When Kate Mulgrew, the actress best known for playing Captain Janeway on "Star Trek: Voyager," took on the role of Kove in Adult Swim's procedural show spoof, "NTSF: SD: SUV::," "Star Trek" fans were not sure of what to think about it.
After all, the "Trek" crowd can be a fickle bunch. Witness the backlash against Wesley Crusher from "Star Trek: The Next Generation." It's only been in recent years that fans have really embraced Wil Wheaton as a nerd hero.
The show has been on the air since July on the network (which is owned by Time Warner, which also owns CNN), and Mulgrew told CNN Geek Out that fans have since warmed up to her character in a big way.
"These fans are very loyal, and they're very game and very smart, and they love to roll with it," she said, adding, "Janeway is their captain, whether she's in an insane asylum or not."
Mulgrew made history as the first female captain to be the lead character in a "Star Trek" series.
"She plays a strong leader with great instincts when it comes to tactical situations as well as leadership," said Mike Miller, a hardcore Trekker in Atlanta. "She places her crew (which of course is made up of StarFleet as well as Maquis Rebels) as her highest priority."
Miller said he would rank Janeway third, behind the two most popular captains, Kirk and Picard.
As for the present day, Mulgrew is now playing a character so absurd that at one point, she wanders around obsessing about whether she was invited to a birthday party.
"She is definitely obsessed with Trent (creator Paul Scheer's character), obsessed with sex and obsessed with herself and her hairdo."
The procedural show spoof (think "CSI: Miami" or NCIS") caught Mulgrew's attention right away: "I said yes immediately when they offered it to me. It's such a departure from everything I've done."
Mulgrew's former "Voyager" colleague Robert Picardo also guest starred on an episode.
"They said they wanted a creepy guy, and I said, Bob Picardo!" she revealed. "He was deliciously creepy."
And never fear, Trekkers. If Mulgrew has her way, there will be more guest spots like that. "I want to get all my pals on it, and I think Paul is game for it. John deLancie would be wonderful. Finally, people would find out how funny we are!"
Mulgrew is proud to say that she never phoned it in at any point on "Voyager," something her fans truly appreciate. "It was really hard work, and I'm really proud of it. And I was the first woman!"
She also gave her theory as to why "Star Trek" has endured for 45 years: "It's captured the imagination of people who understand that all of science is a leap of faith. People who are linear thinkers (in that way) are attracted to the patterns of 'Star Trek,' which is a metaphor for how we live. The starship stands for the human species being lost and hoping to find itself again."
Mulgrew is most definitely a science geek, as well: "I can't live without the Science Times. And I always keep (the works of the late physicist) Richard Feynman by my bedside."