Thursday, September 25, 2014

These Are The Voyages: TOS, Season Two

by Marc Cushman with Susan Osborn
Foreword by Walter Koenig
688 pages
Published by Jacobs/Brown Press

Read August 27, 2014

These Are the Voyages TOS Season Two.jpg
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E-book (Kindle): |

Publisher’s Description:
In the 1980s Gene Roddenberry and Robert H. Justman gave Marc Cushman permission to write the definitive history of the first Star Trek. They backed their stamp of approval by providing documentation never before shared with the public. These Are The Voyages, published in three volumes - one designated for each season of TOS (The Original Series) - will take you back in time and put you into the producers’ offices, the writers’ room, onto the soundstages, and in front of your TV sets for the first historic broadcasts. Included are hundreds of memos between Roddenberry and his staff, production schedules, budgets, fan letters, behind-the-scenes images, and the TV ratings. Buckle your seat belts; the trek of a lifetime continues with Season Two.

My Thoughts:

As with the first These Are the Voyages, Marc Cushman has provided fans with a gargantuan, meticulously-researched volume of facts, trivia, and first-hand accounts of the creation of Star Trek, this time chronicling the classic television show’s second season.

The opening chapters focus on the transition from season one to season two, including the suspense with regards to whether or not the expensive-to-produce show would be renewed. The story of Star Trek behind the scenes is just as exciting as the Star Trek we got on our television sets each week. The very real sense of franticness and difficulty in producing Star Trek is palapble as one reads the pages of this section.

Individual episodes are featured in production order as the discussion between the producers, writers, and the network is chronicled, with each episode getting a separate chapter. The cast of characters featured by Cushman are at times both larger-than-life and surprisingly human. Through their memos regarding each episode’s script and production, we hear the voices of each of the producers and writers: Gene Roddenberry often insisting on a larger “message” to include in each script, Gene Coon focused on creating and maintaining a consistent “Star Trek feel,” Dorothy Fontana and her brilliant eye for characters and drama, and Robert Justman’s protestations about budget and believability couched in a sometimes dark sense of humor.

Also included in each episode’s summary are reminiscences of guest actors and writers, the Neilsen ratings, and the historical context in which each episode was produced. Reportedly, Cushman’s editor did a lot of work to get him to trim back the amount of information included in this book. I can see how it would have been easy to get carried away. Even with the trims, there is a lot here, more than in the first book. And I’m informed that the third volume has even more with which to fill its pages!

Interstitial chapters feature various writers and other background personnel as they join the production, such as David Gerrold and John Meredyth Lucas. Other sections are included, such as depictions of Star Trek in the popular media of the time and, of particular interest, an overview of story ideas that were purchased and in some cases even developed, but never aired.

As with the first volume, the real joy in These Are the Voyages: TOS, Season Two comes in sitting down with the hefty tome and re-watching the episodes. Even someone such as myself, who has seen each episode an uncountable number of times, can pick new things out of the show while following along with Cushman as he revisits the world of 1960s television production.

Final Thoughts:

Above all else, this book is a lot of fun to read. Even the most ardent Star Trek fan will find something new and exciting about their favorite entertainment in the pages of These Are the Voyages. And, as mentioned above, season 3 has even more to talk about. I am very fascinated to learn more about that troubled season, and I am very much looking forward to the third and final volume of These Are the Voyages: TOS.

My next read:

Next up, as promised months ago, is my review of James Swallow's Terok Nor: Day of the Vipers, a tale of The Lost Era!

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