Revisiting TAS...

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

  1. Cap'n Claus

    Cap'n Claus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Right and where would they keep them? Their non-existent wallets stuffed in their non-existent pockets?

    I don't mind introducing things we've never seen before, but identity cards are way too low tech when you consider the AI of the ship's computer. According to "Wolf in the Fold," the computer controls the ship, so voice and visual access would be no trouble. ID cards are pointless.
     
  2. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Mine too--that and the Counter Clock Incident. Anything with new ships.
     
  3. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    I'm having a good time reading your TAS reviews; I may not agree with some of your impressions, but you are really going into TAS is a way rarely seen.

    About the episode in question: shrinking and/or naturally small characters was SO worn out by the time of this episode. Frankly, the three productions you cite (The Incredible Shrinking Man, Fantastic Voyage & Land of the Giants) were so popular and/or effective, that by the time of TAS' episode, the sub-genre had gone as far as possible (and the collective memories of each still very fresh in 1973-4) so seeing ST characters struggle with giant control panels and communicators was not at all thrilling.

    However, in children's programming, the sub-genre continued to rear its worn out head in everything from Hanna-Barbera's Micro Ventures (1968), Dr. Shrinker (1976), and The Littles (1983), which was fine, I guess...its just not Star Trek material.
     
  4. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    You make a good point. Good chunks of TAS would have fit right in seamlessly with TOS which is what makes the more, uh, less adult oriented elements stand out that much more.

    There is something of a philosophical bent to The Incredible Shrinking Man and while it seems more like just B-grade '50's sci-fi it is presented in a straightforward manner. Fantastic Voyage was pure SF adventure based on a book by Isaac Asimov no less. It's a classic SF film. Then Land Of The Giants comes along and although it's played as straight adventure (ditto with the animated Fantastic Voyage) it becomes perhaps something of a joke, a spoof. Note the '60s was also when DC Comics re-introduced The Atom. By the time TAS comes along the idea is indeed pretty much played out.
     
  5. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In the days when the logs came out I was so grateful. I thought it was the only new Star Trek I was ever going to get. Aside from occasional novels.
     
  6. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed. I love the most recent trade reprints (five volumes), as they contain a new serialized essay by ADF about the writing of the "Logs".

    When he was asked to make the last four TAS scripts stretch out to four more books (because sales of the first six books had been so good), ADF was able to pull a two-part spec script he'd done for a possible TOS Season Four for "Log Seven". This was the first appearance of Kumara. (I was able to get a message to ADF at a convention not long after the essay came out; no, he can't remember the title of his two-parter TV script, and he no longer has a copy of it.)
     
  7. mb22

    mb22 Commander Red Shirt

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  8. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Wow! I stand corrected. I was so sure Asimov originated the story.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, the movie came first. But Asimov was free to revise the story heavily to make it more scientifically plausible, in a way that no novelizer today would ever be allowed to do. Decades later, he wrote an original novel called Fantastic Voyage 2: Destination Brain, which was not actually a sequel but an alternative take on the same premise.
     
  10. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    "The Ambergris Element" ***

    A water world being studied holds a secret that could radically change the lives of Kirk and Spock.

    There are a number of things going on in this story, some of it familiar and some novel. The familiar is the idea of the Enterprise crew being caught between factions on an alien world. The novel part is having Kirk and Spock changed into something more closely resembling the inhabitants of that world---specifically: Kirk and Spock are medically altered into water breathers. The story basically plays with an idea already popularized with the likes of DC Comics' Aquaman and Marvel Comics' The Submariner as well as later in The Man From Atlantis. Indeed there's a good dose of the idea behind the ancient myth of Atlantis mixed into this, only here the sunken civilization is set on a far off alien world.

    It's not a bad story idea, but it's hurt by two main things: the story feels rushed and truncated and there is too much visual shorthand at work. By "visual shorthand" I mean things like Kirk and Spock continuing the whole episode in their duty uniforms particularly after they've been so radical altered. Also seeing seeing Scotty descend underwater in uniform and protected solely by a life support belt was just a bit too WTF for my tastes. Add to that seeing McCoy and Chapel as well as Scotty in uniform while in the temporary sickbay tank needed for Kirk and Spock while they're in altered form.

    In a broad sense this redresses familiar ideas and stories used in TOS episodes such as "For The World Is Hollow And I have Touched The Sky" and "Return Of The Archons" and others. TAS' story is sufficiently redressed to appear novel enough even with the reuse of familiar ideas, but again I feel it's lack of nuance in story and visuals that keep the episode just okay rather than allowing it to be rated as good.

    Two things I really do like in this episode: the concept of the aquashuttle and the design of the Argoan sea serpent.
     
  11. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    If a life support belt can protect the crew while stading on a moon with no atmosphere ("The Slaver Weapon"), then I do not think its a stretch for the belt to work underwater. It is the 23rd century, after all.

    I give TAS a break; unlike animation born to a 30 minute format, Filmation was trying to capture the essense and drive of a 52 minute show in 22. There was only so much they could accomplish, but the overall execution was sound and still played as Star Trek--in several ways the Berman series failed to do.

    I agree. Filmation's artists were among the best with futuristic vehicle designs, and only improved as the years moved on. They did not fail to honor the design sensibilities of Matt Jefferies, et al.

    The creature designs were always a strength for Filmation, as seen not only in TAS, but in He-Man, Tarzan and the Super 7, BraveStarr and of course, their sadly short-lived Flash Gordon series.
     
  12. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Generally I quite like what I see in TAS, but even so when I see the advantages of animation---even if limited as it was back in the day---not being utilized as it could have been then I get frustrated. And I think this issue can be traced right back to the schizophrenic nature of TAS. The ideas and stories were often adult level, but the overall execution was touched by a mentality that saw the show as not much better than kiddie fare. It pisses me off knowing that a little extra thought and effort could have made a significant difference yet that little extra wasn't thought worth it.
     
  13. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's an understandable mistake. Hell, a lot of people think the film Fantastic Voyage was produced and/or directed by Irwin Allen!
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't know where you're getting this assumption from. It's not like there were really any animated US television shows at the time that were made specifically for an adult audience, so you've got no standard for comparison that would make this conclusion remotely valid or fair. Indeed, I would submit that TAS was the most adult-oriented animated production you would've found on American television in 1973-4.

    And I'm not sure what it is that you consider the result of inadequate thought or care. If you're referring to the quality of the animation or the performances, I've already told you that the network imposed an insanely tight production schedule on Filmation, so they were forced to rush it. And even so, the quality of the artwork and design was better than anything Filmation's contemporary/rival studios were doing.

    And if you're saying that you consider the fanciful elements of the stories to be childish, let me remind you that TOS gave us Alice and the White Rabbit, a superpowered alien brat with a Napoleon fetish, a haunted castle with a giant black cat, a Greek god, a gangster planet, a Nazi planet, multicolored disembodied brains gambling on fights, and Abraham Lincoln floating in space. Yeah, there are a few TAS episodes that get somewhat more fanciful than TOS did, but not that many.


    I can understand that mistake. The film was from 20th Century Fox and used basically the same in-house effects team that later worked on Allen's shows, so a number of props and set pieces from FV were recycled in Allen's shows.
     
  15. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Even a few years after TAS came and went I started to see the show in a different light. Hell, I had some inkling of it even as I watched it as a 14 year old.

    I see a missed opportunity. Hell, The Flinstones was prime-time more than a decade prior to TAS. It was aimed primarily at adults even though the subject matter wasn't as deep as some of the things TAS would touch on. But by putting TAS on the Saturday morning schedule it speaks of a particular mentality, a viewpoint toward the subject matter. And then seeing how certain things were done on the show impresses me of suspecting some of that mentality could have crept into creative decisions in the show.

    Hey, I just call it as I see it.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    On the part of the network, yes. But it doesn't make sense to assume that the people actually making the show felt the same way about it. I mean, of course they had to make it appropriate for that timeslot and eliminate most of the violence and sexy stuff. But other than that, the writers were told to approach it the exact same way they would've approached TOS, just with an unlimited budget for sets and effects.


    And what we think we see is very often wrong, since we very rarely see the full picture. Which is why it's just good sense not to confuse "as I see it" for "as is undeniably true." Especially when it comes to making negative assumptions about the motivations or talent of people you've never met and are not qualified to judge. That's just plain rude.
     
  17. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I can try to explain my impression toll the cows come home, but what would be the point? I didn't say it was a fact. I said thats how I see it as in thats the impression I get. I'm also not saying everybody on the creative staff thought as the network did. I just wonder if some of the creative decisions might have been different if the show had been taken more seriously.

    Animation has its advantages over live-action in terms of what you can show, but that doesn't automatically mean you should do practically just anything just because you can.

    "The Infinite Vulcan" is an ideal example. They used animation to good effect to show things that would have been at best challenging if not flat out impossible as live-action---I'm referring to the very cool Phylosian life forms and landscape. But then everything is undermined by the creative decision to make the Spock and Keniclius clones WAY oversized. Except for the limited animation style you had a first-rate story worthy of TOS and then you turn it into kiddie fare with fifty foot clones. It's a complete WTF!!! moment. Now how many people remember this episode for its very cool story and ideas and how many just remember and laugh at fifty foot clones? It's somewhat reminiscent of "Spock's Brain"---a potentially good SF story idea undermined by lazy or sloppy creative thinking in terms of execution.

    Now there isn't anything nearly as blatant as fifty foot clones in "The Ambergris Element," but a little extra thought regarding some visual elements would have telegraphed volumes about the intent to do the story in the best possible way. But if you have the attitude "It's just a kiddie show so who cares?" then not surprisingly some things are going to be done (or not done) that reflects that attitude.
     
  18. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Why do 50-foot clones make it "kiddie" fare? I always liked The Infinite Vulcan. Not my favorite TAS outing, but entertaining.

    The clones being six or eight or twelve feet wouldn't have made the episode any better or more believable. :shrug:
     
  19. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    If you don't think fifty foot clones are stupidly absurd then good for you.
     
  20. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    No need to be snippy. I simply disagree with your premise that a 50-foot clone makes something "kiddie" fare.