When Star Trek ended everyone thought, that was it. Syndication proved otherwise. Soon it was on every night and the first fans were telling people, “I told you it was good.” Or new viewers were asking, “Why didn’t we know about this and why is it not still on.” People loved the stories and action. It was both dramatic and exciting. This is the “it” I mentioned earlier. They showed other writers of television, as well as the studios themselves, that this could be done and have a possibility of being profitable. More and more people began writing what they really wanted to write. There has been some good and some bad like anything else, but the writing gloves came off more or less. (I know censors have been and always will be there for television.) I am talking about dramatic content becoming broader as to what was acceptable on television. It was a wonderful thing. That response to Gene Rodenberry’s vision has brought us many great television shows.
There has been; Battlestar Galactica, (new and old). Babylon 5, Farscape, many more Star Trek series and more to come of those I am sure, the quintessential Sci-Fi series, The X-Files, Warehouse 13, and on and on. The confidence and belief it would be allowed on Television came from the success of the original Star Trek. It is what I have come to think of as the Beatles effect. The Beatles began writing and playing what they wanted and it worked so others followed that path. J.R.R. Tolkien did it for fantasy literature by reinvigorating old style faerie tales and many have followed that path as well. Every now and then a particular genre of art gets a boost from serious talent and it is never the same again.
Like Tolkien and especially the Beatles, culture was affected as well. Think about that for a minute. Our whole culture was affected by a t.v. show that only lasted for 79 episodes. Everyone has seen a Star Trek episode unless they have never seen a t.v. especially now a day with five different television series and god knows how many episodes of some kind of Star Trek. I have heard there are those who deny ever watching an episode. Like I said, they don’t own a TV. Or they are one of that who have probably seen an episode or two and just thinks it is a badge of honor to say they never saw one. Even the people who truly have never watched any Star Trek know about it. Most everyone is familiar with the names Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy. Others who have seen a few episodes would also know the names of Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, and Scotty. Beam me up Scotty is a phrase everyone knows. That is truly a part of our culture.
So, as I thank the Beatles for Led Zeppelin, J.R.R. Tolkien for Terry Brooks, I thank Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek for The X-Files. I hope the journeys continue to go where no one has gone before.
image from fanpop.com
To continue the Sci-Fi theme for this week; let’s talk about Star Trek shall we? I will be sticking to the original series for this post, although feel free to add you own bits on anything relating to Sci-Fi in the comment section. What do think of when you think of the original Star trek? Cheesy acting, stories, and special effects that can be done on a camera phone today? Yeah that is the usual response I get. But think about it for a moment. Those special effects were better than anything else out at the time. 40 years from now people will be scoffing at digital recordings and the current HD. It was the stories in the original series that keeps the Star Trek universe alive today. Those cheesy, moralistic, wonderful stories that proved it could be done. (The first two seasons anyway. I make no allowances for most of the third.) What was “it” that could be done? Real story telling in the Sci-fi genre is “it”.
Sci-Fi books had been doing “it” since the beginning. There is H.G. Wells and Mary Shelly to name just two for now. Even the movies of the day were more stylistic with the writing, but television was a whole other ball of wax. Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits were the big shows and they were fantastic, yet they had different characters and completely different stories every week. Episodic television, in the Sci-Fi genre, was pretty barren. The comparison I am going to use is the old Lost in Space, the show, not the movie.
That show had two things, what could charitably be called the monster of the week, and a kid who was annoying and cutesy. Nothing else was ever accepted by the networks until Star Trek came along and it took Gene Rodenberry, the creator of Star Trek, at trip to several networks and the promise he could do it on the cheap. Once he got it going however, and hired the right writers, he started something that will not end.
Star Trek never had a standard ‘monster of the week”. The monsters on Star Trek were different. In the episode, The Devil in the Dark, there is a monster killing miners. They eventually find out it is called a Horta, and the Horta is killing the miners because the miners are unknowingly killing the Horta’s children. Not a typical monster, you actually start rooting for the Horta by the end. Star Trek created think pieces. An action adventure story in space with moral conundrums buried in the episodes. Roddenberry managed to give the studio action, they did not notice he slipped in something more. Many of the 79 episodes were like this and that is what changed the television landscape forever. Tomorrow I will tell you my thoughts on how I think that happened.
What do you think?
image from fanpop.com
English: Logo from the television program Star Trek: TOS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I can, and have complained about movies not living up to the book they are based on. It is a common occurrence that happens far to frequently. Books made from movies/television, is an entirely different thing. With adaptations from movies to books, the original can be enhanced. They are usually based on the screenplays the movies are made from so it will fill in gaps that may have been in the movies due to edits. As long as the writer has a good grasp on the characters, the book will be a fun ride.
Adaptations from television shows are even better. Again, the writer needs a good grasp on the character’s, (most writers who write these are fans of the shows so that helps.) and with that you can read new adventures and drama from beloved character’s. It is a win win. Star Trek has many books adapted from the shows that are amazing adventures that follow the cannon. The X-Files also has a few that build off of the show. Hercules, Xena, Doctor Who, they all have book series based on the show that are fantastic. So if you are looking for something new from an old favorite, try these adaptations. It is well worth your time and can bring further enjoyment from shows you have always loved.