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

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Old May 23 2013, 04:19 AM   #1
Praetor Baldric
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Sci-Fi or Action?

I recently watched the redlettermedia critique of Abrams first Trek film; the gist of which was that the movie was basically an action film disguised as TOS.

This reminded me of a television appearance of Ellison and members of the original cast during which Ellison says that TOS was basically a cop show in outer space. I take from this that he viewed TOS as not really being a sci-fi show so much as an action TV show disguised as sci-fi.

I sometimes wonder if he wasn't right about this. With the exception of some of the Season 1 eps, it does seem that TOS for the most part was not really a sci-fi show.

Some eps at random:

Balance of Terror = sci-fi or suspenseful western showdown in space? (I once heard that it was based on the story of two subs during WWII).

Enterprise Incident = sci-fi or Mission Impossible in space?

Charlie X = sci-fi or Twilight Zone's It's a Good Life in space?

Whaddya think?
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Old May 23 2013, 05:40 AM   #2
Nerys Myk
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

One can have action in a science fiction film. One can have espionage and political intrigue in a science fiction film. Neither of these elements (or countless others) being present negates a film being in the science fiction genre. A lot of SF film are action heavy. The tropes of the Western can be easily transferred to Science Fiction. The same for the Military or Horror genre. Science Fiction is often a setting not a plot.

Cop show doesn't equal "action" show. Dragnet being a prime example. Columbo being another.
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Old May 23 2013, 06:04 AM   #3
Third Nacelle
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

Except for maybe some 50s B-movies, I can't really think of anything that is pure science fiction. I agree the Nerys Myk that Sci Fi is really more of a setting for for the story rather than the genre of the story. TOS (and all its spinoffs) tended to jump around from genre to genre, and I can see that a good number of episodes feel like "cop show" procedurals. A lot of episodic television does that.

I agree that the Abrams movies are really action heavy, but none of the movies have ever been good at representing the series. That's just the nature of taking something built for the small screen and putting on the big screen.
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Old May 23 2013, 06:17 AM   #4
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

Third Nacelle wrote: View Post
Except for maybe some 50s B-movies, I can't really think of anything that is pure science fiction.
So, 2001: A Space Odyssey is not pure science fiction? Ditto, Logan's Run? Star Trek: The Motion Picture? The Andromeda Strain? Just to pick some obvious examples outside the 1950's, that is.

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Old May 23 2013, 12:08 PM   #5
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

From the original 1964 Star Trek pitch -

"Action - Adventure - Science fiction."

More of the former two and less of the latter. With more emphasis on the characters than the technology at least in the original show, classic movies and newest ones). After all, we are talking about a world where aliens look human apart from goofy ears or antennae or skin colouration, where magical translating technology instantly renders everyone's speech in English (their lips are even sync'd to it, and there's no overlap), and where different aliens can interbreed. It's no more realistic than Superman - which also featured time travel via spinning around something really fast, and somehow spitting the hero into good and evil halves which then did battle.
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Old May 23 2013, 12:14 PM   #6
MacLeod
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

Big Daddy wrote: View Post
Some eps at random:

Balance of Terror = sci-fi or suspenseful western showdown in space? (I once heard that it was based on the story of two subs during WWII).


Whaddya think?
I think "Balance of Terror" is more based on the book/film "Run Silent, Run Deep". With the Enterprise playing the role of a destroyer and the Romulan BoP the submarine.
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Old May 23 2013, 12:25 PM   #7
Gov Kodos
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

MacLeod wrote: View Post
Big Daddy wrote: View Post
Some eps at random:

Balance of Terror = sci-fi or suspenseful western showdown in space? (I once heard that it was based on the story of two subs during WWII).


Whaddya think?
I think "Balance of Terror" is more based on the book/film "Run Silent, Run Deep". With the Enterprise playing the role of a destroyer and the Romulan BoP the submarine.
More 'Enemy Below' where the protagonist is an American destroyer hunting a German sub.
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Old May 23 2013, 12:49 PM   #8
Marsden
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

I like your post and I've always felt Star Trek had a real adventure feel to it with dramatic elements, but the spin offs were dramas with some themes of adventure in the background.

Charlie X = sci-fi or Twilight Zone's It's a Good Life in space
Why is it an 'or' ? Isn't Twilight Zone Science Fiction? Maybe I'm not good with the term

Balance of Terror, for example, involves two starships using phaser and plasma torpedo weapons and and invisiblity cloak, plus bases built on asteroids and a mostly human Starfleet in the future vs. aliens in deep space far away from Earth. How is that not Science Fiction?
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Old May 23 2013, 01:15 PM   #9
MacLeod
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

Gov Kodos wrote: View Post
MacLeod wrote: View Post
Big Daddy wrote: View Post
Some eps at random:

Balance of Terror = sci-fi or suspenseful western showdown in space? (I once heard that it was based on the story of two subs during WWII).


Whaddya think?
I think "Balance of Terror" is more based on the book/film "Run Silent, Run Deep". With the Enterprise playing the role of a destroyer and the Romulan BoP the submarine.
More 'Enemy Below' where the protagonist is an American destroyer hunting a German sub.
You're probably right, it's been a number of years since I've seen either film. So perhaps I got the two confused.
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Old May 23 2013, 01:23 PM   #10
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

Marsden wrote: View Post
I like your post and I've always felt Star Trek had a real adventure feel to it with dramatic elements, but the spin offs were dramas with some themes of adventure in the background.

Charlie X = sci-fi or Twilight Zone's It's a Good Life in space
Why is it an 'or' ? Isn't Twilight Zone Science Fiction? Maybe I'm not good with the term
Depends on the episode. Although the series is generally accepted as "science fiction," there are many which aren't. The series should probably be categorized as "fantasy." "It's a Good Life" has no sci-fi in it, it has a kid with natural powers. It's horror/fantasy.

Balance of Terror, for example, involves two starships using phaser and plasma torpedo weapons and and invisiblity cloak, plus bases built on asteroids and a mostly human Starfleet in the future vs. aliens in deep space far away from Earth. How is that not Science Fiction?
The details are sci-fi, but the general plot can be and was used as a general warfare plot on Earth in almost any era. It's not a sci-fi story, it's a story used in a sci-fi milieu.
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Old May 23 2013, 01:30 PM   #11
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

One of the cool things about TOS was that its format was broad enough to incorporate lots of different kinds of stories: war stories, spy stories, horror-suspense, courtroom dramas, murder mysteries, action, topical allegories, even broad comedy and farce . . . all in a futuristic sci-fi setting.
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Old May 23 2013, 01:41 PM   #12
MacLeod
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

True, whilst the setting might be Sci-Fi you can tell many different types of story.
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Old May 23 2013, 02:14 PM   #13
Forbin
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

MacLeod wrote: View Post
Gov Kodos wrote: View Post
MacLeod wrote: View Post

I think "Balance of Terror" is more based on the book/film "Run Silent, Run Deep". With the Enterprise playing the role of a destroyer and the Romulan BoP the submarine.
More 'Enemy Below' where the protagonist is an American destroyer hunting a German sub.
You're probably right, it's been a number of years since I've seen either film. So perhaps I got the two confused.
Definitely The Enemy Below. It's been stated plainly at some point.
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Old May 23 2013, 03:11 PM   #14
Marsden
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
Depends on the episode. Although the series is generally accepted as "science fiction," there are many which aren't. The series should probably be categorized as "fantasy." "It's a Good Life" has no sci-fi in it, it has a kid with natural powers. It's horror/fantasy.
ssosmcin wrote: View Post
The details are sci-fi, but the general plot can be and was used as a general warfare plot on Earth in almost any era. It's not a sci-fi story, it's a story used in a sci-fi milieu.
I think I'm still having trouble distinguishing the difference of what you said. I understand what you seem to be saying but the distinction of it seems blurry. Could you give me a few examples, for clarification? If you want to, of course.

I'll try a few.

Event Horizon, would be Horror instead of Science Fiction, or both possbily? (maybe I was the only one that saw that)

2001 would sound like it's got to be Science Fiction, but but is it really just a Mystery within a sci-fi milieu?

Galaxy Quest is a comedy, but it has (in story) real aliens and space ships, is it a Science Fiction movie as well?

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is probably a horror movie within a sci-fi milieu.

As far as concepts go, is mental powers (telepathy, telekinesis) a science fiction concept or a fantasy concept, or both, or something else entirely?

I like this kind of discussion, and I know opinions vary. I hope someone else will have some more examples.
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Old May 23 2013, 09:14 PM   #15
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Re: Sci-Fi or Action?

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
One of the cool things about TOS was that its format was broad enough to incorporate lots of different kinds of stories: war stories, spy stories, horror-suspense, courtroom dramas, murder mysteries, action, topical allegories, even broad comedy and farce . . . all in a futuristic sci-fi setting.
This.

It's probably why we're still talking about Trek fifty years later.
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