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Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-1975)
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2021 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Krel wrote:
Pow wrote:
Also, each season saw the budget for ST: TOS seriously slashed. By their third season they were running on less and less to produce the series.

Unfortunately that was standard operating procedure for the networks back in the 60s, and maybe the 70s too. I don't know if that is still SOP.

I'm not sure if I'm right about this, but I think the old networks (and the new ones like Netflix, SyFy, and others) have learned that today's audiences have much higher standards than they used to.

Part of this is the fact that our home theater systems rival the quality of movie theaters 40 years ago, and part of it is because for the last few decades we've gone to movies at IMAX theaters with HD movies, 3D images, and stereophonic sound!

As a result, this new generation thinks that the old TV series aren't even worth watching! Shocked

Add to this the fact that budgets for today's series are well above those of major motion pictures several decades ago. And the internet allows viewers to easily spread the word about current series — both good and bad — almost instantly!

So, the bar has been raised . . . and Hollywood knows it.

But of course, Tinseltown still manages to spend millions on sheer trash, simply because the studio suits don't know fine caviar from boiled cabbage. And yet I think they've learned that if they have a good thing, the dumbest thing they can do is cut the budget and assume that nobody will notice!

Well . . . most of the time.
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Last edited by Bud Brewster on Sat Jul 03, 2021 10:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2021 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure that the streaming networks really get the deal! There was a joke going around that Netflix would green light almost anything and throw millions at it!

Now streaming services like Netflix are canceling successful series like THE WITCHER and others . . . many leaving "cliffhanger" situations . . . just . . . hanging.

Hollywood is completely screwed up because of the covid situation . . . even more than it was before.

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Pow
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2021 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Inside Trivia courtesy Star Trek Magazine.

The idea for an animated Star Trek series came from Lou Scheimer, who was president of Filmation.

In the early 70's ST:TOS was in syndication and very popular. There was an enormous appetite for new episodes.

It seemed obvious to Lou that producing an animated Star Trek was the thing to do. However, there were some obstacles.

It was difficult to get in touch with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry because there was some confusion over who exactly held the rights; it was a mess. As a result of Lou & Gene's conversation, Gene & Paramount were able to iron out their differences.

Lou also thought that Hanna-Barbera heard that he was attempting to get the rights for Star Trek and H-B also contacted Paramount.

Lou said that Filmation basically got the deal because when he met with Gene they got along so well.

The one thing Gene wanted was creative control of the input and the story material, and that's just what Lou wanted Gene to have, because no one knew Star Trek better than him.

Giving Gene total control wasn't as easy as it sounds. It was always very difficult to get creative control from the networks because they always wanted the right to make changes to whatever you did., but fortunately NBC was willing to cooperate with us.

While Gene as the producer had overall creative control, he needed someone he could trust implicitly to handle the day-to-day creative process.

Enter, D.C. Fontana. Fortunately D.C. was available. She had been a story editor on ST:TOS and was one of its most influential writers.

Everyone realized that an animated series had the advantage of creating visuals that would have been impossible to create for the live action show, or affordable.

Lou believed that this was the first time that an animated show was based upon live characters. We strived to be as faithful as we could to the live action show.

D.C. Fontana was particularly impressed with Filmation's efforts.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2021 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Since the situation with the Star Trek franchise is even more complicated now than ever before, I don't suppose we'll ever see a CGI version that uses the original characters in new stories.

I'm sure that eventually CGI will be able to closely simulate the look of live actors. But getting the rights to present CGI versions of the Trek cast members would be a nightmare in itself. Sad

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Pow
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2021 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You could well be right in your assessment of the situation, Bud. But never say never.

When ST:TOS ended in 1969, we fans forever heard that a reboot of the show was coming via a motion picture, then a TV show, then not, then maybe, then not again; and on and on this scenario went.

In an interview with William Shatner (before 1979), even he said that he'd given up all hopes that ST would somehow, someway be revived one day.

And as Filmation Producer Lou Scheimer said, even getting the animated series going involved quite a few hurtles — but it did finally take off!

As Mr. Spock said, "There are always possibilities."
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Pow
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2021 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the initial problems was that at the time there weren't that many adept artists who could draw the human figure well.

Most Hollywood artists had sprung from Disney and Warner Brothers and MGM, where it was Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck and the rest of them.

Sidebar: Perhaps by the time ST:TAS was being produced a number of artists were in retirement. However, the Fleisher Brothers Superman series and their Gulliver's Travels movie certainly had realistic human figures.

And what about the Disney movies Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty? They had well drawn human figures.

Then again, rotoscoping came into play in some of these productions and that may have been something that the animated Star Trek TV show had neither the time nor budget to pull off in 1973. I dunno?

Trying to get people that were good with the human figure was difficult. So, much to the chagrin of a lot of fans, a stock system was set up.

The production would shoot live action, which was then traced over for running and jumping and different things.

These scenes would then be salted within episodes so that the show could get away from some of the difficulties of doing human figures well.

Looking back, Lou Scheimer said that he wished he had another six months, and he wish he had better artists. He'd love to have been able to do barrel rolls all the time. He knew he'd been criticized, but the show was both time-consuming and the budget simply couldn't take it.

The entire cast from the live action show, with the exception of Walter Koenig, was reunited to provide the voices of their characters on the animated series. Even Walter was involved with the show when he wrote the episode "The Infinite Vulcan."

Sidebar: The project wasn't going to have Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, or George Takei reprise their roles from the live action show on the animated series. Leonard Nimoy fought for their inclusion on the production.

He was one stand-up gentleman!

Lou said that the intention for the show was to do something novel and unusual for Saturday morning television that would appeal to a wider audience and an older demographic.

The other two networks (CBS, ABC) programmed their Saturday morning fare for children between ages of three to eleven. NBC saw an opportunity for niche programming for an older audience. It worked because the demographics for the show was sensational, and it got an older and very appreciative audience.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2021 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Mike, that's a great comment! Thanks. Very Happy

Fans like me are always interested in learning about the difficulties which producers overcame to present us with great TV series.

Thanks for making All Sci-Fi a source for great information like you provide. Cool

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Pow
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2021 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are most welcome, Bruce. I learn so much from researching these various items that it's a blast for me too.

And of course I also learn from you and all of the other members that post here about aspects that I never knew about a movie of television show.

Dorthy Fontana said that she and Gene were simply doing what they had always done; they were doing Star Trek stories.

They did not feel that they were making a compromise because this was an animated show and not live action.

DC said that they never felt that they should stoop down to the audience; we must make them come to us.

Due to this being a Saturday morning TV show we watched out for content regarding sex and violence because of the younger children that would be watching.

You can still tell a great adventure story without sex and violence. We never received any complaints from NBC over any of our episodes.

Sidebar: The show also had the constraint of unfolding an interesting and complex Star Trek adventure in only 22-minutes or so. I have to give then a huge thumbs up that they were able to achieve this limitation so well.

D.C. was worried in her episode "Yesteryear," (considered by critics and fans as the finest episode of the series) about the death of Spock's beloved pet sehlat.

Producer Lou Scheimer recalled that there were no attempts to compromise, and the only conversations were about how to make the show better. Since it was animation we had no limits as to sets or special effects as the live action show did. In that respect there was more freedom.

This freedom allowed the writers to add two distinctly alien crew members to the crew: M'Ress & Arex. Having more aliens on board the Enterprise in the live action series was something we would have liked, explains Dorthy. We couldn't because of the difficulty of makeup and prosthetics, which were costly and not truly up to the kind of standards we wanted back in the day.

Sidebar: I salute that inclusion of alien lifeforms as crew members. But I never cared at all for the M'Ress character. She looked too much like a cartoon character you'd see in a Disney movie or another kiddie Saturday morning show.
Perhaps her design was meant to appeal to the tiny tots watching the show but without compromising the quality of the scripting. I dunno. I just could not take her presence seriously.

Dorthy went on to say that the animation also opened up all sorts of story possibilities that would have been rejected out of hand on the live show. We could now do marvelous landscapes and architecture and so on.

Still, there could be limitations even with animation. We couldn't make the alien species the Kzin striped. Animating the stripes would have proved far too expensive.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2021 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Being an enthusiastic writer of science fiction myself, I understand how D.C. Fontana felt about her stories.

When I write a story (or just pitch a concept to you guys on All Sci-Fi), I visualize it so clearly that it plays like a movie in my head! Cool

So, Miss Fontana and Mr. Roddenberry simply created the scripts for their "imaginary" big-budget, hi-def productions and then bravely accepted the fact that the actual shows looked a bit less impressive when they appeared on Saturday morning television. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2021 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hal Sutherland, Lou Scheimer's partner and a director on the show, recalls Gene Roddenberry as a hard taskmaster to work with but also a wonderful man.

His (GR) only problem was that he was never satisfied; he always wanted to change things the next day and on and on.

Finally I had to have a discussion with Gene. Hal told Gene that they only had just so many weeks and months to produce an episode, if we don't stop now (this was the first episode) we won't be on the air in September to make our premiere date.

Gene laughed and said fine, he told Hal that whenever he (GR) stepped over the line that Hal was to just tell him.

From then on they never had a problem.

Gene adopted a supervisory role, approving stories, with Dorthy Fontana acting as story editor.

The next issue that Gene & Dorthy had to do was contend with the running time for the 22-minute animated series.
Hal mentions that Gene had never done a half-hour show.

Item: Actually that's not correct. Gene had written for early television in the 50's when many dramas were only 30-minutes in length. Have Gun, Will Travel & Highway Patrol were just two examples of half-hour TV shows that Gene had scripted. True, they were live-action series and not animated but the running time was comparable.

As the show went into production, the Writers' Guild of America in Hollywood went into a strike. Writers could no longer write for shows once the strike was called. Animation was exempt to this rule as they were not signatory to the WG's contract.

Item: Wonder if that still holds true today?

This allowed the production to invite writers of the Star Trek live-action series to script for the animated series with no rules being broken.

The pay for a script was around $1,350, which was peanuts compared to what writers received for live-action, but when you're not working then it's better than nothing.

One of the few people to turn down writing a script was Gene Roddenberry.

Item: Wonder why Gene would not write a script for his own creation? Busy with too many other projects?

Noted sci~fi author David Gerrold (The Trouble With Tribbles) who wrote a sequel to his live-action episode for the animated show, More Tribbles, More Troubles, had pitched BEM for the live action show. It involved an alien that could separate his body into three parts. We knew it could not have been well in live-action but it could be done decently for the animated series.

Item: I greatly enjoyed David's animated sequel episode to Tribbles. I found BEM weak and was surprised that such a fine writer as Gerrold scripted it.

Dorthy said that the production did not consciously set out to produce animated episodes that were sequels to episodes that were done on the live-action show.

It was just a case of a particular story struck you.

Dorthy was very pleased to have recruited sci~fi legend Larry Niven to write the episode The Slaver Weapon.
She felt that by bringing in Larry that would offer a connection to the science fiction community.

Gene decided that none of the animated episodes were canon. However, in recent years a few Star Trek writers, particularly Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica reboot) have included references to the animated show in live-action episodes, thereby introducing them to the canon via the back door.

Item: The status of whether the animated show is canon to the live -action show can be a hot button issue for ST fans.
I'm a fan who never cared about it one way or the other.

Star Trek: The Animated Series would go on to win the Emmy Award for Best Children's Series in 1974.

Dorthy Fontana was flabbergasted at the win. She felt they had no real chance because the show really wasn't a kids' show in the typical manner of Saturday morning animated series at that time.

After a total of 22-episodes the show came to an end. All were proud of the work they put into it and remain so to this day.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2021 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the things that Gene Roddenberry was excited about doing on the animated series because they couldn't on the live action series was being able to show lava.

Sure, why not? Lava is impressive to see in real life, especially nowadays with drones flying over it.

The special effects artists have created marvelous looking artificial lava over the decades. For television, most of the early attempts were generally sub-par. Now with CGI you have TV productions doing it well.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2021 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pow wrote:
One of the things that Gene Roddenberry was excited about doing on the animated series because they couldn't on the live action series was being able to show lava.

Sure, why not? Lava is impressive to see in real life, especially nowadays with drones flying over it.

As a matter of fact, during recent All Sci-Fi's Saturday Live Chat (<— link) the folks in attendance comment on the fine way the Superman cartoon presented the lava in the episode called Volcano.

Hey, Mike! When are you going to start joining us for those chats? I promise you'll have great time! Very Happy

I don't think the other guys have a home theater set up quite like mine —






— but they've all managed to find a way to enjoy both the chats and the features, so I'm sure you can too. Mr. Green
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2022 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On my routine evening constitutional, it passes the time for me by thinking about various science fiction ideas.

Here's my latest: Which of the Trek animated episodes would I adapt to the big screen as a live action feature film in place of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I know that it obviously would have to be expanded from its original thirty-minute format to a two-hour movie. A creative writer would be up to the task.

I was always partial to the very first episode of the animated series "Beyond the Farthest Star." It has the enormous, organic ancient star ship and evil energy entity going for it.
Creating the interior & exterior for the ship, the energy being, the recorded look of the aliens that once commanded this noble vessel, and a dead star would most certainly fulfill the special/visual effects requirements for a $40,000,000 epic science fiction movie.

"Yesteryear" by D.C, Fontana is considered by fans and critics to be the finest episode produced for the animated show. I agree. The problem with it becoming a Trek live action film is that it's Spock-centric. Not much for the rest of the cast to do but be in supporting roles only.

"One of Our Planets is Missing" would be another excellent candidate as a film. An enormous alien energy creature is devouring its way through the galaxy by consuming entire worlds. It is now on the way to gobble up a Federation-inhabited planet. True, this is similar to the marvelous "The Doomsday Machine." However, the animated take on this concept is different enough to make it entertaining and not merely a rehash of Doomsday.

"The Time Trap" sees the Enterprise, along with a Klingon war vessel (are there any other kind?), thrown into a pocket dimension by accident. There they encounter thousands of star ships from many worlds that have gone missing and become a part of space lore. Creating this Sargasso Sea of vanished & legendary space ships would be serious eye candy. And Klingons always bring in an audience.

In "More Tribbles, More Troubles", David Gerrold pens a terrific sequel to his television episode "The Trouble With Tribbles." I'm just not sure a movie studio would have gone for its first massive Trek film as being a sequel to a TV episode.

It did work well for "The Wrath of Khan" though, didn't it? The other aspect that might not be embraced by studio execs is doing a comedic Star Trek for its first outing. And Roddenberry hated the heavily comedic Trek episodes, it's been reported — so he ain't gonna be wild about a funny Trek movie.

"Once Upon a Planet" was a worthy sequel to "Shore Leave", although it wasn't written by SL's noted science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon. A planet where the master computer can make real anyone's wishes could offer incredible visuals. A master computer out to get those pesky humans would make the film even more exciting. Could work well.

Anyhoo, that's what I've come up with. Any ideas?
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2022 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pow wrote:
Anyhoo, that's what I've come up with. Any ideas?

Good lord yes, Mike! Shocked

Here's just a few of the thoughts I had while reading your wonderful comment.
Very Happy

Pow wrote:
"Yesteryear" by D.C, Fontana is considered by fans and critics to be the finest episode produced for the animated show. I agree. The problem with it becoming a Trek live action film is that it's Spock-centric. Not much for the rest of the cast to do but be in supporting roles only.

You stated that the episodes would "obviously have to be expanded from [there] original thirty-minute format to a two-hour movie. A creative writer would be up to the task."

Here's a perfect opertunity for that to happen. Kill two birds with one stone: expand the story by creating an interesting and related subplot which involves the rest of the crew.


Pow wrote:
"One of Our Planets is Missing" would be another excellent candidate as a film. An enormous alien energy creature is devouring its way through the galaxy by consuming entire worlds. It is now on the way to gobble up a Federation-inhabited planet. True, this is similar to the marvelous "The Doomsday Machine."

However, the animated take on this concept is different enough to make it entertaining and not merely a rehash of Doomsday.

Different enough indeed! Very Happy

The Doomsday Machine was a mindless device the destroyed planets for pre-programmed reasons. But the "alien energy creature" seems to be looking for sustenance — food — and it's alien nature might prevent it from realizing that the planets it "eats" are the homes of sentient beings.

I went to the Memory Alpha site (a very UN-user friendly place) and read the summary of the plot.

I was pleased to discover that my assumptions were correct! Kirk is able to convince the energy being to leave the galaxy and refrain from eating planets with sentient beings.

A live action version of this story could explore the idea that Kirk might turn the alien creature into an ally of the Federation, one which could devour the planets of hostile alien species which threatened the peace of the galaxy! Shocked

I'll give the other episodes you describe a bit more thought as well, Mike! Very Happy

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