The Truth About What Went Wrong With The Third Season Of TOS

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The Truth About What Went Wrong With The Third Season Of TOS

Postby Nutso » Fri Feb 06, 2015 4:54 am ... 1684057419

The original Star Trek was a revolutionary television show... that came to an ignominous end. The classic space opera saw a huge drop in quality in its final season, and then was cancelled. Legend has it the ratings were terrible, and the new producer, Fred Freiberger, ruined it. But the truth is a bit more complicated.

The third volume in Mark Cushman's essential These Are The Voyages series of books about the making of Star Trek is out, covering the third and final season. And it's a fascinating inside look at a TV show that's coming apart at the seams, due to a variety of factors.

As with the first two volumes of the series, Cushman gives a really complete overview of the state of Star Trek at the start of the season, as well as at a few places in the middle and end of the season. There's a lot of attention to Trek's place in the zeitgeist, and how the show was actually being talked about at the time. And then he goes through episode-by-episode, exploring how the story was developed from proposal to screen.

And this volume has the most impact if you've already read volumes one and two — readers of the first two books will know just how much attention and thought went into every single Star Trek script. And how much the stories were changed, sometimes for the worse but frequently for the better. A lot of the best writing on Star Trek was actually re-writing, with a cadre that included Gene Coon, Dorothy Fontana, creator Gene Roddenberry and a few others paying intense attention to every detail and keeping the characters consistent and believable.

With the third season, all of those people are gone — except Roddenberry, who's tossing in edicts from on high, but then not sticking around to make them work.

As with the first two volumes of These Are The Voyages, Cushman goes out of his way to demolish fan lore about the show. Chiefly, the idea that Trek always got terrible ratings, and it was a miracle the show ever stayed on the air. Though Trek was moved to the Friday night "death slot," it continued to be popular for much of the third season — "Spock's Brain," the season opener, won its time slot, and the show came in second for several episodes after that.

It's also fascinating to read about the development of "The Enterprise Incident," in which writer Dorothy Fontana had a huge falling out with the new production team. Freiberger had dropped Spock's father, Sarek, from the script, and changed the Romulan commander to a woman. And it was Freiberger and Arthur Singer who decided to add Spock romancing the Romulan, although Singer wrote it as a scene where Spock says "I adore you," before "raining kisses on every square inch above her shoulder."

Fontana fired back an incensed memo, saying "We have established Vulcans do not nuzzle, kiss, hug, or display any other form of human affection... The Commander had jolly well be suspicious if Spock starts slobbering all over her." Nimoy, also, wrote directly to Gene Roddenberry complaining about Spock's "oversexed" behavior.

Also, "The Enterprise Incident" script lost several scenes that explained just why people were able to beam from the Enterprise to the Romulan ship and back, when their shields were supposed to be up.

Which is the other interesting thing that comes through in this book: Nimoy was zealous about the integrity of Spock, and frequently butted heads with the new producers over how the character was portrayed. But as James Doohan put it, William Shatner put himself out there to make the show better and shoot down some of the sillier ideas in general: "Leonard was more interested in [protecting] the character of Spock. I think Bill was more interested in the series."

In the end, the only person who really believed, in his heart, that Star Trek would get a fourth season was James Doohan. He couldn't accept that such a smart, well done show would be pulled off the air.

A lot more in the link, and easier to read.

Here is link to book on Amazon: ... 9271019063
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Re: The Truth About What Went Wrong With The Third Season Of

Postby Tsukiyumi » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:39 am

That is damn interesting. Seems like production shake-ups often result in a quality drop for shows, regardless of genre.

"Hey, these people have done a bang-up job, and the ratings are great! You know what would be even better? Let's fire all of these people, and bring in people unfamiliar and uninterested in the series! That should make it awesome!"
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Re: The Truth About What Went Wrong With The Third Season Of

Postby Mikey » Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:40 pm

The replacements don't have to be untalented or uninterested. They could be the best talent in the world, but if you change horses midstream your boots will get wet no matter what.
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