Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner made what appeared to be their exits from the roles of Spock and Kirk in 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, though they would both return to play those characters in future projects. But, according to /Film, there was to be one return to the Enterprise bridge by the pair that, sadly, fans will never get to see. While they would not have been returning to their Star Trek roles, it would have been an intriguing project that would have been absolute gold for fans at the time.
Unfortunately, these segments were never shot, which is why you will never see them.
Star Trek During The Sci-Fi Channel’s Launch
In 1992, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner were just coming off the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Star Trek in 1991, and the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) was having its big debut on cable. Featuring prominently within its programming slate, alongside Starman, The Incredible Hulk, and the Planet of the Apes movies, was a major emphasis on Star Trek. This made sense as Star Trek was at what was, to that point, its peak of popularity and success.By its 25th anniversary, its stars Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, along with the entire original cast, were getting a huge send-off on the big screen while Star Trek: The Next Generation continued to increase in popularity on syndicated television.
Airing The Original Star Trek Movies
In fact, to launch their new cable network, the Sci-Fi Channel began by airing the first three Star Trek films, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, in order. It was a big deal at the time for anyone to have rights to all three of those films at once, and the new cable network wanted to open with a big flex that they hoped would draw in Star Trek fans, whom they planned to court as their programming unfolded.
Nimoy And Shatner Were To Appear On An Enterprise Replica
The plan was to have Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner appear on a replica of the Enterprise bridge to discuss episodes of the original series when they aired. This great idea came as a fluke of changes in the advertising market on television that caused difficulties for the available time slots for episodes of Star Trek. When they originally aired, the episodes were 50 minutes long with 10 minutes of commercials, but advertisers had since begun demanding 16 minutes of air time, leaving only 44 minutes for the episodes.
The Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner segments were meant to remedy this mismatch. Rather than cut down each episode by six minutes, Sci-Fi Channel execs decided they could instead extend Star Trek‘s time slot to 90 minutes. With this plan, there would be 50 minutes of episode, 16 minutes of advertising, and 24 extra minutes for Nimoy and Shatner to appear on screen talking about their days on Star Trek.
Why The Project Was Scrapped
The extra minutes with Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner would be split into two segments that would air at the beginning and end of each episode. While negotiations were ongoing with Shatner, Nimoy was deep in research and excited about the new project, for which he reportedly was actually paid. But, as the ratings started coming in, it became clear that interest in watching Star Trek on the Sci-Fi Channel was not going to justify the investment the cable network was making in these segments, and the project was scrapped.
Thousands Of Dollars Dumped Into The Segments
This is especially unfortunate because the Enterprise Bridge set on which Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner were set to appear in these segments had already been built. The set, which was constructed for a quarter of a million dollars at Raleigh Studios, reportedly looked just like the Enterprise, but it was not to be. In an era before recap shows like The Ready Room, this kind of segment would have been rare and valuable to fans, but it was not to be.