STAR TREK


STAR TREK
   US tv series (1966-9). A Norway Production for Paramount Television/NBC. Created Gene RODDENBERRY, also executive prod. Prods Roddenberry, Gene L. Coon, John Meredyth Lucas, Fred Freiberger (season 3). Story consultants Steven Carabatsos, D.C. FONTANA. Writers for seasons 1 and 2 included Jerome BIXBY, Robert BLOCH, Coon, Max EHRLICH, Harlan ELLISON, Fontana, David GERROLD, George Clayton JOHNSON, Richard MATHESON, Roddenberry, Jerry SOHL, Norman SPINRAD, Theodore STURGEON; the only well known writer to work for season 3 was Bixby. Dirs included Marc Daniels, Vincent McEveety, Gerd Oswald, Joe Pevney, Joseph Sargent, Ralph Senensky, JudTaylor. 3 seasons, 79 50min episodes. Colour.
   A phenomenon among sf tv series, ST is set on the worlds visited by a giant SPACESHIP, the U.S.S. Enterprise, and on the ship itself. Its crew is on a mission to explorenew worlds and "to boldly go where no man has gone before". Though the crew supposedly number several hundred, only a few of them are ever seen at one time, the principal characters being Captain Kirk (William SHATNER), Mr Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Doctor McCoy (DeForest Kelley), MrSulu (George TAKEI), Scotty (James Doohan), Ensign Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Lt Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). For fans of written sf, ST can seldom have seemed challenging in any way, as it rarely departed from sf stereotypes, though in its first 2 seasons it was certainly adequate and even quite strong relative to much televised sf. Although several well known sf writers (see above) contributed to the first 2 seasons, their work was invariably rewritten by the show's regular writers; the quality of the scripts had dropped badly by the end of season 3. As a general rule the SPACE-OPERA format was not used with any great imagination. A typical episode would face the crew with ALIEN superbeings (regularly godlike when first encountered - Roddenberry's favourite theme appears to have been flawed GODS), MONSTERS, or cases of apparent demoniac possession - telepathic aliens being the rule rather than the exception in ST's universe. The formula seldom varied. Many adult viewers came to feel that the series was bland, repetitious, scientifically mediocre and, in its earnest moralizing, trite. The effort to please all and offend none was evident in the inclusion of a token Russian, a token Asiatic and, together in the person of actress Nichelle Nichols, a token Black and token woman. The defect in this liberal internationalism was that all these charactersbehaved in a traditional White Anglo-Saxon Protestant manner: only Spock was a truly original creation.The early 2-part episode The Menagerie, adapted from the original pilot for the series, won a 1967 HUGO for Best Dramatic Presentation, as did Harlan Ellison's City on the Edge of Foreverin 1968. The latter is generally thought to be the best of the individual episodes; it posed a moral dilemma which cut more deeply than usual. The original script, which differed slightly from the filmed version, was published in Six Science Fiction Plays (anth 1976) ed Roger ELWOOD.ST was not particularly successful in the ratings. However, it had attracted a hard core of devoted fans, "Trekkies", who made up in passionate enthusiasm what they lacked in numbers. These numbers grew over the years, in part because the series was often replayed, attracting new fans each time. There have been many ST CONVENTIONS, some drawing very large attendances. Perhaps Roddenberry's blend of the mildly fantastic with the reassuringly familiar, and his use of an on the whole very likable cast, attracted viewers precisely because its exoticism was manageable and unthreatening. The Trekkie phenomenon became spectacular.Despite the reservations expressed above, there is no doubt that ST was one of the better sf tv series. Its success, though delayed, was very real and had extraordinary repercussions in the publishing industry. ST ties began with short-story adaptations of individual episodes; James BLISH wrote 11 collections of these 1967-75 (see his entry for details); he also, significantly, published an original novel set in the ST world and featuring ST characters: Spock Must Die * (1970). Another early ST novel was Star Trek: Mission to Horatius * (1968) by Mack REYNOLDS. Soon original ST novels became more important than the novelizations of teleplays. As with DR WHO novels, ST novels are too numerous to be listed here in full, though almost all, having been written by authors who are the subject of individual entries, are listed elsewhere in this encyclopedia. Many ST authors are not hacks and some are distinguished; they include Greg BEAR, Theodore R. COGSWELL, Gene DEWEESE, Diane DUANE, John M. FORD, Joe HALDEMAN, Barbara HAMBLY, Vonda N. MCINTYRE, PeterMorwood (1956-), Melinda M. SNODGRASS and many others. A series of "fotonovels" - in comic-book style, but using stills from episodes instead of drawings - was inaugurated with Star Trek Fotonovel 1: City on the Edge of Forever * (1977; based on the Harlan Ellison script) and continued for at least 12 issues. There are also GAMES AND TOYS, costumes, models, calendars, puzzles, badges and, of course, MAGAZINES devoted to ST. There are books of blueprints, technical manuals and medical manuals. ST is, in fact, an industry. There is even a thriving trade in ST pornography (FAN LANGUAGE) in the underground press.The first account of ST published as abook was The Making of Star Trek (1968) written by Stephen E. Whitfield and credited on the cover to Whitfield and Roddenberry. Two more early accounts of ST and its production problems were by David Gerrold: The World of Star Trek (1973; rev 1984) and The Trouble with Tribbles (1973).The latter includes Gerrold's ST script of the same title, together with an account of its production. There have been many books since, including Star Trek Concordance (1976) by Bjo Trimble, Star Trek Compendium (1981;rev 1987) by Allan Asherman, and The Trek Encyclopedia (1988) by John Peel. I am not Spock (1975) by Leonard Nimoy is a cautious account, notvery deep, of the actor's relation to the character he played.When it became clear that the fuss over ST was unlikely to die down, NBC commissioned an animated cartoon series, also called Star Trek (1973-4), based on the original series but introducing several new characters, including an orange, tripedal, alien navigator, Arex, and a catlike alien communications officer, M'Rees. The voices were done by the actors from the original series. 1 of the 22 episodes was by Larry NIVEN, and several by Gerrold. This series in turn spawned yet more book adaptations, in the form of the Star Trek Log series by Alan Dean FOSTER (whom see for details), of which 10 appeared 1974-8.Rumours, counter-rumours and press releases about proposed revivals of ST, either on tv or as a feature film, abounded through the 1970s. In the event there were both. The 6 feature-film sequels starring the original cast, were: STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE (1979), STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982), STAR TREKIII: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984), STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME (1986), STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER (1989) and STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991). A seventh movie spin-off, STAR TREK: GENERATIONS (1994), showcases Kirk's heroic death, and briefly features Chekov and Scotty, but is in essence a spin-off from ST's successor, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. This latter series was the first live-action televisionspin-off from ST. With an all-new cast it became very successful and popular, beginning in 1987 and running for seven seasons, ending in May 1994. Subsequent tv series have been STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE (Jan 1993-) and STAR TREK: VOYAGER (Jan 1995-). The Paramount ST machine has not stopped.
   PN/JB

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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