Saturday, September 8, 2012

Star Trek, 46th Anniversary

Wow, do I feel old! :-) Today marks the 46th anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series. Gosh, I can remember when people only knew it by "Star Trek". It's fitting that today is the anniversary because here at Toys & Stuff, Saturday's are generally reserved for Sci-Fi and Fantasy. But when the show aired back in 1966 it was a Thursday evening and the first episode was "The Man Trap" about an alien who needed salt - lots of it - to survive, and ended up feasting on Enterprise crewmen and ultimately its protector. In true sci-fi fashion the alien was killed at the end. I remember watching that first episode and being hooked by the series. It was so superior to "Lost in Space" - a program grown onerously worrisome by that horribly written and performed Dr. Smith character (it did however have really awesome special effects and gadgets - can't belittle that!). But there would ultimately be problems for me in regards to trying to catch every episode. September is still a warm month and I might be outside playing and at that time there was only one TV in the house which means the folks may have wanted to watch something else. But of course the show proved so popular that it was easy to catch every episode on the perpetual re-runs. This was the ONLY show that I ever remembered the title episodes to!
When trying to come up with material for this blog I remembered that I STILL had my copy of "The Making of Star Trek" by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, the Fourth Printing 1969 paperback version. What an excellent book that was and I do remember at one time having several later editions wherein the only difference was the cover art, but those later editions are long gone now. But lo-&-behold, when going out to The Cave to retrieve the book, much to my delight I discovered several other Star Trek paperbacks! A veritable treasure trove! And it's a good thing because I never really got into collecting Star Trek toys. As a kid I had assembled the AMT plastic kits of The Enterprise and the Klingon Battle Cruiser but those were discarded many a moon ago. HOWEVER, I was sorely tempted to buy the latest toy version of the Enterprise complete with lights and sound (by Trendmaster?). I did have a really nice collection of Enterprise blueprints and a myriad other artwork that was hitting the shelves during the 1970s but by the early '90s all of that stuff was given away - sigh :-(   The actual production of the series interested me more than anything else as you can tell by the surviving books. The episodes in book form never appealed to me nor did the stories written specifically for books and not for airing on TV. Let's look at those books first followed by some more recollections. Enjoy!
Book Covers
"The Making of Star Trek"
Stephen E. Whitfield & Gene Roddenberry
Ballantine Books Fourth Printing 1969

"The World of Star Trek:  The Show the Network Could Not Kill!"
David Gerrold
Ballantine Books Second Printing July 1973

"The Trouble With Tribbles: The Birth, Sale, and Final Production of One Episode"
David Gerrold
Ballantine Books First Printing May 1973

"Star Trek Lives! Personal notes and anecdotes"
Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Sondra Marshak, and John Winston

Bantam Books 4th Printing July 1975

"Star Trek Memories"
William Shatner with Chris Kreski

Harper Paperbacks First Printing July 1994

"The Cage"

First, let's let Wikipedia describe "The Cage":
"Star Trek's pilot episode, "The Cage," was completed between November 1964 and January 1965 and starred Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike, Majel Barrett as Number One, and Leonard Nimoy as Spock. After the pilot was rejected by NBC as being "too cerebral" (among other complaints), Jeffrey Hunter chose to withdraw from the role of Pike when creator Gene Roddenberry was asked to produce a second pilot episode ("Where No Man Has Gone Before") of which an edited version of the same name aired in 1966.

"The Cage" never aired during Star Trek's original run on NBC. It was presented by Roddenberry as a black-and-white workprint at various science fiction conventions over the years after Star Trek's cancellation but was not released on home video until 1986 when Paramount Home Video produced a "restored" release of "The Cage" (a combination of the original black-and-white footage and color portions of the Season 1 episode "The Menagerie") complete with an introduction by Gene Roddenberry"

Sometime around 1975 I attended my one and only Star Trek convention at the Milwaukee Auditorium. Ya know, for the life of me I don't remember seeing anyone dressed in Trekkie uniforms or as aliens. Perhaps it hadn't really caught on the same way it has today. Gene Rodenberry was the main speaker and I believe Nichelle Nichols and Jimmy Doohan were there also. It was during this convention that Gene explained how he was able to cobble together both color and black and white film remnants to reconstruct the original "Cage" pilot as it was thought at the time that no fully intact color prints existed. Then in 1986 this hybrid print was released on VHS tape - which I still have. Here's the scans of the cover:

The Original U.S.S. Enterprise NCC - 1701
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.

In 1982 I had orders to go to Germany and chose to drive cross country from California to New Jersey making stops along the way and ultimately dropping my car off in New Jersey for subsequent shipment to Germany. One of the stops was in Ohio to pick up a friend and drive him to his new tech school in Washington D.C. There was hardly any time to do any proper sight-seeing but in only one (or one-and-a-half) days we managed to see the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Bureau of Printing and Engraving, and several different buildings of the Smithsonian, one of them being The Air and Space Museum. And hanging way up high in all its glory was the original (and LARGE) model used for the filming of the original series. Being on a budget and not having much film with me (heck, I didn't have enough money even for post cards!) I got off one shot of this legendary piece of Science Fiction hardware, so here it is: