Stunt double madness

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Dale Sams, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Of course, then there were those early episodes of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman where they doubled Carter with a stuntman in the star-spangled bathing suit. That wasn't so well-received, so they finally hired one of the relatively few stuntwomen who were around at the time.
     
  2. Foxhot

    Foxhot Commodore Commodore

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    The SPACEBALLS syndrome.
     
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Production insurance limits what actors are allowed to do. Even simple stunts can result in injury, and injury = time away from the set = money.
     
  4. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How does that factor into Shatner doing an entire fight himself in some episodes, and being stunt double heavy for simple gags in others?
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    As I said, there could be any number of factors involved, not just one. So each situation would be different and there's no simple, overarching answer. To know the specific decisions that went into each individual episode, you'd need to go back in time and see for yourself, or at least track down the motherlode of all production memos, or interview every last director and producer and stunt performer about each individual scene.

    Anyway, I'm not sure a layperson is qualified to judge which stunts are "simple" enough for the actor and which require doubling. Some things that look simple can actually be genuinely dangerous without proper training, like falls. Or I imagine that the director and producers would prefer doubling any stunt that carries the risk of damage to the face -- you don't want to lose valuable production time while your star heals from a black eye or a split lip.
     
  6. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Hold a gun to my head and I would guess that either Shatner was nursing an injury during Court Martial and Space Seed...or as said above, the director simply had other ideas and at the end of the day Shatner probably said, "What? I could have done all that!"

    It's not like Shatner had no training. That wall-jump I mentioned earlier is something even I wouldn't have tried, and looks like it genuinely hurt.

    What's funny about theatre stunt-fighting is if you do something too realistic and you'll take your audience right out of it.
     
  7. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I was actually asking Maurice how an insurance thing would prevent Shatner from doing a light gag when he did more difficult stuff before and after.

    As for what is simple or not, just check out the bridge fight in Operation Annihilate. All he really would have been required to do in the long shots would be to help restrain Spock with a few other guys. Pushing him down, really. This is the one bit that actually causes me to wonder, because it's ridiculously simple. This is why I am lead to believe he was not on the set that day, or shooting another scene, and came in for the close ups.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I did check out that fight scene, and it was rather more intense than what you describe. "Kirk" leaps onto "Spock" from several feet away and gets tossed into the bridge railing, catches himself on it, recovers his footing on the stairs, and then grabs Spock from behind along with the rest. That's a maneuver where something could easily go wrong -- the performer could hit the rail or the step wrong and injure himself. Not to mention that this is in the tight confines of the bridge set where there are lots of other hard surfaces and sharp edges to worry about. Not to mention that the light bulbs underneath all those console buttons were really hot. There are a lot of ways that set could damage a person if a stunt went wrong and he landed in the wrong place -- not to mention the risk that the person could damage the set.

    It's one thing to have Shatner do a fight scene in a nice, open corridor where there's nothing but walls and a floor. But on the bridge set, there is so much more that could go wrong, and I can absolutely understand why they'd leave such a stunt to the experts.

    Another factor is the number of people involved. A one-on-one fight is one thing, but when you've got multiple people in a melee, there's a lot more that could go wrong if your performers aren't perfectly in sync. In this case, there are four stunt performers directly involved in the scuffle, and that's exponentially more complicated than a scene with two performers.
     
  9. Foxhot

    Foxhot Commodore Commodore

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    Many of you likely notice that the bridge sequence in OPERATION ANNIHILATE not only has stunt doubles for physical action, but for bystanders as well. Uhura and the Yeoman were actually replaced by stand-ins for a few seconds. Things like this seemed to occur most often in the third season.
     
  10. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    I'm not sure that was the case for everyone back in the day. I watched TOS in the early 70s on a black and white and later a color TV, and I noticed Shatner's stuntman, much like it was easy to spot Burt (Robin) Ward's homely stunt double on Batman.
     
  11. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    With "Space Seed" (no current copy unfortunately), one thing that hurts the fight scene is the stuntmen are visible far too long and there's not enough intercutting of close shots on Shatner and Montalban. Maybe there wasn't enough time to shoot the additional angles.

    The most dangerous stunt looks like where Kirk grabs the grating in front of the forced-perspective set, and doesn't he wrap his legs around Khan? I can understand why they might not let the stars do that. There's risk of injury to the other actor, and if that grill wasn't secured properly, the whole thing could have fallen out.

    And even a simple stunt like a fall, or struggling, could cause a pulled muscle or sprain sidelining an actor. On The Wild Wild West, Robert Conrad often did his own stunts, and once cracked his head open when a chandelier swing failed and the prop crashed to the floor.
     
  12. Samurai8472

    Samurai8472 Vice Admiral Admiral

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  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm pretty sure the yeoman is the same actress. And Nichelle Nichols is not seen at any point in the entire scene, and the woman at the communications station has no rank stripes on her sleeves, suggesting that it's not a doubled Uhura but just a relief comm officer of enlisted rank.


    That's why a lot of things in TV are imperfect: because there's simply not enough time to do them right.


    After the stuntmen initiate the leg-hold maneuver, we cut to a close-up of Shatner and Montalban already in that pose. But I guess getting there in the first place was the dangerous part. Shatner and Montalban were probably maneuvered more carefully into that position with the help of the stunt supervisor and a couple of stagehands.


    Yes. Falls can be dangerous, which is why learning how to fall safely is such a large part of any stunt or fight training. Gravity is a harsh mistress.
     
  14. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Another falling stunt you see a lot in any action shows is where the hero jumps down from a higher level onto the bad guys. Watch the guys being jumped on, and they're actually catching the guy to help break the fall. Instead of stepping back and letting him faceplant the floor like real bad guys would. The stunt guys really deserve their own Oscar and Emmy categories, it's tough work.
     
  15. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Shatner should recieve more credit himself, as he performed some great stunts on TOS; someone already mentioned the fall in "Journey to Babel," but another notable stunt was the close up of his leap/kick over the med table in "Mirror, Mirror" and the fights with Tracey (both) and Cloud William in "The Omega Glory."

    It really paid off when Shatner was cleary involved.
     
  16. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    The Taste of Armageddon fight when Anan 7 leads Kirk into a trap is my favorite. Shatner does several good moves, gets knocked out and dragged down the corridor all in about 30 seconds, with no double.
     
  17. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    That's right. I would add the flying drop kicks he delivered in The Paradise Syndrome and Spectre of the Gun. If I'm not mistaken, he was taking karate lessons on his own time.
     
  18. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I simply explained why stuntmen are sometimes used. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on how the use of stuntmen were approved or not used on any given episode, but typically it depends on the risk. There's a nice example in the book Chekov's Enterprise where Walter explains how the stunt of Spock getting zapped by the V'ger probe was done and how much more dangerous the stunt was than it looked, which was why there was a stunt double.
     
  19. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Props to 42 year old Morgan Woodward too for The Omega Glory.
     
  20. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I recommend lots of dodgeball and being a soccer goalie.