Monday, June 2, 2014

Sci Fi Trifles: William Shatner and James Doohan Journeyed to the Final Frontier Together Over a Decade Before Star Trek

It’s well known that William Shatner starred on Star Trek as Captain James T. Kirk during its original run from 1966 to 1969 and that James Doohan co-starred with him as Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott (aka Scotty). But did you know that these two actors teamed up together in another space-based series thirteen years earlier called Space Command?

This little-known early Canadian sci fi entry bowed in 1953 and starred Robert Barclay as Frank Anderson. Co-starring on the show for its two season run was James Doohan as Phil Mitchell and in the show’s first year William Shatner was onboard as well in a recurring role. Like the U.S. space operas of that time such as Captain Video and Space Patrol, the show was geared to a younger audience, though the specifics of the week-to-week stories are sketchy. The description from only provides the following one-line synopsis: “Frank Anderson was a young adventurer working for Space Command, an international organization working to explore and colonize space”. Wikipedia indicates that the show was aired on the Canadian CBC stations and we can only assume that it had little or no exposure in the United States over its two season run that ended in 1954.

The series was broadcast live, as were most television shows of that time, and video tape copies of the episode do not exist. Kinescopes (film recordings of the episodes broadcast through the television) were made but have apparently since been lost. According to Wikipedia, only one archived episode is known to still exist and that has yet to make its way to VHS or DVD. It is not clear if that episode had Doohan and Shatner together, so even if it eventually does get the DVD treatment we still may never get a chance to see that historic early team up of two of the most iconic actors from science fiction television.

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