TAS: another look....

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Warped9, Mar 4, 2019.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Not really a departure, since the Orions still tried to commit suicide -- Kirk just prevented them from succeeding. The fact that the Orions even talked about killing themselves was pretty mature stuff for Saturday mornings.



    Figures. Roddenberry did like to toss in godlike entities (like when he added the Q subplot to Fontana's "Encounter at Farpoint" when it got expanded from 90 minutes to 2 hours).


    To be fair, we saw living entities in TOS that were capable of self-levitation, like the parasites in "Operation -- Annihilate!" or the Melkot (apparently) in "Spectre of the Gun." So it's not unprecedented.


    Bat-Mite was a character from the comics, created in 1959 by Bill Finger (the true, until-recently-uncredited creator of Batman) and Sheldon Moldoff, and Filmation's version was pretty faithful to his personality if not his appearance. So it doesn't conflict with my point about the authenticity of Filmation's adaptations. The main differences are that Filmation's Bat-Mite was less prone to creating artificial crises so he could see Batman and Robin in action, and that he came from a parallel dimension called Ergo rather than the fifth dimension.

    (By the way, Orko in He-Man 6 years later was the exact same character as Bat-Mite -- a hovering imp from another dimension with magic powers that he used ineptly, eagerly wanting to help the heroes but constantly screwing it up, and having a crush on the redheaded female lead. They even had the same voice, provided by an uncredited Lou Scheimer.)


    Okay, that may be so about NBC's side of things. Still, Roddenberry's later record with TV pilots does not support his claim that he was an aggressive advocate for diverse casting.
     
    Spocko likes this.
  2. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    And also came from a dimension called Ergo. One wonders if it was meant to be the same place, and that Orko and Bat-Mite knew each other. Indeed, in one episode of He-Man, they visit Ergo, and Orko's magic works perfectly, which it doesn't on Eternia.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Orko's dimension was called Trolla. Filmation wasn't trying to create a shared multiverse, it was just recycling old ideas. (And character designs. He-Man's Teela was Flash Gordon's Princess Aura with her hair up and more clothes on.)
     
  4. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Location:
    New Therin Park, Andor (via Australia)
    Shaka Zulu, KimMH and Kor like this.
  5. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Location:
    Outer Graceland
    Arex's third arm looks ... never mind. Love da pink Klingons.
     
    Therin of Andor and johnnybear like this.
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    standard orbit
    Arex got the live-action treatment in the Star Trek New Voyages fan film "Going Boldly."



    Walking Bear, too (who was actually in multiple episodes, but if I'm not mistaken this was the first).
     
    Galileo7 likes this.
  7. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Location:
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    “The Practical Joker" (Sept. 21, 1974)

    The same writers, Chuck Menville and Len Janson, who penned “Once Upon A Planet” now give us this story. The original outline was rather sparse yet still outlined the Enterprise being infected by alien entities that have an off-beat sense of humour just after escaped three pursuing Romulan warships.

    Something about this interested Roddenberry although he nixed the idea of alien entities and suggested the ship’s computer being affected by some exotic energy field. He also suggested the tricks being played by the computer be more practical in nature rather than exotic. Otherwise the story remained relatively intact.

    At this point, without Dorothy Fontana’s presence, Roddenberry was communicating with Lou Scheimer or directly with the writers and usually by phone.

    This is basically a love it or hate it episode. It was originally meant to be sillier, but Roddenberry wanted to add a measure of jeopardy to it. Seeing it now, after so many TNG/DS9/VOY episodes where the ship’s computer and/or holodeck goes haywire, strikes me as being even more disappointing than I remembered it. It’s not really a novel idea given the Enterprise’s computer did get weird in “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” and was temporarily taken over by Redjac in “Wolf In The Fold.” Later another malevolent entity took control again in “Beyond The Farthest Star.” The Shoreleave Planet computer also takes control of the Enterprise computer in “Once Upon A Planet.” So, by now it feels truly done to death and not nearly as interesting.

    The only thing I found of interest in this story was the introduction of the holographic recreation room, an idea Roddenberry had conceived of way back during TOS’ first or second season and finally realized onscreen here. Of course, that idea would be polished off and reintroduced prominently thirteen years later in TNG.

    And, yes, I have no love for this episode.


    “Albatross” (Sept. 28, 1974)

    The original concept of this story is that a bounty hunter chases down the Enterprise (after it delivers medical supplies) and boards the ship to arrest McCoy who is charged with causing the deaths of countless people after a medical experiment gone wrong decades previously. Dorothy Fontana handled the original treatment and revisions with the writer in 1973 during TAS’ first season. Eventually the story was massaged into a form more closely resembling the final episode, but at some point Roddenberry appears to have soured on the story and cut it off and dismissed it in favour of “The Slaver Weapon.”

    At some point after Fontana left TAS the story was resurrected and a new writer polished it off into the final aired form. Demos the bounty hunter was now a Dramian Security Officer. McCoy is arrested after the Enterprise drops off its supplies but just before it departs. The medical experiment (supposedly on a prison planet) became providing medical aid on a Dramian colony. And a sympathetic plague survivor is introduced to help clear McCoy of the erroneous charges of mass murder.

    The final product is not a ripping adventure, but it isn’t bad either. It’s quite serviceable in a lowkey way. We get to see some exotic aliens and a desolate alien landscape. Kirk and Spock go the distance to help McCoy. What else can you ask for?

    For me this was a pleasant rebound after the silliness of “The Practical Joker.”


    “How Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth” (Oct. 5, 1974)

    One thing about early Star Trek—the episode titles often seemed to evoke lines of classic literature.

    This is really little more than a retelling of TOS’ “Who Mourns For Adonais?” with Kulkulkan standing in for Apollo. The crew have to figure out a puzzle before the winged serpent god makes his appearance, but then it’s pretty similar to the previous live-action story in the crew showing that humans are no longer simple and superstitious beings ready to worship anyone who can put on a good light show.

    Kukulkan has a pretty wicked looking ship which he disguises with a projection of a fearsome winged serpent, but the Enterprise crew aren’t fazed in the least by this parlour trick.

    Russell Bates was a Native American who pitched a story to TOS back during the show’s second season. At the time he communicated with Dorothy Fontana and Gene Coon. After Fontana and Coon left TOS Bates’ story appears to have fallen through the cracks and nothing more was seen or heard of it. Flash forward some years later and Fontana contacts Bates asking him to pitch to TAS. Eventually Bates collaborated with a David Wise on a story called “The Thunderbird” which dealt with the Enterprise encountering a being that might well have inspired legends among various ancient Native American peoples. The Thunderbird was eventually changed to Kukulkan of Mayan legend and led to the episode finally produced. Throughout the story’s evolution remained a character named Dawson Walking Bear given Dorothy Fontana wanted an Indian crewmember aboard the Enterprise.

    Animation allowed us to see things that would have been impossible in live-action such as in “Who Mourns For Adonais?” In that sense it’s a more visually interesting effort than what we got previously. But in terms of being engaging and having dramatic impact it pales in comparison to the live-action episode.


    “The Counter-Clock Incident” (Oct. 12, 1874)

    Fred Bronson first met Gene Roddenberry during TOS’ first season. Several years later he would encounter Roddenberry again while working at NBC while Roddenberry was developing The Questor Tapes. He also served at NBC as publicist for TAS. Prior to TAS’ second season Bronson, a fan of Star Trek, claims to have confided in Lou Scheimer to allow him to submit a story under the name John Culver.

    Bronson was inspired by a story written by Philip K. Dick dealing with time running backward. From that he conceived of a story where the Enterprise is thrown into an alternate universe where time flows in reverse. He also chose to introduce the character of now retired Robert April who was the Enterprise’s first Captain, inspired by Roddenberry’s initial concept for Star Trek as Bronson read it in Stephen E. Whitfield’s The Making Of Star Trek.

    This really is a mind-bending idea. And one’s enjoyment of it all hinges on whether you can wrap your heard around it. It doesn’t pay to have a critical perspective as you begin questioning how so many things we accept in our familiar reality could possibly happen in a universe where everything happens in reverse.

    Speaking for myself this simply just doesn’t work and TAS’ swan song ends the series with a disappointing WTF!

    TAS started by hitting the ground running, but at the end it limped off into televiion history.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    No, it's just Chuck Menville solo. He usually wrote with Janson on various animated shows and Land of the Lost, but this one was just him.


    I'm wondering what the source is for this background about Roddenberry's involvement. I haven't heard it before, and Cushman is known for making unsupported assumptions.


    I'm not fond of it myself. I find it implausible that these intelligent adults would laugh at such juvenile, lame pranks. And the ending makes no sense. Why did Kirk suspect that a second exposure to the cloud would fix the problem? There was no reason for him to think that. And no reason it should've worked, any more than the sitcom amnesia cure of a second blow to the head.


    "Albatross" is a fairly nice McCoy story, but it suffers from the absurd idea of an aurora as something that exists in interplanetary space rather than an atmospheric phenomenon. It's also weird for TAS in that, aside from the Dramians' nonhumanoid design, there's nothing in it that couldn't have been done in live action.


    This is a really nice-looking episode but conceptually problematical. It makes a total hash of numerous cultures' histories in the process of giving aliens credit for their own creativity (while also implying that they lacked the intelligence to get it right), and it reduces Walking Bear to a pure token, so its attempt at cultural inclusiveness pretty much backfires.


    A terrible episode, conceptually incoherent. Nothing in it makes sense or fits with anything else in it.
     
  9. Poltargyst

    Poltargyst Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2014
    Was time travel involved in the making of this episode? ;)
     
    JonnyQuest037 likes this.
  10. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    standard orbit
    Lance likes this.
  11. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    :wtf: Not in the episode I remember. I don't have it on DVD, and haven't seen it in over thirty years, so I'll take your word for it. As Orko and Bat-Mite were both voiced by Lou Scheimer, I could be putting Bat-Mite's words in Orko's mouth. But the rest, the visit to Orko's home and his magic working perfectly, is accurate.
     
  12. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Don't forget their seventies disco perms too, plynchie! :techman:
    JB
     
  13. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Location:
    New Therin Park, Andor (via Australia)
    He has a quote from DC Fontana that mentions how she wasn't around for Season Two, which surprised me. DC had returned Howard Weinstein's spec TAS script to his agent because she was not able to look at it.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I know Fontana wasn't around for season 2. The question is the extent to which Roddenberry was around, and how solid the evidence is for Cushman's assertions about Roddenberry's active involvement.
     
  15. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Location:
    Outer Graceland
    Look for an episode with love instructors or co-eds being murdered by a friendly creeper with a stache. You'll know.
     
    JonnyQuest037 and Lance like this.
  16. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Location:
    Thulcandra
    Orko was a powerful sorcerer and famous in his homeland, but the laws of magic are different in Eternia. Plus, he lost his amulet right after he arrived, it helped him focus his power, like a wand, or even a ring. Without it, it's harder for him to use his powers.
     
    Shaka Zulu likes this.
  17. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    Location:
    The Enterprise's Restroom
    The thing I like about "The Counter-Clock Incident" is that there is a kind of finale feel to it, it's the sort-of finale to TOS. The presence of the 'first' Enterprise Captain making a tour of the ship is a neat touch, as is the idea of age reversal meaning he gets to sit in the chair again. I feel like its downfall is that all these cool ideas get rushed in the half-hour format, where a full hour episode might have had more time to let them 'breathe' ;)
     
  18. mb22

    mb22 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    May 11, 2009
    The same might be said about TAS in general.
     
  19. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Location:
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    And as was stated upthread the writers were encouraged to write their stories as if for TOS and to be quite detailed in what they envisioned. As such many of the stories came out overlong—often more suitable for a 50 minute runtime—and had to be edited to fit a 22 minute runtime. Something is bound to get lost in translation.
     
  20. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Location:
    North Wales
    That's a common misconception that has recently been debunked in an interview with one of the guys who actually worked on TAS.
    Turns out that the lead colourist was just a grumpy old git! :devil:
    http://www.trek.fm/saturday-morning-trek/26

    For myself, I'm content to interpret this episode as a tall tale by Robert April, related to the fellow residents of the retirement colony:
    "I had this amazing adventure on the way here, and became young again and saved the whole ship! But then I decided to become old again and come to this retirement home. Honest!" ;)
     
    CorporalCaptain and Galileo7 like this.