"The Slaver Weapon"

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Ketrick, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Sorry, I didn't mean that as a polemic. I was just talking about the ideas that come into play in the conversation. You mentioned "existing Trek lore," and I thought it was worth commenting on how the nature of what "Trek lore" is has evolved over the decades. I have a history degree, so I think of things in terms of their historical context. That's not about saying that X idea is right or wrong, it's just about considering all the historical factors that surround it. I think it's interesting to think about the evolution of how the Trek universe has been perceived and portrayed over the decades, and how different it was then than it is now. I think it's worth considering stories not just in terms of their in-universe content, but in terms of the real-world factors that shaped them.

    Granted, I have a preference, but not in the negative sense you're suggesting. I'm not saying "It doesn't belong!" I'm saying it belongs perfectly -- in Known Space, a rich and important science fiction universe in its own right. Frankly I'm bewildered by people who say they like the Kzinti in TAS but have no interest in reading about the genuine article in the universe they were created for. I'm saying that if you like the Kzinti, you'll probably like them much better if you experience them in their home reality. Then it won't just be "The Slaver Weapon" with its skinny Kzinti in pink spacesuits; it'll be "The Warriors" and "The Soft Weapon" and the Ringworld series and, if you like, a whole 13-volume, not-entirely-canonical Man-Kzin Wars series by multiple authors. I mean, if you like Kzinti, you're really missing out by not reading Ringworld and The Ringworld Engineers. Speaker-to-Animals is a much more interesting and well-developed character than Chuft-Captain or Flyer or Telepath, and you learn much more about Kzinti culture through him. (Also, Nessus, the Pierson's Puppeteer in "The Soft Weapon" who was rewritten as Spock in "The Slaver Weapon," is a featured character in the Ringworld novels as well.)
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    On the other hand, taking those parts of Known Space that actually made it into Star Trek and then developing them in a uniquely Trek direction offers story potential as well. And while I understand the concept of cleaning up the "extraneous" (if not really superfluous) elements in the story, I find it difficult to see the motivation, either from the viewpoint of the 1970s presentation or from that of later development of the Trek universe.

    The Slavers of TAS are extremely vague, their only relevant attribute being that they are explicit bad guys (and ugly, too). This gives the automatic excuse for there being spies who would want to resist them - or, if we want to cut corners, for these bad guys having devious spying gear of their own because of course spying is naughty. Either path can be traveled further, without the need to bring up the Tnuctip or the big mental weapon that killed them all. The Kzinti can be developed without having to mind Outsiders or their eugenics programs. The stasis boxes need not have anything to do with deep radar now, but their takes-one-to-know-one attribute opens all-new possibilities. Etc. etc.

    Niven wrote enjoyable Kzinti. But he also got caught in a "Protector trap" of sorts, in which the great concepts he developed put great limitations on what further ideas he could or would introduce. Doing it all Trek style would dodge the trap, essentially doubling the fun we can have with the Kzinti.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    Ah, I understand you a bit more clearly now, Christopher.

    Niven's original material? I may not have ALL his books, but I do have a decent percentage. In the mid 80s a friend loaned me a lot of his books and pointed me to them at the local library. And it was through Filmation Trek's "Slaver Weapon" that resulted in that introduction. Later, I bought my own copies to have in my personal collection and when that friend moved, he gave me duplicates from his collection, at least those I didn't already have.

    So, yeah, I've enjoyed the Kzinti and the other "Known Space" species in their "natural habitat" so to speak. And yes, they do work far better there.

    I'd just like to know how Niven got involved with Trek in the first place and the circumstances that led to the Kzinti's inclusion. I mean, it sure has caused something of a legal "how do you do". Did he think this would be his only catch to see his material adapted to another media?

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  4. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    As with TOS, where Roddenberry invited science fiction novelists to consult on concepts, and then to pitch episodes, DC Fontana encouraged Niven to contribute to TAS.

    Niven supposedly hated the character of Kirk (IIRC) and only agreed to do a TAS script if he was able to omit the character? Hence, the whole ep is set on the shuttlecraft.

    Ah, I guess you've seen this?:
    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Slaver_Weapon_(episode)#Story_Development
     
  5. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    Ah, actually, I had not until you linked it in your post. So, D.C. Fontana was the catalyst (pun intended) for this story.

    Purely supposition here, but I think if Niven had any idea Trek would later develop into powerhouse enterainment property it did, he might have resisted the pleas to include the Kzinti and the other Known Space elements. He possibly assumed in '73 that Trek would run a few years in syndication and then fade into obscurity.

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    I think The Slaver Weapon serves as an excellent advertisement for Known Space. :shrug:

    In many ways, it's like a crossover episode.
     
  7. FalTorPan

    FalTorPan Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Perhaps the four wars took place in cyber(sub)space. Why not? :)
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Because you can't use a keyboard if you have claws, silly.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. FalTorPan

    FalTorPan Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The felinoid Kzinti just use their rodent appetizers as pointing devices.
     
  10. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    I love the episode, despite its limitations. The only thing that rankles about it is the pink uniforms.

    Edit: Well from the link someone left above I found this!!

    The Traitor's Claw (and the Kzinti space suits) was painted pink because the director of this episode, Hal Sutherland, has a kind of color blindness. D.C. Fontana later speculated that Sutherland had probably thought the pink color of the craft was a shade of gray. ("Drawn to the Final Frontier - The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series", TAS DVD)

    RAMA
     
  11. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Sutherland's infamous colour blindness is also why the tribbles and Klingon vests were also pink.

    I'm red/green colour blind and - in the 60s, long before I knew what colour TV was - I could see vibrant greens in b/w cartoons. We didn't get colour TV in Australia till 1975, but I used to see Fred Flintstone mowing green grass with an inverted bird all through my childhood and didn't know any different.
     
  12. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    Now that's the strange thing. Okay, so Sutherland was supposedly color blind. Did no one ever say to him, "Uh, Mr. Sutherland? You sure you want to give these 'bad guys' pink vests? The reference photos from the old program show them to be a kind of gold."

    As the indident is described, one gets the impression Sutherland did everything, and we know that's just not possible. Or was he one of these guys who ruled the studio with an iron fist? "You gonna' tell Mt. Sutherland he selected pink for the spacesuits because I'm not! I gotta' family to support!"

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  13. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    One of the first episodes completed was "More Tribbles, More Troubles". The 70s colourists were given xeroxed cels, a style sheet and colour-by-number little pots of paint. Only the colours they needed. They do not question anyone, they just paint as directed. Several people are painting similar cels at the same time. (In the 80s, here in Sydney, the cel painters at Disney would travel into the studio, collect their materials and paint at home.)

    It's possible the cel painters had not even seen TOS, let alone have access to stills of the show. Remember the Gold Key comic artists had also never seen the show. Neither had James Blish when doing prose adaptations of TOS for Bantam.

    Were Filmation's colourists even based in USA? They'd never get to meet Sutherland or Fontana anyway.

    No one would have questioned pink/grey alien puff balls. Obviously, they were all one colour in this ep so they didn't have to track individual tribbles as they were animated. The Klingon vests are a strange choice but, again, to Sutherland, the vests were assumed to be grey/silver - and the choice of colour complemented the tribbles anyway.

    Future Klingon appearances would have used the style sheets created for their first appearance.

    As for the kzinti, would they necessarily see pink as a "sissy" colour?
     
  14. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Alberto Giolitti never screened the series, but he worked from a stack of publicity photos from seasons one and two, which is why some famous poses of the series leads and Enterprise can be found among the line art.

    At the time of TAS' production, yes.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Absolutely yes. In fact, just about every Filmation animated show was produced within a single building, with the writers on one floor, the recording studio on another, the animators on another, ink and paint on another, camera on another, and so forth. It was pretty much a self-contained assembly line, with an episode passing through the building from floor to floor until it was completed. Filmation was the last TV animation studio to produce its shows completely in the US even after everyone else had subcontracted the animation out to Asian companies. The only Filmation production that was ever done overseas was The New Adventures of Zorro in 1981, whose animation was subcontracted to TMS in Japan because Filmation had too many shows on its plate that year and couldn't make them all in-house. (But at least they went with the best.)


    For that matter, Americans in the '70s wouldn't have seen pink that way. I've seen episodes of '70s TV shows like Mission: Impossible and The Rockford Files where big macho men like Charles Napier and James Garner wore bright pink shirts. Apparently it didn't have an "effeminate" stigma at the time.

    For that matter, when the custom of color-coded blue and pink baby clothes first came into use in the 1910s-20s, it was pink that was the boys' color:
    (Well, that's new. The Smithsonian site somehow embedded an automatic link when I copied and pasted the text. I would've linked anyway, but I'm surprised that's technically possible.)
     
  16. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    [​IMG]

    Not relevant to the discussion other than it is a drawing of a Kzin I made in either the late 80s or the early 90s.

    Yep, believe it or not, long ago I used to actually draw with graphite and paper rather than putter with Poser.

    Sorry about the lens flare. At the time I thought it looked cool. (Look, Ma! No snide joke about J.J. Abrams...oh, wait.)

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  17. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Australia got colour TV in 1975, about the same time as lilac bodyshirts hit the shops.

    50s/60s it had become the total opposite. Amazing.

    The really big pink-for-men resurgence in fashion I recall was Don Johnson's tops in "Miami Vice" in the 80s.
     
  18. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe that's why my parents painted my room pink and my sister's room blue. And caused me life-long emotional stress!! :rofl:
     
  19. iarann

    iarann Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    It is worth noting this mistake would have been unlikely as Kzinti is pronounced with a hard k sound: K-zinti. I always assumed (probably wrongly) that the Xindi were named as an homage, but the pronunciation is different.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Of course, when you try to pronounce "Xindi" with a mouth full of fangs...

    Timo Saloniemi