Star Trek Las Vegas warped into day three with a full slate of celebrity guests and activities. The morning kicked off with back-to-back StarTrek.com-hosted panels.
The first featured Jordan Hoffman leading a One Trek Mind Live debate to determine the worst episodes ever of Star Trek. Things got occasionally heated in a playful way, particularly when a fan dared declare “Tuvix” one of the worst episodes ever. Hoffman rushed to that hour’s defense. The list got whittled down to 15 options, with “Spock’s Brain” somehow avoiding infamy.
But the list had to be cut to 10, and it was, with “Masks” just missing the cut in favor of “The Fight” at number 10. But then, just as Hoffman was about to declare the list and order complete, a fan mentioned “Precious Cargo.” Boom, it took the 10 slot. And, voted the worst-ever episode of any Trek series was “These Are the Voyages,” given that awful distinction because it was bad, because it was rushed, and because fans considered it offensive to Enterprise — to its viewers and cast — that the show ended with a Riker story. Check out the full list below.
Next up was Star Trek: The Missing Footage Revealed, with Mike and Denise Okuda, Rod Roddenberry, Phil Bishop, Scott Mantz and Roger Lay talking about lost TOS footage that will be seen soon on the Roddenberry Vault Blu-ray.
“We hoped, we wished, we prayed that there was more footage,” Denise Okuda said. And there was. Alternate takes. Slight line delivery variations. Little cut snippets. “The gems are in there,” Roddenberry noted. “But you need someone to go through and find the gems.” Mike Okuda noted, “Roger Lay is the one who put the puzzle together.” And, Roddenberry added, the project was almost done when “50 more cans of footage” were found.
Chase Masterson, the first actor of the day to grace the stage, came out accompanied by the cheerleading squad dubbed Cheerfleet. She then sang the song “Fever,” which she adapted to include lyrics about kissing a Ferengi.
Masterson revealed that she almost played Marta, but didn’t win the role. Then she landed Leeta. “I was supposed to do one episode,” she said. “Four lines. But they wrote Leeta for me. I loved being on DS9.”
Fans of Star Trek Timelines got a treat, as the Disruptor Beam team previewed things to come for the Trek mobile game. Disruptor Beam’s Rich Gallup told the crowd that he watched “every” Trek episode while working on Timelines. Discussing the possibility of fans seeing Sovereign class and other desired ship classes, the word was “They’re totally coming.”
George Takei then packed the room with a triumphant, energetic appearance. “Thank you to all the fans who gave us this 50 ‘Oh myyyyyy’ anniversary,” he exclaimed to thunderous applause. Takei then paid tribute to Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin. Of the new movies, Takei said, “The young me looks like John Cho. I’m young again.”
Discussing his time on Broadway recently in Allegiance, Takei explained, “It was really a tribute to my parents.”
Of his life as an activist, the actor pointed out, “I was an activist even before I was on Star Trek.” His time on stage complete, Takei departed to a standing ovation.
Next, fans laughed for nearly an hour as Voyager’s Ethan Phillips, Garrett Wang and Tim Russ shared a couch for their panel.
“I had the most auditions because I had no resume, no experience,” Wang said. “I had auditioned six times.”
Wang then proceeded to tell a very, very, very lengthy story about his harrowing audition process. Phillips and Russ even chatted amongst themselves during it. When Wang finally finished, Phillips declared, “That story was interesting because while he told it, I was able to earn a law degree.”
Phillips explained that he “played Neelix like me… But with rubber.”
The arrival of Jeri Ryan really shook things up on Voyager, especially since so many episodes focused on the character. “I got a few more days off,” Russ acknowledged. Ryan was “a great asset to the show,” Phillips asserted. Added Wang, “Jeri’s strong, and she could eat a lot of food, too… I don’t know why I said that.”
Russ noted that “Kate Mulgrew does not mess up lines. It was not human.” However, Phillips almost happily stated, “Robert Beltran was the opposite. He couldn’t remember his name.”
Asked what their characters might have been doing after they returned from the Delta Quadrant, Russ and Wang shared interesting ideas.
“We can only assume what the characters did after the finale,” Russ said. “I would speculate that Tuvok went home to his wife and children.”
Wang, with a straight face, suggested that “Harry went to San Francisco and opened a place called Admiral Kim’s.”
Next on the stage were TNG stars Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner, who have lost none of their legendary chemistry.
Of the debate over how to pronounce his android character’s name, Spiner explained, “I was Day-tah because Patrick Stewart was British and he was the first to say it.”
Crusher had a sex life, McFadden argued, “but probably not as much as she needed.” McFadden then joked that “I hit my stride second season.” Spiner cracked, “That was your best season.” Of course, she wasn’t on TNG that year.
Burton acknowledged that he had passed on Whoopi Goldberg’s request to join the TNG producers, but it took a while because “no one believed me.” Her presence “made a huge difference for the show,” Spiner said, because it lent the show major credibility.
“Ted 2 is actually ‘Measure of a Man,'” Spiner said. We’ll leave you to ponder that one, folks. And Spiner revealed, “After finishing the first episode of each season, Patrick would look over at us and say, ‘Only 25 more.'”
McFadden was the last to do conventions, but now loves them. “I think you guys are great,” she offered, “and I’m very appreciative.”
“We belong to something that is the great American epic,” Spiner said, turning serious for a moment. “There’s no end in sight and there never will be. And it’s really cool to be a part of that big epic.”
“Early on in doing TNG, I did not understand the concept of hitting your marks,” McFadden admitted. “They put sandbags down to stop me. I was a dancer, so I walked over them.”
“There was an Independence Day 2,” Spiner said. “I think as many people saw it as saw Nemesis.”
Out in the halls, fans wowed each other with their amazing costumes.
And then came a panel many fans never thought they’d witness. Kirstie Alley, The Wrath of Khan’s Saavik, took the stage, smiling broadly, and settled into the interviewer’s chair, rather than the couch… and stayed there until the very end.
“Star Trek II was my first acting job… ever,” she said. She called director Nick Meyer “the most significant champion of my career,” for not just selecting her to play Saavik, but for putting off her audition following a car accident that killed her mother and severely injured her father.
Everyone laughed when Alley revealed that she’d been aware of Trek because, “My boyfriend Bob and I would make out on the couch and watch” it. Because her eyebrows tended to arch involuntarily, Alley thought, “I could play Spock’s daughter.”
“I too would have been furious if I’d been put in that position,” Alley said of the Kobayashi Maru. Of Leonard Nimoy, she said, “I was in awe of him.” As for crying at Spock’s funeral, she explained, “I started crying and they used it. I was really sad.” She also said, “I was always a little nervous around Leonard, and it worked” for the character and movie.
“I would have loved to have seen me continue as Saavik as well,” Alley said, referring to the fact that she didn’t return to the role because she was offered less money for more work in The Search for Spock. “It’s an anomaly in my career.”
Asked by a fan how she has enjoyed her first convention appearance, Alley replied, “It’s actually cooler than I thought it’d be. Everyone I have spoken to is easygoing and nice. I look forward to doing another one.”
Over in the dealers’ room, Denise Crosby gave everyone at the M-A-C Cosmetics station a thrill by stopping by for a visit. She even got a mini-makeover, with the station’s Deanna Troi and Data standing on either side of her.
Speaking of Crosby, she and John de Lancie shared the couch for the next panel on stage in the big room. TNG started in a “hostile environment,” Crosby asserted, because “‘How dare you make a new Star Trek.'”
Gene Roddenberry told de Lancie, “You have no idea what you’re getting into.” And after 50 years of Star Trek and almost 30 years now of TNG, “He was right.”
“My original audition was for Troi,” Crosby confirmed. As a guest star, de Lancie said, “every episode was my last.”
Crosby, addressing her decision to leave TNG, explained, “I was getting increasingly frustrated as an actor that I was just standing around.” Of her eventual returns, she said, “I was that strange vine they’d keep cutting, and it’d grow a new head.” She added, “I had to die to get the best episode,” referring to “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”
That panel was followed by a session with Neal McDonough, who portrayed Lt. Hawk in First Contact. It’d been 20 years since his last convention appearance. “I still want to be Leonard Nimoy,” he told the crowd. And to loud cheers, he asked, “Who wants to see me back… as a Borg?”
McDonough then really surprised the crowd. He pulled out a harmonica and joined the house band, Five Year Mission, to perform some Star Trek blues.
And, for the last main stage panel of the day, DS9 stars Terry Farrell, Nana Visitor and Nicole de Boer reunited with former executive producer Ira Steven Behr, who presented each of them with blue flowers… which matched his goatee.
What does Trek’s 50th anniversary mean to de Boer? “That we’re old,” she replied. Visitor said, “I can’t imagine my life without Star Trek.”
Behr talked about DS9 taking real storytelling risks. For example, what Trek show really ever focused on war? “We knew we couldn’t be canceled, so, going into season two, why not take the risk of doing something different?”
Visitor confirmed that, “Our set was not a fun set.” Farrell added, “We were fun people, but not at work.”
DeBoer discussed coming on to DS9 so late in the game, for season seven, and replacing Farrell. She was aware of the show, but… ” My boyfriend at the time auditioned for DS9 and didn’t get it, so we agreed not to watch it.” Once on the show, “We crammed in so much for Ezri in that last season. I’d love to see Ezri now, since she probably has her crap together.”
Kira had many layers, Visitor said. For one thing, in her opinion, Kira contended with post traumatic stress, “and it took her seven years to feel OK, to feel safe, to feel comfortable.” And, she concluded, “To some, Kira is a freedom fighter and to others she’s a terrorist.”
And the day ended with one more StarTrek.com panel, called Publishing the Star Trek Universe, with John Van Citters of CBS Consumer Products moderating a conversation with Trek authors Robb Pearlman, Paula Block, Terry Erdmann and Dayton Ward.
Talking about the challenges of writing the Vulcan travel guide, Ward addressed the elephant in the room… And it wasn’t that Vulcan, like Trek, is fictional. “The popular joke,” he said, “was how can there be a travel guide for a planet that was blown up in one of the movies.”
Pearlman drew laughs with his observation that, “There has to be more to a redshirt’s life than just dying.”
“Writing is its own reward, noted Erdmann, adding, “I want to encourage everyone to do so.”
Meanwhile, his better half — that’d be Block — pointed out that, “A lot of Star Trek authors came out of the Strange New Worlds writing contest.”
And following the panel, a young fan met one of his favorite authors.
Check out the Star Trek Las Vegas Day One and Star Trek Las Vegas Day Two stories and watch StarTrek.com for daily recaps.
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