The third and final day of Mission: New York was launched by the Voyager cast with their longtime producer Brannon Braga and was closed out in style by William Shatner and Walter Koenig.
The Voyager panel got off to a good start when Ethan Phillips tried to sit in Robert Duncan McNeill’s lap. Roxann Dawson, McNeill, Phillips, Robert Picardo, Brannon Braga, and Kate Mulgrew talked about being mugged in New York before heading into more Voyager-themed topics.
They had a long conversation about Tuvix, after getting over their astonishment that he was one of moderator Jordan Hoffman’s favorite characters, and Braga said, “one of the stupidest concepts became a great morality dilemma for Janeway.” When they reminded Mulgrew that Janeway had to kill Tuvix to save Tuvok and Neelix, the light dawned. “Bloody right I did!” she said.
When asked about their least favorite episode, Picardo named “Twisted,” explaining that all they got to do in that one was turn corners or open doors and look surprised. They asked Braga what his favorite episode to write was: “Year of Hell.” He added that the best Voyager episodes had high concepts, used all the characters, and was thematic, a combination they tried to hit all the time but didn’t always succeed. McNeill chimed in that really, the best episodes included Captain Proton. He said he’d like to do a Captain Proton web series and bring them all back for it.
Mulgrew, still steering the conversation (and clearly in command) brought up how delightful Ethan Phillips was to have on set. She said whenever she was tired and cranky, he lifted her right up, and that she cried when he left—a reminder that Neelix left Voyager before she returned home. His farewell scene broke everyone up, including the crew, who had dressed in uniform to participate in the scene.
Hoffman asked their opinions on Bryan Fuller, since they’d worked with him fairly closely, and the word was all positive. “He was just a boy,” Mulgrew said. “Very smart, very precocious, kind, and wonderfully imaginative. I knew he would do wonderful things.” Braga told the crowd, “If I had to pick a single writer on the planet to do Star Trek, it would be Bryan Fuller.” They promised that his passion and his deep love of Star Trek was great news for Star Trek: Discovery.
They revealed just how crazy executives were at the beginning when it came to Mulgrew’s hair. They were constantly stopping takes to fix it, even doing reshoots, and finally she said, “They’re either going to buy me as the Captain or they’re not,” and put a stop to it. She said the one thing she’d really like to do is go back to that scene in the first episode where she tells the crew they’re stuck in the Delta Quadrant, and reshoot it without 50 guys staring at her, still in a state of nervousness after the recent departure of Geneviève Bujold. “You all were so good to me,” she said about her first days on set.
Dawson remembered that she was pregnant, playing Paris’ wife, at the same time McNeill’s wife was pregnant, and speculated on how much fun that must have been for him.
When asked how they felt about the series ending, Mulgrew said she thought it was sublime. “Admiral Janeway sacrified her life for Captain Janeway.” McNeill said he wouldn’t change a thing, since he loved B’Elanna barefoot and pregnant, and Picardo mentioned that when Chakotay suddenly scored Seven of Nine, he got a consolation prize of a tall blonde sexy wife. They wrapped it up by talking about Discovery again, and how happy they were to hear there would be a gay character on the crew. “I wish it had happened sooner,” Picardo told the crowd.
New York native Walter Koenig spent his entire time on stage answering questions from fans, and thoroughly entertained the packed room.
When asked why NBC would cancel the series, he very bluntly stated that “NBC didn’t like Gene. He rubbed them the wrong way…they didn’t get it. They didn’t understand what we were doing.”
He said that he was treated well by the cast when he joined the series during the second season and that the biggest joker on the set was Shatner, saying “Bill was the life of the party. He was the star and he set the tone.”
He spoke of the tough times he faced after the series was canceled and how he landed a writing assignment on The Animated Series after Gene Roddenberry saw a horror script he had written. The episode he wrote, “The Infinite Vulcan”, was ultimately not a very happy experience for him, and when they asked him if he wanted to do a second script, he declined.
He spoke of seeing Star Trek ’09 and the trepidation he felt:
I wasn’t sure how I’d react to the first reboot movie. I didn’t know if I’d feel threatened by this movie that didn’t include me. To my great happiness, I loved the movie! I just sat back and felt complimented by this young man playing Chekov.
Walter then spoke of the recent passing of Anton Yelchin:
I was so impressed with him. He had done leading roles in film before Star Trek. Such a good person, such a breath of fresh air. I knew he would continue to grow and be someone who would be admired. He was a beautiful person, a beautiful young man. It’s a great loss to us all that he won’t be with us.
Star Trek: Discovery was the talk of the convention, and Walter has a positive feeling about the new series for one particular reason:
The thing that gives me the most confidence is that they hired Nick Meyer. Extremely bright, extremely talented writer…he has a great sense of compassion, of conviction, and a wonderful imagination. I’m so relieved he’s going to be a part of this.
“Thank you soo much! I love New York!”
Convention headliner William Shatner arrived on the New York stage to thunderous applause from a capacity crowd in the Main Hall of the Javits Center. The ageless icon never stopped moving around the stage during his entire 50 minute talk, and entertained the crowd with stories about Star Trek and his long career.
He opened by reminiscing about his many experiences on Broadway in shows like The World of Suzie Wong and The Music Box, and told the story about the first time he ever visited the Big Apple as a teenager, when he and a group of friends rowed a war canoe from Montreal and the way to New York City. Shatner quipped that he knew they were getting close to New York, “when I saw that little brown things were floating in the water.”
He recently went to Cambridge, England to interview the legendary theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking for an upcoming tv special called “The Truth Is In Our Stars”. Shatner said that after Hawking had answered his questions –
He had written that he wanted to ask me a question. So I said, “Dr. Hawking, what is your question?” So the question comes back “what are your favorite episodes?”. When somebody asks me a question like that…if I want to give an honest answer I’ll say, you know I don’t remember a lot of them, but the popular ones, like “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “City On The Edge Of Forever”
Shatner went further and was brutally honest about just how much Star Trek he remembers and has actually seen:
When someone asks me “what are your favorite episodes?”, I’m like, who the hell remembers? I don’t like to look at my stuff on camera. Not only have I not seen any of the other Star Treks, I’ve hardly seen the Star Trek I was on. I don’t know why. There’s a deep psychological reason why I haven’t seen any of the others. Some of my dearest buddies are in The Next Generation and I’ve never seen The Next Generation!
With tongue planted firmly in cheek, he pontificated on Star Trek’s Prime Directive, saying you shouldn’t interfere with another civilization, “unless you have a tv show, then interfere.”
He continues to be amazed at how much of an effect Star Trek has had on people around the world:
A lot of people come up to me, even here today, tears in their eyes, talking about how Star Trek influenced their lives, and I’ve seen that time and time again and I’m in awe of the effect.
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