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

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Old January 4 2014, 02:41 AM   #1
LMFAOschwarz
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What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

I was never really clear as to why the Klingons were all but a required element of the Original Crew movies. It got me to thinking that they weren't in all that many tv episodes. I should probably know how many, but don't... but was Errand of Mercy the first?

What if that had been it, so along with A Piece of the Action and For The World is Hollow and...(gasp)... I Have Touched...(gasp, gasp)...The Sky, a planets' inhabitants are seen for a single adventure?

I'm just imagining the questions we might ponder about them in that case, the way we'd wonder about Landru's back story or something.
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Old January 4 2014, 02:59 AM   #2
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

True, the Klingons were only involved in seven TOS episodes, but the Romulans were only in three (and Romulan characters appeared in only two). Even Vulcans other than Spock only appear in three episodes, four if you count the Vulcans mentioned but not seen in "The Immunity Syndrome." So by the standards of '60s TV, seven appearances in 79 episodes -- nearly nine percent of the series -- makes the Klingons a really major recurring element.

Okay, they weren't as ubiquitous as they were in the movies. But hey, Professor Moriarty was only in a couple of canonical Sherlock Holmes stories and Irene Adler in only one, but in movies and TV you can't get away from them. Once audiences get the idea of something as an important part of a series, it tends to get used heavily in revivals/continuations/pastiches.

If the Klingons hadn't been seen again, we'd probably be wondering where a spacegoing power major enough to go to war with the Federation had disappeared to (although Spock Must Die! might've covered that one, just without the scenes involving Koloth). But it's hard for me to imagine a scenario in which they wouldn't have appeared again, barring the series being cancelled after season 1. Once they had established "space Soviets" they could use as bad guys, and spent money on costumes and weapons for them, it seems unlikely that they wouldn't have used them the next time they needed enemy aliens, so that they could save money by reusing the costumes and props. Especially since they were created by the show's producer at the time. Probably the reason we didn't see Romulans more is because they were created by a freelancer.
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Old January 4 2014, 03:09 AM   #3
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

Yes, Errand of Mercy was the first.
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Old January 4 2014, 03:19 AM   #4
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

The reimagined D7 (K't'inga-class) really looks spectacular, and that's reason enough for the reimagined Klingons to appear in TMP. As to why every single TOS crew film (I-VII) needs a Klingon reference, I don't know.

Certainly, the D7 managed to become nearly as iconic as the TOS Enterprise. The AMT model series may have had something to do with it, but besides that, the D7 just looked really incredible. Matt Jefferies managed to create a second masterpiece. Perhaps being distinguished with their own awesome hero ship helped make the Klingons memorable as iconic Trek villains.

I realize that that doesn't answer the question of why the Klingons had to be reused in the second season. I don't know why that choice was made. However, I must say that if they'd just been a one-off, we'd be the poorer for it, if we had to lose "The Trouble with Tribbles" and "Day of the Dove".

Besides the big three Klingon episodes ("Errand Mercy", "The Trouble with Tribbles", and "Day of the Dove"), I'm a fan of the lesser three Klingon episodes, too: not only "Friday's Child", but especially "A Private Little War" and "Elaan of Troyius".

Can't really say that I care much for "The Savage Curtain", though.
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Old January 4 2014, 03:47 AM   #5
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

The Klingons simply became an easy-to-use element for the movies. They were convenient baddies rather than having to come up with something completely new. While the films could each be enjoyable (in varying degree) on their own terms I don't think they well reflect the varied flavour of TOS as a whole with it's mix of stories.

Klingons (and other baddies) along with run-and-jump action and space battles are easy to do for feature films done every two or three years or so. It's a shorthand method of doing a story, but rarely will you get much nuance and flavour out of them the way you do with Star Trek on television be it TOS, TNG or whatever.

In TOS the best Klingon stories (and they were the ones where they were most featured) were "Errand Of Mercy" and "Day Of The Dove." And the funny thing was the best scenes in those episodes have nothing to do with fidticuffs or space battles. The best parts are the character interplay where the Klingons (along with our heroes) are shown to be three-dimensional fleshed out characters. Kor and Kang were the enemy, but they weren't comic opera villians. They were intelligent and thoughtful characters. In only one appearance each I found them much more interesting and engaging than most of the Klingons ever to be seen again in film or subsequent series.

The Klingons in TMP were essentially one dimensional, but the way they were depicted in the short time we got to see them was fascinating. It suggested so much of what we didn't know of the race. After that, though, the Klingons got dull until TUC when we began to see a greater diversity of character (and agendas) amongst the Klingons. But then again the Klingons in TUC were something of a reflection/extension of what we had been seeing in TNG. There were some one-dimensional like Klingons in TUC, but we also got to see some more nuanced characters. This was actually one of the few aspects I liked about TUC in the face of so many things I don't like about the movie.
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Old January 4 2014, 05:18 AM   #6
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
As to why every single TOS crew film (I-VII) needs a Klingon reference, I don't know.
I think that, aside from Khan's "Klingon proverb" joke/misattribution, the only reference in TWOK was the Klingon ships on the viewscreen in the Kobayashi Maru, and that was just so they could reuse TMP effects footage to save money. As for TSFS, the villains were going to be Romulans (hence the cloaked Bird of Prey and the talk of honor), but it was decided their resemblance to Vulcans would be too confusing to casual viewers, or something like that, so they fell back on Klingons.

The Klingon ambassador's scene in TVH was following up on the events of TSFS, since the three films form a continuous sequence of events. I suppose that Klaa's presence in TFF was something of a followup on that as well, and Korrd was there because all three major powers had representatives on Nimbus III.

As for TUC, it was conceived as an allegory about the recent fall of the Soviet Union, and since Klingons had always been the stand-in for the Soviets, it was only natural to use them again.


I realize that that doesn't answer the question of why the Klingons had to be reused in the second season. I don't know why that choice was made.
As I said -- Gene Coon created them, and he was the producer, the guy making a lot of the creative decisions.


However, I must say that if they'd just been a one-off, we'd be the poorer for it, if we had to lose "The Trouble with Tribbles" and "Day of the Dove".
Or we would've had other enemy-of-the-week aliens fulfilling the same role. Kinda like how Mission: Impossible did dozens of episodes about countries that were thinly disguised USSR substitutes but they all had different names, when they were named at all.

The original outline for "Mirror, Mirror," in which the alternate timeline wasn't an evil-twin universe but just a different and less advanced one in some ways, introduced a new bad-guy race called the Tharn (a name ultimately used in the episode for the leader of a race of pacifists, ironically). They were described as having "an Oriental quality" and "perhaps finely-scaled skin" (shades of Cardassians), and are portrayed as a people bound by honor and a belief in prophecy. They might've been an interesting addition to the Trek universe, albeit even more an "Oriental" stereotype than the Klingons were.

Hmm... the Klingons never became an honor-driven race until TNG, and that was building on the "You will be remembered with honor" line from TSFS. Imagine if the Tharn had become a recurring villain race in TOS, with all the honor stuff already built into them from the start. Maybe they would've ended up filling the role that Klingons played in TNG, DS9, etc.
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Old January 4 2014, 05:30 AM   #7
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

If we had "missed out" on Koloth and tribbles, well, I wouldn't consider that a loss.
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Old January 4 2014, 05:33 AM   #8
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

Christopher wrote: View Post
As I said -- Gene Coon created them, and he was the producer, the guy making a lot of the creative decisions.
Yeah, you submitted your post while I was tweaking mine. That's a plausible theory.

Especially since they were created by the show's producer at the time. Probably the reason we didn't see Romulans more is because they were created by a freelancer.
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Old January 4 2014, 03:28 PM   #9
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

I seem to recall hearing that the Klingons were intended to be recurring antagonists, that they were created once it was realized that Romulans were too expensive.
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Old January 4 2014, 03:35 PM   #10
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

I also understood them to be semi-recurring villians. Fortunately they weren't overused. But after TSFS I started to tire of them.
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Old January 4 2014, 04:19 PM   #11
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

Brutal Strudel wrote: View Post
I seem to recall hearing that the Klingons were intended to be recurring antagonists, that they were created once it was realized that Romulans were too expensive.
Makes sense. Pancake makeup and fake beards and eyebrows are probably cheaper than prosthetic ears.

Not to mention that it was usually only the foreground Klingons who had beards anyway. Only Kor and his lieutenant were bearded in "Errand of Mercy," and only Koloth and Korax were bearded in "Tribbles." Facial hair was near-ubiquitous in the "Day of the Dove" background Klingons, but sometimes just a slight moustache or soul patch.
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Old January 4 2014, 04:44 PM   #12
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

The expense of the ear tips is probably why most of Mark Lenard's crew wore those helmets that later turned up in "Amok Time."
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Old January 4 2014, 04:54 PM   #13
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Brutal Strudel wrote: View Post
I seem to recall hearing that the Klingons were intended to be recurring antagonists, that they were created once it was realized that Romulans were too expensive.
Makes sense. Pancake makeup and fake beards and eyebrows are probably cheaper than prosthetic ears.

Not to mention that it was usually only the foreground Klingons who had beards anyway. Only Kor and his lieutenant were bearded in "Errand of Mercy," and only Koloth and Korax were bearded in "Tribbles." Facial hair was near-ubiquitous in the "Day of the Dove" background Klingons, but sometimes just a slight moustache or soul patch.
Hipster Klingons?
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Old January 4 2014, 04:55 PM   #14
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

Brutal Strudel wrote: View Post
The expense of the ear tips is probably why most of Mark Lenard's crew wore those helmets that later turned up in "Amok Time."
Oh, undoubtedly.
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Old January 4 2014, 06:44 PM   #15
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Re: What if Klingons had been a one-shot?

Brutal Strudel wrote: View Post
I seem to recall hearing that the Klingons were intended to be recurring antagonists, that they were created once it was realized that Romulans were too expensive.
David Gerrold claims they were just going to be a one-shot race until he proposed using them in 'The Trouble with Tribbles.' I'm not sure who deserves the credit, but I don't think the decision to make them recurring antagonists was made until season two.
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