More spotlight on Robert Blackman: “Trials and Tribble-ations,” Deep Space 9
This one is interesting to me because of the huge challenge it presented. What do you do when you need to make an exact replica, but none of the original materials are available to you thirty years later?
DS9’s take on the pesky rodents was to revisit the original series episode “The Trouble with Tribbles” in a very literal fashion. The crew winds up accidentally traveling back in time to the tribble incident onboard the Enterprise, and while they’re there, they uncover a plot to kill Jim Kirk. They go undercover as Starfleet crew, and the episode weaves in footage from the original 1967 episode.
Recreating the look of that episode was a tremendous challenge. The bar set, seen in two images above, featured chairs which were no longer in production; a single chair was found and a mold was created from it. DS9’s makeup supervisor, Michael Westmore, had worked in television in the 60s and was able to track down many of the products used at the time. They lucked out and found a handful of the old Klingon costumes in storage, but the rest had to be made from scratch. I’ll let Robert Blackman explain the challenge:
The uniforms that we did for The Trouble with Tribbles were fun to do because it became a real technical problem of how to find fabric that no longer exists that will photograph as if it is the same from the original series so that when they drop them in optically, and they’re standing next to Bill Shatner, the suits look the same. I was in a big sweat about it.
Eventually, they [the post production people] just said ‘we’ll just dial it’ – you know, we’ll fix it [the color] for you.
We had a couple of old uniforms, so we could actually draft patterns off of them and then make them. I think it was the most fun that the DS9 cast had. They loved it, they loved getting in that 60s stuff and messing around.
Honestly, the only thing they didn’t get quite right was the neckline of Dax’s minidress. But if I hadn’t known that nearly all the costumes were created from scratch, I’d have assumed they were dug out of deep storage.
The original costumes were designed by Bill Theiss.