12/17/2014

Star Trek: Enterprise - T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) - Image Source: E Online
Here are some things you didn't know about T'Pol. The most controversial part of Star Trek: Enterprise was the revealing costume worn by T'Pol, played by former model Jolene Blalock. Some called her a "sexpot", a "glorified nookie girl" and "the most hated actress ever to appear in any Star Trek." We already talked about what Jeri Ryan (who played "Seven of Nine") went through in her costume and what Marina Sirtis went through with Deanna Troi's cleavage. Now, we'll talk about the reasons for Jolene Blalock's many changing uniforms.

T'Pol is a Vulcan on the fifth Star Trek television series television series, Star Trek: Enterprise. She served aboard the Earth starship Enterprise NX-01 in the mid-22nd century. The show was a prequel to the original Star Trek series, and she was the first Vulcan to serve aboard a long tour of duty on a Human ship. T'Pol originally served at the Vulcan Embassy on Earth before she was temporarily reassigned to the Enterprise with the rank of sub-commander. After the mission, Captain Jonathan Archer persuaded her to take the position of science officer and the title of first officer of the Enterprise NX-01. She was later promoted to the rank of Commander.

Jolene Blalock was born in San Diego, California and is a huge fan of Star Trek: The Original Series. Her favorite character is Mr. Spock. She loved "the relationship, just the sense of loyalty," she told Star Trek Monthly. "I watched these three characters - Captain Kirk, Spock, Bones - and their relationship with each other and how loyal they are, and that was intense. They would give their lives for each other."

She became a model at the young age of 17 and modeled in Europe and Asia. Blalock also appeared in various magazines like Maxim, FHM and Playboy. She got tired of modeling and began taking small acting roles saying, "I'm jaded by my experiences in the modelling industry. You're never skinny or perfect enough and it was difficult mentally making the transition to acting." When Blalock was offered the role of the Vulcan T'Pol, she initially turned it down since none of the spin-off shows interested her. To persuade her to take the role, her agent gave her the script for the pilot episode, "Broken Bow". Blalock loved it so much she took the role. Co-creator and executive producer Rick Berman said, "We read hundreds of actresses and Jolene [Blalock] was in the last group we read. And she just blew us away."

But she said the role was a challenge. "It's been challenging for me [to play a stoic Vulcan] because I'm very expressive," Blalock explained. "But it's opening up avenues that I didn't know I was capable of doing well. It's taking things to such an acute level, where it's just all in the eyes. You can say everything that you need to say in the eyes, because language itself is so limiting. There's so much to say in words, but how much can words really express?

"[As T'Pol], if you can just be present, say what you want with your presence, with your eyes with your intention, the message gets across more potently, because when you're talking to someone, there's not really much you can say that they don't already know. I love the fact that T'Pol can just say every thing with her eyes and her presence."

Why did she have to go to a tattoo parlor? Was she given a sexier costume because of the ratings? Why was the show almost banned in the US? Here are some facts you may not have known about the sexiest Vulcan in space.

1. She had to Remove Her Belly Button Ring

In the first few seasons, Blalock wore a skin-tight suit, but her belly was exposed in several episodes. The problem is that Blolock had a belly button ring and Vulcans don't wear jewelry. So they had to take it out. It was a disaster.

Blolock later said, "Before one scene we were trying to get my belly button ring out – at one point we had two pairs of pliers on it and I was in agony. And finally the producer sent me to a tattoo shop down the road, so I went there in my ears, wig, and a pink bathrobe. No-one gave me a second look in the street and when I walked into the tattoo shop, the guy didn't even bat an eyelid. He just looked at my pointy ears – and they look very authentic – then started talking about the belly button ring. That’s LA for you."

2. It Took Hours for the Make-Up, But Minutes for the Costume

Jolene Blalock regularly spent two hours in the morning getting ready for her role as the Vulcan T'Pol. While her costume looked complicated, getting into her suit took "minutes" but it was the make-up that took the most time. They added prosthetic ears, a wig and eyebrows.

The makeup changed to a more Vulcan-style look in the third season. Michael Westmore was the makeup designer and supervisor and said, "Jolene was a Trek fan and she hated that they didn't give her usual Vulcan ears and eyebrows. So in season three, she and her makeup artist just went ahead and made the change. When she appeared on the set with her new look, no objections were raised."

3. T'Pol Did Not Wear a "Catsuit"

Original series costume designer William "Bill" Theiss or Bill Theiss was known for his provocative costume design. He came up with what is known as the "Theiss Titillation Theory" which claims that "the degree to which a costume is considered sexy is directly proportional to how accident-prone it appears to be."

Enterprise costume designer Robert Blackman felt strongly that the men and women on the shows should be fit and sexy. He also recognized that no one has a perfect body. So, he consistently puts the female actors in body-molding stretch jumpsuits to help mold and shape the body in various proportions. For example, Seven of Nine's costume had enhanced "breast mounds". But he hates the word 'catsuit'. "It’s still provocative, still 'T&A'," Blackman says. "But I do look forward to a time when we get rid of the very male notion of female sexuality." 

Blalock told Maxim that her costume made sense for her character. "I have a holster for my gun, but that's it," Blalock said, "I guess T'Pol is just so low-maintenance that she doesn't need anything else. She's very feline in her movements, so really, the cat suit works."

4. They Added Cleavage to Try to Save the Show


By the third season, the ratings were in decline. For the first time since the Star Trek: The Original Series, a Star Trek television series was in danger of cancellation. 

 Fans rallied to save the show using a letter-writing campaign like the one that helped Star Trek: The Original Series. TrekUnited, led by Tim Brazeal, started "The Enterprise Project" and raised the funds to place an ad in The Hollywood Reporter. The ad was an "Open Letter" to Dawn Ostroff, UPN President, and Les Moonves, president/CEO of umbrella network CBS. It said, "We are representative of the millions of viewers from all over the world who faithfully watch Star Trek: Enterprise, support its sponsors and highly value the series as a superior dramatic program." Other organizations like SaveEnterprise.com encouraged fans to write letters and call UPN urging renewal of Enterprise. EnterprisePostcards.com helped fans send postcards to network and corporate executives. The show was in real danger and everyone knew it.

During this time, the producers ordered massive changes to T’Pol’s uniform. Why? "Obviously, there's the ratings," co-creator and executive producer Brannon Braga said. "But the primary reason was a creative one. Last season ended with T'Pol leaving the Vulcan high command, so she would no longer wear the same uniform. And, after two years, our leading lady needed a change. She had been in that brown uniform with that little bowl haircut ... and Bob Blackman came up with some dynamite costumes."

Costume designer Robert Blackman gave a different explanation. "The ratings dropped," Blackman explained. "That's the frank, real answer. If you want the show to run seven years, you have to think about demographics." The show was trying to appeal to the key 18-34 male demographic and "there wasn't enough raw sex appeal" according to Blackman. 

Blalock was not happy about the costume changes telling SFX Magazine, "You can’t substitute t*** and a** for good storytelling. You can have both, but you can't substitute one for the other, because the audience is not stupid. You can’t just throw in frivolous, uncharacteristic... well, bull and think it's gonna help the ratings!"

5. T'Pol Has Star Trek's First Nude Scene
Image Source: giantfreakinrobot
While Star Trek is known for pushing boundaries, like the first interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura, but there was one episode that crossed the lines for US television. The third-season episode "Harbinger" had the first non-sexual nude scene in Star Trek television history. In the episode, T'Pol is with Tucker and lets her clothes fall to the floor displaying her fully nude backside. 

The US FCC guidelines clearly prohibits material that lacks "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value." They define indecency as "language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities" between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. local time. US television networks were allowed to censor the rump by zooming in and cropping out her bare bottom. However, in other regions, like Canada, the scene is shown without any changes.

We don't know the exact reason for the change, but the episode aired on February 11, 2004, just ten days after Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at half-time during Super Bowl XXXVIII. The unedited version is available on the DVD and streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu.

6. T'Pol Had More Costume Changes Than Any Other Character 

While many Star Trek characters had significant changes to their wardrobe, no character had more major changes to their costume than T'Pol. She wore over 40 costumes over the four seasons. Besides the grey, teal, purple, orange and blue colored "catsuits" she wore a wide number of casual uniforms. She also appeared nude in two episodes of season three -"Impulse" and "Harbinger" - coincidentally when the show was first in danger of cancellation.

7. T'Pol's Uniforms Are Expensive

A massive letter-writing campaign by fans convinced UPN to renew the series for a fourth season. The average episode of Star Trek: Enterprise was $1.2 million an episode for the first three seasons and the budget was slashed to $800,000 to cut costs and try and save the show. This was half the budget of shows like Stargate: Atlantis. Unfortunately, the series was canceled during the fourth season. It is the only other Star Trek to be canceled in the middle of its run. 

Today, T'Pol's costumes sell for over $3000. One of her civilian outfits sold for $6500.99 on eBay. Her highest priced item is her original Vulcan uniform which sold for $8,400 at Chrisities back in 2006. Obviously, guys would love to have the clothes that wrapped T'Pol's curvy body.

What did you think of T'Pol's costumes? What did you think of Star Trek: Enterprise?

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19 comments:

Pat Dilloway said...

Probably the best thing about DS9 was no one wore a catsuit. I see why they do it but it's pretty cheesy.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've seen that episode in all its nakedness. I was still bummed when they cancelled the show.

DAVID WALSTON said...

The Tattoo artist must have seen some stuff in his time...

M Pax said...

I don't like prequels, so coudln't get into Enterprise so much. There's no suprises, because we know how things go later. I think they're limiting. And I'm tired of a show selling sex. Why not just write a great story? Then I'll watch.

Clarissa Draper said...

Wow, what a funny story about the tattoo parlor.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I want to bugger Jolene Blalock (as the bird was in 1993 when the bird was 18, not as the bird is now obviously).

jervaise brooke hamster said...

M Pax is very pretty, i`d like to pull her knickers down.

Maurice Mitchell said...

I can only imagine what the guy has seen before that would make a Vilcan seem normal

Maurice Mitchell said...

I'll bet he has great stories

Maurice Mitchell said...

I've read some complaints about Kira's outfit but nothing like Seven's or T'Pol's.

Maurice Mitchell said...

The concept had promise Alex.

Tony Laplume said...

She was an excellent actress, one of the more subtle performers in Star Trek history.

Tony Laplume said...

Mirror Kira's costume.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Very subtle indeed Tony.

Mansyn said...

The writers shoulder most of the blame, but Shakespeare couldn't have made Bakula interesting. Google "Star Trek Enterprise Cast" http://goo.gl/6r7rju No other captain gets second billing on their show. I just hope whoever cast him goes to bed every night knowing they ruined Roddenberry's dream.

Anonymous said...

Episode: 15 - Shadows of P'Jem

T'pol was NOT the first Vulcan to serve on a human starship. Just ask Dr Phlox

The more you know bishes

Pooja Sharma said...

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geri morgan said...

just love the hair style and make up +++

Jack said...

I've truly viewed of which instance in all of the it is nakedness. When i seemed to be however bummed whenever they terminated this indicate.

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