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

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Old August 24 2012, 06:47 PM   #16
ssosmcin
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

You always have good feedback, Christopher.

Christopher wrote: View Post
You cited "Charlie X" as a TZ-like episode; well, "The Man Trap" was basically an Outer Limits monster-of-the-week story.
The Outer Limits comparison totally slipped by me. Indeed it was very much in that vein.

There are a few lines about how it can "assume any shape" or "take other forms,"
That's probably what threw me off as a kid and then stuck with me forever.

Actually, yes, a lot of TV pilots have not been aired. It's a nice bonus when you can air the pilot as part of the series, but it's not guaranteed, especially not in the '60s.
I hear ya and sure, a lot of pilots didn't air in the series themselves without some major editing (you mentioned Lost in Space and Gilligan, etc.). The Cage does very much fall into that category. It just seems odd that, being this was the second time around, they made sure it was roughly airing length with commercial breaks. And with an eye on airing it, that would bring down the overall budget for the season ("we have this pilot we already paid for that we can slot in"). Which is probably what they eventually said. I agree, Corbomite Maneuver could very well be the better choice, but the opticals weren't ready in time, I believe. Where No Man was already a done deal, it just needed some trims and changes to the opening and closing credits. Also agreed about the cast situation. Actually that would be a better reason to me to hold it back. Otherwise, the stated reasons of being expository seem off center. Maybe it's me, but it just seems hard to believe they would make a feature quality pilot, formatted for network airing, with at least four of the regular cast on board without expecting to run it. Eh, I'm just a guy watching it after the fact. Just because I have issues with the explanation doesn't mean I'm right.

And it's not like there weren't other changes between early episodes -- changes in Uhura's and Spock's costumes, an evolution of Spock's makeup and personality, ongoing alterations to the engineering set, and so on.
True, and it wasn't as drastic as The Cage was, which needed the framing sequence to make it fit.

TOS was originally meant as an ensemble drama, which you can really see in the early episodes.
Was it, though? I know George Takei thinks so, but that wasn't the norm for the period. It felt initially more like a show about Captain Kirk and his crew (Shatner was the only actor listed in the opening credits of the unaired version). Nichelle was a day player, Takei came and went, and even Jimmy Doohan was missing for a bunch. I agree the crew was a lot more prominent and it helped solidify the reality of the world they were creating. It seemed more like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea with the two leads and their backup characters (and a stand out - Sharkey/McCoy), but that wasn't an ensemble series either. You need characters to populate the world. The regular background guys and the guest stars who die or show up for an episode or three (Riley, DeSalle, Kelowitz, etc.).

Yeah, the completely pointless trip back in time. This was originally meant to lead directly into "Tomorrow is Yesterday," but then it was decided not to have inter-episode continuity, so it was rewritten. They should've just removed the time travel element altogether, since without the lead-in it served absolutely no purpose and was just a weird non sequitur.
It would have been more meaningful if they actually used this method to travel in time, but they wound up using the slingshot effect. I felt it was kind of a cool, exciting conclusion to the episode, if ultimately pointless.

I don't think rape was really that unusual a subject matter at the time, and in fact it was often a source of what was considered light comedy, like the stock gag of the lecherous boss chasing his secretary around the desk
Yeah, but this was a brutal attack on a then regular character by the dark side of the series hero. Considering The Fugitive had to totally dance around the subject a couple of years earlier, I think this was a stronger attempt than usual. I know my modern brain is reacting to it, which surprised me because I usually watch these shows in context. It just seemed odd that Janice was more concerned over Kirk's rep than her own safety working for a man who tried to forcefully have his way with her. Today, the whole "imposter" thing would be seen as a massive cover up.

Well, it was cheaper to pay them for just the voiceovers, which were probably recorded when they came in to shoot other episodes. Actually it's impressive that the producers of TOS were as loyal to their recurring cast as they were.
Agreed, it's just odd that they didn't use, say, Roddenberry or some male staffer (as they did for the background bridge chatter), since Uhura wasn't in the episode. This is the 3rd time it happened so far (Scotty in Man Trap, Sulu in Charlie X and now Uhura in Enemy Within). .

I suspect that originally, the idea behind making Spock half-human and half-alien was that his features -- mostly humanlike but with a few alien attributes -- would represent a mix of the two races, and that a full member of Spock's father's species would look less human than Spock did. (I.e. kinda like B'Elanna Torres vs. a full Klingon, or Farscape's Scorpius vs. a full Scarran.) Although that assumption went out the window when "Balance of Terror" gave us Romulans who looked exactly like Spock and were thus assumed to be related to Vulcans, and particularly when we finally saw other Vulcans in "Amok Time."
That's a good point which makes sense to me. Vulcan, as it turned out, was the "let's all look as similar to each other as possible" planet. But, all Trek was full of that "one government, one language, one society per planet" thing. It was expedient.
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Old August 24 2012, 07:25 PM   #17
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

Did you notice that Kirk's green tunic debuts in "The Enemy Within"? My theory is that this was done so that we could tell the difference between the two Kirk's.
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Old August 24 2012, 07:35 PM   #18
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
It just seems odd that, being this was the second time around, they made sure it was roughly airing length with commercial breaks. And with an eye on airing it, that would bring down the overall budget for the season ("we have this pilot we already paid for that we can slot in"). ... Otherwise, the stated reasons of being expository seem off center. Maybe it's me, but it just seems hard to believe they would make a feature quality pilot, formatted for network airing, with at least four of the regular cast on board without expecting to run it.
Well, as you said before, Solow just said it wouldn't necessarily air. Of course they want to air the pilots if they can, so they're generally structured with that in mind, but it's not an absolute given. It can go either way, is the point. The primary function of a pilot is to convince the network that it's worth making the series. Actually broadcasting it is a secondary priority. And they have no way of knowing for certain whether they'll get to air a pilot as part of the series, since (aside from not knowing whether the series will be made at all) they don't know how many changes the network will insist on if they do buy it.


TOS was originally meant as an ensemble drama, which you can really see in the early episodes.
Was it, though? I know George Takei thinks so, but that wasn't the norm for the period.
I'm not aware of anything Mr. Takei has said on the subject. I'm just saying that based on what's actually there in "The Corbomite Maneuver," "The Man Trap," "Charlie X," and other early episodes where there's a lot more emphasis on the interplay and community dynamics of the crew. There's a feeling pervading those early episodes that this wasn't a show about larger-than-life cosmic heroes, but a show about a community of professionals doing a day-to-day job... that just happened to be in outer space in the future.


It felt initially more like a show about Captain Kirk and his crew (Shatner was the only actor listed in the opening credits of the unaired version).
But credits are ultimately about pay and contracts. There were other shows that often featured regular or recurring ensemble members who weren't billed in the main titles. In the first season of Gilligan's Island, Dawn Wells and Russell Johnson were just "the rest," relegated to the end titles. The Time Tunnel only billed James Darren and Robert Colbert as main-title regulars, but Whit Bissell, Lee Meriwether, and John Zaremba were in every episode.

Ultimately it comes down to money. Getting main-title billing means you're entitled to residual payments from reruns (or home video, these days). Shows with higher budgets can afford more main-title players than shows with lower budgets. But it's not about how prominent the characters are in the scripts.


Yeah, but this was a brutal attack on a then regular character by the dark side of the series hero. Considering The Fugitive had to totally dance around the subject a couple of years earlier, I think this was a stronger attempt than usual.
Well, it's not the only time TOS went to that well; see "A Private Little War" (the villagers attacking Nona) and "Day of the Dove" (Chekov assaulting Mara).

I found a Google Books result for a book talking about sex in '60s and '70s TV, Wallowing in Sex by Elena Levine, and it mentions mid-'60s rape storylines on three major soap operas of the day, The Guiding Light, General Hospital, and Another World -- although it says they "were not typically labeled as rape." In all three cases, the wives were raped by their husbands and impregnated, but in only two cases were the husbands villainous characters.
However, because marital rape was not considered a crime in the 1960s, and because rape in general had yet to undergo the critical exploration that would seek to dissociate it from sexual passion, having a non-villainous main character who raped his wife was not especially untenable. As long as his actions could be explained as a poor choice, made under great emotional duress, Mike Bauer could -- and would -- continue to be a pillar of the Springfield community for years to come.
...
Mike's actions were represented as shameful, but not violent or criminal, and their effect upon [his wife] Julie was depicted as hurtful but not especially damaging or enraging.
The morning after he rapes Julie, he apologizes, and she replies, "You don't have to apologize, Michael, I am still your wife." Implying that as her husband he was entitled to it, which was the attitude back then.

The book goes on to mention later TV storylines about rape motivated by love, where drunk men refused to take no for an answer from women they loved and desired (or in one case, another woman that he drunkenly mistook for his wife); it was treated as a sexual act rather than an act of violence or control:
...[T]he stories... were in keeping with those stances toward rape that were sympathetic to the victim (as opposed to blaming her for "asking for it"), but that saw the act more as an unfortunate expression of an individual's intense emotions than as a socially sanctioned wrong deeply rooted in a patriarchal disregard for women.
I think the same went here -- what Evil Kirk tried to do to Janice wasn't perceived by the writer or producers, or viewers, as a "brutal attack" as we would understand it today, but merely an expression of Kirk's desire for Janice let free of his discipline and inhibitions as a captain. That's why Janice was written afterward as being almost flattered by the attention, and why it wasn't considered shockingly creepy and insensitive for Spock to tease her about it at the end.


Agreed, it's just odd that they didn't use, say, Roddenberry or some male staffer (as they did for the background bridge chatter), since Uhura wasn't in the episode. This is the 3rd time it happened so far (Scotty in Man Trap, Sulu in Charlie X and now Uhura in Enemy Within).
As I said, maybe they just happened to have those actors in doing other episodes when the time came to record the voiceovers in post-production, and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to acknowledge the continued existence of the recurring cast members.


Indysolo wrote: View Post
Did you notice that Kirk's green tunic debuts in "The Enemy Within"? My theory is that this was done so that we could tell the difference between the two Kirk's.
I have no doubt of that.
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Old August 24 2012, 07:48 PM   #19
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

"Welcome to 1966, a place where folks like Todd Akin apparently still reside." Ha! Christopher, you're usually Spocklike in your answers!
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Old August 24 2012, 08:34 PM   #20
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

Excellent points all; gives me more things to think about. Scraping the moss off the brain. Thanks for the book quotes, Christopher. Very illuminating and, frankly, frightening.

Indysolo wrote: View Post
Did you notice that Kirk's green tunic debuts in "The Enemy Within"? My theory is that this was done so that we could tell the difference between the two Kirk's.
Nice observation, something I didn't give much thought to, but makes perfect sense.

Of course, to the people watching it at the time, it first appeared in Charlie X (like the Klingon battle cruiser model debuted as a Romulan ship in the third season). This, of course, does nothing to alter your theory. That damned network order...

Christopher wrote: View Post
I'm not aware of anything Mr. Takei has said on the subject.
Just saying he feels the same way, having said in at least one interview that Trek was originally an ensemble piece but changed to focus on specific characters.
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Old August 24 2012, 08:46 PM   #21
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

Christopher wrote: View Post
Yet for some reason, when the first box sets came out in 2004, they were done in airdate order, and somehow the standard that was universal for a quarter-century has been completely reversed in the past 8 years.
The Laserdiscs released in the 80s had the episodes in airdate order.
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Old August 24 2012, 08:47 PM   #22
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

Airdate order blows.
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Old August 25 2012, 01:09 AM   #23
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

Indysolo wrote: View Post
The Laserdiscs released in the 80s had the episodes in airdate order.
Okay, maybe it wasn't universal, but that release didn't change the way the reference sources or syndicators ordered the episodes. With that exception, production order remained the standard throughout the '80s and '90s. Yet for some reason, the DVD box set's order has had a far more pervasive impact in just the past 8 years. Airdate order shows up these days in so many places -- Netflix, StarTrek.com's episode guide, TrekCore, Chakoteya's transcript site, etc. -- though mercifully Memory Alpha still uses production order.
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Old August 25 2012, 02:58 AM   #24
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

I have to defend airdate order. Reason is because so many other shows are seen that way, and in some cases (like TNG season 1 Skin of Evil/Symbiosis) there would be vast continuity errors between episodes should it be seen in production order.

Besides, there's no continuing serial plot on TOS, so why should it matter? Anyone can watch how they want.
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Old August 25 2012, 03:20 AM   #25
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

NicholasM79 wrote: View Post
I have to defend airdate order. Reason is because so many other shows are seen that way, and in some cases (like TNG season 1 Skin of Evil/Symbiosis) there would be vast continuity errors between episodes should it be seen in production order.

Besides, there's no continuing serial plot on TOS, so why should it matter? Anyone can watch how they want.
It probably doesn't. I never watch in order.
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Old August 25 2012, 03:20 AM   #26
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

NicholasM79 wrote: View Post
I have to defend airdate order. Reason is because so many other shows are seen that way, and in some cases (like TNG season 1 Skin of Evil/Symbiosis) there would be vast continuity errors between episodes should it be seen in production order.
Why are you casting this as a universal question? Obviously there are plenty of shows where airdate order makes more sense, because episodes are often written in one order and filmed in a different one. I have already mentioned several such shows, so clearly I'm aware of that principle. I'm talking about TOS specifically, not television in general. TOS is a show where airdate order was not chosen for story reasons, but simply for external concerns like network preference or post-production delays. So the reasons why airdate order makes more sense for other shows do not apply to this show.


Besides, there's no continuing serial plot on TOS, so why should it matter? Anyone can watch how they want.
Again, I already explained the reasons why production order makes more sense in TOS's first season, though it's less of an issue in the second and third. Please review my comments made earlier in the discussion.
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Old August 25 2012, 03:59 AM   #27
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

The actors portraying the recurring characters can say it was originally an "ensemble show" all they want, but it never was. The stories were always about the stars. Sure, the secondary characters may have had more bits of business in early episodes, but it was never an ensemble, and more than Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was.
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Old August 25 2012, 04:04 AM   #28
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

^It may not have been an ensemble show in the modern sense, but there's no denying that the early first-season episodes devoted more time to the ensemble's interplay -- Scott and Sulu bantering in "The Corbomite Maneuver," Sulu and Rand talking about his hobbies in "The Man Trap," things like that -- than later episodes did. These things are matters of degree, not black-and-white absolutes. A show can be mainly focused on its stars yet also make a certain amount of room for the supporting ensemble, and it's clear that the amount of room given to the ensemble in early TOS was greater than it was later on.
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Old August 25 2012, 09:44 PM   #29
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

I'm going to disagree because I don't think it was an ensemble show even by the standards of the time. For instance The Beverly Hillbillies and The Dick Van Dyke Show were ensemble shows, as every character had plots about them at various points, and they all featured in virtually every episode. Both shows had their main stars, but the secondary characters were regularly and heavily featured in a way Star Trek never did. Mission: Impossible, too.
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Old August 25 2012, 10:05 PM   #30
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Re: Watching Trek in Airdate Order

Riley was big in two eps. Rand had a decent part in a couple. Chapel had "Little Girls"; there were the rec dec, botany, gym scenes all showing us a level of casual interplay among the crew (aside from big 3) that clearly declined from the midpoint of S1 onwards.

Ditch the term "ensemble" if you like, but you cannot deny the change. Probably due to GR becoming less hands-on and GCoon wanting fewer crewman of note to confuse us, and leave us with a core "tv family" to hang our hats on. Maybe smart from a ratings standpoint in 1967, but I prefer the earlier feel.
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