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

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Old March 27 2013, 01:34 PM   #16
foxhot
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Re: Stunt double madness

While I had to see TOS on many black and white UHF stations at first, the SPACE SEED stunt doubles were very noticeable as soon as it went to VHS in 1982, even if the TV screen was smaller.
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Old March 27 2013, 01:44 PM   #17
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Re: Stunt double madness

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
Nimoy's double stands out a bit in Mirror Mirror, in the Sickbay fight.
Mostly because his stunt double had wavy hair. WTF was that about?

The worst example of stunt doubling for Shatner was in Operation Annihilate when everyone was subduing Spock on the bridge. In the tight shots, it's Shatner, but in the long shots, Shatner is the only guy doubled and none of these moves are difficult. This leads me to believe Shatner might have been busy in another scene while this was being shot. Or maybe he was off.

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I disagree that it was particularly normal for the time. I watch a lot of 60s television, mainly action shows in fact such as The Avengers, The Saint etc. I can think of no examples of a more obvious stunt double than in Space Seed.
You never saw The Fugitive, then. David Janssen's stunt doubles were always painfully obvious. Different hair, bone structure and Janssen couldn't run well (bad knee and drunk a lot), but his stunt guys ran like marathon runners. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea had painfully obvious stunt guys. What made it worse was that most of the stunt double were used as background crew, some with lines! So all of a sudden, David Hedison became some crewman named "Scott" (Scott McFadden) just in time to have a brawl!
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Old March 27 2013, 03:29 PM   #18
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Re: Stunt double madness

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
feek61 wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
We can see that now, because we have big-screen TVs and HD-quality home video. Audiences in the 1960s were watching on smaller sets, often in black and white, often with much less image clarity, often through fuzz and distortion due to poor signal reception or mis-adjusted knobs. (There were so many things that had to be synchronized or tuned just right to get a good picture, and they all depended on manual adjustment. You often had to work to get a decent picture, and sometimes "decent" was the best you could hope for.) So the substitution of the stuntman for the actor wouldn't have been nearly as obvious at the time -- which was why they were okay with doing it that way.

Trust me; this is exactly correct. As one who has watched TOS from the beginning. I never noticed the difference simply because you couldn't tell back then with the primitive equipment.
Yep. The fight scenes in Space Seed and Court Martial never looked bad to me on a 19-inch CRT. Then I got my 32-inch flat screen and it was pretty obvious.

Nimoy's double stands out a bit in Mirror Mirror, in the Sickbay fight.

I'll echo the thoughts here. As a kid, I never noticed that Kirk wasn't Kirk during many of the fight scenes. I don't think I noticed until years later when Dad upgraded to a hugely massive 26 inch screen in a gargantuan console. Good times.
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Old March 27 2013, 03:55 PM   #19
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Re: Stunt double madness

It's worth keeping in mind that a given TV show probably only has access to a finite number of stunt performers who have to double multiple people. Sure, no doubt they do their best to hire stunt performers who are roughly the same type as their leads, but a given performer would probably be working on multiple TV shows and might not always be available for a given scene. The top priority is naturally the performer's ability to do the stunts safely, so sometimes physical resemblance has got to be a secondary concern.

So it's just a case where the viewer has to be willing to suspend disbelief. Personally I think audiences today are too spoiled, demanding that everything be totally photorealistic and perfect. For thousands of years, all we had was theater, usually without any set decorations or anything but dialogue to set the scene, and where things like stunts and special effects were always quite clearly artificial. The audience had to use their own imaginations to bridge the gap between what they were shown and what it was supposed to represent. So if something didn't look like it was real, that wasn't a problem because they had the imagination to make it work. I think the problem with modern special effects and production values is that they've caused the viewers' own imaginations to atrophy.

So the stuntman doesn't look like Shatner? So what? It's an illusion. An illusion that depends on the audience's willingness to participate, to engage their own imaginations and make it Kirk in their own minds.
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Old March 27 2013, 05:14 PM   #20
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Re: Stunt double madness

To put a more positive spin on this, the Kirk vs Kirk fight in Whom Gods Destroy is outstanding because of how well Shatner and the stunt double match. They actually put the stunt man in a Kirk Wig (or styled his hair, whatever) and when you do see the other man's face briefly, it doesn't shatter the illusion. The match is about as perfect as we were ever going to get. It sure looked better than the Star Trek III Kirk double who jumped off the cliff onto Kruge. That guy was 40 pounds lighter and 20 years younger.

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Old March 27 2013, 05:35 PM   #21
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Re: Stunt double madness

Of course, then there were those early episodes of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman where they doubled Carter with a stuntman in the star-spangled bathing suit. That wasn't so well-received, so they finally hired one of the relatively few stuntwomen who were around at the time.
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Old March 27 2013, 06:25 PM   #22
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Re: Stunt double madness

The SPACEBALLS syndrome.
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Old March 27 2013, 08:34 PM   #23
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Re: Stunt double madness

Production insurance limits what actors are allowed to do. Even simple stunts can result in injury, and injury = time away from the set = money.
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Old March 27 2013, 08:37 PM   #24
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Re: Stunt double madness

How does that factor into Shatner doing an entire fight himself in some episodes, and being stunt double heavy for simple gags in others?
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Old March 27 2013, 09:02 PM   #25
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Re: Stunt double madness

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
How does that factor into Shatner doing an entire fight himself in some episodes, and being stunt double heavy for simple gags in others?
As I said, there could be any number of factors involved, not just one. So each situation would be different and there's no simple, overarching answer. To know the specific decisions that went into each individual episode, you'd need to go back in time and see for yourself, or at least track down the motherlode of all production memos, or interview every last director and producer and stunt performer about each individual scene.

Anyway, I'm not sure a layperson is qualified to judge which stunts are "simple" enough for the actor and which require doubling. Some things that look simple can actually be genuinely dangerous without proper training, like falls. Or I imagine that the director and producers would prefer doubling any stunt that carries the risk of damage to the face -- you don't want to lose valuable production time while your star heals from a black eye or a split lip.
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Old March 27 2013, 09:11 PM   #26
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Re: Stunt double madness

Hold a gun to my head and I would guess that either Shatner was nursing an injury during Court Martial and Space Seed...or as said above, the director simply had other ideas and at the end of the day Shatner probably said, "What? I could have done all that!"

It's not like Shatner had no training. That wall-jump I mentioned earlier is something even I wouldn't have tried, and looks like it genuinely hurt.

What's funny about theatre stunt-fighting is if you do something too realistic and you'll take your audience right out of it.
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Old March 27 2013, 09:21 PM   #27
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Re: Stunt double madness

Christopher wrote: View Post
ssosmcin wrote: View Post
How does that factor into Shatner doing an entire fight himself in some episodes, and being stunt double heavy for simple gags in others?
As I said, there could be any number of factors involved, not just one. So each situation would be different and there's no simple, overarching answer. To know the specific decisions that went into each individual episode, you'd need to go back in time and see for yourself, or at least track down the motherlode of all production memos, or interview every last director and producer and stunt performer about each individual scene.

Anyway, I'm not sure a layperson is qualified to judge which stunts are "simple" enough for the actor and which require doubling. Some things that look simple can actually be genuinely dangerous without proper training, like falls. Or I imagine that the director and producers would prefer doubling any stunt that carries the risk of damage to the face -- you don't want to lose valuable production time while your star heals from a black eye or a split lip.
I was actually asking Maurice how an insurance thing would prevent Shatner from doing a light gag when he did more difficult stuff before and after.

As for what is simple or not, just check out the bridge fight in Operation Annihilate. All he really would have been required to do in the long shots would be to help restrain Spock with a few other guys. Pushing him down, really. This is the one bit that actually causes me to wonder, because it's ridiculously simple. This is why I am lead to believe he was not on the set that day, or shooting another scene, and came in for the close ups.
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Old March 27 2013, 09:43 PM   #28
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Re: Stunt double madness

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
As for what is simple or not, just check out the bridge fight in Operation Annihilate. All he really would have been required to do in the long shots would be to help restrain Spock with a few other guys. Pushing him down, really. This is the one bit that actually causes me to wonder, because it's ridiculously simple.
I did check out that fight scene, and it was rather more intense than what you describe. "Kirk" leaps onto "Spock" from several feet away and gets tossed into the bridge railing, catches himself on it, recovers his footing on the stairs, and then grabs Spock from behind along with the rest. That's a maneuver where something could easily go wrong -- the performer could hit the rail or the step wrong and injure himself. Not to mention that this is in the tight confines of the bridge set where there are lots of other hard surfaces and sharp edges to worry about. Not to mention that the light bulbs underneath all those console buttons were really hot. There are a lot of ways that set could damage a person if a stunt went wrong and he landed in the wrong place -- not to mention the risk that the person could damage the set.

It's one thing to have Shatner do a fight scene in a nice, open corridor where there's nothing but walls and a floor. But on the bridge set, there is so much more that could go wrong, and I can absolutely understand why they'd leave such a stunt to the experts.

Another factor is the number of people involved. A one-on-one fight is one thing, but when you've got multiple people in a melee, there's a lot more that could go wrong if your performers aren't perfectly in sync. In this case, there are four stunt performers directly involved in the scuffle, and that's exponentially more complicated than a scene with two performers.
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Old March 27 2013, 10:20 PM   #29
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Re: Stunt double madness

Many of you likely notice that the bridge sequence in OPERATION ANNIHILATE not only has stunt doubles for physical action, but for bystanders as well. Uhura and the Yeoman were actually replaced by stand-ins for a few seconds. Things like this seemed to occur most often in the third season.
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Old March 27 2013, 10:33 PM   #30
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Re: Stunt double madness

feek61 wrote: View Post
We can see that now, because we have big-screen TVs and HD-quality home video..
I'm not sure that was the case for everyone back in the day. I watched TOS in the early 70s on a black and white and later a color TV, and I noticed Shatner's stuntman, much like it was easy to spot Burt (Robin) Ward's homely stunt double on Batman.
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