When I heard that William "James T. Shatner" would be hosting the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom in conjunction with New York Comic-Con, it made me excited down to my fangirl toes. After all, it isn't every day that we get to see the Shat verbally spar with Sir Patrick and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise D (minus Jonathan Frakes and Wil Wheaton, who couldn't make it, but plus John Delancie and Denise Crosby).
Lucky for those of us in attendance, we weren't disappointed. Although Shatner was Shatneriffic with some casual asides and pointed questions, he managed to keep his ego in check and let the Next Generation crew have their time in the spotlight.
The actors shared stories about their time on set, the impact Star Trek has had on the world...and whether or not they would want to appear in the upcoming Star Trek 3.
Amusing responses to audience questions included:
Marina Sirtis (Commander Deanna Troi), on why she had an accent on Star Trek and Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard) did not: "Sir Old Baldy over there! He's supposed to be French?! [After building the] Channel Tunnel...by the 24th century there are no more French. The English have used the Chunnel to infiltrate and take over. Hence Jean-Luc Picard and his perfect English accent."
Then Stewart affected a French accent. And instead of "space," the word came out as "spess." He was glad to not have to use the accent on the show. "I sounded like Clouseau in space."
Sirtis was relieved to shed her "cosmic cheerleader outfit" in favor of the Starfleet uniform. "The only saving grace" about that season 1 costume "is that there were boys who wore it, too. I felt like I should be in a cage [mimics a '60s style go-go dance]."
Michael Dorn (Lieutenant Worf) told fans he preferred the cast of Next Gen to the cast of Deep Space Nine - which Sirtis referred to as "Deep Snooze Nine." Dorn said, "We were fun, laughing, having a great time for seven years...when they said 'Cut,' we were doing show tones. Johnny [Jonathan Frakes] was doing show tunes, Brent [Spiner] was doing show tunes. Patrick was doing Shakespeare. You go to Deep Space Nine, and it was a very serious show. We called Avery 'Mr. Brooks.' It was like a monastery over there."
Denise Crosby (Lieutenant Tasha Yar) described one of her favorite moments on the set, where she and Frakes were in the makeup trailer. Suddenly, an earthquake hit, and they ran out of the trailer. Only Frakes' face was half shaven, half covered in shaving cream.
He was also wearing a pink chenille bathrobe two sizes too small.
"Suddenly Entertainment Tonight is there." After a reporter asked "How do you feel?" Crosby said, "I'm like, ask him. And Jonathan, without missing a beat, in a pink bathrobe, said, 'Well, we're really fortunate to be here today, and we've survived [the earthquake], and we're better for it."
Stewart interjected. "I remember this incident, the earthquake. I was indicating to turn right when this new car that I only just bought began to [shake], and I said, 'S***.'"
(Shatner then interjected into Stewart's interjection: "It should be noted, we heard Sir Patrick say 'S***.'")
Crosby continued. "I remember you coming in to the makeup room and say, 'Bloody hell! I'm taking this car back! I just bought it and this thing is rattling. It rattles!" We never learned who told Stewart that his car was, in fact, not a dud.
The ever-snarky Sirtis then said, "Patrick bought a brand-new Honda, only to find that Wil Wheaton had bought the same car."
Although Next Gen is set in space, of the entire cast, the only person who seems to genuinely want to go star trekking is Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher). While Stewart said, "I would like to ride the fire. I would like to experience the launch" and Shatner admitted "I wouldn't go on the first ride, I'd go on the hundredth," McFadden was by far the most adventurous and optimistic:
"I'd love to have the opportunity go to so far out that you look...back out on to the world." She paraphrased the book The Overview Effect which describes how seeing the Earth from space changes the mindset of people who view it. She says that space travel is "such a tribute to humankind."
Almost every time an audience member asked a question, he or she first thanked the cast for making a show that had such an impact on their lives. But Crosby had a tale that revealed how much of an impact the show had on her life.
While directing Trekkies 2, Crosby was invited to a convention in Serbia, which was still recovering from the Kosovo War.
"It was a hundred people there. In walks this man, clearly a farmer; he had hands all calloused and rough and the size of catcher's mitts. He could only speak a little English. And he said, 'Thank you. I had no hope. No one came for us. But we would watch Star Trek, and we believed the world could survive and progress'...He had tears streaming down his face. I was floored. I thought, 'This is magical. This is beyond being an actor on a TV show.' I was so grateful. And I take that with me."
As for appearing in the upcoming Star Trek 3, none of the actors have been invited. But, if asked, Brent Spiner (Data, Lore, Noonian Soong, Arik Soong) would be game. "I would be honored to be in the third Star Trek film, playing all of the characters. And all of their families."