The "Star Trek" prequel
By CBSNews.com producer David Morgan
Its 5-Year Mission ... Uh, Make That 3Despite being cancelled by NBC after three seasons, "Star Trek" endured in syndication, eventually spawning movies and several other TV series. The challenge facing filmmakers trying to reboot the franchise with this latest film is capturing the memorable characters, spirit and humor of the original.
James T. Kirk"Jim Kirk was many things, but he was never a Boy Scout," was one apt description for the captain of the Starship Enterprise, who boldly led his crew to the cosmos and beyond. Filling William Shatner's chair is Chris Pine, who played a Lord in "The Princess Diaries 2."
Mr. SpockZachary Quinto ("Heroes," "24") steps into the shoes (and ears) of Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock, the half-human/half-Vulcan science officer. Spock was the series' most indelible creation: A character whose pride at suppressing his emotions betrayed an inner battle between his human and Vulcan virtues.
Dr. McCoyAs portrayed by DeForest Kelley, Leonard "Bones" McCoy was the curmudgeonly ship's doctor who was often a voice of emotion and caution vs. Spock's reason. McCoy is played by New Zealand actor Karl Urban, best known from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
UhuraThe character of Uhura, the ship's communications officer (Nichelle Nichols), was groundbreaking for 1960s television. Zoe Saldana (who played a Trekkie in the Spielberg comedy "The Terminal") gets to play a real Trekker, earpiece and all.
ScottyChief Engineer Montgomery Scott was the most irrepressible of the Enterprise crew in terms of his love for the ship. James Doohan made the "Miracle Worker"'s ability to deliver the impossible entirely plausible. In the film, Scotty is played by actor/writer Simon Pegg, known for comedies like "Shaun of the Dead."
SuluJohn Cho is taking over the role of helmsman Hikaru Sulu, whom George Takei portrayed as not only an unflappable crewman but also a mean swordsman.
ChekovWalter Koenig's entrance as Russian crewmember Pavel Chekov during the TV series' second season was aimed at drawing younger viewers (the kind attracted to Davy Jones of The Monkees). The young Chekov is played by Anton Yelchin, who may be recognized by viewers of "Huff" and will be even more visible in this summer's "Terminator Salvation."
Christopher PikeWhen Gene Roddenberry filmed the first pilot for "Star Trek" in 1964, the Enterprise's captain was Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter). The pilot went unsold, and most of the cast was replaced when a second pilot was shot. In the new film, Pike is played by Bruce Greenwood (who played JFK in "Thirteen Days").
KelvinPike helps set the stage for the prequel, as he tells young James Kirk the story of how Kirk's father had died a hero years earlier while saving hundreds on the USS Kelvin.
Rebel Who Finds A CauseBy imagining the genesis of the Enterprise crew, the filmmakers focus on young Kirk, a disaffected youth from Iowa who trains his sights on a Starfleet assignment.
Dynamic DuoKirk's initially-rocky relationship with Spock warms as the two graduate from Starfleet Academy and go forth on their first mission.
Directing The CrewDirector J.J. Abrams' credits include TV's "Lost" and "Alias" and the film "Mission: Impossible III." Growing up, Abrams was not a major-league fan of the series, but by creating an origin story for Kirk and Spock, he could avoid being married to the orthodoxy of the Trek universe, giving him the leeway necessary to reboot the franchise, much as "Casino Royale" successfully rebooted James Bond.
USS EnterpriseThe film's designers were given carte blanche to re-envision the USS Enterprise, giving it what one effects supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic called "a hot rod look." Though similar in feel, the ship now incorporates, for example, moving parts as it goes into warp drive.
Aliens!The filmmakers were brave to buck Trek fans' notorious adherance to Trek history; the film introduces the villainous Romulans long before they actually crossed paths with the Federation, according to the accepted Trek canon. (Left: Eric Bana as Nero; right, Mark Lenard in the 1966 episode "Balance Of Terror.")
Beats A '60s TV Budget By FarThe goal was to create an adventure that would attract those new to "Star Trek," and yet not alienate the fan base. The balance of big-screen grandeur and character drama, therefore, was key.
Space ... The Final Frontier"None of the visual effects spectacle would matter if you didn't care about and believe those characters," director Abrams said.
By CBSNews.com producer David Morgan