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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 May 9 2012, 10:14 PM   #1
A beaker full of death
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Debunking TOS exceptionalism

I'm just working through this, so please contribute everything you have to say...

I've been listening to a lot of old radio shows, and watching a good number of older tv shows that haven't achieved the longevity of Star Trek as a pop culture icon.

And the thing that strikes me most is how absolutely absurd it is when talking heads or acolytes of the church of All Things Roddenberry talk about how groundbreaking the show was.
Now, TOS is probably my favorite tv show, and has been for decades. It was good, quality television. But the mythology that's grown up around it is a bunch of bunk (something Melinda Snodgrass pointed out in an issue of Omni in the early '90s what she called Roddenberry on believing his own BS at that point).

All the technology (faster-than-light speed, teleporters, starships, shields, video communication...) had been envisioned decades earlier.

Showing Russians and Americans working together? Man From UNCLE featured Russian and American spies working together during the cold war.

Different races working together? I Spy featured a black leading character who was the brains of the team (the other guy was the jock).

First interracial kiss? Lucy, you got some 'splainin to do (yeah, this one might be arguable).

All the major creative talent involved in Trek were featured prominently in other shows first, and did top work there. Including GR.

Please share your thoughts on this.
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Old May 9 2012, 10:21 PM   #2
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

Yeah, the Holy Church of the Rodd now claims pretty much all social and technological progress from the 1960's on. It's a joke to me.
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Old May 9 2012, 10:53 PM   #3
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

The Twilight Zone episode "Valley of the Shadow" depicted a lot of very Trekkian technology in 1963. And James Doohan was in the episode! Scotty stole it all.
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Old May 9 2012, 10:57 PM   #4
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

TOS gets the nod a lot because it's the one that is remembered and has endured. It did accomplish some things, but not the things and in the way many erroneously remember.

Roddenberry was not a great humanist visionary. The show came along at the right time and a lot of viewers reflected a lot of their own perceptions onto the show, and in extent onto Roddenberry who intern began to actually believe and perpetuate those projected perceptions.
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Old May 9 2012, 11:02 PM   #5
EliyahuQeoni
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

Its something strange I see in Trek fandom.. that it isn't enough that Star Trek is an entertaining series of TV shows/movies, it has to be "important" and "more than just a TV show"

And I have loved Trek since I was 5, but--to me--its always been simply because its entertaining.
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Old May 9 2012, 11:28 PM   #6
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

Valid points all. Here's a lil' personal irony, between my cousin and me, I'm the far more "passionate" Trek fan. For her, it's a pleasant nostalgic diversion. (She was twenty when Trek debuted in '66.) But I have to chuckle as she is the one who will occasionally say how Trek "predicted" the various technologies we take for granted today. I shake my head and politely tell her, sorry, no, many other properties preceding Trek by decades first presented these ideas. I once showed her a turn of the century illustration depicting a video "phone booth" to emphasize my point. Here it was presenting the idea of interactive audio/visual 'real time" communications, decades before the first television was invented. That drawing was made some 60 years before Trek surfaced.

Sincerely,

Bill
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Old May 9 2012, 11:36 PM   #7
T'Girl
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

Redfern wrote: View Post
I once showed her a turn of the century illustration depicting a video "phone booth" to emphasize my point. Here it was presenting the idea of interactive audio/visual 'real time" communications, decades before the first television was invented.
And when did Dick Tracy and his "boys" start wearing that wrist communicator with the video screen?

Mid 1940's?

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Old May 10 2012, 12:09 AM   #8
Maurice
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

T'Girl wrote: View Post
Redfern wrote: View Post
I once showed her a turn of the century illustration depicting a video "phone booth" to emphasize my point. Here it was presenting the idea of interactive audio/visual 'real time" communications, decades before the first television was invented.
And when did Dick Tracy and his "boys" start wearing that wrist communicator with the video screen?

Mid 1940's?

On January 13, 1946 Dick Tracy introduced the 2-Way Wrist Radio. It became a 2-way wrist TV in 1964.
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Old May 10 2012, 12:51 AM   #9
Bob Karo
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

Not to mention the Nazis had an actual working video phone network in the 1930s.
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Old May 10 2012, 02:31 AM   #10
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

Didn't FORBIDDEN PLANET have a Transporter ten years before Star Trek?
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Old May 10 2012, 02:39 AM   #11
Redfern
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

Its purpose was to protect the crew when the ship dropped from hyper-drive into normal space (and presumably vise versa), but visually, the design MGM created was repeated a decade later with Trek, yes.

Sincerely,

Bill
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Old May 10 2012, 03:38 AM   #12
Maurice
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

Bob Karo wrote: View Post
Not to mention the Nazis had an actual working video phone network in the 1930s.
It was in Nazi Germany, yes, dunno if I'd go as far as saying "the Nazi's had".

Blog post (with pix) of the “Gegenseh-Fernsprechanlagen” here (link).
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Old May 10 2012, 03:44 AM   #13
Warped9
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

So many ideas in TOS had existed before in film, television and literature. But TOS did effectively convey those ideas to perhaps an even broader audience than before. TOS really helped in making a lot of those ideas more common in the broader public.
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Old May 10 2012, 04:16 AM   #14
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

Warped9 wrote: View Post
But TOS did effectively convey those ideas to perhaps an even broader audience than before. TOS really helped in making a lot of those ideas more common in the broader public.

Yes, perhaps. But the point Beaker is making "is how absolutely absurd it is when talking heads or acolytes of the church of All Things Roddenberry talk about how groundbreaking the show was."

Making ideas more common to the broader public doesn't = groundbreaking.
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Old May 10 2012, 04:51 AM   #15
Knight Templar
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Re: Debunking TOS exceptionalism

Well, IIRC Star Trek was one of the first programs to actually refer to "antimatter" (I'm not sure in 1966 it was even a common scientific term) and was in fact the first to suggests its use as a power source.

and while other science fiction films and television had things like "beams that handle matter" and "invisibility screens", Star Trek was the one that made the terms "tractor beams" and "cloaking device" common.

and while "teleportation" had been around for some time prior to Star Trek, I believe David Gerrold or someone said flat out that "teleportation without a receiving booth on the other end" was strictly a Star Trek innovation.
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