Chapter 1: Introduction
Onto the Next Phase
A Star Trek Production Timeline
A Star Trek Production Timeline
Lou Schiemer sat down at his desk, ready to get to work. He just couldn’t help but grin. He had secured a great contract that was going to help continue his company’s growth. Filmation had done plenty of projects before, and even some of note. But this, this would help propel them to the top.
Filmation now had a deal with Paramount Pictures and Gene Roddenberry to produce an animated continuation of Star Trek. They were on incredibly generous terms, Roddenberry would handle script writing and have creative control, Paramount would finance 75,000 dollars per episode, and all Filmation had to do was make the episodes. That is to say, voice work and animation. He already had a plan in mind for how production would go. They would hire Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelly to do the main trio, then hire James Doohan and Majel Barret to voice everyone else.
Though many didn’t see it, he knew Star Trek was a strong franchise to produce for. So long as they could balance appealing to older fans and younger kids, this would be a big hit. And considering the writing team Roddenberry was reassembling, Schiemer knew they could.
His assistant poked her head into his office. “Uhm, Mister Schiemer?”
He snapped out of his daydreaming and looked at her. “Yes?”
“Leonard Nimoy is on line one.”
Lou frowned. “Thank you.”
What could he want? They were all but finished with actor negotiations, and none showed any sign of desiring more money or wanting to drop out. Curious, he picked up the phone.
“Mr. Nimoy! How may I help you?”
“Hello Mr. Schiemer, I trust you are having a pleasant day?”
“I am, thank you.”
“Mr. Schiemer… It has come to my attention that you intend to remove George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Walter Koenig from your upcoming animated Star Trek…”
“Well…. Yes… we… we don’t have a ton of money, see-” Lou attempted to interject. He now had a hunch where this was going, and it was concerning.
Nimoy continued. “...I believe these three characters, and their actors, are the strong proof of the utopian diversity of the future Star Trek professes. Where men and women are treated equally. Where people of all races and all nationalities are treated equally. To remove them would remove a core aspect of Star Trek…”
Again Lou attempted to jump in. “Well, y-yes, I agree. I-it’s just-”
Nimoy continued unimpeded. “... And I will not play Mr. Spock on your show unless all three are hired and receive fair wages.”
Lou hung his head. He had to think, fast. He couldn’t loose Mr. Spock, and he certainly couldn’t recast him, the fans would be up in arms. Yet the budget couldn’t fit 3 more regulars. Roddenberry would be up in arms if he lowered the animation budget any further. Would Paramount increase the budget? He doubted it. Think, think, think!
“I’ll… uh… I’ll see what I can do.” He said, decidedly unsure of himself.
“Thank you. I promise you Mr. Schiemer, you will not regret this decision.”
Lou sat back and rubbed his temples. He just hoped Leonard was right. Because this had thrown a significant monkey wrench into his plans.
Several Weeks Later
Lou Schiemer was both elated and deeply stressed. After some tense negotiations with the actors, Paramount, and Roddenberry, Paramount agreed to cover the actor’s salaries. Now the series had an 82,000$ per episode budget. That was easily the highest ever for an animated show. The studio really wanted to get Star Trek back on air. And Filmation had to deliver.
The good news was this actually left him with another character and three more actors to use, along with a few extra dollars to spend on animation. Though, this was no longer a simple animated spin-off of a popular show. It was now an investment from Paramount, and it would be seen by fans as the direct continuation to their favorite show. If it flopped, Filmation would have serious financial problems, and probably blacklisted by Paramount. This show had to be perfect.
Lou had spent far too long agonizing over the first few episodes with Ms. Fontana, the show’s script editor, producer, and de facto showrunner. Minute dialogue changes, episode order, budget allocation, titles, all of it was being picked through with a fine toothed comb. Meanwhile, Roddenberry and Paramount were still bickering about what to call the damn thing.
The first recording date in July loomed over him like the Sword of Damocles.
Right now, he had a different concern. Hal Sutherland, the director of the first season, had an early animation test to show him. Due to Filmation’s small size, Sutherland was also in charge of the animation and did all of the colorizing himself . He had seen some stills, some character art, and some early work, but this was beyond that. A near finished version of the opening. If he gave the greenlight, they would send this off to Paramount and Roddenberry for approval.
“Sword of Damocles… that’d be a fun episode title. Maybe too out there?” He mumbled to himself as he stepped into the conference table. It had a projector to display animation mounted in the center of the table.
“What was that Lou?” Hal called to him as he set the film into the projector.
“Nothing Hal.” He sat down and looked up his subordinate and friend. “I'm just worried about the show, that's all."
"Don't be. We got a great cast, we got great writers, and we got amazing animators," He gestured to himself. "It'll be great!"
"Right. Yeah. It will be. It will be." Lou let out a deep breath and turned his head towards the screen. Hal seemed to finish playing with the projector. "You all set then?”
“Just about. I think we did a bang-up job. It’s almost a one to one recreation of the original opening, you’ll love it.”
He smiled and let go of some of the tension he was holding. Everything was going to be okay. This would prove it. “I bet I will.”
Hal pressed play and sat next to him. A field of stars appeared, and though there was no sound, he could easily fill in Kirk’s monologue with his mind. The Enterprise made a flyby in all of her glory. Except...
Except she was pink.
He had long known about Hal Sutherland’s colorblindness, but he never thought it would become this much of an issue. He turned to his subordinate and raised an eyebrow. Hal looked back at him and smiled obliviously. All of that stress and worry fell back on him with twice as much force.
“Hal…” He buried his face in his hands. He didn’t even know where to start on this.
“I’m really sorry to say this… but I think we’re going to have to hire a new colorist.”
Hello and welcome! This is a Star Trek timeline that’ll explore an alternate development of the franchise. As you can probably guess from the title, it’ll be connected to Phase II in some capacity. The usual disclaimers are present, I do not own Star Trek, that is the property of Viacom-CBS. Everything I say here are my own words, not the words of anyone mentioned. Fair use and all that.
There are two PoDs here, both tied to making the animated series a bit better, or at least, a bit more successful. One is that Leonard Nimoy insists the entire cast is brought back, and is successful. OTL, he insisted that Nichelle Nichols and George Takei be brought back, but Walter Koenig was left out. And the second is a rather unusual problem. The animated series had several colorization problems in its first season, notably making grey things like Starships or hostile alien uniforms pink. This was due to the colorist for the first season, Hal Sutherland, being colorbind. Here it’s spotted sooner and seen as a problem, so he’s replaced and it’s fixed. Thus, no pink tribbles.
With a slightly higher budget, another cast member, and more care going into it, the animated series is certainly going to develop differently. And who knows what this spells for the future of the franchise.
Any thoughts or advice or criticism, please, let me know.