Book Review: ‘Star Trek: The Official Guide To The Animated Series’

Star Trek: The Animated Series (TAS) has been a bit of black sheep of the Trek franchise. At times considered apocryphal, more recently it has been welcomed into the CBS Trek franchise with a proper DVD set, and later, a Blu-ray release. Now it’s getting its due with a coffee table book that digs deep into its history, its production, and its legacy.

The show

The Animated Series stood out as unique as—up until recently—it was the only animated Trek ever produced. Coming on the heels of The Original Series gaining traction in syndication, the show was blessed by Gene Roddenberry and the writing was overseen by Dorothy Fontana, with Trek alumni such as David Gerrold and Samuel Peoples involved in the writing of episodes. Regardless of the official status of TAS, “Yesteryear”, which was written by Fontana, has long been heralded as part of Spock’s backstory, and over time much of it has become worked into live-action Trek. The Animated Series has the distinction of being the first Trek show to win an Emmy; in 1975 it won for Outstanding Entertainment Children’s Series.

The series was brought to life by Filmation, a big name in cartoons during the ’70s. Filmation was known for Batman, Superman, and Archie cartoons, and perhaps most famous at the time — for Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. In the 1980s, they created the wildly popular He-Man and She-Ra cartoons.

The book

Written by Aaron Harvey and Rich Schepis (with an afterword by Dayton Ward), the book is much more than a simple episode guide. It provides an in-depth look at TAS from the early beginnings of NBC trying to resurrect the canceled live show to an overview of how the animation was created, voices recorded, and then brought to TV screens in 1974.

The book uses the full color and high gloss pages to full effect by making 2-page spreads out of most sections.

Aaron Harvey has a TAS podcast called “Saturday Morning Trek” where he was able to interview a number of people involved. He used his connections from talking with these folks to get access to behind-the-scenes information, and perhaps most importantly for such a visual show, early concept sketches, which are seen throughout the book. The authors also conducted new interviews to fill in the gaps, looking at everything from the scriptwriting process to the casting, directing, and final construction.

The book paints a picture of the making of the show via quotes from Dorothy Fontana, David Gerrold, Lou Scheimer (co-founder of Filmation), Bill Reed (animation director of TAS season 2), and Bob Kline (Filmation background artist). Bob Kline’s own archive of sketches and personal recollections of making the cartoon help fill in new details never before covered. One such detail is the pervasive urban myth about TAS, which the book officially debunks: the assumption that the abundance of pink, purple, and green in The Animated Series was due to (Filmation’s primary animation director) Hal Sutherland being color-blind. Sutherland was not responsible for the color choices; that was Irv Kaplan, who was known as the “purple and green guy.” He liked those colors and thought they were good for children’s shows.

No, it wasn’t a mistake. Purple Klingons were purposeful.

The episode guide

Each episode gets 4-6 pages (2 or 3 spreads), containing a synopsis and plenty of art, the next pages contain interesting facts about the episode, and a section called “Databank” calls out new or important characters, places, and technology introduced in each episode. Each episode also gets a “Bloopers” boxout that discusses the (mostly) minor errors the animation was sometimes infamously known for, much of it due to the hectic schedule or outright limitations on how many layers of animation cells could be easily combined. There are also fun headers like “Something For The Kids,” “Definitely Not For The Kids,” and “Canon Alert!”

The combination of bright, eye-catching design with tidbits of information, notable quotes, and close-ups of new characters, ships, and planets makes the book a fun read as well as an informative one. You can go cover-to-cover or just flip through it, picking out pages at random.

TrekMovie can give readers an exclusive look at two spreads:

Bottom line

The Official Guide… is a lovely addition to the library of Trek reference books. It’s a gorgeously designed book that carries the motif of the colors of The Animated Series across its pages, and has a whimsical layout with playful headings. A particular thrill for me personally was the inclusion of so many sketches from Bob Kline’s archives, these are the equivalent of seeing rough cuts and/or deleted scenes from a live action show.

If you’re a fan of TAS then this book is probably already on your radar, so go buy it now. If you’re generally interested in this chapter of Trek history The Official Guide To The Animated Series comes highly recommended as well, and it’s a nice book to display on your coffee table.


Star Trek: The Official Guide To The Animated Series is available now

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Urban Turf

It blows my mind that there are people who love this show. Let alone that they accept THIS but not Discovery. Proof that it takes all kinds.

Danpaine

All I can say in its defense is that a number of TAS episodes were written by respected sci-fi writers of the time, and it shows. Discovery….is not. Visually, I can see where you’re coming from.

Urban Turf

You wouldn’t know it unless you saw their names in the credits. Just… awfully written. Discovery’s writing, love it or not, is light years better than this, and if you disagree, I don’t even know where to begin.

kmart

I disagree, turf, and I know where to begin, but not where to stop when it comes to wrong DSC calls, just on 1st season (all I’ve seen) with every damn episode.
At least TAS had ‘YESTERYEAR’ plus some fun ones like TIME TRAP and BEYOND THE FARTHEST STAR and … geex, I think I must like nearly half of them!

TG47

Let’s not forget ‘MORE TRIBBLES, MORE TROUBLES’.

kmart

I’ve always thought JIHAD was a good basis for a cross-platform feature teamup. Trek meets magnificent 7.

Dash Fatbastard

Consider it in the context of it’s day…not only as a Saturday morning kids show but as an SF show of its time. Sit through few a episodes of the old ‘Planet of the Apes’ cartoon or ‘Sealab 2020’ and get back to me.

Legate Damar

It boggles my mind too. Even the writing wasn’t great. There were some good concepts, but they were rarely executed well.

David Moss

While TAS has its problems we know that it was produced for Saturday morning and in many respects changed Saturday morning TV. It WAS and IS Star Trek with its’ high concepts, heavy sci-fi stories, and morals and messages.

Discovery on the other hand (and I am not trying to bash it) is written for adults that should not tolerate bad writing and major plot holes. The audience is very smart, especially nowadays that we have continuing storylines and can without a doubt just see bad writing. That is my problem with Discovery – it is written in such a way that the plot holes take me right out of the story. And the sad part is that each plot hole if thought about more carefully could be explained away with a few words.

TAS was written for a different audience at a different time and I can respect that and forgive its mistakes. I can’t forgive Discovery for what sometimes seems as talking down to us.

Urban Turf

I get what you’re saying: a kids show from the 70s vs a high end drama in 2019. I can see that point, in a vacuum.

but it’s not a vacuum. put them side by side and I have to question anyone who enjoys TAS but says DSC is bad. If you’re 5? Okay, fair enough.

Boze

You know what’s the problem? TAS could easily take Discovery’s entire second season and make a twenty minute episode out of it, and nothing of substance would be lost in the process. Meanwhile, your “high end drama” spent half the season backtracking and chasing crazy Spock who wasn’t even there, and it cost them eight million dollars per episode, for what is essentially an one-watch show.

If it sounds like contempt for Discovery, that’s because it is. I don’t react well to someone wasting my time. If they omitted all the stalling, backtracking, slow-motion sequences and Burnham’s pretentious monologues, the second season could’ve been a decent, enjoyable two-parter, like Year of Hell or Dark Frontier. Instead, they opted to make it a full season, and it resulted into dragged, tired, thinly spread chore of a show. Sorry, I’d rather watch TAS, because even the worst stories of TAS have one *major* redeeming quality: I don’t have to wait fourteen episodes for them to end.

albatrosity

I love this repsonse

Vulcan Soul

Boze nailed it. As I’ve liked to joke a while back, Discovery is the real cartoon – not in its filming style or production values, but its immature writing and characterizations. And as of the second season finale (hel1, especially the second season finale!), that hasn’t improved meaningfully.

Urban Turf

lol I find it laughable when people “love” a response and say someone “nailed” it when they fail to see the poor logic. they respond to it’s funny nature, or that it adheres to their pre-conceived opinion.

because you could literally do the same thing with any other trek series episodes: condense them to 25 minutes and lose very little, or nothing at all. but somehow DSC is derided for the same thing.

no, you just don’t like the show, and think you can create clever ways to “prove” how bad it is.

Vulcan Soul

Are you just the alter ego of Luke Montgomery? Because you guys all fail to understand the fallacy of ad hominem, and dare to talk about LOGIC in the same breath. Never mind, welcome to my blacklist, Urban Turd! :D

Urban Turf

I can appreciate your stance, Vulcan, but you name call me in the same sentence you vehemently oppose ad hominem attacks?

Second, I was not personally attacking anyone. I did not name call or insult. I did say “if you’re 5.” but… this is a show created for 5 year olds. so a little confused by your objection if that’s where it stems from.

as for your black list.. hey. ok. no skin off my back. I think it’s every person’s right to ignore those they do not see eye to eye with, or feel offended by. particularly on the internet.

David Moss

Dude, chill. Don’t attack anyone for their opinion. We could just as easily say you find reasons for something. It is our opinion, and if you’re a real Trekker/Trekkie you’d be open to others’ opinions in a constructive way without an insult.

Urban Turf

who is it people are claiming insulted someone? I’m very confused! I also have yet to see anyone respond to the actual point I made about being able to do the same with any other trek series.

Vulcan Soul

Man, you weren’t responding to the actual points being made either, you were just calling the posters stupid and their posts “laughable”, and the reaction to THAT was predictable. For example, my argument was: Discovery resembles a cartoon because its characterizations and writing are immature (regarding condensing, that was Boze’s argument). I can happily elaborate on that, but if you had followed here longer during the past 2 years, you’d already know my points, since I have written in detail repeatedly which parts of Discovery’s story and character arcs fell flat for which reason. If I keep making the same points about stuff that happened 2 years ago, people will be upset as well!

TonyD

Nice analysis. TAS was limited by its animation but it told interesting stories that took some chances and were even thought provoking. I remember an episode where Captain Kirk defends Lucien, a being who is basically revealed to be what we knew as the devil (name one episode of Discovery that challenges your perceptions like that). It’s actually impressive what they were able to accomplish given the limited format and run-time they had to work with and I enjoy TAS way more than any of the recent live action shows.

The River Temarc

I remember an episode where Captain Kirk defends Lucien, a being who is basically revealed to be what we knew as the devil (name one episode of Discovery that challenges your perceptions like that)

Um, the Terralysium episode?

TonyD

Hardly the same thing.

Magics of Megas Tu basically paints the devil as a misunderstood alien and is really about the crew being tested to see whether humanity has evolved beyond its old superstitious ways.

Terralysium shows us a bunch of clueless humans who were spirited away to an alien planet (still trying to figure out how the elder Burnham pulled that off BTW) and building a religion around it for no particularly well explained reason.

TAS confronted the issue head on; Terralysium did what Discovery often does, introduced the idea and then pushed it to the background and just let it sit there instead of exploring it.

Mike2

And others criticize DSC for being too fast paced and argue it should be slowed down. Personally, while I might quibble about pacing from time to time, I’ve never felt my time was wasted with a DCS episode. There have, however, been a handful of episodes from TNG, VOY, and DS9 where I felt that.

David Moss

Great discussion and let us look at being 5 because I think even a 5-year old can see some plot holes in DSC. So, how would an adult explain away these things?

1. When Admiral Cornwell is at the torpedo, why didn’t they beam her out? For that matter, why didn’t they just beam the torpedo out (they can beam whales up with an old Klingon transporter – surely they could dematerialize a torpedo).
2. When the torpedo exploded, which should have a greater yield than a thermonuclear weapon, how is it that Pike can watch the explosion through a glass window? Why didn’t it disintegrate the Enterprise?
3. Two episodes prior, they made a huge deal out of the fact that Ash Tyler could not be seen by any Klingons, none-the-less be on a Klingon ship. But there he is completely ignoring the storyline of two episodes prior.
4. DSC was out in the middle of nowhere, yet Sarek can find them, get there, talk to Michael, and leave. Magic huh?
5. How is it that in only a few weeks Saru’s sister learns how to pilot a spacecraft, and not only pilot it but also take part in a battle. Oh, and how did they make it there just in time to fight.
6. Forgetting the Ash issue above, how did Ash leave the DSC, go to Klingon space, talk them into the fight and make it back in under 30 minutes (which is real-time on the show in the battle)?

I could go on and on, but the writing for an adult audience was just unbelievably weak. This is the type of writing I would forgive for a kid’s audience but not an adult one.

TG47

Urban Turf, one of my frustrations is the implicit view that underlies the position of many fans, that holds that all Trek should be developed for the same mass audience – and therefore assessed against a uniform standard.

Trek – as a franchise that’s lasted more than a half century – has bridged from the era of a single mass market audience to some niche marketing to a deliberate diversified marketing approach across streaming, cable and broadcast media.

When we’re talking about TAS, we’re looking at a children’s animated show from the 70s that stands up better than expected. I never would have thought our kids would be really enthusiastic to enter into Trek starting with TAS as primary graders. I expected that the flat, stiff 2-d animation would put them off at minimum. Instead they binged through the disks repeatedly and wanted more.

Discovery has had serious writing challenges in its first two seasons, as most Trek series post TOS have done. Unfortunately, the serial format shows the holes more.

Overall, Discovery has had as many good episodes in its first 27 (over 2 seasons) as TNG or DS9 did over their first 26 episode seasons. However, as Discovery’s episodes are built to fit in a serial, turn the card, mystery box frame, the whole suffers when the writers are not collaborating well.

David Moss

Very well said, and I completely agree that you could point out weaknesses in earlier shows as well but that the serialized nature points it out more directly. Further, when you have a bad TNG episode it only ruins that week. When you have a bad DSC episode it could take you out of the entire season/storyline.

Great point and I do miss episodic sci-fi (with a touch of continuity). Thank goodness for the Orville.

Urban Turf

Totally agree with you. I think a show for kids is wonderful. And I’m really glad we’re getting another new kids show. I probably won’t watch it, but my nieces and nephews I hope will. and I think it’s great we’re getting a more dark show like S31, and an adult cartoon, a show like Picard that caters to 90s fans.

Diversity in storytelling!

And I think TAS did a fine job of making a kids show for 1970. But it’s quality only measures up to other kids fare of the day (though I still find it curious that it would win an Emmy), and so I just… I don’t know, find it a little bizarre that adult fans would be able to digest and tolerate, and even enjoy, this show from 1970, meant for 5 year olds, in 2019, while calling DSC abject garbage. I get a genuine belly laugh from it.

look, we can all agree I think, even fans of DSC such as myself, that the writing on discovery hasn’t been award-worthy. but that also doesn’t make it as bad as most hyperbolic claims, and certainly TAS– FOR ADULTS– does not hold up to it. it’s kind of a joke when people say ‘wow, tas is much better written than dsc!’

Mike2

David Moss – Sincere question: When you criticize DSC for plot holes, and then say “the sad part is that each plot hole if thought about more carefully could be explained away with a few words,” why can you not just assume those few words were spoken off screen and reconcile an apparent “hole” that way? Honestly, I find that to be one of the most enjoyable parts of being a Trek fan, to find ways to explain apparent inconsistencies so as to see a coherent and consistent “history” across episodes and across series (including TAS in my mind). And this is not new to Trek. Remember the old “Nitpickers Guides” to TOS and TNG? I used to like looking at those and finding ways to reconcile and explain away what others might see as plot holes or inconsistencies.

David Moss

Hey Mike… Very good points, and I’ll give you that on many things. But issues like Ash not being able to be seen by other Klingons, then being on the bridge of a Klingon ship; Pike watching a thermonuclear explosion through a window; Saru’s sister learning how to pilot a space vehicle and making the fight in a few days; Ash making his way to Klingon space, talking the Klingons to joining the war and making it back in 30 minutes (when he can’t even be seen by other Klingons), etc… Those are just inexcusable. :)

ML31

I think among the myriad of season 2 screw ups (and there were a ton) my favorite might be the time suit. And not just that they were able to replicate the tech in a matter of minutes (which in itself is laughably absurd) but really it’s more that the time suit even existed in the first place. I mean, sure Trek has time traveled. But at least in Kirk’s day (a decade later than Discovery) traveling through time was NOT a simple thing. The easiest way they did it was using the Guardian of Forever. And that gate was not capable of creating a suit.

Matthew D.

I love both. I have a big ole soft spot for TAS and just love Arex.

Also, I tend to think I’m a relatively smart viewer, but I almost never notice plot holes in shows (I certainly do after the fact, I suppose, but not during). And I don’t nitpick. I just accept the episode and go along for the ride. ::shrugs:: I’m watching TV to be entertained, not be a writing or acting critic. TAS and DISCO entertain me. So, I watch them!

(note: I’m not criticizing those that say DISCO has bad writing or plot holes, just that I honestly don’t notice it and, the few times folks have provided examples beyond simply stating it’s a plot hole or bad writing, I often don’t agree with that assessment.)

ML31

Matthew D, I am in a similar boat. I want to get engulfed in the story, characters, emotions, all of that. So if the show is really engaging, I am not thinking about plot holes. I’m enjoying the ride. But if the show is not grabbing me because the characters are boring or the writing and story is poor, then I WILL notice them. Big time. And I am forced to say that too many times I was noticing the plot and production mistakes more so than I was following the story being presented. Which means, the show has a problem.

Just Another Salt Vampire

You are a troll.

Dr Zaius

Maybe because TAS didn’t try to rewrite Trek history, give Spock siblings and recycle past plot elements in every episode as STD did,

The River Temarc

Please state where TOS said Spock had no siblings.

Kev-1

STV gave Spock a brother and Gene Roddenberry considered it apocryphal. TOS never said Spock had no siblings, but they were never mentioned. Problem is STD made Burnham the primary driver of Spock’s personality and say she’s responsible for instigating his relationship with Kirk. But they can do what they want.

Kev-1

Always thought the show had superior writing. Top sci-fi authors. “Yesteryear” filled out Spock’s background. I think some of it made canon. Sam Peeples wrote “Beyond the Farthest Star”, the pilot and also later did what became STII. Peeples also did a little thing called “Where no man has gone before.” The second Trek pilot. STAS also won an Emmy.

Disinvited

Kev-1,

One of the reasons Filmation’s STAR TREK had superior writing in its era was there was a writers’ strike and its production was exempt.

Jonboc

While limited to typical TV bargain animation, the series was created by, written by and voice-acted, by original series veterans. That alone is worth the price of admission. Discovery is an abomination. But it is pretty.

David Moss

I would love someone to take some of the better episodes and recreate the voice track in full CGI.

Rocketscientist

I was thinking the same thing, David.

I mentioned it to my boss, a huge Star Trek fan. He thought it might sell!

Seriously, most of the stories were good and you have the original cast’s voices. All you need to do is the same thing they did with the remastered TOS shows. I’d buy it!

Nachum

My wish exactly. Or maybe they can get the Abramsverse cast to redo them all.

odradek

And I on the the other hand would wish they would do a Discovery short trek in the exact TAS style. I immensely enjoyed the two episodes the Farragut group did some time ago.

David Moss

If they took the audio track without the music, converted it to full CGI and edited the music down a bit, or maybe even added new music, I betcha they could use the CGI elements to add some time to each story as well and expand them to a full 30-minutes.

With each episode having less cartoon music (although I do know there are those that love that soundtrack), and with full correct animation, I betcha some of the stories would pop even more. Specifically, I am thinking about:

1. Yesteryear
2. Magicks of Megas-tu
3. The Slaver Weapon
4. The Time Trap
5. How Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth
6. The Jihad

Thorny

They still have the problem of NBC Saturday morning restrictions, i.e. no swearing (not even “hell”), minimize fight scenes to just a glancing blow, no blood, no hint of sexual attraction (although Fontana & Co. slipped a few things through anyway) and no hint of pain. Still it would be nice to see Yesteryear remade as CGI and to fix that awful “Guardian of Forever” voice.

TG47

It’s odd, watching Discovery and other recent streamers with a parent’s eye, I am feeling that in every premiere episode the writers are adding these ‘adult’ elements just to get a 14+ rating.

I find myself taken out of the experience, and ticking off a list:

1- sex scene with adult nudity
2- at least once incident of swearing
3- image of graphic violence or gore

Whether it’s Carnival Row, or Discovery, it’s become formulaic.

Sincerely, these things seem obligatory, in most cases do nothing to help the plot or realism.

It reminds me of the 1970s and early 80s when every cinematic feature had to have an obligatory sex scene with the principal character.

More to the point, if it’s become obligatory, isn’t that the opposite of creative freedom?

sarek66

I would love to see TAS get new animation. Expand it to a full 30 minutes. Incorporate original series music. I would love to see them make one of the episodes part of Short Trek, just to see the reaction of people.

Legate Damar

Was any of that in Discovery’s premiere? I don’t recall any sex or swearing until the middle of the first season. Maybe some violence, but Trek has always done that.

TG47

Thanks for the review Matt!

You’ve convinced me that we need this in our household collection of Trek books.

TAS is really more beloved than I’d realized. I watched it faithfully Saturday mornings the one brief season it was on, but assumed that it wasn’t popular since it was cancelled so soon.

Seeing on the DVDs with our kids when they were in their primary grades, gave me a new appreciation for it.

I’ve only just learned recently that it got an Emmy nod too.

I just wish that all the fans who would like to exclude it from canon would actually watch it all first.

Aaron Harvey

It got an Emmy WIN – TOS was nominated several times but never won.

Urban Turf

its Emmy is a joke, frankly. for outstanding children’s entertainment, and it beat Captain Kangaroo and Pink Panther?

someone was paid for that award! Those two shows outclass TAS by margins so wide they’d make sir mix-a-lot swoon

albatrosity

I guess that was their way of awarding Trek at the time, since TOS was never so honored

TG47

Urban Turf, the quality of kids programming then was mostly really poor, and uninformed by modern understanding of childhood development.

Blocks of one hour compilations of Looney Tunes and old Disney cartoons fron the 1940s were typical daily fair. Afterschool monster movies and endless black and white westerns were typical.

Pink Panther was out there from 1969 on, but was originally a series of animated shorts (around 6 per season), that was as I understand it, later compiled into a half hour show. So it may not have been eligible that year.

Captain Kangaroo – sigh – I know it was beloved, though I loathed it myself as a child. However, it was a Monday to Friday live action children’s show, so again was not likely in the same category.

Saturday morning offerings from Hanna Barbara and others had really low quality animation and repetitive plots. Compared to the Hardy Boys, Aquaman reruns, and Scuby Do, TAS was full of challenging adult ideas, and something new every episode.

Urban Turf

I think you misunderstand. TAS was *nominated alongside* Captain Kangaroo and Pink Panther.

so Emmy voters thought TAS was better than Captain Kangaroo and Pink Panther. now, I know hindsight is 20/20, but even when I was 5, I could tell you that TAS was the worst of those three.

I think there may be some merit to albatrosity’s theory that it was a “franchise achievement’ award of sorts.

(also worth noting that TAS won a DAYTIME Emmy. it did not compete against more popular programming like the nominees in that year’s primetime children’s category: Sesame Street, Zoom, and Electric Company.)

TonyD

Now you’re just trolling. Captain Kangaroo had been on the air for nearly 20 years and was already a tired presentation and the Pink Panther cartoons were the definition of shallow.

Urban Turf

in honesty, I think the word “troll” gets tossed around too haphazardly. if someone has an unpopular opinion, one is labeled a troll.

No, Captain Kangaroo was a far superior show, and much better programming for kids than the downright bizarre and poorly written TAS. One can cite all of the quality names who contributed, but that’s like saying the voice work was excellent just because it was delivered by great actors. It was for both actor and writer, some of the worst work those creators ever delivered. Most likely because they weren’t being well paid: so the voice actors delivered their lines in from the kitchen table onto a cassette tape, and the writers didn’t spend time refining and approving through multiple drafts.

It’s a fun little side-note in Trek history, and has some interesting nuggets, but it is merely a curiosity to look back and laugh at, and appreciate for its sheer bizarre-ness, not a program worth watching for its quality.

Thorny

“Captain Kangaroo” was great (don’t say the secret word!), but it really was in a different class than TAS. The Captain was a weekday show for its first 25 years, similar to “Bozo the Clown” or “Romper Room”. The Captain had already won Peabody awards twice but never an Emmy. It was nominated in the Primetime Emmy ceremonies before 1973. The first Daytime Emmys were in 1974, and Captain Kangaroo and TAS both lost to the deeply weird “Zoom”. TAS won in 1975.

TAS won its Emmy because it was far and away more sophisticated than most other Saturday morning fare of the time. The scripts pale (for the most part) compared to TOS, but compared to its competition (the likes of “Hong Kong Phooey” or “Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch”), it was Shakespeare. The only show close was “Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids.” So the academy was clearly rewarding NBC and Star Trek’s attempt to elevate Saturday morning fare (an attempt that largely failed, as TAS’s ratings were low and canceled after the short Season 2.)

Urban Turf

So it was a “we appreciate you trying” award. That makes a lot more sense. Because it certainly didn’t win for results. Cap Kangaroo was still a much better show than TAS, when it came to entertaining kids.

because TAS’s largest audience was teenagers or even college students who were missing TOS.

Thorny

The problem is that it was just one Emmy Award for “outstanding children’s programming” which covers a very broad range. Captain Kangaroo was decidedly preschool children’s programming, while Star Trek aimed more at the school age/pre-teen audience, especially with storylines like having to put your beloved pet to sleep in “Yesteryear”.

Vantheman77

I enjoyed Star Trek: TAS. I didn’t understand the debate of whether it counts in-continuity. It won an Emmy Award. Looking forward to the Lower Decks series.

Legate Damar

Its somehow even worse that those color choices were intentional.

Thorny

The man in charge of animation was color blind. No kidding!

TG47

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s really important to keep in mind that the experience of colours on-screen for most televisions of the day was very different than what we see in the plates from the artists, or in the DVDs that are taken directly from film.

Colour television was still relatively new. The Quasar televisions with black behind the 3 colour dot matrix were a new high-end technology in 1970 so most households that had colour TVs saw shows in pretty washed out tones. Few households had cable, and picture quality was frequently poor.

As a result, whether live action or animation, creatives went for strong colour choices. Pink, purple and green would have been more novel, cutting-edge than the orangey red, yellow, and watery blue of most colour television images.

The other thing is that many families still only had black and white televisions. Colour was new, and many families had an old second black and white television in the family room where the kids watched Saturday mornings.

So, the artists had to produce images that could be watched in black and white as well as colour.

MikeB

So the trolls even hate on TAS. Why am I not surprised. Well it was created and produced by people who worked on TOS, had stories written by top writers, and best of all, it featured the voices of most of the original actors. So it was and is the closest that FANS will ever get to a season four.

Legate Damar

Its not trolling to dislike TAS. Despite the fact that a lot of the same people were involved, a lot of people feel like there was a noticeable drop in quality between TOS and TAS. That’s nothing new. TAS has always been somewhat controversial within the fandom.

Aaron Harvey

I was going to say, I was curious what people had to say about the book, or the design or even the shows, but all it seems like is “I hate Discovery” ” I hate TAS” and which do we hate more. Sheesh. Its like Reddit.

Mark Calcagno

Pedigree shows promise of being good, not confirmation that it IS good.

I like TOS, but TAS is unwatchable for me, with the exception for Yesteryear. You can be a Trek fan and dislike TAS.

TG47

Mark Calcagno,

I’m really hoping that we can get to the point as fans where a Trek fan still be universally accepted as a fan even if they dislike any particular Trek series, episode or cinematic feature – be it TAS, TOS, TNG etc.

I’m also hoping that Trek fans can stop asserting that ‘NAME’ has to be considered the best Trek series of all time, and the others are boring, deficient, etc. because they have a different premise.

I am so over the Trek sibling rivalry thing.

Mark Calcagno

TG47,

I totally agree, and I hope that’s how I came off. If not, I’ll be more clear. I don’t like TAS, but it’s still Star Trek. My opinion shouldn’t harm anyone else’s enjoyment of a show or movie. It’s all Trek, from TOS to Disco, and everyone gets to have their favorite and least favorite, unapologetically.

I also think respectful discussion is great, but the second someone else is attacked or marginalized for their views, the discussion becomes part of the rivalry camp.

You and I have disagreed a couple of times on here, but I always enjoy talking to you, because I always feel respected. I wish others would do the same.

TG47

Thanks Mark Calcagno,

No worries, it was how you came off for me.

I just wish more of us could take the view that there isn’t a universal hierarchy of Trek quality.

ML31

I can understand someone claiming TAS is “unwatchable.” The cheap Filmation production values are the reason behind that. But while the lack of movement and repetitive underscore are difficult to digest, many of the stories are well put together in their own right. And, dare I say, most of the TAS episodes are better written than the two seasons of Discovery thus far. Because of that, the rewatch factor for TAS is much much higher than it is for Discovery.

Vulcan Soul

Also, you can’t just pick out a DSC episode from the middle of the season to rewatch. You have to commit to rewatch that “13 hour movie” in its entirety! Since both seasons so far left a very sour aftertaste in me, I can’t see myself doing that, like ever, for the first time in 50 years of Trek.

In that sense, 20+ hour seasons of episodic Trek worked better than the short seasons of “premium streaming TV”. I still can’t see the disadvantages of season-long arcs outweigh the advantages, and I hope they will fall out of fashion eventually again, same as Flash Gordon serials did in the 1930s.

At least give us ONE new episodic Trek series, Kurtzman! (not the Space Hitler one)

Legate Damar

Lower Decks will probably be episodic. And, there are plenty of episodes of Discovery that connect to the overall arc, but are largely self contained.

ML31

I can think of two Discovery semi stand alones off the top of my head. Lower Decks will likely be episodic because comedies are still fairly free of the season long story arc thing. Especially the ones that still have 20+ episodes each season. With a handful of exceptions comedies may have some story elements that are dealt with as the show moves along but the episodes are pretty stand alone overall.

Trek in a Cafe

There’s a very good reason why we love TAS. Alan Dean Foster – he took those stories and really turned them into something interesting. At least, as far as I remember them.

Lyle

Definitely! Especially Logs Seven through Ten!

TG47

They kept me reading too!

Boze

“…the Starfleet vessel was mistakenly described by Scotty as the first in the fleet with warp drive (later to be refuted by the Enterprise NX-01).” That doesn’t exactly make him most trustworthy source.

It pains me to find such disrespectful comment in a nice book like this. Scotty knows his history, *unlike* the creators of Enterprise. When Scotty in a 1970s show says Bonaventure was the first, then Bonaventure was the first; Berman & Braga’s short-lived fanfic simply doesn’t carry enough weight to “refute” anything. It’s not TAS’s fault that the Killer Bees didn’t bother to do their homework before making a prequel to it.

If everything in the book shows as much respect for established facts as this one sentence does, then the only trustworthy part of the book might be its ISBN. :P

albatrosity

Even in that case the book would be wrong, since the NX-01 wasn’t the first ship in the fleet with warp drive

Legate Damar

Its only recently that TAS has really become widely accepted as canon. Berman and Braga probably didn’t feel that it was necessary to change the plans for their show because of a throwaway line in a cartoon that most fans had never seen, and even fewer considered canon.

TG47

Legate Damar, I’d revise this to say that TAS’ status in canon has had a lot of mixed messaging around it from the powers that be, which has encouraged fans to ignore it.

Roddenberry himself went back and forth on this point when TNG was in production, so the 90s Trek showrunners can be forgiven for not respecting it word for word.

That actually puts me off it slightly. To me, that sort of “pretending-it’s-real” stuff doesn’t belong in a making-of book.

ML31

The thing here is the NX-01 was NOT the first ship with warp. It was the first capable of warp 5. This does not contradict the concept that the Bonaventure was the first warp 1 ship.

Disinvited

To be precise, Scotty in the Filmation series said that the Bonaventure was the first STARSHIP to have warp drive installed.

The debate, Cloud William, centers around whether the BBgun’s Phoenix, an independent invention and non-Starfleet vessel, can be considered a starship and whether the BBgun can be properly ridiculed for their attempts at erasing the Bonaventure from their previous acknowledgement of it?:

https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Bonaventure_(C1-21)

Also, as others have pointed out, the NX-01, was not the 1st Starfleet starship with warp drive.

Disinvited

I don’t recall Phoenix ever being depicted as having actually reached another star – only achieving warp?

Disinvited

Errata:

I looked up the episode’s transcript and Scotty’s line was:

“Captain, there’s the old Bonaventure. She was the first ship to have warp drive installed.” Joyce Perry, STAR TREK, “Time Trap”

It doesn’t seem as though the Bonaventure was the Cochrane of METAMORPHOSIS’ ship? So, there’s a bit of mystery, for me, as to what Mr. Scott’s meaning exactly is?

Cochrane’s ship would have had the warp engine integral to its design – NOT “installed.” One would think.

albatrosity

WOW this book looks like such a delight, I love its style! The Nichelle/Uhura illustration with the microphone is just really nice, and it truly makes me appreciate TAS even though I haven’t seen more than maybe 3 episodes. I’ll have to give it a proper watch before Lower Decks. It really is a fascinating and wrongfully overlooked bit of Trek history.

ML31

That looks to be a fascinating look at TAS. I’m interested but on the fence on purchasing. Perhaps I’ll be patient and see about checking it out in the future.

Forward Propulsion

How does everything turn into “i hate discovery”? It’s crazy. Where are the fun trekkers? I’m excited for discovery 3. The series is fantastic. Picard looks great. The animated series is terrific. Yes the animation quality is weak of course but the core stories are really good scifi. They would have been much better off being an hour or 45 minutes. Just chill everyone and enjoy this resurgence. I know everyone has different tastes etc. I know Star Trek as most of you do too. I know good Star Trek. TOS, TNG and DS9 is my favorite. Disco is so good and you’re missing out, out of spite or stubbornness. That’s the same stubbornness that kept many people away from DS9 back in the day.

MikeB

I share many of the same thoughts. Well said!

Forward Propulsion

Glad there’s at least 1 lol

albatrosity

I guarantee you that anyone with a negative opinion of Disco has watched it, nothing about spite or stubbornness, just ppl who aren’t impressed with what they see. Count me among them

Forward Propulsion

they said the same thing about ds9… i saw it… not impressed… nothing changes… pretty funny

Yeah, I was wondering about that, too.

ChrisH

would love to see Eaglemoss do a TAS version of the Enterprise

Urban Turf

has anyone ever done toys? with the same limited articulation as the animation? that would be fun

Lyle

Great review! I’m amazed to hear that the reason for the color selections in the show were not due to Hal Sutherland’s color-blindness, I have heard that apparently mistaken info for decades! I wonder why it took so long to come to light.

Honestly, that nugget alone makes me want to buy this book just to find out what else may be new info!

I remember waking up super early on Saturday mornings back in the 70s to watch TAS while eating sugar-bomb cereal or donuts! For some reason my local station always showed TAS at around 7:30 am on Saturday mornings…

Legate Damar

That surprised me too. I wouldn’t swear to it, but I feel like I even remember hearing that on the special features on the DVD. That may just be my memory playing tricks on me, but that is a piece of trivia that I have just accepted at face value for years.

NC Trekker

Loved TAS and still do. We had a b&w tv back then and I wish there was some way to see it without color now. TAS, the Gold Key comics, the Blish books, and the Foster books WERE Star Trek for me. No local station that I could consistently pick up showed TOS when I was a kid.

One weird thing happened where I got to see a TOS episode due to sheer luck. We had a tv antenna and no cable in rural NC and if conditions were right odd things would happen on rare occasions. One summer afternoon, I was flipping around the dial and a tv station from NY came in perfectly clear. It showed Let That Be Your Last Battlefield. When the episode was over, the station faded away. I still don’t know how that happened.

Donald G

What you experienced back then is what’s known as a tropospheric signal skip. When atmospheric conditions are right, usually on hot summer nights, a radio or television broadcast signal could skip off the tropospheric level of the atmosphere and travel much further that it normally would and be received hundreds of miles beyond its normal broadcast area. Down in Hampton Roads Virginia, we could occasionally pick up stations from Richmond, Washington, DC, New Bern, NC, and once, a PBS station out of New Jersey. Reception would usually fade away after a half hour to an hour, but it was a way to occasionally pick up genre programming that didn’t air in our market.

NC Trekker

Thanks, that is very interesting. I can remember it happening a few other times where we received far off signals, but only once with Star Trek.

tony

am amazed it has taken til now for the green light for a ‘trek’ animated show years after the much loved AS.
every other franchise has one or more on the air.

rls1138

I wish I could buy the series off iTunes. It and The Cage are the only filmed Trek they don’t have. What’s the deal with that? :(

ernst opik

dear friends, i am from Estonia and am watching the animated series for the first time ever. and i think that it is very good!

but could anybody please tell me, is it considered canon? is the animated series part of the 5 year mission?

thank you all

Legate Damar

It depends who you ask. These days, most people seem to consider it canon, but that was in dispute for a long time. We do know that Short Treks will be featuring a Caitian (M’Ress’ species), so it seems like the powers that be do consider it at least somewhat canon.

TG47

Roddenberry himself said it was canon at some points and not at others.

As Legate Damar notes, some of the current powers that be are saying it is canon, and there is definitely a newly positive attitude towards animated Trek.

My personal view is that the stories in TAS compare favourably to TOS, and while there are a few episodes that I tend to ignore in my own ‘head canon’, there are at least as many TOS season 3 episodes that I’d like to wish away.

snoopytrek

.. I recall watching these on first-run those Saturday mornings. Rumors at the time were the stories were ideas that would have been part of TOS if it had a fourth season. It was reviewed and considered too good for Saturday morning, children’s programming and should have been shown in primetime. Yes, perhaps a filmations production animation wise; but to us who were there originally and then in reruns..I believe on the (real) scifi channel (I don’t want to start that debate again), TAS was welcomed for we Trekkers who were starving for more Trek. I mean come on.. most of the original cast doing their characters voices and more, animated! Good times!

Jonboc

Great series, great book.