Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Getting animated!




The final series of "Star Trek" not-yet-available-on-DVD has been announced for commercial boxed set release! Filmation's "Star Trek: The Animated Series" (aka TAS), which I used to watch in glorious black and white limited animation on Saturday mornings in the 70s, and then in colour repeats on breakast television - "The Super Flying Fun Show" with Miss Marilyn (Mayo) - was my first real introduction to "Star Trek", consolidated by a few random TOS ("the original series") episodes, again to celebrate the arrival of colour TV Down Under, and then the mesmerising "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" in 1979.

For the full details of the proposed DVD release, see here. I'm really looking forward to the text commentaries by Michael and Denise Okuda on three of the episodes, including two of my favourites ("Yesteryear" and "The Counter-Clock Incident", plus "The Eye of the Beholder") and all the other bonus features. "Yesteryear" was a story involving the Guardian of Forever time gate from the live-action "City on the Edge of Forever", and "The Counter-Clock Incident" featured the first captain of the NCC-1701 Enterprise, Robert April, and his wife, Sarah.

References to TAS in latter day Star Trek tie-ins have been annotated at my site, Toon Trek. A work in progress, I've tried to annotate the list with every element of "Star Trek: The Animated Series" that has appeared in "Star Trek" episodes, movies, novels, comics, games, etc. Another great site about TAS is here.

A frequently asked question about TAS concerns its controversial "removal from the canon" via a memo from Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek Office at Paramount during that prolonged hiatus between Seasons One and Two of "Star Trek: The Next Generation". Why de-emphasise TAS stories? Who knows, the definitive answer is buried under red tape, but keep in mind that: TAS identities, DC Fontana and David Gerrold, had begun legal proceedings in regard to their departure from the staff of TNG; Peter David was asked to discontinue using Arex and M'Ress as characters in his post-ST IV comics; Filmation was being disbanded as a company; and SF writer Larry Niven was just about to launch "The Man-Kzin Wars" books and a licensed "Ringworld" RPG, both featuring kzinti. (It would not have helped him if the TOS and TNG comics and novels started playing with "The Slaver Weapon"'s animated kzinti with, or without, Niven's input.)

But it doesn't matter to us, the fans, any more if TAS is canonical or not. Paula Block, of Viacom (now CBS) Licensing, started letting back in references to TAS in the books within weeks of Roddenberry's death (and Richard Arnold's departure from the STO) in 1991. The novelization of TNG's Spock episodes, "Unification" by Jeri Taylor, briefly references the Phylosians, of "The Infinite Vulcan" and "The Time Trap" fame. Arex and M'Ress have since time jumped into Peter David's "New Frontier" novels (from "Gateways: Cold Wars" onwards) and a member of Em/3/Green's species - P8Blue the Nasat - has turned up in the "Starfleet Corps of Engineers" (SCE) eBooks.

By the way, the above Bill Redfern pic is not actually a still from TAS. Caitians and Andorians used to feature in the online parody, "Haul Trek: Misadventures of M'Iskiti" by the late Paul S Gibbs (who once started up an email correspondence with me, and long held a hope that his Admiral M'Ress fan stories might have had a chance to transform into professional, licensed Star Trek novels). After putting a lot of energy into his TAS-homage "M'Iskiti" strips, he decided to strip out all the "Star Trek" references, changed M'Iskiti's name, and concentrated on crafting a more original humorous science fiction pastiche in panelled cartoon form, presumably again hoping for a commercial sale. Andorian captain, Aydestinguis Thesspiahn, (above) of the freighter Pharsicle was turned into a non-ST green humanoid for the revamped "Freighter Tails". That's the real M'Ress below, between a kzin and Lieutenant Arex.


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