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

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Old May 2 2014, 08:10 PM   #1
albion432
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Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Is Spock the main character of TOS (sans Abrams reboot)? Here are some facts to support this idea:
1. Spock is the only TOS character whose immediate family we see and get to know with any depth (we do see Kirk’s (dead )brother, sister-in-law, and nephew in one episode, Kirk's son in ST:II (thank you Nerys Myk for reminding me!) and McCoy’s father is briefly seen in ST: V).
2. Spock is the only character we see throughout all stages of life; birth, childhood, early adulthood, on through old age. Spock is featured in more segments of Star Trek than is Kirk.
3. Over the entire corpus of filmed adventures, Spock changes more than any other character, which is what we expect to happen to the main character.
What other evidence is there to support the idea that Spock is the main character of TOS?

Last edited by albion432; May 3 2014 at 05:02 PM. Reason: incorect or irrelivant points removed
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Old May 2 2014, 08:33 PM   #2
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

albion432 wrote: View Post
Is Spock the main character of TOS (sans Abrams reboot)?
Kirk was meant to be the main character of TOS. But Spock was the breakout star, proving hugely popular with viewers (especially female viewers) and getting more fan mail than the rest of the cast combined. So the network kept pushing for more Spock, wanting to elevate him to the main character. If Roddenberry hadn't resisted that pressure, Spock might've ended up following a similar route to Dr. Smith in Lost in Space or Fonzie in Happy Days, completely dominating the show to the expense of its nominal leads. But Roddenberry and Shatner both strove to keep Kirk central as he was intended to be. At Isaac Asimov's suggestion, Roddenberry played up the friendship and partnership between Kirk and Spock, making them inseparable and equal. McCoy was also able to stay central due to his friendly rivalry with Spock.

So it isn't really right to say "Spock was the main character" as if that were the intention all along. He was the breakout character.


Here are some facts to support this idea:
1. Spock was the first character Roddenberry created for Star Trek after getting the obligatory “Number One” character of out of the way, which he conceived to fulfil a promised he made to his mistress and future wife that she’d be a part of his next series.
Source, please? I haven't heard that before, and it sounds unlikely. We know that Roddenberry was inspired by the Horatio Hornblower novels, so it seems likely that the first character he conceived was the captain (although it took him a long time to settle on a name).

A lot has been written about the development and production of ST, but I can't recall reading anything about Roddenberry's earliest creative process before the original 1964 pitch document, which lists multiple characters including Captain April (later Pike), Number One, Jose Ortegas (later Tyler), Dr. Boyce, the "probably half-Martian" first lieutenant Spock, and Yeoman Colt, in that order. Note that Spock is second-last in the list, hardly the position you'd expect to find the lead character.


2. Spock was the only character from Roddenberry’s initial series proposal to survive into the series proper, and the only character Roddenberry fought for tooth and nail to keep in the series.
Well, technically. Early Kirk is really the exact same character as Pike, and McCoy is the exact same character as Boyce (he'd even tried to cast DeForest Kelley as Boyce and then Piper). All he really did was change their names and recast the actors.

And the reason he didn't fight for Number One too is because he didn't want to admit that the network objected to him casting his mistress, so he abandoned the character altogether and claimed later that the network had forced him to drop her because they weren't ready for a female first officer (even though they actually quite liked the idea).


3. Spock is the only TOS character whose immediate family we see and get to know with any depth (we do see Kirk’s (dead )brother, sister-in-law, and nephew in one episode and McCoy’s father is briefly seen in ST: V).
That's a consequence of the popularity Spock gained once the show was on the air. It doesn't reflect the original intentions for the character.
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Old May 2 2014, 08:40 PM   #3
Nerys Myk
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

1) No. Number One and Spock were created for the first pilot.

2) No. The Captain and Doctor charcters also survived with name changes.

3) No. His are just the ones that offer the best opportunities for an episode. And we only see them in one episode. We meet Kirk's son in TWOK. And of course we meet his parents in ST09.

4) No. I don't see how that makes him the main character. We hear alot about Kirk's past too and that is the impetus for many episodes.

5) Does he? Kirk changes too. The guy we see in Season One is different than the one we see in latter TOS and in the films.
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Old May 2 2014, 08:48 PM   #4
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

I thought the Enterprise was the main character
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Old May 2 2014, 08:53 PM   #5
Armored Saint
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Points 3, 4 and 5 are strongly related to Spock's specific nature as half-human/half-alien.
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Old May 2 2014, 09:28 PM   #6
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

I wouldn't say there is one main character of Star Trek, there's three.
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Old May 2 2014, 09:45 PM   #7
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Kirk was meant to be the main character of TOS. But Spock was the breakout star, proving hugely popular with viewers (especially female viewers) and getting more fan mail than the rest of the cast combined. So the network kept pushing for more Spock, wanting to elevate him to the main character. If Roddenberry hadn't resisted that pressure, Spock might've ended up following a similar route to Dr. Smith in Lost in Space or Fonzie in Happy Days, completely dominating the show to the expense of its nominal leads. But Roddenberry and Shatner both strove to keep Kirk central as he was intended to be. At Isaac Asimov's suggestion, Roddenberry played up the friendship and partnership between Kirk and Spock, making them inseparable and equal. McCoy was also able to stay central due to his friendly rivalry with Spock.

So it isn't really right to say "Spock was the main character" as if that were the intention all along. He was the breakout character.
Solid points--especially the references to Dr. Smith (and Will Robinson to a degree) and Fonzie's "takeover" of their series.
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Old May 2 2014, 10:37 PM   #8
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Yeah, nice analysis Christopher.

As Nimoy painfully found out when the Shatner/Nimoy tensions reached a flashpoint -- according to Roddenberry -- "Bill is the star".

But the evidence sure suggests, that as far as the public goes, Spock was the star.

I'm with bbjeg, to me, Star Trek was the story of three friends : Spock, Bones and Kirk. Logic, humanity and the guy who has to decide which is better. When Star Trek veers away from this, it's just not as magical.

Welcome albion.
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Old May 2 2014, 10:49 PM   #9
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Marsden wrote: View Post
I thought the Enterprise was the main character
+1
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Old May 2 2014, 10:57 PM   #10
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Marsden wrote: View Post
I thought the Enterprise was the main character
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Old May 3 2014, 12:08 AM   #11
albion432
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

[QUOTE=Christopher;9539035]
albion432 wrote: View Post
Is Spock the main character of TOS (sans Abrams reboot)?
Thank you for your response!

Christopher wrote: View Post
So the network kept pushing for more Spock, wanting to elevate him to the main character.
True the network eventually wanted more Spock, but not initially. When the series was still in the pilot stage Roddenberry had to fight the network to keep Spock in the series. Eventually the network gave in to Roddenberry, under the condition that he "keep the guy with the ears in the background", a demand which Roddenberry mostly ignored. So, even if Roddenberry had wanted Spock as the main character (and I'm not implying that he did) there's no way the network was going to allow it.

Christopher wrote: View Post
If Roddenberry hadn't resisted that pressure, Spock might've ended up following a similar route to Dr. Smith in Lost in Space or Fonzie in Happy Days, completely dominating the show to the expense of its nominal leads. But Roddenberry and Shatner both strove to keep Kirk central as he was intended to be. At Isaac Asimov's suggestion, Roddenberry played up the friendship and partnership between Kirk and Spock, making them inseparable and equal. McCoy was also able to stay central due to his friendly rivalry with Spock.
Again, true, to a certain point. Although pairing the two was more an attempt to placate Shatner, the ego-bruised star of the show, who felt threatened by Nimoy/Spock, and rightfully so. Roddenberry's problem was how to feature Spock more without causing Shatner to have a total meld down. Partnering the two was a perfect solution.


[QUOTE=Christopher;9539035]
albion432 wrote: View Post
Here are some facts to support this idea:
1. Spock was the first character Roddenberry created for Star Trek after getting the obligatory “Number One” character of out of the way, which he conceived to fulfil a promised he made to his mistress and future wife that she’d be a part of his next series.
Christopher wrote: View Post
Source, please? I haven't heard that before, and it sounds unlikely. We know that Roddenberry was inspired by the Horatio Hornblower novels, so it seems likely that the first character he conceived was the captain (although it took him a long time to settle on a name).
"By November 4, the first two actors were set for the pilot as Gene sent the following memo: Please make a deal on Magel (sic) Barrett to play "Number One" and Leonard Nimoy to play "Mister Spock". . .The role of "Number One" . . . had been written for Majel. . . no other actresses were considered for the part."-Star Trek Creator by David Alexander, pg. 210

I haven't come across my source for Spock and Number One being the first two character's Roddenberry conceived, but when I do I will pass that along too.

I realize Spock was not initially intended to be the main character of Star Trek, it just seems like his importance to the series grew to the point where he became the main character.
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Old May 3 2014, 12:33 AM   #12
Nerys Myk
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

I realize Spock was not initially intended to be the main character of Star Trek, it just seems like his importance to the series grew to the point where he became the main character.
Which was, as noted, the result of Spock being popular with the fans. Though he was already a lead and billed second in the credits from the start of the first season. He also gets some big scenes in the fourth episode (Naked Time), is the driving force behind the plot of The Menagerie and is very important to the plot of The Galileo Seven. So it not like he's some secondary character pushed to the foreground like Fonzie or Urkle. Still the majority of the plots are still focused on Kirk throughout the series.
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Old May 3 2014, 01:05 AM   #13
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

I used to wonder if Star Trek was "about" Spock. From "The Cage" until 1987 (when TNG debuted), Spock was the only character who appeared in every single production.

For a long time it was Spock and the Enterprise, but then ST III came along, and of the two entities, only Spock was still standing when the closing fanfare played.
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Old May 3 2014, 01:26 AM   #14
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

The main character for me in TOS has always been Kirk. If you go to the original concept, the main character was The Captain. Spock was always a secondary character, but the size of his role in the series became larger due to fan response in the 1960s.
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Old May 3 2014, 02:00 AM   #15
albion432
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

[QUOTE=Nerys Myk;9539830]
Still the majority of the plots are still focused on Kirk throughout the series.
Yes, indeed Kirk is the protagonist. It is his goals we want to see realized, his success we root for. Kirk and Spock are like two halves of one whole. And when you add in McCoy you get a fully realized trinity. McCoy=emotion, Spock=logic, and Kirk=faith as he relies on the advice he gets from the other two. And Scotty=doubt of course! "We can't do it Captain! I need more power!"
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