How Captain Kirk Almost Appeared in ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ and 2009’s Film Reboot

By July 21, 2014
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When it comes to the various Star Trek television series, many fans have their own pecking order based on a show’s quality. “The Next Generation” is often singled out by fans as the best of the bunch, but you’ll likely find devoted sects of Trek fandom that place “The Original Series” or “Deep Space Nine” in the top spot. Not often headlining the fans’ choices for number one Trek series are the latter two efforts: “Voyager,” which was a follow-up to “Deep Space Nine” and featured a Federation starship thrown into a far-away, unexplored quadrant of the galaxy, and “Enterprise,” the prequel series that took place about 115 years before the time of Captain Kirk and Spock.

One of the tragedies about “Enterprise” is that it was cancelled just as it was starting to find its voice within the Trek universe. While early seasons of the show had omitted the name Star Trek from its title and saw a weird distance from some of the time-honored themes of Trek past, season four had finally begun to embrace the franchise again, doing now what many fans had been hoping for when the show made its 2001 premiere: backtrack from material that the fans know about to make an interesting — and connected — history to the later series. Season four’s efforts saw this with very interesting, multi-part story arcs, such as a Khan-inspired antagonism between Captain Archer and genetically engineered human “augments,” that also featured Brent Spiner (“The Next Generation’s” “Data”) as an ancestor of the cyberneticist that would create Data and his brothers Lore and B-4. The fourth season of “Enterprise” also attempted to answer the question of why the Klingons looked so different between “The Original Series” and every Star Trek episode and film that followed, finally giving canonical credence to the very noticeable difference between the distinct looks of the alien race.

And apparently, the series became very close to casting William Shatner back in his iconic “Original Series” role of James T. Kirk…or rather, a version of Kirk. Check out the video below, taken from the recent Blu-ray release of “Star Trek: Enterprise” – The Complete Fourth Season.

Apparently the brainchild of fan-favorite Trek novelists Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who became writers for the show’s fourth season, Shatner’s reprisal of Mirror Universe Kirk would’ve been the first canonical appearance for that character since the original “Mirror, Mirror” episode of “Star Trek: The Original Series” aired in 1967. While executive producer Manny Coto tells us in the video that Paramount likely balked at the expensive prospect of bringing Shatner on for a two-parter, the fourth season of the show did ultimately include a two-part episode based on the concept of the Mirror Universe.

In A Mirror, Darkly” also featured elements of “The Original Series” by directly tying itself to the original’s third season episode “The Tholian Web,” which featured an Enterprise sister ship called the USS Defiant being swallowed up by some astronomical phenomenon and disappearing. Fans never found out where it disappeared to until “In a Mirror, Darkly Part 1:” the Mirror Universe of 115 years prior.

This, actually, isn’t the first time that Shatner has come close to reviving Kirk himself on-screen. In late 2009, TrekMovie.com managed to get a hold of the brief scene written for him as the original Captain Kirk that would’ve ended that year’s new Star Trek film. Since it was little more than a cameo, Shatner likely didn’t approve of it, but the article also states that Shatner never actually read the scene in question. Maybe if he had, he would’ve gone for it.

While time keeps marching on, it becomes increasingly likely that we’ll never again see Shatner reprise the role that made him famous. But, in the words of one of Shatner’s own Trek novels co-written with the Reeves-Stevens’:

Some journeys were never meant to end. There are always…possibilities.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.