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These Are The Voyages, TOS, Season One (These Are The Voyages series Book 1) (English Edition) eBook Kindle
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History is hard to pin down, especially when it can be viewed from so many perspectives. With that in mind, Marc Cushman has done the most remarkable history of “Star Trek TOS” that I’ve read in my long association and love affair with iconic Trek. Marc has talked to those who were really there in the trenches during the three seasons that Trek graced prime time NBC television. He has read thousands of documents and reconstructed how this show began, its initial growing pains, and the harshness of its last gasps for life. Riddled with quotes from Bobby Justman’s infamous memos and crackling with notes from actors, writers, directors, ADs (assistant directors, the heart of the set) and countless other production folk, Marc’s trilogy of “These are the Voyages” books read like high drama. We are brought right into studio and sound stages as the show is conceived, reconceived, cast, recast, and finally bursts into the world’s consciousness.
I was lucky enough to have written for Star Trek, and even luckier to have had a thirty year television writing and producing career jump-started by breaking into Trek with “The Tholian Web”. I went through the process of “spec-ing” a script, selling the idea and then writing the script through a final draft. I was amazed that Marc seemed to have been in the script editor’s room as that script was pounded into the episode that was finally shot. I know from first-hand experience that he has captured the whole process as no other Trek historian has been able to do. That doesn’t mean that other books haven’t brilliantly elucidated some aspect of Trek, whether as actors, writers, producers and below the line talent, but it does mean that Marc has given us a PH.D. quality analysis of the whole enchilada.
Sometimes this set of books show us things we might not want to know, such as realizing that Harlan Ellison’s original wonderful script, “City of the Edge of Forever,” did NOT make it to the screen. That much loved show was dismantled piece by piece as the producers tried to fit the story into a budget that could not handle Harlan’s concept. Even with a WGA award winning sci-fi writer, the exigencies of money and production won out, and yet we still got one of the best Star Trek episodes ever aired. We learn, step by step, how that script morphed, and sometimes that learning is painful.
On the other hand, Marc displays much grace and veracity in showing that the much maligned writing and producing staff members of the third season were not the failures they have often been rumored to be. I knew Fred Freiberger and Arthur Singer. I worked with them throughout my career, and I found them to be both knowledgeable and creative writers. They were bound by network demands, budget chains and Paramount disinterest in ways that former producers and writers were not, or at least not to the same extent. I watched the wonderful director Ralph Senensky get fired from “The Tholian Web” for taking the time he had to have and doing the job they were paying him to do, when shows from the first two seasons went over in days and dollars and did not lose their directors.
One of the major difficulties for any writer is accepting criticism. We all take it personally, even if the comments are usually offered with the best intentions. After working in Hollywood for years, I taught screenwriting at UCLA and UCR. If Marc’s books had been available when I was teaching, I would have required all three books as reading for my classes because of the wealth of script critiques held in the memos and letters sent between production, studio and writers. If you are thinking of buying a “how-to” book on scripting or production, buy these books. You will find a treasury of information between the book covers.
Finally, in summation, Marc Cushman has reported the problems of the third season with a wise eye and deft pen. He’s commented on Trek in perhaps the most riveting account of a show we thought we already knew and taught us there was so much more for us to learn and love. Thanks for all those hours, Marc Cushman. This is the ultimate Trek Bible.
As just one example of the fascinating level of detail: Robert Bloch's script for "What Are Little Girls Made of?" had to be rewritten because Bloch had heavily relied on three of his own older short stories in creating the script -- a fact not disclosed to the STAR TREK producers, but discovered by their outside research firm. No real problem, right? Except Bloch didn't own the copyright to those stories; the magazine they were published in did. There was also concern that the episode infringed on an earlier "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" episode, and so the twist ending -- that Korby was an android, too -- was added, and not by Bloch.
The book is illustrated with lots of small (although sharp) photographs, many of which are "trims" -- unaired beginnings and endings of scenes, or otherwise unused footage, often taken from old Lincoln Enterprise film clips; others are behind-the-scene photos or publicity shots from other series of guest actors.
I co-edited (with David Gerrold) a book about STAR TREK myself (Boarding the Enterprise: Transporters, Tribbles, And the Vulcan Death Grip in Gene Rodenberry's Star Trek (Smart Pop series) and I've read every previous making-of TREK book. I say again: none come close to this level of detail.
The book itself is a large-format, handsome, well-produced, print-on-demand edition, fully professional -- and worth every penny. Five stars.
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