Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Straight from Star Trek, it's Kang the Klingon.

Kang first appeared in the Original Series episode Day Of The Dove. He was played by Michael Ansara, a Syrian born actor who often portrayed Native Americans and Hispanics on various TV series throughout the 1960s and 1970s. 

Ansara played Kang three times on three different Trek series over the years: in the aforementioned Day Of The Dove, the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode Blood Oath, and the Star Trek: Voyager episode Flashback.

Ansara was at one time married to Barbara Eden, TV's Jeannie of I Dream Of Jeannie fame! Some guys get all the breaks!

There's lots more long-winded rambling to go. Read it by clicking below!
Ansara has a very distinctive voice and in recent years has done quite a bit of voice-over work for various cartoon series, most notably as Mr. Freeze in Batman The Animated Series.

Kang is shown here as a "smooth-headed" Klingon, the way he first appeared in the Original Series. Back then Klingons were basically humans with swarthy makeup, bushy eyebrows and Fu Manchu goatees.

The more recognizable "ridge-headed" Klingons didn't appear until 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture. While most fans felt this new look was a definite improvement, they were also puzzled as to the reason for the sudden change. Unfortunately the creators have never come up with a truly satisfying explanation.

Initially creator Gene Roddenberry said that the new look for the Klingons was what he'd had in mind for them all along back in the 1960s, but that the show never had the budget to pull it off. Roddenberry was always whining about the show's budget back then. To hear him tell it we're lucky the actors wore costumes at all and not rough-hewn gunny sacks. Roddenberry actually suggested at one point that whenever fans watched an episode with the original look Klingons, they should just use their imaginations and pretend they had ridges on their heads. Not surprisingly that idea was not met with much enthusiasm from fandom.

A while later he tried a different tack: He said that the swarthy Klingons were from the northern hemisphere of Kronos (the Klingon home world) and the ridge-headed ones were from the southern hemisphere (or was it the other way around in reverse?). That still wasn't a very satisfying explanation. If that were the case then why did we never ever see another smooth-headed Klingon again once the movies started?

Non-canocial sources, such as comic books and role playing games, offered their own suggestion: the smooth-headed warriors were Klingon-Human hybrids, bred to more easily interact with and infiltrate Earth. Meh. Not thrilled with that explanation either.

Deep Space Nine muddied the waters even further in the episode Blood Oath. In it, three Klingons from the Original Series, Koloth, Kodos and our own Kang here, arrived at DS9 to exact revenge on an old enemy. The three characters were of course smooth-headed in their initial appearances in the 1960s, but were now all sporting forehead ridges. The episode didn't come right out and say it, but it kind of hinted that Klingons start out their lives smooth-headed, but grow ridges as they age. That was a load of hogwash though, as Commander Worf had a son who had ridges from birth. Again, fans were left with no real explanation.

Things got even worse in the DS9 episode Trials And Tribble-Ations, in which the crew of DS9 is thrown back in time to the era of the Original Series, specifically the episode The Trouble With Tribbles. Captain Sisko and crew are planning their strategy in a rec room, when Commander Worf notices a group of smooth-headed Klingons at an adjacent table. The other crew members don't recognize the group as Klingons at all (implying the hard to believe fact that they're ignorant of the fact that Klingons were at one time smooth-headed) and look to Worf for an explanation. Worf replies, "We do not discuss it with outsiders." Sigh. Well that didn't help matters. At all.

We were finally given an official explanation for the Klingon Kontroversy in the Enterprise series. In the episodes Affliction and Divergence, we learn that Klingons have always had head-ridges. The Klingon High Council learns of Earth's Eugenics Wars, the conflict that produced the genetically superhuman Khan (of Wrath of Khan fame). The Klingons steal the Eugenics technology with the intent of developing their own genetically superior Klingon warriors. Something goes wrong though and the experiment results in a plague that spreads throughout the Klingon Empire, transforming them all into smooth-headed, human-like specimens. It takes several decades for the effects of this genetic plague to be reversed.

I'm not exactly thrilled with that explanation, but I guess it's better than, "We do not discuss it with outsiders."

Some more Star Trek weirdness: Believe it or not, we never actually saw a Klingon ship until the third season of the Original Series! The episode The Enterprise Incident marked the first ever appearance of the manta-ray like Klingon ships. Prior to this episode, Klingon ships had been depicted as nothing more than balls of light (!). Again, the budget was to blame; they supposedly couldn't afford to build a model until the third season.

To add to the weirdness, when the Klingon ship finally appeared in all its glory it was being flown by Romulans! Apparently the producers were so proud of their new ship that they couldn't wait until a Klingon episode came along, so they wrote a line of dialog suggesting that the Romulans were now buying their ships from the Klingons.

The Original Series Klingons were quite brutal and even animalistic, something which changed dramatically by the time of Star Trek: The Next Generation. From that series on the Klingons followed a strict military code and were all about honor at any cost.

One thing I've always wondered: Klingon ships regularly use cloaking technology which renders them invisible to their opponents. Is that really the Warrior Way? This is a race that longs to die in battle and thinks nothing of jumping into the fray. So why do they sneak around in invisible ships like a bunch of little sissies?

Oddly enough, the Klingon Homeworld never got an actual name until the 1991 movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It was then revealed that the Homeworld was called Kronos. I guess "Klingonia" or "Klingland" sounded too goofy.

And of course by now everyone knows that there is an actual working Klingon language invented for the movies, complete with rules of grammar and 2000+ words. Several works of Shakespeare and even parts of the Bible have been translated into Klingon (!). There's even a Klingon Language Institute that oversees the language.

Kang is a vector drawing, drawn all in InDesign. 

I'm kind of toying with the idea of making a Star Trek Enemies infographic, similar to the one I did of Doctor Who Enemies a while back.

1 comment:

  1. Your artwork is impeccable as always. I love the white line around him. Awesome writing and I hope you make the infographic!


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