"Where Are We Going This Time": The Golden Age of Science Fiction

What should happen with the season summary updates?

  • Continue as is (might delay other updates)

    Votes: 6 75.0%
  • Release them later, as supplementary material

    Votes: 2 25.0%
  • Cut out the OTL bits, only say what you've changed (might only be a temporary solution)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Stop them completely

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    8
  • Poll closed .
Chapter XI: "So, What Have You Been Up To?"

Timelordtoe

Monthly Donor
Part III, Chapter XI: "So, What Have You Been Up To?"


The successes of both the Doctor Who and Star Trek franchises on television sparked something of a craze for science fiction among the television executives of the time. Both NBC (which broadcast Doctor Who) and UPN (which broadcast the Star Trek shows) were experiencing booms in popularity, especially among the young adult and family audiences. These were successes that the other major networks desperately wanted to replicate.


ABC
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was, in short, a failure. The stories did little to bring in audiences, and they were very expensive to produce. The show was cancelled after two seasons, though a series of television films followed that continued the story. The show did win many awards, but the writing was widely criticised as ‘clunky’.

But George Lucas was not done with television just yet. He had long been working on a prequel trilogy of films to his Star Wars trilogy, and had been planning on releasing them as films. However, he had little interest in directing them himself, and all three directors he had approached (Ron Howard, Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg) had turned down the offer. However, long time collaborator Spielberg suggested to him that he pitch the prequels to a television network as a new show for them.

Spielberg had been heavily involved with the trilogy of Doctor Who films in the mid-1980s, but had been somewhat disappointed with their inability to tell a large story. Since his time with the franchise, it had become a staple of American television, consistently finishing in the top 20 programs of the season, though it had declined over the past few years, only properly recovering with Season 30. He had seen how the show was able to properly flesh out characters and settings as it was far less limited in time than a feature film was.

Lucas took some convincing, but eventually came around to the concept in early 1995, pitching it to ABC. Lucasfilm and Amblin would foot the majority of the costs, and ABC would distribute the show. ABC were, initially, uninterested in a Star Wars show, having seen The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles fail. They did come around after they were shown evidence that there was a real interest among the fans for more Star Wars content, however, they were not convinced that a prequel story was the right way to go.

Most of the media that had sated fans since the original films was set after them, expanding on what happened following the events of the films. ABC were interested in making a show, especially once Lucas put pre-production of the films on hold, but they wanted to take some of the “expanded universe” media, and adapt it, rather than set it prior to the films, especially as it could allow for some of the original cast to reprise their roles for special appearances.

Again, it took some time to convince Lucas, but he did agree after he was told that he would have a large amount of creative control over the show, and would be able to tell the story that he wanted to. A deal was struck, and in early 1996, Star Wars: The New Republic would be announced for ABC’s 1998-99 season. [1]


CBS
CBS was not in a good position. It had lost the rights to broadcast the NFL to Fox, who also outbid them for the rights to the NHL. This left CBS with many holes in their broadcast schedule, which they had great difficulty in filling. With this, CBS’s viewership dropped massively, leading to many shows being cut from their schedule. This, coupled with many affiliates switching over to Fox, meant that CBS were not in a great position.

To bring viewers back, they announced that in the 1997-98 season, they would be broadcasting “CBS Block Party” on a Friday night, in an attempt to bring in family audiences.


Fox
Fox had firmly established itself as the “fourth network” to counter the Big Three (ABC, NBC, CBS) with its acquisition of the NFL and NHL rights. Many of the affiliated channels of the Big Three would strike deals with Fox, briefly making it the largest network in American television by amount of affiliates.

Fox would have some issues with its Saturday night slot around this time, though they would be sorted out by the 1997-98 season, as they began to debut more animated comedy shows, following on from The Simpsons. [2]


The WB
The launch of The WB was always going to be compared to that of UPN, especially as they we both “fifth network” attempts launching in January 1995. Unlike UPN, however, The WB did not have a set “flagship” show from the get-go, and struggled to find its feet until 1997.

March 1997 would bring Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a mid-season replacement show that would prove to be greatly successful. Finally, The WB had found its market, the teen/young adult market. They began to steal viewers away from Fox, and started making new shows specifically aimed for the teenage market, particularly teenage girls. [3]


[1] We're not seeing modern day levels of "cinematic" television yet, but that push is happening earlier.
[2] Alright, I'll admit that there's a lot more OTL stuff here than I initially thought there would be, especially with CBS, Fox and the WB. There's some other stuff related to them on the way, but I felt that I needed to do this update now.
[3] Buffy is a little different, and it will get its own update soon. '97 is going to be a bumper year for updates.
 
Fox had firmly established itself as the “fourth network” to counter the Big Three (ABC, NBC, CBS) with its acquisition of the NFL and NHL rights.
One thing that Fox did with their Sport broadcasts, was that they were the first network that put the Score in the corner of the screen and keep it there through out the game.
Before Fox did that, you use to tune in and often have to wait 5 or 10 minutes to find out what the score was in a Game on TV.
 
Interesting update there.

No sign of the Paramount Network happening here?
Is CBS for sale?

Star Wars on TV is indeed the better way to go, esp using the Sequel option instead of Prequels- its not as if Lucas cannot do flashbacks to the pre-Empire days. Wonder how many of the old cast he can get back?
 

Timelordtoe

Monthly Donor
Interesting update there.

No sign of the Paramount Network happening here?
Is CBS for sale?

Star Wars on TV is indeed the better way to go, esp using the Sequel option instead of Prequels- its not as if Lucas cannot do flashbacks to the pre-Empire days. Wonder how many of the old cast he can get back?
Both NBC and UPN still exist, they just weren't mentioned as they're sort of being covered with the Doctor Who and Star Trek updates. Fisher and Hamill will probably be easier to convince to return, Ford will be a tough sell, especially given how much he wanted Han Solo to be killed off. If we do see Ford return, it will likely be for that. Billy Dee Williams, possibly? It will be mainly new cast. Media outlets may disparagingly refer to it as "Star Wars: The Next Generation" in pre-release. What happens with CBS will be up in the air, but they may not properly recover from this slump. TV in the US in the "today" of TTL does look a fair bit different to OTL.
 
Both NBC and UPN still exist, they just weren't mentioned as they're sort of being covered with the Doctor Who and Star Trek updates. Fisher and Hamill will probably be easier to convince to return, Ford will be a tough sell, especially given how much he wanted Han Solo to be killed off. If we do see Ford return, it will likely be for that. Billy Dee Williams, possibly? It will be mainly new cast. Media outlets may disparagingly refer to it as "Star Wars: The Next Generation" in pre-release. What happens with CBS will be up in the air, but they may not properly recover from this slump. TV in the US in the "today" of TTL does look a fair bit different to OTL.
I could see CBS digging through the franchise bins looking for content- perhaps approach Marvel or DC about live TV series of their heroes?

Maybe goto TSR for a D&D show in a Hercules/Xena style?
 
I could see CBS digging through the franchise bins looking for content- perhaps approach Marvel or DC about live TV series of their heroes?

Maybe goto TSR for a D&D show in a Hercules/Xena style?
I'd love to see both happen. Maybe Generation X done right and actually taking off and a D&D series set in the Planescape (a fantasy political thriller set around the factions) or Spelljammer (fantasy Star Trek) settings would probably be a huge hit.
 

Timelordtoe

Monthly Donor
Hey everyone, no update tonight, but I thought I'd leave this little note.

As many of you know, the timeline has been nominated for the 2020 Turtledove for Best Pop-Culture Timeline. The voting has begun, and you can do so here. I'd appreciate any votes cast to this timeline, but please don't feel any obligation. Voting is open until the 30th, so there's no rush either.
EDIT: I'd also recommend you check out the other timelines that have been nominated. It's a solid field this year, and they're all worth a good read.

On a side note, my trip to Nottingham has been cancelled, as Britain is beginning its shut-down. While it has got my mood a bit low, it does mean that I'll have a little more time to focus on this, so there will probably be an update tomorrow, and quite possibly one the following day too. See you all soon.
 
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Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
I have completed my democratic right and so you should see your total vote swollen by 1.

Like you - Croydon has shut down and my US-based global employer has asked everybody to work from home for the foreseeable future.
 

Timelordtoe

Monthly Donor
I have completed my democratic right and so you should see your total vote swollen by 1.

Like you - Croydon has shut down and my US-based global employer has asked everybody to work from home for the foreseeable future.
Many, many thanks to you and to everyone else who has voted!

I'd like to get an update out tonight, though it may be contingent on having a discussion with @The Chimera Virus first, just so we can hammer out some details. But regardless, next up is Odyssey Season 2!
 
Chapter XII: "Now You've Got Panache"

Timelordtoe

Monthly Donor
Part III, Chapter XII: "Now You've Got Panache"

“Season One was very much us ‘finding our feet’. It always takes a little while to figure out what works, especially with a show like this. Season Two worked better as we could use what worked, and drop what didn’t. It had its fair share of controversy too, though, much as we ignored some of it. Some of the more close-minded viewers had an issue with the reveal that Harry Kim was gay, though many of them were fine with Dax and K’Rene being in a relationship. That’s one of the unfortunate double standards with writing.”​
- David Gerrold on the production of Season Two of Star Trek: Odyssey. [1]


Season One of Star Trek: Odyssey had been a success, despite the slightly disappointing viewership figures. 1996 would see the show move to UPN and a change in release schedule to fit with the traditional US television season. In addition, late 1996 would bring the 30th anniversary of the franchise’s beginning, which both Odyssey and Deep Space Nine would mark with special stories referencing The Original Series.

Season Two of Odyssey would prove that the actions of characters in the show would have real consequences, if Season One had not already shown this to be so. The “arc” of Season Two would follow on from concepts introduced in the first season, notably the Sikarians and Vidiians. In this season, the Odyssey would travel through space the Sikarians held hegemony over, and would become something of a pariah after they offer aid to the Vidiians. [2]


The season opener, “The Things That Matter” would mark the point when the crew wholly commits to getting home, rather than settling on a planet in the Delta Quadrant, after they meet a group of humans, including Amelia Earhart, that had been abducted centuries prior. The ninth episode of the season, “Prior Notions”, would see the crew begin to reverse engineer technology of species they encountered to make their trip home more comfortable and safe.

The twelfth episode, “Assignment: Home” would serve as a loose sequel to the Original Series story of “Assignment: Earth”, acting as a way of commemorating the 30th anniversary, similar to Deep Space Nine’s “Trials and Tribble-ations”. [3]

Through the season, the crew would begin to form a more unified identity, especially as they faced more serious enemies like the Sikarians. In addition, the Odyssey would begin to be accompanied by a “convoy” of vessels, taking on more crew native to the Delta Quadrant.


The more controversial moments of the season would primarily involve the revelation that Harry Kim was homosexual, in the story “Non-Sequitur”, and the signs of a budding relationship between him and Nick Locarno, a pairing often referred to by fans as “Lo-Kim-no”. As with the Jadzia Dax-K’Rene relationship, many conservative outlets complained, but this generally increased interest in the show, rather than decrease it. In fact, the open display of homosexual relationships in the franchise, especially in a positive light, brought much attention to UPN, giving it a reputation as a more progressive network. [4]


Odyssey’s move to UPN was considered to be a good move by the writers and producers. Deep Space Nine’s increased success on that channel was hoped to be replicated with Odyssey. Many advertisements would be released featuring Odyssey heavily, with the entirety of the large cast being involved with publicity in interviews. In fact, it was one of the few areas in which the size of the cast was a help, rather than a hindrance. All of the cast were able to be involved with interviews and advertisements, but nobody, barring possibly Claudia Christian and Graham Greene, would be overwhelmed by the amount of engagements they would be involved with.


[1] More LGBT representation! And this time, in a case where I've kept the actor from OTL, and followed what they wanted. Wang wanted Kim to be gay, but Berman said no. No Berman here.
[2] The Sikarians aren't quite like any enemy we've seen before. I'm looking forward to showing them off.
[3] A little different to OTL with stories. But "Trials and Tribble-ations" is if anything, more likely due to Gerrold being in charge.
[4] Yes, I worked out the ship name beforehand. No, this isn't the only one I've already figured out.
 
The twelfth episode, “Assignment: Home” would serve as a loose sequel to the Original Series story of “Assignment: Earth”, acting as a way of commemorating the 30th anniversary, similar to Deep Space Nine’s “Trials and Tribble-ations”. [3]
No way I just letting you get away with just a reference.
What is the plot of this story?
 
Nice to see a Star Trek show doing well.

Hopefully Odyssey is far more coherent and sensible than Voyager was...

More LGBT? Nice work. GO Wang!
 
Chapter XIII: "Oh, Let's Do The Odyssey"

Timelordtoe

Monthly Donor
Part III, Chapter XIII: "Oh, Let's Do The Odyssey"

“Things had really loosened up on set by Season Two. We all knew our roles a lot better, and we’d already become well acquainted by that point. Not that the first season wasn’t fun, but it was definitely more fun from there, even when we tackled more dark material in the show. I know Tuvok is this very stoic character, but I was very much a joker on set, or so I’ve been told. Still, Tuvok has plenty of comedic moments, even if they are mostly at his expense.”​
- Tim Russ on Season Two of Star Trek: Odyssey. [1]


The release of Season Two of Star Trek: Odyssey was hotly anticipated. It served as a sort of “soft relaunch” for the show, as it moved over to UPN. In terms of tone, it would largely be similar to the first season, especially given that some of the stories had been filmed along with the first season, but had been held off until the second season. Among these was the season opener, “The Things That Matter”, which was originally going to be a “season straddler” to bridge the first two seasons.

Season Two would build on the first season quite heavily, though this did leave some fans who had missed the first season behind somewhat. The move towards “soft serialisation” meant that the show lent itself more to network broadcasting, rather than syndication, where the broadcast order was sometimes altered by the individual stations. [2]


The second season of Star Trek: Odyssey began airing in the fall of 1996. It received largely positive reviews.

List of Episodes of Season 2 of Star Trek: Odyssey:
  1. The Things That Matter (Part I) [3]​
  2. The Things That Matter (Part II)​
  3. Death Wish​
  4. Sejal [4]​
  5. Outpost Morthlan
  6. Dreadnought​
  7. In Corpore Sano
  8. Non-Sequitur​
  9. Prior Notions​
  10. Meld​
  11. Xenotransplantation
  12. Assignment: Home​
  13. Going Courting​
  14. Birth Control [5]​
  15. The Warning [6]
  16. Resistance​
  17. Non-Human Persons
  18. Deadlock​
  19. Visit To A Small Planet [6]​
  20. What’s The Matter?
  21. The Chute​
  22. Lifesigns​
  23. The Resolution​
  24. Manipulated [7]​
  25. Projections​
  26. Coparcenary (Part I)
Bold denotes a story written by @The Chimera Virus

Cast of Season 2 of Star Trek: Odyssey:
  • Captain Katherine Janeway – Claudia Christian​
  • Commander Chatan – Graham Greene​
  • Commander Evek – Nigel Havers​
  • Lt. Tuvok – Tim Russ​
  • Lt. Rejal – Tracy Scoggins​
  • Lt. (j.g.) Kollin Torres – Kim Cattrall​
  • Ensign Harry Kim – Garrett Wang​
  • Ensign Nick Locarno – Robert Duncan McNeill​
  • The Doctor – Robert Picardo​
  • Falox – Ethan Phillips​
  • Kes – Jennifer Gatti​

The move to UPN had definitely had the desired effect. Airing on a Monday, with Deep Space Nine on a Wednesday, there was a large increase of people tuning in to see the developments in the Star Trek universe every week. Having the two shows air so close together was, it would seem, a product greater than the sum of its parts, as viewer figures increased for both shows.

As opposed to the 6% figure it had had during the first season, it managed to gain 9%, taking a slight hit after the release of The WB’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for which there was a not insignificant overlap in target audience. [8]

Regardless, the show was continuing to earn its place, and had now found a dedicated fanbase. Further seasons were all but guaranteed should the figures remain as they were. [9]


[1] Tim Russ was, by all accounts, very much a jokester on set. I don't see that changing with this cast. Maybe even a little more?
[2] I've done a lot of reading up on the behind-the-scenes stuff with the stations recently, and I actually understand ratings and the season schedule now. Expect a little more of this kind of stuff in the timeline.
[3] It's the "The 37's" story of OTL, but with a lot of changes.
[4] The "Tuvix" of TTL. It plays out a little differently
[5] OTL's "Prototype"
[6] Both of these stories are based on unused concepts from OTL
[7] OTL's "Menuevers"
[8] Buffy makes another appearance. It will get its own update this year, but it won't be at the same level of detail as Trek or Who, at least, I don't intend for it to be.
[9] I tried to make a "Niners" style nickname for the fans, but Odyssey really doesn't lend itself to that.
 
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Well that would not be hard.
And it sound like Odyssey is some what more coherent then Voyager .
How ever I was disappointed to see that they still did the storyline with A. Earhart .
Even better alternate history versions of shows still needs filler episodes from time to time I guess

[8] I tried to make a "Niners" style nickname for the fans, but Odyssey really doesn't lend itself to that.
Oddies? Oddities? STO's?
Little sad that you didn't change Death Wish's name to fall back in line with the theme naming of Q episodes.
 
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