What if it Went Longer

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by dougiezerts, Jul 15, 2014.

  1. E-DUB

    E-DUB Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Allow me to clarify/elaborate on my earlier post. Postulating a six year run for the original series, around the fifth year actor costs would begin to escalate. Network brass would conclude that they could keep the brand going if they launching a spin-off with a new cast. Such a spin-off would undoubtedly be set in the same timeframe because that would make more sense economically as props (phasers, communicators, etc.) could just be moved over. After six years of TOS and five of "Star Trek: Deep Space K8" or "Star Trek: Mariner" that would be ten years (assuming one year of overlap).

    Oh, we might eventually see something like a "Next Generation" series but that wouldn't come for a long time given that much more twenty-third century product out there in the syndication market.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's hard for me to see that happening in the 1970s. As I said, before TNG, science fiction was never popular or profitable enough in the US to last longer than five seasons at the outside. I think that once Paramount got TOS past 100 episodes and felt secure in the show's syndication potential, it would've had to be exceptionally successful and/or critically acclaimed in order for NBC and Paramount to consider it worthwhile to continue the show.

    If there had been a spinoff, it might've been something like Assignment: Earth, a present-day, Earth-based series to save costs. You didn't see a lot of deep-space shows in the early '70s -- aside from TAS itself, there was basically just The Starlost and Space: 1999, with most of the space shows coming late in the decade in the wake of Star Wars -- Space Academy/Jason of Star Command, Quark, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, and Blake's 7 in the UK. The bulk of the genre shows in the first half of the decade were Earthbound things like the bionic shows, Planet of the Apes, Ark II, and UFO in the UK (okay, that was partly set in near space, but still centered on the Earth/Moon system). And Roddenberry's pilots in that era were Earthbound too -- Genesis II, Planet Earth, The Questor Tapes, Spectre. If he'd been asked to do a Trek spinoff, it might well have been a version of Genesis II that was set in the Trek universe's past after the Eugenics Wars/WWIII (which were implicitly the same thing until TNG retconned the time frame of the latter) and showed the beginning of Earth's rebuilding into the utopia it became in Kirk's time.

    And once more, it's worth keeping in mind that the animated series was a spinoff/continuation of the original, debuting only four years after the original ended. Moving the show to animation was how NBC chose to revive/continue it while making it less expensive. Let's remember how popular the show was among children in its original run. NBC may have felt they were the prime target audience for ST, and that they'd respond as well to an animated show as a live-action one (although TAS was made with the hope that it would draw adults too). And keep in mind that Filmation was in talks about doing an animated spinoff even while the original series was still in production -- the idea being to focus on a young cadet crew that had Kirk, Spock, and the others as their mentors, and have their adventures run in parallel with the live-action show. Those plans were abandoned when TOS was cancelled. So if TOS had continued, it's highly possible that its first spinoff would've been in animated form.
     
  3. AtoZ

    AtoZ Commander Red Shirt

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    In my perfect little fantasy world, they would have cut back the number of production episodes to 16 but remained at par with S3 in terms of effort (at its best....Spectre, Enterpise Incident, All Our Yesterdays, etc). They would have given us a return on a few of the older open ended plots, perhaps induced Eddie Paskey to return for background shots (in a variety of different short colors) in a handful of episodes....if only to add that S1/S2 sense of "home". Maybe have Kirk wear his wrap-around a time or two. Often, its the little things that can make a difference.
     
  4. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    To follow up on that idea, sometimes shows are put up against strong competition not to win the slot, but when the network thinks they can grab an audience the leading show doesn't serve. Gunsmoke drew an older audience, and perhaps NBC felt Star Trek would bleed younger audiences that would eschew Dodge City. Putting Laugh-In there makes complete sense if that was their plan. Sometimes you also put a weak marginally profitable show up against a strong show when you don't want to risk damaging your own strong shows and the revenue they bring in.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2014
  5. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ooh, thank you. That's most interesting.

    True, although, it is commanding advertising rates that compare well with NBC's Tuesday at 7:30 show, which has to be about what NBC had to figure it could get barring the sudden discovery of a surprise hit. Granted Star Trek probably had a lower profit margin than The Jerry Lewis Show, though. (On the other hand, I suppose it depends how much of the advertising revenue NBC had to pay to Paramount. It was a fixed cost per show, wasn't it, so that with lower advertising rates NBC would lose profit first?)

    I wonder how it compares to other weekday 7:30 NBC shows (but please don't go to great trouble finding the data; this is really idle curiosity).
     
  6. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Do we know what advertising rates the show that replaced Trek in the Monday timeslot ended up getting?
     
  7. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I'm sure if you take a look at Broadcasting from 1968-1970, that information will be somewhere in there. Rowan and Martin's Laugh In was the #1 show on television beginning in the 1968-69 season; the advertising rates must have been high.

    It's not hard to find; that data is all among the same issue of Broadcasting.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It depends how much NBC paid for each episode (like most television shows, the series was deficit financed, which meant that Desilu/Paramount covered some of the agreed upon budget, plus any overages). I don't think I've ever seen this figure, although two-thirds of the budget is a good estimate of NBC's contribution, I think.

    The Jerry Lewis Show, it should be pointed out, saw its advertising rates reduced in its second year (68-69), just like Star Trek. Lewis dropped from $40,000 to $38,000; Trek dropped from $39,000 to $36,000. NBC dropped both programs at the end of that season.
     
  8. TheAdmiralty

    TheAdmiralty Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Even season 3 had a few gems. The chance of getting just a few more classic TOS episodes is too much to pass up, which is why I've long wished there was a season 4.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And I still say the animated series was season 4 and 5. "Yesteryear" is absolutely one of the most classic Trek episodes ever made, and has been influential on a lot of later Trek, including "Unification," the Vulcan civil war trilogy on Enterprise, and the Spock-childhood scenes in the 2009 movie.

    Okay, maybe no other TAS episode rises to that same level, though "Albatross" comes close, and there are plenty of other episodes that tell stories in the classic vein, like "The Survivor" (a female crewmember's love interest becomes a threat to the ship and she must choose between her allegiances), "The Time Trap" (Kirk must convince the Klingons to work with him for the common good), "Once Upon a Planet" (a computer tries to take over the ship, but this time Kirk and Spock change its mind with reason), "The Magicks of Megas-tu" (an entity that seems demonic turns out to be sympathetic and Kirk speaks eloquently in its defense), and so on. And they even improved on TOS in some respects -- the aliens were more exotic, the female crew had stronger roles, and we even saw Uhura in command and women working in security. It is real Star Trek, both a continuation and an evolution from the live-action show.
     
  10. E-DUB

    E-DUB Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    While Christopher and I have had our disagreements in this thread, on this issue we are in full accord.
     
  11. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Over the last few years I've been watching shows that started around the time of Trek and moved into the 70s, like Hawaii 5-0 and Mannix. I gotta say, my perception is that as the 70s progressed, creativity regressed. Direction, photography, lighting, even writing, in later seasons of those shows changed style for the worse. A lot of it was kind of dull. I do wonder how bad Trek would have looked in, say, a 1974 season.
     
  12. Cap'n Claus

    Cap'n Claus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Until Battlestar Galactica, special effects in US television series got pretty bad, too. Sets looked cheaper and the laser beam animation was just awful. Watch any episode of Logan's Run. After BSG (thanks to Star Wars), things picked up. But I wonder what would have happened to Trek's effects had the series gone into the 70's.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, Trek's effects were beyond the state of the art for the rest of TV even in its own time. The series had to have four of the top FX houses in Hollywood working in rotation in order to meet its enormous FX demands. Only the Irwin Allen series and The Invaders were really doing comparable work, but the Allen shows were using more traditional techniques (flying ships on wires instead of using mattes) and The Invaders came a year after ST and presumably benefitted from the experience its FX house gained on ST.

    So I daresay that, all else being equal, ST's effects would've continued to be above the norm if it had continued. Of course, all else wouldn't have been equal, because its budget would've been getting cut further, and that would probably have meant they'd have to get by with fewer FX houses and perhaps with cheaper, more limited effects.
     
  14. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    TAS was the best season 4 and 5 we could get, that's for sure. With TOS talent behind the scenes and on the audio track, it had a lot of the spirit of TOS, no question.

    There was a different spirit also, though. The format change had an impact, and there was an introduction into Star Trek of some Filmation-isms, to coin a phrase. Even the masterpiece "Yesteryear", one of the few TAS episodes that ranks among the better TOS episodes proper, has a helping of what ultimately were Saturday-morning clichés of the era.

    But if we are willing to designate TAS as TOS seasons 4 and 5, why not regard the TOS movies as, in essence, a belated TOS season 6?
     
  15. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    In the 1960s, a show running only 16 weeks would be a failure, and would probably be replaced mid-season during January. Shows usually ran 13 or 26 weeks then. If you want your version of Star Trek to be that different, it never would have made it to Season 2.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^I believe AtoZ is proposing a 16-episode fourth season, not saying it should've had 16-episode seasons from the start.
     
  17. AtoZ

    AtoZ Commander Red Shirt

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    My bad. Yes, i was referring to a 4th season.
     
  18. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And thank you again. Looking at that data … well, Star Trek seems to command advertising revenues at least comparable to The Jerry Lewis Show and Daniel Boone, but it's certainly on the low end of what NBC could command. It rather makes the case for dropping the show, or at least kicking it to a worse timeslot, even without Laugh-In surprising everyone.
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Different era, but Hill Street Blues was left in the air not because it was a hit but in part for its prestige value. It too got a 10 p.m. slot (albeit not on Fridays). One could suppose that Star Trek's dip in quality as a dramatic show (budget cuts + staff turnover) made it less prestigious, and that, coupled with the low ratings, could have been what finally did it in. There was little value, either financial or critical, in keeping it around.
     
  20. Bixby

    Bixby Captain Captain

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    Back then in the late 60s early 70s, the best television FX were probably on Trek and, oddly enough, over in the UK for Gerry Anderson's super puppet shows. In fact, the man in charge for the latter was Derek Meddings who did amazing work later on the James Bond films and for Richard Donner's Superman films.

    But that was about it, most of the other FX artisans worked on the occasional sci-fi feature film such as Douglas Trumbull on 2001 and 70s disaster films.

    By the mid to late 70s all the best FX workers were either scooped up by George Lucas and the fledgling ILM shop or were learning at Roger Corman's so to eventually get scooped up at ILM. Sad to say but the few sci-fi/almost sci-fi shows on television had pretty horrible FX apart from Battlestar Galactica but it was apparent even then they had a shortage of time and craftsmen and coped by reusing shots as often as possible.

    Had Star Trek actually managed to get its Phase 2 relaunch on the air I'm pretty sure its special effects would have been either very, very minimal, or at best at Buck Rogers level but still better than Galactica 1980 levels (sh-sh-sh-shudderrrrr)...