From: Marc Thomas
Hi Trek Tv Friends By the autumn of 1973, I already knew every episode of Star Trek, chapter and verse. there was no other science fiction on TV worth half an eyefull and I 'd begun to read Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke to quench my dorkly needs and was content also, to catch the daily 6pm UHF curtain call for Spock and company. The previous summer's entertainment pages of the local paper had been full of hype and promise of a second chance for the only good show about spaceships ever to grace the fuzzy screen. I was not entirely alone in anticipation. Star Trek was something the whole family enjoyed so I didn't feel at all self conscious about my enthusiasm for the October premier of Saturday Morning cartoons on NBC. Sure, I was... what? Almost 12 years old? (!) A little long in the tooth for children's programing, but my parents were down with it . Until about half way through when all the enthusiasm in the room was on the wane save for mine. By the next week I had to fight with my sister for that half hour. Anyone ever painted with cel vinyl colors? Thats the rich polymer suspension designed to cling well to acetate sheets or cells, the ancient medium of animators. The individual paintings are beautiful in TAS, but Filmation was easily the cheapest studio around, and this, at the height of an era of expedient animation led by Hanna Barbara. The frequent reuse of motion sequences and other short-cuts was only slightly more brazen than the conventions of the age would condone As an artform American cartoons had reached their nadir, the glory days of WB & Disney now passed as the smart economy of animae nibbled at the US market. Go Speed Racer Go. It's a diffent story now now in this the CGI epoch where animation is routinely epic. . One of the more interesting aspects of TAS , is the extent to which it fails as a kids show. It's quite slow paced, the language and ideas underlying many episodes went a ways over most young heads if not the thinking caps of Trekkie kids. There was no way this show would reach the Super Friends demographic. Roddenbury wanted to expand Star Trek and we see occasional fore-echos of TNG, if it doesn’t quite succeed artistically it's interesting as an archeological record of proto- canonical elements. Most conspicuously, this Enterprise has a holodeck. And we'll have to wait until Voyager to see a Shuttle Craft function as a submarine. They kept the Enterprise looking the same but the shuttle-craft are quite different they look more like station wagons,( the 70's being incidentally the hey-day thereof ) rather than mini-vans. A step backward if you ask me. It may be worth noting that Dr. McCoy keeps a Phlox-like zoo of lab animals and that one of Phlox' own critters is from the same planet as Arek the tripple limbed navigater Colin taught me the term 'soft cannon' in a tweet and I'd use that here to describe these drawn dramas. There is an intrusion of Larry Nivens Known Space Universe in one episode. Ever after if I read a Ringworld book I try to conceptually twist it into the UFP. Similarly, Asimov's future history intersects with TNG because Data is basically an iRobot, but more on that that later. And isn't there an episode of TNG where the crew turn into little kids? TAS did that! We also have a gigantic Spock, a gigantic tribble, an undersea civilization, boner stoned males who cede control to Uhu and Chapperz and an episode named Jihad just before that word became something declared against us in the promiscuous west. And speaking of The Great Satan, that's right Satan is the guest star on a very special episode. I think TNG did that too. Chekov is not in this series, so sad… but Wally Ko-Ko wrote an episode, the first cast member to do so. As I recall this becomes rather de regur in later Trek iterations. Nichele Nicholes and Jame DooHoo each had a confirmed pedigree as voice over talent which they utilized here. They perform most of the extra characters. Sometimes a Cat Lady replaces Uhu at Com but never Nichols because she purrs that voice too. There is an episode where Harry Mudd infects the crew with horn-dog gas and we are treated to a scene where Scotty starts mackin' on N'Ress and there is a slashy Kirk/Spock scene more prurient than even those two holding hands in Turnabout Intruder. Did any body mention that last time? When Kirk is trapped in Janet Lesters body, she and therefor he and Spock are holding hands as they exit sick bay. Their so butch. One thing I wish they kept from TAS before dumbing the whole thing into the non-cannon bin after the first season of TNG saw Rodd rewrite the official Trek backstory is…what was I talking about oh yeah! The personal force field! That would have been easy enough to pull off with late 80's F/X but no! TAS is the only series of Trek that goes to a lot of non-class M planets and its all the more awesome for it. And if yer gonna see a new alien on TAS it's gonna be alien as all get out. No forehead of the week here. And Arek the Edosian! We had to wait until The Julep before another Edosian found its way into Trek. These aren't great philosophically defensible reasons for loving TAS but they are, nonetheless, mine. In space, most planets don't look like greater LA County and complex life does not evolve same-same over and over again. Oh and we have a zero G scene, which Trek needs more of. Kirks middle name, Spock's Mom's last , Shi-Kahr a prominant Vulcan town and the appearence of the Salot are all important con-Trek-butions from TAS! It perhaps was not great but I feel that it was trying to be. It reached higher than the successful Treks and I give it credit for that. And sure the science was bad, I heard a podcaster once castigate in particular The Terratin Incident for this. But all of Star Trek is brimfull with bad science, its TV and TV sci fi is a lower bar to hop over,as bad as Trek is at times, its almost always better than the also rans. I'll concede too that the cast chemistry is largely gone. The characters are flat literally and figuratively, I get that. The 25 minute air time is too brief for plots to unfold and personas to breath. I suppose my summery thesis concerning TAS is that it wanted to be grown up star trek but was weighed down by Saturday Morning conventions such as the show closing knowing wink from Captain Kirk. The only nit I pick and can't excuse is the theme, incidental music and sound effects. I don't know why they couldn't just cut and paste those straight form TOS where they were good instead of shit. I wonder if there were licensing issues. I've been disappointed in Treks failure to reprise the Sol Kapland and Gerald Fried scores for years though so I'm used to it by now. OH? This just in…I've learned from Trek News and Views that Frieds Amok Time fight theme is featured in STO. Thanx again Colin. As much as I am all a geek for TOS, I will be enjoying Trek TV in new way from here on out, because starting with this brief cartoon foray I have seen all the subsequent Trek properties but once or so. I will no longer be mining a vast reservoirs of long stewing commentary. I'm watching way ahead of the podcast schedule so's to mold my emails at leisure and am enjoying, very much, TNG presently and looking forward to discussing the films and after properties. I'll return to shorter form lettersnext week but I had a lot of TAS talking points and wanted to dispatch as much as possible in a single correspondance, thanx for your patience. The show from the Canadian shed was way zany fun, the new Dereck was really good, I hope you have him back in fact I hope you have both Derecks on the same show sometime that would be crazy daze babies and it was great to meet Tracy's sister Laura too but why oh why no digeridoo and banjo duet?