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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > Star Trek - Original Series

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

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Old July 28 2011, 06:57 PM   #1
truespock
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What makes TOS so great?

Hello fellow TOS fans! This seems like as good a topic as any for me to set up shop here with. I was only eleven when the 'sneak peak' Star Trek episode "The Man Trap" first exploded across our T.V. screens in 1966. Sitting cross-legged in front of the Magnavox black and white console television in my parents book-lined 'family room', I was instantly entranced with the ship, the bridge, the characters, the story and--yes--even the shape-shifting salt monster.

Sure, it wasn't a brand new concept; I had seen space explorers in a nifty ship making 'house calls' to far flung planetary outposts as early as 1956's "Forbidden Planet"--and THAT one even had a cool robot (and Anne Francis)! But Star Trek seemed to click for me in a way that no other movie, T.V. show or book ever quite had...or ever has since, for that matter. Now to the question of 'Why'?

The biggest reason? Spock, duh. This was the first and best character I had encountered in my short life that I could personally relate to: alone in a crowd, the smartest guy in ANY room, restrained, CONstrained and struggling mightily to fit in. I saw reflected in him the little blind boy who rode the 'queer bus' to a special school for 'retards' every day; who's own parents detested his 'differentness'; who was the universal target of all of his 'peers' verbal and physical assaults from the time he got up in the morning to the time he went to bed at night--EXCEPT for the one hour a week when he was watching Star Trek. Spock became my walking, talking 'How To Get Through This' manual, and he's never let me down in the ensuing forty-five years.

Next? These people on this magnificent ship of theirs all got along! Different as night and day, the lot of them, but they all liked and respected each other and could each be counted upon by the others in any crisis. Never saw THAT anywhere before, and quite frankly, I've never seen it anywhere since. As humans, we are all genetically coded to aspire to be more than we are...and the Star Trek blueprint for the future has simply never been equaled in the popular fiction of any age. Honor, decency, honesty, tolerance and true team work? Sign me right up for a bit of THAT!

What about the writing? The TOS guys routinely took sometimes fairly heavy-handed little morality tales and submerged them in high adventure. It turns out that I've made nearly all of my life decisions about the kind of person I want to be by watching Kirk and Company do their thing each week. These heroes (again, especially Spock) influenced everything I became from my choice of career(s) to the way I conduct myself in relationships. Just ask my wife if Vulcans are really so distant and cold!

Gotta mention the ship; COOLEST starship EVER...PERIOD!!! The original bridge? I WANT ONE!!! Only thing missing? Maybe a 'Robby' or of 'B-9 Environmental robot', but HEY, who am I to quibble over perfection?

Retired clinical psychologist and university professor, happily married, untimate Spock fan
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Old July 29 2011, 07:04 AM   #2
A.V.I.A.F.
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

I think the show is great for the following reasons:

1) GR's incredible imagination and sense of limitlessness.
2) Great writers who felt free to explore their creativity.
3) Fontana's pure energy.
4) A group of actors who, knowing that they were a part of something radically different, just went ahead and ran with it when it came to playing their parts.
5) Hot chicks in very very mini-skirts.
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Old July 29 2011, 08:13 AM   #3
RichMerk
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

The optimism regarding mankind's future and human nature in general. A poignant statement 45 years ago, but even more so today when everything else is so grimdark.
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Old July 29 2011, 03:10 PM   #4
Warped9
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

I find TOS smart and multilayered. Even when it stumbled it was never boring. It generally had good ideas, good writing and good acting---things you usually associate with mainstream drama---yet here it was merged with interesting ideas and exciting adventure.

I've certainly seen other things I've enjoyed since TOs, but I've never seen quite the same magic at work.

I, too, still think the original Enterprise surpasses a lot of other sci-fi hardware I've seen over the years. To be fair a lot of it has to do with how it was presented. Like the characters who manned her the Enterprise seems larger and so much more than just a cool looking vehicle.
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Old July 31 2011, 04:58 AM   #5
Masao
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

1) Kirk-Spock-McCoy
2) Classic mid-23rd century design
3) Adventure, romance, passion
4) No B stories, technobabble, or forehead prostheses
5) Yeomen in miniskirts
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Old July 31 2011, 08:39 PM   #6
Temis the Vorta
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

It's the fact that it was a daring take on the standard space opera TV series, in that:

1. The episodes were often metaphors for current events (a la Twilight Zone).

2. Kirk was far more complex than your standard square-jawed space-jock hero. He's got a lot of feminine qualities, for instance. (And thus was slash born.)

3. Spock - a clear metaphor for a mixed-race person (or Satan, if you prefer ) - was not only allowed on the show, he was the coolest character on the show.

4. Uhura and Sulu on the bridge; color-blind casting such as Dr. Daystrom.

Other elements, such as the quality of the storytelling, the adventure-based stories, optimism and sex appeal aren't unique to TOS and didn't set it apart from its competition at the time. The elements I've listed are what made it so groundbreaking. Its only contemporary competition was The Twilight Zone, which of course was largely non-space-focused, but which was a huge influence on TOS anyway.
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Old August 2 2011, 01:01 AM   #7
Anji
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

It dared to say that people can get along with each other inspite of their differences. A pretty freakin great and daring thought in the 60s.
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Old August 3 2011, 12:23 PM   #8
ndcarlin
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

And let's not forget the color palette. Vibrant reds, blues, and golds everywhere in an era when color TVs are just beginning to become commonplace. Science fiction has sadly spent the last 40+ years trying to get AWAY from that. Look at Enterprise. Drab drab drab does NOT equal "realism"
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Old August 3 2011, 08:21 PM   #9
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

TOS was great because it broke Sturgeon's Law.
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Old August 4 2011, 05:18 PM   #10
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

It was fun.
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Old August 4 2011, 06:21 PM   #11
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

Kirk's shirt falling off every now and then
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Old August 4 2011, 10:57 PM   #12
RandyS
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

TOS was great for one simple reason:

It was just a damn good show.

What more do you need?
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Old August 5 2011, 06:37 AM   #13
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

RandyS wrote: View Post
What more do you need?

More of it!
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Old August 5 2011, 07:57 AM   #14
J. Allen
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

For me it has to be the cast. Not just the Big Three, but the entire cast, including guest stars like William Campbell and Roger C. Carmel. They infused their unique personalities into the framework of the show and made it feel more like meeting your friends on an adventure than merely watching a television show.
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Old August 5 2011, 09:44 AM   #15
Harvey
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Re: What makes TOS so great?

Aesthetically, it's still the best Star Trek series that's been on TV. The cinematography is beautiful, with bright colors that are only more vivid in HD. The sound effects are imaginative and have an interesting musical quality to them, which I rather like. And the music itself is lush and thematic, without being over-the-top (most of the time), and is never sonic wallpaper.

It also helps that the regulars (Kirk, Spock, McCoy) are well-rounded characters played by good actors who are terrific when played off one another.

I think it's been overvalued when it comes to a lot of things, but those complaints never stop it from being a great TV show.
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