Star Trek nearly canceled! (December '66 edition)

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Neopeius, Nov 24, 2021.

  1. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    Hello! I could use a little historical help.

    There is some indication that Trek was in danger of cancellation after its first half-season.

    In Ellison's book on his script, he says Roddenberry gave him the okeydoke in Nov. '66 that the network was thinking of cancelling the show. In response, Ellison formed "The Committee" of SF authors, urging them to write to tv stations, sponsors, columnists, and TV guide to keep Trek on the show, and particularly, unkiddified.

    This letter is dated 12-1-66 though it's clear the effort predates this date because...

    On 11-28, Terry Carr wrote back to Ellison saying "Sure, I'll help, but I'm surprised Trek is in trouble. I heard the ratings were good."

    By mid-December, it was already being reported in YANDRO that Trek had been picked up for the full season.

    So, my questions are: how much trouble was Trek in, how much did fan outpouring help keep it going, and do you have any good references?

    (Maurice, is this something you've done an article on? :) )
     
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  2. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Screenwriter | Award-Winning Journalist Premium Member

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  3. Maurice

    Maurice FACT TREKKING across the universe... Premium Member

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    @Harvey probably knows this better than I, or at least knows where to look.

    The funny thing is, since we know there was this “Committee” effort to convince NBC to keep the show, that rather undermines Cash Markman’s narrative that Star Trek was doing well in the ratings.
     
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  4. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    Except that, per Ellison, it was all okeydoke from Roddenberry to insure Trek stayed on the air, or to invest Ellison more in Trek, or whatever. Terry Carr thought Trek was doing fine in the ratings, per his 11-28-66 letter to Ellison.
     
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  5. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    By the way, Ellison was sending out letters before 12-1-66 (the date of the copy in his book) as evidenced by Yandro 165, which was put together in latter November.
     
  6. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    More research:

    "By November, Star Trek was performing well enough to warrant full-season order. The series was one of only nine new programs ranking above the 50th position in the Nielsen ratings (others included Tarzan, A Family Affair and Iron Horse)"

    https://www.tvobscurities.com/articles/star_trek_look/

    The date of the cited magazine is Nov. 14, 1966. This would be well before the avalanche of letters could have come in, at least ones prompted by Ellison and co.

    So, I'm guessing Roddenberry just wanted to make sure he had an extra bit of insurance... but he would have known at the time of his lunch with Ellison that the show was going to finish the season. Sounds like the great cancellation scare was a creation of Roddenberry himself! (Ellison suggests as much later in his book, saying that the show was not actually in danger; though he also has his cake and eats it by noting his fans were just as important as the ones Bjo organized in 68.)
     
  7. Indysolo

    Indysolo Commodore Commodore

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  8. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Screenwriter | Award-Winning Journalist Premium Member

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    @Indysolo, you're my hero.
     
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  9. Nilz Baris

    Nilz Baris Cadet Newbie

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    A couple of clippings I have on file that might be of interest:
    From The Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct 11, 1966: "NBC has asked Desilu for 10 more 'Star Trek' segments, assuring the new show of a[t] least 26 weeks. It is reportedly the network's first renewal of the season."
    From Television Age, Dec 19, 1966 (in an article about the disappointing ratings of many of the new shows): "Star Trek, a science fiction series, seems to be holding its own, but its 'grey area' performance makes its future kind of iffy."
     
  10. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    Oh that is very helpful, thank you. The timing suggests even just the ratings of the first few episodes were good enough -- and it also means that Ellison's efforts had nothing to do with the show getting a full season (though it might have helped ensure a second season?)
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021