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THE WILD WILD.... STAR TREK?
When I immigrated to the United states during the '60s the thing that removed the sorrow of leaving England was American TV, specifically the two shows that totally captured my imagination and allegiance, THE WILD, WILD WEST and STAR TREK. I always remembered seeing the same actors in both shows and that even many of the story lines were similar. Well after totally immersing myself into THE WILD, WILD WEST television for the past 4 months, the parallels are just so overwhelming that it's no accident that both of these show are embedded in my psyche. At times you may think I'm stretching things a bit, but that's okay, this is just a short, "fun" piece.
To begin with lets look at the obvious crossovers, that being both shows used two of the same producers, Gene L. Coon and Fred Freiberger. Freiberger comments, "Well, I did one season on STAR TREK. I didn't know Coon but he was the first producer, Lucas was the second and me the third. Roddenberry changed producers every year. Coon and Roddenberry died. Johnny Lucas was a good friend of mine, but I don't know if he is still alive."
Another curious point of interest are the lead characters, Captain James T. West and Captain James T. Kirk. And of course there are all the actors that did both shows. It's interesting to see just who did what first.
Michael Dunn did his first appearance in THE WILD, WILD WEST as Dr. Miguelito Loveless on 10/1/65 in "The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth." He had completed 9 of his 10 appearances as Loveless before guest starring as Alexander in ""Plato's Step Children" on 11/22/68. Mark Lenard appeared in STAR TREK on two episodes, first as the Romulan Commander in "Balance of Terror" (12/15/66) then as Spock's father Sarek in "Journey to Babel" (11/17/67) and later on appeared in THE WILD, WILD WEST as Count Draja in "TNot Iron Fist" (12/8/68). William Campbell starred in THE WILD, WILD WEST's "TNot Freebooters" (4/1/66) as Bender and later in two STAR TREKs as Trelane in "The Squire of Gothos" ((1/12/67) and as Klingon Captain Koloth in "The trouble with Tribbles" (12/29/67). And of course it was William Schallert who had trouble with Tribbles and was also involved in THE WILD, WILD WEST as agent Frank Harper in "TNot Winged Terror" (1/17/69). Furthermore, the headpiece worn by the character Tycho from "Winged Terror" was derived from the large headed aliens in "The Empath."
Schallert recalls, "For STAR TREK, that was just pure chance that I got that job. I really wasn't fond of that particular character and I'm not a Trekkie. But as it turns out, that happens to be voted as one of the top 10 episodes. The tribbles were just furry balls as if taken from a pair of furry bedroom slippers. I'm not sure of how many people might have swiped one as a souvenir."
The following are some of the more significant crossover actors where the show listed first is the program that the actor first appeared in:
Leslie Parrish (THE WILD, WILD WEST: First as Greta in "TNt Wizard Shook the Earth" and as Morn in "TNot Flying Pie Plate"; STAR TREK: "Who Mourns for Adonais" as Lt. Carolyn Palamas); Antoinette Bower (THE WILD, WILD WEST: as the tiger training Janel Coburn in "TNot Sudden Death"; STAR TREK: The cat creature Sylvia in "Catspaw"); Ricardo Montalban (THE WILD, WILD WEST: Vautrain in "TNot Lord of Limbo"; STAR TREK: Khan in "Space Seed"); Kathie Browne (THE WILD, WILD WEST: As Jennifer Caine in "TNot Colonel's Ghost"; STAR TREK: Deela the Scalosian in "Wink of an Eye"); William Marshal (STAR TREK: Daystrom in "The Ultimate Computer"; THE WILD, WILD WEST: As Amalak in "TNot Egyptian Queen"); and William Windem as Commodore Decker in STAR TREK'S "The Doomsday Machine" then in THE WILD, WILD WEST's "TNot Flying Pie Plate" as the sleazy Wingo.
STAR TREK's "Mudd's Women" featured a trio of beautiful women who's beauty relied on a gem-like pill while during the same month on THE WILD, WILD WEST's "TNot Flying Pie Plate" was about three beautiful aliens that were willing to give up there jewels for gold. The women in both shows, their postures, their makeup and they way they posed as a threesome were suspiciously alike. Furthermore the sound effect used for the plate flying is the exact same sound of the Enterprise's ship phaser when they have to do one of those lengthy shooting sprees like when they have to destroy some temple. You'll also find that many of the vibrating organ sound effects and some of the musical rifts denoting the climax to action were used during the first season of THE WILD, WILD WEST. Curiously, when Freiberger and Coon left THE WILD, WILD WEST, the sound effects and musical shticks were no longer used and reappeared on STAR TREK.
In terms of storyline influences? Coon produced "TNot Burning Diamond" (4/8/66) for THE WILD, WILD WEST about an elixir that sped up one's metabolism rendering them invisible. The strange clicking sound, which became the sound effect for STAR TREK's hand held communicators, was attributed to people speaking as we hear the separate vibrations of the sound waves. In STAR TREK's "Wink of an Eye" (11/29/68) the Scalosians have such a high metabolism that they are invisible to the human eye, and the buzzing sound we hear are the sound of the human voice when accelerated to great speed. Coon's stint on THE WILD, WILD WEST probably influenced him to write STAR TREK's "Spectre of the Gun" where Kirk and his gang visit the OK Corral.
When West was being attacked by Boris Karloff's 3 sons in "TNot Golden Cobra" he pulled out a pack of matches threatening them that if they come any closer he will unleash the power of the new explosive X-51. Sounds familiar? Two months later Kirk used the same ploy in "The Corbomite Maneuver." In 1965, Loveless creates a second Jim West in "TN That Terror Stalked the Town," the fake West is eliminated due to the kiss of a woman. A year later, a fake Jim Kirk was eliminated in "What are Little Girls made of?" due to a woman's kiss.
Henry Sharp wrote THE WILD, WILD WESTscripts "TNot Puppeteer" and "TNot Druid's Blood." "Puppeteer" is about a man that uses his power as a puppeteer not only as trouble for West but later on to make him the defendant in his mock trial. Almost 2 years later in STAR TREK's "Gamester of Triskelion" Kirk is terrorized by an alien child who puts Kirk through a mock trial. Both shows climax with the antagonist being shot at a low angle and the Jim's shot at a high angle, in the dark but under a spotlight and the shadowed mock jury makes sounds like bleating sheep. Coon produced "Druid's Blood" where the thought power of brains kept in isolated aqueous solutions generated power to help the villain. For STAR TREK, Coon was involved in "Gamesters of Triskelion" and "Spock's Brain" where out of body brains were generating the powers to run the perspective lifeforms they were either working for or controlling.
It's not wonder that Henry Sharp was asked to get involved in STAR TREK. Sharp elucidates, "It's true, I never worked on STAR TREK but I was considering it once. I was invited in to talk with Gene Roddenberry about working on the show. I remember querying him by telling him that I hated the scene where they landed on alien planets and the people were dressed like Romans or in togas and said that is not my idea of science fiction. I would never do that. He said, "Thank you very much," and that was the end of that. I never watched the show."
I point out to Freiberger some of these crossovers and ask which show he enjoyed working on most. "Wow," he exclaims, "When we did "Spock's Brain" in STAR TREK it didn't work well. It's like I told you earlier, anything that goes around comes around.
"Although THE WILD, WILD WEST had its ups and down, it's hard to compare working on the shows. We've already discussed the problems I ran into with the network for THE WILD, WILD WEST. On the other hand a lot of things were happening on the set of STAR TREK that I didn't know about, like in terms of jealousy between cast members. Shatner wrote a book about it. I wrote a chapter on my problems with the show. I loved the concept of the show, I'm a big sci-fi fan, but there's always problems and tensions between actors and there was a lot of that on the show. I had more fun on SPACE 1999. Did the second year and introduced the character Mia."
So the next time you start watching THE WILD, WILD WEST and STAR TREK, don't be surprised when you start seeing the same beautiful babes in Jim's and Jim's arms.
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