Could they have replaced Shatner/Kirk?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by YJAGG, Dec 3, 2015.

  1. YJAGG

    YJAGG Captain Captain

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    Recently I have been you tubing/ reading some of the horror stories of Shatner being a jerk (allegedly maybe, maybe not) to his cast mates from stealing lines and camera time to killing a tv guide photo shoot of Nimoy's make up.

    So if he was such a problem could GR have fired him and either replace Shatner with another actor (ala Be Withched, or The In-Laws) or put a new captain in place (B5 comes to mind) or promoted Spock full captain?
     
  2. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    A new actor protraying a newly created character as Captain of the Enterprise possibly would have worked, "killing off" Kirk.

    A new acter playing Kirk I think no.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The most popular character by far was Spock; he got more fan mail than the rest of the cast combined, and NBC kept pushing for more Spock-centric episodes. Roddenberry and Shatner had to fight to keep Kirk as central as he was. So if they'd dropped Kirk and brought in a new captain, or just promoted Spock to the lead, that might not have hurt ratings all that much.
     
  4. Groot

    Groot Boomer American Premium Member

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    Sure.
     
  5. Ricky Spanish

    Ricky Spanish BillJ Premium Member

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    I'm not so sure. Part of what made the show work was the chemistry between Shatner and Nimoy. Bringing in another actor doesn't guarantee that same chemistry will be there.
     
  6. Scotchy

    Scotchy Commander Red Shirt

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    Absolutely. They could've even got away with doing that in The Best Of Both Worlds on TNG. After seeing Part 1, not knowing the outcome, I could easily have seen Riker take over as Captain permanently. In fact he did (in a parallel universe) as we discover in the TNG episode Parallels.
    The difference would be that while Riker would have installed Glen Quagmire modifications to his new Captain's quarters, Spock would've been stuck removing the Kirk Quagmire mods from his.
     
  7. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Not that the ratings on NBC were so hot to begin with . . . :)

    Interesting scenario, though. Switching the leads on a show was probably more routine back then. See also ROUTE 66, DRAGNET, THE MUNSTERS (with its assorted Marilyns), etc.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And Mission: Impossible with its periodic cast turnover (though the characters were pretty much interchangeable ciphers anyway), and Bewitched recasting Darrin, and so on.

    Although some shows had an easier time replacing characters than others. Imagine if Gilligan's Island, say, or Lost in Space had had to replace one of its leads. They might've gone the Darrin route of recasting the same character (as the Gilligan reunion movies did twice with Ginger when Tina Louise refused to return -- ludicrously replacing her with actresses who were about as old at the time as Louise had been during the original series a decade and a half earlier, and who would've been in their teens when the castaways were first stranded).
     
  9. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Most of those stories are unsubstantiated bullshit from bitter day players (ex. Takei, Nichols, et al) thinking that post series convention support meant they were always on the same level of importance to the series. They had their place, but it was not as an equal to Shatner.

    No. Shatner was the lynch pin that gave the series a charismatic, unique heart never found in his predecessor, Jeffrey Hunter, and stands apart from other leading men from TV of that decade.

    The Hunter matter can be applied to other actors, but i'll start with him; some love fantasizing that he would have been as effective in the role of captain (as if the character is the same--they were not), but its just too easy to dismiss.

    From the start, Shatner's range and investing some of his own personality / world perspective created something Star Trek could not survive without--and allowed Nimoy to create the Spock we all know. This was no plug-in Dick York / Dick Sargent issue. They were dropped in a very broad, cookie-cutter "befuddled / irascible husband" mold that was not the driving, defining force of Bewitched. They merely reacted to Samantha and Endora's poles of witch behavior. Unlike the plug-in Darrins, Shatner's contribution to the success and the identity of Star Trek is almost inestimable.

    Kirk as written--had something only Shatner posessed, and Hunter did not--heart. That heart prevented both character & actor from behaving like a cold, distant person who was just occupying the job--or acting like it was a forced burden.

    Shatner not only delivered with the many emotional changes demanded of WNMHGB, but was able to build on that with his personality in stories so removed from Hunter and other actors' known skills as a character early on (think "The Enemy Within," "Miri," "Dagger of the Mind," "What Are Little Girls Made Of," etc.).

    As mentioned in another thread, all actors cannot portray all characters, or are right to carry a series. For example, Lyle Waggoner screen tested for Dozier's 1966 Batman, but lost to Adam West. In the Waggoner screen test, he's flat, and delivering it sans any attempt to bring so colorful a character to life. On the other hand, West--in and out of costume, keyed in on Batman having a greater heroic purpose without even doing anything visually heroic. He just worked, and its no surprise he won the role, and would go on to easily justify why he was the right choice for the series.

    Trying to replace West in that series would have been a disaster. I see the same if you tried to replace Shatner with Robert Vaughn (The Man from U.N.C.L.E), David Hedison (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea), Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (77 Sunset Strip, & The F.B.I.), Robert Fuller (Laramie), Gene Barry (Burke's Law), Guy Williams (Lost in Space), Robert Culp (I Spy) Robert Conrad (Hawaiian Eye & The Wild, Wild West) or any of another dozen or so leading men from that decade. There was only one Kirk and only one man who could bring character and flesh to him.
     
  10. Borjis

    Borjis Commodore Commodore

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    Maybe Jack Lord, but not likely.

    There was an energy he brought to the role that nobody else could fill.

    If Shatner had died in a car accident, the series probably would have been cancelled.
    It already cost so much to produce...losing him would have been the last straw.
     
  11. Paradise City

    Paradise City Commodore Commodore

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    Technically, yes. I don't know if that was the practice of that era to replace the leading actor whilst keeping the one character.

    I don't know how iconic Trek would be if they did that. Shatner's uniquely bad acting made Kirk great. An actor that could act would ruin Kirk. Or an actor that couldn't act in a different way would've ruined him too. Shatner is an indispensable launchpad to make Trek legendary.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's somehow become the perception today, that Shatner was the main draw. But as I said, at the time, Leonard Nimoy was the total breakout star, the one audiences -- women especially -- went crazy over and the media hyped extensively. When people talked about Star Trek, they talked about Spock, even if they called him "Dr. Spock" by mistake. Nimoy was the one they couldn't afford to lose. The only reason Shatner didn't get marginalized as completely as Guy Williams did in Lost in Space, or at least as much as Ron Howard did in Happy Days, is that Roddenberry fought for him to remain central. The network and the audience wouldn't have cared that much if Kirk had left, as long as Spock stayed around.


    Darrin on Bewitched is the ur-example of that, probably. At least, he's the trope namer on TV Tropes.



    Bull. Shatner was a fine actor, but it was an older school of acting geared for the stage, where you had to project to the people in the back rows. It's not a fashionable acting style anymore, but anyone who confuses fashion for objective quality is lacking in perspective.

    The myth of Shatner as a ham has come from taking a few isolated instances out of context and treating them as the whole picture. Comedians and impressionists used that to create a comedy caricature of Shatner's acting, and people started to confuse that caricature with the reality, just like they did with Rich Little's impressions of Howard Cosell and Richard Nixon. If anything, Shatner was often a more naturalistic actor than a lot of his peers. Look at the early episodes of TOS in particular and there's a lot of subtle, understated stuff from him there.
     
  13. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    I think it overstates it that audiences of the time wouldn't have cared if Shatner was removed. Yes, Spock was the breakout character, but his character never worked as well when isolated from Kirk. It was the energy of that interplay that to a large degree made Spock.

    Honestly, of the list of actors above I think Guy Williams had the kind of charm—utterly unutilized in Lost In Space— to play a Trek captain. I daresay he'd have been potentially better than Hunter in such a role, albeit not as good as Shatner.
     
  14. Large Gathering of Unmasked People

    Large Gathering of Unmasked People Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

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    I think that Conrad could have pulled it off.

    Spock as captain would never have worked. They could have tried it, but it wouldn't have worked.

    ...they would have replaced him with a lookalike pretending to be Shatner, but Nimoy would have put subliminal clues in the episodes, eventually sparking a "Bill Is Dead" craze.
     
  15. Paradise City

    Paradise City Commodore Commodore

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    Shatner's TOS performances is marked ham fisted on-screen acting and it's this that made Kirk a legend. It's the good scenes on TOS that are in isolation.
     
  16. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Yes.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And people today seem to have forgotten just how wild the female fans were for Spock. Most of the more rabid Spock fans probably didn't much care about the stories or the performances any more than the teenage fans at Beatles concerts cared enough about the music to stop screaming and listen to it. They just thought Spock was sexy and exciting and mysterious, and they fantasized about being the one who would melt his heart. We've had the luxury of seeing the episodes over and over and getting to see how important Kirk was, but the Spockmania at the time was more visceral.


    Oh, absolutely. Williams would've been terrific. He was a fine heroic lead and father figure who was tragically wasted in LiS. In fact, he was always my mental model for George Kirk when I read Diane Carey's novel Final Frontier, even though she described George as a redhead.
     
  18. Not Herbert

    Not Herbert Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    From what I've read and heard, the rest of the Trek cast didn't gripe about the Shat until years later, except maybe to each other. I don't beleive he'd be sacked anyway. Shatner could memorize 10 pages of dialogue and hit his marks, AND chew the scenery. That's whats needed for a weekly TV series.

    However, if the Shat where to leave the series after season 2, let's say, the part could have been recast or, more likely, a new captain would be given command of the Enterprise. That happened many years later on Sea Quest DSV. In that case it didn't matter one way or the other because the show was a corny POS.
     
  19. Paradise City

    Paradise City Commodore Commodore

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    Well, for me, Shatner did not adjust to the telly. The point made earlier about him being a stage actor is a fair one. I think his performances on-screen are unwittingly comedic generally not withstanding some good scenes. And he hadn't really improved for the next decade in this respect (not that I've seen everything of his) with that film where Shatner battles killer spiders.

    I think Shatner learnt his on-screen craft via the TOS movies. He's powerful in every single one of those films - including the much lamented fifth one. But he isn't exactly a Lorne Greene during the TOS run.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    :wtf: Your standard for good acting is... Lorne Greene?