Watching Trek in Airdate Order

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Ssosmcin, Aug 22, 2012.

  1. Indysolo

    Indysolo Commodore Commodore

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    The Laserdiscs released in the 80s had the episodes in airdate order.
     
  2. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Airdate order blows.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Okay, maybe it wasn't universal, but that release didn't change the way the reference sources or syndicators ordered the episodes. With that exception, production order remained the standard throughout the '80s and '90s. Yet for some reason, the DVD box set's order has had a far more pervasive impact in just the past 8 years. Airdate order shows up these days in so many places -- Netflix, StarTrek.com's episode guide, TrekCore, Chakoteya's transcript site, etc. -- though mercifully Memory Alpha still uses production order.
     
  4. NicholasM79

    NicholasM79 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I have to defend airdate order. Reason is because so many other shows are seen that way, and in some cases (like TNG season 1 Skin of Evil/Symbiosis) there would be vast continuity errors between episodes should it be seen in production order.

    Besides, there's no continuing serial plot on TOS, so why should it matter? Anyone can watch how they want.
     
  5. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    It probably doesn't. I never watch in order.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Why are you casting this as a universal question? Obviously there are plenty of shows where airdate order makes more sense, because episodes are often written in one order and filmed in a different one. I have already mentioned several such shows, so clearly I'm aware of that principle. I'm talking about TOS specifically, not television in general. TOS is a show where airdate order was not chosen for story reasons, but simply for external concerns like network preference or post-production delays. So the reasons why airdate order makes more sense for other shows do not apply to this show.


    Again, I already explained the reasons why production order makes more sense in TOS's first season, though it's less of an issue in the second and third. Please review my comments made earlier in the discussion.
     
  7. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The actors portraying the recurring characters can say it was originally an "ensemble show" all they want, but it never was. The stories were always about the stars. Sure, the secondary characters may have had more bits of business in early episodes, but it was never an ensemble, and more than Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^It may not have been an ensemble show in the modern sense, but there's no denying that the early first-season episodes devoted more time to the ensemble's interplay -- Scott and Sulu bantering in "The Corbomite Maneuver," Sulu and Rand talking about his hobbies in "The Man Trap," things like that -- than later episodes did. These things are matters of degree, not black-and-white absolutes. A show can be mainly focused on its stars yet also make a certain amount of room for the supporting ensemble, and it's clear that the amount of room given to the ensemble in early TOS was greater than it was later on.
     
  9. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm going to disagree because I don't think it was an ensemble show even by the standards of the time. For instance The Beverly Hillbillies and The Dick Van Dyke Show were ensemble shows, as every character had plots about them at various points, and they all featured in virtually every episode. Both shows had their main stars, but the secondary characters were regularly and heavily featured in a way Star Trek never did. Mission: Impossible, too.
     
  10. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    Riley was big in two eps. Rand had a decent part in a couple. Chapel had "Little Girls"; there were the rec dec, botany, gym scenes all showing us a level of casual interplay among the crew (aside from big 3) that clearly declined from the midpoint of S1 onwards.

    Ditch the term "ensemble" if you like, but you cannot deny the change. Probably due to GR becoming less hands-on and GCoon wanting fewer crewman of note to confuse us, and leave us with a core "tv family" to hang our hats on. Maybe smart from a ratings standpoint in 1967, but I prefer the earlier feel.
     
  11. TenLubak

    TenLubak Commander Red Shirt

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    Indeed I got these TOS DVDs back in the early summer time for about 20 dollars each new, the old ones with out the remasters from Suncoast, and I watched em pretty much in order. (sometimes I'd fall asleep and go back or something, or some i could not get thru mudds women was one. it was so slow)

    But as I rewatch this series, it has been fun. but it never occured to me to watch it any other way than the order listed on the DVDS i think thats what the little number are then the production number i wreckoned.

    Neat little show, and yeah the Rand rape thing was scary, and some of the other things are off but its a fun and way better than that Star Track Voyager crap.

    Enterprise reminds me of TOS. I like all the treks but Voyager, but this original series takes the taco! Its fun and action pact and color ful! I think Deep Space is the best serious show, and TNG is the easiest to watch without thinking, and its easy on the eyes just the one that is my first trek series. Voyager as i said is bad, and I recently watched the new one Enterprise on cbs dot come and that one is neat too! So anyway I'm on the blue box second season of STAR TREK The original SERies. And your comments , by the original poster, are many of the same thing I thought. ! :guffaw:
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Okay, I think we're having a vocabulary issue here. A show can have an ensemble without being an "ensemble show." "Ensemble show" has come to be a term for a show that uses all its cast equally, but that's actually a change in the meaning of the word; according to the dictionary, "ensemble" means the supporting cast aside from the principals. So no, TOS was not an "ensemble show" in the modern sense of the word, but it did have an ensemble in the more traditional sense, a continuing group of supporting players. And my point is that the early episodes of TOS focus more on that ensemble than the later episodes do. I'm not comparing Star Trek to other shows, I'm simply comparing the first, ohh, dozen episodes of Star Trek to the rest of Star Trek (TOS).


    An interesting analysis, but keep in mind that it was a common practice in the '60s to focus individual episodes on prominent guest stars. The show that Roddenberry used as his template when pitching ST, Wagon Train, was famous for this; there was a regular cast, but mainly they were there to support the episodes about the featured guest wagon train members of the week. You can see the same thing in something like The Fugitive, where the show wasn't so much about Kimble and his quest for the one-armed man as it was about the dramas and problems of the guest characters he got involved with week after week. The original ST pitch document actually says that the ship "is a whole community in which we can anytime take our camera down a passageway and find a guest star or secondary character... who can propel us into a story."

    So we had episodes whose focus characters were visitors to the ship, like Harry and Eve or Charlie Evans, or outsiders like the Romulan Commander or Miri, but we also had some episodes where the featured guest characters were members of the crew, like Bailey or Stiles or Boma. Kevin Riley was originally a one-shot character, and the Kodos survivor in "The Conscience of the King" was originally going to be a separate character, Robert Leighton, until they cast Bruce Hyde in the role and decided to call the character Riley instead. So it's kind of an accident that Riley ended up having two focus episodes. Rand is different, because she was meant to be part of the ensemble (in the supporting sense) from the start, though she didn't last long. Chapel is sort of an in-between case, since she wasn't intended to be part of the ensemble from the start, but Roddenberry surely didn't intend her to be a one-shot role either, since he wanted Majel Barrett to be a part of the show one way or another.
     
  13. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    James Blish had Riley down as Daiken in the novelization. He was going by the earlier drafts. Leighton was Kirk's friend, the poor schmuck with the black patch on his face.

    What I like about very early Trek are the little bits they tried out but didn't do again for whatever reason. Like the computer "face" in Mudd's Women. It wasn't anything more than a cine wave, but it gave the characters and the audience a focal point rather than just a audio presence. Or that cool "screen saver" seen in Where No Man Has Gone Before (might have been in another episode, but hardly glipsed). That required the use of rear projection which they didn't usually have time for. Also a shame they never used the phaser rifle in the series after the pilot. It was a nice prop.
     
  14. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Cranked out a few more episodes over the weekend.

    Miri more chilling than I remembered, a very dark episode with not many opportunities for humor. The "other Earth" is a much discussed throwaway which is all but forgotten and pointless. Some great character bits throughout as the landing party marches toward death. Seeing Janice have a big part is nice, it's a shame she had to leave the series. Spock continues his coldness (he keeps hanging up on Farrell - "people don't say goodbye in the 23rd century?").

    The whole opening up to the finding of Miri is great. Awesome atmosphere and buildup, with the dying "child" and his tricycle. Later, when we see the horror shot of Louise, it's another pretty chill. When Miri screams, it looks to genuinely startle Shatner. I love how Kirk uses his charm on her. Again, it's another time, but today, Kirk would come off pretty creepy.

    Transition period for the props: the security guards wear the leather belts, but use the newer phasers. The main guys have the black belts and the phaser 1. Janice is unarmed. She runs great, though.

    One niggle: the Enterprise has it down to the second how long they have to live. Everyone will react simultaneously? Wouldn't McCoy drop first being oldest? Janice last? Or was it the deadline before they were past a point of no return? Seems a little odd.

    Dagger of the Mind - a middling episode which becomes important because of the introduction of the Vulcan Mind Meld; it is only called this in Spectre of the Gun and "a sort of mind meld" in Is There in Truth No Beauty? by the way. Nearly every time they use it, it's called something else. The Vulcan Mind Touch, the mind fusion, the Vulcan technique of the joining of two minds, and the mind probe (twice). I wonder who settled on the official name of "mind meld" after the fact?

    The funny thing about the end of act one is that Kirk asks Bones for someone with psychiatric and penology experience (if possible). The music gets all romantic and McCoy give him a sly double take but the audience has no way to know what's going on. It's just a sort of weird ending that only really makes sense when you see it a second time. Then when we come back, we get a shot of the Enterprise we've never seen before or will again; it looks like an outtake from the 2nd pilot showing the ship approaching Delta Vega. It's terrible, actually. This was cut out of the WPIX syndie runs in the 70's, but I caught it on a Connecticut rerun and it always stuck with me because it was unique and very awkward. It starts out fine, but then it becomes a still shots that is made smaller. It reminds me of the Filmation Animated Series in technique. Also weird, the entire mind meld scene was missing from my area's syndie run until the 80s revamp.

    Helen Noel is gorgeous, but extremely unprofessional. Kirk asks her real questions and she usually fires off some sort of double entendre or reference to that damned Christmas party. She turns out to be fine, but for the first half, she's something of an annoyance to me. James Gregory saves this episode. Spock is once again a background player. Why did he turn the power back on, anyway?

    Corbomite Maneuver and The Menagerie - I actually skipped these because I've seen them too often to too recently. Besides, the audio cock ups in The Menagerie annoy the hell out of me. Either way, these are classics and favorites and let's move on.

    Conscience of the King - here's an underrated episode. Another dark tale with Kirk in the foreground. Shatner does the material justice. There's only one action sequence, the phaser overload scene, and this was also always cut out of my local syndication station's reruns. This made the following scene where Kirk mentions it nonsensical. McCoy comes across annoyingly in his first scene with Spock, dismissing everything he's saying and trying to get the Vulcan drunk. I understand that Bones may not agree with Spock's concerns, but it’s weird to see him be completely dismissive of them. Thankfully, this doesn't last long. McCoy is something of a dumbass, though. Everyone is trying to keep the truth from Riley, but Bones decides to log Kirk's decision and the full exposition about Reilly's family murder nice and loudly in sick bay with the Lt. standing just a few feet away. Bruce Hyde was excellent with the other side of the coin version of the character. Arnold Moss brings great class to Karidian/Kodos and to the series in general. He's an asset to every production I've seen him in. Kirk is manipulative and sneaky, doing what he has to in order to solve this mystery. The Joseph Mullendore score is atypical for the series and very nice. Overall, a really fine episode.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, right, sorry. Robert Daiken.


    You mean the lights moving up and down on the main viewscreen in our first look at the bridge? They actually did that all the time -- it was to cue the actors on the set that there was something happening on the viewscreen that they should be paying attention to. It was actually kind of a production error that we got to see it in the clear in that shot. (Sometimes if you look really closely around the borders of a matted-in viewscreen image, you can see a hint of the undulating lights that it's covering up.)

    What's really interesting about that first shot coming out onto the bridge in "Where No Man" is that you can actually see nearly the full domed roof of the bridge, something that I don't think was ever seen again because usually the roof was open to accommodate the stage lights.


    I've always found it a bit cheesy-looking. Its aesthetic is more consistent with the pilot-era laser/phaser pistols, with the blocky design and cylinders, and it doesn't really fit with the sleeker, Art Deco look of the series phasers.


    Yup, just a lame excuse to shoot on the Culver City backlot and use ordinary props and costumes instead of having to design alien stuff. The Blish adaptation completely ignored it and had Miri's planet instead be a long-lost Earth colony (which would've required TOS to take place in the early 27th century, going by the date references in the adaptation). The Pocket novel The Cry of the Onlies from 1989 also ignored the Earth-duplicate stuff. Since that was when Roddenberry's assistant Richard Arnold was vetting the novels for consistency with "Gene's vision," I'd bet that GR was embarrassed about the whole duplicate-Earth thing in "Miri" and was trying to pretend it hadn't happened.

    More recently, in my own novel Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Forgotten History, I made use of a hypothesis I came up with years ago, that the Onlies' Earth was a parallel-timeline Earth that had somehow been transposed into our timeline. The book actually visits that other timeline and explores how interstellar history unfolded without humanity being present.

    Although I tried to avoid specific references to "Miri" as much as possible. Personally I think it's one of the worst episodes of the series.


    Hmm, interesting. In the Star Trek Concordance, "mind touch" is the primary, most inclusive entry, and "meld" and "fusion" get shorter entries.

    "Meld" had become standard by the time of the movies, since it's used in TMP, TSFS, and TVH. But I also find it used as the preferred term in at least two stories in the Star Trek: The New Voyages fanfiction anthology from 1976, and in Joe Haldeman's Planet of Judgment from 1977. And the professionally published edition of the Concordance also came out in 1976. So it's hard to tell when or how the transition happened.


    Oh, that's the least of her unprofessionalism. When she has Kirk under hypnotic control, she manipulates him into believing they're lovers and remembering a nonexistent sexual encounter with her. That's a gross abuse of professional ethics, effectively a sexual assault.

    It's also been a huge source of confusion, because many fans have come away with the false idea that Kirk and Helen actually had been intimate, even though the dialogue makes it clear that all they'd done was dance and talk about the stars, and that the whole point of creating the sex fantasy was to test the neural neutralizer's ability to make people believe things that weren't real.

    Although it really shows how different (and more Pike-like) Kirk's characterization was this early in the series than it became later on when he evolved into a more conventional romantic lead. Even though he initially believes the conditioning that he loves Helen, he's able to shake it off very easily, become a complete duty-obsessed professional again, and quite callously send his "beloved" Helen into a shaft lined with dangerous live wires that could kill her instantly.


    So that he and the security team could see what they were doing?


    Too bad you're skipping "Corbomite." It was the first Trek episode ever I saw, when I was five years old, and still my favorite TOS episode to this day.


    Hmm, I think my syndication package included the phaser overload but cut the whole subplot of Spock digging into Kirk's past to figure out why he was acting oddly, including his scenes with McCoy. (And the part establishing that Vulcans never had alcohol until they contacted humans, which led to a continuity problem when later series mention Vulcan brandy -- but I like to think that's something that was only created after first contact. Maybe Zefram Cochrane's keen interest in alcoholic beverages made the Vulcans think they needed to study the principle for themselves in order to understand humans better.)


    Yeah, this is another example of how early Kirk differs from his later womanizer image. He's romancing Lenore, but it's an act, a cold, manipulative strategy to try to unearth the truth about Karidian.

    It's an effective episode, but it's very dated, since it raises questions about why they couldn't use DNA or some other forensic method beyond voiceprint analysis to match Karidian and Kodos.
     
  16. mb22

    mb22 Commander Red Shirt

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    The 1985-88 videocassettes were released in batches according to airdate, but were numbered on the spine by production order (except the all-color Cage)
     
  17. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Really? I was totally unaware of this. That explains the pulsating light reflected off the red bannisters beneath the screen. Well it looked cool anyway. You can also see a bit of stafe lighting at the top of the set were the apex of the dome should be. Oops.

    :) Okay, but flashlights would have worked too. I loved Spock's expression when he walked in on Kirk and Helen. Nimoy had that down pat early on.

    Well, I only skipped it in this go around mainly because I watched it as recently as a few weeks ago. It is an excellent episode and one of the best examples of what the series was going for.

    So hey, I'll talk about it. No prob.

    The Corbomite Maneuver

    I find it interesting that Kirk isn't seen until after the opening credits, giving Spock and the bridge crew some time in the spotlight. This scene was filmed after the "shear away" scene. You can see the finger prints in the dust above Uhura's station. Once I saw it, I could never un-see it.

    Kirk is, as you said, Pike-like at this point, grumbling about having a female yeoman. McCoy's jab about "trusting himself" is a great illustration of their relationship. McCoy makes the remark with an "I'm screwing with you" look on his face, but Kirk takes it seriously for a moment. McCoy doesn't flinch or change his expression in the slightest and Kirk lightens up. I always liked that.

    Bailey's jitteriness on the bridge is something I'm hot and cold over. It seems a little over the top, but on the other hand, I like Bailey and Anthony Call is really quite good. His breakdown is extremely well acted. "He's doing a countdown!" always brings a laugh from me, but not a laugh "at" him. Tension remains high and McCoy steps on a nerve, giving him his first snapping from Kirk. It's all very well done and human. As soon as Balok balks at destroying the Enterprise, he loses his superiority and even Scotty is blowing him off. Some great character stuff. I especially like the scene of Spock aborting an apology (another great scene cut in my area in the 70's).

    The "shear away" scene: back in the day, warp speed was just a speed. Not some "warping of space" or at least, that's how it seemed to me. Impulse power was their sub-warp drive. Kirk was pushing the warp engines to they could break out of Balok's tractor beam and finally Kirk orders "impulse power, too!" This seemed to do the trick, but it seemed odd that adding "less than warp one" would give them that push.

    Scotty tells Kirk and the others to bend low because "it reads pretty cramped over there." So it is - until they walk a few feet to the left where the ceiling was high enough for them.

    Oh and I really loved the quick shot of the Enterprise firing at the cube. The beams look great, animated with a glow and pulsation, with a muscular sound effect that really gave them power. This reminds me of the hand phaser effects in The Man Trap. Same sort of thing, kind of Wrath of Khan-ish. Much more realistic than a static blew or orange drawing seen in some episodes.

    Mention must be made of Fred Steiner's outstanding, legendary score. It's a partial, the episode is tracked with other episode music, but the main score is outstanding.

    Good direction, fine performances, some "works in progress" like Spock's behavior and Uhura's uniform. However, this is an exceptionally strong episode.

    Might as well talk about The Menagerie while I'm here.

    The envelope, while it has its logic gaps, is well done on a surface level. One of my favorite scenes is between Kirk and McCoy as Kirk starts to suspect Spock. McCoy leaps to Spock's defense, strongly arguing that it's impossible for Spock to be behind it. Of course, he's totally wrong and I'm kind of sorry this wasn't played up more. Bones should be doubly upset at the betrayal. He's not even in the second part to see the explanation. The Cage works well as a flashback. Everything is so different it feels like relative ancient history. Once the old footage starts, the envelope becomes filler and places to stick commercials. There's one in part two that shows Spock being hung out to dry by the Talosians, who suddenly refuse to run more clips. Spock is pronounced "guilty as charged" by everyone and off we go. When we get back, the show resumes with no explanation why the Talosians were screwing with Spock.

    Watching this, it struck me that it must have been really impressive for audiences of the day who were not in the know. It could almost be seen that new costumes were made and the set redressed just for this episode.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Maybe they needed to get the lifts going again, or get air circulation back online. Anyway, Spock had no way of knowing why the switch was off or that there'd be any harm in replacing it. And given his logical, orderly, high-functon-autistic way of thinking, I wouldn't put it past him to just notice "Oh, that switch is off, that's wrong" and feel compelled to "fix" it.


    I don't think I ever noticed that. But I've never seen it in HD.


    In retrospect, Pike and Kirk's discomfort at having female yeomen is incongruous, given that TOS went on to make all its yeomen female.


    My favorite bit there is "You have an annoying fascination for timepieces, Mister Sulu." That's the sort of thing I was talking about earlier in the thread, the focus on the banter and interplay among the supporting characters. This episode really showcases the whole main crew well -- except for Uhura, of course, who was stuck in as an afterthought just to look pretty on camera. I wish the whole series had been more like that (the showcasing part, not the wasting-Uhura part).


    Yeah, I don't think they had it fully sorted out yet. Although I suppose it could be taken to mean that the impulse reactors' output was being fed into the warp engines.

    They needed to build the set high enough to accommodate the crew and equipment, I guess.


    What bugs me is that the buoy is supposed to be 107 meters on a side, but it's shown as being just about the same thickness as the edge of the Enterprise's saucer, which is less than a tenth that. And similarly, the Fesarius is supposed to be a mile across but it looks much huger than that when it looms in front of the Enterprise. The scale irregularities go in both directions, then, so we can't even assume that they intended the Enterprise to be bigger than it ended up being. What bugs me more is that they didn't fix either mistake in TOS Remastered. I mean, I appreciate the goal of being true to the look and feel of the original shot designs, but still.


    Yup. Really good action/suspense music, and they made a lot of use of it in later episodes.


    It does give a nice sense of history to the universe, the feeling that the world and the ship were around before the adventures we see. It may have been the first thing that started to give fans the sense of the Trek universe as something bigger than just the adventure of the week.
     
  19. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    This passage from the de Forest Research Report for "Errand of Mercy" might be of interest (dated January 11, 1967):

     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Gee, I wonder what the hyperspace reference was in the "Errand" script. Part of the Klingon combat scenes, presumably.