Seinfeld is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month, and so TrekMovie takes a look at some of the connections between the groundbreaking sitcom and Star Trek.
Voyages About Nothing: “Seinfeld’s” Influence on Trek
Star Trek is “the ultimate male fantasy,” according to Jerry Seinfeld, because the bridge of the Enterprise had a comfy chair and a big screen TV. That is how he opened “The Apartment,” an early episode of the second season of Seinfeld (see video blow).
It would be hard to overstate the influence Seinfeld has had on popular culture. Of course, many have tried with this month’s 25th anniversary of the show – glowing effusively about how it changed television, shaped a generation, yadda yadda yadda.
During Seinfeld’s run from July 1989, through to May 1998, the show produced 180 episodes. In the same period Star Trek produced 399 episodes of Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. And during that period there was a lot of creative crossover between Seinfeld and the TNG-era shows.
The most high profile was when Seinfeld star Jason Alexander guest starred on Voyager episode "Think Tank." As this UPN promo notes, "he may look familiar, but there is nothing funny about him."
Alexander broke from the George Costanza mold of playing a short, stocky, slow-witted bald man chasing women out of his league to play a short, stocky, quick-witted alien chasing Seven of Nine.
An avid Trek fan, Alexander has talked about how William Shatner has been his acting role model, and he does an excellent Shatner. He even hosted the 1999 UPN special "Ultimate Trek: Star Trek’s Greatest Moments" (see promo below).
But Alexander is only the tip of the Trek/Seinfeld iceberg. His character George’s mom, boss, and fiancée also all appeared on Trek…
Estelle Harris as Estelle Costanza and as Old Nechani Woman (VOY: "Sacred Grounds")
Richard Herd as Wilhelm and as L’Kor (TNG: "Birthright") + Admiral Paris (VOY: recurring)
Heidi Swedberg as Susan Ross and as Rekelen (DS9: "Profit and Loss")
George wasn’t the only one exploring the final frontier. Seinfeld’s Elaine seemed to get attention from future pointy-eared aliens, such as her boss, her boyfriend, and her psychiatrist…
Richard Fancy as Mr. Lippman and as Satelk (TNG: "First Duty")
Marty Rackham as Jake and as Chu’lak (DS9: "Field of Fire")
It’s a faaaake!…not that there’s anything wrong with that –
Stephen McHattie as Dr. Reston and as Vreenak (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")
Jerry had his own Treks, dating a number of women from the 24th century. Here are just a few…
Melanie Smith as Rachel "shrinkage" Goldstein and as Tora Ziyal (DS9: recurring)
Angela Dohrmann as Donna Chang (aka Changstein) and as Ricky (DS9: "Blaze of Glory")
Teri Hatcher as "real and spectacular" Sidra and as B.G. Robinson (TNG: "The Outrageous Okona")
Kramer had his own crossovers, including the most famous member of the Trek family to guest on Seinfeld – DS9 star Armin Shimerman, appearing as the title character in “The Caddy.” Endlessly resourceful, Stan the Caddy has the answer to every problem (as seen in the clip below) – but, ironically, costs Kramer a lot of money with bad advice on lawsuit.
The episode "The Caddy" is also noteworthy as it features Trek veterans Brenda Strong (Rashella– TNG "When the Bough Breaks") and Phil Morris (who has appeared in TOS, Star Trek III, DS9 and VOY) playing the popular recurring Seinfeld character, attorney Jackie Chiles. All three Trek vets can be seen in the clip below.
And the above are just a sampling of the many people who visited both Seinfeld’s New York City and Star Trek’s future. However, the most important influence Seinfeld may have had on the Trek legacy is helping Wrath of Khan enter the popular culture. In the eighth season episode "The Foundation,” Jerry concludes Star Trek II was the best of the Trek films after a marathon viewing with Kramer (who likes “Search for Spock” better and claims to have a “katra”). The scenes below shows how this Khan viewing ended up getting George forced into the titular foundation, leading to the episode ending with the famous Shatner-esque explosion…
… which was then reprised a few episodes later in “The Susie” when Elaine does the same thing (see video below). By the way, Elaine’s coworker Peggy in that episode? Also a Romulan.
It’s easy to forget there was a time when the "Khaaan" scream (which even has its own website) wasn’t such a big part of mainstream culture. Did “The Foundation” and “The Susie” transform Shatner’s Star Trek II scream from a memorable movie moment into a “meme?”…Even before “meme” was even a thing.
In other words, when JJ Abrams decided to do this…
….maybe he was referencing Seinfeld.