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It's Sci-fi Jim, but not as we know it!
Star Trek (1979)
Member Name: Mauri
Star Trek (1979)
Date: 09/10/01, updated on 14/07/10 (131 review reads)
Disadvantages: Special effects look dated
How do you write an opinion on Star Trek without going over the same old ground? Everyone has seen the show and the characters, Captain Kirk, Mr Spock etc. have become cultural icons. It's all been said, well I thought I might give some information about the making of the original series and a few bits of trivia that I have come across rather than simply give the readers a straight review. So here goes with some trepidation, this is my first opinion on dooyou after all
***In the beginning?
The original idea for the series was put forward by Gene Roddenberry in1964. Rodenberry had been involved in TV work before and had some experience in Sci-fi. This was going to be different though. Roddenberry wanted to break new boundaries in TV Sci-fi. He wanted to make the production values much higher and the scripts much better. He had an idea of a futuristic world mapped out in his head, and he wanted to translate to the screen the type of Sci-fi that authors such as Asimov and Arthuir C Clarke had been writing about for years.
The series is set in the 24th century. Earth along with other alien civilizations has founded a United Federation of Planets. The story revolves around the adventures of the crew of the starship Enterprise one of the flagships of the federation on a five-year mission?'To seek out new life and civilizations-to boldly go where no man has gone before.'
Roddenberry presented his idea to NBC and a pilot episode was commissioned in September 1964. At a cost of $630,000 'The Cage' was one of the most expensive pilot's ever made and needed to be a big success in the ratings in order for a series to follow.
The star ship Enterprise is sent to sent to evacuate a scientific colony from a distant planetary outpost. On landing they find the colonist but soon after aliens kidnap the captain.
The Original crew was:
Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter)
The Executive Officer- known only as Number One (Majel Barrett)
Jose Tyler- Ship's Navigator (Peter Durea)
Dr Philip Boyce- Ship's Doctor (John Hoyt)
Mr. Spock- Science Officer (Leonard Nimoy)
As you can see NO Kirk, No McCoy, No Scotty, Spock is there but not the second in command and the first officer a woman. In fact you could say 'It's Star Trek Jim, but not as we know it!'
The production company didn't like it. They complained there wasn't enough action and the storyline was too cerebral. The project was due to be cancelled except so much money had been spent on the pilot that the money -men wanted something for their initial investment. Due in great part, to Roddenberry's fervent enthusiasm another pilot was commissioned.
However NBC wanted drastic changes made.
They got rid of the female first officer, as did Dr Boyle and Navigator Tyler. They also wanted to get rid of Spock the 'pointy eared guy' who they thought looked to 'devil like'. On this Roddenberry got his way and Spock stayed and was even promoted to first officer. A ship's engineer was included Montgomery Scott 'Scotty' (James Doohan). Dr Piper (Paul Fix) replaced Dr Boyce, Yeoman Smith (Andrea Dromm) and Physicist Sulu (George Takei) were also added but there was still no Captain Kirk!
***THE SECOND PILOT SHOW
Three possible scripts were proposed, 'The Omega Glory'','Mudd's Women' and. In the end 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' was chosen rather surprisingly since due to its plot it was likely to be the most expensive of the choices.
Filming was about to begin when Jeffrey Hunter, the actor playing the original Capt. Pike, withdrew. A relatively new actor to TV, William Shatner was brought in to Captain James T Kirk. Shatner had experience of TV Sci-fi having played in episodes of the Outer Limits but the bulk of his
experience was on stage. Special guest stars were also included; Dr Elizabeth Dehner (Sally Kellerman) and Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell (Gary Lockwood).
This time the pilot pleased NBC and a series was commissioned.
After a few more changes of personnel; Yeoman Smith is replaced by Yeoman Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney) and Dr Piper is replaced with Dr 'Bones' McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) was brought in and Sulu became Helmsman.- the Star Trek line up most people know was in place.
The first season was a success. The series was nominated for 5 Emmy Awards (TV's version of Oscars) including best supporting actor (Leonard Nimoy) and Best Special Effects.
The second season continued the success, 25 episodes were made and a new regular character Ensign Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) was introduced.
The third season started badly, the shows broadcast time was changed and it's ratings suffered.23 episodes were made and although the quality decreased, there were still some classics made?
Despite a strong cult following for the show the ratings started to fall during the third series, probably due to constant rescheduling of the show at less convenient times for its fans.
The show was cancelled at the end of the third season.
***NOW FOR SOME USELESS TRIVIA:
1.The first ever inter-racial kiss seen on TV was between Kirk and Uhura in the series 3 episode 'Plato's Stepchildren'.
2. Joan Collins appeared in the esisode- 'The City On The Edge Of Forever'
3. David Soul, later to become 'Hutch' in 'Starsky and Hutch', featured in one episode called 'The Apple'
4. In the original pilot episode hats were part of star fleet uniform
5. The T in James T Kirk stands for 'Tiberius'.
6.One of NASA space shuttle was named after the
7.The actress Majel Barrett (who went on to marry the Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry), has appeared in all the different series of Star Trek including the original pilot episode. She played the first officer in the pilot show, nurse Chappell in the first series, Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek TNG and Deep Space 9 and was the voice of the computer in Star Trek Voyager.
8.The 'Vulcan Nerve Pinch' was first used on Kirk in 'The Enemy Within'
9.The 'Jeffries' tubes were named after the original series art director, Matt Jeffries.
10.The first female Klingon was seen in episode 66 'The Day Of The Dove' in the third season.
***WHAT WAS GOOD ABOUT IT?
For its time it represented a huge step forward in the portrayal of Sci-fi on TV. It led the way to making serious Sci-fi acceptable. Relevant issues of the day were often included in the stories. At a time of cold war tension and interracial problems the audience could see black and white officers as well Russian and Americans working together in the crew of the Enterprise. A strong pacifist message was present in the series, in a way Star Trek was a Sci-Fi 'Morality Plays'.
As well as the themes in the show the series was outstanding for it's state of the art special effects (difficult to believe now!). No other sc-fi show had such high production values. The characters were an instant hit with the fans and developed in to more complex creations as the series progressed. Above all else the scripts were good. I think most modern Sci-fi show owe a big debt of gratitude to Roddenberry and his groundbreaking work on Star Trek.
Summary: The original and maybe the best of the Star Trek franchise