In the 1991 film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, George Takei finally got that promotion and was seen as Captain Sulu of the USS Excelsior. Since that time, the actor made it clear that he was ready to bring Capt. Sulu to TV in a new series, and in a new interview he says that he is "baffled" as to why it never happened.
Takei 'baffled' over no Sulu Series
Takei's comments come in an interview in the International Federation of Trekkers official publication "Voyages". In the IFT was behind a campaign to get Paramount to make an "Excelsior" series. A preview of Voyages interview with Takei is up at TrekToday, where Takei says this about the series idea:
It was a substantial idea. There was a huge following for it. And after all, Star Trek VI seemed to have opened the door for an Excelsior television series. But for whatever reason, Paramount didn’t pick up the idea. So despite that massive and heroic effort that was launched by all of the people, and I was absolutely convinced that the audience was there based on the reception of Star Trek VI, the idea didn’t go through. I was absolutely baffled [more at TrekToday]
Following STVI, Paramount created three additional Trek TV series: Deep Space Nine (1993), Voyager (1995) and Enterprise (2001). Takei did reprise his role as Captain Sulu of the Excelsior in 1996 in the Voyager episode "Flashback".
Trailer for "Flashback" — closest Takei got to his "Excelsior" series
While there was some fan talk of a Sulu series in the 90's, the IFT campaign for “Star Trek: Excelsior” really kicked in as Voyager was coming to a close at the end of the decade. In January 2000 IFT officially started their campaign (see announcement at AintItCool). This time was right when Star Trek had started to go into a decline in terms of ratings, ticket sales, and merchandising. The campaign argued that Paramount should look to Sulu as the savior, here is an excerpt:
The fans involved in the EXCELSIOR Campaign, some one thousand strong and growing rapidly, feel that the best way to resurrect the Trek franchise is to take it back to its roots. "There are 80 missing years in the stories of Star Trek. We've gone from the original crew into the next century to see its recent incarnations. There are a lot of missions and a lot of adventures in those 80 years," quips Haslage. The large and growing group of fans feels that a show focusing on original-era stories will be quite a money maker for the studio.
In the end, Paramount made the call to skip the 23rd century and go all the way back to the 22nd century by creating the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise. The show ran for four seasons on UPN before being cancelled.
Captain Sulu in other media
Although Capt. Sulu didn't make it to a TV series, he did appear in other media. Capt. Sulu featured prominently in a number of novels over the last couple of decades, including 2007's. "Star Trek Excelsior: Forged in Fire". Capt. Sulu has also shown up on some comics, including this year's "Star Trek: Captain's Log: Sulu". Takei also voiced three "Captain Sulu Adventures" audio books in the 90's.
Captain Sulu never got a show in the 90's but he did appear in novels, comics and audiobooks
Capt. Sulu also appeared in a number of video games with voice work provided by George Takei. The latest of these was the 2003 Playstation 2 game "Star Trek: Shattered Universe." But it was the 1997 game "Star Trek: Starfleet Academy" (and the expansion "Chekov's Lost Missions") where Takei made his final official 'on camera' appearance as Capt. Sulu. Takei also returned to the role in the Star Trek New Voyages fan series episode “World Enough and Time” in 2007.
Clip from "Star Trek: Starfleet Academy" – Takei's last time (officially) suiting up to play Capt. Sulu
POLL: Was Sulu series the right call?
So should Paramount have followed Voyager with a Sulu series starring George Takei instead of creating Star Trek Enterprise back in 2001?