Star Trek fans reacted with horror today as the US Federal Court returned a guilty verdict against the show's producers over cruelty to crewmembers in red sweaters.
Actor Ned Benson told the court of his harrowing experience as a 'red sweater' in the episode 'Hula, hula, nine'. "I was told during casting that I'd be playing Kowalski, a hitherto unknown character that worked somewhere in engineering. But when I was given the red sweater I knew I was expendable. It was a terrible time for me; I wasn't even allowed to tell Scotty that he should tell the captain she was gonna blow.
"We beamed down to an unrealistic, mountain covered world, and while the hula woman was flirting about with Kirk, this bloody great monster grabbed me and I was instantly evaporated."
Other actors spoke of the red-shirt cruelty. "It was a standing joke amongst us unknowns as we waited sweatered-up in the transporter room," added actor Bob Benson (no relation). "We even took bets as to whom would last the shortest time on-camera. One bloke didn't even make it through the transportation process. His atoms were scattered into space, and only the red sweater was seen flapping past when Spock said 'on screen' on the bridge."
Today's ruling means things should change for those destined to wear the red sweater, with Mr Benson and his like claiming large compensation settlements. But long-time actor and director Jonathon Frakes, better known to Star Trek fans as bearded incompetent Commander Rieker, said it was a sad day for those who like to see personnel eaten by monsters. "I recall in one episode when the Borg went berserk we lost thirty-two million red sweater wearers in a three minute shoot. Compensation on that level is likely to ruin Star Trek and set the Federation back to the days of the first moon landings."
But Mr Benson was unconcerned. "I shall wear my red sweater knowing that I'm safe, tonight," he said. "And I'll keep my phasor under my pillow just in case."