Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Star Trek: The Unknown Story, on Reelz

Sadly, there are very few cast and crew members left to discuss Star Trek in documentaries. Just recently, we learned of the passing of Laurel Goodwin, the final surviving co-star of the original pilot, “The Cage,” with Jeffrey Hunter playing Captain Christopher Pike. Still, there will always be plenty of commentators and fans to serve as talking heads in programs like Star Trek: The Untold Story, which premieres Saturday night on Reelz.

Real fans know Lucille Ball, the owner of Desilu Productions, saved
Star Trek when she agreed to pay for an unusual second pilot. Frankly, the early genesis of the classic series is probably explored in greater depth during the first episode of History Channel’s The Center Seat. It also boasts relatively fresh interview footage with Walter Koenig (a.k.a. Chekhov). There is also a good deal of time devoted to the initial rivalry between William Shatner, the ostensible star, and Leonard Nimoy, who was getting all the publicity as Mr. Spock, but that Trek history is more fully explored in the documentary, For the Love of Spock.

At least
Untold gives Paul Fix his due as the second doctor, Dr. Piper, in the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” after John Hoyt in “The Cage” and before DeForest Kelley took over as Dr. McCoy. It also gives more time to the letter-writing campaign than Center Seat. Unfortunately, discussion of all subsequent series and films is just a blur of titles and dates.

Still, it is always fun to revisit
Star Trek. Most of the interviews are culled from the archives, but Bjo and John Trimble, the couple responsible for spearheading the letter-writing campaign that saved Star Trek when it was cancelled the first time, get to tell their story, so that’s cool.

If you don’t get
Star Trek by now, Reelz probably won’t be the ones to explain it to you. For fans though, Trek nostalgia never gets old. There is a reason it still holds up, which Untold Story kind of gets at. If you are in the mood for another expression of Trek fandom, you can get some when Star Trek: The Unknown Story premieres Saturday night (3/12) on Reelz.