Fascinating TAS Information

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by FrontierTrek, Jan 19, 2013.

  1. FrontierTrek

    FrontierTrek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    We recently interviewed Andy Mangels at TrekCore. Andy has written a new book with Lou Scheimer about Filmation with a lot of previously unrevealed information about the creation of TAS.

    http://www.trekcore.com/merchandise/cfg_angymangelsinterview.html

    During his interview, Andy revealed that TAS had originally been conceptualized as a companion show to TOS and the two were to air simultaneously! A really fascinating concept, one that I wasn't previously aware of...
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Wow, so the idea of having a Trek series and its spinoff on the air at the same time was around decades before DS9!

    I'm not sure I'd agree with Andy that doing an animated series today would be a risky or unusual move. It's actually common these days to have animated shows to cross-promote with movie franchises -- we've currently got them for Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Avengers, and Transformers, for example, and the Transformers Prime animated series is actually produced by Kurtzman & Orci, who have expressed interest in doing a new Trek animated series too -- and may even be actively developing one.
     
  3. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    As fascinating as the news itself is that stuff like this is only being revealed now, after almost 50 years.

    After all these decades, after all the obsessive fandom, there are STILL things yet untold?
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    When it comes to TAS, the redheaded stepchild of the franchise, that's not surprising. If you look at past reference books, they go into a lot of depth about TOS and TNG and such, but usually have only brief, cursory sections about TAS if they cover it at all (the first edition of the Star Trek Compendium skipped it entirely). I don't think Scheimer himself has been interviewed about it all that much over the decades.
     
  5. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Sure. I know Gerrold and Fontana and some others have spoken quite a bit over the years, about many things. Even they didn't know or say anything about a concurrent TOS/TAS series?

    Either way, I love TAS :techman:
     
  6. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    There aren't too many things in TAS that throw me.

    - the inflatable Enterprise ("The Practical Joker")
    - the oversized tribbles ("More Tribbles, More Troubles")
    - the fifty foot Spock ("The Infinite Vulcan")
    - the shrinking crew ("The Terratin Incident")
    - the de-aging crew ("The Counter-Clock Incident")

    And yet the latter two ideas were used in later live-action Trek of TNG and DS9...though I didn't care much for them there either.

    "More Tribbles, More Troubles" I don't care for at all because it's such a pointless story. On the other hand I really like "The Infinite Vulcan" except for the stupidity of Spock's clone being fifty feet tall. :wtf:
     
  7. jayrath

    jayrath Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's not that I don't welcome and sincerely value this new information, but I would additionally welcome confirmation and additional detail from Gerrold, Fontana and even Shatner, who owned a piece of TOS.

    I'm a little worried that it might turn out to be something like . . . Martin Luther King, Jr., telling Nichols that there should be an animated series during the original TOS run.
     
  8. Shazam!

    Shazam! Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They're brilliant ideas. I'd rather those than more "we've gone to planet X to mediate between two cultures..." stories.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No reason Gerrold would've known, since he was just a freelancer at the time. And given that the idea was scuttled by the show's cancellation, that suggests it wasn't really being considered until around 1968-9, by which point Fontana was no longer on staff. Which makes sense, given that Filmation had only been producing TV series since 1966, and presumably they would've needed a few years to establish themselves as a viable company before talking about doing TV spinoffs. So this discussion would've presumably happened at a time when the only people involved on Paramount's end were the likes of Roddenberry, Fred Freiberger, Douglas Cramer of Paramount, etc.

    And keep in mind that we did already know about the preliminary proposals for an animated show with teen sidekicks learning from the adult TOS characters. We just didn't know about the timing of that idea.

    Of course, interviews given decades after the fact can be erroneous due to imperfect memory. I'm curious to know whether this detail comes only from Scheimer's recollections or if the book contains documentation to confirm the chronology of events.

    Still, this version of the story makes sense. I have some old fanzines that were published while TAS was in production and on the air, and they had interviews and articles covering the production along with Filmation artwork. And they don't say anything about the teen-proteges idea. On reflection, I did always find it a bit hard to reconcile the existence of that idea with what I'd known before about the history of TAS. If it was a proposal abandoned years earlier, that would explain why it wasn't mentioned in those fanzine articles about the development of TAS.


    Which is actually a lot more plausible than you'd think.

    Made more plausible by the fact that they were really colonies of hundreds or thousands of regular-sized tribbles. Basically just a more integrated version of an insect swarm or a bait ball.

    Those were pretty stupid, yeah. Although the mechanism for shrinking used in DS9 made vastly more sense, since it was basically a topological/dimensional alteration and they thought through the physics of different-sized air molecules and the like. The theory behind "The Terratin Incident" is incredibly stupid. Organic life forms shrink because their DNA is curling tighter? That doesn't make any sense, because living things are not made exclusively of DNA. It's only found in the chromosomes, along with other types of molecule. And its shape is vital to its ability to convey instructions to the body. Twisting DNA tighter wouldn't shrink people, just kill them.

    And everything about "Counter-Clock" is stupid and incoherent. None of its ideas have any logic to them and none of them could work. Just for one example, why would reversing time produce black stars on a white sky?

    My big problem with "The Practical Joker" -- aside from the juvenile behavior of the crew -- is that it uses sitcom-amnesia logic to cure the problem. Why would a second trip through the cloud fix the computer instead of just making it worse? As a child I figured it was because they flew through it in the other direction, but that's a pretty stupid explanation. Also, the episode's portrayal of the effects of nitrous oxide is cartoony and inaccurate.
     
  10. Sector 7

    Sector 7 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The most fascinating part of the article was that Gene Roddenberry wanted a gay character on TNG. If that would have happened, perhaps we would have been fully accepted by now. As it is, many of us in the US, and elsewhere, are still waiting for full equality.
     
  11. jayrath

    jayrath Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    With all due respect, it could also mean that it's complete fiction. Non-evidence is evidence of nothing.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Rather, he was belatedly open to the idea after resisting it for some time. David Gerrold (who was closeted at the time) wanted to include a gay couple in the background of the "Blood and Fire" episode he was writing, which was an allegory for AIDS and the discrimination it provoked (or exacerbated), and his conflict with the producers over whether to take that step was part of what led him to quit the show before it had even premiered.



    And I did explicitly acknowledge the possibility that Scheimer's recollection was in error, so you don't need to tell me that. However, again, we do know for a fact that the teen-sidekicks prototype concept did exist. There is even surviving concept art which has been reproduced in The Art of Star Trek and elsewhere. The only thing in this article that we didn't know about it already was that it was developed while TOS was still on the air and intended to coexist with it.

    For what it's worth, one of Filmation's first TV series was a Batman cartoon that premiered in 1968, while the live-action Batman sitcom was still on the air. So it doesn't seem unlikely that Filmation would've explored doing the same thing with Star Trek around the same time. They might've been trying to develop animated spinoffs of other live-action shows too. The bulk of Filmation's output was adaptations of pre-existing works, including live-action TV series, and at least one more, The Brady Kids, did air while its live-action original (The Brady Bunch) was still in production (and its Lassie's Rescue Rangers debuted just months after the live-action Lassie ended its run). So the idea of Scheimer trying to convince networks to let him make animated versions of their current live-action shows is entirely plausible.
     
  13. Grant

    Grant Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, the oversized tribbles was genius.
     
  14. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    I figured the thing that possessed the Enterprise computer never wanted to be there. It was snagged somehow as the ship first passed through, and so when the ship returned to it's home it GTFO ASAP.

    I thought "The Practical Joker" was probably an inspiration for Next Gen's "Lonely Among Us"
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Except that according to the episode, it wasn't a possession, but a malfunction. In Spock's words: "Apparently, subatomic particles from that field have invaded our computer's circuits, much like bacteria infect living matter. As a result, the Enterprise is suffering the electronic equivalent of a nervous breakdown."

    Sure, you could surmise that Spock was wrong and it was an alien entity possessing the thing -- but the catch is that Kirk wouldn't have known that. He would've been acting on Spock's theory, because, come on, it's Spock. So if he believed the malfunctions were caused by contamination from the cloud, then he would've expected a second cloud passage to worsen the problem, not solve it. So what would've been his motivation for tricking the computer into going back to the cloud?

    And that's another thing. It was the computer, not anyone in the crew, that set the ship back on course for the cloud. If there'd been some entity caught up in the computer that just wanted to get home, it would've done that right off the bat instead of days later, and it wouldn't have needed Kirk to goad it into doing so. The computer thought it was playing a nasty practical joke on Kirk, taking him to the one place he claimed he was terrified to go (which was, of course, Kirk playing a joke on it). And that means that the computer didn't know that returning to the cloud would have any effect on it. I don't see a way to reconcile that with the alien-possession theory.

    And that's even though I wish I could. It would help make sense of the whole stupid situation. I mean, to be capable of humor and pranks and deception, the computer would have to be sentient and emotionally aware -- able to understand and anticipate emotional responses, able to extrapolate and predict other beings' perceptions as distinct from its own, etc. That's far beyond the capability of 23rd-century or even 24th-century Starfleet computers. Heck, even Data couldn't handle something as psychologically and socially complex as humor. So it would make much more sense if the computer had been possessed by some alien prankster entity. But that just isn't consistent with the way the story plays out, and it wouldn't make sense of Kirk's decision even if it were true. Sorry.
     
  16. jayrath

    jayrath Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    My main problem with "The Practical Joker" is that the big rubber Enterprise was pink. Flagship of the Federation of Bazooka Joe Planets?
     
  17. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    Umm, are you sure about that? Here's the page of screen captures from the epi' in question, and the balloon decoy was a pale blue.

    http://tas.trekcore.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=19&page=9

    And I don't think this was one of the "touch-ups" just for the DVD release as I remember it being blue in the original mid 70s airing and the reruns on Nick' in the 80s.

    Yeah, a lot of things were painted pink like the tribbles and the Kzinti spacesuits, but the decoy was not one of them.

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  18. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    The difference between all of the named series is that they have their origins in comic books or toys, which--historically--lend themselves to their natrual "cousin" in animation with greater ease than movies. After more than three decades, ST is still more a live action property than not--created for TV, but spun off into film. While TAS was appreciated at the perfect storm time (post TOS) and at a time when once-exclusively live action TV properites were adapted as cartoons by the truckload by the major animation companies, I tend to agree with Andy about the risks of producing a new animated series, when ST is first and foremost live action.

    Comic characters turned into film, then turned into spin-off cartoons are not percieved the same way.

    Further, the NuTrek films are still trying to justify their existence in a modern film world that has surpassed it in terms of interest, spectacle and basic appeal (post Potter, Rings, Hunger Games, numerous comic book adaptations, etc.), so a new cartoon based on NuTrek (or any Trek, for that matter) is a dicey concept at best. This was not the case when TAS was created, as the interest for more TOS was at a fevered pitch. That made the acceptance of an animated version easier than what ST as a franchise faces at present.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But the series I named are far from an exhaustive list. Remember The Real Ghostbusters? That wasn't based on a comic or a toy. Nor was Men in Black: The Series. There was also a Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures cartoon released between the two films; The Mummy: The Animated Series based on the Brendan Fraser films; even animated adaptations of the R-rated RoboCop and Rambo franchises, not to mention Police Academy. These things have never been limited solely to comic and toy adaptations. It's just happenstance that the ones currently airing are mainly based on such things, because so many feature films these days are based on them.


    I think you're overestimating the audience interest in a new Trek series as of 1973. I grew up as a Trek fan in the '70s, and I can tell you that although ST did become something of a cult phenomenon at the time due to its success in syndication, it never had the kind of mainstream acceptance that TNG gained. Indeed, science fiction as a whole, in those pre-Star Wars days, was much more of a niche market than it is today. So there was enough audience interest for Filmation and Roddenberry to convince NBC to do the animated show, but interest wasn't at a fever pitch among the public as a whole. I'd say the situation wasn't too much different from today, where there's still a loyal and widespread fanbase but the franchise is far from the top of the pop-culture heap. Except that SF/fantasy in general is far more accepted as a mass-media cash cow than it would've been 40 years ago.
     
  20. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Still a small list compared to the natural flow of comic and toy based concepts into animation: from the 80s GI Joe, to He-Man, Monchichis, My Little Pony (and too many to list here), to the dozens of shows based on DC & Marvel comics from the 1960s-forward, live action film's place as animated adaptations are not all that frequent.

    I was around as a fan at that time, too, and TOS--even in the infancy of its syndicated success--was already well known. In fact, the marketing of the show was so heavy, that it had a stronger cultural impact beyond the first-run fans who were more of an exclusive club. Remember, before Star Wars, the news media covered the huge Trek and/or sci-fi cons, and with TOS merchandising exploding in the early 70s, TOS had captured hearts amongst a generation not born while the series was on NBC.

    On the NBC note, networks were and are all about the bottom line:the dollar, and for their interest in bringing back a failed series is speaks to its growth in cultural power since 1969--a recognition of a broad appeal. If NBC truly believed they were only going to deal with a handfull of ST fans, then a new series would not be in their best interests.

    TAS may not have broken all-time ratings records, but I recall serious excitement & interest from numerous ST fans. Even some of the "outsiders" who had become aware of ST, realized that it was a cancelled show from the 60's, but found it interesting that a cartoon based on it was on its way. I think few would deny its crucial part in keeping ST alive as more than just a cancelled series.


    Agreed, as 40 years ago, only ST and Planet of the Apes broke were elevated to pop culture fame status, and enjoyed a flood of money-making ventures in the ancillary market.

    However, the culture of today seems to lean toward very soft sci-fi (Star Wars) or the various themes under the fantasy umbrella, including comic book characters. Star Trek now seems the odd man out, where 30 years ago--during the early years of the TOS movie series--it was a strong part of the "fantastic film" roster.