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Old August 24 2012, 04:34 PM   #14
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
As far as The Man Trap, it's a weird episode to kick off the series with; actually this and Charlie X are odd ones to start things off.
Weird in retrospect, sure, but for the network schedulers -- for which ST was something brand new and undefined -- their touchstones for what science fiction was on TV were The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, plus the Irwin Allen shows you mentioned. You cited "Charlie X" as a TZ-like episode; well, "The Man Trap" was basically an Outer Limits monster-of-the-week story. It fit their expectations for sci-fi TV -- thrills, suspense, weird monsters -- better than the more character- and idea-driven episodes that preceded it in production sequence.

One thing I'd like to have confirmed; some of the dialog makes it seem as if the creature was physically changing its form, but in the teaser, it looks different depending on who is looking at it. In fact, it seemed somewhat telepathic. So was it actually changing its shape or was it making people see what they wanted to see? Seems a little fuzzy and the telepathy wasn't touched on really, which is a shame; it's an interesting tidbit. I'm more in line with it fooling people rather than being an actual shape shifter.
Oh, definitely. The teaser makes that quite clear, and I'm not aware of anything in the episode that suggest it's physically shapeshifting instead. There are a few lines about how it can "assume any shape" or "take other forms," but that's ambiguous enough that it could mean "project the illusion of other shapes." Or maybe the speakers, Kirk and McCoy, didn't know enough about the nature of its powers and assumed it was physically morphing when it was really illusion-casting.

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
This is a huge step up from the first two episodes and really, IMO, should have been run first. Justman and Solow had gone on record about this one, saying it was to expository to be aired first and a pilot is made to sell the series, not necessarily to air. This, frankly, is ridiculous. You don't pour that much money, work and talent into a TV pilot with no intention of airing it.
Actually, yes, a lot of TV pilots have not been aired. It's a nice bonus when you can air the pilot as part of the series, but it's not guaranteed, especially not in the '60s. Back then, pilots really were intended more as demo reels to sell a show to networks, and it wasn't a given that they would ever air on TV (which is why "The Cage" was over 60 minutes long and couldn't possibly have fit into a standard broadcast time slot). You pour money into the pilot because it's what will get the series on the air if it's good enough. It's an investment that you're hoping will lead to a bigger payoff.

Yes, often, when it's feasible, the pilot will be shown as part of the series, or if a lot of changes are made, will have portions of it recycled in various series episodes (as with "The Cage" and the pilots of shows like Gilligan's Island, Lost in Space, and more recently Dollhouse). You do want to recoup that investment if you can. But sometimes pilots are never broadcast at all, like the original pilots of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

As for exposition, it's no more so than any other episode. It sets of the story, not the series premise. It doesn't spend a half hour introducing every single main character, it actually moves very quickly from the start to the main action and conflict. It's an excellent sci-fi story with lots of theatricality and an an awesome fistfight at the end.
Well, leaving aside production order concerns and thinking only about which episode would be the best introduction to the show and its world, I'd say "The Corbomite Maneuver" would be a better intro than "Where No Man." WNM lacks McCoy and Uhura, it focuses heavily on characters who don't survive the episode, and its "look and feel" are different from the series. TCM is a good, solid introduction to the ensemble in their familiar roles, and most importantly it's a great introduction to the meaning and purpose of the Enterprise's mission and what the characters believe in and stand for.

I can only imagine how viewers felt about the sudden changes three weeks in. Costumes, casting, the lack of main title narration all probably took a few people by surprise. Did people know it was the pilot episode? Would they have gotten than info from, say, TV Guide or something?
I'm not sure the general public of the day would've been as savvy about the TV production process as we are today. The book The Making of Star Trek was a seminal work in the behind-the-scenes/"making-of" genre. I think it and the books and TV specials that followed it created a lot more public interest and understanding about the production process than had existed before. And just three weeks into a once-a-week series, viewers might not have remembered the exact details of sets and costumes all that well. I know that when I was watching the show in reruns as a child, it took me a few years before my nebulous sense that something was different about "Where No Man" blossomed into an understanding of what it really was.

And it's not like there weren't other changes between early episodes -- changes in Uhura's and Spock's costumes, an evolution of Spock's makeup and personality, ongoing alterations to the engineering set, and so on. Not to mention the tendency of '60s shows to have different supporting characters week to week and not bother to explain the change. ST's sister show Mission: Impossible changed its team composition all the time and never bothered to give any explanations for a cast change until the seventh season. So '60s viewers would've been somewhat accustomed to such week-to-week variations, and a lot of them wouldn't even really have noticed.

The Naked Time: another classic. It's interesting how the series starts off with episodes strongly featuring the supporting cast. It's good for fleshing out the people on screen, but little did the audience know, this practice would end very quickly. Later episodes would focus more on plot, while these early episodes have a feel of "let's take a few minutes for charactwerization."
TOS was originally meant as an ensemble drama, which you can really see in the early episodes. But Spock swiftly became the breakout star, and the network wanted everything to revolve around him. Roddenberry and Shatner resisted that, but still the show ended up centered overwhelmingly on Spock and on the two characters most closely connected to him, Kirk and McCoy.

And yes, there was a shift from a more dramatic emphasis early on to a more action-oriented emphasis later, probably due to network pressure.

The brief trip back in time. Amazing how that is just one last plot point at the end of the episode, setting up the possibility of more time travel (which didn't really happen this way).
Yeah, the completely pointless trip back in time. This was originally meant to lead directly into "Tomorrow is Yesterday," but then it was decided not to have inter-episode continuity, so it was rewritten. They should've just removed the time travel element altogether, since without the lead-in it served absolutely no purpose and was just a weird non sequitur.

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
1. Janice is nearly raped and she never once stands up for herself afterward. She wouldn't "have even mentioned it." In other words, if not for Fisher seeing it, she would have let "Kirk" get away with his assault (leaving him to explain the scratches, I imagine). "…and he IS the captain." Does this mean she feels he can take certain liberties? I think they were trying to play up loyalty to the captain and she obviously has attraction toward him. Also, rape was always a taboo subject back then, so even touching it is amazing, but the post-rape attempt really puts Janice in a very submissive light. Spock's joke at the end is legendary in its inappropriateness.
Welcome to 1966, a place where folks like Todd Akin apparently still reside. I don't think rape was really that unusual a subject matter at the time, and in fact it was often a source of what was considered light comedy, like the stock gag of the lecherous boss chasing his secretary around the desk. (I once came across an old hardcover book collecting material from Playboy in the 1950s, and it had a number of "cute" cartoons involving rape or sexual victimization, like a nude rape victim lamenting to a friend, "And then the police arrived and re-enacted the crime," while looking more exhausted than traumatized.) What we'd consider sexual harrassment was seen as normal, playful flirtation, and the idea that men should defer to women's rights and wishes in a sexual interaction, rather than the other way around, just didn't exist until the sexual revolution came along a few years later.

We hear Uhura on the intercom, but she's not in this episode. A standard problem in the early episodes.
Well, it was cheaper to pay them for just the voiceovers, which were probably recorded when they came in to shoot other episodes. Actually it's impressive that the producers of TOS were as loyal to their recurring cast as they were.

Mudd's Women - Hard to believe this was one of the three candidates for second pilot, it's not that good.
Well, maybe they thought it would work out better than it did. It's the one that comes closest to fitting the "Wagon Train to the stars" pitch line Roddenberry used, since it's basically a Western plot transposed into space -- Harry actually refers to his scheme as "wiving settlers," an Old West practice featured in the TV series Here Come the Brides.

Mudd notes that Spock is part Vulcanian. Never mind the abandoned name for the people of Vulcan, what made him deduce Spock was not a FULL Vulcan?
As I remarked in an earlier thread, the original series pitch document explained Spock's alien features by saying he was "probably half-Martian." I suspect that originally, the idea behind making Spock half-human and half-alien was that his features -- mostly humanlike but with a few alien attributes -- would represent a mix of the two races, and that a full member of Spock's father's species would look less human than Spock did. (I.e. kinda like B'Elanna Torres vs. a full Klingon, or Farscape's Scorpius vs. a full Scarran.) Although that assumption went out the window when "Balance of Terror" gave us Romulans who looked exactly like Spock and were thus assumed to be related to Vulcans, and particularly when we finally saw other Vulcans in "Amok Time."
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