Thursday, December 18, 2008

Number One

Unfortunately, Majel Barrett Roddenberry has died. For a Star Trek fan, this is terrible, terrible news--she has been a staple of the Trek universe from before its beginning. Luckily enough, she had time to finish the voiceover work as the ship's computer for the upcoming Abrams Star Trek reboot, so we can still look forward to some of her work.

Many people know her as the character Lwaxana Troi, mother of the ship's counselor, or as the voice of the computer of the Enterprise on both the original series as well as Star Trek: The Next Generation, or maybe even as her portrayal of Nurse Christine Chapel on the original series.

However, I want to point out her more significant contribution to science fiction on TV, as well as to Star Trek, in my mind: as the first Female executive officer to appear in a Star Trek episode, the very capable and level-headed Number One. Watch the whole episode linked below if you get the chance, especially the choice she makes in the end; I would really have loved to see where this character could have gone. It's a shame we never got to see what she would have done with that role--the very first female executive officer in Star Trek, and the first high-ranking officer in a military or para-military organization depicted on TV.

So, here is Gene Roddenberry talking about that original, unaired until decades later pilot for Star Trek, "The Cage,":

(at about 3 minutes in, he begins to talk about Majel Barrett as Number One, a female first officer, and the reaction of women in the test audience to her at the time)

Here is part two if you'd like to finish watching the episode:
part 3.
part 4.
part 5.
part 6.
part 7.

I'll be talking a lot more about this episode in the future, considering this is place where most fan contentions about the Abrams reboot come from, and likely again when we talk about Zachary Quinto's portrayal of Spock from just before this period.

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