Is Spock the main character of TOS?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by albion432, May 2, 2014.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I know that perfectly well. My point is that it was fan reaction that made Spock the breakout character. Once the network saw how hugely popular Spock was with the fans, then of course they dropped their resistance.

    Just because Roddenberry insisted on keeping the character, that doesn't mean that he was always meant to be the central character. It just means that Roddenberry didn't want to give up on having an alien character in his show set in outer space. He wanted that alien to be an important part of the show, but not the core of the show.



    Said memo was issued after the pitch document I mentioned before, which is dated March 11, 1964 and already includes the entire cast I listed above. Therefore, it does not reveal anything whatsoever about the order in which the characters were created. I think everyone knows that Number One was written for Majel, but that tells us nothing about when the character was created relative to the others, or when Spock was created.


    That's a better way of putting it. As I said, that's certainly what the network and the fans wanted. But there was always an effort made (by the producers and definitely by Shatner) to ensure that Kirk remained on a par with Spock. I'd say Spock became more "the de facto star" than "the main character" per se.
     
  2. HIjol

    HIjol Admiral and Consummate Peacemaker Premium Member

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    And 2

    Marsden and Bill are correct...especially in TOS, it is was much about something the ship "did" or "did not do", and/or about how the crew had to react when things went wrong...

    The Lady Enterprise was and always will be the main character...
     
  3. albion432

    albion432 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I may have to concede this point to you, I have looked and relooked for the source for where I read Number One and Spock were the first two characters conceived of for Star Trek and have not been able to find it. I may have at some point mistaken first cast for first conceived. If I do come across the source I will post it asap.
     
  4. T'Bonz

    T'Bonz Romulan Curmudgeon Administrator

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    To me, Spock MADE Trek.
     
  5. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    Note that Nimoy directed ST III. In the very film where he brought Spock back, he also took pains to kill off his rival for "main character" status, namely the Enterprise.

    The 1701-A then had the thankless task of filling in for a fan favorite, much like Priscilla Barnes replacing Suzanne Somers on Three's Company or Cheryl Ladd coming into Charlie's Angels for Farrah Fawcett. It's never quite the same, which was Nimoy's plan all along.
     
  6. HIjol

    HIjol Admiral and Consummate Peacemaker Premium Member

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    Now THAT is what I call cold Vulcan logic...wow!
     
  7. albion432

    albion432 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Note that Nimoy directed ST III. In the very film where he brought Spock back, he also took pains to kill off his rival for "main character" status, namely the Enterprise.
    thank you ZapBrannigan for supplying the most insightful post in this thread so far. It is indeed interesting how the death and "rebirth" of the Enterprise mirrors that of Spock. Although Spock seems like he's physically the same man, he too, like 1701-A, is actually a replacement of the former. It is also interesting when considering the Enterprise metaphorically as the "Starship Earth", which is how Roddenberry described it on a metaphorical level. With that perspective in mind, the Enterprise being consumed by fire only to become new again is not unlike the new Earth at the end of Revelation. The scene on the bridge at the end of ST:IV looks rather "heavenly" does it not? Is this meant to be symbolic of a "glorified" Enterprise/Earth? Perhaps. But it wouldn't due to have the recently resurrected Spock, or, metaphorically the "glorified" "world savior", "ascend" into anything less than a "New Earth", ie 1701-A, would it?
    One can see what Shatner thought of the 1701-A, he turned it into a joke, and a growner at that. He mentioned missing his old chair for the first time in 5 movies. To which chair does he refer? He hadn't been sitting in the original one for 20 years. But point taken anyway- refit or not, this isn't the original Enterprise.
     
  8. albion432

    albion432 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    An interesting example of the Vulcan idiom "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one" in action. Here "the many" are the audience/network, "the few" are Star Trek's producers, and "the one" is Shatner. Star Trek, and Spock in particular, is an interesting case study in how a creation can take on a life of its own despite the initial intent of its creator.
     
  9. TheSubCommander

    TheSubCommander Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  10. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    All they did was change the name and actor, they didn't change the character. The captain's name was in a constant state of flux during the development process.
     
  11. albion432

    albion432 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  12. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    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.
     
  13. albion432

    albion432 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    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?
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2014
  14. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    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.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.


    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.
     
  16. albion432

    albion432 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    x
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2014
  17. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    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.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.


    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.


    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.


    Yes -- you're coming from a completely different direction than I am. We're not going to be able to agree on this.
     
  19. albion432

    albion432 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    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.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2014
  20. albion432

    albion432 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    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.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2014