Gary Seven - Why try create new series when current one is struggling.

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by ConRefit79, Dec 23, 2015.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That last bit has been largely discredited. At least according to Inside Star Trek by Solow & Justman, NBC was highly supportive of TOS and strove to keep it on the air despite its poor ratings (and the attempts of the recent These Are the Voyages books to claim that its ratings were actually high are the result of poor research and interpretation). It brought them prestige, they valued its intelligence, it was Emmy-nominated every year it was on (both for Leonard Nimoy's acting and for the visual effects), and perhaps most importantly, it was cited as the primary reason people in 1967 were buying color TV sets, the patent for which was owned by NBC's parent company RCA. NBC loved ST and was as supportive of the show as it could possibly be. But TV shows succeed or fail based on what the audience wants, not just what the network wants. The ratings were just never all that high, and eventually NBC just couldn't afford to keep making the show any more. But they did bring it back four years later in animated form, and gave Roddenberry complete creative control over the animated series -- which Roddenberry chose not to exercise, instead turning it over to D.C. Fontana and then complaining decades later about how it wasn't "his" Star Trek.

    And really, every network has had trouble with genre programming. Genre shows have historically been iffy from the start, because they cost more than ordinary shows but tend to have niche audiences and lower ratings, and thus they're at greater risk of cancellation by their very nature. Networks try to do what they can to save their shows from cancellation; after all, it's insane to think they'd go to the trouble of buying a show and paying huge amounts of money to produce it and then actively try to sabotage it. They want their shows to succeed. But there's generally a tension between what makes a profitable show and what makes a good SF/fantasy show, and so many genre shows on many networks have suffered from well-meaning attempts to boost their ratings. And most genre shows get cancelled anyway because they just can't get high enough ratings to justify their expense. This is pretty much true of every commercial network, but the ones that air the most beloved shows tend to earn the most fan resentment -- like NBC post-Star Trek and FOX post-Firefly. They weren't exceptionally harsh in their treatment of the shows, they just happened to make exceptionally beloved shows whose cancellation in the routine course of events was exceptionally painful.
     
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  2. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Goo goo goo joob Moderator

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    I find it hard to reconcile these two statements. We know that the second is true, but where are you getting the first from?

    We know that the show was encouraged to be colorful to help sell color TVs...and that it was used in an ad to that effect...but I seriously doubt that the main reason Joe Sixpack bought a color TV set in 1967 was because of a show that he wasn't watching.
     
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  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's mentioned in Inside Star Trek, cited as the result of a survey. And the statements are reconcilable because most people at the time were still watching TV in black and white, so the percentage watching color TV was still small compared to the total viewership.

    And perhaps "primary" was the wrong choice of words. Rather, of the various reasons cited in the survey, it was the one cited the most. The number-one choice out of multiple options isn't necessarily a majority choice.
     
  4. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Goo goo goo joob Moderator

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    I'd love to see some evidence of that...sounds like more "Star Trek was more influential than it really was" hype.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I told you where I read it. You can read the book yourself.
     
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Was the survey question about watching shows made in color in general or such as Star Trek, or was it just about watching Star Trek specifically?
     
  7. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Goo goo goo joob Moderator

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    I mean outside the book. It's a book about Star Trek. What's their source? Where's this survey? With the mythical Pravda article in Martin Luther King's Star Trek memorabilia collection?
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's why I directed you to the book -- so you can find out from them what their source was. Do your own legwork.
     
  9. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Goo goo goo joob Moderator

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    Well if you were giving a proper source citation yourself, I'd have a page number.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^I'm not your research assistant. Like I said, if you're that curious, you can do the work yourself.
     
  11. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Goo goo goo joob Moderator

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    So, no proper citation of your source, got it.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^This isn't a research paper, it's a casual discussion. Why the hell are you on my back about this? I've told you repeatedly where I read it. You could've found it yourself by now if you weren't wasting both our time harrassing me.
     
  13. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Gentlemen, you can't fight here, this is the war room!

    Here's the passage in question:

    And, in box 30, folder 7 of the Gene Roddenberry Star Trek Television Series Collection at UCLA, here's the memo Solow references in the book:


    So, it turns out Solow's memory isn't 100% accurate (Star Trek was the #1 series in its timeslot, not the #1 series on television, for viewers with color television), but it wasn't manufactured out of thin air.
     
  14. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Thank you, @Harvey.

    Yeah, despite Solow's claim, there's no direct data there about what was motivating people to buy color televisions. Sure, it may have been #1 in its time slot for people who already had color TVs. But as to why color TVs were being bought, who knows?

    Thanks, @The Old Mixer, for pointing out the inconsistency.
     
  15. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Goo goo goo joob Moderator

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    Thanks for bringing the facts, Harvey. Nothing in there about it being the main reason people were buying color televisions, either (though it certainly may have been on the minds of the execs that it could help to do so, hence the well-known ad).
     
  16. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    The fact that Star Trek was prominently featured in at least one RCA ad for color televisions suggests that people in RCA's marketing department at least thought the series could sell color TVs.

    Star Trek certainly had the right audience for being early adopters of color TVs...


     
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  17. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Here's some more data, which shows NBC doing very well in terms of viewership among households with color television sets -- but doesn't list Star Trek as a top ten show among these households. Note, however, that this is a Trendex study and not an A.C. Nielsen study. Contrary to what you might have read in the literary works of Cash Markman, these were separate companies with different methodologies in measuring television audiences.

     
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  18. Drone

    Drone Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Maybe not all the time. I believe I've seen a few sources that unequivocally state that Bill Paley found Lost in Space loathsome and moronic from the beginning. If true, I know it's not exactly what you're stating here, but still coming from the head of the network, it must signify something of relevance.


    I have no standing to dispute the veracity of the figures presented above, but if accurate, it obviously means that Trek was getting absolutely crushed in b&w households. Why might this have been the case? Was the appreciation of its elements so dependent on being seen on color? Perhaps the relative size of the audience cohort described in the NBC press piece that you included a couple of posts ago,

    The NTI Full Analysis Report also shows that it slants strongly toward better-educated, middle and upper income families in urban areas.

    --From a 1967-68 season NBC "publicity folder" for the series

    goes a way in explaining this result. This demographic would be the ones probably much more likely to purchase the color units, simply because of the price factor at that time, and if other, much larger segments of the population were still exclusively watching programs in b&w, then Trek's total audience share would understandably be in the dumper, as was actually the case.

     
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  19. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I'm skeptical of those claims about Paley. If he hated the series so much, why did CBS even pick up the pilot?

    A Google search turns up several accounts similar to this one, but if Paley wanted the series killed as soon as the ratings dipped, how did it survive for three seasons? Figures on Wikipedia indicate the show finished in 32nd, 35th, and 33rd place during its first, second, and third seasons, but the sources cited are not strong, and the information I have pegs its overall performance during 1966-67 year as a significantly lower 44th. CBS didn't have any problem cancelling Mr. Terrific, which ranked 36th that year, but somehow it renewed Lost in Space, a show William Paley supposedly despised? I don't buy it.

    In January of 1966, 7.4% of television households had color sets. By November of 1967, 19.3% of television households had color sets. Since these figures were from December of 1966, the percentage of television owning households with color televisions was somewhere between these two figures. The point being, at the time those ratings were taken, something like 85-90% of television households were watching on black and white televisions. At that time, color television viewership was a niche audience of highly educated, urban, and upper income households -- in other words, Star Trek's key demographic (outside of young children).
     
  20. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Commodore Commodore

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    I remember when we got our first color TV. It was the annual showing of "The Wizard of Oz" and we had both the color and the B&W side by side as we watched. Everyone in the family marveled at how much better the color sequences looked in color, except me. My three and a half year old self wanted to go to my room and hide from the wicked witch.

    But my older siblings and my parents wouldn't let me. :klingon::mad::scream::brickwall::censored: