Well, the Emmy Award nominations have been announced, and On the Air with Richard S. Drake - for the 17th year in a row - has been overlooked, ignored and, if I may be so bold as to say, humiliated. That this causes me great emotional distress goes without saying; for days now I have moped around the house, refusing once again to bathe, change my clothes, shave or brush my teeth.
I mean, what’s the point?
Oh, after a while I’ll get tired of sleeping on the floor; Tracy says that I’m not getting on the couch in my condition. But until that happens, I fully intend to revel in my misery.
It’s not just me, you understand. If it were just me, I could just cowboy-up and take the yearly shame of being ignored and sort of hold my head up high. But it’s my crew, you see. How can I tell my crew - my director and occasional camera people - that all their efforts have gone for naught?
The betrayal in their eyes is always too much to bear.
Well, there’s always next year . . .
Quote of the Day
Sometimes I would almost rather have people take away years of my life than take away a moment. - Pearl Bailey, "Talking to Myself"
The Return of Billy Mays?
Watching TV the other night, and I saw Billy Mays pop up and say, “Hi, I’m Billy Mays and I’m back with . . .” holding yet another cheesy product. Is that ain’t proof of life after death, I don’t know what is.
Boldly going where no cartoon had gone before
I reference the 1970s a great deal when writing about science fiction and television, a time before some of my readers were born, I suppose.
But it's important when you write about certain shows, especially a cultural phenomenon like Star Trek which originally lived and died in the 1960s. But the decade following Trek's cancellation was when the series really started to become the marketing behemoth that began with fan fiction, comic books, novels, audio plays (on Peter Pan records) and ultimately the cartoon series.
And all this before the first movie even made its premiere, in 1979.
In 1974 Filmation, the studio which had brought us Lassie's Rescue Rangers, brought forth the animated Star Trek to Saturday morning viewers.
Star Trek: The Animated Series, while certainly groundbreaking in many regards, was also very much a throwback to the shows of the early 1960s, when programs like Fireball XL-5, Fury, and Sky King dominated Saturday morning.
These were shows that were plot-driven, but were driven out by the super-hero cartoon craze in the later part of the decade. They weren't Shakespeare, but they were good, solid entertainment.
The five-year mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise was cut short after only three years, so this was an opportunity to carry the voyages forward. Along the way came most of the cast, with the exception of Walter Koenig, who played Ensign Chekov.
And with the with actors, came many of the writers, who approached the series as if it were the same old Star Trek - no dumbing down of anything here. True, Saturday morning meant that Kirk couldn't go around trying to get into the pants of every alien woman he laid eyes on, but that was getting kind of old anyway.
Well, getting old for the viewer - probably not for Kirk.
As a result of which, Star Trek pretty much maintained its generally high level of story-telling. And as the producers and writers have often said, animation would allow the show to go places where current special effects technology just couldn't take them.
A couple of shows you might not expect to see on Saturday morning - on one episode they meet the Devil, and in one episode, "Yesteryear," Spock travels back in time to meet his younger self on the planet Vulcan. There, the young Spock must face the difficult decision over whether or not to have his beloved pet - who has just saved his life but been badly wounded - put to sleep.
It's a small part of a much larger story, but not something you'd usually expect to see dealt with on Saturday morning. In fact, "Yesteryear" ranks up with the best of the Trek episodes, animated or not.
The series is livened by having special guests like Mark Lenard (Sarek) and Roger C. Carmel (Harry Mudd) return to the series to do their voices.
As for the regulars, the voice work is sometimes spotty. Where once an actor might come across right on target, in the next episode they might seem a little off. It is well-known that most of the actors mailed in tapes of their performances, and they were edited into the program.
But whenever James Doohan (Scotty) and Leonard Nimoy (Spock) begin to speak, it is a moment of beauty. They are never anything but perfect in their roles.
Many Star Trek fans turn their noses up at the animated series, feeling it is not "canon." But that silly thinking seems to have eased over the years, with many Trek novels and subsequent TV episodes making references to animated characters and episodes.
True, not all of the stories may standup to what many consider to be Trek's high standard of storytelling, but hey, look at the infamous third season of the original series. I'd gladly swap some of these stories for some on that season.
If you're looking for a good book to read, Alan Dean Foster did wonderful work adapting the episodes into novel form. They may be out of print, but that's why God made used bookstores.
Trivia note: If you look very closely at the episode, "More Tribbles, More Troubles," you can see a lanky, longish haired ensign in the transporter room. This is meant to be writer David Gerrold, who had hoped for a walk-on part on the original Tribbles episode, but was disappointed.
All things come to him who waits.