Heck, even Tiberius as Kirk's middle name has never worked for me.

    As for Sulu's character development, that seemed to stall after the first season. He was always great visually-speaking in all bridge scenes, but when you compare him with Scotty as far as juicy character scenes, Scotty wins handily. In fact, Sulu's best outing in seasons 2 and 3 is probably in ''Mirror, mirror'', and that isn't even the ''real'' Sulu...
     
  16. mb22

    mb22 Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    And so was Shatner...
     
  17. mb22

    mb22 Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    Just checked -- Shatner's father was born in Austria, not Russia.
     
  18. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    There's a Snopes article on this topic which is worth reading. Can't link to it on my phone, but it's not hard to find.
     
  19. urbandefault

    urbandefault Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    I'm from that general area, so I'm used to seeing that "wide brush." Most times it doesn't even register.

    Rewatching ST09 the other day, in the bridge fight scene where Sarek exclaims, "SPOCK!" ... it occurred to me that the next scene with the two in the transporter room could gone something like this:

    SAREK: Speak your mind, Spock.
    SPOCK: That would be unwise.
    SAREK: What is necessary is never unwise.
    SPOCK: Father ... why have you never called me by my first name?
    SAREK: I cannot pronounce it.

    :lol:
     
  20. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Why was Sulu played off as a normal person but Chekov as a caricat

    Wtf, indeed.

    About the motive for creating Chekov, I think the Davy Jones idea is the most reasonable. The Monkees originally aired on NBC beginning in the fall of 1966--a year before the introduction of Chekov in TOS season 2, so it seems Monkee-mania was so potent, NBC (and/or GR) desired that same kind of feel pushed into TOS (after watching the tone of season 1), in a way that would fit. He was not singing, or getting into romance of the week, but just his presence (character age factor, wig, etc.) had the potential to draw in younger, female viewers.

    Aside from being inexperienced, Chekov often seemed like he was being groomed for bigger things, since he worked with Spock more than anyone else, and appeared to have the Vulcan's respect. That alone takes him out of the strict caricature accusation, as comic relief of that kind cannot be well merged into a serious production.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2014