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Scott Atwell Star Trek Discussion thread (Series and Films)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Ockeghem, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. ScottRE

    ScottRE Supporting Actor

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    As a kid, this show was the bomb. I loved it. Every damned Saturday at 11:30. I couldn't wait. The music, the actual actors doing voices, the artwork...I loved it all. The animation was on par for the day. Hannah Barbera was doing crap work at the time also They had more actual drawings, but they were sketchy and quite ugly. Filmation went the other way with more realistic characters and beautiful, painted backgrounds.

    Then came that awful day when I tuned in and was greeted with "Star Trek will no longer be seen at this time. Now stay tuned for Westwind!"

    Whatever the hell that was (a sailing show with Van Williams I later learned). I was crushed.
     
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  2. Philip Verdieck

    Philip Verdieck Second Unit

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    Yeah buts its given use de rigueur pronunciation for "nuclear vessels" ;)
     
  3. John*Wells

    John*Wells Supporting Actor

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    I spent this weekend re watching some of the original films. 1-4. I had forgotten that Leonard Nimoy did not really want to appear in some of them
     
  4. KPmusmag

    KPmusmag Supporting Actor
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    I watched "The Cage" last night for the first time in a few years. It is a very affecting story. I wonder what NBC didn't like about it.

    Anyway, the reason I am posting here is because there was a sound effect in the transporter room (at least in the first transporter room scene) that I wish they had used throughout the show; it is a low frequency oscillation that sounds like VERY HIGH VOLTAGE. For me, it helps make the transporter seem futuristic and dangerous and very cool.
     
  5. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    "Too cerebral" was the note given.

    They wanted more action, less philosophizing. But it does beg the question, why did NBC select "The Cage" as the script to go to pilot stage if they didn't love the story. It's not as if the finished episode was a radical departure from the original concept.
     
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  6. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Kevin, That pulsing sound in the transporter room in The Cage does make it sound very powerful in there.

    Josh, the cerebral comment always had me thinking what they meant. Yes, NBC certainly wanted more action and monsters. And I guess they felt the way the Thalosians placed Pike into different situations as virtual reality, so to speak was just way too beyond what they thought the audience could take! :)

    As for why NBC chose that story, as I recall from reading the books from Marc Cushman, NBC wanted to select the most difficult story to see if Desilu could pull something like that off. ( I know a lot of people don’t find Marc Cushman a credible source. I could cross reference other sources.)
     
  7. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    That does ring a bell, now that you mention it.

    My thing with Cushman is that I think his research and primary sources are solid - when he's citing raw fact, I have no issue with his writing. What I question in a lot of cases are the conclusions that he draws, which often aren't supported by the evidence that he's laid out. (His frequent commentary on Star Trek's television ratings, for instance, is remarkably inaccurate.) I think he's clearly passionate about the material and has access to great research materials; I think he would have strongly benefited from having a proofreader and editor, and perhaps a consultant with a background in television history that could have provided better context for areas where Cushman does not understand or properly explain his findings. But I'm not as willing as others to throw away the baby with the bath water.
     
  8. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Josh, good to know that. Yes, I found it somewhat confusing at the time that he was presenting solid facts from sources, the part people were having issues with were his conclusions. Perhaps he should have taken a more neutral stance, presenting the information for the reader to interprete.
     
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  9. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    I really miss this series. Anne Lockahart, and John De Lancie nail it in this ep.
     
  10. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I'm not sure I agree; I think the material needs to be presented in context to make sense. No context is possibly just as bad as the wrong context.

    For instance, when he talks about Star Trek's ratings - he shows different charts and graphics and gives viewership numbers for a particular broadcast. The problem comes when he tries to interpret those numbers; he uses methodologies and draws conclusions based on how ratings are measured and counted today. But this is completely irrelevant to what he's trying to argue. He presents a thesis that Star Trek was actually a ratings success, and that NBC sought to downplay the positive ratings because NBC wanted to cancel the show due to their dislike of Gene Roddenberry. That's a pretty major leap from the previously accepted wisdom, and shows a lack of understanding for how television works, and what ratings metrics were important in the 1960s. Networks will work with people they despise if the ratings are there. The idea that NBC (or any network) would take a major hit and kill it because they didn't like the showrunner doesn't make any sense; there's too much money at stake for them to care that much about personality conflicts. Roddenberry was undoubtedly difficult to work with when it came to the network, but he's by no means the most difficult person in the history of the medium. The issue was that Star Trek was losing in the ratings for almost every broadcast. Cushman shows that the number of viewers was a number that seems high by today's standards, and indeed that's true. But the network in the 1960s were not judging the show based on today's numbers, they were in an environment where audiences had three choices on any given night, and on almost any given night, Star Trek was the third choice. It doesn't matter that a third place Trek in 1969 had more total viewers than a first place show in 2019 would. But Cushman misunderstood the raw data he had in front of him, and used that data to make an argument that is not supported by the facts. It doesn't mean what he thinks it meant.

    If Cushman had worked with a publisher that had a history of scholarly works on television, an editor would have caught on to that and had those sections of the book either rewritten or removed. But unfortunately, Cushman self-published, didn't undergo any editorial guidance, and because enough of the research in there is solid, is now believed to be the foremost authority on aspects of Trek that he is not qualified to discuss. I worry that when people look back at Trek, his books will be among the most cited sources, and his nonsense theory about NBC canceling Star Trek due to a grudge against Roddenberry will come to be seen as fact. The fact is a lot more simple, and doesn't rely on conspiracy theories: the show cost more money to produce than it made, and it frequently disappointed in the ratings.
     
  11. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Lead Actor

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    I guess this is why I was never asked to be a studio executive, but I always thought The Cage was a much better pilot that Where No Man Has Gone Before (which is also very good). The Cage sets up the universe better and has deeper meaning. It's kind of amazing that Roddenberry got as much intelligent writing on the air as he did, given the "dumb-it-down" mentality of the studios at the time and since.
     
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  12. Carabimero

    Carabimero Producer
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    Boy, those Cushman books are really a mind trip. On the one hand, there's a ton of useful, accurate information in them. On the other hand, there is dozens of unsupported suppositions, misquotes, and downright incorrect information. I am fairly well-versed in the history of the writers of Star Trek. I can't claim to be an expert in any other area. But if Cushman makes so many careless mistakes and misleading representations when dealing with the writing, how can I trust anything else he says? I'm not an expert in ST music but I know a little about it and Cushman made at least two errors talking about the music. So, on the one hand, there's a ton of good info in those books, but on the other hand, I'm never sure what I can trust.

    His Lost In Space books are slightly better in terms of the writing, but again, he has such little credibility with me as a writer that it's hard to trust what he writes about Lost In Space.

    It's a real shame that a credible writer didn't have the opportunity and resources presented to Cushman.
     
  13. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I wonder whatever happened to his planned book about Roddenberry’s post-Trek endeavors.
     
  14. Carabimero

    Carabimero Producer
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    He did a VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA book and a MOODY BLUES book, neither of which I bought. I think there's another MOODY BLUES coming, but I haven't heard anymore about the Roddenberry project.

    That he can't get a legit publisher with the resources he had speaks volumes to his lack of rigor. I know he got an English teacher to proof his LIS books, but that teacher was really defensive when I pointed out errors on Amazon. So I'm done with Cushman. I suppose 3 half-ass ST books and 3 Lost In Space books (of which I'm skeptical) are better than having nothing at all.
     
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  15. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I feel like Star Trek deserves a, well, real book.

    Something like the book that came out for “2001” last spring, that distills all of the facts into an accessible, entertaining narrative.
     
  16. Carabimero

    Carabimero Producer
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    When I see a book like RETURN TO TOMORROW, it really shows how great a ST book can be, even without pictures. So comparing Cushman to other Star Trek books like THE DS9 COMPANION (which, if you haven't read, you should) really makes the Cushman books hurt all the more.
     
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  17. Philip Verdieck

    Philip Verdieck Second Unit

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    As I also recall (I have no idea about Cushman but I have read The Making of Star Trek (Whitfield/Roddenberry) at least a couple times, NBC did its best to kill its rating by jerking around with its timeslot.

    Cushman is definitely around the bend if he thinks a network that was deliberately trying to kill a series would have relented to a mail-in campaign and resurrected said series for another season.
     
  18. Jason_V

    Jason_V Lead Actor

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    The DS9 Companion is a wonderful, wonderful book. The TNG Companion laid the modern groundwork for this kind of book for me; DS9 expanded on it. The Voyager version...I never even bothered to get. I thumbed through it once and found nothing of interest in it. Which is sad.
     
  19. Message #13639 of 14128 Jan 14, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
    ScottRE

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    The Cushman books are flawed as hell, but have some value. However, that value diminishes with each book he writes. The Star Trek staff lived in memos and drafts which made it easier and justifiable for Cushman to have one volume per season, even though the final volume is filled with fan opinions and BS because Freiberger and Singer were too busy to write memos all day. Irwin Allen and his staff, however, did not produce the same way, so having three volumes for LIS was a cynical cash grab. They are thinner and more padded, filling the final volume with latter day stuff (which, thankfully, was pretty interesting).

    The Voyage book is awful. To fill the pages of the single volume first season tome, the print is twice the size as the Trek books and fully a third of the book goes by before he starts talking about the series. After that, it's all bland notes about scrips, interviews from other sources and, worse, he keeps quoting Mike's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Zone website for his "assessments." Some episodes have no critical comment from him at all in favor of that website. Look, I love MVTTBOTSZ, but it's free to read on the web. I din't need to spend $30 to reread it,

    What's sad is a lot of his mistakes would be avoided if he just, I dunno, watched an episode! Music identification errors would be easy to check if it popped in a DVD. Worse, many fans take his books as gospel, from the "Trek was a rating smash!" on down because it's in print and, sometimes, "authorized." He is no the de facto go-to for these books when he is the last person who should be asked.

    I'm sure a Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants book will be out before long, but Martin Grams' Time Tunnel reference is a;ready out there and excellent. Also, I have a feeling Jeff Bond has an Irwin Allen book forthcoming and I trust him a LOT more than Cushman, who never - EVER - cops to his mistakes.

    Sigh....

    Absolutely LOVE the DS9 Companion. I was disappointed that Voyager wasn't done the same way, but after learning how much the cast apparently hated some of each other, I can see why it was just a lazy little reference book with little actual insight.

    The original edition of The Star Trek Compendium is still amazing, even if it isn't super accurate. It was my go to for years. The later editions were watered down, sadly.
     
  20. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I only partially quoted your post Josh, a lot of good stuff there to digest.

    After sleeping on it, my sense is the Cushman books will go down in Star Trek history as a curiosity. There was a Roddenberry biography out a few years ago that was competing with an authorized Roddenberry biography and a lot of reviewers said to avoid the non authorized one as it was full of errors or inaccuracies. My sense the same will happen with the Cushman books. It’s already happening. There’s enough fans who will steer the readers away or warn the potential readers.

    There’s good info in the Cushman books on the development of each episode. Assuming those are based on the memos, it’s great info. I mainly read over his opinions at the end of each episode overview and usually let them go as his opinion. Not facts. I liked that he got some interviews with the guest actors when he could, they added another insight.

    I see that Cushman is going to release a book on the 1970’s era of the Star Trek project developments during that time. I may not read that one.

    As far as “The Book”, the one the Horizon left behind, I think there’s two gold standards. The Whitfield “The Making of Star Trek”. I got lucky and found a first edition years ago. I first got the early 1970’s edition with the great color photo of the Enterprise firing phasers that I read over and over as a kid. And the Justman and Solow “Inside Star Trek: The Real Story”. That is a real page turner, I couldn’t put it down. Those two books are by people who were actually there. So they can give a sense of what it was like.

    There’s one more book that might be fun for some written in 1975 by Joan Winston, Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Sonda Marshak called Star Trek Lives. This was at the height of fandom fiction when it was starting out. The 7th chapter was about Joan Winston’s fan dream come true and 6 day visit to the set during the filming of Turnabout Intruder.
     
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