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These are the Voyages: TOS, Season 1 Hardcover – August, 2013
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THIS BOOK IS NOT THE REVISED AND EXPANDED EDITION OF 'THESE ARE THE VOYAGES, TOS: SEASON ONE'. THE BOOK DISPLAYED ON THIS IS NO LONGER IN PRINT, BUT THE REVISED AND EXPANDED EDITION, WITH A NEW COVER, ADDED TEXT AND PICTURES IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM ON A SEPARATE AMAZON DETAIL PAGE. SEARCH UNDER "THESE ARE THE VOYAGES, TOS: SEASON ONE". THIS NEW VERSION OF BOOK ONE / "SEASON ONE" CAN BE PURCHASED IN HARDBACK, SOFTBACK AND KINDLE.
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I feel I am there all over again ― on the Desilu lot with the visionary Gene Roddenberry and his associates ― and the great stars of TOS, who became dear friends.
Marc Cushman’s research, which I know took six years of intensive work, takes us behind-the-scenes to see what went into this series ― information than even those of us who were there never imagined!
This is the book that everyone who loves Star Trek, with its awesome insights into the future ― inventions which are present in our lives today! ― will love!!! It sweeps us up in the massive effort it took to create this unique series so filled with vision, hope, brilliance ― and longevity!
Marc Cushman deserves credit and thanks from all who read this spectacular and authoritative work!!!
The book isn't lavishly illustrated, and there are no images in color, but there is an entertaining sprinkling of black and white photos throughout, many dealing with behind-the-scenes stuff, some of which I'd never seen before.
Unfortunately, this otherwise wonderful book is marred with what seemed to me to be an overabundance of typographical errors and odd misspellings. My guess would be that much, if not most, if not all of the proofreading was done with the spellcheck function on someone's computer -- leading to some goofy stuff like "breading" for "breeding" in the caption to a photo on page 62.
And there is a very odd line in the author's credit on the back cover, which reads:
"Gene Roddenberry took the pitch from Marc for "Sarek", the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation to include a character from TOS and thereby link the two series together."
According to Wikipedia, "Sarek" was the seventy-first episode of "Next Generation", and appeared in the third season of that series. But... a principal character from TOS had already appeared in "Next Generation", in the very FIRST episode of the first season, no less ("Encounter at Farpoint"): Dr. McCoy. DeForest Kelley appeared in this pilot episode as the aged Dr. McCoy, now an admiral, in a lovely, touching scene with the android character Data.
For a book as seemingly well-researched as this one, that seems like an egregious mistake.
However, it does not put me off recommending this book highly, especially for fans of TOS. And I will certainly be purchasing the promised following volumes, dealing with the second and third seasons of TOS, when they are released. -- PL
That being said, I found this a fascinating read despite the fingernails-on-chalkboard-irritating errors. Cushman had access to a treasure-trove of primary materials and made use of all of it to provide a more thorough, in-depth coverage of the origins of Star Trek and its first season than I've encountered anywhere before - and I've been a Trekkie since I first caught the episode "Balance of Terror" (9th episode to be recorded, 14th to air) on December 15, 1966.
Even before getting to the actual program, there's thorough coverage of the background, from a biography of Gene Roddenberry to the origins of Desilu Studios and how an organization more associated with a classic sitcom got involved in science fiction.
Then for each episode, there's a plot summary, quotes, a critical evaluation, then sections on script development, pre-production, production, and post-production that go into what was involved in making the episode. Concluding sections include reactions (with Nielsen ratings and quotes from cast members), letters sent to the production, and an "aftermath" section covering the effects of the episode on the story structure of the rest of the season and beyond.
The coverage makes clear just how much work went into each episode, the scripts alone taking numerous drafts to be whipped into the shape that Roddenberry insisted on. One of the side effects was that many of the talented science fiction writers who worked on the first season got ticked off and did not return after seeing the fruits of their labors distorted out of recognition to meet the demands of the show and its creator.
Harlan Ellison is of course the most famous of these, having remained indignant for decades over how his classic "City on the Edge of Forever" was treated. I've long had sympathy for both sides, though reading this made me more sympathetic to the production team: Ellison's original script was brilliant, but it wasn't Star Trek and would have been prohibitively expensive to produce. And this coverage makes clear than Ellison had no great interest in fixing those problems when revising his script. Instead, the in-house writing staff, including Steven Carabatsos, Gene L. Coon, D.C. Fontana, and Roddenberry himself, had to wrest it into some sort of shape. Even then, it went almost as much over budget as all the other first-season episodes combined.
The treatment of these and the various other situations is scrupulously fair so far as I can tell: Roddenberry is neither deified nor vilified but praised when he does something brilliant (such as writing a script - "The Menagerie" - that incorporated almost all of the first pilot "The Cage" and thereby saving a massive amount on production costs) and criticized when he falls short (numerous other last-minute rewrites that made scripts weaker rather than stronger).
The best thing about this book, though, is the reminder of just how good the original series was, and right from the starting gate. Most science fiction programs - including the latter Star Trek incarnations - took a season or two to find their way, but the classic series was sensational from the outset. In the entire first season, there are only a couple of real clunkers plus a few mediocre episodes, while at least half-a-dozen are as good an example of television as you will find: "The Corbomite Manuever", "The Menagerie", "Balance of Terror", "Tomorrow is Yesterday", "This Side of Paradise," and of course the aforementioned "City on the Edge."
I'll definitely be buying future entries in the series, though I'll be hoping that those will be better laid-out and proofread.