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

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Old January 13 2014, 09:06 AM   #46
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

1001001 wrote: View Post
Sweet Georgia Brown, you guys started this topic again?
Great, now I won't be able to get that tune out of my head tonight.....
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Old January 13 2014, 09:11 AM   #47
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

How far do we want to go? On this one subject I'm content just to know if there's any validity to Cushman's claims that the show was a hit in any ratings sense.
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Old January 13 2014, 09:41 AM   #48
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

Warped9 wrote: View Post
It also would be nice if we could get hold of demographic information. Of course I don't know how detailed we want to get with this.
Maurice wrote: View Post
How far do we want to go? On this one subject I'm content just to know if there's any validity to Cushman's claims that the show was a hit in any ratings sense.
I recall reading years ago in some Trek book that detailed demographics weren't collected until the year after Star Trek was cancelled, but that they were "test driven" if you will by Nielsen during the final season (that is collected, but used internally by Nielsen to refine thenew process), and that Star Trek did do very well with the commercially valuable young adult demographic (18-34 maybe?). However, I don't know the validity of that claim or if it's more Trek apocrypha.
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Old January 13 2014, 09:52 AM   #49
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

drt wrote: View Post
Warped9 wrote: View Post
It also would be nice if we could get hold of demographic information. Of course I don't know how detailed we want to get with this.
Maurice wrote: View Post
How far do we want to go? On this one subject I'm content just to know if there's any validity to Cushman's claims that the show was a hit in any ratings sense.
I recall reading years ago in some Trek book that detailed demographics weren't collected until the year after Star Trek was cancelled, but that they were "test driven" if you will by Nielsen during the final season (that is collected, but used internally by Nielsen to refine thenew process), and that Star Trek did do very well with the commercially valuable young adult demographic (18-34 maybe?). However, I don't know the validity of that claim or if it's more Trek apocrypha.
See "What About Demographics?" on this page (link).
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Old January 13 2014, 10:43 AM   #50
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

Ahhh...

So the authors of those previous works were, to be fair, perhaps mis-interpreting the statistics.

Thanks for the link.
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Old January 13 2014, 01:04 PM   #51
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

Harvey wrote: View Post
I'm working on a spreadsheet compiling the individual ratings for each episode, but these numbers will need to be put into the context that Maurice specifies.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but since no-one seemed to notice when I asked the first time, I'll just ask again: Where do you get the numbers for every episode from? Are they in the TATV book? Is there a way you could post all the ratings? I'm very curious! Thank you!
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Old January 13 2014, 02:35 PM   #52
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

^^ Yes, the numbers (Nielsen National Reports) are in the book.

And regarding demographics Cushman does mention them at the end of the first season. He cites that Star Trek was in the Top 10 for a particular youthful demographic, and it was a target NBC was aiming at.
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Old January 13 2014, 02:46 PM   #53
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

Maurice wrote: View Post
I also think Voyage did a lot more bottle type shows than Trek did. Many episodes took place almost entirely on the Seaview sets.
Voyage was "the ultimate bottle show." After the first year and a half, the series pretty comfortable settled into the standing sets of the Seaview and stayed there. Only very occasionally did they venture out. With the stock footage, shared props and monster costumes (not to mention episodes using the regular cast as doubles or villains), the series was apparently done pretty cheaply.
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Old January 13 2014, 04:04 PM   #54
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

It's funny in a way because you can see the age old issue at work again: everyone wants something that's first rate, but they want to pay third rate prices for it.

Desilu really wasn't the outfit to be producing Star Trek. It was a marriage of necessity when both really needed a different partner. Star Trek needed an outfit with first rate facilities and not one on the financial ropes. That wasn't Desilu. Desilu needed hit shows, but ones that weren't going to cost them much money. They needed something more conventional. The problem with that is that something more conventional was less likely to be noticed amongst all the other programming.

Anyone should have seen going into it that a show like Star Trek could reuse existing studio backlots and redressed props only so much and that a lot of stuff would have to be made from scratch and it would (by necessity) be f/x heavy. From a purely business standpoint it's easy to see how Desilu execs were not fond of Star Trek particularly as many of them being old-school which likely wouldn't have found the show's concept appealing.

A show like Star Trek simply couldn't be done cheaply.


Another thing to keep in mind here. Not being a runaway hit is not the same as being a failure. There's a lot of middle ground.
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Old January 13 2014, 04:08 PM   #55
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

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Not sure about what a fourth season might have entailed, but your earlier points are well taken. GR's abrasive attitude towards NBC must have grated on them all the more because Star Trek wasn't a runaway hit by any measure, and was meanwhile expensive to produce. If GR had taken a more cooperative tact with NBC, trying to work with them, then they may have cut him more slack. But as Cushman's book points out, there was already a history of friction between him and NBC on "The Lieutenant," enough friction to get that show cancelled prematurely.
I've always wondered why Roddenberry was never able to get another non-Trek series on the air, when he had a number of good ideas that could have worked. I've now come to understand that it was just his difficulty getting along with others and inability to compromise with the networks. He actually got an order for a Questor series, but chose to abandon it because he couldn't accept the changes the network wanted. Now, in his defense, he was absolutely right, because the changes would've gutted the show of its emotional core and turned it into the kind of derivative Fugitive knockoff the suits wanted. But if he'd been more of a negotiator and less of a "my way or the highway" type, maybe he could've found a way to win them over.


I think Solow's departure, as well as the shifting of the series to a cost-conscious Paramount, meant the 'emperor (GR) was now naked,' so to speak. Along with those factors, NBC must have surmised that the second "Save Star Trek" campaign originated in GR's office.
It largely did, but it didn't have as much of an impact as Roddenberry claimed. The network was probably going to renew the show anyway; at least, there's no evidence that it was ever really going to cancel the show, just that the show was on the bubble for a while.


It's no wonder that Star Trek ended up on Friday nights at 10:00 for the third season. NBC wanted it dead as they were tired of GR's shenanigans. The only mystery is how it could have been originally slated for the Monday time slot that eventually went to Laugh-In. I personally think this was a case of intentional deception on NBC's part... and that they must have particularly enjoyed pulling the rug out from under him.
I don't think that's so. What laypeople tend to overlook is that the decision about whether to keep or cancel a show isn't just about that show in a vacuum -- it's about the network's entire programming strategy and how to create the strongest weeklong schedule. It's about how all the shows stand in relation to one another. Often a decision to promote a strong series will inflict collateral damage on other series that have to be shoved aside or cancelled to make room for it. So shows can be bumped to bad time slots or cancelled for reasons that pertain to entirely different shows.

For instance, one of the strongest and most acclaimed shows on the fledgling FOX network back in '89 was Alien Nation, and the network really liked that show and wanted to keep it around. But at the time, FOX was only airing programming a few nights a week, and they wanted to add more nights, to produce more programming. And their bean counters determined that they could produce four sitcoms for the same amount of money they spent on Alien Nation. And so AN was cancelled. They didn't want to cancel the show -- indeed, they kept working with the producers for years trying to find a way to bring it back, and eventually did revive it as a series of TV movies -- but they decided they had to, for reasons that weren't about the show itself but were instead about the overall strategy of the network as a whole.

So I doubt they moved Trek out of the Monday slot solely to punish GR. More likely they decided that they had another show that could perform more strongly in the Monday slot, a show they wanted to promote for the overall good of the network. ST was just one of dozens of shows they had to juggle and find the best places for, and it just ended up being one of the leftovers, one that had to settle for a weak time slot because the better-performing shows ended up with the strong ones.
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Old January 13 2014, 05:40 PM   #56
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

Maurice wrote: View Post
How far do we want to go? On this one subject I'm content just to know if there's any validity to Cushman's claims that the show was a hit in any ratings sense.
My sense of Cushman's ratings claims is that they were better than they've been purported to have been, not that the show was a hit. I think we all know it wasn't a hit. I remember a second season (I think) critical message from Stan Robertson to GR (and/or Gene Coon) from the Solow/Justman book where the former said "Star Trek is not a hit, definitely not a hit." And I think if Star Trek was a hit they would have picked up more of the cost of producing the series, especially with Desilu being so cash-strapped.
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Old January 13 2014, 06:18 PM   #57
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

Cushman had this to say when interviewed at a Las Vegas convention appearance in 2013:

We were always told that 'Star Trek' was a failure on NBC. That is why they had to cancel it. I licensed the Nielsen rating for every episode. 'Star Trek' is winning its time slot quite often during the first season. It was NBC's No. 1 Thursday night show, beating sometimes the best competition that the other networks had to offer. And yet they said the ratings weren't good. They moved it to Friday nights. It was their No. 1 rated Friday night show. You don't cancel your No. 1 show.
He doesn't use the word "hit," but it is implicit here that the show's ratings were "good."

He also claims that since the show was NBC's number 1 program on Thursday and then Friday nights, the network couldn't have cancelled the series because of its ratings. I (and others) have already explained how this reasoning is problematic.

And here's another interview (at Trek Movie):

I became so obsessed with getting the ratings that I called Nielsen back and I said it in a way I hadn’t said it before. I said,” I’d like to license the ratings reports from the late 1960s” They then said, “Oh, okay we’ll switch you over to that department. What ratings are you interested in?” I said, “Thursday night, 1966, 67 and Friday night 67 through 69.” They said, “Okay, we’ll get back with you.” They called me back they very next day and said, “Yeah we’ve got them. How many do you want?” I said, “I want one for every week they said, “Okay here’s how much they’re going to cost…” I said: “Whaaa??? Okay well, maybe I’ll just take the one for the first run episodes and forget the reruns…” Although I did get a few of the reruns, just out of curiosity. So I licensed all these ratings, which set me back financially a bit, but it was like a lost treasure! I found out for Season One and the episode “Mantrap” had an audience share of 47 percent of the TVs in America running, were tuned into Star Trek. Quite often and usually most of the time it’s number in second place, and there is no shame in second place, and by the way, the show it’s beating almost every Thursday night is My Three Sons, which was considered a hit on CBS and went for another five seasons. The show that it’s losing to, was but not every week, ABC’s number one-rated series, Bewitched. It was the top show the network had out of all of their shows. Star Trek on more than a dozen occasions beat it; on other occasions tied with it, and on the rest occasions came in a close second.
His claim that "I found out for Season One and the episode “Mantrap” had an audience share of 47 percent of the TVs in America running, were tuned into Star Trek," is misleading. Obviously, only "The Man Trap" had that audience share, and Cushman doesn't point out they key fact that Star Trek was up against a re-run on CBS and The Tammy Grimes Show on ABC (which, as Maurice points out, was such a colossal failure that it was pulled after only four episodes).

He complains that My Three Sons went for five more seasons, but he neglects to admit that it finished the season with a higher average rating than Star Trek (it was tied for the 29th spot among the top 30 shows), and that it's ratings increased significantly in following seasons.

He goes on in the same interview...

I went further. I looked at the ratings of the shows before and shows after, on that night and found out that Star Trek was NBC’s top-rated Thursday night show — their biggest hit of the night! You don’t cancel your top-rated show! That was the show all the other shows are anchored to. But NBC tried to cancel it. And I’ll give you a peek into the future — in Book Two: They moved it to Friday nights, which is not a good night for a show like that, with the college audience, so obviously they’re trying to distance it from the audience, and it was still their top-rated show for that night. It was their top-rated Friday night show, and they tried to cancel it. But the network got buried in protest letters, so they renewed it, but then they moved to Friday nights at 10 p.m. to make sure it was dead. That’s called the death slot — that’s the worst time of the entire week.
He'll have to back up his claim that NBC "tried to cancel" the series after season two in the next volume; I certainly haven't seen any evidence of this. Also, his conclusion that NBC "obviously...[was] trying to distance it from the audience" is far from obvious. Indeed, it's nothing but author speculation.

And calling it NBC's "top rated show" as he does here is deliberately misleading. A quick look at the top 30 shows from 1966-67 shows a number of NBC shows, which, obviously, rated higher than Star Trek (which wasn't in the top 30).
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Old January 13 2014, 06:23 PM   #58
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

CrazyMatt wrote: View Post
My sense of Cushman's ratings claims is that they were better than they've been purported to have been, not that the show was a hit.
I think this is the real point. For decades the story has been repeated that TOS was a ratings failure and justification for NBC wanting to cancel the show. But we've already seen NBC quite liked the show and it was Desilu suits who didn't care for it. And now it just might be, that while not a huge hit, TOS' ratings were distinctly better than what everyone has believed all these decades. It certainly wasn't anywhere near a failure.

There's an analogy for that today: opening weekend box office sales for feature films. The expectation is for huge opening weekend sales and anything else is simply icing on the cake. Whereas at one time films could run from several weeks to months on end at the theatre. Now you're lucky if a film goes a month a the theatre and then the expectation is to make money on the video sales.
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Old January 13 2014, 06:52 PM   #59
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

Ah, here's what I was looking for (see page 56 of the PDF):



The text of the magazine calls both Mission: Impossible and Star Trek "marginal shows" among "the vast grey belt" of programs which are "neither a clear hit nor an obvious failure."

Notice how many shows renewed with new time slots for next season.
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Old January 13 2014, 07:21 PM   #60
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Re: Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

^^ The adjacent article makes for an interesting read. I found this portion quite on point.



The letter writing campaign to keep Star Trek on for a second season might have only been a nudge in helping to decide in favour of the show's return. Ratings wise the show was in that grey area, but it was reaching the audience NBC wanted to reach.

This kind of information should have been included in Cushman's book because it would have put his assertions in a proper context. Sure Star Trek wasn't a runaway hit, but neither was it a disaster by any stretch. And it had things going in its favour such as reaching the desired demographic.

The audience at large---us---have long accepted that Star Trek's ratings were bad and thus led to its ultimate cancellation. But in this context we can see that the ratings---while not stellar in terms of pure numbers---weren't anywhere near bad, and coupled with being strong with the target audience it justified keeping the show going.

Going further from the above goes to another point made earlier in the article: even a good performing show can be killed if someone doesn't like it for some reason or other just as a poor performing show can be propped up and kept going even if it's losing money simply because someone likes it.
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