Walter Koenig once pranked George Takei over a Star Trek movie

For a brief moment, Chekov convinced Sulu that the next Trek movie was going to be claymation.

Star Trek: The Original Series has spawned one of the biggest and most sprawling franchises in pop culture history. At the time of writing, it has included thirteen movies, eight live-action TV shows, three animated TV shows, and a series of TV shorts — and that's not even including the video games and theme park attractions. Star Trek is... well, as vast as space.

Nobody was more surprised by the massive success than the cast that first entered the USS Enterprise, and they especially didn't count on being in the series of movies starting with 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Some of the films were massive critical and financial successes. Others swung and missed. The cast, a little older each time, was left with questions as each movie wrapped up. Would there be another one? If there was, would the studio even bring them back? 

Walter Koenig wrote about one of these periods of uncertainty; the fifth movie, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier had performed underwhelmingly at the box office. It didn't lose money, but it hadn't been the smash hit that Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was.

In Warped Factors: A Neurotic's Guide to the Universe, Koenig writes about how with Final Frontier disappointing, the studio was considering taking Trek in a new direction. "In this case, to do that meant reinventing Star Trek. To do that meant dumping the original cast and starting over."

"From what I could gather from my sources, the story was to be set in the past at the Starfleet Academy when Kirk and Spock were young cadets. Naturally, new actors would be called in to play their roles. No official announcement had been made yet and so we were hanging onto the most slender of hopes that the situation might still change. George [Takei], Nichelle [Nichols], DeForest [Kelley], and I had several telephone conversations regarding this situation."

It was during this stressful time that Koenig decided to add a little levity. He missed a phone call from George Takei, and when Koenig returned the call over a week later, Takei thought that there had been some news about the movie. So, Koenig had a little fun with him. "They've finally decided on the new movie," Koenig said, "it's been in all the papers-"

"Yes, yes?" Takei responded.

"They're going to do it in claymation."

"Oh my God!" Takei exclaimed, then after a long pause, "Well... are they going to use our voices?"

Fans know that the sixth movie did indeed happen, with the original crew, and in live-action. That was Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Oh, and when that new, young Trek movie in the past did happen with 2009's Star Trek, Koenig wasn't upset. In fact, he said at conventions that he was very amused to watch the new Chekov — Russian-born Anton Yelchin — have to imitate the fake Russian accent that Koenig chose back in the Sixties.

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46 Comments

Zip 30 days ago
I liked Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, in that it seemed to me to be most like the tv series, and that's what I like to see when I am watching a movie based on a tv series. I mean, they had that big alien head pretending to be something else that they had to contend with. They should have been used to that.

It's the same reason I liked The Next Generation movie, Insurrection, when that came out, because to me it seemed more like the tv show.

I (used to) love watching my favorite tv shows on the big screen. If I didn't want to watch those characters in situations and attitudes like they had on the tv on the big screen, I'd watch... something else.
Snickers 1 month ago
Thank god it was only a prank. Could you see Spock with those ears in claymation?
daDoctah Snickers 1 month ago
Maybe if they'd made the ears big and floppy like in the video for "Land of Confusion".
Snickers daDoctah 1 month ago
But then he would look like a Vulcan Easter Bunny.
Denco Snickers 1 month ago
The Easter eggs would be hidden in logical order.
Bricat2001 Snickers 30 days ago
i mean it doesn't have to be claymation, maybe Laika could do a decent star trek stopmotion film
Snickers Denco 30 days ago
Seems logical to me.
clovergirl 1 month ago
It would be interesting how they would've added Gumby and Pokey to the cast. Would they have been crew members, or aliens from newly discovered planets/civilizations?
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Snickers LoveMETV22 1 month ago
Thanks for the info. We don't get either up here in the great white north but I think there's some on youtube.
Bricat2001 LoveMETV22 30 days ago
i remember watching pengu when i was little, i think i had a DVD that had a few shorts on them.

noot noot
LoveMETV22 Bricat2001 30 days ago
There's actually a "Youtube" - " Pingu - Official Channel," believe it or not lol, with a combination of episodes and clips that is updated pretty regularly. Here's the link just for nostalgia.

https://www.youtube.com/@Pingu/featured
daDoctah LoveMETV22 29 days ago
Certainly other claymation stars exist, but Gumby is the obvious choice for such a franchise crossover. After all, the main thing he was known for was being flexible.
kb7rky 1 month ago
I recall a rather amusing anecdote Walter told about when TWOK was being filmed, and how the makeup department (I think) set up an elaborate prank for his "Could you use another hand, Admiral" scene. Walter was supposed to have some sort of prosthetic over his ear (where the Ceti eel was to have come out of), so they put a falsie on his head, over his right ear. When he stepped off the turbolift to deliver his line, everyone saw the falsie, and broke up laughing.
mackjaz 1 month ago
Bonus points for Sulu scrolling on his cell phone!
CaptainDunsel 1 month ago
Is it bad that I know exactly which episode that Chekov/Sulu picture is from, and what Chekov is saying?
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Snickers LoveMETV22 30 days ago
Hey thanks! Now all I need to do is include the care and feeding of tribbles manual.
LoveMETV22 Snickers 29 days ago
Too funny !
LoveMETV22 Snickers 29 days ago
Hey thanks! Now all I need to do is include the care and feeding of tribbles manual.
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Well if you change your mind....
Bapa1 1 month ago
Koenig initially had to wear a toupee at first, until his hair grew longer. When he didn't need it anymore, Shatner probably "borrowed" it.
daDoctah Bapa1 1 month ago
Or they made it into a tribble.
daDoctah 1 month ago
Takei knew full well by this time that he could prank Koenig without even trying to. In his autobiography, he told of how he more-or-less singlehandedly introduced the cast and crew to sushi, which was pretty much unknown at that time to anyone who wasn't Japanese. He knew of an all-night sushi place in Little Tokyo that they could grab a late dinner on nights when shooting ran long, and started inviting all his co-workers along.

When he got Walter to join the festivities, he saw something that looked appealing and popped a big piece of it in his mouth, enacting the popular "I thought the wasabi was guacamole" trope. Takei reported that Koenig was convinced they were trying to kill him.
cperrynaples daDoctah 1 month ago
Simpsons fans remember that George played the chef who prepared the blowfish that almost killed Homer! And it should be noted that Howard Stern has pranked George a number of times! And what fan could forget his prononciation of "Wock-a-mole"? George is so beloved by Howard that one of his staff members even does a regular imitation of him!
LoveMETV22 1 month ago

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Always enjoy a good Star Trek article.
KJExpress LoveMETV22 1 month ago
Me too. ☺️
Irish 1 month ago
I guess fans will buy anything... but a kidney stone???
cperrynaples Irish 1 month ago
Yep, Shatner actually auctioned it off for charity!
I have better things to spend my money on. Besides, what would I want with Shatner's kidney stone? I've had a few of my own, and all I wanted to do was get rid of each one!!
Snickers cperrynaples 1 month ago
Still would like to know how you certify a kidney stone.
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