It was January of 1996 and Star Trek’s 30th anniversary loomed large. Paramount Pictures knew they wanted to celebrate the landmark anniversary, but how? The answer turned out to be “Flashback,” which aired on September 11, 1996, and was the second episode of Star Trek: Voyager’s third season – though it was actually filmed at the end of season two and banked; Deep Space Nine tipped its cap to Trek’s 30th anniversary as well with the episode “Trials and Tribble-ations,” which aired in November, 1996.
Brannon Braga tapped out the “Flashback” script, essentially a time travel story without actual time travel. As the UPN Media Relations news release put it, in all caps: “JANEWAY MIND-MELDS WITH TUVOK, ENTERING HIS MEMORIES OF DUTY ABOARD THE U.S.S. EXCELSIOR WITH HIKARU SULU AS THE CAPTAIN AND COMMANDER RAND AT THE COMMUNICATIONS POST ON A VERY SPECIAL EPISODE OF STAR TREK: VOYAGER.”
The action-packed hour not only pays tribute to Trek’s 30th anniversary, but also to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, with director David Livingston in fact recreating specific scenes from the Nicholas Meyer-directed final TOS cast movie. Fans were treated to the presence of George Takei as Sulu and Grace Lee Whitney as Rand, as well as Michael Ansara, who reprised his role as Klingon Commander Kang. And, from Star Trek VI, Jeremy Roberts and Boris Krutonog returned as Valtane and the Excelsior helmsman, respectively. Braga had also penned a viewscreen scene for Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, but the actress ultimately passed on the opportunity. Check out the photo below of a page from an early draft of “Flashback” that included Uhura.
More than 5 million fans tuned into “Flashback” when it debuted. And all involved seemed to have a blast making it. “I thought it was an absolutely wonderful episode and that they did a wonderful job of bridging the generations, of making Captain Sulu, Tuvok and Janeway all organic parts of the same episode,” Takei told the Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine. Russ, in that same story, said, “It was a killer episode. It was so right, in terms of the 30th anniversary of Star Trek. To be able to get so close again to The Original Series after having enjoyed it so much when I was younger was just fantastic. I think fans of The Original Series watching ‘Flashback’ get a different but similar kind of thrill.”