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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Dammit Jim!

Star Trek’s Uhura And Spock Were Supposed To Hook Up Years Ago, Then William Shatner Pulled Rank

Well this is a surprise. We all know about the interracial kiss that rocked the world on Star Trek on November 22, 1968 but did you know that kiss was originally supposed to be between Uhura and Spock, not Uhura and Kirk? 

In the episode ”Plato’s Stepchildren” from the original series, the crew land on a planet filled with telekenetic humanoids who had been living their lives as if they were in ancient Greece. When they ask that Dr. McCoy stay on their planet just in case they ever need a doctor, disagreements follow and the people use their powers to humiliate Kirk and the others by making them do silly dances and the like. They even make Spock express emotion. But the news-worthy bit came when they forced Kirk and Uhura to kiss.

As far as what we already know from history, the story was Kirk/Uhura was what was written in the script but after concerns from NBC executives, they thought to change the kiss to Spock/Uhura but William Shatner insisted they keep with what was written. But in a recent interview, Nichelle Nichols gave some details that cast a slightly different shade on this story.

[She] told The Vancouver Sun she was rehearsing her lip-lock with Leonard Nimoy (a.k.a. the Vulcan, Mr. Spock) when William Shatner (a.k.a. interstellar stud, Captain Kirk) saw the smooch. “Bill Shatner saw what was going on and he said, ‘Woah, woah, woah. If anybody is gonna get to kiss Lieutenant Uhura it’s gonna be me.’ And he had the whole thing changed so the first interracial kiss was with Lieutenant Uhura and Captain Kirk.”

Nichols laughs almost constantly as she recalls her most memorable Star Trek moment. “Bill wanted to rehearse all the time. He said he wanted to get this right! I said to him, “It’s right, it’s right. I promise you, it’s right.” And the camera was shaking and the director was laughing his head off. We really had a good time.”

Brings a whole new meaning to “Dammit, Jim” doesn’t it?

It all worked out in the end I suppose. Uhura and Spock get to live out a real relationship rather than a forced kiss thanks to J.J. Abrams.

(via Blastr)

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  • Anonymous

    This is part of the reason why I’m made uncomfortable by a lot of the talk about how Uhura was “made into a love interest” in the reboot. If you want to talk about her having a reduced role or something, yes, but it wasn’t some proud feminist statement that she “Didn’t need a man” in the classic show. She didn’t have a man because of the racial politics of the era and the fact that people flipped out the one time she was allowed to kiss a white person.

  • Erin Treat

    Uhura and Spock’s sweet relationship was such a wonderful surprise in Abrams film and one of my favorite parts. They’re just awesome together.

  • Deggsy

    It’s been ages since I’ve seen that iconic moment, but wasn’t it helmed so that you don;t actually see Kirk and Uhura kiss? Just to appease the affiliates in the souther US states?

  • Calum Syers

    This is from memory, but I believe Shatner and Nicholls dipped out of frame, so that you couldn’t see the kiss. The story goes, that Shatner flubbed his lines prior to the kiss (long camera takes on TV), so they were forced to go with the take where they were in frame. Of course, that’s just what I’ve read… from years back… and I could have misremembered stuff.

  • Anonymous

    Her best scene ever was in Star Trek III where she lays down the law to a junior officer who dared to suggest she wasn’t of value.

  • Jeyl

    I didn’t have any issue with Uhura having a relationship with Spock. I just had issue with the relationship coming out of nowhere and not amounting to anything. You would think that Uhura would want to help Spock and the remaining Vulcans rebuild their society instead of gleefully serving as one of three communications officers on the bridge who just happened to be the only one who didn’t handle communications throughout the whole movie.

  • Rachel Ripley

    haha it took me a couple of minutes to twig how the kiss was “interracial” when they are both humans. I think that is a positive reflection of how times have changed.

  • Lily Helen

    That’s really weird if that’s true. Nurse Chapel and Spock being paired up makes alot more sense than him and Uhura in the original show.

    … And I respect and adore Nichelle Nichols, but I suspect perhaps that back then the creators of the show would rather have let her believe that she was supposed to kiss Spock and then Will Shatner intervened because she’s amazingly beautiful and he wanted to kiss her.
    It seems alot nicer than telling her they changed the original plan of her kissing the white Captain to her kissing the alien, because it was less offensive, and then Shatner intervened because she’s amazingly beautiful and he wanted to kiss her AND he’s not a goddamn racist as opposed to us pussies in charge.

  • Anonymous

    My problem is that Uhura’s role as a love interest is pretty much designed to further the Kirk/Spock relationship rather than giving Uhura any more significant depth beyond “oh hey, she’s also necking Spock, how’s about that?” There really is nothing much to the relationship beyond that, which I think is actually worse than having no relationship.

  • Amadi

    Uh, she was the one who had the communications breakthrough that enabled Kirk to piece together the puzzle of what the attack on Vulcan was and who was behind it. She heard and deciphered the distress call from the Vulcan prison planet. Blame JJ Abrams poor pacing and weird editing choices for eliminating the entire Vulcan prison planet sequences (available on the DVD) that made it clear how crucial Uhura’s discovery happened to be.

  • Jen Logicallyillogical Elsberr

    I think that it should be noted that the first interracial tv kiss wasn’t between Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner. It was between Nichelle Nichols and Majel Barrett (portraying Nurse Christine Chapel), in the episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” — an episode from season one, a full two years before season three’s “Plato’s Stepchildren.”

    Now, I grant you that the kiss between Nichelle and Majel wasn’t an on-the-lips kiss like the one between Nichelle and William. Nichelle kisses Majel’s cheek. (In fact, she kissed both of Majel’s cheeks, if I recall correctly.) These weren’t romantic kisses; these were platonic kisses: expressions of friendship. But they also were not forced kisses as the kiss was that happened between Uhura and Kirk. And I believe that the fact that Uhura made this demonstration of affection for Chapel ought to be given more weight and significance than it has been, because it was a genuine display of feelings: a demonstration of the fact that friendship (and yes, even affection) is possible between people of “different races.”

    Also, it is quite interesting to note that the only time Uhura ever kissed anyone in TOS or in the TOS-era movies of her own free will, it is a woman that she kisses, not a man.

    Now, I am a woman. I have lots of female friends. I am not ashamed to say that I even love a few of those women that I am closest to. But I’ve never decided to go kissing any of those women, even on the cheek, to display my affection for them. It’s just not really a thing that happens as a part of mainstream American culture, where female friends kiss each other.

    Yet Star Trek is also a product of American mainstream culture, and we have this moment where Uhura and Chapel are kissing. I find that very interesting indeed.

  • Deggsy

    I know what you mean, and as much as I love Classic trek, I can’t be bothered to sit through that particular episode just to confirm my suspicions, otherwise I’ll get transfixed by the sight of Kirk on all fours braying like a mule while being ridden by a dwarf…

  • Jeyl

    That’s another problem. All the other characters who actually contribute to the film do so on their own initiative. Spock sets out on his own to rescue the Vulcan council and his family, Chekov rushes to rescue Kirk and Sulu int he transporter room, McCoy decides to sicken up Kirk in order to get him on the Enterprise, Sulu saves Kirk on the Drill, Scotty figures out how to beam three people from two places at once and saves the Enterprise with his warp core(s) solution.

    Uhura? Well, her figuring out the Klingon transmission was done off screen and she didn’t even consider it to be all that important outside of dorm room chatter. Unlike the rest of the characters, she needed Kirk in order for her to realize that this was in fact a big deal.

  • Sophie

    There’s an interview with Nicholls where she said they were seriously considering going with a version where they didn’t t kiss and were going to film both, but Shatner deliberately kept messing up the take. When they were already running late and just needed to get the shot done, he crossed his eyes in the take without the kiss while the director wasn’t looking so they had to take the one with the kiss. It’s a pretty good story.

  • Cranium Rinse

    …You’ve managed to be really condescending towards someone you “respect and adore.”

  • Anonymous

    Kirk kisses alien women like every third episode, so I doubt that’s a factor. Meanwhile, if Spock is forced to kiss Uhura, it’s clearly something he’s mind controlled into doing, rather than something he’d ever do on his own. Kirk? It isn’t inconceivable that he might want to kiss Uhura anyhow, but hasn’t gotten around to yet. Because it’s less of a shock within the characters, it seems like it may have been more culturally shocking.

  • SoupyTwist

    Also, you don’t have to do much digging into Star Trek history to find dozens of stories like this. X character was gonna do a thing or have a line and Shatner demanded they give it to Kirk instead. I love Kirk, but Shatner was kind of a huge jerk. He was also really annoyed that Spock ended up being as, if not more popular a character than his.

  • Daniel Reasor

    With due respect, Uhura’s best scene ever was the time she told a time-displaced Abraham Lincoln that the word “negress” didn’t have the power to hurt her in the 23rd Century.

  • Anonymous

    I think she told this story as far back as 1976, on the “Inside Star Trek” record album.

  • Anonymous

    I remember hearing that one of the letters they got after the kiss was from a guy who said he’d normally object to an interracial kiss, but he could understand it because it was Kirk.

  • Lily Helen

    I felt that in the story it makes alot more sense for Spock and Chapel to kiss, their romance is a reocurring thing that they even talk about when they have to kiss eachother (I wanted to kiss you, but not like this!), so that not being the actual original plan sounded so strange to me.

    And also, I was thinking about reasons this might be told so differently by Nichelle Nichols while interviews and comments released on the original VHS casettes (that I have) had a different story.
    But for all I know, perhaps it IS Shatner who’s been bossing people around and they’d rather he didn’t come across as such an bossy bastard that he changed the entire original story just so he could kiss Uhura?

    Anyway, someone has probably been lying about something, but I obviously have no idea who, and in this setting I am the one with the least to contribute to what actually happened. Nichols is probably tons smarter than I am, and a hell of a lot more aware of how they hid their racism back in those days anyway, so I apologize for being condescending if that means anything to anyone reading my comments…

  • Teresa Jusino

    The thing is, a relationship between Spock and Uhura shouldn’t be a huge surprise if you’ve seen “Charlie X,” which is a first season ep of the Original Series. Uhura flirtatiously sings a song to Spock as he plays Vulcan guitar/harp/whatever that instrument is in a way that totally sets them up as a cute potential couple. Yeah, racial stuff probably kept them apart, especially that early, and Spock was always seen as a “devilish” character from the beginning (because of the ears and eyebrows), so they probably thought that having an interracial kiss between a black woman and the character who’s the most suspicious was just TOO MUCH. But it’s clear from the beginning of the series that Spock and Uhura were Meant To Be. :) But then they threw Nurse Chapel at him. Ugh. :)

  • Anonymous

    You mean the one-sided infatuation from Chapel? That’s not a “romance”, that’s unrequited love (and I use love very loosely).

  • Anonymous

    Except she’s intercepting and translating transmissions, able to discern between Vulcan and Romulan, and speaks all three dialects of Romulan. That’s significant. It’s just that people like you get caught up on two kisses. I’m sure you’d think it’s “worse than having no relationship”, but it’s not. We’ve already seen that in TOS. No need to see that in the new movies. Besides, if JJ & Co had explored it further, you’d say it didn’t fit in the movie. And to your point, isn’t that McCoy’s role in the movie? He’s the one that broke regulation to get a suspended cadet on board. Did that reduce him at all as his entire arc was about backing up Kirk?

  • Anonymous

    Why would she consider it the night before? At that time, there was no distress call from Vulcan. She wouldn’t have read Capt. Pike’s dissertation as she’s not on the Command track. The transmission piqued her interest because it came from non-Federation space and detailed the destruction of the Klingon war birds. She passed the information along, as she would with any intercepted transmission in the long range sensor lab. She’s a Cadet. She can only translate what she heard, and insure it goes up the chain of command. If she “needed” Kirk, then Kirk “needed” her as well. If she didn’t back him, he would have been sent to the brig. Further, why didn’t Starfleet command make the connection between the Vulcan distress call and the destruction of the Kelvin? Aren’t they privy to ALL the information? Why didn’t Starfleet better inform their cadet-staffed ships on the situation they were warping into? Instead of thinking like that, you automatically diminish her contributions all because she’s with Spock.

  • Jeyl

    Well, she does stop Spock from going to the Transporter room when he’s trying to rescue the council and his parents. If he didn’t stop to tell what he was doing, those four to five seconds could have been enough to save his mother and the other council members from being crushed to death.

  • Cranium Rinse

    “Anyway, someone has probably been lying about something, but I obviously
    have no idea who, and in this setting I am the one with the least to
    contribute to what actually happened.”
    That’s exactly my point. You have no idea what happened, so the assumption that the entire crew conspired to lie to Nichols in order to protect her fragile ego is genuinely insulting.

    If you prefer Chapel/Spock, that’s one thing, but you’re actually suggesting that because you prefer Spock/Chapel, Nichols must either be a liar or a fool. That’s totally not cool and really disrespectful, especially considering that it’s only a tv show.

  • Jen Logicallyillogical Elsberr

    I have a hard time buying the argument that Spock and Uhura were “meant to be.” I base my opinion on the firm belief that Spock isn’t a dog, among other things.

    No, let me explain.

    In “The Man Trap” (which features everybody’s favorite salt vampire), Uhura approaches Spock. She makes a joke to him about hating the word “frequencies.” She then goes on to make some small talk — she asks Spock why he doesn’t tell her that she is a beautiful woman. She also wants to know what a romantic moonlight night is like on Vulcan. Clear and obvious flirting, or maybe she really is just joking with him on account of his Vulcan side. Goodness knows everybody else in the main cast gives Spock similar playful ribbings about his Vulcan background.

    Spock’s only response to all of this flirting is completely unromantic from every possible angle: Vulcan has no moon. As for all the other stuff that Uhura wanted to hear from him — Spock doesn’t even bother. He couldn’t be any more indifferent to her flirting, if that is indeed what you want to believe that Uhura was doing.

    And then there’s “Charlie X.” Uhura’s singing about Spock while he’s playing his ka’athrya in the Recreation Lounge. Uhura goes on and on about Spock’s Vulcan features, the devil ears and so forth, and finishes her little ditty with a warning to women: that they ought to watch out for Spock because he’ll enchant them with his eyes and his words. Basically, she’s saying that Spock is a flirt.

    But we all saw in the episode right before “Charlie X” (aka “The Man Trap”) that Spock ISN’T a flirt. He’s about as far from being a flirt as it’s possible to be while still having a pulse.

    So what’s going on there in the Rec Room? Uhura could be flirting again, trying to tell Spock that she digs him. But why on Earth would Uhura EVER think that Spock would respond positively to such obvious advances? Spock, like most other Vulcans, tends to be a pretty private individual. If anything, one would think that Uhura’s flirting in this instance would only serve to make him LESS interested in him.

    Or maybe Uhura isn’t flirting with Spock. Maybe she’s just playfully teasing him again. That seems pretty likely, because after she finishes her ditty on Spock, she goes on to sing another round about Charlie Evans. The tone of her words and facial expressions is exactly the same as when she was singing about Spock. So basically, she’s just singing to entertain everybody else in the room.

    So, what have we seen thus far? In the very first two aired episodes, we see Uhura trying to flirt (maybe) and Spock completely failing to reciprocate. So yeah, one could make the argument that Uhura was attracted to Spock. But damn, it does seem that she can’t take a hint, because Spock just isn’t showing any kind of interest in her.

    Or maybe she can take the hint — because those are the only two instances in the show’s three year run where Uhura’s actions might be taken as flirting. After those first two episodes it seems that Uhura got a clue.

    And then, of course, we get to the heart of the matter: Spock isn’t a dog. All the way through the first season and the second season episode opener “Amok Time” Spock is married/betrothed to T’Pring. He’s been “off the market” since he was seven years old. That just makes even more improbable that he would have harbored secret desires for Uhura in the first two episodes of season one.

    Pursuing something with Uhura before the events of “Amok Time” would have been completely out of character for Spock since he takes his beliefs in Vulcan culture and traditions extremely seriously. The needs of family come before the needs of the individual in Vulcan culture. Cheating on T’Pring would be the penultimate act of ignoring the needs of family before the individual.

    It simply wouldn’t be logical for Spock to even consider looking at other women. In fact, we have canonical proof that other women have tried to start something with Spock (see “This Side of Paradise” and Leila Kalomi, or numerous instances with Christine Chapel), but have failed miserably to get him to turn his head in their direction.

    And even though Spock is released from his betrothal to T’Pring after the events of “Amok Time” such that he is once again able to pursue a relationship, we never see him trying to start anything with Uhura. And Uhura, knowing that he’s free again, doesn’t go back to teasing/flirting with him to any sort of degree that rivals what audiences saw in “The Man Trap” and “Charlie X.”

    So anyway, it would seem that Spock just wouldn’t harbor those kinds of thoughts — because Spock is pretty much the most honest and honorable member of the Enterprise crew.

    The writers of the 2009 movie had their own personal reasons for writing in a Spock/Uhura relationship. So yeah, Spock/Uhura is canon in Abrams-verse.

    But looking back at TOS, that kind of Spock/Uhura relationship dynamic just isn’t there.

  • Megan

    Alternatively, and I mean this to be a *gentle* criticism, it’s a reflection of how you have the good fortune to be able to forget about racial issues. Judging by what I read in the news and in the blogs these days, that’s still not the case for an awful lot of people in our supposedly “post-racial” society.

  • Lily Helen

    …um, yes, it WAS insulting, I realized that and that’s why I apologized…
    I gave the reasons I got my head stuck up my arse, but I thought I also made it clear I was wrong and am sorry I reacted like I did.
    (And I did in no way EVER think the producers wanted to protect Nichols “fragile ego”, I thought that perhaps they wanted to protect their OWN ego. In my rambling fantasy scenario Nichols is the hero, but she is deceived by weak assholes who lie so they wont be revealed as the pussies that they are. But this obviously undermines her knowledge, experience and intelligence and also proves my own thoughtlessness and stupidity)

    And I don’t like Spock/Chapel at all btw, and the main reason I really liked that she was forced to kiss Spock was that she hated it. I made my own headcanon of how Chapel had a very nicely symbolic revelation for her of how creepy she is in danger of becoming when he’s not shown much interest, (and I might remember wrong, but I think this was the last episode where their “romance” was mentioned as well?) I enjoyed that so much that I got almost insulted by the implication that it wasn’t planned and I reacted emotionally and stupidly.. but I hope I can learn from this experience, and grow.

  • Amadi

    Just rewatched this sequence, in proper nerd research fashion. Nyota follows Spock to the turbolift to ask where he’s going which was purely setup for his exposition of who he’s going to rescue and why. She was his girlfriend, yes, but she was also the highest ranked officer on the bridge (though not command track so the ensign was given the conn) and as communications officer needed to know why the captain was disappearing mid-crisis without having given anyone any further orders. If she hadn’t run after to inquire, someone would/should have, because his departure was abrupt (and the storytelling required the exposition dialogue).

  • Jeyl

    What was the order that Spock gave Uhura before she stopped him from going to the transporter room?

    Spock: “Alert Vulcan command center to signal a planetwide evacuation on all channels, all frequencies.”

    Vulcan has minutes left. Billions of men, women and children are about to be murdered in cold blood. Every second could mean the difference between life and death for thousands of Vulcans. So when Spock orders Uhura to initiate a planet wide evacuation, she doesn’t do that. Instead she delays his rescue of the council and his family so that he can tell her something that she, being his girlfriend, should have figured that out on her own. So not only did Uhura play a factor in Spock’s mother’s death, she probably caused the death of other Vulcan lives by not carrying out her orders.

  • Jeyl

    Umm…. No. Being able to distinguish Vulcan and Romulan and speak the Romulan language in all three dialects is NOT significant to the story at all. The moment she kicks the original communication’s officer out of his station, this is what she reports.

    Uhura: Sir, I’m not picking up any Romulan transmissions, or any other transmissions.

    Nothing. Unless the original officer can’t tell what nothing sounds like, putting her at the station was completely pointless. Heck, when the Romulans do contact the Enterprise, does she translate what they’re saying? No. He just forces his way onto their viewing screen and says this.

    Nero: HELLO! Hi Christopher, I’m Nero.

    The Romulans speak perfect english. So I ask you, why is it significant that she knows the Romulan language if all the Romulans speak english? There’s being a useful crew member on the bridge, and than there’s just being put on the bridge for no good reason.

    And the film makers don’t really care about it either. If you watch the film with the commentary track on, everyone literally praises JJ for having the Romulans speak english all the time, even calling it “brilliant”. Nice to know that “brilliant” move just put Star Trek’s only female character into the useless category. But not to worry. At least she’ll have a man to hug.

  • Anonymous

    That was for the movie purposes. Maybe if the writers had them speaking Romulan first and then transitioning to Standard would have solidified the point (similar to the Klingons in The Undiscovered Country).

    Further, if there was nothing to hear, why didn’t the original Comm officer say that? Obviously it was important enough for Capt. Pike to ask if he could.

    Funny how you overlook the fact that communications were re-established and she could do her job, pretty much like everyone else after Kirk and Sulu disabled the drill. Why is that?

    Damn right, she has a man to hug that loves her of his own volition and isn’t under mind control. Considering how rare it is to see black women in that role in a summer blockbuster, it’s an vast improvement over TOS.

  • Anonymous

    So now it’s Uhura’s fault? Yeah, OK. Except another crew member confirm his command. I guessing it’s Hannity. Go back and watch the scene again.

    And how exactly was he supposed to transport down to Vulcan while Kirk and Sulu were being beamed up?

  • Jeyl

    That was not Hannity. Spock gave the order to maintain standard orbit, and that order was confirmed by the female officer who took over the Helm station when Sulu went with Pike and Kirk to go skydiving.

    Also, count how many seconds it takes between the moment Kirk and Sulu are beamed up and when Spock beams down. Than compare that to the amount of time it took for them to lose Spock’s mother’s signal.

  • Anonymous

    The fault of the destruction of Vulcan and Spock’s mom’s death lies squarely on Nero. Trying to blame anyone else, especially Lt. Uhura is completely ridiculous. You might as well blame Chekov for flubbing and calling Spock Commander instead of Captain (3 secs) or the other crewmember who couldn’t beam up Sulu and Kirk while they were falling without a parachute (3 mins). Of course, you’re not doing that because Lt. Uhura’s “just a love interest” and therefore should be blamed for all that goes wrong.

  • Jeyl

    So if someone set fire to a car that still had a baby inside of it, and another person close by just stood there watching the car burn, would you still say that the blame should squarely be on the guy who lit the fire?

    “Of course, you’re not doing that because Lt. Uhura’s just a love interest”

    Yeah, that scene where she wishes the guys good luck and kisses Spock goodbye was a great showcase in how relevant she is in the grand scheme of things. But hey, at least you got to see her tell some guy to “MOVE!” who wasn’t even in her way.

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely. Not sure how it’s a bystanders fault because they didn’t get involved. You don’t have to get involved, and most times it goes against your basic survival instinct to get involved in a dangerous situation. But yes, keep on criticizing Zoe’s Uhura. All the things she did is trumped by the fact she’s in a relationship with Spock. Your intersectional feminism is definitely NOT showing here.

  • Jeyl

    You just said it’s perfectly acceptable to allow a baby to burn to death in a car. You have no merit in discussing what makes a character a good character.

  • Anonymous

    Please tell me how many times bystanders/witnesses have been charged and held just as responsible as the perpetrator of the criminal act. You do not have to, nor are required to get involved, whether it’s involving a baby, a child, a woman being raped, etc. Should you? Yes, but you’re NOT REQUIRED to. Why is that so difficult for you to understand?? And why do you keep conflating Lt. Uhura’s actions with Nero’s? You’re holding her just as responsible, if not more so, than Nero for the destruction of Vulcan, which is funny because if not for Lt. Uhura intercepting the Klingon transmission and backing up Kirk, they all would be dead. I love how you give Kirk all the credit, as if he translated the original Klingon transmission. All he did was overhear and he gets all the credit in your mind.

    But Uhura’s the “bad character”? LOL, you must be joking. You’re a troll, right? Because only a troll would purposely misconstrue my comment and then attempt use it to determine my “merits” at discussing a fictional character in a fictional world created by men. You don’t like Uhura because she’s in a relationship with Spock. She’s not in her place and in the background, where black women are usually put (if they are even cast at all in these types of movies). It bothers you to no end that this black woman is being loved publicly and openly by a white male. Keep trying to make your “points”, though. This is quite entertaining.

  • Sean Williams

    What a Spock blocker!

  • Anonymous

    perfectly logical analysis, Lt. Elsberr