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BOOK REVIEW: STAR TREK: THESE ARE THE VOYAGES: TOS: SEASON ONE
These are the Voyages: TOS, Season One contains hundreds of previously unpublished insights and recollections from actors, directors, producers, and production crew, capturing what went on from every perspective, including memos dictated by Roddenberry while reading drafts to the series scripts. The book offers a unique look behind-the-scenes in the form of original staff memos, contracts, schedules, budgets, network correspondence, and the censor reports from NBC.
These are the Voyages creates the opportunity for readers to transport themselves back in space and time to witness the true history of Season One of Star Trek®: TOS.
Go behind the closed doors of NBC, Desilu/Paramount, the producers' offices, the writers' room, the sound stages and shooting locations, and learn the actual facts behind all the blood, sweat, tears, politics, and spellbinding creativity that brought Star Trek® into being...and changed the Sci Fi world.
There are a lot of books about the making of Star Trek (including a book with that very title). People have been writing about Trek since the show was on the air back in the swinging 60's. The cultural phenomenon of Trek in the 70's led to more books that explored what made the show so special and examined its unique place in television. Whether it's biographies or autobiographies of the show's stars (and of course, its creator Gene Roddenberry) or books detailing the show's production and legacy, you've got a lot to choose from. That's a blessing and a curse. Fans such as myself don't have a problem reading the many books available because most of them are very good and Trek fans (like any fan) can't seem to get enough. However, what do you do if you are looking for a really deep analysis that doesn't require you to read a bunch of books. Thanks to some recent publications, fans now have a trilogy of books covering Trek's three years on the small screen.
These Are the Voyages is a tightly written book that covers a lot of aspects of Trek while keeping your interest. It's obvious from the book's endnotes that author Marc Cushman spent a lot of time researching the book. He's combed through numerous autobiographies, biographies, interviews, magazine articles, and more in order to get a deep and wide look at the people who made Trek into what it was. In addition, Cushman worked with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and had access to a number of behind the scenes documents relating to Trek. There's a lot of information documented in this book and Cushman does a terrific job of being thorough and holding the reader's attention.
The book starts with a look at the show's development in 1964, including its two pilots (getting two pilots authorized was something unheard of back then). Then it goes into an analysis of each episode, beginning with a summary and critique of each one. From there, the writer examines the script-writing process and the hassles (and there were plenty) of pre-production ranging from NBC's oversight to adapting the scripts to fit the show's limited budget. Production notes supply a look at the headaches (both expected and unexpected) that came up during each episode. Post-production notes show how thing such as adding music and optical effects sometimes proved as challenging as regular production. Each chapter ends with a breakdown of ratings and often includes a couple pieces of fan mail. Cushman even gets into things like which episodes were repeated during the season and which weren't (and most importantly, why they were not chosen to re-air). Some might call this minutia but it gives Star Trek fans access to information they may never have had before.
As Cushman highlights the production of each episode, he also provides details on the show's development through its first season. Like any new series, Star Trek was a work in progress and concepts that fans would eventually consider familiar such as the Federation of Planets or the Vulcan Mind Meld weren't even considered yet. Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry but many people played a part in developing the show into a wonderful (if not always cohesive) universe.
As good as the drama onscreen could be, Cushman's accounts of behind the scenes drama proves interesting as well. Cushman examines Mr. Spock's growing popularity and the benefits and problems it created for the show. While Captain Kirk was meant to be the series lead, it was becoming clear over the course of the first season that the ship's Vulcan first officer was becoming increasingly popular. He also looks at the long hours endured by cast and crew, getting so bad that one of the show's biggest contributors suffered a nervous collapse.
The book contains lots of excellent pictures of cast and crew ranging from series regulars to guest stars. These pictures include photos from cast members' earlier roles which gives you a better idea of why they were in demand in Hollywood. There are candid shots as well which show the ways the cast and crew tried to add some fun to what were some very long shooting days.
Some people might not want that level of detail. What's great about this book is that it's organized so you can skip over stuff you might not be interested in. Don't really care how a script was developed or why a director wasn't invited back? It's easy to navigate the book and go to the sections you're interested in.
In the end, These Are the Voyages makes a strong case for why Star Trek was so revolutionary for the time. The show was a true labor of love by many of the people involved. People put in long hours, drove themselves to the point of exhaustion to figure out how to make the series work, and created a television series whose impact is still felt today. If you've heard the hyperbole about Star Trek and doubted it, pick up this book. You'll get a true appreciation for the work involved and more importantly, the results.
I've only read the season one book but I intend on getting the rest. There is a book written about each season of Star Trek. Trek's first season was known for a remarkable number of excellent episodes. It will be interesting to see how the writer explores Trek's gradual decline, the fans efforts to save the series from cancellation, and Gene Roddenberry's virtual abandonment of the series in season three. I've read a lot of books about Star Trek (and there have been some really good ones) but this is by far the best and the most comprehensive. It's 658 pages of nostalgia and insider information that any classic Trek fan should find fascinating.
Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock became a breakout character on Star Trek, creating some benefits and challenges for the fledgling show.
Trek's first season saw the development of tropes such as the short-lived redshirts like Ensign Expendable here.