Star Trek The Animated Series has a bit of an odd place in Trek’s history. It is still not officially considered ‘canon’ but it was the only Trek on TV in the 70s. Although it was aired along with other children’s cartoons, many of the scripts were well written with somewhat adult themes (some by TOS writers and even one by Walter Koenig). ST:TAS was produced by Filmation who did a number of licensed properties (including Ghostbusters and He-Man). In a new interview Filmation founder Lou Scheimer reflects on his career…including Trek. Although Filmation’s animation did leave much to be desired he Scheimer feels that they were able to more alien aliens on TAS than they could on the live action show: "All they could do was put ears on guys. They had their money problems. But it was as easy for us to do a monster as it was todo a human being." Even Trek was somewhat toned down to make it appeal as a children’s cartoon, Scheimer does deny the rumor that there were plans to give the Enterprise crew teenage sidekicks.
Regarding working with Gene Roddenberry, Scheimer said they ended up working very closely and he still has fond memories of the experience:
Of all the crazy stories you’ve heard, he was not a difficult man to work with. All he wanted to do was do his series, and he wanted to keep it honest, and I did too, because I loved that show. We tried as hard as we could to keep it as close to what Star Trek would have been. The one thing that was interesting was that we used basically the same writers. The only place Gene really got involved — after we did the models and showed him how the stuff was going to work — was that he wanted to be involved with the stories. And it was a gift as far as I was concerned, because nobody knew it any better, and he could now do things with it that we could do before because they couldn’t afford to do it in live action. We could take them anyplace, do anything we wanted to do, as long as it was true to the original.
We got an Emmy for Star Trek. It was absurd, really, in a way, because it was not a youngster’s show. We did the same kind of stories, with the same kind of concepts, that were done in the nighttime show. It was the only show I ever worked on that got an Emmy. I didn’t mind getting an Emmy, I was delighted with it, but Fat Albert should have been the first show to have got it.
For more on Scheimer’s reflections on Filmation’s other projects read the full interview.