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  • 04 Mar 2023

    Once touted by Alex Kurtzman (no less) as the series that would run and run and run, the news that Discovery's fifth season would be its last was almost certainly unexpected.

    As the first of the new era of Star Trek series, Discovery paved the way for the return of the franchise after 12 years away from TV. Looking back, it took a long time getting to that point with frantic universe building and repeated delays holding it up for almost a year. Remember when Bryan Fuller was exec producer or it was touted as an anthology series...?

    Certainly the reaction to its impending end have been mixed from elation down to true heartfelt disappointment but this could also be a telling sign of things to come.

    The recent merger of Paramount with Showtime has cot a few dollars and the need for streaming services to start making money in these more challenging economical times has become evermore a priority.

    While fans have been lapping up the first few episodes of Picard's turnaround third (and final) season, the news on what would be following it has been conspicuously absent. Fans had assumed that Discovery's fifth season would be coming almost immediately afterwards given that it's the only show to have received any form of trailer aside from Picard in the last few months.

    That suggests that Burnham and co would have been coming next however their final mission is now pencilled in for 2024. When that show ends it means that (as of now) there will be two animated series and only one live action show in production unless Section 31 or the long gestating Academy show are picked up. Point to note of course is that both the well-received Strange New Worlds and Section 31 are born straight from Discovery itself.

    More than likely, in my mind, we'll be seeing Section 31 but I'm fine being proved wrong. Who knows, with the popularity of Picard's third season we could end up with a show on the Titan, Stargazer or - nothing.

    But why Discovery and why so close to the end of Picard? Well, as we started by saying, reviews from the off have been mixed. Seasons one and two sought to carve a new corner in the well-trodden "prequel" era just before TOS before making the huge 1000 year jump forward at the beginning of season three. The change in era wasn't totally successful with some of the design work coming under fire (detached nacelles for one) proving divisive. Then there was Burnham's constant emotional turmoil, the story of the Burn that didn't really pan out into the big event fans expected or wanted and a fourth season that was hugely impacted by COVID. Even from the start the controversy of Burnham's adoptive parentage and the ship's spore drive sent fandom into spins that were only just avoided with the time jump.

    Maybe it's naturally run out of steam but of all the shows in existence at the moment both animated and live action, Discovery often falls at the bottom of the popularity polls. In a sense the show was the pioneer for this new age and looking at what came after it, the spin off Strange New Worlds, later Picard and the two exemplary animated shows have surpassed it in terms of storytelling, visuals and without question characterisation.

    For me Discovery feels like a bit of a dinosaur in comparison, I loved the first two seasons and like the warp engines, felt a bit detached and disappointed with three and four. The little heart that was there seemed to be there was washed away and the show became somewhat generic and tired. The Ten-C were an interesting concept as was their method of communication and for a brief spark this was the most Star Trek thing the series had done.

    But one thing that Discovery repeatedly infuriated fans over was its inability to explore its cast. Relying on season-long arcs, the show focused on a core batch of two or three characters with the secondary crew barely getting anything to say or do for weeks on end. Maybe they didn't need to and were always meant to be in that background position much as was intended with the TOS co-stars. Yet fans seem to have yearned for the character depth of DS9 or TNG but were sadly disappointed. Burnham, Saru, Georgiou, Stamets and Tilly were all well served during their time on board but the format just hasn't helped bring any depth to a multitude of interesting co-stars who deserved more than a fleeting moment of the limelight. Imagine what could have become of characters such as Detmer had Discovery taken a more episodic outlook.

    What Discovery did manage was to tackle the issues of today pretty head on and that again left the fan base mixed although I would say wholeheartedly it was the right thing to do. I believe the series will be remembered for its championing of LGBQT individuals, gender and the woke movements of the 2010/2020s in a very open manner.

    Now it has one last opportunity to go out in style and who knows if the next 12 months will see rewrites and reshoots to provide the show with a fitting finale.

    After all, if it wasn't for Discovery and its initial success there would be no new Star Trek. Had it failed we would have had one maybe two seasons and that would have been it. But now there's talk of more shows, more movies and a life that the franchise hasn't experienced since the 1990s. Love it or hate it, Discovery did indeed make a difference.

    Even if it characters don't sit quite as highly in my estimations as Picard, Sisko or the EMH, Discovery has done what it felt was right and made a case that Star Trek could live again and do something different. Whether that different was to everyone's tastes is a discussion that will outlive the show by many, many years.

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  • 30 Jan 2023

    Seemingly out of the blue, the Star Trek Universe has lost one of its most recent additions to the family.

    Perhaps as widely recognised for her roles in 24 and Bosch, Annie Wersching may well remain as one of fandom's best parts of Picard's second season. But at the age of just 45, the actress has sadly lost her battle with cancer.

    As the third and most recent incarnation of the Borg Queen, Wersching was a key element of the story with her social media feeds full of shots from her time on Picard. Indeed, Wersching was becoming something of a staple of conventions in 2022 however her online activity seems to have slowed in August of last year. Indeed, it seems that she kept her diagnosis - confirmed in 2020 - very private. Already there is a GoFundMe campaign which has raised $135,000 to help support her three children following Annie's death.

    Breaking out thanks to her role as Agent Renee Walker in the groundbreaking 24, Wersching had an active onscreen career as well as voice acting in the game The Last of Us which has recently been converted into a series in itself.

    Fans of Star Trek may not remember that Wersching actually first appeared in Enterprise back in it's first season episode Oasis alongside the late Rene Auberjonois.

    Some Kind of Star Trek offers its condolences to her family at this sad time.

  • 07 Jan 2023

    What seems like years have passed since the mid-season break for Nickelodeon’s impressive Star Trek: Prodigy leaving us wondering what lay ahead for the youthful crew and how the real Kathryn Janeway would affect proceedings.

    It's return hasn’t disappointed. At time of writing we’re hitting the midway point of the second half of season one (episode 15 in shorthand) with each week just adding a little more spice to this young child of the Star Trek Universe.

    Just to recap, the crew seemed to have defeated the Diviner and made good their escape aboard the USS Protostar however it came to pass in the final seconds that the real Admiral Janeway and the USS Dauntless were hot on their heels. Problem is that the Protostar is carrying a weapon from the future which could destroy Starfleet if it so much as communicates with any element of the organisation.

    This was borne out in the mid-season premiere, Asylum in which the starship docked with a distant Starfleet communications outpost and met with its sole operator, the Denobulan Barniss Frex. Revealing Murf’s race in the process (and almost off nonchalantly) it opened up the mystery of what species Dal is and showed the destructive power of the Protostar’s terrible secret which cannot be removed. Offering the first real contact with Starfleet it expectedly doesn't go to plan.

    If you thought the opener was a powerful move, its successor in Let Sleeping Borg Lie, topped out with the return of the Borg. But wait, instead of First Contact/Voyager Borg, Prodigy chose to go full-on retro and chose to take the cybernetic collective back to their TNG days albeit that little more stylish. It’s an episode that definitely stakes a claim that Prodigy isn’t a kids series for the most part with a big call back that would require at least some knowledge of the franchise to ‘get’. There’s even phaser modulation, reference to specific pieces of Borg tech and a visually gorgeous cube packed into the episode.

    Actually let's justify that even further. The Borg haven't felt this menacing since First Contact. They are malevolent, unstoppable once more and ooze the menace that has been missing from them for nearly thirty years. Let Sleeping Borg Lie takes the crew deep into a Cube in search of a vinculum (previously referenced in VGR) but turns into a nightmare as Zero links with the Collective and near turns into a Drone. This is potentially Prodigy's most bleak instalment, driving the show to its darkest limits and trusting that fans of all ages will follow the nods to the past. It's actually a good thing to see the Borg once again raised to the level of a truly threatening opponent right where they should be.

    Following on, All the World's a Stage is a strong episode to highlight the Prime Directive (non-interference) while also providing an unexpected sequel to TOS. Star Trek has mocked itself before through most of Lower Decks and notably VGR's Live Fast and Prosper and this episode combines that with the storytelling aspect of the latter's Muse. It even nods towards the times Starfleet inadvertently influenced civilisations such as the Iotians from A Piece of the Action.
    As with the Borg-focused previous episode, the intrinsic links to the show's history are key to the understanding of the plot. Prodigy seems to be stepping firmly out of "just a kids show" and into the mainstream of the franchise with its choice to embrace near six decades of lore. My only concern is that while it is a clear chance to promote all the great elements from Star Trek's far and wide corners, the fan friendly nods might end up alienating the younger generation who were the original target audience. That said you can't ignore how good it feels to have such a rich history to mine, explore and expand upon just as we see here.

    In All the World's... Starflight has inspired the Enderprizians way of life for a century. While the eventual reveal of the real Gallows is a tip to The Motion Picture's V'Gr, it's still an effective story that would be accessible to new fans. It gives a glimpse of the franchise's past and therefore a little temptation to find out more while also giving long-term fans something of a payoff that they might not have been expecting. Earlier in the season we'd seen Dal tackle command choices by recreating the bridge of the Enterprise-D replete with assorted crew from the franchise and now we have the appearance of the classic Enterprise bridge both as a stage performance and also to assist the Enderprizians when they are aboard the Protostar.

    But there's also real development for the characters here. Ok, so the Diviner's return and amnesia drives the story, we are starting to see each of the main crew come into their own. Dal has a mystery to solve alongside his evolution as a would-be captain. Gwyn has become more trusting as the series has gone on. Ruk isn't a third wheel to most of the stories and Zero is proving to be even more enigmatic than before.

    But the two standouts at this stage have to be Jankom Pog (whom I really didn't like at the beginning) who is helping viewers to expand their understanding of Tellarites (cleverly mirrored with the Dauntless' medical officer) and has shown himself to be an adept engineer. Then there's Murf. His species now revealed, the cute blue blob has started to evolve, opening up a whole heap of new possibilities as yet untouched by Star Trek and all borne from one single reference in a first season TNG episode. Not bad at all. His evolution into some sort of super-agile defender of the crew is amazing and gets played slightly comedically which can seem out of place in the show's more high-intensity sequences.

    Four episodes in to this half-season and Crossroads actually felt like the right time for Admiral Janeway to come face to face with the young runaway crew of the Protostar. She has her questions as to what's happened to Captain Chakotay (and his crew?) but the point that Dal wouldn't reveal what was going on did feel as though it was the first real misstep of the show.

    Why not just explain what was going on and save the subsequent (but cool to see) chase between the two Starfleet ships? It makes for a great action-filled story that combines space combat with neat snow-bound racing with added Thadiun Okona yet it does feel oddly convoluted and a bit like banging your head on a wall.

    With that issue still in the back of my head, Masquerade did further the Dal/genetics plot as well as the continued pursuit by the Dauntless and the appearance of the Romulans. It feels as though this was the episode of the season where the most elements were crammed in to the half-hour run time. Fortunately (but rather abruptly) Okona leaves and that does alleviate some of the focus. That's odd in itself since there's a lot made at the opening of the episode around his speedy integration with the Protostar's crew.

    Unboxing some of Dal's recessive genes makes for a different take on his character and one that does have lasting effects beyond Masquerade. Sometimes that's a good thing with Prodigy and at other points it does make him look like a spoiled child however that in turn does allow for a good breadth of character exploration.

    Escaping the Romulans intact is one thing and Preludes provides something of a respite before hitting the final run of four episodes. What's great here is that viewers get to see some of the character background and references played out which have been sprinkled in across the course of the season - and there have been a fair few. Jankom's pre-Federation sleeper ship for one, Zero's capture for another, Rok-Tahk's familiarity with Nutra-goop a third; they're all dipped into with more clarity. This could have been a filler yet wisely chooses to expand the understanding of the cast in a way that greatly benefits the show, not that audiences won't already have a level of attachment.

    While all this is going on aboard the Protostar there's still the ongoing narrative surrounding the revitalised but amnesic Diviner aboard the Dauntless. Janeway's crew is a little more generic but her first officer and doctor do receive at least decent screentime to act as her support. The main focus though does tend to be on Janeway and Ensign Ascensia. The junior officer does have a lot to offer as you head into the final run of episodes and is far more integral to the show than we might have anticipated back in Asylum but again if you watch it back there are small hints right from her introduction that there is more to be revealed.

    Potentially the most disappointing episode of the season could have been Ghost in the Machine. As a kids show it's a solid move to introduce a holodeck-breaks episode while also a brave step to head into heavily charted territory. Certainly there are hints of TNG's Emergence with the holodeck seeming to bear surreptitious messages in the sequence of programs. Of course there is an endgame to it all which leads into Mindwalk.

    As with the holodeck dangers, body swapping is an oft-used trope especially in Trek with it only recently utilised in the excellent Spock Amok with particular aplomb. Here it does help to further the overall arc and give Kate Mulgrew some new and different material to work on as Dal in Janeway's body. As a vocal performance she absolutely hits the mark and that has to be in part thanks to some sparky dialogue and the work of the animators to envisage just what it could be like. As said, it does really focus the attention onto the final two part episode.

    Sharing it's name with the recently released Prodigy game, Supernova has two very distinct parts to it. The first 30 chew out the dangers of the Living Construct buried aboard the Protostar and the second with the aftermath. Why does this work? Because the show actually takes time to deal with the results of the (SPOILER) devastation caused by the Construct and what to do with the Protostar crew. Again I don't want to screw over anyone who hasn't seen it yet but this is one of the most emotional, intense conclusions to a season that Star Trek has produced for a good few years. The characters really are fully rounded and for once a finale doesn't just round it all off nicely and reset. There are consequences here, there is fallout and it is a fitting way to round off season one.

    As a season this is one of the finest pieces in the Kurtzman jigsaw and totally, utterly, jaw-droppingly unexpected. For years I've dreamed of a Star Trek series that each week I've wanted to come back to over and over to find out what happens next and Prodigy delivered. Great characters, cool ship, great villain and a great, respectful nod to Voyager and the franchise. A grade Trek that's for kids... wink wink.

    What's been your take on Prodigy? Favourite moment or character?

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  • 07 Jan 2023

    A wormhole, a religious society and a space station might not have seemed the most obvious route to take when Star Trek was looking for a new direction in the early 90’s.

    Three decades later and seven full series on, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine remains the only show to have chosen a stable location for its base of operations week in, week out.

    Taking a decidedly different stance from TOS and the simultaneously on air TNG, DS9 revolutionised the franchise with many of its choices from day one. Utilising a reclaimed Cardassian mining station, having the lead only ranked as a commander and have the main cast include several non-Starfleet personnel are just a sprinkling of the offerings in Emissary.

    Amazingly - and with five series (one more than the Berman era of '87 to '03), the Kurtzman take on Star Trek has yet to try something similar. Ok, Discovery went with a non-captain lead (initially) and both it and Picard attempted season long arcs with varying levels of success. Discovery has mixed up the cast, spun a curveball with its 32nd Century jump but yet not one of the five have decided to set up roots in one place.

    Story arcs nowadays are nothing new but in 1995 when DS9 really kicked the Dominion War into touch it was a landmark for Star Trek if nothing else. Thirty years on and its legacy has only grown in stature. Now rated as potentially one of the best if not THE best Star Trek series, DS9 might have boldly stayed put for seven years but it allowed for a healthy ballast of secondary characters, recurring and ongoing stories and possibly the biggest galaxy building exercise in franchise history. The show developed backgrounds of both the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants with the latter still remaining largely untouched by the new era of shows.

    Aside from Enterprise it also remains largely untapped in 2023. Enterprise remains almost outcast but DS9 is conspicuous by the demands of fans for answers to the show, nods to what happened after What You Leave Behind and more. Recently Lower Decks has opened up passage to the station for its third season Hear All, Trust Nothing which returned both Nana Visitor and Armin Shimerman to voice their roles of Kira and Quark but there was still no word of what had occurred in the time since Sisko's disappearance.

    Amazing to think that back in 1993 it started off with one of Star Trek's best pilot episodes only to descend into an "alien of the week" show seemingly trying to be the swansong-approaching TNG but in one place. To quote from another space station based show around the same time, it was the last best hope... it failed.

    DS9 could never be TNG and that's where those first 20 episodes tend to fail. What it did do was illustrate that the galaxy wasn't as goddamn perfect as viewers were led to believe from aboard the Enterprise-D and that outside the Federation it wasn't all kisses and hugs galore. There was tension, there were differences out there on the frontier and while Voyager caved to internal demands, effectively neutering the Maquis, DS9 retained a healthy mix of personnel and believably all the way through. It never shied away from character changes and consciously embraced them. Sisko went badass, Bashir was briefly a Changeling and then revealed as an augment - and that's just two of the multiple characters.

    Looking back at that first season thirty years on, it's not that bad. Rose-tinted glasses are in play perhaps if you're not a super-fan of the Kurtzman shows, but even the weaker episodes are more memorable than some of Discovery's third and fourth season offerings. Move Along Home, The Storyteller and If Wishes Were Horses all seemed rather flat in '93 yet their presence in the franchise still echoes strong today. If nothing else they entertain, the characters are decently written even if the circumstances are bats-arse crackers. At its worst (allamaraine!) there seems a much greater depth and resonance to the plots than we see today. Admittedly no-one does ask what the Wadi are up to but hey, we can hope?!

    But it wasn't all cheese back then (no Voyager pun intended). Season one memorably brought about the oft copied but never bettered Duet, Tosk and ended with the arrival of Vedek Winn and the true beginning of the show's Bajoran political and religious arc.

    There was a tendency to over-rely on canon characters early on with the Duras sisters, Q, Vash and of course Picard all turned in before episode eight but that seemed to be dealt with rapidly. Q would never go back thankfully and bug Janeway for the next few years, Generations saw off the Duras sisters and it would take until Blood Oath in the late stages of season two before any other classic characters would wisely be brought back.

    Titillated during the first season and prominently in the opener, Emissary, the Bajoran arc seemed bungled to a degree before Winn and Vedek Bareil came aboard. Season two's opening trilogy of Homecoming, The Circle and The Siege showed the first real signs of life and potential rather than just that "alien of the week" approach that weighed down it's preceding year. But again, with some tweaks and thought, the Bajoran arc with its Pah Wraiths, orbs, vedeks and more would grow with the show. Initially it also provided a key way of showing the series could step outside the TNG-style framework and be unique since TNG never dared cover religion in such detail. It was a becoming a show that realised it could breathe on its own and tell its own stories without having to rely on its soon-to-finish sister series.

    Breathe it did with the arrival of the Dominion and that first volley of phaser fire from the USS Defiant in The Search, Part I. A season later Worf jumped ship in the "Dorn to DS9" twist that was The Way of the Warrior and the show truly hit its stride. I could wax on for hours about the brilliance of seasons five and six; For the Uniform, Children of Time, Call to Arms, Sacrifice of Angels, Far Beyond the Stars and unashamedly the franchise rocking In the Pale Moonlight are just a mere fraction of the demonstrations of both writing and acting talent this show would produce between 1993 and 1999.

    DS9 is, in my opinion, unchallenged in its greatness and ability to say it is the best of all the Star Trek series right from day one. Was it better after Ira Steven Behr took full control and was allowed to just do what he wanted because the focus was on the UPN jewel Voyager? Absolutely and it's all the better for it.

    DS9 is not without its faults and many of those are in its first 46 episodes but it learns, adapts and grows in ways which none of the current shows in the stable have even shown a glimmer of achieving. In their defence, two of these shows are animated, one is ending after three seasons and one has only completed a season but nothing says EPIC in the way that DS9 said it or rather screamed it for several years.

    Maybe it's therefore a good thing that we have stayed clear of a starbase, space station or colony so far in this era of the franchise. DS9 has left such a lasting impression that it may well have become the untouchable child, the one series that people just don't want to mess up. It had a start, a middle and an end and was fairly concrete in its

    At present the nearest we may get to seeing such a "single location" show is through the much rumoured Academy series or maybe the much delayed Section 31 show. So the wait for something, anything, that might be a follow up to this phenomenal part of the franchise is ongoing. One day, yes, there will be a show that treads a similar path but I think we'll have some time to wait before that becomes a reality. For now it's best to grab the box set and start that journey one more time.

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1930 Ray Reinhardt is born.
1932 Ron Soble is born.
1946 Janice Lynde is born.
1952 Jim Gianopulos is born.
1953 Doug Drexler is born.
1955 David Paul Needles is born.
1957 Caesar Belli and Paul Eiding are born.
1960 Dell Yount is born.
1961 Orla Brady is born.
1962 Roger Nygard is born.
1963 Bernie Pock is born.
1966 Robert Bloch's revised story outline for TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" is submitted.
1969 Original scheduled airdate for TOS: "Turnabout Intruder".
1970 The Twelfth UK Story Arc continues in TV21 & Joe 90 #27 with the fourth of eight installments.
1976 Wing Lee is born.
1977 Annie Wersching is born.
1978 Star Trek: The Motion Picture is announced to the public at Paramount Pictures in the largest press conference since the 1950s.
1980 Star Trek: The Motion Picture premieres in Finland.
1989 Sixth day of filming on TNG: "Up The Long Ladder". The final draft script for TNG: "The Emissary" is submitted.
1990 Final day of filming on TNG: "Ménage à Troi".
1991 Seventh and final day of filming on TNG: "The Mind's Eye".
1994 TNG: "Journey's End" airs. Twelfth day of filming on TNG: "All Good Things..." Filming begins on Star Trek Generations.
1995 Sixth day of filming on DS9: "Shakaar".
1996 Second day of filming on VOY: "Flashback". Final draft script for DS9: "Body Parts" is revised. Star Trek Monthly issue 14 released.
1997 Star Trek: First Contact premieres in Mexico.
1999 Gil Perkins dies.
2001 Eighth day of filming on VOY: "Endgame".
2002 First day of filming on ENT: "Shockwave".
2003 Star Trek Nemesis premieres in Finland. First day of filming on ENT: "The Expanse".
2006 Pocket DS9 novel Warpath is released.
2012 Fifty-fourth day of filming on Star Trek Into Darkness. IDW Publishing releases Vulcan's Vengeance, Part 1", issue #7 of the ongoing Star Trek series.
2019 DIS: "Perpetual Infinity" airs.
2022 Marvin Chomsky dies.

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Memory Alpha New Articles
  • 30 Nov 2022

    Presented below is the complete set of final prices realized for the 303 lots of Star Trek memorabilia that were offered in the Prop Store Nov. 29, 2022 Star Trek: Picard Auction; which concluded yesterday in a live online bidding session at the Prop Store ( auction site.

    The most expensive item in the sale was Lot Number 22, the Data (Brent Spiner) "Daughter" with Back Turned Hand-Painted Framed Painting, which realized a final price of $68,750 (including a 25% buyers premium). Lot #198, an Admiral Jean-Luc Picard Stunt Starfleet Uniform with Production-Quality Replica Combadge sold for a final amount of $55,000 (based on a high bid of $44,000); and Lot #256, a Maurice Picard PADD and Pen with a Yvette Picard Wedding Ring, witnessed a final price of $50,000 (including buyers premium). Other highly notable items in the auction included Lot #7, a Jean-Luc Picard Stunt 2360s Starfleet Uniform with Replica Combadge, which witnessed a final sales price of $36,250 including premium; and Lot #48, a Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) Federation Case and Starfleet Combadge, that sold for $20,000 including premium.

    The following results show the final prices realized for the various memorabilia lots, which includes the additional 25% buyers premium. Just click on any of the images below to view an enlarged version ...

  • 01 Aug 2022

    On the night of Saturday, July 30th, 2022, the world lost another much beloved cast member of Star Trek: The Original Series with the passing of Nichelle Nichols at the age of 89. According to a statement to the New York Times from family spokesperson Sky Conway, the actress died of heart failure at her home in Silver City, New Mexico. Her son, Kyle Johnson, posted the following statement on the actress's offical website "Dear Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World, I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years. Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light, however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration. Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all. I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected. Live Long and Prosper, Kyle Johnson".

    Nichelle Nichols, born Grace Dell Nichols on December 28, 1932 in Robbins, Illinois, played Lt. Uhura, the beautiful and intelligent Communications Officer on the Bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the head of her department aboard the ship and a linguistics expert who handled all ship-to-ship transmissions and communiques to/from Starfleet Command, participated on the occasional landing party expedition, and was a technical specialist in the underlying circuitry of her Bridge workstation – effecting repairs when needed. As a highly skilled senior staff operations division officer, she was capable of substituting for other positions on the Bridge, and, indeed, was assigned to the navigation station by Mr. Spock in “The Naked Time” to replace Lt. Kevin Riley; and also took over Navigations from Lt. Stiles in “Balance of Terror”. In “The Galileo Seven”, while Spock was away in command of the shuttlecraft mission, Uhura manned the Science Station for Kirk and was the one who discovered the planet Taurus II where the shuttle had crashed.

    With her magnificent portrayal of the truly pioneering role of Lt. Uhura, Nichelle Nichols made television history and helped shape the social consciousness of the nation. Uhura was a character that completely broke down the stereotypes of those years – as a black female in a leadership role was simply unheard of in ‘60s television prior to TOS.

    Not all fans of the Original Series are aware that Nichols came extremely close to leaving the show at the completion of the first season; and had in fact met with Gene Roddenberry and resigned after filming the last episode of the year. It was an unanticipated historic encounter literally the next day that caused Nichols to re-evaluate her decision. As described in her autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1994):The following evening I attended an important NAACP fund-raising event. I was chatting with someone when a man approached and said, ‘Nichelle, there is someone who would like to meet you. He’s a big fan of Star Trek and of Uhura.’ I turned to greet this “fan” and found myself gazing upon the face of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” During their conversation, Nichols mentioned to Dr. King that she did plan to leave the series, and he literally talked her out of that decision with an impassioned and eloquent articulation of the importance of her continued presence on the show. From “Beyond Uhura” .. “’You cannot,” he replied firmly, “and you must not. … You have the first nonstereotypical role on television, male or female ... You have created a character of dignity and grace and beauty and intelligence. … You’re more important for people who don’t look like us. For the first time, the world sees us as we should be seen, as equals, as intelligent people.... Remember, you are not important there in spite of your color. You are important there because of your color.”

    Of course, not only did Nichelle Nichols remain on Star Trek, but on the night of Nov. 22, 1968 – with the broadcast of the 3rd season episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” – she stepped into the history books again by participating in the first televised interracial kiss, between a black woman and a white man (William Shatner), on American network television. Despite a high level of internal controversy about the momentous scene, with NBC executives becoming quite nervous about upsetting or angering audiences in the Deep South, and some well planned conspiracy on the part of Shatner and Nichols to deliberately flub every take of a network requested alternate version of the scene that would feature a fake, simulated kiss - thus leaving the studio with no usable footage except that with the real kiss – the episode in fact was successfully aired and received a tremendously positive response with much enthusiastic fan mail. Indeed, Nichelle Nichols noted in Beyond Uhura that just a single, mildly disapproving letter arrived at the studio, from a white Southerner who wrote: “I am totally opposed to the mixing of the races. However, any time a red-blooded American boy like Captain Kirk gets a beautiful dame in his arms like Uhura, he ain’t gonna fight it.”

    Between the ages of 12 and 14, Nichols had studied classical ballet at the Chicago Ballet Academy, and she began her entertainment industry career as a singer and dancer, performing with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hamptom before narrowing her focus to acting. She was also a dancer in the 1959 Columbia Pictures musical film Porgy and Bess, and a performer in the 1961 New York City-based musical stage show Kicks & Co. As an actress, Nichols appeared in an episode of Gene Roddenberry’s series The Lieutentant in 1964, and had also played television roles in Peyton Place, Tarzan, and a few other shows prior to being cast in TOS. In later decades, she would lend her voice to such animated series as Batman, Gargoyles, Spider-Man, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and Futurama; and, in recent years, the actress has made appearances on such live action/dramatic series as Heroes, The Young and the Restless, and Renegades.

    One of Nichelle Nichols most noteworthy non-acting endeavors was her volunteer work with NASA to assist in the recruitment of women and minorities into America’s space program. A tremendously successful project, Nichols was involved in the program that recruited Dr. Sally Ride – the first female U.S. astronaut; Col. Guion Bluford – the first African-American astronaut, and others. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space is well known to have been greatly inspired to reach for the stars by Nichols performance as Uhura while growing up watching Star Trek well before the TOS actress became affiliated with NASA. Since the mid-80s, Nichols also served on the Board of Governors of the Wernher von Braun founded National Space Society advocacy organization.

    On a personal note, like millions of fans around the world, I feel as if I've lost a family member today. I first met Nichelle Nichols in late July, 1976 at the Toronto Star Trek '76 convention held at the Royal York Hotel in my hometown of Toronto, Canada. All of the Star Trek stars at that event went out of their way to put the fans at ease and were very gracious with their time, even pausing to chat with each fan a bit after signing autographs for them. The same was also true of Ms. Nichols. At the age of 14, despite being awestruck in her presence, I somehow overcame my youthful shyness and asked Nichelle if I might give her a kiss. She smiled, and I recall her bringing her face close to mine and then allowing me to place an innocent kiss on her cheek. After that momentous experience, I was truly in heaven for days! And surprisingly, the story of that kiss does not end in July 1976. Seventeen years later, in the summer of 1993, when I attended a Chicago Dreamwerks convention and told Nichelle of our prior encounter, with no underlying desire other than to thank her for a past kindness, the lovely actress surprisingly rose from her chair at the signing table and stated "History should repeat itself." And this time it was a full kiss on the lips. I do feel so honored to have met this beautiful, inspirational, Star Trek legend several times over the years; and to likely be in a rare category of fans that can claim to have shared a kiss with her on multiple occasions! The world has truly lost an icon, trailblazer and one of its most beautiful and gracious souls, while the heavens have gained a new shining star. Nichelle's legacy will long be celebrated by future generations.

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