Revisiting TAS...

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Warped9, Jul 27, 2013.

  1. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    And Mudd futzed it rather easily, too.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You could just as well ask since when they had aquashuttles or a bridge intruder defense system. Heck, new things cropped up unexplained in TOS all the time -- new shipboard sets like the emergency manual monitor and McCoy's lab, new instruments on the bridge or engineering, etc. They didn't get spacesuits until "The Tholian Web." So if TOS got to add new details that we hadn't seen before, there's no reason TAS couldn't do the same. Wouldn't have been much of a continuation if it had been limited to what we'd already seen.
     
  3. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Paramount didn't have a copyright on the original episodes? I know there was an issue with their copyright of the Desilu-produced episodes in the 1970s, but Paramount (Television) was able to reacquire their ownership and copyright them, which is why they now bear the copyright date of 1978.

    But, that wasn't my question. I wanted to know if Paramount bought the rights from Roddenberry/Norway at some point, which your statement implied they did sometime after the animated series.

    I believe you're right that Norway doesn't get credit on anything past TMP, but the budget for TUC does include the language "RIGHTS PURCHASED, GENE RODDENBERRY, (NORWAY CORP.)" for the price of $1,000,000.
     
  4. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I get your point. A lot of things in TAS crop up that sometimes need a bit of pretzel thinking to rationalize them with TOS. It's just that in TOS we had seen them use voice identification/recognition for security measures while this identity card just strikes me as out of place. No matter.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Again: all I know is what it says onscreen. I'm not an expert, I'm just looking at the pictures and extrapolating. I didn't see an onscreen Paramount copyright on TAS, although they do have a copyright on the novelizations.


    Well, how could they not have? The modern status quo for a long time has clearly been that Paramount is the sole owner of ST and the Roddenberrys have no control over what's done with it. There's never been a copyright for Norway or Roddenberry on any Trek production or publication post-TMP, only for Paramount. Every Trek book I've ever written has been copyrighted by Paramount, or as it's now called, CBS, and my contracts have designated me as a contractor working for Paramount/CBS. No mention of Roddenberry or Norway in any way, shape, or form. So how could Paramount not have acquired full ownership from Roddenberry at some point? If they didn't buy Roddenberry's copyright, the only other possibility I can think of is that he let it lapse somehow, but I don't know if that makes sense since it should've taken longer to lapse.

    That was around the time he died, wasn't it? So maybe the family, or Roddenberry's lawyer, sold the rights then.
     
  6. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    "Mudd's Passion"

    ADF adaptation:

    The print version doesn't really add anything to the screen version other than fleshing scenes out more so they flow better. ADF has Mudd use his own means (hidden in his clothing) to manipulate Chapel's identity card rather than using a ship's computer terminal. What ADF doesn't do is manage to make Chapel and Spock behave much better than they do onscreen. That said, like in the other adaptations, the characters speak and behave with more nuance and it's easier to accept them as their live-action portrayals.

    Overall the print version is moderately better than the televised episode, but not much given there being so little to work from.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2013
  7. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    The episodes do end with the Paramount logo, although you're right, the copyright doesn't list the studio, just Norway and Filmation.

    The budget is dated April 12, 1991, about six months before Roddenberry's death. It's possible the estate sold the rights to Paramount at that point, but if they were getting a million dollar license fee per movie, I don't know why they would.

    I thought the court rulings from the mid-1990s between Roddenberry's estate and his first wife might shed some light on the issue, but there's a lot of information to go through there. From skimming the documents, it's possible that a 1986 contract between Roddenberry and Paramount transferred some rights to the studio, but I'm no legal expert.

    But, I think we've derailed this thread far enough at this point. Back to the original topic.
     
  8. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    The Terratin Incident" **

    After being hit by an unidentifiable energy beam the Enterprise crew begin to rapidly shrink.

    For myself I think this story is silly (and, yeah, I know the idea was revisited years later on DS9), but in fairness it isn't badly told as the crew is shown reasoning things out. My one question arose after they establish that only organic matter is being reduced...then why isn't the water in the fish tank not shrinking in volume as well? I did find it odd that this rapid reduction was happening so fast that the crew would become quite small within a matter of a few hours.

    Shrinking people down to a very small size certainly isn't new in science fiction. The most famous examples are the films The Incredible Shrinking Man and Fantastic Voyage as well as television's Land Of The Giants. I think it was also done on The Twilight Zone. TAS' effort felt more like Land Of The Giants rather than The Incredible Shrinking Man or Fantastic Voyage. I guess it just doesn't impress me as something that TOS would have even considered doing. I think it goes without saying that from an f/x point this story would also have been impossible for TOS.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Paramount was the distributor, so its logo would be there. I'm not sure how that relates to copyrights.


    DS9 actually handled it a lot more plausibly -- at least, as plausibly as you could handle the idea.


    Water is not organic matter. Organic molecules are those containing carbon. Water is just hydrogen and oxygen.

    Also, the idea in "Terratin" was that the spiroid epsilon waves were causing any helical molecules to contract, so living tissues containing DNA were shrunk as a result. Water molecules are not helical.

    Of course, the thing that makes this completely ridiculous is that living things are not made exclusively of DNA; it's only found in the chromosomes. So twisting the DNA molecules tighter wouldn't change the size of living cells or bodies; it would just alter the shape of the DNA sufficiently that it could no longer communicate with proteins and enzymes, the cells would stop working, and the affected people would die.


    Well, technically that last was about normal-sized people on a planet of giants -- at least, that usually seemed to be the case.

    TISM's approach was fairly reasonable up to a point; the hero was shrinking because his cells and tissues were sloughing off mass uniformly, and he got gradually smaller over months as he wasted away -- the process accelerating as his total mass got smaller so the amount he lost each day was a larger percentage of the whole. Of course it didn't really make sense because there's no way the bones and organs would've just uniformly shrunk in every dimension and remained functional, not to mention the loss of cognitive function as his brain shrunk; and it got completely fanciful at the end. But it was better than most approaches.


    They did episodes with giants and tiny people, but I'm not sure they did any with people being shrunk. "Miniature" might technically qualify, but shrinking wasn't the focus of the story.


    Which was the whole point of doing stories like this. They didn't want to be within the limits of TOS. Roddenberry and Fontana had chafed against those limits for years; this was their chance to cast them off.
     
  10. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ Yeah, I can understand doing things that you'd be restricted from doing live-action and on a television budget---I love a lot of the cool ships and weird aliens and alien landscapes we got to see on TAS---but some things are just a bit too absurd even in animation.
     
  11. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    "Time Trap" **

    The Enterprise gets caught in a region of space notorious for starships disappearing.

    This is actually a decent story at the heart, but it just feels clumsy. I find the general voice acting disappointing and uninspired, particularly the guest characters. It's a damned shame they couldn't have gotten John Colicos to reprise the role of Kor as well as draw the character more the way he appeared in "Errand Of Mercy." That said, though, I don't think the animated Kor was written much like the live-action original so maybe it's just as well. Something like this really called for the actors to be reading their parts together to play off each other. I can just imagine Shatner and Colicos together again, but with a better script of course.

    The Klingons here are just cliches really. Somehow I just don't buy Kor (or the one we're familiar with) just trying to ambush the Enterprise. My impression is that Kor would rather have tried to best Kirk in a somewhat more honourable way then just ambushing him.

    It was cool seeing all those different ship designs trapped in the Delta pocket universe. Ditto with the different aliens on the Elysium Council...even though one of them made me think of an oversized pink Ewok.

    A good story idea, but I felt it was clumsily executed.
     
  12. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I always loved The Time Trap. My favorite episode of TAS.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Was he really that honorable in "Errand of Mercy," though? He ordered the executions of hundreds of Organians (he thought) to smoke out two rebels. Just because he was urbane and well-spoken, that doesn't mean he wasn't ruthless.


    That one's sort of a proto-Kzin, judging from the fan-shaped ears. I think Foster calls it a Berikazin.

    I like to think the antlike one is a Kaferian, since they've been established as insectoid in some tie-ins.
     
  14. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Mudd's Passion
    I love the bit about the love potion where it forces bro-love where the 2 recipients are of opposite gender. That's very convenient and very discerning of a love potion. It also led to a hilarious awkward scene of Kirk and Spock in a bro-hug and some really bad bro-love dialog. At least that would have made the slashers happy.

    And Chapel should be in the brig for letting Mudd out. Probably would have been if she wasn't the producer's wife. LOL.

    And I agree that the identity card is bogus. In the future they use laminated picture cards. Really? I used more sophisticated security in my last job. At least you couldn't replace my photograph. Never seen it used in Star Trek before or after. I suppose it could have been some sort of experiment by Starfleet which they replace by the eye identification stuff in TWOK.
     
  15. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, they were quite deliberate about getting that dialog in about how the potion works.
     
  16. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Of course, Paramount originally inherited its share from Desilu.

    From my vague memories of Roddenberry interviews ("Starlog"?) and Richard Arnold's convention appearances, Paramount once offered Roddenberry the chance to buy Paramount's interest in "Star Trek", and he decided not to do so, since he'd be buying the rights to a dead TV show. One that supposedly failed to win its ratings and had no prospects. Of course, after that, it took off in syndication.

    So both the Engel and Justman versions may well be two more interpretations of the same factoid.

    Certainly, Paramount was planning to make a new Star Trek for TV without Roddenberry's participation, but eventually decided to bring him on board for what became TNG.
     
  17. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Yep. For some reason, ADF avoided using TOS races for describing those scenes with the Councilors.

    The episode shows members of these races to be the twelve Councilors: Andorian, Gorn, Human, Klingon, Kzin, Orion, Phylosian, Romulan, Tellarite, Vulcan, plus a female alien (with a water-filled helmet, a concept that was mooted very early in interviews about TAS) and the ant-like insectoid. (And yeah, it was speculated to be a Kaferian in numerous places.)

    In the "Star Trek Log Four" adaptation, some alien races present on the Council were renamed with soundalike terms (and therefore re-identified as different races), ie. Berikazin (for the Kzin), Edoan (for the Andorian), Gorin (for the Gorn) and Tallerine (for the Tellarite).

    The twelve Councilors were also mentioned or featured in the S.C.E. eBook, "Where Time Stands Still", but the human female has seemingly been replaced by a Valzhan (named Saraven), and the Kzin representative goes unidentified and undescribed.
     
  18. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    "Time Trap"

    ADF adaptation:

    ADF makes this story work a lot better in print. A big difference is it doesn't feel truncated as if scenes are missing. He doesn't follow the episode's script exactly, sometimes adding extra scenes and making small changes in dialogue that make the characters sound more nuanced and more natural. He adds world-building details that make the settings come alive. Besides the omniscient narrative we also periodically see events from different characters' points of view. It all adds up to a story that feels more complete.

    This is generally a running theme with ADF's adaptations: flesh out the story more and make it feel more realized. The devil is in the details. I've reviewed more than half of these already and it's pretty much always the same: in varying degrees ADF just makes the stories feel more realized. The underlying reason might simply be that he wasn't constrained by a twenty-two minute running time and thus didn't have to leave things out. Indeed he was free to add and tweak things for the overall betterment of the story. With the printed word he could add more detail that wouldn't be bothered with during the drawing and animation process. He could make characters feel more realized and speak more naturally and trigger our imagination to hear more natural sounding voices rather than forced and affected voice acting and flat delivery.

    I, too, noted the slightly different names for the races we clearly recognize on the Elysian Council. Perhaps one could rationalize the names cited as being closer to what those aliens call themselves.


    Revisiting these episodes and re-reading these adaptations rekindles my interest to see Star Trek return to this kind of format. In more recent years we've seen popular animated shows and direct-to-video features clearly illustrating that an animated project can easily appeal to adults as well as younger audiences. And a lot of it comes down to good writing. When I look at the Batman and Superman and Justice League animated series and other DCAU features we clearly see that animated projects don't have to feel truncated or dumbed down or half-hearted even within a constrained running time. Same with Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Do it right and people will go for it.

    Despite missteps TAS really tried to do something beyond conventional Saturday morning cartoon programming. It would be cool to see that kind of vision in tandem with what we've seen can be done today.

    But, please, no more fifty foot clones or other overly WTF! moments.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's not so much that Foster wasn't constrained to keep them short as that he was constrained to make them longer, I think. With only three stories per book, he had to flesh them out to reach a novel-sized word count. And of course the last four volumes each did just one episode plus a bunch of original material to pad the series out to ten books.
     
  20. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, I recall the one story per volume efforts being somewhat hit-and-miss.