It’s a famous story how Star Trek was the show that almost never was… on more than one occasion. The original idea, “The Cage” which featured an intellectually ambitious script, and an astronomical budget that starred Jeffrey Hunter would only see the light of day as a filler show (“The Menagerie”) in what we now think of as Star Trek with Captain Kirk and Spock. It was deemed to be too smart, and not exciting enough to be broadcast. And course, there was also that time when the show did actually get aired, and the fans had to write a massive letter writing campaign to make sure it got more than two seasons.
Thus, it is safe to assume that interviews with the original Captain (my favorite Captain, as you can read about here), Jeffrey Hunter, would be rare, especially since he died only three years after the first episode of Star Trek made it to the airwaves. Hunter would never know to what great heights Star Trek would soar, or answer fan’s questions at conventions to get further insight on his character, so when trekweb.com posts excerpts from a 1965 interview in Starlog Magazine, it’s a pretty big deal. Especially since his character has been brought back to life in the Star Trek reboot with a much bigger, and nuanced part.
According to the excerpts, Hunter was optimistic about the series:
“We run into pre-historic worlds, contemporary societies and civilizations far more developed than our own. It’s a great format because writers have a free hand – they can have us land on a monster infested planet, or deal in human relations involving the large number of people who live in this gigantic ship.”
What is truly interesting is that in just filming one episode, how much Hunter really felt and understood the nature of Star Trek, and what made it a good show.
“The things that intrigues me the most is that it is actually based on the Rand Corporation’s projection of things to come. Except for the fictional characters, it will be like getting a look into the future and some of the predictions will surely come true in our lifetime.”
However, I found the last quote from the interview to be the most intriguing.
“With all the weird surroundings of outer space, the basic underlying theme of the show is a philosophical approach to man’s relationship to woman. There are both sexes in the crew and, in fact, the first officer is a woman.”
Though obvious in the pilot, where the entire episode focuses on –put crudely- making Captain Pike get it on with Vina. I had never thought about the relationship between the sexes to have been a big deal in the series, but I grew up in the era of The Next Genearation, which is problematic in its own right, but never so much as The Original Series and its treatment of women. Still, things must be put in historical contexts, and I think this quotes sheds more light on to what Star Trek was trying to accomplish in all things, be it international relations, racism, or feminism.
Unfortunately, until someone gets a hold of the article and posts the interview for all to see, this is as much as we are going to get for now.