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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old March 27 2013, 04:55 AM   #16
Dale Sams
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

scotpens wrote: View Post
Dale Sams wrote: View Post
Given:
The events of Conscience of the King
He doesn't seem too broken up over his brother's death
Exqueeze me?

"The Conscience of the King":
Begins on Stardate 2817.6.
Production date: Late September 1966.
Original broadcast date: Dec 8, 1966.

"Operation: Annihilate":
Begins on Stardate 3287.2.
Production date: Mid-February 1967.
Original broadcast date: April 13,1967.

Whichever way you figure it, the events of "Operation: Annihilate"-- the episode in which Kirk's brother Sam was killed -- take place after "Conscience of the King." The only other Trek TOS episode in which Kirk's brother is mentioned is "What are Little Girls Made Of?"

TMOST has a long, detailed description of Kirk's character and personality, but I don't have a scanner available at the moment.
The events of Conscience of the King are completly seperate from Sam's death.
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Old March 27 2013, 05:16 AM   #17
scotpens
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

Dale Sams wrote: View Post
The events of Conscience of the King are completly seperate from Sam's death.
Sorry, I misunderstood your post. When I read:
Given:
The events of Conscience of the King
He doesn't seem too broken up over his brother's death
My mind eliminated a colon and inserted a comma, creating a single sentence: "Given the events of Conscience of the King, he doesn't seem too broken up over his brother's death." Which makes no sense.

I realize that's not what you meant. Chalk it up to my professional proofreader's eye, or a brain fart.
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Old March 27 2013, 11:11 AM   #18
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

I misread it, too. For total clarity, I would have used a dash or asterisk to act as bullet points in front of each list item.

That's how I roll.
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Old March 27 2013, 04:10 PM   #19
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

Kirk in TOS was a character defined somewhat by the writing but largely by Shatner's performance. Spock, OTOH, was created to a greater extent by the writers - we (and Nimoy) were told a great deal explicitly about his culture, relations with family and other Vulcans, his philosophy and approach to life, even the details of his sexuality.

This is why some TOS fans are uncomfortable with the version of Kirk that appeared in the TOS-based movies - stuff like his cheating on tests, etc - because at that point the screenwriters looked at the character's history, formed conclusions about what made him interesting/appealing and started writing him more specifically in terms of motivation and behavior.

Finally with ST 5 we get Shatner telling the writers what to do and the thing goes entirely to Hell.
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Old March 28 2013, 11:58 PM   #20
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

FWIW, here's a condensed version of the description of Captain Kirk from The Making of Star Trek:

The normal mission of a starship places the vessel out of communication with Earth and Star Fleet Base for long periods of time. A starship captain therefore has unusually broad powers over both the lives and welfare of his crew, as well as extensive jurisdiction over people and activities encountered during the course of the vessel's mission . . . The loneliness and the enormous responsibilities of this position place an extreme burden on the man who holds it. Only an extraordinary man can rise to this position.

Captain Kirk is such a man. He appears to be about thirty-four years old and was born in a small town in the State of Iowa. He entered the Space Academy as a midshipman at the age of seventeen, the minimum age allowed. He attended the Academy and finished in the top five percent. Kirk rose very rapidly through the ranks and received his first command (the equivalent of a destroyer-class spaceship) while still quite young.

. . . James T. Kirk is an idealist, rather sensitive, with a strong, complex personality. Constantly on trial within himself, he feels acutely the responsibility of his position and is therefore fully capable of letting the worry and the frustration lead him into error. Ignoring the fact that he is also capable of fatigue, Kirk is often inclined to push himself beyond human limits . . . The crew respect him, some almost to the point of adoration. High regard for their Captain notwithstanding, no senior officer aboard is fearful of using his own intelligence in questioning Kirk’s orders, and will be strongly articulate up to the point that Kirk signifies his decision has been made. The young Captain is definitely a man of decision and decisive action.

In many respects Kirk resembles the captain of an 18th century ship of the line — Captain Horatio Hornblower. Anyone familiar with C. S. Forrester’s famous Hornblower series will quickly recognize similarities in the personalities of both men. It should not be surprising to learn that Gene Roddenberry rates Captain Horatio Hornblower as one of the all-time great adventure characters in fiction.

. . . The loneliness of command is intensified for Kirk by his continuing struggle within himself to preserve, in the eyes of his crew, the image he feels necessary. Because he sets impossibly high standards for himself, there are few aboard ship with whom he can talk without fear of showing what he fears may be construed as a weakness. He has therefore placed himself in a form of self-imposed exile from the rest of the crew.
(A couple of short paragraphs follow describing Kirk's relationships with Spock and McCoy.)
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Old March 29 2013, 01:56 AM   #21
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

Perhaps of interest to this thread is a bit of commentary from the October 14, 1981 de Forest Research memo for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

a collection of antiques - Kirk has NEVER collected antiques. Perhaps a line might be planted that he has developed a new interest. (One of the problems with the Kirk character is that he was never consistently written. He was always what the writers needed THAT week.)
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Old March 29 2013, 05:22 AM   #22
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

Harvey wrote: View Post
Perhaps of interest to this thread is a bit of commentary from the October 14, 1981 de Forest Research memo for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

a collection of antiques - Kirk has NEVER collected antiques. Perhaps a line might be planted that he has developed a new interest. (One of the problems with the Kirk character is that he was never consistently written. He was always what the writers needed THAT week.)
Thanks, Harvey. That kind of sums up my whole issue for starting this post. Where can we see more Kellam de Forest Research memos? I mostly know the name from THE MAKING OF STAR TREK.

BTW, it was many years and the advent of the Internet before I knew that Kellam de Forest and Deforest Kelley were both using their birth names and the similarity was a coincidence.
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Old March 29 2013, 05:23 PM   #23
Harvey
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

UCLA has many of his memos from the original series in the Roddenberry papers. The one from TWOK is in the Nick Meyer papers at the University of Iowa. I haven't located any other Trek memos by the company as of yet, though.

(Although de Forest himself certainly wrote or co-wrote the ones for TOS, Joan Pearce apparently was the one most responsible for the TWOK memo, according to other documentation. When de Forest's company went bankrupt, the company she moved onto, Joan Pearce Research Associates, took over the franchise).
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Old March 30 2013, 03:59 AM   #24
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

Metryq wrote: View Post
Kirk is Everyman with a "devil" (Spock) and an "angel" (McCoy) each giving him counsel. That's a wide open formula for writing any story.
This is true of course.
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Old March 30 2013, 05:17 AM   #25
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

Theodore Sturgeon once noted that Kirk as a concept wasn't distinctive, so it absolutely fell to Shatner to bring more to it ... and then hope the writers picked up on the strengths. Clearly Gene Coon knew how to do it, giving him the speeches (which manage sometimes to be cringe-worthy and powerful at the same time, don't ask me how.)

Shatner's own notion of wearing command like an old comfortable jacket is the thing that absolutely works for me; I find that a much more progressive view of command than the king-on-throne aspect that Stewart often offers up on screen, and that is probably why I like Brooks (when he isn't asleep) too. It's why I would have liked Janeway if VOYAGER hadn't been unwatchable, too.

Having said all that, I still think the quiet-pro Kirk of pre-Coon TREK to be at times awesome; 'go to your quarters or I'll pick you up and carry you there' is just pitch-perfect. The relative mildness of Kirk in the movies seems less like affectation than just sounding the wrong note ... kind of like Sean Connery's sudden verging on Roger Mooredness in NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, where Sean's 'eye of the tiger' appears during the opening 'kobayashi maru' ripoff but never during the film proper.
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Old March 30 2013, 11:03 PM   #26
Danger Ace
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

Metryq wrote: View Post
Kirk is Everyman with a "devil" (Spock) and an "angel" (McCoy) each giving him counsel. That's a wide open formula for writing any story.
I have to disagree. Kirk was never designed to be an "everyman." J.T. Kirk was always meant to be exceptional. He was the youngest man to captain a starship in Starfleet. He was an ideal - highly capable, highly intelligent, open-minded and prone to introspection while being robust and dashing. He questioned and was unafraid of the answers.

And I have no idea were one would get or justify the Spock as the "Devil on a shoulder" allusion.
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Old March 30 2013, 11:17 PM   #27
Anwar
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

Him, Spock and McCoy were more or less intended to be archetypes as characters: Spock as the Superego, McCoy as the Id and Kirk as the Ego who chooses between them.

They just happened to be played by good enough actors to pull it off.
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Old March 31 2013, 03:37 AM   #28
Danger Ace
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Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
I have trouble figuring out who Kirk is sometimes. I'm not writing a story, but if I were I'd have to think hard about what Kirk is all about.
Speaking personally, Captain James T. Kirk as portrayed by William Shatner is very well defined. Given the totality and span of material (I am old-school 'canon' just legal right-holders produced live-action (though I won't argue inclusion of TAS)). We know who he is just as much as Mr. Spock and more than the other characters of TAS. Based on what we know of him we could reasonably predict his overall behavior and reactions. We know roughly what to get him on his birthday and what topics not to bring up in conversation ... what more do you want or expect?

I also respectfully disagree with the pov that Shatner had to put more work into his character than Leonard Nimoy did with Mr. Spock because I don't believe that is true. According to many sources, Nimoy was very concerned about things making sense, being reasonable and well motivated. He worked things out and strove to fill in gaps. Leonard practiced due-diligence and did his homework in preparing. It is also why his input into the TOS films (especially III to VI) was so invaluable.

But again I gush.
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