New Book about TOS: These Are The Voyages

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by neoworx, Jul 13, 2013.

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  1. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Captain Captain

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    I’ve read most of the book now (when I read a long book that’s not a novel, I tend to jump around). I am quite impressed with the sections I’m most interested in: describing casting considerations, especially for guest stars, pre-production script work (changes, writer conflicts with GR, Bob Justman’s budget concerns, etc.) and also the section on post–production activities.

    Again, I will refrain from taking a stand on the issue of the pictures, as I don’t know enough regarding sources or legalities to make any judgments.

    There are some errors in the book that I’ve found, but it seems like a lot of them are not directly related to the primary contents of the book. For example, one section describes that a particular shooting location was also being used for other shows, such as Hogan’s Heroes. The author refers to the set as “Stalag 17;” of course, Hogan’s Heroes takes place at the fictional Stalag 13… Stalag 17 was a ‘50s movie starring William Holden.

    That said, I have yet to come across anything related to the main sections I’m particularly interested in (or) that contradicts something I (factually) know to be true. Whether Bruce Hyde sat in the helmsman’s or navigator’s chair to take a particular picture is not a big deal to me.

    I am curious regarding the ratings… and I know that’s a topic of discussion in this thread, with some disputing the author’s conclusions regarding the show’s popularity. Again, this is another area where I’m not qualified to comment, but I would be interested to know if the author’s data is not accurate. Otherwise, I have no reason to discount his theory that the show was more popular than previously described.

    I am also struck at how critical this book is of Gene Roddenberry. After reading the Solow & Justman book, I realized the extent of Roddenberry’s character flaws for the first time. Knowing GR and Justman encouraged the author to write this book, I half expected the author would be overly deferential and try to paint GR in the best light. I could not have been more wrong. GR comes off as something of a rumpled “the ends justify the means” guy… a somewhat underhanded man who had no problem with trampling on other people’s egos to feed his own. In doing this, he burned a lot of bridges with people he had previously built, particularly with important people at NBC and ‘name’ sci-fi writers.

    All in all, if you are interested in how the episodes you see came to be what they are, this book is a great resource. I very much look forward to the second book, which will cover most of my favorite episodes.
     
  2. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Essentially I'm inclined to agree.
     
  3. EnsignHarper

    EnsignHarper Commander Red Shirt

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    Now that we are (thank God) actually talking about the book's CONTENT, there are a few points I like to mention:

    The 'mini biography' of Gene R is real nice - he manages to say more about his early life in a few pages, than a few do in an endless spiel. It makes the point that Roddenberry was making good money from writing VERY early on. An extra $100 in 1952 was pretty good money for a cop making about that in two weeks.

    Somebody FINALLY gets how important Marc Daniels was to Star Trek. There is a good reason that they wanted both him and Pevney to direct most of Season Two's shows. Daniels was the quintessential TV director - good, and FAST. His experience in directing TV plays was also needed when it came to shooting that Enterprise set, as he knew how to shoot in limited space. In fact, Daniels himself once said that he LOVED that ship set, and really did not like location shooting - his only Trek location shoot was A Private Little War. Pevney was the house 'movie director', so to speak. Daniels up to now has been criminally underrated in both Trek AND TV history...He also only established how a multicam sitcom episode would rehearsed AND shot, with I Love Lucy.

    And it is also great to get real information on Gene L Coon - what a resume that guy had! Too bad he died so early....
     
  4. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    But can you picture De saying, "Al, I'm not asking you to spy -- I'm asking you to steal."
     
  5. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I've read the sections covering "Where No Man Has Gone Before," The Corbomite Maneuver" and Mudd's Women."

    What I get out of this is how so many who get involved in Star Trek often end up getting caught up in it to some degree. It's as if they weren't content to crank out just another TV show, but really tried to do something better even within the limitations. The NBC network executive liaison even did his part to offer valid suggestions and hardly comes across as a network heavy who just didn't understand Star Trek.

    Today TOS' kind of visual f/x would be a relative snap, but back then they were really struggling to do what were then cutting edge f/x but with limited and relatively crude (by today's standards) resources.

    All this contributed to making the episodes quite time intensive. They were really doing their best to not have something just thrown together. That approach would have worked for kids, but obviously Star Trek was meant to be genuinely adult oriented. While perhaps tame by today's standards right from the first pilot they were dealing with ideas and subject matter that only mostly adults could really appreciate.

    Another interesting tidbit, perhaps already known by some, is how Grace Lee Whitney might have been an instigator along with Bill Theiss in ditching the trouser and tunic uniform for women and bringing about the skirt design uniform. Mind you in hindsight I think it would have been nice if they could have kept both designs because for women the trouser variant makes more sense for landing party duty. But in the '60s there would be only so many concessions to credibility. :)
     
  6. Kail

    Kail Commodore Commodore

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    I have been creating artwork for my website startrekanimated.com for 13 years. I long ago gave up trying to police people who take my images and use them without giving any credit to me. They take them and stick them on all kinds of merchandise they then sell of Ebay. They even take my website address off of some of the images. Does it bother me they are making money off of my work? Yes, but I have finally had to accept that once I put them on the net, there is nothing I can do, other than ruin the pictures with large watermarks and such.
     
  7. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Having read the Alexander and Engel biographies more than once, the Roddenberry biography section struck me as a waste of pages that could have been better devoted to the episodic entries. The de Forest Research company and RAND contributions could have certainly been more strongly covered.

    At least the biography wasn't a hagiography like the Alexander book, but there were moments that made me groan. Apparently every unsold pilot Roddenberry wrote was just like (insert mega hit series here), as if success could be ascribed to very broad parallels in premise and nothing else.
     
  8. HaplessCrewman

    HaplessCrewman Commander Red Shirt

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    At least you don't claim to own the rights to Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973–1974) because I think CBS Television Studios owns it.
     
  9. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Interesting. I've read several accounts stating ABC was the network trailing the others for several years in the mid-late 60's, with a number of series, such as Gidget, The Time Tunnel, The Green Hornet, The Milton Berle Show, Shane, The Pruitts of Southampton and Garrison's Gorillas (among others)failing to earn a second season.

    Which network was really in 3rd place during the TOS pilot - series period?
     
  10. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    ...but it is a very interesting debate.

    Agreed....like Charles Beaumont, Coon was another talented, insightful individual sadly cut short.
     
  11. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I like Grace's quote about watching the way Nichelle sat on the bridge: "She wasn't going to let me out-leg her." :)
     
  12. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    It still boggles the mind that some people don't understand what the issue here is. It has nothing to do with ownership, it has to do with common courtesy. Star Trek History dot com went out acquired photos and restored them for the enjoyment of the fan base. The producers of These are the Voyages could have went the same route but didn't, they simply went out and lifted restored images from the internet to pad out their book.

    It's like fan artwork. Sure all the elements of Star Trek belong to CBS but it's still common courtesy for one fan to acknowledge another fans efforts when using the artwork they've spent time and effort making. It would be like me taking images of Forbin's model work for my own 'for-profit' use and then not giving him any credit for his efforts.

    The producers of These are the Voyages could adjust future printings of the book to make sure all images are correctly attributed to their sources or they can stick their fingers in their ears and sing "La la la, I can't hear you!" over and over.

    Unfortunately, they've chosen to do the latter and I simply won't support the behavior. Whether you choose to or not is your business. But don't continue to misrepresent what the actual issue is here.
     
  13. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    It's widely known (I think) that Star Trek couldn't have happened without Lucille Ball. But the details are interesting.

    Lucy gave the go ahead when she thought the show was about celebrities on a cruise. It's easy to see how she could have balked later when she finally understood what the show was really about. Still, there comes a point when two pilots have been shot and both go over time and budget in production ("The Cage" more so than WNMHGB), NBC finally wants the series, but Desilu brass don't want to spend that kind of money anymore and want to forget about the whole thing. But even with majority opinion against her she defers to Herb Sollow and goes ahead with TOS in series production. Note, too that she also green-lighted Mission: Impossible at the same time when it, too, was also seen as something of a risky series idea.

    What really comes out of this is that NBC are hardly the heavies GR has long made them out to be and it's some of the Desilu brass who don't appear to care much for the show.

    We also see that Harlan Ellison is hardly the only writer alienated by Roddenberry. Roddenberry (to his credit) was quite focused on the show being done a certain way and so he often got involved in the rewrite process...to the dismay of some professional writers like Richard Matheson. Mind you often GR's changes were indeed for the good of the show, but sometimes it could seem like change for changes sake---not making it better but just different. Some writers who had written for The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone were put off because this didn't happen to this extent on those kind of shows. But to be fair those shows were anthologies that could allow for a writer's more distinctive voice so to speak. Star Trek was a series with an established setting and recurring characters and so a measure of consistency was necessary.

    The moral of this is: don't get into writing for television if your ego is even remotely easily bruised. :lol:
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013
  14. Mysterion

    Mysterion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    :)

    No, I really can't picture that. But, Throne's portrayal of Noah Bain convinces me that he could have been an interesting Leonard McCoy, MD.
     
  15. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I've only made it past the making of "Where No Man" myself, but so far I've been absolutely loving this thing.

    The amount of research this guy has done is just incredible, and it's cool having all those old articles and interviews and notable stories distilled into one book-- one that, unlike a lot of "unauthorized" Trek books, is thankfully pretty well-written.

    And yeah, you definitely get a better sense of just how bold and different this show must have appeared at the time (especially when most of what was on the air were either black and white comedies, westerns, or simplistic action adventure shows), and how exciting it must have been for the audience to see such a serious, fully realized futuristic world like that on TV for the first time.

    Other notes:
    -- I can't help but feel a bit bad for Desilu and Lucille Ball reading this. The massive cost overruns, the difficulties with Roddenberry... yikes.
    -- Loved the story about the hiring of the old retired cinematographer who did "a little thing called Gone With The Wind." :D
    -- From today's perspective it's hard to believe a network could have such a problem with the rather tame Orion Slave Girl dance. Things sure were different then.
    -- Wow, The Cage cost the equivalent today of $4.6 million? And it wasn't even aired?
    -- Nice to see some of the popular Trek lore debunked, such as that Lockwood only tilted his head back so that he could see through the silver contacts.
    -- Damn, Roddenberry sure was a prolific and busy TV writer before Trek. I can't help but wish he got to make his MASH-style "The Wild Blue" show. It sounded like it could have been really good.
    -- Also interesting to read that Roddenberry didn't actually know a whole lot about scifi before making Trek. His main interest was simply in making a thoughtful, Horatio Hornblower-in-space show that could explore different issues of the day.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013
  16. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    That's a fun story, but it's straight out of Inside Star Trek: The Real Story (which Cushman quotes from extensively). It's a shame he couldn't get an interview with Herb Solow to talk about some of the omissions and mistakes from that book.

    It was essentially broadcast in the form of 'The Menagerie.' Obviously, neither NBC nor Desilu wanted to waste all that money. Plus, it helped the production make their broadcast dates since they got two weeks of usable material out of one week of shooting.
     
  17. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    In these early episodes we're certainly not hearing anything about Shatner lording it over the secondary cast regulars or cutting their lines. Hell, Takei credits Shatner with infecting people with his enthusiasm and professionalism.

    Nice to see that after the initial cost overruns they were hitting some episodes that were coming in under budget.

    You also get a definite sense that most everyone really gave a damn about what they were doing even though they were working in a pressure cooker. Even with all those good intentions it's easy to see how some personalities might clash.
     
  18. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah I've read that book, but it's been so long I don't remember a lot of the details anymore. :p

    Yeah with all the problems and headaches they encountered, it's kind of amazing the episodes came out looking (and working) as good as they did.

    And it also becomes a lot more obvious why the series went downhill in the third season. Roddenberry and Coon had such a huge role in fixing and rewriting the scripts-- much of which went uncredited-- that once they left there just wasn't anybody around anymore to keep up the high quality.
     
  19. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Not to mention D.C. Fontana, who became the script consultant late in the first season and continued in that role during the second season. To a lesser extent, John D.F. Black (early season one) and Steven Carabatsos (mid-season one) were also important to maintaining the consistency of the writing.

    Has anyone else read the chapter on 'The Alternative Factor?' The author's conclusions there are rather damning towards NBC (and, to a lesser extent, the production staff), but his support for them is pretty lacking.

    Basically, Cushman alleges that NBC forced a late re-write to the script eliminating the romance between Lt. Charlene Masters and Lazarus when Janet MacLachlan (an African-American actress) was cast in the role. This is plausible, I suppose, but there's hardly a smoking gun (or phaser) from which Cushman can make his case. He doesn't have an interview source making the claim, and the production documentation is far from conclusive.
     
  20. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ I haven't gotten there as I just finished reading about "Charlie X."
     
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