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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 December 30 2013, 06:24 PM   #1
Lance
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Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

It seems to me that one of the more unsavory things that people use as a stick to beat TOS with -- the whole "no female captains" thing spelled out by insane mentalist Janice Lester in TURNABOUT INTRUDER -- could have been easily seen off by simply casting an actress as one of the Starfleet-commodore-of-the-week in seasons one or two, who is a superior of Kirk. Would have easily underlined that not only are women starship commanders, they can be higher in rank than the leading man of the show! I kind of like how they did this with Commodore Stone in COURT MARTIAL. A black man, who is also Captain Kirk's superior officer, without it ever being mentioned or made note of as in any way unusual. That's progressive.

Considering that Gene Roddenberry was progressive enough to cast a woman as the Enterprise's first officer in the pilot episode (admittedly she was being played by his girlfriend...), it seems a shame they couldn't have extended this to other Starfleet flag officers, ala Commodore Stone.

As it is, the apparent chauvanism of Starfleet in TURNABOUT INTRUDER stands in contrast to earlier in the very same season, where THE ENTERPRISE INCIDENT clearly shows us that the Romulans are happy for their women to command ships. Doesn't paint our 'heroes' in a very good light by comparison.
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Old December 30 2013, 06:45 PM   #2
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

But if Roddenberry couldn't get away with a female First Officer, how would he have expected to get away with a female Commodore, especially early in the series?
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Old December 30 2013, 06:49 PM   #3
Greg Cox
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

Alas, "Turnabout Intruder" was the final episode to be aired, so there was no opporunity to fix things by casting a female captain or commodore until the movies came along over a decade later . . . .
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Old December 30 2013, 06:51 PM   #4
Lance
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

BoredShipCapt'n wrote: View Post
But if Roddenberry couldn't get away with a female First Officer, how would he have expected to get away with a female Commodore, especially early in the series?
How did he get away with giving Kirk a superior officer of color?

If the role was simply cast as a female, on the merit of the performance given, then I think it would've been passed by the suits without an issue.

My impression was that the suits didn't have a problem with a female in a strong leadership position per se. They just had a problem with the actress who Roddenberry had cast in that role in THE CAGE. It was the nepotism they wanted to discourage.
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Old December 30 2013, 08:36 PM   #5
Avro Arrow
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

Lance wrote: View Post
Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?
Yes. End of line.

Lance wrote: View Post
My impression was that the suits didn't have a problem with a female in a strong leadership position per se. They just had a problem with the actress who Roddenberry had cast in that role in THE CAGE. It was the nepotism they wanted to discourage.
Yes, this is my current understanding as well. My *original* understanding was that they protested against having a female as second-in-command, but I believe it was later revealed that Roddenberry just spun it this way, and the actual objection was to Barrett. Of course, because of this history, the perception that the network objected to a female first officer persists to this day.

Of course, I wasn't there, so I guess who knows. Recollections can become muddled over time.
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Old December 30 2013, 10:56 PM   #6
BillJ
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

Lance wrote: View Post

How did he get away with giving Kirk a superior officer of color?
Because advertisers figured minorities had money to spend as well and they wanted it.
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Old December 30 2013, 11:35 PM   #7
urbandefault
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

I always took Janice Lester's comment about no women captains as the ravings of a lunatic. She couldn't make the cut, so she broadened it to include all women.

As for replacing the character of the first officer? I figure Gene did it and blamed it on NBC.

A black man as commodore? It could just have been a case of casting the best actor who auditioned.

I don't give these things much thought in real life. Putting the best people in the jobs they are qualified for just makes sense to me, no matter where their reproductive organs are located, or what color their skin might be.
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Old December 30 2013, 11:35 PM   #8
Armored Saint
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

Lance wrote: View Post
A black man, who is also Captain Kirk's superior officer, without it ever being mentioned or made note of as in any way unusual. That's progressive.
Racial and gender issues are not exactly the same thing. A black man is a man.

From an ethnic and cultural point of view, TOS is a quite US-centric universalit utopia. You have Sulu, Uhura and Chekov (during the Cold War Space Race), but most surnames on the Enterprise are English, Scottish or Irish. It doesn't mean that TOS was not really progressive.
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Old December 30 2013, 11:43 PM   #9
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

This issue was recently hashed out thoroughly here: http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=225631
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Old December 31 2013, 01:11 AM   #10
Hober Mallow
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

Lance wrote: View Post
BoredShipCapt'n wrote: View Post
But if Roddenberry couldn't get away with a female First Officer, how would he have expected to get away with a female Commodore, especially early in the series?
My impression was that the suits didn't have a problem with a female in a strong leadership position per se. They just had a problem with the actress who Roddenberry had cast in that role in THE CAGE. It was the nepotism they wanted to discourage.
Exactly. The myth that the network couldn't accept a strong female leading character has been thoroughly debunked, not the least reason that there were already strong leading ladies on television at the time. It was Roddenberry casting his mistress in the role they had a problem with.
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Old December 31 2013, 01:33 AM   #11
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

For all it's progressiveness, there were certainly a couple of missed opportunities where a woman Captain could have been easily done. One that comes to mind is that one of the starship commanders in The Ultimate Computer could have been a woman. Wouldn't have been a big deal to show- there were 4 other starships. I agree that Lester was a lunatic. The fact that we saw Number One as a first officer 13 years before makes the whole notion of no female captains just plain silly.
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Old December 31 2013, 04:02 AM   #12
The Old Building & Loan
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

Seems like the general subject of Janice Lester and females in command has been done to death around here lately...so I'll say yes, sure would have been nice if TOS had clearly shown a woman at or above Captain's rank in Starfleet, so we wouldn't be constantly going around and around about it 45 years later....
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Old December 31 2013, 04:08 AM   #13
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

Perhaps there were some important founding members of the Federation that would not join unless there were females were restricted from being Captains. Then eventually these planet's cultures changed and the restriction on female command officers was lifted sometime in the 2270s.
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Old December 31 2013, 04:50 AM   #14
Armored Saint
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

Perhaps Federation species had been all contaminated by a Klingon experimental virus which was finally cured just before the Whale probe arrival.
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Old December 31 2013, 04:59 AM   #15
Avro Arrow
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Re: Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

uniderth wrote: View Post
Perhaps there were some important founding members of the Federation that would not join unless there were females were restricted from being Captains. Then eventually these planet's cultures changed and the restriction on female command officers was lifted sometime in the 2270s.


I prefer to believe that the Federation was not founded with deliberate sexism included as an inherent part of its founding.
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