How Did Viewers in the '60s Perceive the Federation?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Shon T'Hara, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. Shon T'Hara

    Shon T'Hara Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm trying to figure out how viewers in the 1960s would've understood the Federation. So far as I can tell, there's nothing in the first season that indicates the Enterprise is part of a multispecies confederation. Sure, Spock is in Stafleet, but as a half-human he could simply be an exception in the same way that Worf's presence on the E-D doesn't mean the Klingons are part of the Federation. All the planets the Enterprise visits in season one are either aliens outside the Federation, or human colonies within it, which leads me to believe that a viewer in summer 1967 would've assumed the Federation was simply Earth and its colonies.

    Can anyone think of a reference that I'm missing that would've established the multispecies nature of the Federation in the first season? And if not, when was it introduced? "Journey to Babel"?
     
  2. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  3. C57D

    C57D Guest

    I cant quote any facts to you, but certainly my feeling is that S1was very humanocentric, which increasingly dispersed to invite more aliens in over the next two series, and increasingly in the movies.
    My take has always been the the UFP in S1 was a loose federation, a trade and protection alliance. With Humans, Vulcans, Andorians & Tellerites each having their own Empire (or whatever you want to call it!). But the increased Rom & Klin threats encouraged closer ties and eventually, by TNG times, one big happy Federation.
    Spock being treated very much as a stranger, not a member of a closely linked ally. McCoy not being familiar with a crewmembers physiology etc. Babel ambassadors (not Council members!) being quite fractious.
    Is this the signs of a close political and social structure?
    And maybe that explains the "12 like it in the fleet"? 12 in the (Earth) fleet sounds more reasonable than only 12 for the whole UFP.
     
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  4. ItIsGreen

    ItIsGreen Captain Captain

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    Well TPTB hadn't figured it out themselves at the beginning. There's references to the Enterprise being an Earth ship, you have things like UESPA mentioned a few times, etc. But I think it was always basically meant to be Space-America.
     
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  5. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Don't some people disapprove because they viewed it as a form of socialism?
     
  6. Kor

    Kor Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That wouldn't have been until the TNG days.

    Kor
     
  7. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah I suppose TOS had its fair share of entrepreneurs and pioneer settlers who would fit in with the notion of wagon train to the stars. I personally also prefer that to the sanitised Federation of TNG.
     
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  8. Shon T'Hara

    Shon T'Hara Commander Red Shirt

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    That seems to be what the show was presenting up until "The Immunity Syndrome" when we suddenly got the Intrepid crewed by Vulcans.

    My theory at this point is:

    From the premiere until "Journey to Babel" in season 2, viewers would've thought the Enterprise was part of a human-only Federation.

    Then JtB established that the Federation is in fact mutli-species, but it comes off as a rather loose political alliance between sovereign states, each maintaining their own military in the same way Germany has their own army despite being part of NATO and the EU. Starfleet, then, is part of the Federation, but still a human organization (Spock being a special case).

    Eight episodes later (in air-date order) we get "The Immunity Syndrome," which introduces the idea that Starfleet includes ships crewed by other races. At this point a viewer would probably assume that Starfleet is the Federation's military arm, but ships are segregated by species (Spock, again, being a special case).

    It's only in the animated series that we finally see Starfleet as a fully integrated multispecies organization, which becomes the standard going forward.
     
  9. Shawnster

    Shawnster Commodore Commodore

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    Follow along in the production order TOS review discussion. I'm approaching the review as if it's the first time I have seen the show. Others seem to be doing likewise.

    Shon T'Hara seems spot in with how I recall. Season 1 is entirely Earth this, Earth that. Amok Time in Season 2 is the first time we visit Vulcan. The development of other Federation members really starts with season 2
     
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  10. cgervasi

    cgervasi Commander Red Shirt

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    Can you think of any examples of socialism in TOS? Obviously there are plenty in TNG, but when did TOS promote or show positive examples of socialism?
     
  11. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's true, I'm struggling to think of one. In Babel the arguments were about commercial interests. Mining rights crop up a lot. Sex slavery isn't very socialist.
     
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  12. King Bob!

    King Bob! The King of Kings! Premium Member

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    Watching TOS, I always got the feel the Federation was a much younger body than the later shows present.
     
  13. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    There's some indication that the Earth Empire had expanded out and controlled it's region including conquering the Vulcans, and Mr. Spock's mixed parentage allowing him the status to be in Star Fleet.

    IOW, he would have been the Indian Scout for the Enterprise if it was a Calvary unit, or in Native Harpooner/lookout that can always instruct the captain of the sailing vessel about any plethora of facts that are totally new to the "whites" I don't think anyone stuck to that but there certainly seems to be an undercurrent of it in early season 1, and even the Vulcanians being inferior to Humans in some ways, but then superior in others.
     
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  14. C57D

    C57D Guest

    Yeah the(sometimes not so) subtle prejudice towards Spock in S1certainly does not feel like Vulcans and Humans have been close allies, working together in one big happy UFP, for a hundred years. But (other than Galileo 7 & Balance of Terror) I don't see Spock treated as a lesser/conquered race. He seems to be obeyed in a manner fitting his rank and position.
    Vucan(anians) just seem to be loosely linked distant allies that little is known about and even less appreciated.
    Just a vague thought around this topic, and one question for the TOS learned - is Spock always described as half Vulcan/Human, or is he ever just described as Vulcan??
     
  15. UnknownSample

    UnknownSample Commodore Commodore

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    I started watching halfway through season 1, then I'm sure I caught up in summer reruns. I never had any sense that it was just Earth people representing some Earth state. I'm going to guess that the simple presence of Spock in a uniform and outranking most of the others was enough to tell me other species were part of it.
     
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  16. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Maybe the other races in the Federation (TOS era) were all mostly humanoid peoples that and the fact that it cost big bucks to alter the look of their actors week in and week out kept the look very much Terran!
    JB
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No -- "Errand of Mercy" established that Vulcan was a member of the Federation. (Interestingly, when Ayelborne mentioned "the home planet of your Federation," he didn't say it was Earth.)

    It's interesting to note that the first four episodes that mentioned the Federation ("Arena," "A Taste of Armageddon," "The Devil in the Dark," and "Errand of Mercy") were all written or co-written by Gene L. Coon. That suggests it was Coon's invention. (Although the first two of those episodes used "Earth" and "Federation" interchangeably.)


    In the early first season, the writers made a point of referring to his hybrid human/alien nature in almost every episode, but after a while, they generally just called him a Vulcan except when his dual nature was plot-relevant.
     
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  18. Steven P Bastien

    Steven P Bastien Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I can't quite answer this question because I was too young in the 1960s (born in 1964). However, I did watch the series in the original broadcast because my father liked the show. He was in the air force then and we lived on an air force base.

    Being so young, I would not be able to appreciate anything about a "Federation". I just enjoyed watching a show that seemed not too different than me seeing people in the fighter jets and bombers on a daily basis. I remember Captain Christopher especially and thought he was like my father.

    However, more to the point, by the time of the reruns in the 1970s I was old enough to think about this more and I viewed the Federation as an alliance, and my best real world model to draw on was NATO.
     
  19. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    I started watching about ten years late, in syndication, but I always thought of the Enterprise as part of a space navy from an advanced interplanetary society. The serial number of the Enterprise, the starbases, and having a high-ranking alien aboard contributed to my feelings.
     
  20. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think that first contact with the Vulcans brought Earth to many other meetings with other distant alien races, some of which humanity got on very well with probably more so than with the Vulcans! Some of those races were probably more humanoid and much more similar to earth than others! I also gathered that some humans still retained some racial dislike for the Vulcans compared to other races which were more like 'us' than the pointed eared unemotional strong men of 40 Eridani A!
    JB
     
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