Star Trek 365: The Original Series by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdman (book review).

January 28, 2016 | By | Reply More

I reviewed ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation 365’ a couple years ago and now Abrams Books have let me loose on ‘Star Trek 365: The Original Series’ by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdman. Half the book is full of colour photographs and the rest with information. The ‘365’ denotes the pages and the length of the year, although I doubt if anyone would read a page every other day. The episode details are given in production order than television order, although this placement is noted as well.

StarTrek365

There’s a four page intro by DC Fontana giving a build-up to getting the original ‘Star Trek’ on air. Most of it should be familiar to those of you who know your Trek but it certainly gets you into the mood to read this book. It works out from the beginning, establishing the characters and designs. Oddly, the character profiles come from the writer’s bible, third revision. Having got a copy of the first edition, I’m not sure if the details in mine covered as much. Oddly, Sulu’s rapid change of hobbies only came up twice in the series although his absences from the second season probably didn’t allow this to develop. Either that or he was too busy on the bridge or on planets.

For those wanting to set some unusual trivia, the dilithium cracking station was painted by Albert Whitlock and amongst other places he worked was a certain ‘Mary Poppins’ film. Seeing Matt Jefferies designs for the phaser and Enterprise is always fun and with the latter must have been most studied for home hobby enthusiasts before they were made commercially. I think the real crowning glory is seeing Jefferies model of the sets as laid out on the studio floor to help the directors prepare for their episodes. Reading that the special effects budget for each episode was $10,000, granted it was more than a complete season of ‘Doctor Who’ at the time, they still had to struggle with their budget. Although there is an explanation as to why we only ever saw the left side of the Enterprise because of the holes on the right side putting lighting, which is shown later in the book, it does make me wonder why no one thought of flopping the picture. After all, it was done in ‘Mirror, Mirror’. Granted there might have been problems with the registration on the side but a reverse transfer of that would have added to the variety.

By the way, speaking of dilithium, there are several instances in this book where this mineral is called ‘lithium’, especially with the cracking station although this isn’t corrected until episode ‘The Alternative Factor’.

Something I hadn’t realised was ‘Outer Limits’ Control Voice, actor Vic Perrin was the voice of Balok in ‘The Corbomite Maneuver’. Having rewatched the series recently, he was also the transporter chief for a couple episodes in the first season in case you ever wondered what he looked like. Prior to ‘What Are Little Girls Made Of?’, Ted Cassidy did the voice of Balok’s puppet. Sculptor Wah Chang was responsible for his design and many of the other aliens as well and probably the only one who never had a photo showing what he looked like. Malachi Throne also provided the male voice for the Talosian Keeper actress Meg Wyllie. I’m so used to Throne’s regular voice, that such things tend to get missed. The same can also be said for Jimmy Doohan who also voiced several aliens and I suspect there it’s more a case of so used to his Scots accent and not expecting it.

With ‘Dagger Of The Mind’, the authors discuss how Spock places his hands on the person’s head as he does a mind-meld and how it gets simpler over the episodes. I agree with their sentiments and tend to see it more as looking for the right points and then finding they are the same in most humanoids after that and just going to them right away.

Something I hadn’t realised with ‘Miri’ is how many of the children were actors’ children with Shatner’s two daughters and actor Greg Morris’ son, Phil, getting his earliest appearance on TV.

I had to check but actor John Fiedler only ever did the voice of Piglet in the ‘Winnie The Pooh Disney cartoons and not the bear himself.

You’ll have a wry grin at merchandise placement as model makers AMT also provided the full-size Galileo 7 shuttlecraft for the TV series to match their model kit. ‘Star Trek’ was also used in promoting colour TV sets in America. I think this is the only instance this happened with an existing series.

Very weirdly, even watching ‘Shore Leave’ repeatedly, I tend not to spot the continuity gaffs which does tend to make me think I spend more time with the performances than looking for mistakes.

Even with being knowledgeable on ‘Trek’, I hadn’t realised that the species name ‘Klingon’ was based off a name of a police officer Roddenberry knew called Clingon. Although it’s not said in the book, reference is given to Spock originally being given a red skin tint and probably where the Vulcan species name came from and stayed which just goes to show how much is by accident than deliberation.

Some things came together by linking things together from what is read. Take Trelane in ‘The Squire Of Gothos’ and Korob and Sylvia from ‘Catspaw’. Both sets of aliens knowledge of Earth is based off of information centuries old and dismayed to find it inaccurate. However, when you remember how long television signals take to travel across the cosmos, does that seem unreasonable how they acquired their info? Likewise, I can see comparisons between ‘Amok Time’ when Vulcans have a sexual frenzy with ‘Return Of The Archons’ ‘Red Hour’.

Another odd link is Kara the bellydancer in ‘Wolf In The Fold’ had to cover up her bellybutton and yet if you look at the still of Uhura from ‘Mirror, Mirror’, her bellybutton is clearly exposed.

I positively loved the info verifying the casualties of the Enterprise categorically proving if you wore a red shirt you should change your profession in Starfleet as quickly as possible.

A comment by the authors that Leonard McCoy broken the fourth wall by addressing the audience in ‘Journey To Babel’ is something I disagree with. This is mostly because many of us speak aloud to ourselves and even occasionally to let others know our own thoughts.

I never knew Spock appeared on ‘The Carol Burnett Show’ in 1967 but there’s a nice photo evidence. The authors point out that with the earlier Trek uniforms with the slacker neck opening was to make it easier to for Leonard Nimoy to put his top on over his ears but there’s never an explanation how it was put on later with the tighter version, unless he wore it before make-up was added. Mind you, I still puzzle how anyone unconscious and seriously injured is stripped and put hospital togs in the Enterprise sick bay.

In ‘The Omega Glory’, the authors comment that McCoy’s chemical analysis of the crystallised humans on the USS Exeter was rather way off what it should have been. I’d have to do some sums but they were dehydrated so any oxygen, hydrogen and water would have evaporated so the chemicals wouldn’t be quite the same. This isn’t quite the same as the Andromedans did in ‘By Any Other Name’ where they compacted everything.

I’m not sure if I agree with the authors that Elann, the Dohlman of Elas, in ‘Elaan Of Troyius’ was its planet’s ruler as she was under orders to marry the leader of Troyius which tends to suggest there was someone higher up on her home planet. They do make a better observation that this was probably the first interracial kiss on ‘Star Trek’, albeit with an oriental than the black Uhura.

With ‘Spock’s Brain’, I presume the Vulcan was chosen because his brain could survive outside of his body. It was hardly like Kara was scouring the galaxy for a new ‘controller’, just luck that the Enterprise was flying past in their vicinity.

Something that struck me about ‘In There In Truth No Beauty?’ was how was Federation engineer Laurence Marvick supposed to live on Medusa while he was there getting information? Wouldn’t that have driven him mad either down there or being solitary in a spaceship about it?

I hadn’t really thought about the similarities between ‘The Paradise Syndrome’ and ‘For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky’ before and I don’t just mean the lookalike meteorites but with Season 3 on its last legs, similar plots isn’t that surprising. As to McCoy’s fatal illness, I would have thought it would have made more sense to have taken him to Omicron Ceti III from the story ‘This Side Of Paradise’ where the pollen restores the body and a firm few slaps around the face to get him back to normal after being cured.

Did I say this book is full of photographs. I loved them pointing out in ‘Day Of The Dove’ where there was a second Klingon woman in the background and showing the evidence.

Walter ‘Matt’ Jeffries is mentioned a lot throughout this book and I’m glad they included his photo on page 315. The same also applies to costume designer William Theisis. Something else I hadn’t known was Kyle actor John Winston was a Yorkshireman and the only British actor on the show which was a bit rare in the 60s with only David McCallum being more prominent on a different show.

Just so you pay attention, the authors point out the reuse of props and such throughout the series to be economical with costs throughout the seasons. There is only two references to the more recent revised special effects version of the show with two backgrounds photos shown. Probably the most radically different was Flint’s castle in ‘Requiem For Methuselah’ no longer using Whitlock’s painting from ‘The Cage’.

Oddly, with the merchandise, they probably didn’t know that Marvel Comics did their version before DC Comics.

Although I don’t think the intent of the authors was to cover everything original ‘Star Trek’ with this book, you can tell by the length of this review that I either learnt something, made different connections or occasionally disagreed. Having watched the series again after Leonard Nimoy’s death, a lot of what I was reading was still in my head and just augmented my editorial for this month. Undoubtedly, the regular Trek fans will know much of the content of this book and after being out for 6 years probably own a copy. If you missed it the first time around, the book is still out there and worth adding to your collection.

GF Willmetts

January 2016

(pub: Abrams Books, 2010. 370 page illustrated indexed oblong hardback. Price: £21.99 (UK), $35.00 (US), $43.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-8109-9172-9)

check out website: www.abramsbooks.com

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Category: Books, Star Trek, TV

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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