Emperor Norton wrote:
The ideas some people are proposing about a show on a different starship are ideas I disagree with. That thought process comes from the TNG era, where that show spun off Voyager and Deep Space Nine and Enterprise. I do not believe the same thing would have happened had Star Trek (TOS) been successful. Think to what actually happened when TNG was being talked about and went on air: people were saying how could a show without Kirk and Spock work and nearly everyone expected it to fail. In this alternate universe, Star Trek is a success, putting even more pressure on not doing a different space ship since the thought of "how can you do it without the Enterprise and Kirk and crew" will be even stronger in that case.
I don't think I agree with that. If you look at the actual spinoffs (and failed backdoor pilots) we did see in the '60s and '70s, they often were more of the same but with different characters, e.g. The Six Million Dollar Man
spinning off The Bionic Woman
, or the Hooterville trilogy of The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction
, and Green Acres
. A lot of TV was formulaic at the time (although the same is true today -- look at how many variations of Law & Order
we've gotten), so I don't see there being that much problem with the idea of revisiting the same formula with different characters.
After all, those objections to TNG that you're referring to came from fans who'd been living with Kirk, Spock, and company for 20 years in reruns, who'd grown up with them as iconic figures engrained in pop-culture history. While the show certainly had its devoted fans while it was on the air, the fans' perception of a 3- or 4-year-old show would not have been quite the same as later fans' perception of a show that had been part of their lives for two decades.
Then again, a lot of spinoff attempts were for shows that would've been more distinct from their source material -- for instance, Gomer Pyle
was pretty different in its focus from The Andy Griffith Show
, even though it did spin off a popular character from that show. So other TOS spinoff attempts might've been in the same vein as "Assignment: Earth," i.e. trying to use ST as a launch pad for a different sci-fi premise.
The most possible of those is a space station based show, and I also disagree with that because the same criticism will be with that show as was aimed at DS9 before it went ahead: how are you going to have adventures when the space station doesn't go anywhere? For those of you who will say "character development and complexity" or something to that effect, this is the 60s.
But there were plenty of '60s TV series that were set in a fixed location, like Gunsmoke
or The Virginian
(the latter of which has already been mentioned as an inspiration for DS9), or just about any cop show. Roddenberry's The Lieutenant
was set on a Marine Corps base.
Besides, the answer to your question would've been just as easy to answer in the '60s as it was in the '90s: Set your show at a hub of activity or transportation so that adventure comes to you. Make it a large and important station that has people from many different cultures with conflicting agendas. Make it Casablanca
in space and have mystery and intrigue. It would've been as easy to do an ongoing series aboard a space station as it would've been to do an ongoing series set in New York City or San Francisco or 19th-century Tombstone.
Not only that, but this is the 60s with Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek. Roddenberry was against strong character changes, story arcs, etc even in an era when they were not especially strong (story arcs especially), because he wanted people to be able to watch any episode out of order and have it still work.
I think you're confused there. It was the network that wanted the freedom to run episodes in any order; after all, scheduling was their department, not Roddenberry's. And there were very rarely any
story arcs or character growth in '60s TV, except in soap operas; that was an industry-wide practice. If anything, TOS paid a bit more attention to character continuity than most shows of the era -- for instance, giving returning guest actors the same character names they'd had before, or even (gasp!) referencing past episodes like when the events of "A Taste of Armageddon" were alluded to in "By Any Other Name." That was incredibly rare at the time.
I think you must be thinking of the TNG-era Roddenberry and his rules against character conflict, which arose from having bought too much into his own reputation as a visionary and wanting to portray a perfected humanity. The Roddenberry of the 1960s still thought of himself as a producer/writer first, and as such had no desire to put any restrictions on character-driven drama.
The most likely thing for a spin off would just be a follow up series at some point. Just to have Shatner and the rest of the cast, with some new people or replacements here and there, brought back sometime in the 1970s and put aboard the Enterprise or a refit Enterprise or an Enterprise II or whatever it would be.
You do know they actually did that