One thing I love about being the biggest Star Trek fan among my friends and co-workers is late night texts. Sometimes it'll just be random badass Worfquotes, but frequently I receive shocked casting discoveries: “What the heck is So-and-so doing on the Enterprise?!?”
Even we longtime fans often say, “Oh, yeah, forgot about that” when we see an unexpected face come across the screen in a rerun. Since today is Sarah Silverman's 41st birthday, it's a great opportunity to think about the 10 Least-Likely Star Trek Guest Appearances. (It'll also be interesting to note that so many of these other actors have strange connections to Ms. Silverman, leading me to believe that perhaps that her career path may actually be a Borg Transwarp Hub.)
We mention Ms. Silverman because the then not-quite-famous comedienne played against type in Voyager's season-three two-parter. As Rain Robinson, Silverman traded in her potty mouth for a love of science as the daffy SETI researcher caught between multiple timelines. Our Voyager heroes and a ship from its far future zap back to modern (well, 1996) Earth and must prevent a series of events that will destroy the whole solar system. Silverman joins in with Tuvok and The Doctor, and shares some of the most genuine romantic comedy moments you'll see on any Trek episode with Tom Paris. Time travel paradoxes being what they are, we're not sure how much of these adventures stay with her, but luckily for Robert Picardo he made off with the 29th century mobile emitter, offering him more opportunities to get around on the ship.
If you've read Greg Cox's awesome Eugenics Wars books, you know that Silverman's Rain Robinson pops up again – as the eventual second banana to Roberta Lincoln. Roberta Lincoln, if you recall, would have been the full-time second banana to interplanetary super-agent Gary Seven had the backdoor pilot “Assignment: Earth” gotten off the ground. Ms. Lincoln was a daffy receptionist (which was like the 1960s version of being a SETI researcher) and played by none other than Teri Garr. Garr is probably best known for her role as the struggling actress in the film Tootsie or as Inga the Lab Assistant in Young Frankenstein. More modern audiences in New York know her for ubiquitous ads for a soft-rock radio station.
Adam Scott – Star Trek: First Contact
It was only recently that Adam Scott graduated from “that guy” status to being a recognizable name. The evil “Sweet Child O' Mine” singing brother from Step Brothers has been on every single Adult Swim/Comedy Central show (including The Sarah Silverman Program), but years ago was an unnamed conn officer serving under Worf's command on the Defiant. He took the ship's name to heart when he did not immediately ram it into the Borg Cube during the Battle of Sector 001.
Andy Dick – Voyager, “Message in a Bottle”
Back to Voyager and one of my favorite episodes. It has a ticking clock, Romulans and gives Robert Picardo a rare chance to play the straight man off of Andy Dick – a fellow Emergency Medical Hologram. Side by side, these two programs take back control of the USS Prometheus, quipping and zinging along the way. This episode is especially pleasing for hardcore fans, because it is one of the few that ties the worlds of Voyager and Deep Space Nine together with a discussion of the Dominion War. Andy Dick appeared with Sarah Silverman in a very funny independent film about struggling actors called Who's The Caboose?, then both joined up to salute the Captain himself in the raunchy Friars Club roast of William Shatner. (The things he said about Shatner are still making my head spin!)
Melvin Belli – TOS, “And the Children Shall Lead”
From one of the more successful Voyager episodes we come to what I feel is the worst episode of TOS. I would rather watch “Spock's Brain” on a 24-hour loop than watch “And The Children Shall Lead” again. For those of you who really know your trivia, the Friendly Angel was played by a known figure, just not someone known as an actor. Melvin Belli was a celebrated attorney whose biggest claim to fame was for defending Jack Ruby, the man who shot Lee Harvey Oswald. The only reason I know this is from watching David Fincher's movie Zodiac, where Belli is played by Brian Cox. I can't for the life of me come up with any connection to Sarah Silverman. But considering she was born today, that would make her a Sagittarius. I need to watch Zodiac again, though, to determine if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
Jason Alexander – Voyager, “Think Tank”
Costanza in space? Yes, it's true. Jason Alexander played Kurros, a sort of freelance problem-solver buzzing around in subspace with three colleagues, one of which was a giant fish. (Yeah, I don't know who thought this was a very good idea.) Trouble brews when Kurros expresses what was on 98% of all Voyager fans' minds – that he wants Seven of Nine all to himself! Jason Alexander was on another show you may have heard of, Seinfeld, and you may recall one episode where Sarah Silverman played Jerry's girlfriend.
What's the one thing worse than Klingon Opera? The strange synthesizer-driven instrumental pop of John Tesh. The creator of the world's most aggressive elevator music (and former Entertainment Tonight co-host) snuck in an uncredited cameo as one of the holographic Klingons applying the Painstik Gauntlet to Worf during his Rite of Ascension anniversary.
Victor Garber – Deleted Scene, Star Trek (2009)
You gotta look beneath the mask to see exactly who is torturing Eric Bana's Nero in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek (2009). Fans of Alias and musical theater will recognize it as Victor Garber. Consider, for a moment, that this acclaimed thespian has also voiced the Green Lantern villain Sinestro in a DC Animated Original Film. For one man to play both a Klingon and a Korugarian may just make him the most fearsome individual in this or any other Multiverse. (And that's cooler than a Sarah Silverman connection.)
Christian Slater – Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
I don't care how backlit that shot is, I recognize that voice! Christian Slater was at the height of his fame when he showed up in Captain Sulu of the Excelsior's doorway to offer up news from Starfleet. It is a terrific scene (George Takei milks every moment of his captaincy in this film), but I can't deny that, at the time, the shock of (almost) seeing Slater somewhat deadened the impact of what was happening on screen. But Slater's mother was the casting director on the film, so she was able to slip her son into a uniform easily.
Prince Abdullah of Jordan – Voyager, “Investigations”
It was a moment of diplomacy that could even make Sarek weep. The Prince of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan visited Los Angeles and let it be known he was a tremendous Star Trek fan. As a surprise, he was allowed to get into costume and appear at the head of an episode working with Harry Kim. The Prince is now the King and his love of Trek and IDIC make him a unique monarch in his all-too-frequently bellicose region. In addition to maintaining stability with his neighbors, he is shepherding a major theme park in the Red Sea city of Aqaba. It will host areas representing different cultures from the region's different time periods – from the Nabataeans of yesteryear to the officially licensed Federation of Star Trek's future. It should open in three years or so and it will be awesome. But if you are thinking it will be exactly like the old Experience in Vegas, it won't be. For starters, alcohol is illegal in Jordan, so Quark will have to scheme up something else to sell at the bar.
Jordan Hoffman was the movies editor at UGO.com for more than four years. He has produced two independent films (look 'em up!) and is a member of the New York Film Critics Online. In 2005, he was named the Ultimate Film Fanatic of the NorthEast by IFC. Jordan fell in love with Star Trek through TOS reruns just as TNG was getting ready to launch. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels. He has a funny story about the one time he met Leonard Nimoy.