Should they have had a female Commodore in TOS?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Lance, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm not saying that TOS was totally sexist. It was done in the 60s for goodness sake. And women actually being on board a naval vessel was a huge step-forward compared to the military at the time and even nowadays.
    They had women doctors, lawyers, senior scientists, a woman in charge of the dilithium crystals. OK a lot of these women were just love interests for Kirk or someone else but the realities of a TV series in that time is that you had to double-up some of the roles.

    If you look at 'Court Martial' and you see the group of Captains that were snubbing Kirk. None of those were ladies. You never saw a lady captain. The only 'command' female you ever saw was in 'The Cage'. The only time you every saw a woman take the command of any Federation vessel was in 'The Cage'. It never happened again. And sure you could say the Captain of say the Endeavour or the Kongo or the Republic was a woman or a Vulcan or an Andorian but we never saw any evidence of that.
    And there's the talk in a couple of episodes that it takes a special 'man' to be a Starship captain, not a special person.

    And to the people who point out why would Number One agree to serve on a ship where she could never be Captain. I think its like the current Navy. Eventually you hope things might change. It is only in the last few decades that women could serve at sea on Navy Ships in my country. In the 60s if a woman was in the Navy (or Public Service) they had to resign when they got married.
    Perhaps Number One was in the Service killing time until she found a husband.:lol:
     
  2. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    Yeah, that's totally the impression I had of her. :rolleyes:

    Mind you, that's the impression Kirk had of at least one or two of his female crewmembers.
     
  3. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Roddenberry had stupidly painted himself into a corner. When NBC rejected "The Cage" as a pilot they DID NOT say lose Number One as a character. Actually they liked the character and having her as second-in-command, but they did not think Majel Barrett was strong enough for the recurring role and they also resented Roddenberry's obvious nepotism in casting his extramarital girlfriend. Their message was keep the character but ditch the actress.

    Roddenberry was in a bind: how could he possibly tell his lover the network didn't want her as an actress? So he cooked up the story of NBC not liking a strong female character, which was totally counter to the policy NBC was pursuing to promote stronger roles for women and minorities. And Roddenberry not only told Majell that story, but repeated it in public, which became yet another thing NBC came to resent GR for.

    After repeating that lie how could GR put a female commander on the show? It really shouldn't have mattered because a guest character is not the same as a recurring regular cast character, but GR might have been afraid of such a move affecting his extramarital affair. However, it has to be said that no one has so far offered up any evidence of someone else trying to pitch a female commander in a guest role and having it shot down. It could be that the general mindset of those at the time precluded anyone else from even thinking of it. Maybe if someone had perhaps in second or third season it might have gotten through given enough time had passed.

    I agree with something stated upthread (and I've stated it myself before) that some of the Commodores or Captains used wouldn't have worked well if cast as a woman. Because Stocker, Tracy, Merrick and Decker are tragic or failed/weak characters they could have cast a female commander (and women in general) in a bad light, or that's how it might have been perceived. But any of the Admirals or Commodores simply seen on a viewscreen or even Commodore Wesley, Stone or Mendez could have been cast as a woman, seeing as none of those were weak or tragic characters.

    But getting back to a core issue at hand. It isn't TOS' fictional universe that precludes women in command in Starfleet, but rather GR's fabricated lie to spare his girlfriend's feelings. The only way to get around it was to simply not talk about it onscreen and cast women as leaders in other non Starfleet roles.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
  4. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    I wonder if Majel Barrett ever actually believed that. She must have realized at some point that it was BS and just went along with it being part of the backstage mythos so as not to rock anybody's boat.
     
  5. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Could well be.

    There's a few lines in Marc Cusman's book These Are The Voyages that rings very true regarding business decisions: basically they're not always made disapssionately and objectively. Businesses are comprised of people who have feelings and agendas and all sorts of conflicting issues. Through flaws of judgement and character GR was pissing people off who he should have counted as allies in getting and keeping his show on the air: the NBC network.

    The idea that NBC really didn't care for Star Trek and wanted to be rid of it has long been debunked. NBC was generally quite happy with the show and saw it as an ideal vehicle for reaching the audience they wanted. Stan Robertson, the NBC exec serving as liaison between the network and Desilu, also seemed to quite like the show and offered often decent (and sometimes not) suggestions for helping the show. So it seems that Star Trek had ready made allies in NBC and yet GR made a point of bad mouthing them to the public. Definitely not smart.

    On the other hand there were quite a few Desilu suits who didn't care for Star Trek and wouldn't have minded seeing it gone primarily because the show was costing them money (in conjunction with producing Mission: Impossible which was also costing them money and even more so than Star Trek). The key difference is CBS was paying more money to produce Mission: Impossible than what was negotiated for NBC to be paying for Star Trek. CBS even occasionally kicked in some extra money to cover shortfalls because they were very happy with the show. In contrast it looks like Star Trek was being held to a different standard and given even less money each successive season.

    From what I can see it would have been nice if Star Trek had been getting at least the same budget as Mission: Impossible if not a bit more given Star Trek's production needs were more demanding.

    How things played out after NBC rejected "The Cage" but gave GR and Desilu another chance to produce a second pilot raisies interesting questions. What if GR had had the balls to tell Majel Barrett that they were keeping Number One but recasting her with someone else? We might have gotten a very different show even with replacing Jeffery Hunter with William Shatner. We might never have gotten that awesome Kirk/Spock/McCoy dynamic. That said with Number One still in the picture it would have likely opened the door to feature other female commanders in guest roles. Or maybe Star Trek would have gone on to be an interesting one season oddity. We'll never know.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
  6. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What could possible lead you to think any of these characters are American?

    Uhura was from Africa, but the actress spoke with a Chicago accent.

    Which of the many "American accents" are you hearing?

    And personally I believe that Esteban's first name is Jesús, the same as my oldest brother.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  7. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    I had no idea the letters "J" and "T" were limited to "Anglo-Saxon".
     
  8. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, I thought that "T" and "J" were obviously Canadian. ;)
     
  9. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Captain Captain

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    Hmmmm... a late 40-ish commodore in a mini skirt...... (repressing a shudder)
     
  10. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, we probably wouldn't (looking back) want to replace a male superior officer with a female if that officer was mental, or stupid, or an asshole.

    For example if they had cast a woman to play Commodore Decker, then you would have a woman who could not stand the pressures of command and wigged out because she's a woman, although the scene where she beats up the younger security guard would have been interesting.

    I think Mendez would have been a good choice.

    :)
     
  11. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    That's a point I wanted to address. In "Court-Martial" we have all the male officers wear tight dress uniforms.

    Here and here.

    The women, however, wear normal uniforms and the only thing where Lt. Shaws female dress uniform is different is the material (and unlike the male dress uniforms hers shows her rank).

    So my question would be why isn't she wearing the standard tight dress uniform if there were sexual equality?

    The case of the Romulan Commander in "The Enterprise Incident" is ambiguous, IMHO. One could say "look just how "alien" that species was depicted" (in the 1960's). In the course of the plot it becomes obvious that the male protagonists were in control of the encounter from the very first moment on.

    Bob
     
  12. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    We can't ignore that under the constraints TOS' production was under they mightn't have had time to design a more formal dress outfit for Lt. Shaw. Also who says the trial counsel is obligated to wear a dress uniform? Are contemporary JAGs obligatory to wear dress uniforms in military court?
     
  13. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Shaw's dress uniform is also cut longer than the standard uniform and has gold piping around the collar.

    ETA:
    Everybody involved a military court wears standard service dress uniform, the military's equivalent of a business suit. Wearing dress uniforms for a general court-martial was more of a pre-WW2 thing.
     
  14. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    @ Warped9

    While I definitely sympathize with your approach "finding" female equality in TOS, I can't help but feel it has characteristics of retroactive "sugar-coating". The series was made in the 1960's and I'd say we can be grateful that Harry Mudd wasn't featured smoking cigars.

    IIRC those women truly in charge had evil or unsympathetic characteristics (e.g. "Amok Time", "Catspaw", "Wink of an Eye" etc.).

    And I'm inclined to think Gene Roddenberry casted Majel deliberately as the female first officer along with Spock, anticipating that he would be asked to remove one of the two (and then sacrificed "Number One" on behalf of Spock).

    Bob
     
  15. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I never noticed the gold braid until you pointed it out.
    I never realised that we'd ever seen a women's TOS dress uniform.
    I think they could have done better though. But its OK.
     
  16. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    I don't see why he would.
     
  17. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, that doesn't make any sense.
     
  18. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Well, according to what I learned producers and/or directors often create redundant elements or scenes they anticipate the studios and/or censors will find fault with and ask to be excised.

    Often the less controversial "element" will survive at the bargaining table (which is what a clever producer and/or director intended from the very beginning).

    In this particular case I remember an interview with Gene Roddenberry regarding "The Cage" where the studio had issues both with Spock and Number One and Roddenberry concluded that "he married the woman" to keep both, in a manner of speaking. ;)

    Bob
     
  19. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ Simply more of GR trying to cover his ass. NBC had no problem with the Number One character and only had reservations about Spock. They only had a problem with who GR cast as Number One. He could have kept both characters simply by recasting Number One's role.

    And why would GR put his extramarital girlfriend, the woman he loved, in such a situation? It would have made more sense to use another actress whose feelings he wouldn't have to worry about?

    No, your conjecture doesn't track.
     
  20. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    That's a bit different than creating characters to "throw away". As Warped9 pointed out, the only controversial thing about Number One was the actress cast in the part. Gene didn't marry Majel till 1969, right after he divorced his first wife. Five years after the Cage was made. "Keeping" Majel probably wasn't an issue, as she had been a kept woman the whole time.