Sunday, July 30, 2006

Animation could have saved the franchise?

Certainly, there were several times the idea of a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" animated series was mooted at Paramount. It has been said that a TNG animated series could have continued the action on TV between TNG feature films, especially since Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart were so keen to move onto other projects, yet might have happily voiced a few animated lines for Data and Picard every few weeks between other stage or film work. IIRC, Susan Sackett and her TNG writing partner, Fred Bronson (who wrote "The Counter-clock Incident" for TAS as John Culver), had also suggested a Wesley-at-the-Academy spin-off animated series. Rick Berman was said to be resistant to these ideas. He was worried that animation would "milk the franchise". (And "Star Trek: Voyager" didn't?)

However, I reckon TNG animation would have brought in new younger fans. TNG was coming to the end of its amazing TV success. Everyone and his dog had been buying the Playmates action figures, but think about the later waves of "Star Trek" toys: the wonderful Art Asylum "Enterprise" and "The Original Series" figures were seemingly being designed and made for adult collectors only. What children were even watching ENT late at night, let alone asking Grandma to buy them a T'Pol or Archer action figure?

Above: Species 8472 meets Lieutenant Arex.

TAS was my first exposure to "Star Trek". As I mentioned below, a few episodes in black and white on Saturday mornings, then after colour TV came to Australia in March 1975, I distinctly remember watching weekday breakfast television repeats of TAS as a young teen: Spock replaced by an Andorian first officer in "Yesteryear"; the stark, white starfield of "The Counter-clock Incident"; tiny, yellow-haired Nurse Chapel drowning in Dr McCoy's halo fish tank in "The Terratin Incident" ("Help! Help!"); wacky new aliens of "The Jihad"; Arex and M'Ress accused as pranksters in "The Practical Joker"; red-skinned Lucien in "The Magicks of Megas-Tu"; bright pink tribbles in "More Tribbles, More Troubles" (which I saw before the original TOS episode); and orange-skinned Mr Arex in "Albatross" (with all the bridge characters turning various colours from the Auroral Plague).

I never even noticed Arex's three arms and three legs until I read Alan Dean Foster's "ST Log" adaptations! (And in one book, ADF accidentally gives Arex three eyes as well!)

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