TAS: why not canon?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by PCz911, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    Rather a waste of mental energy considering that none of it is real.
     
  2. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    And only one of those things was really his brainchild, and it was almost Yorktown.
     
  3. PCz911

    PCz911 Commander Red Shirt

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    Lots of really interesting comments. One of the things I picked up on was the whole "richard Arnold hated TAS thread". Since he is so accessible at various events I asked him flat out about tas. This is his reply:

    "Gene used to say that he only did it because he needed money at the time, and therefor things that he would never have allowed in live action Star Trek made it into the episodes. In fact, there were only a couple of episodes that he considered to be decent!"

    I'm sure smarter folks than I can make out what to think about this. I was curious about the comments and, when given a chance, flat out asked.

    Thoughts?
     
  4. Nightowl1701

    Nightowl1701 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, Gene certainly did need money at the time, that's beyond dispute. But, as Wikipedia tells us, "Roddenberry was granted full (emphasis mine) creative control of Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973–1974); although he read all scripts and 'sometimes [added] touches of his own', he relinquished most of his authority to de facto showrunner/associate producer D.C. Fontana." So that whole "I would never have allowed this" excuse really doesn't fly. The only thing he didn't have any control over was Chekov not returning (the voice actor budget not big enough to include Koenig).

    As far as things he personally might have found objectionable, it's hard to say. Maybe the tribbles returning, or the crossover with Larry Niven's Kzinti, or Kirk not being able to get it on with alien babes in cartoon form, or the characters of Arex and M'Ress in general ("Don't design characters I can't do in live-action!"). The holodeck he obviously didn't have a problem with, and "Magicks of Megas-Tu" and "The Jihad" would have been right up his religion-questioning alley.
     
  5. Ithekro

    Ithekro Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not sure if the wording should have been "allowed to be in live action Star Trek" but more 'couldn't have gotten into live action Star Trek'. There were a lot of things you can do in animation that you can't do in live action in the 1970s, and couldn't really start doing well until the late 1990s and 2000s. There were also thing that were done in animation that were there to cut costs (to allow the reuse of cells more often) such a the life support shield belts that never made in into other Star Treks.

    But also things that were left out until the Next Generation...the holodeck being the primary thing.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I can buy this as an explanation for Roddenberry's attitude, but it's important to keep in mind that he felt the same about most of the movies and even parts of TOS. There was a lot of stuff that he wanted to de-canonize late in life but that we now accept as canon. So there's no reason TAS should be the exception.

    After all, he may have come up with the initial idea, but Star Trek was not exclusively about Gene Roddenberry and his opinions. His collaborators and freelance writers contributed enormously to the series. TOS would've been far less than it was without D.C. Fontana's contributions, and she also co-created TNG no matter what the credits say. And TAS was her show. Why shouldn't that count toward its authenticity? If Roddenberry chose to delegate the running of the show to her, then that was his creative choice and he should've owned it and stood by her, rather than later saying "Oh, that doesn't count because I didn't do it personally."
     
  7. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    I wish the remastered main titles had added Fontana (and Gerrold? and Justman?) to the created by credit. They certainly deserved it, but I imagine that would have required more of a fight than anyone would have been willing to engage in.
     
  8. drt

    drt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I can understand him wishing to de-canonize the movies, which I'm guessing really means 2-6, since he was cut out of the production of those. Although, I think he might have been OK with TVH, as I got the feeling Nimoy included him a bit more in some manner, plus Majel was in it. I actually met Gene in the fall of 1986, and he seemed pleased and excited about it's upcoming release.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah... I think he wanted to reduce ST to something that was purely his (which it never entirely was) and shut out anything where others were the primary creators. Ironically, TAS was the one Trek production where he was given absolute, unfettered creative control, but he chose to hand the responsibility off to Fontana instead, and then later dismissed it because it wasn't sufficiently his. Which seems pretty hypocritical. I have to wonder if he really knew what he wanted.


    Well, that doesn't necessarily prove anything; the people involved with an upcoming production are always going to say good things about it because they don't want to hurt their chances of making money from it. But I think that TVH probably did come closer to Roddenberry's view of Trek than most of the other films did, since it was socially conscious and positive and not very violent or militaristic.
     
  10. drt

    drt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I perhaps didn't word that very well, I know Gene would never bad-mouth anything that would put a nickel in his pocket, but he seemed more honestly genuine in his praise of TVH, likely for the reasons you mentioned.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^No, you phrased it fine; I just try to be cautious and acknowledge both sides of a question. Like I said, we can't be certain he was sincere, but it seems plausible that he was.
     
  12. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    It's for those reasons I've always felt that Roddenberry would have loved "Insurrection."
     
  13. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Billing is contractually negotiated. No doubt whatever settlement was reached with Fontana and Gerrold settled that in Gene's favor, and that's that. I don't know Justman's story re TNG and if he felt he had any ownership claim.
     
  14. martok2112

    martok2112 Commodore Commodore

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    Roddenberry, it seemed, didn't want anyone else to share his "creator" credit, and yet he wanted to throw his name into the credit for the theme music, which pissed Alex Courage off to no end. (Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, and ditched Roddenberry's "contribution" to Courage's work...because the lyrics were horrid!)
     
  15. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    That's not entirely accurate. The "contribution" of lyrics wasn't ditched. On paper, Roddenberry was co-composer, and he split the royalties on the theme song with Courage 50-50 (!), even though the lyrics were never used on the show [link].
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Even so, it's theoretically possible to dispute such contracts legally, like the way the estates of Jerry Siegel, Joe Schuster, Jack Kirby, and other comics creators have sued in recent years for ownership of the superhero characters that have made DC and Marvel so many billions of dollars with their creators' estates seeing almost nothing. But it would be a huge, costly legal fight with no assurance of victory, which I believe was Hober Mallow's point.
     
  17. Vandervecken

    Vandervecken Captain Captain

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    And we did get the Kzinti, too, in "The Slaver Weapon" (a fairly odd renaming of the much-more-child-friendly, "The Soft Weapon"). I thought they looked a bit too cutesified for the powerful and deadly creatures they are.

    If we had to import TAS whole, all of it, as "canon," this one episode could present something of an issue. You'd have to accept the Slavers/Thrintun as having existed once in Trek, even though races with histories perhaps as old never seem to have had any inkling of their existence, like the DNA-seeding aliens in "The Chase." I guess you could make a case that we'd need to bring in only the Kzinti and Thrintun (and by extension, probably, the Tnuctipun), and would be able to leave out aliens who would really throw all of our understanding in Trek of interspecies power levels into question--notably the Puppeteers and Outsiders--but it'd still be hard to work them in. Would require a lot of retconning, especially for the history of the Thrintun.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't think they looked "cute" at all; they were clearly designed to be menacing. It's just a matter of design style and perception.

    And I figure Niven, or someone, decided that "The Soft Weapon" was too subtle a title, kind of hard to explain ("soft" as in mutable, malleable, secretive). "The Slaver Weapon" sounds more ominous and dramatic, which was presumably the intent.



    Well, the "Chase" aliens date from 4 billion years ago, the Slavers only from 1 billion, as I recall.

    But canon is never, ever a requirement to accept every last detail of every last episode. Many long-running canons disregard parts of themselves that didn't work out the way they hoped. "The Alternative Factor" treats antimatter and dilithium in a way that contradicted previous episodes and has been ignored by every subsequent episode of every franchise. "The Magicks of Megas-tu" and ST V: The Final Frontier both treat the center of the galaxy as easily reachable, but all the 24th-century series treat it as a journey of decades. And Voyager's "Threshold" has been overtly renounced and ignored by its own creators.

    So canon isn't all-or-nothing. The problematical parts of a canon can be, and often are, overlooked by the canon itself. So you can accept the series as a whole as canon without needing to embrace every last episode or every last scene. (Remember, Roddenberry's own take on TOS in later years was that it was in some ways an inaccurate or exaggerated dramatization of what had "really" happened.)

    I've come to think of "The Slaver Weapon" as an inter-universe crossover in the vein of the comics crossovers between Trek and the X-Men, the Legion of Super Heroes, Doctor Who, and the upcoming one with Planet of the Apes. Or a mashup of the sort you find in fan fiction and art. It's not really a Trek story, it's a dramatization of a Known Space story with three Trek characters understudying in the lead roles. The story isn't really adapted to the Trek universe; rather, the Trek characters are removed from their usual context and adapted to the Known Space setting.
     
  19. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    It's still published with words. My jazz trio and I do it occasionally for a trekkie. So atrocious, you have to do it kind of tongue in cheek. My understanding is it was never intended to be sung; it was just so GR could get half the songwriter royalties.

    If written on his own, and someone slapped lyrics on it to get royalties, Courage could have had a legal case. I'll bet, however, this was a work-for-hire, which muddies the waters and maybe allows the production company (GR) or publisher to do with it what they will.
     
  20. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    According to that snopes.com article I linked to there, Roddenberry's option to contribute lyrics was in the contract that Courage had originally signed and Roddenberry exercised that option.