Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Few Thoughts on These Are The Voyages, TOS, Season One (Revised and Expanded Edition)

Three months ago, I published a less than enthusiastic review of Marc Cushman’s These Are The Voyages, TOS, Season One, which quickly became the most read item on this blog. In that review, I advised readers to wait for a second edition, and hoped that it would address the book’s many problems. Less than six months after These Are The Voyages was first published, a “revised and expanded” second edition hasbeen made available.

I can’t publish a review of this revised volume, because I haven’t picked it up. Thanks to a lengthy sample which can be read on Amazon, however, I can express a few thoughts about the second edition and the book in general.

In my review of the first edition, I criticized These Are The Voyages for being sloppily proofread. Cushman downplays this issue in his revised author’s note, writing, “Some errors were also found in regards to copy editing.” This is quite the understatement, but I can happily report that the sample pages from the second edition have been much more thoroughly proofread than the first edition. A few typos can be found (e.g. “Mr. Distract Attorney” instead of Mr. District Attorney or “Line-Up” instead of The Lineup), but they are few and far between.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the book’s more serious problems appear to be fully intact. Minor factual errors still abound, the author continues to conflate his own speculation with verified fact, the editing remains lackluster, and the book is still illustrated with fan-restored photographs that were taken without permission.

Consider, for example, the number of factual errors that slip into Cushman’s account of NBC and Desilu before Star Trek. In one passage, he writes:
Los Angeles contributed the filmed series, with The Lone Ranger being the first western, Dragnet the first cop show, and I Love Lucy the first sitcom, all shot on film.
Cushman is right about The Lone Ranger and Dragnet, but he’s wrong about I Love Lucy. The earliest sitcom to be shot on film was actually The Amos ‘n Andy Show, which was piloted a full month before I Love Lucy, and went to air on June 28, 1951, four months ahead of Lucy Ricardo’s debut in ‘The Girls Want to Go to a Nightclub,’ which was broadcast on October 15, 1951.

Discussing the early days of Desilu, Cushman mangles the facts and repeats a popular myth about Desi Arnaz and I Love Lucy, writing:
Desi [Arnaz] had a better idea. He had watched the way live sitcoms from New York, such as The Honeymooners, were being shot before studio audiences with three video cameras running at once, each aimed at a range of wide and close-up shots. His idea was to use the same approach but substitute film cameras for those which fed out a live video signal.
Desi Arnaz couldn’t have been influenced by The Honeymooners. The show didn’t exist as a standalone sitcom until 1955, and as a recurring sketch on Cavalcade of Stars, it didn’t debut until October 5, 1951. By that point, there were already five episodes of I Love Lucy in the can, along with the unaired pilot, which had been made more than seven months earlier.

Moreover, Arnaz shouldn’t be credited with the three-camera filming system. The first television series to shoot on 35mm film, using multiple cameras, in front of a live studio audience, and on a regular basis was Truth or Consequences, a game show which debuted in 1950. The three-camera system on Truth or Consequences was set up by associate producer Al Simon, who later worked with cinematographer Karl Freund to set up the three-camera system used on I Love Lucy.

Writing about the sale of I Love Lucy’s rerun rights to CBS in 1956, Cushman writes:
Desi sold the I Love Lucy rerun rights to CBS for a cool million and then set out to buy a studio, ending Desilu’s need to rent space and materials.
In actuality, Arnaz sold the rights to rebroadcast I Love Lucy to CBS for five million dollars.

Later, when describing the history of NBC, where Star Trek eventually landed, Cushman writes:
In 20 years of broadcasting, the network [NBC] had never aired anything even remotely resembling science fiction
The author’s larger point is that a sf program like Star Trek was unlike anything else on NBC’s broadcasting schedule in the middle of the 1960s, which is certainly correct, but his hyperbolic assertion that NBC had never show “anything even remotely resembling science fiction” until Star Trek is simply false. Indeed, sf programs broadcast on NBC during this period include:
Tom Corbett, Space Cadet (aired on NBC, 1951)
Operation Neptune (aired on NBC, 1953)
Atom Squad (aired on NBC, 1953 - 1954)
Commander Cody (theatrical serial syndicated on NBC, 1955)
Fireball XL5 (aired on NBC, 1963 - 1965)
These programs, of course, don’t account for any of the feature films that NBC broadcast in the 1950s and early 1960s. I don’t have a listing of these titles, but I would be willing to be that at least one resembled science fiction.

This is far from the only time that Cushman exaggerates in the book. Elsewhere in the sample pages, he claims that Gene Roddenberry “change[d] the course of network television.” Star Trek has become a cultural touchstone, and has influenced a number of subsequent television programs, but I’d be hard-pressed to explain how it changed the course of network television.

Beyond hyperbole, These Are The Voyages continues to have the problem of conflating the author’s speculation with established fact. For example, he writes:
James Goldstone, a well-regarded TV director, was offered the job [of directing the first pilot]. Roddenberry knew him from The Lieutenant. Solow, on behalf of Desilu, approved of the choice. So did the network. But Goldstone had a ‘scheduling conflict.’ A man with no reputation could find one at Star Trek. An established reputation, however, could be ruined with a job like this.
It is unclear where Cushman got the idea that Goldstone’s scheduling conflict was disingenuous, since he doesn’t cite a source. Even if he did, however, the idea makes little sense. If Goldstone was worried about working on an expensive science fiction show which would stretch a network television budget, why did he direct episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and The Outer Limits? If he was worried about being blamed for the failure of an expensive pilot, why did he agree to direct ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before,’ less than a year after passing on ‘The Menagerie?’

Elsewhere in the sample pages, when discussing Roddenberry’s affairs, Cushman writes:
Even before any of the lovers went public, the rumors were rampant and quite a few made it back to the network. It was a touchy subject in 1963, so much so that executives at MGM and NBC were nervously not seeing, not hearing and, except behind closed doors, not speaking about these matters.
Once again, without a source, it’s hard to figure out how Cushman knows what happened behind closed doors at MGM and NBC in 1963.

Lastly, there’s the subject of the photographs used to illustrate the book. Cushman downplays the controversy in his revised author’s note:
On the few instances when two fan sites either claimed credit for the restoration of an image or legal justification to contribute the image to this work, both sites have been listed.
Contrary to this note, the issue was not isolated to a “few instances,” but was rampant throughout the first edition. I cannot speak to the extent of the changes to the photo credits in the revised and expanded edition of These Are The Voyages, since I have only seen the sample pages, although it is odd that the source of the cover image (probably taken from here) is not credited. I can, however, speak to the fact that neither the publisher , nor the author, have bothered to contact Star Trek History or birdofthegalaxy to try and sort out the controversy. Their behavior in this matter has been and continues to be unethical. I cannot in good conscience recommend the book because of it.

Thanks to TrekBBS users Maurice (who helped me revise this post considerably) and plynch (who has provided me with a lot of information about self-publishing, which has been particularly helpful in evaluating These Are The Voyages; he is the author of the book Live Like Louis!, which is available for purchase here).

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Reluctant Astronaut(s)

The Mercury Seven (1961)
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Star Trek share a long history together. As early as March 15, 1967, Leonard Nimoy was invited to be a guest of honor at the Goddard Memorial Dinner put on by the National Space Club (Shatner had been invited, but was forced to decline due to a movie commitment). The other guests of honor were Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Mercury astronaut John Glenn, and NASA administrator James E. Webb. Over the course of the series, a number of cast and crew members were invited to attend rocket launches and tour NASA facilities.

The roll-out of the space shuttle Enterprise (1976)
Perhaps most famously, after the series was cancelled, a group of Star Trek fans successfully petitioned President Gerald Ford to rename the first shuttle orbiter Enterprise (it had originally been named the Constitution, in honor of the 1976 bicentennial). Around the same time, NASA invited Nichelle Nichols to become a recruiter for the space program, after she criticized the agency for failing to reach out to women and minorities in a speech entitled 'Space, What's In It For Me?' As an astronaut recruiter, Nichols worked to correct this problem, and "her efforts resulted in NASA’s selection of five women, three African American men, and an Asian American."

Among that group was Mae Jemison, who became the first African-American woman in space on board the space shuttle Endeavor in 1992. Jemison later made a cameo appearance on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1993, becoming the first real-life astronaut to appear in the franchise.

Mae Jemison on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1993)
Jemison, however, was not the first NASA astronaut to be approached about appearing on the show. Letters in the Gene Roddenberry collection at UCLA reveal that Mercury Astronauts Alan Shepard and Scott Carpenter were both pursued about appearing on Star Trek. The production first tried to get Shepard to appear, as revealed in this June 15, 1966 memo from Gene Roddenberry to Bob Justman:
Our public relations people tell us it is likely that they can get the astronaut Shepard to play some minor role on our show, plus give us some associated publicity, which could be of advantage to STAR TREK. He is for some reason unable to accept pay, but in lieu would like us to film a one-minute spot for his favorite charity. 
So we can give some kind of answer to this, can you prepare an estimate of what a one-minute spot would cost us? Or, probably, a couple of estimates so that we could determine how simple or complex we could agree to, the relative cost of color and black and white, etc.
Perhaps the "public relations people" had overestimated their abilities. For whatever reason, Shepard's appearance didn't make it beyond the idea stage. However, a week later, the production tried again, this time going for NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter. In a July 12, 1966 letter to Art Wilcox, however, Carpenter graciously declined:
You proposed in your letter of June 24, 1966, a very fascinating experience for me. Unfortunately, that experience poses two or three unresolvable conflicts. I wish it were not so. Perhaps at a later date such a thing could be arranged. I must say you honor me almost out of my boots with such an idea. Thank you very much.
Shepard in the credits of Enterprise (2001)
At that point, it seems, the efforts to get a NASA astronaut on the program were ended. However, in an oblique way way, both Carpenter and Shepard ended up on Star Trek. Shepard appears in the opening credits of Enterprise in footage from his preparation for Apollo 14. And although he doesn't appear, Carpenter's voice can be heard in the teaser trailer for Star Trek (2009), which includes his famous words, "Godspeed, John Glenn."

Images courtesy of Trek Core and NASA.

Thanks to Dave Eversole for sending me this image.


The Gene Roddenberry Star Trek Television Series Collection (1964-1969)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Unseen Trek: 'Untitled' by Robert Sheckley

Still from 'The Man Trap' (1966)
Story Outline by Robert Sheckley (undated)
Review and analysis by David Eversole
Originally posted at Orion Press

NOTE: As this outline contains no character names (the ship isn't even referred to by name), and is at odds with most of the technology we saw on Star Trek (the ship lands and blasts off, etc.), it is obvious that it was written before the show aired, perhaps before 'The Cage' or 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' were filmed. Sheckley, it seems, was working with very very little knowledge of the Trek universe. I will review his outline, using his terms and his story breaks.

Referring to the first officer as "the Martian" indicates that it may have been written as early as 1964.


The captain and first mate ("the martian") are exploring a barren planet, hitherto unknown. We see them from an "alien viewpoint" -- but we never see what the observer looks like. The captain thinks he saw something move but when they investigate, its just a big boulder, nothing more.

All crewmembers return to the ship, and the "viewpoint" follows. The martian becomes suspicious -- he can't put his finger on it, but he senses something is wrong. At his request, all crewmembers are decontaminated at the entry port. They then go to their stations, and the ship blasts off.

In the now empty entry port, a piece of the decontamination equipment -- a large tank with a nozzle -- begins to move as if alive. It turns toward us, rolls forward.


The martian remains uneasy, but everyone dismisses his worries, tells him he is just trying to show off his special senses. All go about their jobs. A crewmember enters with a report. The captain asks his name. "Seaman Dougherty," the fellow says and quickly leaves. A crewmember remarks that it really is one huge ship they're on.

Why do you say that, someone else asks.

I thought I knew everyone onboard, but I can't remember ever seeing Seaman Dougherty before.

No one recalls Seaman Dougherty!

A check is made of the ship's rolls. There is no Seaman Dougherty listed. And since they have been gone from Terra for three years "real time," with no crew additions, he must have come onboard from the planet they just surveyed.

A search is initiated to find him. TV scanners are turned on ship-wide, every nook and cranny is searched. No sign of the erstwhile Dougherty.

The captain confers with the ship's alien anthropologist, who informs him that this might be a being who is capable of assuming any form, or perhaps a being who uses hypnosis to make others see it as whatever it wishes. The anthropologist doesn't want to prejudge the being -- its intentions may be peaceful and friendly, or...

The captain isn't taking any chances. He has every single crewmember checked again. All are accounted for. Suddenly the captain asks if anyone checked the cook. 

Yes, one crewman says, I checked him. He's in the galley.

No, he's not, says another. I checked him, he is in the provisions locker.

The captain checks the TV scanners. Sure enough the cook is in both places at once. One of them must be the intruder!

The captain orders both cooks captured, but not to shoot either unless in danger. The anthropologist orders the captain to rescind this order. We must not capture it, he says. Don't you see, it has already captured us.

Both cooks are captured. The captain shows up in person to countermand his previous order, but in a moment's inattention, the alien turns into a duplicate of the captain and escapes.

Conflict grows between the captain and the anthropologist. The captain commands all ship's functions and business. But the anthropologist commands all areas having to do with alien life encountered. The ship's very mission was established to fulfill anthropological research. The anthropologist feels that since they are facing a superior lifeform, they must follow its orders, do as it wishes. The captain disagrees. The conflict between them grows.

The captain is prepared to issue a ship-wide order. He reaches to punch a button on a switchboard. The switchboard sprouts arms, pushes him away, then bolts from the room.

Now the anthropologist, afraid of the abilities of the creature, advocates full out resistance, but the captain decides not to do so. He has been pondering the nature of this beast, wondering why it is doing what it is doing. He outlines a plan.

A room is set aide. In it is a table, covered with food and water and a small heater. After a moment, the anthropologist enters, warily sits down, begins to eat, drink and warm his hands at the heater.

In the control room, the captain, the martian, and the anthropologist stare at a TV screen. On it they see the faux anthropologist eat the food.

The captain has realized that the creature never once made an offensive move against them even though it had several opportunities. Not the behavior of a superior entity. Furthermore, the creature could only mimic other forms, could only say a few words. It never initiated conversation or set any plan in motion. Again, not the behavior of a superior entity. Furthermore, it went to the one place on the ship that was very warm and filled with food -- the galley.

This is not a superior being, the captain tells the anthropologist, this is a simple animal.

But, the anthropologist says, it has such superior abilities. Kirk notes that humans will never have anything approaching the built-in radar an Earth bat has, but we are superior and the bat is just an animal. Highway engineers have never surpassed the road-building abilities of ants. Dolphins have senses beyond what humans have, but they are all just animals.

The scientist admits his error, and they go down to meet the creature. Kirk speaks softly to it, urges it to relax and return to its natural form. It does so, and looks like a cross between a bear and a dog. It lumbers forward, towers over the captain... then bends and begins to lick his hand.

And there the outline ends, save that Sheckley appends this note to it:

Explanation for the alien's previous actions: The world they explored is one that has suffered a recent cataclysm. A solar body passed near causing floods, earthquakes, etc. Destroying the possibility of life, even altering the seasons, turning a normally temperate zone into a frigid horror. The creature came aboard to save its life.


First, get rid of the anthropologist. Two good reasons. One, a-n-t-h-r-o-p-o-l-o-g-i-s-t is hard to type, my fingers get crossed up. Two, Spock and McCoy could better fill his role. Spock, the coldly logical counterpoint to Kirk; McCoy, the impassioned voice.

This is a first-timer's stab at TV outlining. Sheckley's two parts come across, to me, as a Teaser and one forty-five minute act. But that's easy enough to fix. I suspect that this story may have been dropped because of George Clayton's Johnson's 'The Man Trap,' which covers all its bases in a far superior story.


Images courtesy of Trek Core.

Review originally posted at Orion Press.

Read about Robert Sheckley's unproduced outline 'Sister in Space' here and here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Unseen Trek: 'For They Shall Inherit' by Jerome Bixby

The Dorn (1998/1968)
Story Outline by Jerome Bixby, undated (probably 1967)
Review and Analysis by Dave Eversole
Originally posted at Orion Press.


The Enterprise is sent to rescue a colony of Klingons from a farming world near the Federation border. The planet's sun is about to go nova, and Starfleet helping the Klingons will certainly be good PR. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura and several "five-liners" beam down, and react in shock as they see a Klingon hanging upside down, his feet secured in a torture device. Soon we learn that the malevolent race known as the DORN have taken over, have killed all the weak Klingons, sparing only the strongest warriors, and plan to use the Enterprise to escape the destruction of this world.


Kirk and party are thrown into a holding pen with several hate-filled Klingons. Tarnok, their leader ("a Ted Cassidy type"), tells Kirk how the Dorn use them for amusement, force them to fight larger, stronger Dorns in gladiatorial games. Games the Klingons always lose.

Kirk is determined to escape. He wrests authority from Tarnok and becomes the leader of the small group in the pen. Meanwhile the Dorns, expert mimickers, use the communicators to call the Enterprise and assure Scotty that all is well, that they're preparing an evacuation. Scotty warns them that the sun will blow up in about 18 hours.

Kirk makes eyes at an attractive Dorn girl, and she smiles in a come on manner at him.

Soon we learn that the Dorns plan to pit the Humans against the Klingons in their sadistic games. The landing party's phasers are returned, as if the Dorns don't know what they are. When Kirk and company fire them on the Dorns nothing happens. Oh, Tarnok tells Kirk, the Dorns are immune to such weapons fire.

"Why weren't they told this," Kirk wants to know. "We came to help you!"

"And you failed," Tarnok says.


The games begin. A Human is killed by a Klingon opponent. Spock is pitted against another Klingon, and barely survives, has to kill his opponent. The Dorns eagerly watch, rather like sadistic fanatics. Spock wonders how they could be so "extravagant" in their cruelty.

The prisoners are permitted some small freedoms, and Kirk attempts to woo the Dorn girl who came on to him earlier. They even get a smooch in before they are discovered by the Dorn leader and sent their separate ways. Kirk declares to his shipmates that such wooing was the best way to discover what kind of enemy they are facing, its strengths and weaknesses.

The games continue. One Klingon, tired of the nonsense, attacks a Dorn in a violent rage. The Dorn seems to gain strength from the Klingon's very emotional state, seems to grow stronger the more the Klingon screams his fury.

Spock ponders on the fact that all women, children, and weak Klingons were killed outright by the Dorns and only the strongest, the most violent, the most KLINGON of the Klingons were spared. Why would an intelligent enemy kill the lambs and spare the lions?

McCoy has a medical puzzle on his hands. The Dorns are very humanoid, but they don't need to be. They appear to breathe in, but the air does nothing, their lungs don't expel it. They appear to eat but the food does not process the way it should. It simply goes in, but does not come out. Strange...

Kirk woos the girl, and she promises that both the Humans and the Klingons will be allowed to go onboard the Enterprise when the Dorns leave the planet.

Kirk and Tarnok are pitted against each other in a humdinger "Most Dangerous Game" type of hunt/fight. If Kirk wins, the Dorns will take the Humans off the planet. If Tarnok wins, the Klingons get to go. Kirk is surprised that his girlfriend lied to him, but the battle begins -- on foot, chasing each other through the woods, weapons in hand. Kirk defeats Tarnok, but refuses to kill him. The Dorns seem deflated, and the Dorn leader declares that no one will be spared.


Back in their pen, Tarnok seems to finally respect Kirk, but is still steamed that the Human bested him. Spock has a theory. The Dorns have delighted in upsetting Kirk, McCoy and Uhura, but have stayed away from him. He goes to a guard, engages him in friendly banter, begins to recite a mathematical formula. The Dorn tries to get away. But Spock smiles, dances, pinches him in a light-hearted manner. The Dorn is frantic, weak, must get away. Suddenly, Spock slaps the Dorn. He seems to come back alive and decks the Vulcan.

McCoy also has an answer to his dilemma. The Dorn are obviously energy beings only assuming humanoid form.

Kirk goes to meet his Dorn girlfriend. He finds out she has been playing him all along. He DECKS her. She fights back, full of life and energy.

The sun will nova in five hours. Scotty is still waiting for them to beam up. (At this point, Bixby admits that he needs to come up with a reasonable explanation as to why Scotty is so gullible.)


It all comes together for our heroes. The Dorns feed on violence and hatred. Thus they spare only the strong to produce the "food" they need. They need more of it now, since they are expending energy to maintain a humanoid appearance. They need the Enterprise to escape because in their natural form they cannot escape the supernova's effects.

Kirk goes to Tarnok, asks if the Klingons could possibly contain their hate and anger. Tarnok isn't so sure, but the Klingons will try.

The prisoners are all marched out to fight. But under Kirk's guidance, the march turns into a "peace march," one filled with laughter and song and conviviality. Spock even tickles Tarnok to get him to laugh.

Gradually, the Dorns weaken and waver and revert to their natural energy forms and float upward to their doom in the coming supernova. "Good-Bye, Good-Bye" Kirk says cheerily as they leave. Kirk and crew are beamed aboard and the Enterprise escapes in the nick of time.


Aboard ship, McCoy comments on the peace-march, the laugh-in, passive resistance.

To Tarnok: "Blessed be the meek-- for you shall inherit another planet. Hopefully without any Dorns on it."

He is taking readings with a scanner-- Tarnok stiffens, not caring for it.

Some good snapper, as Enterprise speeds away from spectacular nova.

So we have elements of 'By Any Other Name' and 'The Day of The Dove' in one story. This outline further evolved before becoming the aired episode we all know.

I'm sorta glad we got two very good Bixby episodes instead of one!


Drexel Jerome Lewis Bixby (1923-1998) was the author of numerous science fiction short stories and novels. He may be best remembered for his 1953 short story, 'It's a Good Life,' which was adapted by Rod Serling in 1961 as an episode of The Twilight Zone. Bixby's film and television career spanned from 1958-2007, and included such credits as It! The Terror from Beyond Space, Fantastic Voyage, and The Man From Earth, written by Bixby on his deathbed. For Star Trek, he wrote, 'Mirror, Mirror,' 'By Any Other Name' (with D.C. Fontana), 'Day of the Dove,' and 'Requiem for Methuselah.'

Editor's Note: Although this draft is undated, the Star Trek Writers Report for the week ending March 29, 1968 indicates the first draft outline of 'For They Shall Inherit' was delivered on March 28, 1968. For a number of reasons, however, I suspect this draft was actually written sometime before that outline. I will have to examine the production files for 'Day of the Dove,' however, before I can find out for sure. Stay tuned.

Also, credit/blame goes to Dave Eversole for suggesting the visual pun at the top of this post!

Images courtesy of Trek Core.

Review originally posted at Orion Press.