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Star Trekkin' Across the Universe: Discussing The Porgs


Slightly sobering TNG-related thought … in Nemesis, the Enterprise crew had been together for 15 years before finally, properly fragmenting at the end of that film.

It’s now 15 years since Nemesis came out.


Some of my memories of the Voyager pilot are from helping my friend prepare for his audition. I read every other character in the sides, which were Janeway (whose name was Elizabeth in the draft), Tuvok and Paris. Then, when the actual episode aired, I noticed that Tim Russ’ line readings for Tuvok were similar to how I’d read them. Of course, there aren’t a lot of different ways one could play a Vulcan.



Encounter at Farpoint was a really strange thing. The characters are all stiff and formal and awkward. Picard’s fear of children was bizarre. The actors were kind of wandering around like they didn’t know what to do. I suspect that much of the awkwardness came from Roddenberry; the episode is very reminscent of The Motion Picture. And, like the films, once Paramount pried Gene’s hands off the toys and sent him to his room, the series showed a marked improvement.

There’s a weird sort of thing in Hollywood with genre franchises where the creators don’t “get” their own work, and when they either work on it for too long or return to it after an absence, the quality is terrible.

See: Roddenberry and Star Trek (even in the old series, the episodes he scripted were among the worst), George Lucas and Star Wars, Chris Carter and X-Files, Ridley Scott and the Alien franchise (Prometheus and Covenant completely trash everything mysterious and wonderful about the 1979 original), and I’d even put Stephen King in there, too, since the more hands-on he is with the films and television adaptions based on his work, the worse they are.


I used to read the books religiously, but I quit and quit hard. In my later attempts to discover whether or not I’d ultimately been unfair to them, Never Ending Sacrifice was easily my favorite. I thought the episode upon which it draws (“Cardassians”) wasn’t a particularly significant one, but McCormack blew it up to epic proportions. It’s the Russian epic of Cardassian stories. (Ah, somewhat ironic that it’s not a mystery. Sorry, Garak!)


Rewatched the first 2 animated series episodes by the way, and while they’re good Star Trek (Yesteryear particularly), I wouldn’t class them as first episodes or pilots - they’re very much effectively season 4 of TOS, told in a different format.

Also, Skeletor.




A guy on another forum I used to frequent gave the books the hard sell around the time Destiny came out, so out of curiosity I checked them out. and being a completist nerd I did some research to see how far back I should go, and wound up starting with A Stitch in Time and the A Time To… series.

And of the couple of dozen novels I read before burning out somewhat (The Cold Equations trilogy was just bleh, though I intend to loop back around and finish The Fall and the new DS9 books), A Stitch in Time and The Never-Ending Sacrifice stand head and shoulders above the rest. They’re not just good Trek novels, or good SF tie-in novels, they’re really good novels on their own merit.


For anyone who liked McCormack’s take on Cardassians, I recommend her recent works:

  • The Fall: Crimson Shadow
  • Enigma Tales

(There’s also The Missing, but that’s not a Cardassia focused tale)

I should also mention Engima Tales picks up the aftermath from Section 31: Control in a way that completely spoils that book, so, if you have any interest in what Bashir got up and don’t want to know the current endpoint, read Mack’s Section 31 duo first.

The very concept of an enigma tale is so very, very Cardassian.


Beyond the Farthest Star

As noted in my TMP writeup, The Animated Series was made in part due to vocal fan pressure. Dorothy Fontana sent a letter to a fanzine in 1972 confirming this.

Fontana invited Samuel Peeples to write the pilot episode, as he had previously written Where No Man Has Gone Before. The episode is named for a lesser-known Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, though when interviewed for the Captain’s Logs book, Peeples was unable to recall any specific influence for the script. The first draft was dated 10th May 1973. A revised draft was submitted in the 17th of April, though certain pages were revised the following month and so it bears that date.

Lieutenant Kyle, a regular background cast member in TOS is shown operating the transporter in this episode, with brown hair and a moustache, totally unlike his appearance on the show. Like most male characters outside the main cast, he’s voiced by James Doohan.

Also in character appearances, Arex appears on the bridge in various scenes but has no lines. This marks the first appearance of a non-humanoid Starfleet officer on-screen.

This episode was one of the three who’s dialogue was recorded on or around the 4th of June 1973, alongside Yesteryear and More Tribbles, More Troubles. As noted upthread, this was a media event as it was the first time the Trek cast had been together in public since the show’s last filming session in 1969.

Gene Roddenberry remarked during production that animation allowed for far more impressive vistas and setpieces, as they weren’t limited by practical effects. Ironically, Robert Kline, a background artist on the show said that coming up with an acceptable design for the insectoid ship was one of the most challenging jobs on the show, saying it took “literally 100” attempts.

NBC held a private screening of the episode in September 1973, at which the failing LA Times critic Cecil Smith was overheard to remark “this definitely isn’t a kids’ program”. He followed this up with a positive review of the show, published on the 10th of September. it also got a positive review in Variety, though Trek fan publications were less kind. Exact ratings were not recorded but apparently it did not fare well against other shows broadcast the same evening. Like other TAS episodes, airing of this episode was delayed in LA as George Takei was running for local office at the time and it would have been deemed unequal advertising if he appeared on TV as an actor during the campaign.

The episode was adapted by Alan Dean Foster and published in Star Trek Log 1 alongside adaptations of Yesteryear and One of Our Planets is Missing.


There’s a lot of dodgy science in here, even for Trek. First of all, the Enterprise is “beyong the fringe of our galaxy”, which is quite some distance from what we know of The Federation. And there’s no sign of the Great Barrier that was mentioned in TOS (which is a different Great Barrier from the one in STV)

Kirk mentions using a slingshot effect to break orbit from the dead star at various points, but the real-life slingshot is when a spacecraft enters the orbit of a body on a course that sends it back out of orbit, using the body’s gravity to accelerate or decelerate. You couldn’t slingshot from a body you’re already orbiting.

It’s interesting to compare this episode to Yesteryear. When we were talking about that episode, I noted the pacing, that the dilemma and Spock’s mission were set up and he was on the way into the past in 5 minutes. Here, the Magnetic Entity isn’t seen until about 8 minutes in, and takes over the Enterprise around 10 - almost halfway into the episode. That back half is taken up with the entity doing his thing, Kirk and Spock figuring out their solution, and the escape. The pacing is not as tight as Yesteryear, but that relatively leisurely first half allows the show to present a number of setpieces that the live-action show could never match.

And also in comparison to Yesteryear (and More Tribbles, More Troubles), the voice acting is the most accomplished of the first three episodes recorded. DeForrest Kelly is the most improved, but Shatner also has some great line reads - even if he mentions a mutual override rather than a manual one at one point.

The story is quite bog-standard Trek, but it’s very well executed. The back half moves very fast, and fits some great archetypical moments in there. Kirk capitulates when Spock comes under threat, but is scheming and planning as he does. The solution to the episode is basically the same as Charlie X, but it still works.

Overall I wouldn’t give this a bad rating, but it’s not as exemplary as Yesteryear was. It’s elevated above middling Trek mainly by the scope of the first half and the character work in the second.


Yesteryear is always going to be the pinnacle of the animated series and a Top Ten episode of all ST series.


I am tired as can be. If I don’t respond by like tomorrow evening, remind me. Bleary now!


“The Man Trap” Props for providing a compelling image in the salt creature. Otherwise seems to have left no tangible legacy.

“Beyond the Farthest Star” Proved Star Trek could generally work in a streamlined, animated format.

“Encounter at Farpoint” Completely saved by the addition of Q into the plot, in hindsight a visionary development in an era of Star Trek that would slowly rework the rulebook. When you think about it, Q’s really the rebuttal to all the god figures Kirk outsmarted, a being totally in control of any given situation but…still just a pain in Picard’s ass, trial or no trial.

“Emissary” Shockingly pitted Sisko against Picard, while explaining why Sisko really, really didn’t want to be there. Only a franchise that was sure of itself at that point would’ve dared do such a thing. Still by far the boldest pilot.

“Caretaker” Having had the Maquis concept explained elsewhere (and virtually coopted by Ro’s farewell), spelling out how Janeway makes a bold, idealistic, fully Roddenberryesque decision to strand her combined crew in the Delta Quadrant…It’s still a concept that few fans truly seem to understand, but not for lack of the pilot attempting to explain it.

“Broken Bow” The decision to launch a prequel with a bold vision of the further future (the Temporal Cold War) meant a series that was trying to find fresh viewers was always going to have a rough time of it, as it instantly alienated a large percentage of existing ones while all but counting on them to show up. You can see where the producers pulled back from the ambitions of the previous two series while attempting to build on them. Clearly an odd mix.



Well, 51 years ago…




Seriously, have they not heard this fun fact a million times already? This right here is the level of information we compete with, folks.



My friend is doing a TOS re-watch with his teenage daughter, and messaging me a running commentary. Here was his last observation on The Galileo Seven, which I I’m sure I’d never even noticed in any of the times I’ve watched it:



Hmm. Clearly the Borg maintain their allure.