Fact checking These Are The Voyages....

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Warped9, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    The info on M:I in TATV is negligible and essentially worthless. Makes sense since Cushman seems to have been focusing on the nights TOS actually aired and not the weeks overall. M:I aired on Saturday nights in 1966/67 and so wasn't in direct competition with Star Trek. And from looking around it doesn't look like M:I became a Top 30 or 20 show until it's third season, although I could be wrong.

    Would it be possible to get more info from the old Daily Variety issues?
     
  2. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I've been emailing Harvey re what Star Trek's competition was, and you can actually see Trek's ratings change when the opposing shows get moved around.

    Trek's average share for the 8:30–9 slot for weeks 2–4 (I'm ignoring the week 1 aberration since it was up against only reruns on CBS that week) was 34.44 against ABC's bombtastic Tammy Grimes Show, cancelled after 4 episodes. When Grimes was replaced by The Dating Game(!!!), Trek's average share dropped to 28.39.

    One could argue that The Dating Game of all things sucked 6.05 share points from Star Trek...that's a 21% drop!

    Furthermore Trek's average share for that half hour dropped even further to 27.81 when Bewitched moved from 9 to 8:30. That's a 6.63 share drop from the show's first weeks.

    Conversely, when Bewitched vacated the 9 pm slot, Trek's rating for that half hour went up against the much weaker and short-lived Love On A Rooftop, gaining about 2.50 share points.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  3. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Some last figures before I go to bed. Among the top 30 programs from the 1966-67 season, the lowest average rating was a 20.2 (Bonanza, the #1 program, had a 29.1 average rating).

    Star Trek came in at a 18.46 average rating at the end of the season. It definitely wasn't among the top 30.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1966–67_United_States_network_television_schedule

    The Mission: Impossible book says it finished the season "with a 29 share" (and at 51st place). That's almost the same number as Star Trek (a 29.39 share).

    The book also points out that many thought M:I would be cancelled (as they did with Trek), but since it was a prestige production (as was Trek) and had the support of the higher-ups (as did Trek, i.e. Mort Werner at NBC) it was given a second season. Plus, Trek had the color TV boos with RCA.
     
  4. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    That isn't really surprising. Bewitched by it's very nature of being a generally well crafted show as well as being a comedy and having a very accessible concept should by all rights have a greater draw than a show like Star Trek.

    As has been said we need context. And for that we would have to average out the figures for the shows Star Trek was competing against on the nights it aired. Then we'd have a clearer idea of its ranking.

    It also would be nice if we could get hold of demographic information. Of course I don't know how detailed we want to get with this. :)
     
  5. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Captain Captain

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    Not sure about what a fourth season might have entailed, but your earlier points are well taken. GR's abrasive attitude towards NBC must have grated on them all the more because Star Trek wasn't a runaway hit by any measure, and was meanwhile expensive to produce. If GR had taken a more cooperative tact with NBC, trying to work with them, then they may have cut him more slack. But as Cushman's book points out, there was already a history of friction between him and NBC on "The Lieutenant," enough friction to get that show cancelled prematurely.

    I think Solow's departure, as well as the shifting of the series to a cost-conscious Paramount, meant the 'emperor (GR) was now naked,' so to speak. Along with those factors, NBC must have surmised that the second "Save Star Trek" campaign originated in GR's office.

    It's no wonder that Star Trek ended up on Friday nights at 10:00 for the third season. NBC wanted it dead as they were tired of GR's shenanigans. The only mystery is how it could have been originally slated for the Monday time slot that eventually went to Laugh-In. I personally think this was a case of intentional deception on NBC's part... and that they must have particularly enjoyed pulling the rug out from under him.

    I also wonder about the "Batman Syndrome." Batman, as many of you know, was a runaway hit for ABC for two seasons. But by the end of the second season, the ratings began a serious slide as the novelty wore off. By the third season, the show was roaring towards cancellation despite all efforts by the producers to save it, including eliminating the cliff-hangers and bringing in Yvonne Craig as Batgirl. But once the magic was gone, it's end was inevitable.

    I often wonder if the novelty wore off to a certain extent with Star Trek's audience as well. I don't think so, but I'm not really sure. But maybe NBC was thinking about Star Trek in this context as well...
     
  6. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Captain Captain

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    Great, now I won't be able to get that tune out of my head tonight.....
     
  7. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    How far do we want to go? On this one subject I'm content just to know if there's any validity to Cushman's claims that the show was a hit in any ratings sense.
     
  8. drt

    drt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I recall reading years ago in some Trek book that detailed demographics weren't collected until the year after Star Trek was cancelled, but that they were "test driven" if you will by Nielsen during the final season (that is collected, but used internally by Nielsen to refine thenew process), and that Star Trek did do very well with the commercially valuable young adult demographic (18-34 maybe?). However, I don't know the validity of that claim or if it's more Trek apocrypha.
     
  9. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    See "What About Demographics?" on this page (link).
     
  10. drt

    drt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Ahhh...

    So the authors of those previous works were, to be fair, perhaps mis-interpreting the statistics.

    Thanks for the link.
     
  11. M

    M Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I hate to sound like a broken record, but since no-one seemed to notice when I asked the first time, I'll just ask again: Where do you get the numbers for every episode from? Are they in the TATV book? Is there a way you could post all the ratings? I'm very curious! Thank you!
     
  12. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ Yes, the numbers (Nielsen National Reports) are in the book.

    And regarding demographics Cushman does mention them at the end of the first season. He cites that Star Trek was in the Top 10 for a particular youthful demographic, and it was a target NBC was aiming at.
     
  13. Cap'n Claus

    Cap'n Claus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Voyage was "the ultimate bottle show." After the first year and a half, the series pretty comfortable settled into the standing sets of the Seaview and stayed there. Only very occasionally did they venture out. With the stock footage, shared props and monster costumes (not to mention episodes using the regular cast as doubles or villains), the series was apparently done pretty cheaply.
     
  14. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    It's funny in a way because you can see the age old issue at work again: everyone wants something that's first rate, but they want to pay third rate prices for it.

    Desilu really wasn't the outfit to be producing Star Trek. It was a marriage of necessity when both really needed a different partner. Star Trek needed an outfit with first rate facilities and not one on the financial ropes. That wasn't Desilu. Desilu needed hit shows, but ones that weren't going to cost them much money. They needed something more conventional. The problem with that is that something more conventional was less likely to be noticed amongst all the other programming.

    Anyone should have seen going into it that a show like Star Trek could reuse existing studio backlots and redressed props only so much and that a lot of stuff would have to be made from scratch and it would (by necessity) be f/x heavy. From a purely business standpoint it's easy to see how Desilu execs were not fond of Star Trek particularly as many of them being old-school which likely wouldn't have found the show's concept appealing.

    A show like Star Trek simply couldn't be done cheaply.


    Another thing to keep in mind here. Not being a runaway hit is not the same as being a failure. There's a lot of middle ground.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I've always wondered why Roddenberry was never able to get another non-Trek series on the air, when he had a number of good ideas that could have worked. I've now come to understand that it was just his difficulty getting along with others and inability to compromise with the networks. He actually got an order for a Questor series, but chose to abandon it because he couldn't accept the changes the network wanted. Now, in his defense, he was absolutely right, because the changes would've gutted the show of its emotional core and turned it into the kind of derivative Fugitive knockoff the suits wanted. But if he'd been more of a negotiator and less of a "my way or the highway" type, maybe he could've found a way to win them over.


    It largely did, but it didn't have as much of an impact as Roddenberry claimed. The network was probably going to renew the show anyway; at least, there's no evidence that it was ever really going to cancel the show, just that the show was on the bubble for a while.


    I don't think that's so. What laypeople tend to overlook is that the decision about whether to keep or cancel a show isn't just about that show in a vacuum -- it's about the network's entire programming strategy and how to create the strongest weeklong schedule. It's about how all the shows stand in relation to one another. Often a decision to promote a strong series will inflict collateral damage on other series that have to be shoved aside or cancelled to make room for it. So shows can be bumped to bad time slots or cancelled for reasons that pertain to entirely different shows.

    For instance, one of the strongest and most acclaimed shows on the fledgling FOX network back in '89 was Alien Nation, and the network really liked that show and wanted to keep it around. But at the time, FOX was only airing programming a few nights a week, and they wanted to add more nights, to produce more programming. And their bean counters determined that they could produce four sitcoms for the same amount of money they spent on Alien Nation. And so AN was cancelled. They didn't want to cancel the show -- indeed, they kept working with the producers for years trying to find a way to bring it back, and eventually did revive it as a series of TV movies -- but they decided they had to, for reasons that weren't about the show itself but were instead about the overall strategy of the network as a whole.

    So I doubt they moved Trek out of the Monday slot solely to punish GR. More likely they decided that they had another show that could perform more strongly in the Monday slot, a show they wanted to promote for the overall good of the network. ST was just one of dozens of shows they had to juggle and find the best places for, and it just ended up being one of the leftovers, one that had to settle for a weak time slot because the better-performing shows ended up with the strong ones.
     
  16. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Captain Captain

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    My sense of Cushman's ratings claims is that they were better than they've been purported to have been, not that the show was a hit. I think we all know it wasn't a hit. I remember a second season (I think) critical message from Stan Robertson to GR (and/or Gene Coon) from the Solow/Justman book where the former said "Star Trek is not a hit, definitely not a hit." And I think if Star Trek was a hit they would have picked up more of the cost of producing the series, especially with Desilu being so cash-strapped.
     
  17. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Cushman had this to say when interviewed at a Las Vegas convention appearance in 2013:

    He doesn't use the word "hit," but it is implicit here that the show's ratings were "good."

    He also claims that since the show was NBC's number 1 program on Thursday and then Friday nights, the network couldn't have cancelled the series because of its ratings. I (and others) have already explained how this reasoning is problematic.

    And here's another interview (at Trek Movie):

    His claim that "I found out for Season One and the episode “Mantrap” had an audience share of 47 percent of the TVs in America running, were tuned into Star Trek," is misleading. Obviously, only "The Man Trap" had that audience share, and Cushman doesn't point out they key fact that Star Trek was up against a re-run on CBS and The Tammy Grimes Show on ABC (which, as Maurice points out, was such a colossal failure that it was pulled after only four episodes).

    He complains that My Three Sons went for five more seasons, but he neglects to admit that it finished the season with a higher average rating than Star Trek (it was tied for the 29th spot among the top 30 shows), and that it's ratings increased significantly in following seasons.

    He goes on in the same interview...

    He'll have to back up his claim that NBC "tried to cancel" the series after season two in the next volume; I certainly haven't seen any evidence of this. Also, his conclusion that NBC "obviously...[was] trying to distance it from the audience" is far from obvious. Indeed, it's nothing but author speculation.

    And calling it NBC's "top rated show" as he does here is deliberately misleading. A quick look at the top 30 shows from 1966-67 shows a number of NBC shows, which, obviously, rated higher than Star Trek (which wasn't in the top 30).
     
  18. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I think this is the real point. For decades the story has been repeated that TOS was a ratings failure and justification for NBC wanting to cancel the show. But we've already seen NBC quite liked the show and it was Desilu suits who didn't care for it. And now it just might be, that while not a huge hit, TOS' ratings were distinctly better than what everyone has believed all these decades. It certainly wasn't anywhere near a failure.

    There's an analogy for that today: opening weekend box office sales for feature films. The expectation is for huge opening weekend sales and anything else is simply icing on the cake. Whereas at one time films could run from several weeks to months on end at the theatre. Now you're lucky if a film goes a month a the theatre and then the expectation is to make money on the video sales.
     
  19. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Ah, here's what I was looking for (see page 56 of the PDF):

    [​IMG]

    The text of the magazine calls both Mission: Impossible and Star Trek "marginal shows" among "the vast grey belt" of programs which are "neither a clear hit nor an obvious failure."

    Notice how many shows renewed with new time slots for next season.
     
  20. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ The adjacent article makes for an interesting read. I found this portion quite on point.

    [​IMG]

    The letter writing campaign to keep Star Trek on for a second season might have only been a nudge in helping to decide in favour of the show's return. Ratings wise the show was in that grey area, but it was reaching the audience NBC wanted to reach.

    This kind of information should have been included in Cushman's book because it would have put his assertions in a proper context. Sure Star Trek wasn't a runaway hit, but neither was it a disaster by any stretch. And it had things going in its favour such as reaching the desired demographic.

    The audience at large---us---have long accepted that Star Trek's ratings were bad and thus led to its ultimate cancellation. But in this context we can see that the ratings---while not stellar in terms of pure numbers---weren't anywhere near bad, and coupled with being strong with the target audience it justified keeping the show going.

    Going further from the above goes to another point made earlier in the article: even a good performing show can be killed if someone doesn't like it for some reason or other just as a poor performing show can be propped up and kept going even if it's losing money simply because someone likes it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014