That Wacky Redhead

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Brainbin, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. anon_user anonymous member

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    Yay, update! Looks like TTL's version of the Mary Tyler Moore Show will potentially feature in a future update.
    Oh, 'Turn-On.' I've heard about that.
    Beatles reference spotted: "Luckily, she got by with a little help from her friends."
     
  2. Marta Sáenz de Aguilera Banned

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    How's Family Affair doing?
    Will Anissa Jones's death be butterflied away?
     
  3. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

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    Yay, comment! :D

    Suffice it to say, we'll be hearing a great deal about the various projects that Grant Tinker will be developing at Paramount.

    Very good, but that's just one of many. Come on, Beatles fans, I know you're out there!

    If my mother were reading this timeline, that would probably be one of the first questions she asked.

    "Family Affair" was IOTL the #5 show on the air for three seasons in a row: 1967-68, 1968-69, and 1969-70. ITTL, it also held that position in 1967-68. I have to finalize the 1968-69 schedule before I determine its position for that season, but it's going to finish in the top ten.

    As for poor Anissa Jones... to put it bluntly, the producers and network executives just didn't care about her well-being. And from what I can deduce, her home life was no picnic either (her brother also died of a drug overdose). Sadly, I don't think I can save her. The culture of child actor abuse was rampant in Hollywood: just look at "Diff'rent Strokes" for more examples. And after the show ended, she seemed resigned to her fate. So the answer is no. She won't be catching any butterflies :(

    I'm going to write up a master post for 1968-69, and if it's too long, I'll divide it into a series of "vignettes". But it might not be - all the Star Trek details will be kept to an appendix, and for the first time it's looking like there will be no mention of the titular Wacky Redhead or her exploits. As promised, the season 2 production appendix for Star Trek will be the next update. It'll probably be of interest only to Trekkies and hardcore pop culture enthusiasts, but you never know. After that, it's a busy year ahead!
     
  4. Falkenburg CMII Donor

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    Hmm, didn't spot any other Beatles references. Too subtle for me. :eek:

    The fate of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. was perhaps unavoidable, given its' descent into camp-ness.

    On the plus side, it could serve as an object lesson to the Star Trek team, saving them from the same fate.

    Any chance of a State of the Nation overview for broadcast media?
    As previously noted, I'm familiar with a number of the Shows (from later re-runs) but have little idea of the landscape in which events are unfolding.

    What are the relative standings of ABC/NBC/CBS/PBS ITTL? (Ratings, Prestige, Public Perceptions).

    Likewise the situation for 'Production Houses' like Desilu and Paramount (and others).

    Falkenburg
     
  5. Marta Sáenz de Aguilera Banned

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    Thanks. It's a pity about Anissa Jones not surviving in this TL. One big butterfly that probably would hit Family Affair is that IOTL, ABC almost picked it up after CBS cancelled it after 5 years but instead chose to stick with the Brady Bunch. ITTL they probably do pick it up and the show runs a couple of years longer, affecting Anissa's life somewhat. I'd like to think that ABC - unlike CBS - wouldn't force Anissa to strap down her breasts or keep her character of Buffy the tallest, oldest-looking 8 year old on the planet.

    CBS had some really interesting issues when it came to the female child actresses on their series - just look at poor Dawn (Dodie Douglas) Lyn on My Three Sons, another victim of the sort of things they did to Anissa Jones - in the wedding episode of M3S you can even see Dawn's underwear because of the extremely short toddler-type dress they had forced her to wear.
     
  6. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

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    Don't worry about it. Besides, I'd rather be too subtle than too obvious. Makes the upcoming bombshells all the more shocking :cool:

    That's exactly what it's going to do, along with "Lost in Space". So at least your show died for a good cause! ;)

    All right, I think I can give you a "primer" of the situation:

    For most of television history, CBS has been the Ratings King. IOTL, their only sustained interregnum was NBC's reign from the mid-1980s to the late-1990s. This era is no exception. Of course, once demographics came into play in the late-1960s (i.e. right now) people started noticing that their audience tended to be older and rural, and therefore undesirable to advertisers. In a couple of years we're going to be dealing with something called the Rural Purge, where CBS will cancel a number of shows, some of which are still quite popular, because they're popular with the wrong demographics. They want young and urban.

    For now, however, CBS has been making very staid, unadventurous programming choices. NBC and ABC are more willing to take chances on original ideas, including Star Trek and "Laugh-In" for NBC, or "Batman" and "The Invaders" for ABC, to give a few examples. In some cases, this pays off big-time (IOTL, "Laugh-In" was the #1 show of 1968-69 and 1969-70; "Batman" was also a huge hit). In other cases... well, you may have heard of "My Mother the Car". If you haven't, believe me, that's a good thing.

    Critics don't care for most of the "stodgy", "hayseed", and "backward" CBS lineup. They are cosmopolitan snobs, after all; the exact opposite of the network's core audience. NBC and ABC are a lot more "hip" and "edgy"; "Laugh-In", again, is the perfect example of this. On the other hand, sister series "Turn-On", which aired on ABC, is what happens when you get too far ahead of yourself. (More on that later.)

    PBS does not yet exist; the funding to secure its creation won't be made available until 1969.

    General trends in this era are "wackiness" in sitcoms and, of course, "camp" in dramatic and action-adventure series. Some schools of thought believe this to be a reaction to the social turbulence of the mid- to late-1960s; escapist entertainment has always been more appealing in trying times. In the next few years, we'll be seeing a growing trend towards realism and character-based stories. IOTL this trend resulted in the great sitcoms of the 1970s (and all time); we'll see how many of them show up ITTL, and how different they are.

    As of the beginning of the 1968-69 season, Desilu has three shows in production: Star Trek, "Mission: Impossible", and "Mannix". These all have a reputation as serious, thought-provoking programming that is also exciting and engaging to all audiences. The company is walking a very fine line. If the Desilu of this era existed today, it would have the reputation for quality of a Valve Corporation or a Pixar Studios; imagine that kind of buzz. That Wacky Redhead is an excellent studio chief; she was IOTL, which makes it all the more disappointing that she chose to continue acting instead, living in the shadow of her former self when she could have kept making a real difference.

    Paramount was the last major film studio to get into the television game. IOTL, they did this by absorbing Desilu into their TV division in December of 1967. ITTL, with that option unavailable, Bluhdorn has to start from scratch. Former 20th Century Fox executive Douglas S. Cramer holds the same position ITTL that he held IOTL for Paramount (in fact, he was executive in charge of production for both Star Trek and "The Brady Bunch"); Grant Tinker, a former NBC executive who was involved in the development of Star Trek in 1964, decides to join forces with Bluhdorn ITTL rather than expend the effort and resources necessary to create his own company (OTL MTM Productions). As of the beginning of the 1968-69 season, they have a few promising ideas in development but nothing in production.

    I hope this helps :)

    I'll definitely keep that in mind. We'll have to see where we are in 1971. I'll keep any ideas I have on the subject under my hat, because there's going to be a lot happening between "now" and "then"...
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
  7. Chipperback Catherverse 2017: Weirdtopia Continues

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    You are a TV buff.. Keep this coming!
     
  8. Falkenburg CMII Donor

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    It certainly does. Thank you very much. :)

    Thinking of other Shows, could Desilu make something more of Rod Serlings' Post-Twilight career? (Night Tales? Night Something?).

    IIRC Desilu was involved with the Twilight Zone.
    (I could just be mixing things up in my mind, though. :eek:)

    Kojak should be coming along in the early 70s (?). Maybe TWR can get a piece of that action? :cool:

    Falkenburg
     
  9. Orville_third Banned

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    With Schlatter failing at "Laugh-In", does this mean he might meet Jim Henson sooner or not meet him at all? The two of them were planning a version of "The Muppet Show" at one point.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ftqdwlw_9kU
    Of course, if Henson and the Muppets appear somewhere else, either on their own or with someone else, it could change the general tone of Muppets...and perhaps SNL too. (After all Henson created the "Land of Gorch"...)
     
  10. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

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    Glad you noticed :D

    Well, all right, if you insist :p

    Desilu does appear to have been involved in the development of The Twilight Zone, including having Desi Arnaz as the narrator of the original pilot (can you imagine?)... But Serling self-produced.

    As for "Night Gallery"... that's an intriguing possibility.

    Ah, Kojak. "Who loves ya, baby?" indeed.

    Another intriguing possibility. For when we get to 1973. (That's five years off. A lot can change between "now" and "then".)

    Remember, in the entertainment industry, you're only as big as your last hit. Schlatter had "Laugh-In" IOTL, and that still wasn't enough to make a sale. It just seems that American executives weren't interested in the Muppets; we'll have to see if this attitude will carry into TTL.

    I suppose, if "Turn-On" does well, Schlatter at least has that going for him... :rolleyes:

    Thank you to everyone for all your great comments! The first production appendix (not a "real" update, FYI) should be ready tonight.
     
  11. Orville_third Banned

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    It should be noted this was in the mid 1970's, after Sesame Street and after Schlatter went to work for CBS. CBS was semi-interested enough to recommend the show for their O&O stations. And "Turn-On" just might help.
    BTW, if "Turn-On" goes through, TV would look VERY different...(No wonder they made faces at that moment in the video...)
     
  12. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

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    I'm not going to explicitly reveal the fate of "Turn-On" before its time, but suffice it to say that I'm not writing an ASB timeline here.

    The production appendix will be ready within a few hours. I've got all the information down; I just have do some trimming and paring.
     
  13. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

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    Appendix A, Part I: Star Trek, Season 2 (1967-68)
    Appendix A, Part I: Star Trek, Season 2 (1967-68)

    I'll be doing one production appendix for each season of Star Trek, starting with the second. The differences between OTL and TTL Season 1 are negligible (basically it's just "Operation - Annihilate!" and "The City on the Edge of Forever" switching places in production and broadcast order). We'll start with an overview of the sweeping changes before we get down to the nitty-gritty. (My editorial comments and OTL points of comparison will be highlighted in RED, and placed in brackets.) I warn you now, this post is going to be drier than the Sahara. Also, you'll need to have at least a casual familiarity with the show and its episodes to appreciate it on any level.

    ---

    Ratings for the show are nothing to write home about, but they're stable, and demographic breakdowns show them to be exactly the right kind of viewers: young, affluent professionals and intellectuals with high discretionary incomes. This, combined with strong support from the studio, means that there is no serious doubt about the show coming back for a third season. The typical episode places in the 40s in weekly rankings, managing to break the Top 40 on a few occasions. (IOTL, the show never reached #50, let alone #40, in the second season. Demographics were excellent and the network knew this, but overall viewership was low enough that the pall of cancellation hung over everyone. Morale was abysmal. Most of the senior production staff left the show for dead, making other arrangements for the following season; many of the actors did not expect to return either. The show was famously saved by a massive letter-writing campaign, which had such high turnout that NBC actually announced Star Trek's renewal to the viewing audience at the end of one episode.)

    The production budget per episode is about $195,000. This is a slight raise from $190,000 in season one. (IOTL, it was instead a slight decrease, to $185,000. As a result, the average production quality is going to be noticeably higher, even notwithstanding other changes.)

    There are virtually no changes to the senior production staff. All of the "Big Five" remain in their positions from the start of the season to the end, with all of them carrying on into the third season. (Gene L. Coon left in the middle of the second season IOTL, because of a deal he had with Universal. The other four remained until the end of season 2: Solow then left because he was made redundant by Desilu's absorption into Paramount; Fontana left to pursue other writing opportunities; and Roddenberry left because NBC chose "Laugh-In" over Star Trek for the plum Monday night timeslot. Only Justman carried on into season 3.)

    Other returning staff include production assistant Edward K. Milkis, Gregg Peters (promoted from Assistant Director to Unit Production Manager), art directors Matt Jefferies and Rolland Brooks, cinematographer Jerry Finnerman, costume designer William Ware Theiss, prop master Irving Feinberg, and (unofficially) creature and effects designer Wah Chang. (IOTL, Both Brooks and Chang left the show partway through the second season. Chang, for his part, had a particularly convoluted arrangement with the producers in which he did pretty much everything under the table. His contributions to the show were immeasurable; his staying on might be even more important than Coon staying on. Between the two of them, they'll boost the rest of the second season well above what it was IOTL.)

    DeForest Kelley, as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, is added to the opening credits, alongside William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock. All three appear in every episode of the season. The only new major role is that of Ensign Pavel Chekov, played by Walter Koenig. He joins the other regulars - James Doohan as Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, George Takei as Lt. Sulu, Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura, Majel Barrett as Nurse Chapel, and John Winston as Lt. Kyle. (Who? He was the Transporter Chief. IOTL, he made seven appearances in the second season. ITTL, he makes ten appearances - one more than Barrett as Chapel does. Once again, more money means that they can afford to bring him in more often. He'll be one of several OTL peripheral characters to have a larger role in TTL.) Takei misses several episodes in the middle of the second season to film The Green Berets - other actors, primarily Koenig, but to a lesser extent Doohan and Winston, step in to fill the void created by his absence.

    The season ends on a high note as Star Trek (or, Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon, to be specific) takes home the Emmy for Outstanding Dramatic Series. Leonard Nimoy also wins the Emmy for Supporting Actor. ("Mission: Impossible" won Series for the second year in a row IOTL. I'm giving it to Star Trek instead for the reasons that I mentioned in my previous update. Leonard Nimoy is winning Supporting Actor because, really, it's a shame that he didn't IOTL. And considering who actually did win that year - Milburn Stone for "Gunsmoke"?! Really? Anyway, don't forget that "Amok Time", Nimoy's bravura turn of the season, was more widely viewed ITTL.)

    Twenty-six episodes are produced in the second season. (We'll only be covering episodes that differ from their OTL counterparts in non-trivial ways... or have some other significance. The episodes are listed in production order.)

    "The Doomsday Machine", written by noted science fiction author Norman Spinrad, is a Moby-Dick-in-space yarn that stars William Windom as the Ahab figure, Commodore Matt Decker. It marked the beginning of Spinrad's association with the show. (And, IOTL, the end of it. ITTL, the higher budget and the continued presence of Brooks help elevate the effects on the "whale", a planet-killer machine, to a level where Spinrad is merely ambivalent, rather than disdainful.)

    "Mirror, Mirror", in which Kirk, Bones, Scotty, and Uhura, while on a routine diplomatic mission, are accidentally sent to a parallel reality where the Enterprise is the flagship of a brutal and unscrupulous Empire. They have to find a way back, but the new, bearded Mr. Spock may be on to them! (No real changes, except that IOTL, the woman who was cast as Love Interest of the Week Marlena, Barbara Luna, became ill and they had to change around the whole schedule so that she could recover. ITTL, this doesn't happen.)

    "The Trouble with Tribbles", the first episode written by the promising young writer, David Gerrold (Yes, he'll be writing more than just the one episode ITTL), tells the story of Captain Kirk becoming sidetracked by a diplomatic dispute and the need to protect a shipment of grain. It gets complicated when Kirk's old rival, the Klingon Captain Kor, arrives on the scene. (John Colicos, who played Kor, introduced in "Errand of Mercy", kept being invited back to reprise his role, but was always busy. Here he isn't. Thank Barbara Luna! Here his First Officer is named Koloth instead.) And then there are these cute little fluffballs...

    (Every episode from "Journey to Babel" on will be subtly to moderately different from OTL, as Coon is remaining as Producer.)

    Paul Schneider makes his third writing contribution to the series with "Tomorrow, the Universe", popularly known as "The One with the Space Nazis". (IOTL, the "Nazi" episode was instead "Patterns of Force", written by John Meredyth Lucas, who had replaced Coon as Producer.) Writer John Meredyth Lucas is responsible for the episode "The Lost Star", a well-made but unremarkable episode treading familiar ground for the series, similar to previous episodes like "The Apple" and "Return of the Archons". (This is what he gets to make in compensation. Like another late season 2 episode, "The Ultimate Computer", it's actually quite good but can't help feel a little stale.)

    Spinrad also writes "Of Gods and Men", which serves as the season finale. The story of a Federation official (played, surprisingly enough, by Milton Berle) who installs himself as a God among primitives is viewed as a highlight of the season. (IOTL, Spinrad abandoned this script, with the working title "He Walked Among Us", dissatisfied with rewrites to both it and "The Doomsday Machine". Here, he's just barely willing enough to see this through. It's similar in plot to "The Omega Glory", which is never made ITTL, but with much better execution.)

    (Roddenberry doesn't attempt to create "Assignment: Earth" as a backdoor pilot. That's two of the worst episodes of Season 2 gone.)

    ---

    So there's a detailed overview of season 2 of TTL Star Trek. In short: the budget is slightly higher, ratings are moderately better, morale among the cast and crew is a lot stronger, and the average quality of the episodes is considerably greater. The show will be moving into its third season with critical acclaim, impressive demographics, and Emmy recognition in its arsenal, as it settles into a plum timeslot. Yessir, everything's coming up roses for Star Trek!

    I'll probably be making more appendices when the occasion calls for them. But coming up next time: the beginning of the 1968-69 season!
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2011
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  14. Falkenburg CMII Donor

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    That didn't seem too 'Dry' to me. Far from it. ;)

    The formatting is good too. Very easy to read and differentiate.

    Beyond the consequences for Star Trek itself, the example of a successful and confident team could draw talents to Desilu from near and far.

    Flappety, flappety, flap. :D

    Falkenburg

     
  15. Orville_third Banned

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    You just butterflied away the famous interracial kiss...
     
  16. Mal-3 Member

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    Well, let's be fair. The famous interracial kiss was attached to a pretty crappy episode, and I'm sure since Trek's doing much better TTL there'll be chances for something similar in the third (or fourth! or fifth!) season.
     
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  17. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

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    Thank you for your support :eek:

    And thank you for confirming this. I knew my standard footnotes wouldn't make sense, because the footnotes would be longer than the body of the text, and I'm not writing a research paper. But brackets on their own would be too confusing, so why not add colour? I went with red because my editorial comments are the "Word of God", so to speak.

    You raise a good point, but remember that in Hollywood, success breeds imitation. Once it becomes clear that Desilu is doing well by their policy of original ideas and relative creative freedom, the other TV studios will follow. It's similar to what happened with American movies in the 1970s - the "New Hollywood" era - only we'll be avoiding the wretched excess it culminated in, simply because there will be some restrictions and controls still in place.

    You ain't seen nothin' yet :cool:

    Excellent point, Mal. (And thank you for commenting!) "Plato's Stepchildren" is actually a terrific microcosm for OTL Season 3: the kernel of a good idea, utterly ruined by crippling camp and sheer incompetence. It contains iconic scenes that, when placed in their proper context, are completely capsized. It meant well, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

    But the double-edged sword is that we owe the Turd Season so much. If it hadn't happened, Star Trek wouldn't have been syndicated!

    I like your optimism :cool:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone! I'll let you know more about when and what to expect from the 1968-69 update as it develops.
     
  18. Barbarossa Rotbart Well-Known Member

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    With Star Trek more successfull than in OTL, there will be clones.
     
  19. anon_user anonymous member

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    One thing to consider - ITTL, there isn't a dramatic example of fans saving a show through mailing lots of letters. Not yet, anyway. Will that happen at some point? What implications might this have on fan culture?
     
  20. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

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    Now you're thinking like a Hollywood executive.

    I realize that calling something "inevitable" is verboten, but I'm going to do it anyway. Yes, it will definitely happen at some point. All we need is a show with a strong cult following, but limited mainstream success. Those haven't exactly been rare :p

    It looks like 1968-69, which will be a single update, followed by at least two appendices, will be ready within the next couple of days.