Many moons ago when my website, RALPH’S CINEMA TREK: A Journey In Film took flight, I wrote:
STAR TREK was a phenomenon. I directed six and a half episodes of the original series, working a total of ninety days. I worked many more days than that on just the pilot of DYNASTY. I directed twice as many episodes of THE WALTONS and two and half times as many episodes of THE FBI; I directed more episodes of THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY and more episodes of THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER than I did of STAR TREK. And yet today if you google-search my name on the internet, you will think I spent most of my career directing STAR TREK.
Today, three years shy of half a century since its birth, the phenomenon known as STAR TREK shows no sign of dimming. In fact, as of this month, September, 2013, its fame is exploding courtesy of the unprecedented fervor of a man who was in the fifth grade the year the USS Enterprise first shot into orbit. Now grown up Marc Cushman has written a remarkable tome — THESE ARE THE VOYAGES (TOS). Books have been written about STAR TREK before. Books have ben written about almost every successful television series, but never has there been a chronicle like the present one. I am only half way through the 541 pages of the first volume about Season One (Season Two and Season Three will be out within the next six months). I have read about the first 11 voyages; I have 13 more voyages to cover before I came aboard (but I have peeked), and I have been completely blown away by the enormity of the challenge Marc faced.
The first 78 pages (and they are oversized pages) present in minute detail the development of the series from a seed of an idea in Gene Roddenberry’s head through the filming of TWO pilots. When he gets to the actual voyages, Marc is just as meticulous. For each voyage he presents THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY – the arduous struggle from the contributing writer’s original pitch through the multiple Story Outlines (all after the first one being gratis), through the original author’s Draft Teleplay (again followed by gratis revised Drafts). Marc presents in detail the voluminous notes to the writer for script changes that came from the network (NBC), from Robert Justman concerning production problems and from Gene Roddenberry, always concerned with keeping the script in line with his vision of STAR TREK. Marc follows this constant reworking of the script as it moved across the desk of staff writers until finally Gene Roddenberry would do a final rewrite, without taking any onscreen credit.
Marc’s microscopic eye then continues as the scripts move through PRE-PRODUCTION, a PRODUCTION DIARY and finally POST-PRODUCTION. As I stated above, I was in awe of the enormity of the project. All of this would be commendable if it were merely presented Jack Webb-DRAGNET style – “just the facts. ma’am.” But it’s more. Marc has dramatized the events. He takes his readers into the offices where the pre-production activities occurred, onto the soundstages and locations for the filming and into the editing rooms and optical houses for the post-production. It’s an exciting and hair-raising ride.
I am impressed, but feel a little guilty. Filming on the series began in May, 1966. I arrived to direct THIS SIDE OF PARADISE 7 months later in January, 1967. Oh I’ve read about the script revisions on PARADISE that preceded my arrival, but once filming began, I faced none of the turmoil that I am reading about in the early months of production. My major problem, in fact my only problem was on my third day of filming at the Disney Ranch when Jill Ireland did not report to the location because it was feared she had measles. She didn’t, and even that worked to my advantage. Since the Disney Ranch was no longer available for us to finish our work there, we were forced to film the remaining location scenes in Bronson Canyon. I have always felt that the Canyon provided a better place than the Disney Ranch to film those final scenes, especially because of that wonderful tree limb where Mr. Spock so charmingly dangled.
I will be looking forward to the arrival in November of Volume Two, the story of the second season. I know that I will be more than interested as Marc delves into the turmoil that this time I was involved in, the turmoil that followed the purchase of Desilu Studios by Paramount.
But for now I am more than content to return to finishing reading Volume One.
LATEST BREAKING NEWS: Plus being a great read (I have read it cover to cover and am now going back and rereading) THE PRICE AT AMAZON HAS JUST DROPPED TO $27.95. I’m even more anxious for Season Two to arrive.