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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 October 28 2011, 11:01 PM   #1
jayrath
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TOS in glorious . . . black and white

I imagine that most here don't remember when color TV sets were new, rare and expensive. But I get tired of hearing how the colors of the sets and uniforms were garish. Please remember that the design had to work in both color and black and white; it was a transitional time in broadcasting.

Before color broadcasting, light blue was used for white, and red was used for dark grey. (White was very seldom used, as it blazed when broadcast.) You had to make actors and costumes "pop" from the backgrounds, and the only avialable tools were the wavelengths of colors.

The fact that TOS worked well in both broadcast spectrums is, I think, remarkable. The only comparable show I can think of with candy-bright colors is "Gilligan's Island," which is muddy and washed-out in its first b&w season.

Desilu was expert at this. For "I Love Lucy" they brought in Karl Freund, cinematographer for "Metropolis" and "Dracula." He taught the whole studio how to paint with shadow.

So let's please cut a little slack for the color design of TOS? And if you want a noir treat, dial down the color the next time you watch TOS, and see -- as I did, growing up -- how well it works in glorious black and white.
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Old October 28 2011, 11:24 PM   #2
MauriceNavidad
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

According to at least one interview with Bill Theiss the main costume colors were chosen in part because they were three colors that looked as different as possible in black and white.
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Old October 29 2011, 12:12 AM   #3
Timewalker
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

I certainly remember black and white TV. I recall being in awe the first time I saw "Adventures in Rainbow Country" (a Canadian family show from the '60s) in color. And I've seen Star Trek in both color and black and white.

Honestly, some shows should be left black and white, though. Anybody remember the Richard Greene Robin Hood series? In black and white it's a fun show. In color, it's utterly ridiculous - I can't think of ANYBODY, let alone grown men, who would wear that shade of green!
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Old October 29 2011, 01:28 AM   #4
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

I was born in 1980 and color TV was widespread throughout my life.

However...

While we always had a color set in the living room, when I was 10 or 12 I got one of my grandma's old TV's, an old B&W job with a Montgomery Wards brand name -- complete with a VHF dial and a UHF dial. TNG was on the air at the time, but TOS was syndicated every day so I watched it in my room after school. It looked better than TNG did without color.

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Old October 29 2011, 04:05 AM   #5
Brutal Strudel
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

Growing up in the 1970s an 80s, when the family tv was color but the kid's tv was b&w(as was the tv I took with me to college), I grok what you're saying. Some of my fondest memories of TOS are black and white.
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Old October 29 2011, 04:12 AM   #6
Olive, the Other Reindeer
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

My family got its first color TV in 1966 — coincidentally, the year Star Trek premiered. Boy, those old color sets were a PITA. You had to fiddle constantly with the color controls to keep faces from going green or purple.

While I don’t really object to colorizing the black-and-white episodes of sitcoms like I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched or Gilligan’s Island, some things shoud be left alone. I hope to God that Perry Mason, Naked City, and the original Twilight Zone and Outer Limits haven’t been colorized. Sacrilege!
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Old October 29 2011, 04:15 AM   #7
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

I was a b&w WKBD viewer in Detroit in the early/mid 70s. Seeing it in color was startling, though I knew from book covers et al. That it was color. Seeing it in blaring phosphorous dots sending colors into my eyes was a different experience.

Trek, for me is the actors and stories, so black and white would still be ok.
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Old October 29 2011, 12:21 PM   #8
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

I saw it in black and white--family didn't have a color tv till 1980--there was nothing glorious about it.
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Old October 29 2011, 12:24 PM   #9
JarodRussell
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

I actually made the attempt to watch a couple of episodes in black and white. And I liked it a lot better. But that's just me, since I don't like the ultra colorful and camp look of TOS.
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Old October 29 2011, 02:43 PM   #10
HGN2001
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

We'd gotten a color set for the fall of '65, so we were quite ready for the explosion of color shows in the fall of 1966.

STAR TREK was indeed eye-popping with those colorful sets and uniforms, as were the Irwin Allen shows and BATMAN. My fave that fall was TIME TUNNEL, and because it was on a weekend night, I was forced to watch it in black & white on our summer cabin's television.

I couldn't wait for winter weather that year so I could see TIME TUNNEL in color.

Harry
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Old October 29 2011, 04:12 PM   #11
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

From an interview with William Shatner:

There’s another classic Shatner anecdote I want to get in here, about you and the first Apollo moon landing. This was just after Star Trek, and you were out of work . . .

Not exactly. I was working. I was working in the cellar of the house that entertainment built. I was doing a little play that I had put together and was touring summer theatres. And because I was now broke, I was living in a camper over my truck. I’d drive to all of these summer theatres, put down the legs of this camper, slide the truck out from under it, go about my business, and the next week go on to the next theatre.

Now, keep in mind here, I had actually been to NASA. At the height of Star Trek’s popularity, they had invited me to come down. I met the astronauts, I met the engineers, I was in the lunar module . . .

But now I was struggling to stay afloat by touring summer theatres. And on the night in question, I was playing the Hamptons — so everybody that I now know was in their mansions, while I was in a camper, parked in a field.

So I finished the play that night, went back to my truck . . . and I had in the camper this little portable black-and-white set. That was my television. And there I was, watching these guys that I had actually met, and they’re on the moon, and I’m lying on my back in the camper with a little square TV set balanced on my chest.
Not TOS in black and white, but kinda sorta related [TOS and black and white].
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Old October 29 2011, 11:09 PM   #12
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

Growing up in the 1980s, my family had a black&white TV as the kids' hand-me-down one, and it was a pain sometimes. I don't remember watching anything Trek-related on it, maybe some first-season TNG, but I was sure glad when it broke down and my mother got us kids a color TV for Christmas (and a Atari 7800, but that's neither here nor there).

Yeah, black&white works for some things- the first season of Lost In Space has a certain charm to it that way than it does in color.
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Old October 29 2011, 11:56 PM   #13
BillJ
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

RAMA wrote: View Post
I saw it in black and white--family didn't have a color tv till 1980--there was nothing glorious about it.
Please. Watching TOS in black and white was fun. I've been known to dial down the color and watch in b&w from time to time.

I miss childhood, when it was about the stories not whether or not you watched it on the latest gadget.
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Old October 30 2011, 01:50 AM   #14
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

BillJ wrote: View Post
RAMA wrote: View Post
I saw it in black and white--family didn't have a color tv till 1980--there was nothing glorious about it.
Please. Watching TOS in black and white was fun. I've been known to dial down the color and watch in b&w from time to time.

I miss childhood, when it was about the stories not whether or not you watched it on the latest gadget.
Star Trek was better on the radio.

Anyhoo, I had a little 9" black and white TV that we kept in the kitchen, and on it I would watch old TOS episodes, and new TNG episodes. TOS looked better than TNG, but of course TNG was a bit more exciting at the time.
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Old October 30 2011, 02:26 AM   #15
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Re: TOS in glorious . . . black and white

Colour TV came Down Under in late 1975.

Imagine the frustration of the "Batman" opening credits with "IN COLOR" flashed upon the screen! Also the TAS episode, "Albatross", with the auroral plague making the characters turn various shades of grey. Not to mention "Disney's Wonderful World of Colour". In b/w.
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