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

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Old May 3 2014, 06:28 PM   #31
albion432
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

TheSubCommander wrote: View Post
I never saw Spock as the main character, more of a co-main character in TOS with Kirk. But I think it can be argued that Spock is the glue that held TOS together more than Kirk did. The fact that Pike was replaced by Kirk proves that for me, at least.

As for the TOS movies, more or less follow the same pattern.


Now when you examine Star Trek as a whole, I think it could be argued Spock is a more important character than Kirk. Spock and his father appear in TNG. Spock is central to the reboot. Nimoy spans the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2009, and 2012 as Spock.

Kirk finally does appear in TNG in generations, but Kirk's story comes to a close in 1994 with his death, at least until the 2009 reboot.

So I think to TOS and its movies, maybe Spock may be equally important as Kirk, but to Star Trek as a franchise, Spock is more important.
That's how I see it, and those same observations are partially what led me to starting this thread in the first place. It's nice to see that there are others who are thinking along the same line.
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Old May 3 2014, 06:43 PM   #32
Geoff Peterson
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

None of that makes Spock the main character of TOS, as TOS isn't in the 70s, 80s or 90s. All it means is Nimoy was in the TOS based films and was willing and able to revisit Spock in TNG, ST09 and STID.
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Old May 3 2014, 08:18 PM   #33
albion432
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
None of that makes Spock the main character of TOS, as TOS isn't in the 70s, 80s or 90s.
That is true, and I realize now the limiting scope the title on this thread may have placed on the posts. But as my preamble should have indicate by examples taken from the movies and beyond, by TOS I was actually referring to the entire corpus of filmed adventure starring the original cast. I should have been more clear regarding what works should be taken into consideration. I even realize now that I should not have "sans" Abrams movies, as they really only add to the case for Spock as the main character.

When I started this thread my original intent was to build a comprehensive list of points in support of Spock as the main character, and I assumed the same would be done for Kirk by those who would stand by his "claim" as the main character. Unfortunately that isn't what has transpired as of yet. So much for my initial intent.

The only argument I've heard so far for Kirk's claim is based on "insider information" regarding Roddenberry's initial intent. If that is the sole basis for the argument for Kirk then Kirk wins the title, hands down.

However, if one steps outside of the commonly accepted notion that Kirk is the main character, and objectively examines all of the evidence as to who, in hindsight, should be dubbed the main character, I'm not too sure Kirk would win.

I started the thread by listing a few basic examples in support of Spock as the main character. I hoped it would be a launching point for others to add to. Those examples are only a sampling of the long list I have compiled supporting both claims. I began from an unbiased position towards either character, as I truly love them both. I simply wanted to see, as far as the through-line of the body of work indicated, who came out on top. I found when using that criteria, Spock won hands down.

So, my question is this, which is more relevant to the topic, Roddenberry's initial intent or a thorough examination of all the available material?

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Old May 3 2014, 09:06 PM   #34
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

TOS- Kirk is the lead character and the primary focus of the majority of episodes. Spock, possibly comes in second.

TOS Films- Kirk is the lead character.TMP, Kirk focused as he takes command of the Enterprise to save the Earth. Spock returns and has an epiphany, which is a B-plot, TWOK is about him coming to grips with aging. Khan's wrath is focused on him. Spock's contribution is dying. TSFS. Dead Spock is the "McGuffin" that sets the story in motion. Focus is still on Kirk, though. TVH, Spock is back, but is used for humor. Kirk is still the focus. He comes with the plan to save the Earth. He's the one who is at the center of trial. TFF, More of a Spock focus as his brother is the primary adversary, still Kirk is prominent. TUC, Spock set things in motion by volunteering Kirk and the Enterprise and handles the B-plot while the A-plot is with Kirk.

TNG- Nothing Spock related until "Sarek" in the third season and that's a bit iffy as they don't mention Spock's name. (IIRC) Spock does show up in Season 5 for two episodes, ( Done to tie into TUC) McCoy and Scotty show up too.

DS9-No Spock outside of archival footage. Sisko is a Kirk fanboy, Dax has a history with McCoy.

VGR- No Spock, but Sulu, Rand and Kyle show up.

ENT- No Spock, but T'Pau shows up.

TNG Films- No Spock, but Kirk co stars in GEN.

New Trek- Nimoy's Spock has a significant role in ST09 and cameo in STID. The character is definitely a co-lead with Kirk.

For the "Main Character", Spock seems to have missed quite a few installments.
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Old May 3 2014, 10:32 PM   #35
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

albion432 wrote: View Post
However, if one steps outside of the commonly accepted notion that Kirk is the main character, and objectively examines all of the evidence as to who, in hindsight, should be dubbed the main character, I'm not too sure Kirk would win.
Do we need to "dub" anyone that? I find that labels tend to obscure truth more than they reveal it. Reducing a complex subject down to a mere sound bite requires overlooking or oversimplifying a great deal of stuff that's worth taking into account.

And I don't agree with the way you've formulated the question. I don't accept that there has to be some singular "main character" mantle to be awarded to one character at the expense of all others. It's more complicated than that here. Spock was unquestionably the breakout star, but that does not diminish Kirk's importance or centrality. They were important in different ways, but they complemented one another. Spock fascinated us with his alienness, but Kirk was the everyman we could relate to.

Indeed, I think many TOS fans, myself included, would argue that the core of TOS is not a single character, but the triumvirate of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Any one of them is incomplete without the other two.


So, my question is this, which is more relevant to the topic, Roddenberry's initial intent or a thorough examination of all the available material?
Again, I disagree with the assumption that there has to be a choice between the two. There is no competition here. A true understanding requires taking both those factors into account.
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Old May 3 2014, 11:03 PM   #36
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

x

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Old May 3 2014, 11:23 PM   #37
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Sounds like cherry picking elements from various episodes that vaguely fit Campbell's "Hero's Journey". I'm sure the same could be done with Kirk, Picard or any number of Trek characters.
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Old May 3 2014, 11:31 PM   #38
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

albion432 wrote: View Post
Let me just say this, I have based my standard of measuring “main character” on the works of Joseph Campbell, and “the hero’s journey”. I compared and judged Kirk and Spock based on who hits which of the archetypal points needed to be considered the “hero” of a given mythology. In this case Star Trek is the mythology. While both characters hit certain points of the progression, one clearly comes in way ahead of the other in the final tally.
That strikes me as trying to force the evidence to fit an interpretation rather than formulating an interpretation that fits the evidence. The problem with applying a "hero's journey" formulation to TOS is that it's meant to apply to a single narrative arc with a clear beginning, middle, and end. TOS doesn't work that way. It was an episodic series in which each individual installment was meant to be a complete arc and there was no specific direction or change intended for the series as a whole, just episode after episode for as long as the series could avoid cancellation. It then had a sequel series in animation, and then a series of revival movies later on. It's far too fragmented to be treated as a single "journey." So I don't think Campbell's monomyth is an appropriate model to apply here.


To be more specific, Kirk is the “leader” character because he wares the Captain’s strips. It is a military role Kirk engages in as an occupation. Give the Captain’s strips to someone else, and Kirk is no longer the leader, or lead character, someone else is. The “main character” cannot be demoted from or elevated to that position based on the costume he wares. The qualities which make a true “main character” come from within, not from without.
Good grief, that's the most profound misinterpretation of Kirk I've heard in a long time. Kirk is a born leader, with or without captain's stripes. Look at "The Paradise Syndrome." He doesn't even remember who he is, but he still takes naturally to a leadership role and guides the people toward a better life. (We'll try to overlook the problematical "white man enlightening the natives" trope there, for the sake of this discussion.) Heck, see the 2009 movie, where he's a cadet lieutenant and still ends up convincing everyone to follow his lead. As Spock said in TWOK, command was Kirk's "first, best destiny." He wasn't just handed those stripes; he earned them -- because of the qualities within him. As we saw in "The Galileo Seven" and "The Tholian Web," Spock could be placed in a command position and not handle it nearly as well as Kirk -- that, indeed, he needed to draw on Kirk's advice and example (as well as McCoy's pestering) in order to manage it.


So, when I saw the casual dismissal of an important phase of the hero cycle I realized we were not on the same page, or even in the same book. Again, I am only skimming the surface of what qualifies Spock, and not Kirk, as the “main character”, or, to put it in a different way, Spock as the main “hero figure”. Kirk is a hero too, but not to the same degree, and not by the same authority as Spock.
Campbell is not an "authority." He was talking about basic themes that underlie cultural myths, but he certainly wasn't saying that every single work of fiction is required to conform to a single formula. He was describing the pattern, not prescribing it. And he wasn't writing about the structure of episodic television series.


I hope this makes more sense of where I'm coming from.
Yes -- you're coming from a completely different direction than I am. We're not going to be able to agree on this.
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Old May 4 2014, 12:35 AM   #39
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Christopher, I decided to answer your post line for line in the hopes of better clarity. I see you have posted again, and I will get to that next.

I find that labels tend to obscure truth more than they reveal it.

If a label is a mere uthanizm then it tend to obscure and not illuminate.

Reducing a complex subject down to a mere sound bite requires overlooking or oversimplifying a great deal of stuff that's worth taking into account.

I do not like sound bites either, and believe me, I am willing to take the time to go as deep as needed to bring a fuller understanding to the topic of this thread.

And I don't agree with the way you've formulated the question.

The title was meant as an attention grabber, nothing more.

I don't accept that there has to be some singular "main character" mantle to be awarded to one character at the expense of all others.

Agreed, my goal here isn’t to diminish one character in favor of the other.

It's more complicated than that here. Spock was unquestionably the breakout star, but that does not diminish Kirk's importance or centrality.

My interest in regard to this post really does not lie in who was the star of the show, or who the central character was. And my use of “main character” was a bit of an oversimplification in itself.

They were important in different ways, but they complemented one another. Spock fascinated us with his alienness, but Kirk was the everyman we could relate to.

Indeed, I think many TOS fans, myself included, would argue that the core of TOS is not a single character, but the triumvirate of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Any one of them is incomplete without the other two.


Kirk and Spock are equally important in Star Trek. I'm not trying to diminish the Kirk character in any way. As for the triumvirate, it’s a bit out of the scope of the topic at hand, but since you brought it up, they each serve their purposes, and they all serve them well. McCoy’s emotion is a balance to Spock logic, and Kirk is benefited by the wisdom both the other have to offer. The Enterprise would not have survived her 5 year mission were it not for the active participation of all three main characters.

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Old May 4 2014, 12:59 AM   #40
albion432
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Sounds like cherry picking elements from various episodes that vaguely fit Campbell's "Hero's Journey".
Call it what you will, apparently you didn't get the memo that those were meant as examples. I limited the number to 3 so as not to become too long winded.

Of course I don’t know your level of understanding regarding the hero’s journey, but my examples are of basic motifs, so anyone having even a general understanding of it should be able to understand their import. To claim they “vaguely fit” indicates you either enjoy arguing for the sake of arguing, or you are not familiar with Campbell’s material.

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Old May 4 2014, 02:57 AM   #41
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Thank you for taking the time to respond to this thread and your willingness to express your opinions on the subject. It’s been more helpful than you may realize. Unfortunately it seems I haven’t come across very well in posting this thread. I am very new at posting in a forum, having never done so before two days ago! Perhaps I shouldn’t have created a new thread until I had a better idea what to expect from it.

Christopher wrote: View Post
That strikes me as trying to force the evidence to fit an interpretation rather than formulating an interpretation that fits the evidence. The problem with applying a "hero's journey" formulation to TOS is that it's meant to apply to a single narrative arc with a clear beginning, middle, and end. TOS doesn't work that way. It was an episodic series in which each individual installment was meant to be a complete arc and there was no specific direction or change intended for the series as a whole, just episode after episode for as long as the series could avoid cancellation. It then had a sequel series in animation, and then a series of revival movies later on. It's far too fragmented to be treated as a single "journey." So I don't think Campbell's monomyth is an appropriate model to apply here.
I can see where you’re coming from in the first paragraph. I would have probably felt the same way under these circumstances. We don’t know each other, and for all I know I’ve come across as a complete crack pot. Just like with Nerys Myk, I don’t know your level of understand regarding the hero’s journey, and feel no need to defend my own, but it seems like you are at least familiar with it. Again, I need to stress it was a misnomer to restrict the scope of this topic to just TOS. I meant this topic to cover the entire body of filmed Kirk/Spock adventures. Unless there’s a distinction which encompasses this corpus of material, I would like to continue using TOS when referring to it.

Christopher wrote: View Post
Good grief, that's the most profound misinterpretation of Kirk I've heard in a long time. Kirk is a born leader, with or without captain's stripes. Look at "The Paradise Syndrome." He doesn't even remember who he is, but he still takes naturally to a leadership role and guides the people toward a better life. (We'll try to overlook the problematical "white man enlightening the natives" trope there, for the sake of this discussion.) Heck, see the 2009 movie, where he's a cadet lieutenant and still ends up convincing everyone to follow his lead. As Spock said in TWOK, command was Kirk's "first, best destiny." He wasn't just handed those stripes; he earned them -- because of the qualities within him. As we saw in "The Galileo Seven" and "The Tholian Web," Spock could be placed in a command position and not handle it nearly as well as Kirk -- that, indeed, he needed to draw on Kirk's advice and example (as well as McCoy's pestering) in order to manage it.
Again, I obviously didn’t do a very good job at explaining my position. I will try to be more clear here. I completely understand and believe Kirk has earned his position as Captain of the Enterprise. I think his leadership skill are exemplary, and he is a very intelligent and insightful leader of men. I was trying to point out the reason why Kirk is in position of lead character in the series is because of his rank as captain. The position itself is what puts Kirk in the position of making the decisions which push the plot forward, which is the role of the protagonist. I do not doubt for a minute he has earned the right to sit in the center seat, but his qualification was not my point at all. I hope I made the distinction clear.

I've responded to the last part of your post line by line below:

Campbell is not an "authority."

Here is where I have to strongly disagree with you. Not only was Campbell an authority on the hero’s journey, he was the authority on the subject. Campbell literally wrote the book on the hero’s journey for Pete’s sake!

He was talking about basic themes that underlie cultural myths,

If you believe Campell was only referring to “basic themes that underlie cultural myths” then you have given yourself away. To me that indicates a one-dimensional understanding of his work. Any understanding of it is better than no understanding, don't get me wrong. However, it is soooo much more than what you have indicated it to be.

but he certainly wasn't saying that every single work of fiction is required to conform to a single formula.

Correct, I have never seen him quoted as saying that.

He was describing the pattern, not prescribing it.

As Chekov said once, “if the shoe fits, wear it.”

And he wasn't writing about the structure of episodic television series.

That is a logical conclusion, since he published The Hero With A Thousand Faces in 1949.

Yes -- you're coming from a completely different direction than I am. We're not going to be able to agree on this.

That’s a shame, predictable, but a shame. Despite one of the most important things Star Trek attempted to teach us, people still tend to reject what is strange to them instead of seeking to understand it.

Last edited by albion432; May 4 2014 at 03:23 PM. Reason: restructed a portion of the content
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Old May 4 2014, 05:08 AM   #42
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Hmmmm, do you have examples for the first part of Hero's Journey that fits what we know of Spock?

1) The Call to Adventure

2) Refusal of the Call

3) Supernatural Aid

4) Crossing The Threshold

5) Belly of The Whale
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Old May 4 2014, 05:35 AM   #43
albion432
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Hmmmm, do you have examples for the first part of Hero's Journey that fits what we know of Spock?

1) The Call to Adventure

2) Refusal of the Call

3) Supernatural Aid

4) Crossing The Threshold

5) Belly of The Whale
Yes, actually. Thanks for asking.

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Old May 4 2014, 06:01 AM   #44
Geoff Peterson
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

albion432 wrote: View Post
Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Hmmmm, do you have examples for the first part of Hero's Journey that fits what we know of Spock?

1) The Call to Adventure

2) Refusal of the Call

3) Supernatural Aid

4) Crossing The Threshold

5) Belly of The Whale
Yes, actually. Thanks for asking.

Since we obviously don't get involved in Spock's life until he is in his mid-30's, well past the initial stage of the hero journey, this section is going to be incomplete simply because it was not filmed, we still have plenty to go on. I will give examples, but will not go into much detail. And before I proceed, here is something to keep in mind: "If one or another of the basic elements of the archetypal pattern is omitted from a given fairy tale, legend, ritual, or myth, it is bound to be somehow or other implied—and the omission itself can speak volumes for the history and pathology of the example." -Hero With A Thousand Faces pg. 35-36

1) Discussed in Journey To Babel, led to rift with father
2) Initial refusal to the call to adventure not discussed, or indicated. In Spock's case may not have occurred at all.
3) First example is in Charlie X when the Thasian's recall Charlie. Several more incidents occur throughout the series.
4) Take your pick, every time Spock uses the transporter he is crossing a threshold. Sometime a second threshold is crossed like in City on the Edge or All Our Yesterdays
5) The Immunity Syndrome is a perfect example. So is the scene in Garrivick's quarters in Obsession. Basically one enters the belly of the beast whenever it seems likely they have died and there is little or no hope they will return.
1) The rift with Sarek is the result of Spock joining Starfleet, not the cause. The why would be his "Call".

3) How are the Thasians part of Spock's journey? Charlie's journey for sure, but Spock's? They don't act as mentor or guides for Spock, they just take Charlie away.

4) Using a transporter is like hopping in a cab. So I'm not sure that works. GoF is better, but that seems to be more of Kirk's journey, with Spock along for the ride.

5) Those aren't really transformative. V'Ger would be the best choice here.
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Old May 4 2014, 06:25 AM   #45
albion432
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Re: Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
albion432 wrote: View Post
Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Hmmmm, do you have examples for the first part of Hero's Journey that fits what we know of Spock?

1) The Call to Adventure

2) Refusal of the Call

3) Supernatural Aid

4) Crossing The Threshold

5) Belly of The Whale
Yes, actually. Thanks for asking.

Since we obviously don't get involved in Spock's life until he is in his mid-30's, well past the initial stage of the hero journey, this section is going to be incomplete simply because it was not filmed, we still have plenty to go on. I will give examples, but will not go into much detail. And before I proceed, here is something to keep in mind: "If one or another of the basic elements of the archetypal pattern is omitted from a given fairy tale, legend, ritual, or myth, it is bound to be somehow or other implied—and the omission itself can speak volumes for the history and pathology of the example." -Hero With A Thousand Faces pg. 35-36

1) Discussed in Journey To Babel, led to rift with father
2) Initial refusal to the call to adventure not discussed, or indicated. In Spock's case may not have occurred at all.
3) First example is in Charlie X when the Thasian's recall Charlie. Several more incidents occur throughout the series.
4) Take your pick, every time Spock uses the transporter he is crossing a threshold. Sometime a second threshold is crossed like in City on the Edge or All Our Yesterdays
5) The Immunity Syndrome is a perfect example. So is the scene in Garrivick's quarters in Obsession. Basically one enters the belly of the beast whenever it seems likely they have died and there is little or no hope they will return.
1) The rift with Sarek is the result of Spock joining Starfleet, not the cause. The why would be his "Call".

3) How are the Thasians part of Spock's journey? Charlie's journey for sure, but Spock's? They don't act as mentor or guides for Spock, they just take Charlie away.

4) Using a transporter is like hopping in a cab. So I'm not sure that works. GoF is better, but that seems to be more of Kirk's journey, with Spock along for the ride.

5) Those aren't really transformative. V'Ger would be the best choice here.
Yes, V'ger is another very good example.

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