Star Trek: The Animated Series

Why do people forget about this show? I was just looking at an article on Screenrant about decisions that hurt and saved Star Trek. Link Interesting read, but it contains an error in the opening paragraphs. They claim there are six Star Trek television series. No doubt, this is their list:

1. TOS
2. TNG
3. DS9
4. Voyager
5. Enterprise
6. Discovery

That’s an incomplete list. This is the real list of Star Trek shows:

1. TOS
2. TAS
3. TNG
4. DS9
5. Voyager
6. Enterprise
7. Discovery

Yes, seven shows, not six. I don’t know why daft idiots who write articles can’t find this information, it’s available on many websites.

For those who don’t know, the story goes like this. Star Trek should never have been canceled. In 1969, TV ratings weren’t broken down into demographics. Had they been, the people at NBC would have known the show was popular with young men, a key demographic. When they realized this, Paramount knew they needed to make more Star Trek. Dreams of movies and live action TV shows were in the cards, but the quickest way to get Star Trek back on (besides syndication) was animation. So, Filmation was commissioned to do a Saturday morning cartoon. It ran for 22 episodes between 1974 and 75. It even won Star Trek’s first Emmy, for Oustanding Children’s Show, due partly to having outstanding writing by many of the same writers from TOS. The original actors all lent their voices, except Walter Koenig, but he wrote an episode. Fans even voted to add the series to the official canon over a decade ago. Yet, people forget it exists. Why?

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Aztec Hull Pattern.

NeoTrinarty asked what Aztec hull pattern is, and I figure the best way to describe it is with a post and pictures. Basically, Aztec, Aztecing, Aztec pattern, whatever you want to call it, is a blanket term for the hull panel patterns done on Star Trek ships, to show the individual plates that comprise the hull. It first started appearing way back in the late ’70s.

Origins

When they were making Star Trek: The Motion Picture, one thing they had to do was decide how best to represent the Enterprise on the big screen. They’d already scrapped the model being built for Phase II and had done some tweaks to the design to give the model more detail needed for the size at which it would be seen. Finally, someone came up with the idea to paint all of the individual panels on the ship, thus giving it a sense of scale and more detail. (I’ll go into why this isn’t necessary for scale in a moment) They came up with a pattern that is now known as “Aztec” and painted it on the hull in paints that varied slightly in color and shininess. Here’s a great screen capture from TMP showing the pattern on the hull, thanks to Trek Core:

Now, that’s the Aztec pattern in all its glory. As you can see, it’s very subtle. In fact, it’s so subtle that it only appears clearly in certain lighting conditions and up close. In wider shots, it’s still there, but harder to make out:


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Discovery Ships

OK, let me start by saying I don’t like “Star Trek” Discovery. (yes, Star Trek is in quotes, like I do with Into Darkness) Oh, how I wanted to like it. I gave it the ol’ college try, signed up for a 1 week free trial of BS All Access. Discovery was the only show I watched, so I went to cancel my sub before having to pay and they offered a month free. So, I accepted and continued with Discovery. The first two episodes (pilot) were OK, kind of like a long prologue for the series, a movie lead-in if you will. I dealt with the visual changes. Yes, the Klingons are fugly, their ships resemble nothing Klingon from before and I didn’t care much for the Starfleet designs at all. I don’t like the uniforms, sets or the ships. At least, I didn’t like them for the 2250s era. I get why this was done. Much like the Kelvin timeline movies, CBS didn’t actually make this series, they’re just putting their name on it and distributing it. So, nothing is allowed to look like it did originally, so it’s a visual reboot. However, I can look past the visuals if the story is good and if I like the characters. This is where I had issues. Like I said, the two parter was decent. I thought it was a strong lead-in for the series. I liked the characters OK, and thought it was really interesting having the main character be a prisoner. Then the rest of the episodes started, the “main story,” if you will. It pretty much jumped the shark right at that point, in my opinion.

After they got to the Discovery, the whole thing fell apart for me. For starters, adding tension by having everyone blame Buhrman for the war is stupid. Even if Starfleet tried peaceful solutions, they had to know from past experiences that the Klingons were going to fire upon them. I mean, it happened all the time on Enterprise whenever Archer tried being nice. War was inevitable, yet Starfleet has adopted this illogical attitude that it was all her fault. That’s just stupid. Anyway, what makes it worse is that the characters are all unlikable for me. Buhrman turned into this creature of self pity whose permanent stank face got on my nerves after about 5 minutes. (and the chick playing her is hot, so that’s saying a lot) Lorca is a totally unlikable character for me and always was. Stameets started off really annoying, but did get a little better before I stopped watching. Tilly was probably the most likable character. Then there was Saru. I thought he was OK until he created a computer program to “grade” him as acting Captain based on the performances of other captains. That’s where I lost any respect for him. I have no problem with any of the actors, they were just badly written. Then there was “Haryy Mudd.” Sure, let’s take one of the most beloved scoundrels in Star Trek and completely change him. Plus, they got Rainn Wilson to play him and I can’t stand Rainn.

Aside from the characters, the writing on the show is just bad. Really bad science, anachronistic technology and just dumb plots and plot devices. Please, a SPORE DRIVE!? C’mon, let’s get serious here! That’s a horrible plot device, and the way the saucer spins looks stupid. Also, there are many times where Starfleet officers on the show ignored rules, including the Prime Directive, and there’s no repercussions to it. Starfleet even ordered them to do it at times. Ugh.

So, is it all bad? I stopped watching after the episode “Choose Your Pain.” I chose to end mine and not watch that show anymore. I’d rather watch The Orville, which is more Star Trek than Discovery is. Hell, many Star Trek alums have even lent their talents to the series. But, there is one redeeming thing about Discovery: John Eaves. Anyone who is familiar with my blog should know that I’m an Eaves fan. Before I even knew who he was, I loved his work. I bought his sketchbook on the movies Generations and First Contact back when it came out because I love his style and his designs. And, he’s the main concept illustrator on Discovery, or at least he was for 9 episodes. I don’t know if he’s still with the show, but he’s working on some movies too. His work is very much in demand.

Anyway, my friend Dan “Madkoifish” Uyeno posted these on a forum, the only CGI forum I still participate in:

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Saturday Morning Star Trek

Ah, the seventies. Who could forget it? Well, to be honest, I could because I was born in 1979. 😉

These days, most people know of the existence of a TV series in the ’70s that was a revival of Star Trek. However, this wonderful series was nearly lost to time, until it was put on VHS back in the late 1990s. Then, in 2006, after CBS acquired Paramount, they wanted to do a DVD release, so to gauge fan interest they did a fan poll to decide if the series should be considered part of Star Trek canon. Fan interest was there, and the series got a release on DVD, and that was fantastic. Fast forward to 2017, and you can get the box set for $12.99 in the U.S. on Amazon:

I love this series. For those who don’t know, here’s a brief history. In 1969, NBC messed up big time and canceled Star Trek, due to its old faulty rating system, which made it look like the show was a failure. When they re-ran the numbers in the early ’70s using better demographics, they quickly realized that the show in fact was winning their target demographic, males age 18-45. So, they immediately syndicated Star Trek. Hungry for more, they decided to do another Star Trek series, this time an animated series done by Filmation. What followed was essentially Star Trek season 4, a series of 22 half hour episodes aired on Saturday mornings. Was this the best move? Well, the series won an Emmy in 1975 for Best Children’s Series, so you be the judge. This was the first Star Trek Emmy win.

To me, it’s just a great series with some good writing. There was a writers’ strike going on, but only for live action shows. This meant a lot of writers were left with nothing better to do. So, many of the same people who wrote for TOS came back. All of the actors came back except Walter Koenig, though he did write an episode. Aside from their iconic roles, Majel Barrett, Nichelle Nichols and James Doohan provided a number of the voices for other characters, George Takei also voiced a few aliens. They replaced Chekov with a three armed and three legged navigator named Arex, who would have been impossible to create in the 1960s on TV. In fact, the series had many more aliens that looked nonhuman due to the much less limited animation format. Anyway, add it all up and you have a really good series, though it did suffer from a few technical issues, most notably coloring issues. (most animated show suffer from coloring issues)

Anyway, I was on Amazon the other day because I needed to order a couple things, and that box set was right there on my main page under my recommendations. I saw it, saw the price and had it in my cart before I even had time to think about it. So, now it’s all mine. The box is pretty cool, much nicer than a lot of Star Trek box sets. The white case is plastic, and the discs are inside in a thing that pulls out. I guess, with four discs, they figured they could go a bit more elaborate with the box. All said, it’s a steal at $12.99. 😀

Beyond

A few months back, I went and saw Star Trek Beyond in the theater and really enjoyed it.  In my opinion, it’s the best movie in the Nu Trek series.  Since then, I’ve been patiently waiting for the Blu-Ray release.  I’d had the Amazon gift set of the film pre-ordered because I wanted the model of the Franklin it came with, even though I don’t need a 4K or a 3D copy of the film.  Well, I cancelled that the other day and decided to just buy the movie at work.  I’m sure glad I did, because I like the Walmart gift set much better:

20161102_001158

Standard Blu-Ray, (works great for me) a DVD I’ll give to my Dad, a digital copy I’ll never use and three little ship models.  All for around half the price of the Amazon gift set.  The models are OK, they’re about Micro Machines size and quality.  Though, from one of the reviews I read on Amazon, their model isn’t any better.  (I guess someone paid for some ultra fast shipping, which can be done)  Anyway, I’m glad I got this set, it has the discs I want, three models and I got it a lot quicker.  Here’s a couple quick snaps of the models:

littleships01littleships02

Sorry for the kind of blurry pics, best I can do.  I did do a little enhancement in GIMP to make them a bit better.  Also, ignore the stuff behind them, my desk is my catch-all.  😉

What’s this now?

$50?  Shut up and take my money!

 

I was at Walmart last night perusing the movies after my shift and I found this wonderful item for only $50.  I had to buy it.  Plus, I used my employee discount and got $5 off, so it was actually less than $50 with tax.  I’m stoked, because I didn’t have this series on Blu-Ray.

Apparently, they’re the same discs previously released by CBS, which some people whined about on Amazon.  However, for those of us who don’t/didn’t already have those, it’s wonderful.  It’s not very expensive either.  For 20 Blu-Rays, that’s only $2.50 per disc.  I personally like this style of case better than the old DVD ones they did with the big cardboard and plastic things that folded out.  So, it’s a win-win for me.

Unfortunately, while I was on the way home from work, (on the bus) I read that talented actor Anton Yelchin, who played Checkov in the newer movies, passed away in a freak accident at his home.  That’s truly sad, as he was a good actor and I thought he did a great job of playing the role of Chekov, and I also liked him in other things I saw him in.  He was only 27 years old.  So, while there was some joy in my day, there was also a moment of sadness when I read this tragic news.  (please, respect the man and no comments on not liking the newer ST films)

Admiral Janeway

Something has always bothered me about Admiral Janeway seen in Star Trek: Nemesis.  (I saw something online a few minutes ago that brought this subject to mind)  In 2278, when Voyager returned home, she was a Captain.  A year later, in 2379, she was an Admiral.  No biggie there, she obviously got promoted between the end of Voyager and that movie.  However, her rank in Nemesis makes no sense.  I’m going to use this chart from the old Star Trek Encyclopedia to illustrate what I mean.  (thanks to Bernd Schneider and his site Ex Astris Scientia for the chart)

movie-medals-tng-ranks

Looking at the chart, you can see there are five ranks of Admiral, just as there are in most Navies, Admiral one through five stars.  In the current US Navy, those are Rear Admiral Lower Half, Rear Admiral Upper Half, Vice Admiral, Admiral and Fleet Admiral.  Looking at this image from Star Trek: Nemesis, you can see Janeway with 3 pips inside a rectangle on her collar.  (Thanks to Memory Alpha for this image)

Kathryn_Janeway_2379

That rank insignia makes Janeway a 3-star Admiral, aka Vice Admiral, in 2379.  So, in the span of a year, (or so) she would have to have been promoted three times, or would had to have skipped the two Rear Admiral ranks entirely.  This makes absolutely no sense.  I can get the whole thing where she returned from the Delta Quadrant, saving her crew and providing valuable information on both that region and on new propulsion technologies, so she was promoted.  But, skip two entire ranks?  That’s just ludicrous.  For one thing, for all the good she did on Voyager, she did some questionable things too.  Granted, nothing worse than any other Starfleet Captain has done on the shows, but certainly a few iffy things.  Still, there was nothing I could see that would stop her from getting a promotion, but to a more appropriate rank of Rear Admiral Lower Half.  (formerly known as Commodore)

Stuff like this is just what irks me about Star Trek at times.  Of course, I know what they did.  The script called for Janeway to be an Admiral, so they made her an Admiral using whatever rank insignia they had on hand.  They didn’t care that the insignia they gave her promoted her way too fast, they just did it to make their film.

Nerdgasm

I was in a bookstore yesterday called Half Price Books. It’s a chain that’s got locations in 16 states in the US, including a store really conveniently located near where I live in Ohio. Anyway, they buy and sell used books, magazines, movies, video games, some toys and puzzles, etc. They also sometimes have new stuff, but still at reduced prices. Example; several months ago they had a bunch of copies of Frank Herbert’s Dune, but they were the British version. That’s not an issue for me because it’s still in English. 😉 So, I picked one up for a few bucks because I didn’t have that book. I figure they must have gotten a bunch of copies from a store in England that was clearing them out online, or something. (or somebody else bought them and sold them to Half Price Books) Anyway, yesterday I was there because they are having a store wide post-Christmas 20% off sale. I was perusing the books and whatnot, just looking for things that caught my eye when I found this lovely gem:

TNGBook01

They had a whole bunch of them, all brand new. Like that copy of Dune that I have, it’s a British copy, because it has the British official Star Trek web site on the back and the price is listed as £14.99. Again, not an issue for me. What I loved is that it had a price tag on it of $5.99. Take 20% off of that and I paid $4.79 plus sales tax for it. 😀 That’s not bad, considering that it’s brand new and the list price in the US is $18.99. (for what it is, that’s pricey, but for under $5, it was a steal)

It’s a very basic “starter” book about the 1701-D. It’s got general information about the history of the Enterprise, the crew, equipment, etc. Nothing new to a longtime Trek fan like me, but it’s well laid out and has some gorgeous CGI renderings of the ship and insides. However, what really sold me on getting the book is the included CD.

I don’t know how many people remember the TNG Interactive Technical Manual produced by Simon & Schuster in the ’90s, but it’s similar to that, only better. I actually still have a copy of that, but it won’t run on modern computers, so I keep it around more for sentimental value. Anyway, it was all done with set pictures and was in 256 color mode and used Apple Quicktime. (I so loathe Quicktime) You could go to different locations inside the ship and stare at stuff. It wasn’t bad, but it was limited. For example, you could go to the bridge and click on different “hot spots” and stand there and look around. Though, if memory serves, you ability to look around was limited. In fact, I don’t even think you could turn. You could click on things and “zoom in,” but that feature was limited.

So, on to the new book. The virtual tour is actually similar, except it’s done with CGI renderings, not set photos. You still have the hot spots, but you can rotate around and zoom your view in or out. Basically, you can look all around from the predetermined locations. Plus, the tour itself is an HTML page, the tour uses flash, so it will run on any computer with a web browser and flash plugin. All you have to do is copy the folder from the CD to your HD and you have the thing on your computer. 🙂 The CGI renderings are beautiful. In fact, being the CGI nut that I am, the inside covers were huge selling points for me. In the front inside cover, aside from having the CD that comes with the book, they have a wireframe view of the bridge:

TNGBook02
(the back inside cover has a wireframe of Engineering)

Anyway, this is how the tour works. You start off with a side view of the ship, where you pick the location you want to visit:

Tour01

The locations you can visit are the Main Bridge and Turbolift and Ready Room, Transporter Room, Sickbay and Crusher’s Office, a generic corridor section, Main Engineering, a cargo bay. I’m not going to show a lot of the interiors as it is copyrighted, but here are a couple of my favorites:

Tour02

Tour03
(the little com badge icons are the “hot spots”)

The book and CD set has generally mixed reviews. The tour is criticized by some because it doesn’t include the Observation Lounge or Ten Forward. I’ll admit, I’d like to see those and crew quarters. (though, I don’t think this was a high budget project) Some people whined about how the CGI looks, others think it’s gorgeous. I’m in the crowd that think it looks gorgeous. But, I also have an understanding of the kind of work that goes into something like this and can appreciate the amount of work done on it, unlike most people. Since it’s a flash thing done with renders and not actual models, you don’t have free roam to move around. I’d like it if it did, but I think it’s good for what it is. At least you have full rendered interiors and the freedom to look around, unlike the old Interactive Tech Manual. Plus, I love that it will run on any computer with a web browser and Flash. I’ll bet it would even run on a tablet. That’s great. Now, both the book and the CD have some mistakes. I usually just laugh stuff like this off, especially for stuff that I pay so little for. I’ll give you an example of a mistake:

Tour04
(See if you can spot the mistake. I didn’t even see this until I saw somebody’s review on Amazon whining about it, it’s actually funny to me)

So, anyway, this is my newest nerd item. I think it’s great, especially for under $5. If I’d paid $18.99 for it, I may be salty about a few things, like some of the people on Amazon. But, I didn’t, so I’m happy. 😀

Replicators: When?!

When I’m building ships, I like to think of what tech would be available for the time. Example: If I’m doing a really small ship in the TNG era, I don’t have to worry about as much cargo or “crew niceties” space on the ship because they have replicators to “create” both food and equipment. So, there’s no need to devote internal space to things like a galley and you can get by with less cargo bays. However, when considering a ship in the Enterprise-era, you have to factor in that they’d need a galley and more cargo bays. A ship like Enterprise that’s out in unexplored space has to bring lots of food and cargo with them because there are no supply bases in operation yet and they can’t guarantee they’re going to find what they need on the planets they visit. The problem I’m having is with the TOS-era. Did they have replicators? Unfortunately, there is evidence that supports both having and not having them. (typical of TOS and its lack of continuity)

Going back to Enterprise, they had something called a protein resequencer, which is obviously a forebearer to the food replicator. As I understand it, they could carry a block of protein and nutrient enriched “blank” food stuff with them and then use the resequencer to form it into whatever food the cook feels like making. This allows them to not necessarily carry specific food types with them, some of which may need refrigeration or can go bad. This is very important when doing something like space exploration. Also, the ship has a (never seen but mentioned) botanical garden aboard, as the later Enterprises did. This allows them to grow fresh vegetables and also generates oxygen. For drinks, we see them using the beverage slots on the wall, but these don’t necessarily mean they have anything terribly fancy behind it. It may work on the same principle as the modern day soda “gun” that restaurants use, where you push a button and the correct drink syrup is mixed with carbonated water and comes out the tap. The crew of the Enterprise may simply know what drinks are on hand and order them and that drink dispenser puts it into the drinking vessel in a predetermined amount, or it may even have sensors to tell it when the glass/mug is full. (of course, in real life, it was just some person on the other side of the wall pouring the stuff through a tube for them 😛 ) All of that I’m good with.

Now, on to TOS. Firstly, we know the ship had a galley, it was mentioned in Charlie X. (admittedly, not one of their best episodes) In fact, this is actually what got me thinking of this, because yesterday was Thanksgiving in the US. In that episode, Kirk tells the galley: “On Earth today it’s Thanksgiving, the crew has to eat synthetic metloaf, but I want it to taste like turkey.” Ignoring the problems with “On Earth today it’s Thanksgiving,” that whole thing raises some issues. Firstly, what is synthetic meatloaf? Does that mean replicated? Or, does it mean that they use something like the protein resequencer to make it? If they can make synthetic meatloaf, why can’t they make synthetic turkey? Obviously, if they had something like a replicator, it wasn’t creating the finished meal, since they still had to bake the food. Now, admittedly, this was simply a plot device so that Charlie could use his powers to turn the synthetic meatloaf into real turkeys. Unfortunately, this is one of only two examples where I can remember a galley being mentioned. The other is Star Trek VI. (the infamous “Why not simply waporize them?” scene) In that movie, we see the galley. Hell, we even see stewards setting places in the observation lounge officers’ mess. They’re in the galley when Chekov (who, as security chief should know better) asks why somebody wouldn’t just vaporize those gravity boots and Valeris vaporizes a stock pot, setting off the ship’s internal alarm. So, there’s evidence that, even in 2293, the ship was using a galley.

The problem is, most of the rest of the time, evidence supports replicators. In almost every other episode where somebody is eating in the mess hall/rec room, we see them get their food out of those slots in the wall. These are all over the ship, even in the transporter room (for when Kyle gets the munchies, I guess.) Of course, you could simply say that these are sophisticated dumbwaiters. It could be an elevator, or it could even be a transporter. (just because intraship beaming is dangerous for crew members at this time doesn’t mean they can’t beam more simple things) The crew could make selections based on what is available and the galley crew makes it appear in the slot for them. This is challenged in a few episodes, most notably Tomorrow is Yesterday. In that episode, when the Air Force guard is aboard and stuck in the transporter room, Kyle asks him what he wants, and he ponders it a moment and replies “chicken soup.” Kyle flips through a few of those data tapes they have and puts one in the slot next to the food slot, and out pops chicken soup. “Isn’t it amazing they just happen to have exactly what you asked for?” That question was posed by Cdr. Riker in Encounter at Farpoint, when the “station” was able to convert energy into matter and created the exact fabric Dr. Crusher wanted. I find it terribly coincidental that the galley crew of the Enterprise just happens to have chicken soup on hand that day and can put it into the food slot in seconds for that guard. To me, that suggests replication. And, in other instances where they used the food slots, the crew got whatever they wanted. Of course, they could be making choices predetermined by what is on the menu that day, but that example from Tomorrow is Yesterday suggests otherwise, as the AF guard has no idea what’s on the menu. (unless Kyle gave him a menu while we weren’t looking, but I doubt that) Going back to Star Trek VI, the ship not only had a galley, but it had replicators as well. Now, I know that was the “budget” ST film and they used a lot of redressed TNG sets, but Kirk’s quarters had a replicator with dishes in it.

So, when the hell did this technology come about? Can we ignore Charlie X and part of what was done in Star Trek VI and simply say that they had replicators? I think there’s incredibly strong evidence to support this. Please, share your thoughts on this.

Alternatives…

I had an interesting idea while I was working on the I.S.S. Enterprise. Write an “alternate” version of TMP, but with the Terran Empire instead of the Federation as the protagonists. The plot could be basically the same, with an unknown cloud heading towards Earth, destroying everything in its path. However, how would the Empire handle this situation? I’m thinking they would try to capture it, to possess the technology themselves. Anyway, that’s the kind of silly stuff I think up. 😉