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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 July 15 2014, 12:12 AM   #1
dougiezerts
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What if it Went Longer

Star Trek only lasted 3 seasons, if I recall it right. And the final season was made only because of a strong write-in campaign from fans!
What if the show lasted longer? Would the subsequent seasons be as good, or would the show have gone into a decline? I'm surious to hear your view on this subject.
Personally, I would have liked to have seen it go longer.
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Old July 15 2014, 12:32 AM   #2
Christopher
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Re: What if it Went Longer

dougiezerts wrote: View Post
And the final season was made only because of a strong write-in campaign from fans!
That's a myth. There's no proof that NBC ever intended to cancel the show in the first place -- at most it was "on the bubble" and the decision to renew it wasn't a sure thing -- and the number of letters received, while certainly quite large, was a fraction of the size Roddenberry later claimed.


What if the show lasted longer? Would the subsequent seasons be as good, or would the show have gone into a decline? I'm surious to hear your view on this subject.
Personally, I would have liked to have seen it go longer.
Well, if we assume that the events of 1968 happened unchanged -- Roddenberry stepping back from active showrunning, Fontana and Coon and Lucas leaving, Freiberger coming in as producer -- then a fourth season probably wouldn't have been any better than the third. Maybe getting a miraculous fourth-season renewal would've convinced Roddenberry to get more actively involved again, in which case the characterizations and dialogue would probably have gotten stronger; but it's just as possible that he would've still moved on to something new and left it entirely in Freiberger's hands. In which case we might've gotten something like the second season of Space: 1999, even more of a lowbrow, fanciful mess than season 3. And it would've certainly had an even lower budget than season 3, so the cast might've been smaller and the stories smaller as well. Hmm, with Martin Landau leaving Mission: Impossible at that time, Nimoy might have bailed from Star Trek even if it had been renewed, since he was eager for something new. And a season of ST without Spock is hard to contemplate, although it's interesting to imagine what character Freiberger might've introduced in his place. (Maybe 1999's Maya would've been created a few years earlier and played by a different actress?)

An alternative scenario would be if Roddenberry had stuck around after season 2 -- say, if NBC had given the show the good time slot it was promised instead of the Friday night death slot. Then we would've probably had a stronger season 3, and while it's unlikely that would've improved the ratings enough to save the show for a season 4, it's possible that continuing critical acclaim might've convinced NBC to keep it around for another year, although still probably with fewer episodes and a smaller cast. But Nimoy would've probably stuck around if he'd still felt that Spock was being written in an interesting way.


Of course, we did get two more seasons of Star Trek eventually, in 1973-74 on Saturday mornings.
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Old July 15 2014, 12:58 AM   #3
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Re: What if it Went Longer

Despite all of the problems that the third season had, there were still glimpses of creative things that they were willing to try, like shooting "up" through the tabletop in The Mark of Gideon, or between stair treads in For The World is Hollow.., Spock's monologue in The Cloudminders, shooting in slow-motion in The Empath...small things, I agree, but imagine if they had more money to work with per episode instead of less.

If only, if only.
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Old July 15 2014, 12:58 AM   #4
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Re: What if it Went Longer

Well, a season and a half of animated episodes, which didn't even equal the number of a single season order of a primetime series.
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Old July 15 2014, 01:01 AM   #5
erastus25
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Re: What if it Went Longer

Push The Button wrote: View Post
Despite all of the problems that the third season had, there were still glimpses of creative things that they were willing to try, like shooting "up" through the tabletop in The Mark of Gideon, or between stair treads in For The World is Hollow.., Spock's monologue in The Cloudminders, shooting in slow-motion in The Empath...small things, I agree, but imagine if they had more money to work with per episode instead of less.

If only, if only.
Yes, the direction in the third season is quite good, at times. It's one of the few (only?) elements that you can argue is better than previous seasons.
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Old July 15 2014, 01:58 AM   #6
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Re: What if it Went Longer

Maurice wrote: View Post
Well, a season and a half of animated episodes, which didn't even equal the number of a single season order of a primetime series.
Actually there's an interesting progression there... The first season (not counting pilots) was 28 episodes, the second was 26, the third was 24, and the two animated seasons combined were 22. If there had been a fourth live-action season, it might've had 22 episodes or fewer, due to the continuing budget cuts.

But creatively, TAS is a more direct continuation of TOS than most people recognize. Roddenberry was given total creative control by the network -- making TAS the only Trek production he's ever had absolute creative freedom with, despite his later renunciation of it. D.C. Fontana was its story editor, and nearly half its episodes were written by veterans of TOS (more than half if you include the ones written by director Marc Daniels and Walter Koenig). And despite popular misconceptions, it was written for adults and specifically marketed as the first Saturday-morning animated series aimed at an adult audience. Allowing for the shorter length and the reduction in sex and violence for the time slot, it was effectively a resumption of the original show, or as close as an animated series four years later could possibly get.
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Old July 15 2014, 02:51 AM   #7
ToddPence
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Re: What if it Went Longer

That's what she said.
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Old July 15 2014, 03:26 AM   #8
BillJ
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Re: What if it Went Longer

If it had went longer, it may not have been as fondly remembered. There was already quite a bit of plot duplication in those eighty episodes.
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Old July 15 2014, 04:02 AM   #9
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Re: What if it Went Longer

Christopher wrote: View Post
An alternative scenario would be if Roddenberry had stuck around after season 2 -- say, if NBC had given the show the good time slot it was promised instead of the Friday night death slot.
Not to pick on Christopher, of course, but I have to wonder, given how many other bits of Roddenberry Lore have been disproved …

Have we got solid evidence that NBC had penciled in Star Trek to a better timeslot for the third season before moving it to the Death Slot?
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Old July 15 2014, 07:10 AM   #10
Lance
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Re: What if it Went Longer

Christopher wrote: View Post
dougiezerts wrote: View Post
What if the show lasted longer? Would the subsequent seasons be as good, or would the show have gone into a decline? I'm surious to hear your view on this subject.
Personally, I would have liked to have seen it go longer.
Well, if we assume that the events of 1968 happened unchanged -- Roddenberry stepping back from active showrunning, Fontana and Coon and Lucas leaving, Freiberger coming in as producer -- then a fourth season probably wouldn't have been any better than the third. Maybe getting a miraculous fourth-season renewal would've convinced Roddenberry to get more actively involved again, in which case the characterizations and dialogue would probably have gotten stronger; but it's just as possible that he would've still moved on to something new and left it entirely in Freiberger's hands. In which case we might've gotten something like the second season of Space: 1999, even more of a lowbrow, fanciful mess than season 3. And it would've certainly had an even lower budget than season 3, so the cast might've been smaller and the stories smaller as well.
That last sentence is a good point and one not often discussed about television: that as time goes on the demands on the budget increase but the budget itself doesn't (indeed it isn't uncommon for it to be slashed, as it is a fact that most of the money allocated to a show is usually in it's early years when it's got a lot of excessive "start up costs"). This is a very natural process of television production, and one imagines it's also a large part of why some TV show's are perceived to have hit 'season rot' at some later point in their live.

The actor's salaries are also usually less in the early seasons, and it's well documented how Shatner and Nimoy negotiated their way into better deals each passing year of TOS. So there's every chance that a fourth season, with increasing actor costs and a decreasing budget, would have simply followed the trend set in the third season. I barely wont mentioning it, but it's even entirely possible that some of the supporting cast would have to be shed to get things back on an even keel (show's are certainly not adverse to taking these measures). Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley were more or less the only 'esssentials', so it's possible Freiberger or whoever else succeeded him would look at the supporting cast and say "Sorry Nichelle/Walter/Jimmy/George, but your services are no longer requested". The Enterprise could be staffed by day-players if necessary for a fraction the cost.

And the harsh reality of a Dollars and Cents world can be a bitter pill for a fandom to swallow, so I suspect there would be people in an uproar over a further perceived 'decline' in the series' fortunes. I'd hate to be that showrunner when the letters of complaint started rushing in.
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Old July 15 2014, 07:44 AM   #11
Harvey
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Re: What if it Went Longer

Christopher wrote: View Post
Hmm, with Martin Landau leaving Mission: Impossible at that time, Nimoy might have bailed from Star Trek even if it had been renewed, since he was eager for something new.
Nimoy was under contract, so I doubt he would have walked. Not that actors didn't break contracts from time to time -- Barbara Bain walked after three seasons of Mission: Impossible in 1969 -- but I think Nimoy was smart enough that he would have stuck it out rather than break his contract and risk his future career.
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Old July 15 2014, 07:48 AM   #12
Harvey
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Re: What if it Went Longer

Nebusj wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
An alternative scenario would be if Roddenberry had stuck around after season 2 -- say, if NBC had given the show the good time slot it was promised instead of the Friday night death slot.
Not to pick on Christopher, of course, but I have to wonder, given how many other bits of Roddenberry Lore have been disproved …

Have we got solid evidence that NBC had penciled in Star Trek to a better timeslot for the third season before moving it to the Death Slot?
Yep. There's an issue of Broadcasting that prints an early schedule for the 1968-69 season, with Star Trek penciled in on Mondays.

(At least, I think it is Broadcasting; it's too late and I'm too tired to check right now).
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Old July 15 2014, 08:59 AM   #13
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Re: What if it Went Longer

Is it my imagination, or were there fewer and fewer crewmen in the background in the third season, walking corridors and manning background stations, compare to earlier seasons?
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Old July 15 2014, 11:11 AM   #14
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Re: What if it Went Longer

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Is it my imagination, or were there fewer and fewer crewmen in the background in the third season, walking corridors and manning background stations, compare to earlier seasons?

No, it wasn't your imagination. That was just one of the ways to keep costs down.
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Old July 15 2014, 12:17 PM   #15
Zaku
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Re: What if it Went Longer

Green Shirt wrote: View Post
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Is it my imagination, or were there fewer and fewer crewmen in the background in the third season, walking corridors and manning background stations, compare to earlier seasons?

No, it wasn't your imagination. That was just one of the ways to keep costs down.
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