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

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Old September 8 2013, 04:04 PM   #76
Christopher
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
A lot of what you said makes sense, but I still think shows can influence each other when fresh ideas are getting scarce. Some of the intersection points bewteen ST and LIS seem more than coincidental, and neither show was above borrowing from FORBIDDEN PLANET.
You just explained it. Every creative work draws on earlier influences. So when two roughly contemporary works seem similar in certain ways, it's probably because they're both drawing on the same pre-existing pool of cultural influences, not because they're directly imitating each other. Like I said, writers try very hard to distinguish their work from the direct competition, because that betters their chances of selling it. But they and their competitors are still part of the same culture, still influenced by the same history and tradition, so some parallels are inevitable.

Consider those photos you posted of the LIS aliens (which I believe were originally made for the final scene of the unaired pilot and then repurposed later in the season) and the Vians in "The Empath." The similarities in shape are clear, but they both strike me as being exaggerations of the contours of the supraorbital ridges and temporal lines of the human skull. The skull is an image that's been part of human culture forever -- it's probably one of the most ancient bits of iconography there is -- so it's natural that many different artists would be influenced by it. So it's not at all unlikely that the LiS and ST makeup creators would've independently designed similar makeups, because they were both drawing on the same source, the human skull.

As for "The Cage" and "The Keeper," alien-zoo stories existed well before either episode; examples include Robert Silverberg's 1956 story "Collecting Team," the 1957 story "The Cage" (yes!) by A. Bertram Chandler, the 1960 Twilight Zone episode "People Are Alike All Over," and the original Planet of the Apes novel from 1963. Given how long humans have been keeping animals in zoos, the question "what if someone turned the tables?" is an obvious one as soon as you contemplate the idea of aliens more advanced than us. It's also just a slight variation on the standard "heroes captured and imprisoned" trope that drives countless works of fiction. Again, the concept is so elementary and ubiquitous that it doesn't even remotely suggest deliberate imitation.


And there's a major exception to your overall rule: when a show is a big hit, a knockoff will come along on a rival network. MR. TERRIFIC (CBS) was a swing at BATMAN (ABC). I DREAM OF JEANNIE (NBC) was a knockoff of BEWITCHED (ABC). MOONLIGHTING (ABC) was an energetic re-imagining of REMINGTON STEELE (NBC). DYNASTY (ABC) was green-lighted after the huge success of DALLAS (CBS). Hollywood doesn't have as much shame as you give them credit for.
Of course I'm well aware of that, but my point is that just because it sometimes happens, that doesn't mean it always does. As I said, accidental similarities between different stories happen all the time. It is a constant, routine part of any writer's experience. I once mailed in a spec script to ST:TNG and a similar episode aired ten days later, before they even would've had a chance to read my script. And that was on my first try. It's that common. It's hard for a writer to come up with an idea that isn't similar to a competing story, because there are only so many ways to put the pieces together.

So statistically speaking, when you see a similarity between two contemporary stories, the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of it being accidental. Yes, sometimes it will be deliberate, but most of the time it won't be. So it's safest to assume the resemblance is coincidental, or due to being independently influenced by the same earlier source, unless there's compelling evidence to suggest otherwise.


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About as much as writers like being unfairly accused of theft on a regular basis. "Layperson" isn't even an insult. I don't see why you'd find it offensive. I'm a layperson compared to people in, say, medicine or engineering or hotel management. I accept that they know more about their own fields than I do.
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Old September 8 2013, 04:23 PM   #77
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

I'm not offended at being a layperson in many (most?) areas.
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Old September 9 2013, 08:44 PM   #78
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

I remember that when the Allen shows got repeated by BBC 2 (for The Time Tunnel) and Channel 4 (everything else) as part of the great '60's nostalgia kick back in the '90's (resulting in weird things like the original Randall and Hopkirk being better and more fondly remembered by people my age thanks to getting fully networked in a decent-for-kids timeslot as opposed to its rather half arsed all round the houses of the ITV regions original run) Lost in Space didn't go down nearly as well as any of the others did with me and my school friends.

Now, maybe the early episodes being B&W had a factor in that, but that didn't stop Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea doing OK on a Sunday lunchtime. I think it's just simply aged really badly, more than his other shows and certainly more than Trek has (the original series was having its own upteenth rerun on BBC2 about the same time as well and always felt much less squirm enducing even in its worst episodes).

Oddly enough the big success was one of his less succesful series in Land of the Giants, perfect Sunday lunch viewing, had the advantage of being repeated around the time of the Beeb's big Burrowers adaptations (so little people were "cool") and the effects and giant props stood up surprisingly well by mid-90's standards. That was always the one that people at school seemed to watch and which got the best reaction.
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Old September 9 2013, 10:04 PM   #79
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

A few days ago some of the threads considered whether LIS could benfit from a more adult, sophisticated approach.

Breaking news elsewhere on the BBS: J.J. Abrams is planning on re-imaging WESTWORLD.....

........which in itself might not be the best idea. I'm not sure whether it can be improved.

BUT..........since it's possibly being developed for HBO.....

.....that network may finally be turning towards sci-fi, and if it's as good as most of their other dramas, this I can get behind.
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Old September 9 2013, 11:39 PM   #80
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post


"The Empath" actually used freezing tubes from the Jupiter 2, slightly re-dressed. LIS had been canceled and some of its bits and pieces were on the market by then:
Man could you imagine what trek could of looked like if Roddenberry was able to rent the Jupiter 2, Seaview or the Bat Cave for a week or two.

The Batcave could of been a great hanger bay in an asteroid the Jupiter 2 coudl of been a crash site to a Federation captain's yacht the Seaview a Klingon bridge the flying sub - a special aquatic shuttle or fighter craft of some kind
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Old September 9 2013, 11:43 PM   #81
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

^They probably wouldn't have been able to rent entire sets, just components and props that survived once the sets were torn down.

Although there have been cases where sets from one cancelled show have been inherited by another. The sets from the short-lived Timecop series were reused by Sliders, IIRC, and the sets for the failed John Woo Lost in Space reboot became the Pegasus sets on the Battlestar Galactica reboot.
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Old September 10 2013, 01:42 AM   #82
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

inflatabledalek wrote: View Post
Oddly enough the big success was one of his less succesful series in Land of the Giants, perfect Sunday lunch viewing, had the advantage of being repeated around the time of the Beeb's big Burrowers adaptations (so little people were "cool") and the effects and giant props stood up surprisingly well by mid-90's standards.
The scenes with giants and little people in the same frame were often done entirely in-camera, by positioning the giant actor in the foreground and the little actor much further back to appear smaller in a 2-D picture. The shots were all story-boarded and designed in advance with mathematical precision regarding distances, angles, eye-lines, and what lens to use.

The result was a clean, "real" shot with no matte lines or weird fx artifacts. I wonder if Star Trek's "Who Mourns for Adonais" would have benefitted from this approach after Apollo has his growth spurt, and Kirk is the little guy.
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Old September 10 2013, 02:03 AM   #83
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

^They used a lot of matte and split-screen shots as well. I remember one in particular that stood out because it was poorly done. One of the humans was sitting on the back of a park bench that a giant was also on, I think, and the size and position of the slats just didn't line up between the life-size bench the "giant" was on and the oversized replica the human was on. So the matte effect was pretty blatant.
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Old September 10 2013, 02:36 AM   #84
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

^ Larry Butler they weren't.
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Old September 10 2013, 03:54 AM   #85
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
The scenes with giants and little people in the same frame were often done entirely in-camera, by positioning the giant actor in the foreground and the little actor much further back to appear smaller in a 2-D picture. The shots were all story-boarded and designed in advance with mathematical precision regarding distances, angles, eye-lines, and what lens to use.
The result was a clean, "real" shot with no matte lines or weird fx artifacts. I wonder if Star Trek's "Who Mourns for Adonais" would have benefitted from this approach after Apollo has his growth spurt, and Kirk is the little guy.
Walt Disney had earlier used this false perspective set/camera angle trick in Darby O'Gill and the Little People, and it shows up again in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I think the technique was pioneered by Norman Dawn around 1915, though not certain. He did extensive work with glass shots and hanging miniatures.
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Old September 10 2013, 03:58 AM   #86
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

^It was also used extensively in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, and many other films and shows.
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Old September 10 2013, 05:48 AM   #87
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

inflatabledalek wrote: View Post
Oddly enough the big success was one of his less succesful series in Land of the Giants, perfect Sunday lunch viewing, had the advantage of being repeated around the time of the Beeb's big Burrowers adaptations (so little people were "cool") and the effects and giant props stood up surprisingly well by mid-90's standards. That was always the one that people at school seemed to watch and which got the best reaction.
"Land of the Giants" is one of my favourite shows.
I haven't seen it in years but I don't remember the special effects being especially bad (considering). My minds eyes say Star Treks were worse probably because they had to do more.
That was except for that giant grabbing hand which they used a lot. But that giant grabbing hand was so bad it was good, It was like an old friend I was looking out for each episode.

I thought the giant sized things were fun but I mainly liked the diverse group of characters they had for the show and the sort of totalitarian society of the 'giant' world.
The Spindrift was pretty cool too.
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Old September 10 2013, 03:40 PM   #88
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

Lost in Space "got campy" in its first season. It wasn't coldly serious for the whole year, and you can see the switch pretty clearly from fairly solid, straight SF adventure to wacky fantasy. The real transition from serious to comedy was The Space Croppers, when the Robinson's are visited by aliens dressed as hillbillies in a space ship that looked like a log cabin. From that episode forward, things got dicey. Suddenly Smith's comedy antics really took center stage. The main difference in season 2 was that the series became Children's Theater, with wacky monsters and colorful eccentric aliens.

The 3rd season did indeed try to go back to something more serious, but it was too late for the Smith character. He was so childlike at this point, you couldn't put him into anything remotely serious anymore.

What kept shows like Voyage and Time Tunnel from falling into the same trap was that, while the situations got wackier, the character remained the same and in the same positions of impotence. Nobody got shoved into the background or turned into comedy relief. So if the Seaview ran into puke sucking monsters three weeks in a row, they could switch back to serious espionage without it being an ill fit.
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Old September 10 2013, 04:48 PM   #89
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
Lost in Space "got campy" in its first season. It wasn't coldly serious for the whole year, and you can see the switch pretty clearly from fairly solid, straight SF adventure to wacky fantasy. The real transition from serious to comedy was The Space Croppers, when the Robinson's are visited by aliens dressed as hillbillies in a space ship that looked like a log cabin. From that episode forward, things got dicey. Suddenly Smith's comedy antics really took center stage. The main difference in season 2 was that the series became Children's Theater, with wacky monsters and colorful eccentric aliens.
I would say instead that LiS got more comical as its first season progressed, but camp is a particular flavor of comedy (characterized by irony and self-satirical excess) that I don't think the show fully embraced until season 2. The remaining first-season episodes after "The Space Croppers" still had some relatively serious elements in them, so I wouldn't say that one episode represented a pattern.

Besides, "Croppers" was episode 25 out of the 29-episode first season, so we're really only talking about a difference of five episodes. Although Smith's comedy antics had already taken center stage well over a dozen episodes earlier.
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Old September 11 2013, 01:17 AM   #90
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

One of the ironies of LOST IN SPACE, almost a cognitive dissonance, is that some of the implausible, unserious episodes were tracked with serious, richly splendored John Williams music from the earliest (and really good) episodes.
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