The second half of The Fifty-Year Mission, which focuses on all the post-TOS iterations of Star Trek, isn't nearly as fun a read as the first half. NoThe second half of The Fifty-Year Mission, which focuses on all the post-TOS iterations of Star Trek, isn't nearly as fun a read as the first half. Not because the shows weren't as good (DS9 rocks), but because instead of offering behind-the-scenes views from all levels of the shows' production, this volume focuses almost entirely on the drama and infighting that occurred among the writers. Especially in the Next Generation section, where there are almost no insights from actors, directors, designers, etc. - it's several hundred pages of Star Trek writers complaining about how badly Star Trek writers were treated, and it goes on and on and on like some kind of Moebius loop of sniping.
From what I gather: TNG had the most well-gelled cast, but the writers' room was a revolving door of hires and fires. DS9 held together the best from a scripting point of view because they were the middle child and no one at Paramount cared as much what they were doing. Voyager wasn't allowed to be as edgy as the premise called for, which we already knew, and wasn't allowed to serialize like DS9 got away with. It's funny how a show that was once as cutting-edge as Star Trek resisted serialization for as long as it did, but the execs were focused on the "syndication model" that saved TOS and let TNG work so well. Once they finally let Enterprise serialize, the show finally got good. Too bad it was too late to save the series....more
Since Paramount and CBS have really dropped the ball on celebrating Star Trek's 50th Anniversary, I'm glad somebody stepped up to the plate. Reading TSince Paramount and CBS have really dropped the ball on celebrating Star Trek's 50th Anniversary, I'm glad somebody stepped up to the plate. Reading The Fifty-Year Mission is a lot like watching a Ken Burns documentary on Star Trek, except that the pictures are all in your head. If you've seen every episode and movie multiple times, this shouldn't be a problem.
One thing this is not is a Star Trek puff piece. Sure, it starts off with all the obligatory praises and hype for what a brilliant, ground-breaking, and culturally important franchise Star Trek is, but once it gets into detailing the production of the series and movies, the gloves come off. "Uncensored and Unauthorized" is right. The people who put the show together - Roddenberry, Shatner, Nimoy, Harve Bennet, Nicholas Meyer, etc. - were no angels and the process they went through to give us the show we love reads more like the backroom goings-on at a particularly shady political convention.
Still, understanding the warts and pitfalls of the production doesn't hamper my enjoyment of the show - in fact, upon finishing the book I immediately popped in my DVD of The Motion Picture (Robert Wise Director's Edition, of course). Looking forward to volume 2 and reading about the Next Generation of Star Trek dirt....more
What a fun little time capsule of Star Trek history. Of course I'd heard about Ellison's original script for this episode and knew that it was out theWhat a fun little time capsule of Star Trek history. Of course I'd heard about Ellison's original script for this episode and knew that it was out there in screenplay form, but I'd never actually read it. What I also didn't know was that this original screenplay was written before any actual episodes of Star Trek had ever aired. As such, there are a million little things that we would never have had on the show - drug dealers on the Enterprise and a kick-ass Rand, for a couple of examples. McCoy's absence sticks out like a faulty warp nacelle, and Kirk and Spock's interactions veer further away from the close camaraderie we're all used to. Still, this is an intriguing insight into the series that might have been, brought to life by the ever-talented J.K. Woodward....more
I've become somewhat a fan of these essay books on geek pop culture, and this was a particularly good one, focusing on the women's viewpoint on a partI've become somewhat a fan of these essay books on geek pop culture, and this was a particularly good one, focusing on the women's viewpoint on a particularly cool bit of SF fandom. Dr. Who is far cooler than it's closest cultural equivalent, Star Trek, for at least two reasons: 1) bow ties, 2) its ability to appeal to a large, active, passionate, and devoted female viewership.
Topics range from analyses of gender, sexual, and racial stereotypes (and the occasional breaking thereof) in the program, to in-depth explorations of the merits of individual (mostly female) characters. The book only drags in the essays on the history of fandom itself - there's only so much interest you can get from reading about someone else's convention-going experience. Otherwise, a nifty little book....more
More than Trek or Star Wars, I've always been a hardcore Whovian. You'd think it wouldn't be an issue for me to enjoy a Who tie-in written by a hardcoMore than Trek or Star Wars, I've always been a hardcore Whovian. You'd think it wouldn't be an issue for me to enjoy a Who tie-in written by a hardcore SF star (such as this) but I did struggle through a big chunk of this book through no fault of the author. Harvest of Time is set during the Third Doctor/UNIT era of the series, which is much beloved by many Brits but is actually my personal least favorite period of the show. (Yes, I like Colin Baker more. Sue me.) Reynolds's story really takes off and the book comes together as a whole only when the Doctor and the Master get swept away to another planet in the far distant future - and that's usually how all Pertwee stories run for me.
But my, does Reynolds nail the Pertwee era of the series perfectly, with the mix of the alien and the mundane - heavy on the mundane - and the Brig, Jo, Benton & Yates taking almost as much precedence in the story as the Doctor himself. But this is Pertwee with a budget - exploding oil rigs, nuclear attacks, legions of robot crabs surging from the sea, and life-or-death battles at the End of Time.
You can also tell from this book that Reynolds really loves the Master, especially the Roger Delgado version who the author paints as the "Sean Connery" of Masters. I'd go so far as to say the Master is treated with far more depth and nuance than any other character, including the Doctor. The Doctor in this novel is only really interesting when considered in terms of his relationship with the Master. Since every other incarnation of the Master also has a cameo, it'd been nice if we could have got some actual dialog from some of them (a Delgado/Ainley team-up perhaps) but that might have overshadowed the title character far too much. It still says "Doctor Who" on the cover after all....more
Here's a fun bit of fluff: New-Who writer Gareth Roberts' novelization of Old-Who writer Douglas Adams' famous unfilmed screenplay that was axed by aHere's a fun bit of fluff: New-Who writer Gareth Roberts' novelization of Old-Who writer Douglas Adams' famous unfilmed screenplay that was axed by a strike at the BBC. As evidenced by Roberts' afterword, the novel Shada is an expansion and reworking of the original story into something a little grander and truer to the ideas that the late Adams was trying to squeeze by on limited 1980's TV production values.
The result is something that's fun to read on a Sunday afternoon, but doesn't quite measure up to a true Adams novel. (Eoin Colfer came closer with And Another Thing.) There are unmistakable bits of Adams DNA, however, such as the enemy spaceship with a personality to match Hitchhiker's Heart of Gold, or the sinister madman from the pristine, beautiful pleasure planet who just can't stand sitting on the beach all day and goes out to conquer the universe.
My strongest temptation would be to send this book back in a time vortex so that readers of the early 80's could be confused by all the sly references to Doctor Who episodes that hadn't happened yet. In true Old-Who form, the Doctor himself is a static character like a scientific Lone Ranger, and therefore the only characters who have an actual arc are the guest stars, in this case a pair of Cambridge grad students, the snarling villain, and a slightly senile professor who also happens to be a retired Time Lord.
Still, I feel it's a crime that Shada was never completed as a TV serial. Despite the fact that Adams was never completely satisfied with his script (and what writer ever is?) it would have been a lovely endcap to his brief tenure as Doctor Who's head writer....more