During a far-ranging, one-hour chat at San Diego Comic-Con Saturday, pop culture icon William Shatner insisted that the creator of the Star Trek universe would be extremely unhappy with the new Trek shows coming out on Paramount+.
Writer and producer Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek for NBC television back in 1964 when he began filming the series’ first pilot. The show was not picked up from that effort, but NBC did give Gene another chance and asked him to make a few changes and craft another pilot.
The second pilot, which brought on William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, sold the series in 1966 and thus launched one of the most successful properties in Hollywood history, ranging from 1966 to today — as a long list of new shows have appeared in the last few years on Paramount’s streaming services. The Star Trek universe has run the gamut of forms of entertainment. From TV to movies to games, animated cartoons, books, magazines… you name it, Star Trek has done it.
But as far as the 91-year-old Shatner is concerned Gene Roddenberry would not be all that enthused by the all these new Trek shows, the Hollywood Reporter said.
During the one-hour chat which ranged from “fun” topics, to “serious” topics, and with copious amounts of foul language from both Bill and his host, Clerks director Kevin Smith, Shatner was asked if he thinks any of the new Trek shows rival his own three seasons from 1966 to 1968.
Shatner was flat on the question. “None of them,” he curtly replied.
But it wasn’t a reply merely out of ego. Shatner added that he thinks Roddenberry would also agree.
“I got to know [creator] Gene Roddenberry in three years fairly well,” Bill said, “he’d be turning in his grave at some of this stuff.”
Indeed, it was well known inside the Star Trek world that the modern producers of the various shows, including Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994), couldn’t wait for Roddenberry to be out of the picture. Roddenberry kept a tight grip on his vision of Star Trek, and his fellow producers felt that he restricted their creative process too much with his highly specific ideas about the sort of future his show would portray.
When Roddenberry died in 1991, that finally gave the producers of shows including Deep Space Nine (1993-1995), Voyager (1995-2001), and Enterprise (2001-21005), the chance to take Star Trek into areas that Gene would never have allowed when he was alive and in control of the Star Trek universe.
Even with today’s new series, the episodes are spinning off into areas that Gene would never have allowed. Star Trek star and TV director Jonathan Frakes recently acknowledged this when talking about one of the episodes of Picard he had directed.
Frakes noted that an episode which portrayed conflict between two of the show’s crew members would never have happened when Gene was alive.
“We never could have done [a scene like] this on our show,” Frakes told the Hollywood Reporter in 2020. “Why?” the Reporter explained. “Gene Roddenberry. The creator of Star Trek believed that, in Star Trek the Next Generation‘s 24th Century, there would be no conflict among ‘the family, the crew of the Enterprise.'”
Indeed, this year’s season of Picard showed the United States in 2024 and portrayed U.S. immigration officials as uncaring, evil, authoritarians who would be a part of what eventually leads earth into a fascist dictatorship that reaches out into space and begins terrorizing all the aliens of the galaxy.
William Shatner is 100 percent correct. Trek creator Gene Roddenberry would not approve of all the new Star Trek shows.
During the Comic-Con chat, Shatner also took a humorous jab at rival sci-fi universe, Star Wars. When asked about the George Lucas sci-fi franchise, Bill jokingly replied, “Fuck Star Wars. But not Mark Hamill.”
Smith also asked Bill about his experience of actually going to space.
In 2021, Shatner was a guest of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin for a flight that took him just past the edge of the upper atmosphere, sending William Shatner briefly into outer space for real.
“I went, and I vowed that every moment that I spent in space, would not be playing around in weightlessness, but looking out the window and trying to get an impression,” the TJ Hooker star said.