Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Brainbin, Nov 18, 2011.
Trekkies are going to be even bigger than OTL.
I have it on my resume!
Oh yeah, subscribed!
I like the red notes, as an Australian who doesn't own a television and was born in the eighties, alot of the pop culture stuff can be troublesome.
I don't know if they'll be bigger per se - that would be hard to quantify, considering that Star Trek has one of the largest fanbases of anything in pop culture history - but how the fandom is organized will be different. IOTL, Trekkies have always been dominated by the hardcore, die-hard contingent - to the point that they often seem resentful of those "boom periods" of mainstream success.
ITTL, it'll be more along the lines of Star Wars or, more recently, Harry Potter - the hardcore fans will be important, and they will make their opinions known (and try to make them law), but the fandom will be just too vast and too diverse for them to get away with it.
Ah, but you haven't won any of my No-Prizes! How do you really know that those other No-Prizes are worth nothing to employers?
Thank you very much
I'm glad you like them, and that they seem to be going over well in general. I'm lucky in that, though I'm also from one of the Commonwealth Realms, I'm from the only one that has almost the entirety of American network programming on its own networks. Indeed, we're even considered part of the same market for movies and video games - though not TV, which has always disappointed me
This geographical advantage - our shared broadcast history - helps me overcome the handicap that I too was born in the Eighties, so I'm obviously not holding your age against you. There is no excuse for not owning a television, though, sorry
If you do have any questions about anything that's happening, please don't hesitate to ask. Because I won't hesitate to answer
Brainbin This is HOT!
I grew up in 1970s, so I'm looking forward to see what TV looks like ITTL,
With that in mind...Four questions
1. Where would Norman Lear fit into all this?
2. Baba Wawa? What is her career like in all this?
3. What will be the state of "Standard and Practices" ITTL?
4. How is late-night television fare ITTL? Is there still "The Tonight Show"?
Careful you don't burn yourself then (And thank you.)
And I'm looking forward to seeing your reactions! If you can't tell already, there are going to be lots of changes.
Excellent question. Just as IOTL, we'll be hearing a great deal from Norman Lear. The story of how he developed his magnum opus alone warrants its own post - it's so convoluted that it makes Star Trek look straightforward in comparison. (And yes, my British readers, I would be sure to mention the show's transatlantic origins.)
You'll remember from the OP that Wawa is hosting some kind of interview show or special in 1986, so that should give you some indication of where she's headed. At "present", she's a co-host on the Today Show. Whether or not she'll take a stab at being a Serious News Anchor, as she did IOTL, before sliding back into puff pieces remains to be seen.
It won't be going anywhere. Network television has always been the most tightly restricted and censored form of mass media, and that won't be changing ITTL. But, like with OTL, writers and producers will find ways to push the envelope.
Ever since Jack Paar famously quit "The Tonight Show" in 1962 (well before our POD), Johnny Carson has been the host. The show still airs from New York, as it did not move to California IOTL until 1972. At "present", it is being challenged in its late-night supremacy by "The Joey Bishop Show", starring that least-famous member of the Rat Pack and his sidekick, a fellow by the name of Regis Philbin. As far as the ratings go, however, it's no contest. (It never is; not for Johnny.)
It looks like the Season 3 production appendix will be ready tomorrow. It needs a little more spit and polish. However, while I was working on the post, I thought it would be fun to go into some detail about television ratings, and how they worked back in the days of classic TV. So I'm going to tell you what people watched in the 1968-69 season ITTL. See how many shows you recognize! And how many have long since been forgotten! You can expect that one to be ready tonight.
The Rating Game (1968-69)
The primary source of revenue in television is from advertising. Certain blocks of time are reserved during programming to be sold to advertisers who, in turn, make commercials to promote their goods or services. This replaced the previous system that was inherited from radio, and existed throughout the Golden Age of Television in the 1950s. Back then, each program had a dedicated sponsor, who would interrupt the narrative to promote their products, usually by way of having the show's stars act as pitchmen. During the era of Classic TV that followed, there were about five minutes of commercial time for every half-hour of programming. So half-hour shows had 25 minutes of content, hour-longs had 50 minutes, and so on.
Advertising being the primary source of revenue for an entire medium means that determining the rates for commercial spots becomes very important. Logically, any program with more viewers would have more expensive ad time. How do we determine what has more viewers? Well, we use a technique called audience measurement, which was pioneered by a man named Nielsen. The system he developed was named for him, and thus we have the Nielsen ratings, or simply the Nielsens.
A ratings point, or simply a rating, is the percentage of all television-owning households in a given market (like the United States). A 50 rating means that half of all televisions in that market are watching a given program; a 25 means that a quarter are, and so on. A share, which is usually given with a rating, is the percentage of all televisions that are currently turned on that are watching. Shares are considered less important than ratings, and are generally harder to come by, especially for historical data. The shows with the highest ratings are ranked accordingly. In this era, the magic number for rankings is 30 - you're a bona fide hit if you're in the Top 30 most-watched programs. This is similar to the music industry, with their emphasis on the Top 40.
Now I'll be providing you with the list of Top 30 Shows for the 1968-69 Season ITTL. Information will be provided in the following order: (Ranking) - (Full Name of Series) - (Network) - (Timeslot) - (Rating) - (Estimated Number of Households/Audience) - (Format and Genre). This will hopefully give you all a good idea of what people were watching at this time. (As always, editorial comments and comparisons to OTL will be highlighted in RED and placed in brackets after each entry.)
#1 - "Rowan & Martin's Laugh In" - NBC - Monday 8:30 - 31.8 - 18.5M - Hour-long, Variety (Aired on Monday at 8:00 IOTL. Ratings are virtually identical, because this was appointment television.)
#2 - "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." - CBS - Monday 8:30 - 26.9 - 15.7M - Half-hour, Sitcom (Aired on Friday at 9:00 IOTL. Ratings are lower, given the tougher competition.)
#3 - "Bonanza" - NBC - Sunday 9:00 - 26.6 - 15.5M - Hour-long, Western
#4 - "Mayberry R.F.D." - CBS - Monday 9:00 - 25.1 - 14.6M - Half-hour, Sitcom (Ratings are down slightly from OTL due to "Laugh-In" lasting until 9:30.)
#5 - "Family Affair" - CBS - Monday 9:30 - 24.7 - 14.4M - Half-hour, Sitcom (Ratings are down slightly from OTL as a two-pronged effect: lower ratings from the lead-in, and tougher competition.)
#6 - "Julia" - NBC - Tuesday 8:30 - 24.6 - 14.3M - Half-hour, Sitcom (Ranked at #7 IOTL)
#7 - "The Dean Martin Show" - NBC - Thursday 10:00 - 24.1 - 14.0M - Hour-long, Variety (Ranked at #8 IOTL)
#8 - "Gunsmoke" - CBS - Monday 7:30 - 23.6 - 13.75M - Hour-long, Western (Ranked at #6 IOTL; ratings are down slightly due to competition from a little show about going where no man has gone before.)
#9 - "The Beverly Hillbillies" - CBS - Wednesday 9:00 - 23.5 - 13.69M - Half-hour, Sitcom (Ranked at #10 IOTL)
#10 - "Mission: Impossible" - CBS - Sunday 10:00 - 23.4 - 13.63M - Hour-long, Action-Adventure (Ranked at #11 IOTL; ratings are up slightly due to greater care and investment from the parent studio.)
#11 - "Bewitched" - ABC - Thursday 8:30 - 23.3 - 13.573M - Half-hour, Sitcom (Ranked at #12 IOTL)
#12 - "The Red Skelton Hour" - CBS - Tuesday 8:30 - 23.3 - 13.572M - Hour-long, Variety (Ranked at #13 IOTL)
#13 - "My Three Sons" - CBS - Saturday 8:30 - 22.8 - 13.281M - Half-hour, Sitcom (Ranked at #14 IOTL)
#14 - "Green Acres" - CBS - Wednesday 8:30 - 22.8 - 13.280M - Half-hour, Sitcom (Ranked at #15 IOTL)
#15 - "Ironside" - NBC - Thursday 8:30 - 22.3 - 12.99M - Hour-long, Crime (Ranked at #16 IOTL)
#16 - "The Virginian" - NBC - Wednesday 7:30 - 21.8 - 12.699M - 90 minutes, Western (Ranked at #17 IOTL)
#17 - "The F.B.I." - ABC - Sunday 8:00 - 21.7 - 12.64M - Hour-long, Crime (Ranked at #18 IOTL)
#18 - "Dragnet" (formally "Dragnet 1969") - NBC - Thursday 9:30 - 21.4 - 12.47M - Hour-long, Crime (Ranked at #19 IOTL)
#19 - "Daniel Boone" - NBC - Thursday 7:30 - 21.3 - 12.41M - Hour-long, Action-Adventure (Ranked at #21 IOTL)
#20 - "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" - NBC - Sunday 7:30 - 21.3 - 12.40M - Hour-long, Anthology (Ranked at #22 IOTL)
#21 - "The Ed Sullivan Show" - CBS - Sunday 8:00 - 21.2 - 12.35M - Hour-long, Variety (Ranked at #23 IOTL)
#22 - "Star Trek" - NBC - Monday 7:30 - 21.0 - 12.24M - Hour-long, Science-Fiction (Aired on Friday at 10:00 IOTL and was unranked; does much better because... well, that's what the production appendices are for!)
#23 - "The NBC Tuesday Night Movie" - starts at 9:00 - 20.8 - 12.13M - Two hours, Anthology (Ranked at #20 IOTL)
#24 - "The Jackie Gleason Show" - CBS - Saturday 7:30 - 20.8 - 12.12M - Hour-long, Variety (Ranked at #25 IOTL)
#25 - "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" - CBS - Sunday 9:00 - 20.6 - 12M - Hour-long, Variety (Ranked at #27 IOTL)
#26 - "The Mod Squad" - ABC - Tuesday 7:30 - 20.5 - 11.941M - Hour-long, Crime (Ranked at #28 IOTL)
#27 - "The Lawrence Welk Show" - ABC - Saturday 8:30 - 20.5 - 11.940M - Hour-long, Variety (Ranked at #29 IOTL)
#28 - "I Dream of Jeannie" - NBC - Monday 9:30 - 20.4 - 11.90M - Half-hour, Sitcom (Aired on Monday at 7:30 IOTL and was ranked #26. Ratings are slightly lower given the more competitive timeslot, but with "Laugh-In" as lead-in, they're still more than good enough.)
#29 - "The Carol Burnett Show" - CBS - Monday 10:00 - 20.4 - 11.89M - Hour-long, Variety (Ranked at #24 IOTL; ratings are lower because the lead-ins have less punch, and the show has some direct competition.)
#30 - "The Doris Day Show" - CBS - Tuesday 9:30 - 20.4 - 11.88M - Half-hour, Sitcom
CBS has 14 shows in the Top 30, NBC has 12, and ABC has a paltry four. (The narrow overall lead that CBS enjoys is a tenuous one, however, for reasons we'll soon discover.) Two new shows, "The Mod Squad" and "The Doris Day Show", make the Top 30 in this, their first season. ("Here's Lucy", a Lucille Ball vehicle which also made its debut this season, was ranked #9 IOTL. It obviously does not exist ITTL.)
NBC's Monday night schedule is: Star Trek at 7:30; "Laugh-In" at 8:30; "I Dream of Jeannie" at 9:30; and "The High Chaparral" at 10:00. (IOTL, it was "Jeannie" at 7:30, "Laugh-In" at 8:00, and then Movie Night at 9:00. Yes, NBC had two movie nights in a row that season IOTL.) Opposite NBC was CBS, with "Gunsmoke" at 7:30; "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." at 8:30; "Mayberry R.F.D." at 9:00; "Family Affair" at 9:30; and "The Carol Burnett Show" at 10:00. (IOTL, "Here's Lucy" aired at 8:30 instead.) Every single one of those CBS shows place in the Top 30; all but "Carol Burnett" are in the Top 10. But NBC is no slouch, either; all but "The High Chaparral" also crack the Top 30, with "Laugh-In" at #1. This makes Monday night the most-watched night on television. In contrast, Friday doesn't have a single Top 30 show, the only day of the week to be shut out. (IOTL, it had just one hit, but it was a biggie: "Gomer Pyle", the #2 show on the air.) NBC, for their part, have a Friday night lineup of "The Name of the Game" at 7:30, followed by the Friday Night Movie at 9:00. (IOTL, it was "The High Chaparral" at 7:30; "The Name of the Game" at 8:30; and yes, alas, Star Trek in the Friday Night Death Slot of 10:00.)
Well, I hope that provides some insight into the workings of the television industry, and the viewing habits of the late 1960s audience. It saves me from having to mention all of this in my actual production appendix - I was going on about ratings and scheduling for more than two pages before I got the idea to make this post. Now I can cut all that down to one or two sentences!
I don't think I'll be doing this again; it's rather time-consuming, and once I'm done with Season 3, I'm quite sure I never, ever want to see the 1968-69 network broadcast schedule ever again. I think now I know how others feel poring through the JSTOR archives Not to mention, butterflies are going to be introducing far too many variables as early as next season, and if I'm going to create premises for TV shows, I should probably be getting paid for them, right?
This time I really mean it: Star Trek Season 3 is next out of the gate!
Fascinating. Didn't think I would be that interesting in the thread when I read the 1st post but got hooked shortly afterwards, not just because I was a Trek fan 1st time around.
Very well developed TL with a lot of background knowledge. Love the twist that a relatively small change resulting from the initial POD has such a dramatic impact on wider events. As you say, depending on exactly how the political situation develops, this will have big feedback impacts on the development of TV and popular cultures, especially presuming there won't be a Watergate? in TTL. That would have a huge impact on US culture.
Also quite a trip down memory lane as I was a child in the 60's and early 70. Had forgotten about programmes such as Invaders, which I haven't seen for yonks. Interesting of you're top 30 which ones made it over to Britain, or at least which I remember. Looking forward to seeing what happens on series 3 and later in TTL Trek and also awaiting that mention of effects on British culture.
Nice, informative update.
Do you think you'll be able to crib from the plots of Star Trek: Phase II and Star Trek: The Animated Series episodes in constructing further seasons of Trek?
Why was ABC doing so poorly?
I doubt that both Star Trek: Phase II and Star Trek: The Animated Series will exist in this TL. TAS because Roddenberry would have not created this if Star Trek was more successfull (he even removed TAS from Star Trek canon). Phase II because it should have been a restart in the late 1970s, but with are more successful original series that would have been too soon.
Of course not... but the plots might be able to be cannibalized by Brainbin.
Though I do wonder if TAS might get made anyway, as a nice source of extra profit. How are animated shows doing at this point?
Glad to know you're reading, Steve
Well, to be fair, the OP is completely different from all the other posts I wanted an attention-grabber, you know? And I wanted to make sure that people didn't know what to expect
And all on account of that wacky redhead!
(I always figured that if anyone in my TL were to actually say that, it would be George Schlatter. But he deserves it.)
No, there won't be a Watergate ITTL. Which means that the good people of this timeline won't be subjected to scandals with the suffix "-gate". Frankly, I think that's the biggest plus. Also, so many songs will be changed. I've checked; I've already removed two references from "We Didn't Start The Fire" and an entire stanza from "Bicycle Race". I've also killed at least two Stevie Wonder songs altogether!
As I'm sure you know personally, Star Trek didn't began airing over the shores of Albion until 1969 - one month after the last episode was broadcast stateside. Of course, it became a hit over there as quickly as it did in syndication, to the point that the earliest planned revival of Star Trek IOTL (Planet of the Titans, in 1976) was to be produced in Britain, by the same people behind the James Bond films!
The key difference here is obviously going to be that the BBC will be carrying Star Trek while it's still running in the United States. What difference will that make? Well, that remains to be seen.
They're both on the way! One now, and one later...
They're certainly worth a look! Among other sources...
ABC was the perpetual #3 network at the time. It was just the natural order of things. Will that change? Only one way to find out!
Well, to be fair, Star Trek: Phase II technically didn't exist in OTL, either But you raise an excellent point. Not that I'll confirm or deny anything attached to it, of course. But the future of Star Trek after the series ends is something to think about.
Cartoons on American TV in the 1970s... where do I begin? Well, let's just say that "Partridge Family 2200 A.D." and "Gilligan's Planet" barely begin to scratch the surface of how truly awful they are. The animated series of Star Trek was perhaps the very best of them - some would say by far - and that show was so riddled with flaws and problems that you could shoot a hole right through them. American cartoons being generally good, fun, or even coherent was definitely an achievement of the 1980s - unless they were explicitly adult-oriented, and those were few and far between in this era.
Thank you everyone for your comments! I really appreciate them. Coming up tonight, we'll finally learn more about Season 3 and we can finally put the 1968-69 season behind us once and for all!
Actually, Gilligan's Planet was an 80s idea.
Patridge Family 2200 A.D. won't vouch for it.
But a 1970s Saturday Morning had some good stuff. Give me that Land Of The Lost/Fat Albert doubleheader anyday.
Kids today get kinda ripped off, they don't get a real Saturday Morning TV vegout anymore.
Just remember, "We would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for those meddling kids"
You are correct, sir! The '70s "Gilligan" cartoon was merely a "straight" adaptation of the series. I always get them confused, because so many of these cartoon spinoffs were set in space, or the future, or both, for some reason.
No argument there. Thankfully, I'm old enough to remember the salad days of Saturday Morning. It seems like just yesterday...
I... never really liked Scooby-Doo.
...Don't hurt me! Or I won't be able to finish my update!
The late 60s - about where we are now TTL - was the golden age of Hanna-Barbera cartoons. In 1969 they introduced a cartoon featuring a certain group of meddling kids (and their @!!@&! dog!) that has resonated down through the years. Maybe you've heard of it? At the same time H-B had running, among other things, Birdman, Wacky Races, The Bananna Splits, The Herculoids and the first animated adaptation of Fantastic Four. They were pretty much at the top of their game in the 1965-1975 time frame; the dark ages of Filmation would happen later.
Appendix A, Part II: Star Trek, Season 3 (1968-69)
Here we are again, this time taking a look at the third (and IOTL, the last) season of Star Trek. Just like last time, we’ll be taking a top-down overview of the production details of the series. (As always, my editorial comments and explanations of changes from OTL will be highlighted in RED and placed in brackets.)
Ratings for the series are excellent. The season finishes with a 21.0 rating, which translates to over 12 million households watching the average episode. In terms of rankings, this is enough to put the series comfortably within the Top 30; a few episodes, including the highly-rated season premiere, are even able to crack the Top 20. On these occasions, Star Trek has been able to win its timeslot against “Gunsmoke” on CBS, though usually the venerable and long-running western has emerged victorious. Demographics, on the other hand, are spectacular; breakdowns have shown the show’s audience to be arguably the most valuable, per capita, of all shows on television.
The production budget per episode is slightly over $215,000 – above the intended figure of $210,000, due to the occasional cost and schedule overruns – Desilu, as always, was remarkably accepting of the situation; NBC, happy with the show’s strong ratings, had little room to complain. (This is how TV works, folks; high-rated shows get away with murder. Also, Desilu was a far more tolerant and patient taskmaster than Paramount, and it really shows here. IOTL, the production budget per episode was a paltry $180,000, which was a further reduction from the OTL Season 2 budget of $185,000. TV production budgets tend to inflate over time, and Star Trek doing the opposite had catastrophic effects on production values. These include: virtually eliminating location shoots; constant reuse of props, costumes, sets, and model shots; dramatically reduced number of extras and recurring characters, beyond the core regulars; less time and money for rewrites, retakes, and reshoots; and, of course, dreadful morale.)
All five members of the “Big Five” return, with this season beginning to blur the distinction between their precise roles in the production; Gene Roddenberry begins to distance himself from the decision-making process, his fertile mind already beginning to develop ideas for new series; Gene L. Coon thus becomes the showrunner in all but name. Several people begin to shoulder some of Coon’s lesser responsibilities, primarily Robert Justman, who joins Coon and Story Editor D.C. Fontana in approving story ideas and scripts for the series. Herb Solow remains the Executive in Charge of Production; of the three shows he produces for Desilu, he devotes the most time and energy to this one. His preferential treatment for it over the other two is the worst-kept secret on the studio lot. (IOTL, Roddenberry, Coon, Fontana, and Solow were all effectively gone by the beginning of Season 3; though Coon and Fontana continued to contribute scripts and story ideas, usually under pseudonyms. Justman, promoted to Co-Producer, was the only one who remained; he left when it became clear to him just what Star Trek had become.)
Among the other key people of Season 3 are new staff writers John Meredyth Lucas, who also becomes a frequent director for the series, and 24-year-old David Gerrold, the youngest staff writer not just on Star Trek, but on all of network television. In addition, Production Assistant Edward K. Milkis and Unit Production Manager Gregg Peters assist Justman in assisting Coon, effectively becoming junior producers themselves. (IOTL, both Milkis and Peters did indeed become Associate Producers in Season 3, to help fill the creative vacuum. This proved a very effective springboard for Milkis, who teamed up with executive Thomas L. Miller to form a production company that created “Happy Days” along with Garry Marshall. Then Milkis and Miller joined forces with a fellow named Boyett…) Other returning members of the production staff include art directors Matt Jefferies and Rolland Brooks; cinematographer Jerry Finnerman; costume designer William Ware Theiss, prop master Irving Feinberg; and, still uncredited, creature and effects designer Wah Chang. (IOTL, Chang and Brooks were gone before the end of the second season; Finnerman left in the middle of the third. I want to stress how much better the show will look and feel ITTL with all of them still in place.)
The entire regular cast also return. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley, who are billed in the opening titles, appear in every episode of the season, as does James Doohan as Scotty. Doohan, however, along with all the other regulars, appear only in the end credits, often listed under a “featured” credit or even as a “guest star”. Nichelle Nichols appears in Lt. Uhura in all but three episodes; George Takei as Lt. Sulu can be seen in all but four; Walter Koenig as Ensign Chekov misses only five. John Winston as Lt. Kyle appears in fourteen episodes; Majel Barrett as Nurse Chapel appears in thirteen, or half the episodes of the season. (In most cases, these appearance levels are similar to OTL, with the exception of Kyle, who appeared in only one Season 3 episode: “The Lights of Zetar”. Again, higher budget means they can afford to bring him back on a semi-regular basis.) Other actors who make multiple speaking appearances as the same character in the season include: Barbara Baldavin as Lt. Angela Martine, a tactical officer introduced in the first season episode “Balance of Terror”, in three episodes; and Diana Muldaur as Lt. Cmdr. Ann Mulhall, a scientist introduced in the Season 2 episode “Return to Tomorrow”, in two episodes. Both women appear at the behest of D.C. Fontana, who feels that the female crew should have a more visible and diverse presence on the ship. Baldavin and Muldaur are both popular with producers and get along well with the two female regulars. (IOTL, Baldavin and Muldaur appeared in the third season, though only Baldavin appeared as her previous character. Having a stronger female cast is going to pay big dividends in the very near future.)
The editorial decision made by the “Big Five” to present unflinchingly allegorical stories in numbers beyond even the first two seasons is a double-edged sword. Though critics praise their audacity, more staid forces, especially within the network, balk at some of their more bold ideas. Lucille Ball, always the show's fiercest defender, comes to their rescue on more than one occasion. (Surprisingly, many of the show's most overtly political and controversial episodes were produced in the third season IOTL. Of course, they were incompetently executed; imagine them here, in the hands of people who actually know what they're doing.) This does have some drawbacks; the Emmy for Outstanding Dramatic Series is eventually awarded to the "safer" choice of "Mission: Impossible", which also wins for Actor and Actress; Desilu throws their weight behind it to deflect the accusations of preferential treatment dogging both Ball and Solow, and CBS does the same as it is their only nominee in the category. (IOTL, "NET Playhouse", an anthology series on public television, won instead.)
26 episodes are produced in the third season. The five primary directors are series veterans Marc Daniels, Joseph Pevney, Ralph Senensky, Vincent McEveety, and Lucas, who between them direct 21 episodes. (IOTL? Six.) Some of the highlights for the season:
"The Enterprise Incident", written by D.C. Fontana, is the fourth episode produced, but is chosen as the season premiere. Loosely based on the real-life USS Pueblo incident early in 1968, the episode is an intriguing thriller in the vein of "Balance of Terror". (Even IOTL, this is considered one of the best episodes of Season 3. ITTL, it's considered one of the best episodes of the entire show, and is a common sight on Top 10 lists. It's not quite the triumph that "Amok Time" was, but it confirms the show's tradition for coming strong out of the gate.)
Another lauded episode is the Captain-Kirk-goes-missing, Enterprise-is-a-sitting-duck story "The Tholian Web", another episode that owes much to "Balance of Terror". (Basically the OTL episode with a little more spit and polish to it. For the record, this episode is this editor's choice for best episode of the Turd Season IOTL.)
Popular trickster adversary Harry Mudd returns in “Deep Mudd”, a direct continuation the previous season's “I, Mudd”. (Never made it past the outline stage IOTL. The new showrunner didn't want any "comedy episodes". Yes, I realize the irony.) Also making a third appearance in the third season is the nefarious Klingon Captain Kor in “Day of the Dove”. (IOTL, it was Kang, played by Michael Ansara, who served as villain; John Colicos was invited to reprise his role as Kor, but was busy.)
Three episodes are directed by their writer: "The Beast" by Marc Daniels (not made IOTL); "Elaan of Troyius" and season finale "The Godhead", by John Meredyth Lucas. ("The Godhead" was also not made IOTL.) "The Godhead" is an episode in the fine tradition of those "Kirk confronts - and defeats - a seemingly-omnipotent being" stories. (Ansara is instead cast as this episode's villain, Ehdom.)
Theodore Sturgeon makes his third contribution to the series with “The Root of Evil” (not made IOTL). A “joy machine” featured in the episode is a transparent allegory for addiction; hallucinogens and the like are hardly alien to audiences of the late 1960s. David Gerrold, for his part, provides just two scripts, most of his duties as staff writer being focused on uncredited rewrites: "The Cloud Minders" and "Bem". ("Bem" resurfaced as an episode of the animated series, but Gerrold pitched it hard to Roddenberry, who approved, and it very much looked like it was going to be produced before the changing of the guard.) The latter episode is notable in that it is the first to show Lt. Uhura - a black woman - in command of the ship (though this is not explicitly mentioned in dialogue).
Among the new writers in the third season are several women: Joyce Muskat, a librarian, writes "The Empath"; Jean Lisette Aroeste provides two episodes, "Is There In Truth No Beauty?" and "All Our Yesterdays". There are also a number of episodes co-written by women: "The Tholian Web" is one, and "The Lights of Zetar", co-written by "Lamb Chop" creator Shari Lewis and her husband Jeremy Tarcher, is another. Lewis makes an onscreen appearance in her episode as Mira Romaine. (IOTL, Lewis wrote the part of Romaine for herself, but was not cast. Yet they decided to cast a lawyer to play another episode's villain...) Fontana, for her part, writes or co-writes four scripts.
One of them, “Joanna”, explores the past of Dr. McCoy, introducing his eponymous daughter. An allegory of the generation gap, as fathers are confronted with the very different ideals of their baby-boomer children, Bones also becomes disturbed when Joanna seems to develop romantic feelings for his best friend, Captain Kirk. This very human element speaks to the appeal of Star Trek, and what made it distinctive from the traditionally cold and clinical science fiction of the past; as such, this episode is widely considered a standout of the season and, arguably, the series as a whole. (IOTL, the story treatment that became this episode instead developed into a very different one called… “The Way to Eden”. Yes, that's right, The One With The Space Hippies.)
But the most controversial episode of the entire series, let alone the season, is “Bondage and Freedom”, which tells the story of a planet with a dark-skinned people and their fair-skinned slaves. A Federation diplomatic envoy including Captain Kirk is sent down, but lost; Dr. McCoy and Lt. Uhura are sent after them, and they are forced to infiltrate their society to rescue their crewmates, with Uhura as "master" and McCoy as her "slave". Based on a story idea by Roddenberry himself, it marks the first direct collaboration between Gene Coon and D.C. Fontana, neither of whom are truly satisfied with the script, but it is filmed anyway, at the urging of many in the cast and crew. Most famously, the episode contains what is often called the first interracial kiss (between Kirk and a dark-skinned noblewoman who is also the daughter of the episode’s primary villain) in television history. (IOTL, this was the pet project that never came to fruition; everybody wanted to make it, but nobody could figure out how. Here, they found a way. It’s very heavy-handed, even by Star Trek standards, but even as people criticize that, they find it very difficult not to praise the episode’s message. The title is taken from an autobiography of Frederick Douglass. Kirk, naturally, gets to give what ITTL is one of his most famous speeches, equal parts Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr. It gets made because Lucille Ball pushes hard for this episode; some Southern affiliates refuse to air it. Public reaction is on par to OTL "Plato's Stepchildren" was in this regard alone: overwhelming praise for the "controversial" aspects. It's an excellent microcosm of the season as a whole: ambitious, allegorical, well-executed overall but sometimes a little too blunt or clumsy for its own good.)
(The following episodes were not produced for TTL Season 3 in any form: “Spock’s Brain”, “And The Children Shall Lead”, “Plato’s Stepchildren”, and “Turnabout Intruder”. Why yes, those are four of the worst episodes of OTL Season 3, thank you for noticing! As for all other episodes I didn't mention, they were made ITTL, but just imagine them with better props/sets/effects, all the glaring flaws ironed out, and various little personal touches added here and there.)
One special note about OTL Season 3: The perpetual scapegoat, replacement showrunner Fred Freiberger, has been absolved of blame for its failings by virtually everyone else involved, including Justman, who would be in a better position to know than anyone else. Freiberger, a WWII veteran who was a Nazi P.O.W. for nearly two years, has actually said that producing Star Trek was the worst experience of his life. (Because he spent the rest of it dealing with the fallout. He lived until 2003 – that’s 35 years.) Now, I’m not saying that the show wouldn’t have been better if Coon were Producer, but I have to admit, I feel for him.
Now, as for TTL, I want to stress that this season is considered on par with the first two - perhaps even slightly worse. Some episodes are stale, and others are more a case of reach exceeding grasp. Of course, with the “Big Five” in charge, “reach exceeding grasp” is along the lines of not quite being able to get something on the top shelf of your kitchen cupboard. IOTL, it was more along the lines of a baby lying in its crib, trying in futility to grab at the mobile hanging overhead. But season three is considered a worthy successor to the first two, and several of its episodes are mentioned alongside all the ones we think of when asked to name the best IOTL.
And now to officially, explicitly reveal the worst kept secret of this TL: Star Trek will be back for a fourth season! Yes, it's true! NBC will bring it back on Mondays at 7:30 for the 1969-70 season. Now, it won't be all smooth sailing; there are going to be plenty of wrinkles. But we'll cover them as we come to them. So join me for the next update, when we finally begin to say our Long Goodbye to the 1960s!
Very nice update.
"Bondage & Freedom." Whoa. Sounds like a rather powerful, and controversial episode.
Space-hippie episode started out as something actually good? Huh. Makes me wonder what the origins of 'Spock's Brain' were.
Sounds like a nice third season. Interesting that there's a larger role for the women of Trek; vaguely makes me wonder if we'll see a larger role for women in general in later sci-fi.
On another note, is Miller-Boyett going to still form?
You're absolutely correct, of course, Mal. But in being so, you've uncovered my secret. I am not a fan of Hanna-Barbera. At all. Sure, I was when I was a kid (weren't we all?) But as I've grown up, they've really soured on me. As mentioned, I never liked Scooby-Doo, ever, in any of its incarnations. (Though I do recognize it as a legitimate pop cultural force... at least, IOTL). And "Wacky Races"... don't even get me started on "Wacky Races". Okay, too late.
Even when I was a kid, it always bothered me: Why is Dick Dastardly considered the only "cheater" even though every other Wacky Racer is blatantly manipulating the playing field, sabotaging opponents, and displaying shockingly poor sportsmanship? Is it because only Dastardly has the mustache and the evil sidekick dog? This is what I mean when I say that cartoons in those days were incoherent. They didn't expect children to notice these things, but I did. Dastardly was the Designated Villain, with the Informed Ability of being a cheater, even though everyone else cheated all the time. Anyway, yes, this all means that I'm lumping in the Hanna-Barbera dreck with the Filmation dreck. Sorry, Mal, I know you obviously really liked these shows, but I have to say what I feel.
Though it's funny that you did not mention the one Hanna-Barbera show from the 1965-75 era that I think can be salvaged...
It may not surprise you to learn that this episode won both a Hugo and a Peabody ITTL. It's undoubtedly one of the most important episodes of the series, and brings incredible legitimacy to the show and to "serious" science fiction as a whole. Viewers looking back on it forty years down the line ITTL have a great deal of respect for the episode, but they admire it much more than they like it. Obviously, the message is so blatant that it's practically written on everybody's foreheads, and it does lose some urgency and immediacy with time. But yes, you're absolutely right, on both counts. (Full disclosure: the premise is my creation. There's nothing to the OTL story idea other than "black rulers, white slaves". The working title was "Kongo".)
Yes indeed! After Fontana left as Story Editor, she was unfortunately replaced by an utter incompetent who totally changed her story because "McCoy can't have a 20-year-old daughter" (even though DeForest Kelley was over 45 at the time). Then they decided to fill the huge chasm that taking her out of the story left behind... by turning it into "The Way To Eden".
Unfortunately, that one was pretty much produced as written. Astonishing, considering that the writer was Gene Coon, who I've built up ITTL as the man largely responsible for the show's high quality. But I think I have an explanation: Coon had left the show by this time, and was freelancing scripts (under a pseudonym, Lee Cronin). Obviously, to make a little extra money, he threw this B-grade potboiler at them, assuming that they'd be able to turn it into something workable. Captain Obvious alert: They didn't.
Thanks to Star Trek retaining a strong female voice in Fontana, who is undeniably one of the show's finest writers, it's going be able to redress past grievances. The knock IOTL about Star Trek, despite its groundbreaking respect for racial equality and harmony, has been the casual sexism - even stepping over the line into misogyny at times. (The otherwise terrific episode "The Enemy Within" really suffers from this; it's also the greatest flaw in the truly awful episode "Turnabout Intruder", which thankfully was never made ITTL.) But Star Trek is moving into the 1970s - this attitude is going to have to be cast aside. We'll see how successful they are at this.
I'll answer your question with another question: Whatever happened to predictability? The milkman, the paperboy, evening TV!
In all seriousness, we'll have to see how Eddie Milkis works his way up the production ladder at Star Trek before I can answer that question. So it's not a question I can answer anytime soon. As days go by, it's the bigger love of the family...
You can expect the 1969-70 update in the next few days, probably over the weekend. I want to make sure all my ideas have time to percolate. In the next couple of days, I'll determine a rough list of what the next few updates will be discussing, to give you an idea of what to expect as we move forward into the "Me" Decade. As always, I'll be happy to answer any questions and address any comments.
I must admit I was thinking more that, at least reading from outside, this was a major reason why America went through a period of dis-illusion and distinct loss of confidence. The other reason for the is the mess made of military intervention in a certain region, which is still on-going and could end possibly in an even worse way. Just a thought in that would Humphrey be the sort of character and have the backing to open up China via ping-pong diplomacy? If not that could have big effects on so many things.
To be honest I didn't. Watched it 1st time around and enjoyed it all but was pretty young then and couldn't remember the exact date. Here it probably built on the factional success of Apollo but was a landmark in opening me up to SF along with the books I started reading within a couple of years.
I can remember all-part of aspects of many episodes but sometimes not relating them very well to the episode titles you mention. For instance following the link in you're later post led me to the plot for Turnabout Intruder, which off the top of my head I can't remember at all! Think I will have to spend some time rummaging around that site [and what's left of my memories] to remind me about many of them.
Could be interesting as its still an on-going process rather than something that seems dead in the water in the US by then.
You own a computer with internet access.
Therefore, to all intents and purposes, you own a television!
True to an extent.
However, even with a 'Player' of some description, online viewing is a lot more selective than watching broadcast media.
It's a little like standing by a pool while others 'bomb' into it.
You may get a little wet from splashes but you won't be immersed in the water.
Separate names with a comma.