What if WNMHGB was the first episode broadcast?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by CrazyMatt, Jul 29, 2016.

  1. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 21, 2013
    Sitting in Kirk's command chair
    GR told us a million times that Star Trek was the first sci-fi series for adults. But did Star Trek shoot itself in the foot right out of the gate? The first episode broadcast, The Man Trap, featured a creature that I believe played to many 60's TV viewers stereotypes that sci-fi was nothing but fantastic stories about funny looking alien monsters out to do us in. It also wasn't a particularly good episode, I might add.

    Would the part of the audience that I believe was repulsed by the salt vampire in Man Trap been more receptive to the plot of Where No Man Has Gone Before, a far more exciting morality play about absolute power corrupting absolutely? Or would that also have played into 60's sci-fi stereotype, what with men (and women) with silver eyes and the like?

    I can't help but wonder if Star Trek would have grabbed a larger audience if another episode--the second pilot, specifically--was the first episode broadcast.

    Your thoughts?
  2. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 7, 2013
    New York State
    I know "The Man Trap" has its fans, but it's a little too dreary for my taste. And the music score is especially unhelpful. GR said that on the night it premiered, his own father went up and down the street apologizing to the neighbors. GR told that anecdote as a joke, to audiences for whom it went without saying that Star Trek is magnificent. But based on how "The Man Trap" must play to non-fans, I think his father really did go around apologizing.

    WNMHGB would have been a much better start, possibly hooking more viewers, or at least not turning them away. "The Enemy Within" would also have been a strong opener.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2016
  3. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jul 14, 2016
    The first episode aired should provide a introduction to the shows environment and cast of characters. Man Trap did a excellent job of this. In addition to the "big three," Uhura, Sulu and Rand all get some nice screen time. The salt vampire was well thought out, given credible motivations and a backstory (it's people were), I liked that three people could be in the room with the vampire and be seeing three different versions of it.

    We even got a bit of ecological social commentary on the demise of the buffalo.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2016
  4. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 23, 2013
    If WNMHGB had been the last episode aired...

    ...I'd think the Fox executives were tinkering around with a series long before their network existed!
    Two by two, hands of blue.
    PhotoBoy likes this.
  5. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Vice Admiral Admiral

    May 24, 2006
    Escaped from Delta Vega
    WNMHGB should have aired to serve its purpose. Aside from the overall effect that made WNMHGB one of the best hours of the entire franchise, the episode provided a fresh, stern, yet approachable captain suffering from a growing threat both personal and professional, and his contentious, then slowly warming relationship with "the alien." It also set up an galaxy that was as eerie as it was exciting in a way new to TV, and rarely matched since.

    "The Man Trap"
    had its moments--certainly for McCoy--but that alone was not the best way to introduce the viewing public to a series, and from some personal accounts from people who watched TMT that evening, they felt it sent the wrong message...that ST was just another "monster on the loose" series like the dreaded Lost in Space. The last..the very last thing any sci-fi drama series wanted was anyone finding similarities to LIS.
  6. mb22

    mb22 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    May 11, 2009
    WNMHGB was too different from the rest of the series in terms of cast, uniforms, sets etc.

    The producers would have liked "The Corbomite Maneuver", the first 'production' episode shot to air first, but it was not available due to the time needed to shoot it's special effects. "Mudd's Women" , "Charlie X", "Enemy Within" and "Naked Time" were all ruled out (although Bob Justman would have liked to use the last episode).
  7. Tallguy

    Tallguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 2, 2005
    Beyond the Farthest Star
    I don't think it would have made a lick of difference. I don't think it would have mattered if Corbomite had aired first either.

    Nobody watched WNMHGB on week three and said "Wait! This makes no sense! Everything is different! I'm DONE with this weirdness!"
  8. Ovation

    Ovation Admiral Admiral

    True. Much more forgiving crowd back then. ;)
  9. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    May 12, 2004
    Lancaster, PA

    Perhaps. But I can see wanting to lead off with an episode that featured your regular cast, rather than with the odd "misfit" episode that didn't quite match all the subsequent episodes. Better to slip that in later on, after the audience had been introduced to your actual cast.

    And you can argue the larger issue both ways. We're coming at this from the modern assumption that a "space monster" episode would be a turn-off to viewers in 1966, and that, in hindsight, "Mantrap" isn't the best example of what TREK aspired to be, but you can also argue that audiences in 1966 expected a space monster, like on THE OUTER LIMITS, and might have been turned off if there hadn't been one, at least at the start.

    Today, in 2016, we know what a good STAR TREK ep is "supposed" to be like, but it wasn't a bad idea, back in 1966, to try to ease audiences into STAR TREK by giving them something closer to what they expected from the sci-fi shows and movies of the period . ...
  10. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM, USA
    I would have preferred WNMHGB was aired as the first, it was definitely a better episode, but "The Man Trap" does give more of a sense of the cast overall (even though the show went on to be quite not an ensemble, I'm not sure how much that was intended ...). The second pilot would have probably left a better impression, although also a grimmer one, but the characterization in "The Man Trap" is so good I don't think a lot of people would be repulsed by having a little silliness or tropes in it.
    "Captain's log [...] Spock temporarily in command" was a funny way to start the series :D
  11. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 17, 2009
    It was not Star Trek or Gene Roddenberry's decision to air "The Mantrap" first. That falls on the NBC programming executives. And at the time, with their prejudices, that's what they wanted for a Science Fiction program to be portrayed as. The "classic" three Bs, the Boy, the Babe and the BEM.
  12. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jul 14, 2016
    There should have been a court room episode, Kirk uses a edited version of WNMHGB as his defense, we see it only on the court room view screen.
    JonnyQuest037 likes this.
  13. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Aug 3, 2003
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    WNMHGB was different from the rest of the series only in its general appearance in terms of uniforms and some set dressing. In terms of everything else it fits properly with the rest of the series particularly the first season. To fit perfectly would entail getting McCoy in there instead of Piper, tweaking Spock's makeup and redressing the sets.

    Otherwise simply airing WNMHGB first at the very beginning (as we watch it now) it's easy to accept the idea of WNMHGB happening quite some time before the rest of the first season.
  14. UnknownSample

    UnknownSample Commodore Commodore

    Aug 10, 2004
    Earth's surface
    It takes time for an audience to find a show. The first episode isn't some make-or-break thing. A lot of people probably only noticed Trek a few episodes in. And Man Trap is just a monster story only if you're not paying much attention.
    Metryq likes this.
  15. Laura Cynthia Chambers

    Laura Cynthia Chambers Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 1, 2016
    It's about looking past our perceptions and emotional attachments to do the right thing. Basically, McCoy learning to think like Spock.

    And promptly forgetting for the rest of the series. ;)
  16. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Aug 3, 2003
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    I've sometimes wondered what "The Cage" could have been like if reshot with the TOS crew. And then I remember "The Gamesters Of Triskelion" and figure it was close enough.
  17. Terok Nor

    Terok Nor Commodore Commodore

    Jul 26, 2015
    Rigel VII
    I love both episodes. I don't have any problem with either one being the first aired but that's likely because the show was airing in re-runs by the time I saw it and it made no difference to me. I think The Man Trap is a fine introduction to the series but I always watch the show in production order so I start with Where No Man Has Gone Before. It's not like I'm going to relive the original experience of watching Trek in airdate order in the 1960s since I wasn't alive back then so I go with production order.
  18. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Feb 12, 2011
    astral plane
    Off the top of my head, I can think of five courtroom episodes.

    1. "Court Martial"
    2. "The Menagerie" (parts 1 & 2) --- already did the archival footage thing anyway
    3. "The Deadly Years"
    4. "Wolf in the Fold"
    5. "Turnabout Intruder"

    Are there more? I think that's quite enough.
  19. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

    Feb 4, 2002
    The Old Mixer, Somewhere in Connecticut
    I'm a production order man myself, but this year gives us the opportunity to rewatch on the 50th anniversaries of the original broadcast dates, and they'll even be on the same night of the week. I'm tentatively planning to do that.
    3D ChessMaster and Terok Nor like this.
  20. 3D ChessMaster

    3D ChessMaster Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Apr 4, 2016
    I am intending to do that too. When they were originally on in the UK I believe WNMHGB was the first broadcast and TOS was very popular in UK.
    I think though Man Trap was one of the poorer episodes it set out a lot of what ST was going to be about and its features and aesthetic. For example we see the effect of someone being hit by a phaser on stun.
    So I do not think it changed things as someone sympathetic to ST probably gave the series a second chance after the Man Trap.