Friday, July 25, 2014

Where No Man ... You Know the Rest

I have heard from a few people that they were sure that Jimmy Doohan was Scottish because his character on Star Trek - Montgomery Scott - had such a rich Scottish brogue. But Doohan had developed a talent for accents as a child and when he auditioned for the part of the chief engineer on the USS Enterprise before series creator, Gene Roddenberry, he practised several accents. Roddenberry asked the Canadian born actor, which accent he preferred.

Jimmy replied "Well, if you want an engineer, he better be a Scotsman because, in my experience, all the world's best engineers have been Scottish". He chose the name "Montgomery Scott" after his grandfather. And with that, a legendary television character was born.

When the Scott character was conceived, he was intended to be a semi-regular. But, with characters Spock and Dr. McCoy, he was elevated to leads alongside Captain James T. Kirk. It was noted that, owing to his technological orientation, Lt Commander Scott was third in command of the Enterprise and was often left in charge of the ship.

The writers of Star Trek were also able to use Scott in subplots where he disabled ships components such as the dilithium crystals which regulated the warp drive, the transporter teleportation device, or just fiddling in the Jefferies tubes.S cottie was also used to foil some of Kirk's ambitious plans because the starship couldn't handle it. Any fan of the series will remember the Scot throwing out phrases such as 'I cannae push it any faster, Captain!'  or perhaps 'I cannae guarantee that she'll hold up!'

Scott was more than a tinkerer or an improvisational engineer - even if it did appear at times that he was holding the ship together with chewing gum and spit! Many fans saw the Enterprise herself as the star of the show and Scottie as her defender. In the episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", Scott stands by, even restraining Chekov, as a Klingon insults Kirk. However, Scott was provoked into violence when the Klingon insults the Enterprise.

Doohan would recount the casting process in later years at Star Trek conventions. He would demonstrate a variety of voices, accents and characters. When Roddenberry produced Star Trek: The Animated Series in the early seventies. Because of his ability to change his voice and character so often, he was able to perform most 'guest star' male roles. He once did seven different voices for a record episode.

James once said that Scottie was "99 percent Doohan and one percent accent". Doohan devised the Klingon and Vulcan language used in Star Trek, The Motion Picture. Later professional linguists expanded Klingon into a fully constructed language.

In addition to playing Scottie, James also did many guest voices on Star Trek including: 

  • Sargon in "Return to Tomorrow"
  • The M-5 in "The Ultimate Computer"
  • The Mission Control Voice in "Assignment: Earth"
  • The Oracle in "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"

  • Monday, I will be looking at more on James Doohan. This time a look at life after Star Trek and his personal life. Thanks goes to Wikipedia for the above information.

    I hope you find the beauty around you.


    1. James Doohan turned out to be quite talented for Roddenberry. He was never a stage hog as was Kirk against Spock. I loved the movie where Scottie had to reconfigure the Enterprise to house the whales. I always loved hearing him counter command Kirk on making the ship run. Wonderful post. Loved knowing more about James Doohan.

      1. James Doohan was an original and the entertainment business was better for having him in it.

    2. That is without doubt the truth.