This week we are going to get a bit on the obscure side of Star Trek. Let’s start with a question: Who was the first captain of Kirk’s USS Enterprise (The Constitution class NCC-1701)?
Now if you’ve read most of these posts or have a bit of Trek knowledge, you might have answered Christopher Pike, who was seen in Star Trek’s first pilot episode, “The Cage” and the two-part episode of the original Star Trek series, “The Menagerie,” which repurposed footage from “The Cage.” Pike also appeared in 2009’s Star Trek film and its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness.
It’s a good answer, but depending on your version of the Star Trek canon, it’s not correct. If you ask most die-hard Trekkies that question, they will give you a different name:
(See, I told you this would be obscure.)
Don’t bother trying to find a mention of Captain April in the original Star Trek television series or in the new films. He has never appeared or even been talked about there. He first pops up, however, in Gene Roddenberry’s original pitch for Star Trek to MGM Studios back in 1964. MGM rejected the proposal, and by the time NBC gave the go-ahead to make a pilot, April had been changed to Pike.
Years later, April did actually make an appearance in “The Counter-Clock Incident,” a 1974 episode of the Star Trek animated series (and also the series finale). In the episode, an elderly Commodore April, who is now serving as a Federation Ambassador-At-Large, and his wife, Sarah, are travelling on the Enterprise to Babel for April’s retirement ceremony when the ship passes into a reverse universe where everyone begins aging backwards at a rapid rate. With Captain Kirk and the rest of the crew quickly reduced to children, April and Sarah, who are now back in their prime, take over and get the Enterprise back to their home universe.
While this is an actual televised episode, “The Counter-Clock Incident” and the entire animated series are not considered official canon (Maybe. Even that is unclear. If you are really interested in the issue, check out the “Questionable Canon” section of THIS ARTICLE.). Despite this status, several elements of the animated series have later been used in actual canon episodes (aka the live action stuff). Robert April, however, has not yet joined that group.
He has been featured in various Star Trek novels and comic books, but in each of these his characterization is wildly different from the others. He also has an entry in The Star Trek Encyclopedia put out by pocket books. Appropriately enough, the picture used is one of Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry.
- Alan Decker
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