Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Harvey, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. Sir Rhosis

    Sir Rhosis Commodore Commodore

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    I always figured "D-C" was shorthand for "deceleration."

    Sir Rhosis
     
  2. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    De-C could just mean dropping below lightspeed (which would fit with them having to get into their little glowy shocktubes.)
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    First off, that's a non sequitur, because the rumor you're responding to was about Matt Jefferies's airplane and had nothing to do with Forbidden Planet.

    Second, it doesn't put a thing to rest, because similarity does not even remotely prove direct influence. Coincidences happen all the time. That's why we have the word "coincidence." Lots of movies and TV shows have 4-digit numbers, so it's not at all unlikely for two different productions to independently use the same 4-digit number by pure chance. It must happen all the time, therefore merely pointing out that it has happened demonstrates absolutely nothing about whether there was any causal relationship.
     
  4. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Of course, the whole "1701" business could be a case of cryptonesia. Matt Jefferies suggested it and Gene liked it because it "rang a bell".

    Jefferies' Waco plane had a registry starting with "17". There had been some debate whether he got the plane prior or after his work for Star Trek. Back in those days, could you just pick the registry or make a request the authorities would listen to (considering it was the Enterprise's designer making this request)? ;)

    Already the narration at the beginning of "Forbidden Planet" is clear evidence, that Roddenberry borrowed from it, IMHO. But I can't find fault with that.

    In the early 1970's, the production design in films like "Silent Running" or "Dark Star" were apparently trying to claim "we are the same league as 2001" (or making fun of it), so I'd say that Roddenberry also wanted to claim or suggest that Star Trek is the same league as "Forbidden Planet".

    The only thing I still don't like, is that both pilots ("The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before") were just too derivative regarding the plot.

    In "The Cage" we had an alien civilization that devastated the surface of their planet and had to relocate underground.

    Yawn...the Krell in "Forbidden Planet" had accomplished the same plus eliminating themselves (interestingly, the mutants in "Planet of the Apes" look like they are descendants of the Talosians. Wonder how Roddenberry must have felt getting a taste of his own "medicine" ;)).

    Then we have "Where No Man Has Gone Before" where we have a human being whose only difference to Dr. Mobius in "Forbidden Planet" is that he is consciously aware of his god-like powers (Yawn again).

    For me it's still a great thing that with the first regular episode produced ("The Corbomite Maneuver") TOS had found its own and unique style (in comparison it took TNG one or two seasons before they truly accomplished to cut the umbilical cord to TOS).

    Bob
     
  5. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I'm working a lot of hours the next couple of weeks, so two (shorter) posts today:

    Star Trek's First (Associate) Producer

    The Evolution of 'Space Seed' (this is mostly a reccomendation of John Tenuto and Maria Jose's excellent research being posted at the official Star Trek website, but I've added a few excerpts from the de Forest Research report for 'Space Seed' to make it worth reading)
     
  6. Myko

    Myko Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I enjoy how many of the "nits" we know were already found by DeForest Research back in the sixties but ignored by the production staff. :)
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    True -- although there are a couple that they didn't get quite right. One, the claim that Alpha Centauri wasn't likely to have planets. We've already found one possible exoplanet around Alpha Cen B, and it's a major target star in current exoplanet searches. Two, they were right to point out that the selective breeding experiments would've had to be going on in the '60s or earlier to produce adults by the '90s, but in real life, eugenics programs seeking to breed superior humans existed as far back as the 1880s. Of course, they all defined "superior" as "white," but if there had been a program that had correctly understood that you need genetic diversity for increased fitness, and if it had continued in secret from the 1880s onward, then the fifth generation of offspring might've been born around the late '60s or early '70s, and that could hypothetically have been enough time to produce the desired results with a lot of luck. (Of course the term "genetic engineering" hadn't been coined yet in 1966, so the episode assumed the supermen were the result of a more conventional eugenics program. It wasn't until TWOK that the genetic-engineering explanation was used.)

    And just think... we came this close to a movie called The Wrath of Govind.
     
  8. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    ...or how the exterior bridge design is a direct swipe from the ship in Universal's sci-fi mini-classic This Island Earth...

    [​IMG]


    So, it is not a stretch to conclude Roddenberry and his associates borrowed from well-known or visually striking sci-fi movies from the previous decade, much in the way endless late 70s/80s films took their design cues / feel from the first Star Wars film (1977) whether ILM worked on them or not.

    Not a stretch at all.

    The significant differerence is that Mitchell did not isolate himself on some remote world, reject the attention of others, or find himself consumed by his own inner demons/alien technology. Almost from the start, Mitchell realized his potential and wanted to extend his reach beyond his former life on the Enterprise. As a character, the audience was made to feel for the hybrid hero/villain--one could not sympathize with Morbius. Morbius would be imitated---only by producers such as Irwin Allen, who milked the "remote / sneaky scientist" plot too much on his 4 sci-fi TV series of the 60s.

    The 2nd pilot had its own force & voice, and it has much to do why it sold TOS, instead of being rejected as some clone of "that movie from a few years ago."
     
  9. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    :eek: Ouch...are we getting a vivid image how Roddenberry told Matt Jefferies what he wanted the ship to look like? Put pictures on a wall and then say "I like this and this element from the others, combine these into a new design that has recognizable, familiar features but still looks fresh and significantly different"?

    I'm afraid I don't see that much of a difference. Mitchell was isolated in sickbay and started to isolate himself in his delusions of grandure, he lost his compassion for others and was in fact consumed by his inner demon aka "Number One" ("The Prisoner") and became "evil" (i.e. militantly selfish).

    Alternately I could invoke "Charlie X" although this Episode is rather derivative of what we'd just seen in WNM. :rolleyes:

    My point is that both "Forbidden Planet" and the two aforementioned episodes (and to some extent "The Cage", too, because the Talos death penalty was apparently designed to discourage others from learning the superhuman telepathic powers of the Talosians...) essentially dealt with the concept that man was too imature and inexperienced to deal with such godlike powers.

    I think that TNG's "Hide and Q" was a nice tip-to-the-hat to these early TOS episodes (and though somewhat naive not that bad at all).

    Which reminds me of one thing: What happened to the TOS energy barrier? Unless my memory is flawed I don't recall it ever being mentioned again in TNG...maybe a Q thing, indeed? ;)

    Bob
     
  10. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Creative people find inspiration in all kinds of things that came before. This doesn't mean they "ripped off" other people's work. To "rip off" someone else's ideas is to copy them wholesale. And people can come up with similar ideas without deliberately ripping off someone else's work.
     
  11. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    These days they justify it by saying it's not a rip off or plagiarism, because it's an homage.
     
  12. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    No, that's just overt cynicism. One can be inspired or influenced by someone else's work without copying it line-for-line or word-for-word. Many people can come to the same idea independently without any knowledge of what someone else is doing, and just because someone can later say the first one to the solution was ripped off by all others doesn't automatically make it true.

    Was GR and other Trek creators influenced and inspired by Forbidden Planet and other works? Yes, most likely. Did they blatantly rip off those previous works down to the last detail? No.

    Hell, the essential concept for Forbidden Planet isn't new if you look back into the SF pulps. So who was FP ripping off?
     
  13. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    @ Melakon

    I agree. ;) Though I believe homage does qualify after a considerable amount of time has passed, and I do not consider a decade such a considerable amount of time.

    @ Warped9

    According to my knowledge there is not a sharp definition of the borderline between "borrowing" something and obvious plagiarism.

    Allow me to invoke a later example. As a film you had "Star Wars" and as a rival follow up TV series "Battlestar Galactica" (which resulted in an inconclusive lawsuit between 20th Century Fox and Universal).

    The whole look of BSG looked like a clone of SW (no wonder, many of the behind the scenes artists of SW worked on BSG) but the entire story premise was totally different than SW.
    So I don't really see that much plagiarism at the expense of SW.

    On the other hand you have "Forbidden Planet" and as a follow up TV series you had "Star Trek".

    The problem I see here is that Roddenberry did copy the story premise, i.e. a United (Federation of) Planets cruiser on patrol duty, and the basic plot element (what happens if man becomes like God?).

    On behalf of ST and Gene Roddenberry I nevertheless have to admit that he turned a mediocre concept into something better and superior.

    As a TV series "Forbidden Planet" would have sucked: The character of J.J. Abrams...pardon...Adams was hilarious. The captain always reacted to events, was hesitant and even made fun of in the story (with the doctor being the actual hero). Roddenberry was also correct that the character of the chef was rather redundant, both as a comic relief and as a member on an otherwise fully automated ship.

    But despite my love for TOS, I don't think I confuse "inspiration" with "plagiarism". I'm pretty certain that without "Forbidden Planet" the Star Trek we know would have turned out quite different - if ever...

    Bob
     
  14. Sir Rhosis

    Sir Rhosis Commodore Commodore

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    Harvey,

    Excellent articles, as always. Thanks.

    Sir Rhosis
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    William Shakespeare. It's well-known that Forbidden Planet was inspired by The Tempest. Which, ironically, is the only Shakespeare play that isn't a remake/adaptation of a specific earlier work.
     
  16. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    "Well-known"? Since the topic of this thread is to separate myth from fact, this is a good occasion to debunk this particular myth.

    I recommend reading Shakespeare's actual work. The protagonists in "Forbidden Planet" differ so vastly in their roles and actions from the characters in The Tempest that it's most definitely not an adaptation (and neither an inspiration, IMHO).

    It would be like saying that Pike is a carbon copy of Adams, Boyce is a carbon copy of Ostrow and Vina is a carbon copy of Altaira, which apparently is not the case. ;)

    Bob
     
  17. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    And I'd strongly recommend you read one or more of CFQ's superb articles on the making of FP, which make it very clear that THE TEMPEST is absolutely the basis for the film's story.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Seriously, Robert Comsol? You actually think that I, a professional writer in the English language, could somehow not already be familiar with Shakespeare? I don't think you thought that one through. Heck, I even wrote a whole Star Trek novel that was loaded with Shakespearean allusions and themes, including a central character named Ariel, sections named "Rounded With a Sleep," "Brave New World," and "Abysm of Time," and a Miranda-class starship which I included specifically for the Tempest nod.

    You are, of course, correct that there are major differences between the play and the film's story. But that is why I said the film was "inspired by" the play rather than "adapted from" it. As trevanian points out, the filmmakers have made it clear over the years that the play was their inspiration.
     
  19. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Agreed, I have come to look forward to this every week. A great project, and well done.

    Yeah... To claim that FP wasn't even "inspired" by The Tempest is contrary to just about everything ever written about the movie.
     
  20. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Hear, hear...Do you really need to invoke "the argument of authority"? :rolleyes:

    Yes, you said "inspired by" but I first wanted to deal with the myth that it's an adaptation, which it most definitely is not.
    But seriously, how does "inspired by" qualify amidst the obvious facts?

    Supposedly, Dr. Morbius is Prospero, his daughter Altaira is Miranda, Commander Adams is Ferdinand, Robbie the genie Ariel and the Monster from the ID probably Caliban, but in summary FORBIDDEN PLANET is definitely an antithesis:

    • Prospero brings the travelers against their will to the island, Morbius wants them to return to Earth
    • Prospero schemes for Miranda to meet Ferdinand, Morbius tries to prevent her encounter with Adams (thus giving birth to his monster)
    • Caliban’s assasination plans are unsuccessful, the Monster from the ID kills Morbius
    • and while Ariel is set free in the end, Robbie continues to serve the space travellers as astronavigator.
    Bob