Apple Valley History

Apple Valley was not quite so obscure a place as I may have implied. Even as a child, I was aware of a couple exceptional circumstances. First, it was the home of then famous (if by now likely forgotten) singing movie and TV stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Their signature song was “Happy Trails to You…” (YouTube). My family even met them once, outside after church, at Church of the Valley along Highway 18. (My parents were nominally Methodists, but were not hard-line about it the way so many people are now; they took their kids to church, as I grew up, more as a matter of social habit than out of any motivation toward religious inculcation.)

Years later after Rogers and Evans died, there was a Roy Rogers Museum in Apple Valley, along Highway 18, that stood for many years. It later relocated to Missouri (http://www.royrogers.com/museum.html) and eventually closed. A few of their artifacts remain at the Victor Valley Museum, in Apple Valley, (http://www.sbcounty.gov/museum/branches/vvm.htm), that I visited in 2011.) Their legacy lives in the names of roads in Apple Valley: “Happy Trails Highway” (Highway 18, as it runs through the valley) and “Dale Evans Parkway”.

Apple Valley was also noted for its “house on the hill”. The hill is that narrow ridge that parallels the angled portion of Highway 18. At the top of which had been constructed a modernist house with a pool split between the indoors and the outdoors. The house was built by Newt Bass, one of the founders of Apple Valley, who along with Bud Westlund had developed the valley by buying 6300 acres of desert land with the intention of developing a cattle ranch; instead they sold the land as real estate, and became wealthy. There’s more background and many photos of the house in this article, Newt’s Paradise – Apple Valley’s Spectacular Hilltop House, on a blog devoted to historic southern California architecture.

The house was built in the 1950s (the article doesn’t say exactly when), and when my family lived there for several years in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, my father even took us on a tour of the house (enabled by the local real estate firm, Apple Valley Ranchos, if I recall). I remember that indoor/outdoor pool especially.

Years after we’d moved away, the house was nearly destroyed by fire in 1967. It was partially rebuilt, but never sold as a house, and was used as office space for some years, before being abandoned and falling into complete disrepair. The shell of the house is still there. I found this YouTube video of a local guy hiking up to the house in 2010, and discussing its history, and giving us views of the surrounding valley.

A story I heard later, from my father, was that a James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever (1971), had been filmed in that house. This was not true, I later discovered; the claim was some confusion with a similarly spectacular house in Palm Springs, the Elrod House, designed by John Lautner. (You can find a clip from that film, shot inside the Elrod House, on YouTube. And anyway the hilltop house in Apple Valley had burned down by then.)

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I knew about Roy and Dale, and the hilltop house, as a child. More recently, in researching the area, and revisiting it in 2009 and 2011, I learned a bit more. Wikipedia’s Apple Valley entry tells us its history, including the railroad station established where Victorville is now, and how ranching and farming in Apple Valley fell off after World War I and the Depression. The last few apple groves were killed off by fungus infections in the 1940s.

In the ‘50s and ‘60s Apple Valley promoted itself as a desert resort town, a sort of cut-rate Palm Springs that was a bit shorter drive from LA and Hollywood, by 50 miles or so. Nestled below the Newt Bass hilltop house was the Apple Valley Inn, a high-end, for its time, collection of bungalows surrounding parking lots and a swimming pool. Wikipedia’s Apple Valley Inn page notes that that the Inn, which opened in 1948, “originally allowed only white Christians as patrons”. It closed to the public in 1987, though part of it still remains (www.historicapplevalleyinn.com/) as a facility that can be rented out for events.

The Wikipedia page for Apple Valley shows a long list of “notable people” who lived in or spent time there, evidence of its proximity to LA and its attraction as a desert resort. One example: none other than Richard Nixon spent three months at Newton Bass’s hilltop house, in 1961 (while we were living there!), writing his first book.

The Wikipedia page also has a list of films and TV episodes filmed there, including an episode of the popular TV series Perry Mason, and the film Ordinary People (the golf course scene perhaps? I’ve seen the movie a couple times and can’t now recall what scene might have been shot there).

The larger town of Victorville (Wikipedia), now cut through by Interstate 15 and traffic back and forth between LA and Las Vegas, has similar credits for films, if not residents. One notable Victorville event: in 1940 the screenwriters for Citizen Kane, Herman J. Mankiewicz and John Houseman, spent 12 weeks working on their script at the Kemper Campbell Ranch, in Victorville along the Mojave River and virtually on the border of Apple Valley.

On one of my return visits to the area, I think in 2009, I drove far into the still desolate north end of Apple Valley, to where my GPS map indicated a town named “Bell Mountain”, centered on an intersection of two roads a bit east of the actual mountain of that name. Little was there. Some web sleuthing turned up the fascinating information that a “community” had once settled there, by people who’d been rejected from staying at the Apple Valley Inn! There was even a post office there, for a while. But in 2009 there was no visible community (no commercial buildings at all, no shops, no gas stations, no diners), just remnants of old settlements, houses, and trailers. As ‘standards’ at the Apple Valley Inn relaxed over the decades, the need for segregation dwindled and vanished, presumably.

(As always — this is a first draft, potentially to be revised for later use.)

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Both Proud of Our Ships: TOS “The Corbomite Maneuver”

The Enterprise encounters an enormous alien vessel that blocks its path and threatens its destruction.

  • Now watching the episodes in production order; this one is production order #2, after “Where No Man Has Gone Before”; this was the first episode to feature DeForrest Kelley as Dr. McCoy, Nichelle Nichols as Uhura (wearing a tan uniform, though), and Grace Lee Whitney as Yeoman Rand. (And I have to say, in this and other early episodes, I’m impressed by the subtlety and complexity of Kelley’s characterization of McCoy. He was the equal of Shatner and Nimoy, even though he wasn’t given nearly as much to do.)
  • Along with “The Naked Time”, this has always been one of my favorite episodes, in part because it shows so much relatively routine interaction aboard the Enterprise; it details how things play out in a crisis, in ways elided in most later episodes.
  • Example of this: how systematically Kirk orders various changes to the ship’s speed – quarter speed, half speed, warp one, etc. – and thereby establishing the relationship between sub-light speeds and the warp speeds.
  • At the beginning of the episode the Enterprise is “star mapping”, a legitimate if rather routine task for such a big ship. Wouldn’t a smaller ship do just as well? Or automated probe? Also, with the stars, as usual, passing by the viewscreen pretty quickly, you wonder how it works when they time a star mapping shot to a particular moment. Aren’t they ‘filming’ or taking stills continuously? Bit of failure of imagination here, I’ve always thought.
  • Trek effects: the turbo-lifts a famous people moving devices, and the impression of the lifts moving quickly is illustrated entirely by the moving bars of light that presumably represent floors, or decks. But in almost every scene inside a turbolift, we see way too many of those moving bars that can be plausible, considering the number of decks imagined in the Enterprise – even before detailed schematics were developed after the show ended.
  • Bailey is a loose cannon, clearly unstable from the beginning, and I’m surprised how long he lasts. At first encounter with the alien ship, he says “I vote we blast it” and Kirk replies sardonically about the bridge not being a democracy. More to the point, this shoot-first and ask questions later attitude is typical of crude media science fiction, and one arc of this episode is how this attitude can be overcome – Kirk’s diplomacy and earnest appeals, trumping Bailey’s panic — into one of understand and mutual comprehension. [conservative fear vs. humanistic acceptance, one is tempted to think]
  • It’s fascinating in two or three scenes to see Kirk, not so concerned about the apparent danger from the alien ship, as he is curious about Bailey’s behavior, as Kirk eyes him.
  • At the end of Act 1, this is the first time we see the Enterprise fire its phasers. In typical Trek FX, the resulting explosion knocks everyone around aboard the Enterprise, and we see shots of crewmen in a corridor being tossed over to one side, and then the other.
  • In Act 2, more routine yet personal discussions, as McCoy counsels Kirk as they have a drink in Kirk’s quarters.
  • Yeoman Rand is introduced as bringing Kirk’s lunch, a “dietary salad” at McCoy’s direction. It was years after I first saw Trek before I understood that, in real life, a “yeoman” is not necessarily a woman. Kirk makes a remark here about how it’s irritating that he was assigned a female yeoman, but as the series went on, *all* the yeomen were female.
  • One of the great Trek FX shots is when the second ship, the Fesarius, approaches, appearing first as a small dot growing larger as it comes nearer… and keeps coming, until we realize that compared to the Enterprise, it’s *enormous*. A terrific sense of wonder moment. (Let me see if I can link to this image from the Memory Alpha page for this episode — though this isn’t as big in this shot as it gets.)
  • This episode has two great, memorable musical cues: the first, energetic and a bit frantic, when the initial cubical buoy is first seen; the second, a 2 by 4 note ominous theme, when the huge Fesarius appears. Music by Fred Steiner; I think the second theme may have been reused in later episodes, though I don’t think the first one was.
  • The enhanced graphics versions of the Enterprise, from various interesting angles, and the Fesarius, are terrific; though I appreciate how the original cubical buoy was left deliberately fuzzy and multicolored, growing more and more fuzzy as it spun faster.
  • Interesting though uncharacteristic compared to later episodes, are how Kirk, several times, makes general announcements to the ship’s crew reminding them of the Enterprise’s noble mission, how misunderstands can be overcome, and so on. They serve of course also to inform viewers of what this show is about, as distinct from most movie and TV SF before it.
  • Balok, the voice from Fesarius – seen as a weird white bald head, through a fishy lens effect – informs the Enterprise that it will be destroyed. And it says, “We make assumption you have a deity, or deities, or some such beliefs which comfort you.” And so it gives them 10 minutes to prepare. This line represents a key theme throughout most of Trek, where time and time again we saw stories about how ideas of gods were obsolete, or how entities once thought to be gods were actually aliens, or computers, etc. (Though there were occasional lines of dialogue in later episodes that implied an assumed monotheistic belief, as well.)
  • Kirk’s appeals to reason, to explain why the Enterprise is there, why they destroyed the buoy, and so on, grow frantic. “If you’ve examined our records… you know this to be true!!”
  • It’s nice how the Bailey/McCoy/Kirk character arc dovetails with Spock’s reference to chess, to inspire Kirk to another game, poker, which inspires the episode’s central conceit – the claim to Balok that the Enterprise is equipped with a special substance, corbomite, that reverses any attack on the ship to destroy the attacker. OTOH, his tone as he makes this claim (“We grow annoyed at your foolishness”) is so different from his earlier appeals, that anyone sensitive to human speech might immediately suspect some dishonesty.
  • Right after this there are a couple lines between Spock and Scott about Spock’s father and his human mother. One senses the insertion of these lines (likely by Roddenberry) to establish this key aspect of Spock’s character early on.
  • In Act 4 we see, again, a much more detailed rendition of an extreme ship event, in this case straining the engines, increasingly for several minutes, in an attempt to break the tractor beam hold from the alien ship towing them to their doom. Spock recites dangerous engine temperatures; everyone on the bridge shakes slightly, then moreso, as the ship vibrates dangerously; in the corridors, those crewmen fall over.
  • And so the threatening alien situation is redeemed: the Enterprise returns to assist the now disabled alien vessel that was towing it. The boarding party discovers that the weird white alien head was just a prop; the real Balok is a short little boyish creature. On the one hand, points here for supposing that the inside of an alien ship would not have the same dimensions as the Enterprise – the three who beam over and told to bend over, for the low ceiling at their destination, a consideration that I don’t think ever happened again in the entire series. On the other hand, the alien commander *assumes* that the humans would not have been frightened by his real form, thus the weird puppet prop – but surely it assumes too much to imagine what an alien race would be frightened, or comforted, by.
  • And while it’s striking to be told that this small Balok is in charge, without additional crew, of the whole Fesarius ‘complex’, we get no clue as to the purpose of such an enormous complex; or why Balok is suddenly so eager to recruit a companion for his travels. There’s a lot of unexplained backstory here – how big is his First Federation? When will they meet up again? And so on and on.
  • Yet the ultimate payoff is the comity between Balok and the Enterprise crew, representing the successful testing of unknown intentions and the defeat of xenophobic thinking, to the point where Balok offers to give them a tour of his ship. Last line: “Yes we’re very much alike, captain. Both proud of our ships.”

(Addendum: I have a soundtrack album of this episode’s music and will consult it, and perhaps update this post.)

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Links and Comments: Expertise, Dunning-Kruger, Tactics of Denialists

NPR’s Adam Frank on Why Expertise Matters, commenting in part about Tom Nichols new book The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters.

Frank quotes a couple key passages from Nichols:

Nichols is profoundly troubled by the willful “know-nothing-ism” he sees around him. Its principle cause, he argues, are the new mechanisms that shape our discussions (i.e. the Internet and social media). He writes:

“There was once a time when participation in public debate, even in the pages of the local newspaper, required submission of a letter or an article, and that submission had to be written intelligently, pass editorial review, and stand with the author’s name attached… Now, anyone can bum rush the comments section of any major publication. Sometimes, that results in a free-for-all that spurs better thinking. Most of the time, however, it means that anyone can post anything they want, under any anonymous cover, and never have to defend their views or get called out for being wrong.”

Nichols also points to excesses of partisanship in politics, the weakening of expectations in schools and, finally, to human nature. The last cause, he says, is particularly troubling. As he puts it:

“Its called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which says, in sum, that the dumber you are, the more confident you are that you’re not actually dumb. And when you get invested in being aggressively dumb…well, the last thing you want to encounter are experts who disagree with you, and so you dismiss them in order to maintain your unreasonably high opinion of yourself.”

Frank concludes,

More importantly, being a true expert means having a healthy dose of humility. If you have really studied something and really gone deep into how it works, then you should come away knowing how much you don’t know. In a sense, that is the real definition of an expert — knowing the limits of one’s own knowledge.

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From New Scientist, Links and Comments: Expertise, Dunning-Kruger, Tactics of Denialists

“Denialism is inevitable whenever powerful financial, governmental, cultural or religious interests come into conflict with scientific reality.”

Six tactics used by those who would deny climate change, the efficacy of vaccines, or challenges to the policies of the Trump administration:

  • Allege that there’s a conspiracy. Claim that scientific consensus has arisen through collusion rather than the accumulation of evidence.
  • Use fake experts to support your story. “Denial always starts with a cadre of pseudo-experts with some credentials that create a facade of credibility,” says Seth Kalichman of the University of Connecticut.
  • Cherry-pick the evidence: trumpet whatever appears to support your case and ignore or rubbish the rest. Carry on trotting out supportive evidence even after it has been discredited.
  • Create impossible standards for your opponents. Claim that the existing evidence is not good enough and demand more. If your opponent comes up with evidence you have demanded, move the goalposts.
  • Use logical fallacies. Hitler opposed smoking, so anti-smoking measures are Nazi. Deliberately misrepresent the scientific consensus and then knock down your straw man.
  • Manufacture doubt. Falsely portray scientists as so divided that basing policy on their advice would be premature. Insist “both sides” must be heard and cry censorship when “dissenting” arguments or experts are rejected.
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Links and Comments: Bannon’s historical cycles; the Myth of Main Street; Late Bloomers

Interesting stories and essays from Sunday’s New York Times.

Bannon’s Worldview: Dissecting the Message of ‘The Fourth Turning’

A news article about a book that has influence Steve Bannon’s thinking about the world, a book by two amateur historians, that

makes the case that world events unfold in predictable cycles of roughly 80 years each that can be divided into four chapters, or turnings: growth, maturation, entropy and destruction. Western societies have experienced the same patterns for centuries, the book argues, and they are as natural and necessary as spring, summer, fall and winter.

This idea of inevitable cycles of history is almost certainly bogus. It plays upon the gullible by appeal to human nature’s tendency to understand the world through *narrative* — some kind of explanatory story that explains why otherwise random events happen. It’s also telling that such prophecies, when suitable vague, can be later cited to explain anything. And it’s also telling that stories like this are used to justify conservative conformity. (“Conform, or Else” is one of the example passages given in the article.)

The danger of this kind of thinking is that, like religious fundamentalists who believe the end of the world (and the second coming) is approaching, such believers may, even if unconsciously, strive to *bring about* the destruction they think is merely inevitable. That makes such crazies dangerous to the rest of us.

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The Myth of Main Street, an op-ed by Louis Hyman, about the notion that small-town main streets represent the ideal state of American being.

Yet another example of the fallacy that some ideal state existed in the past; it’s a conservative fallacy. (Make America great again!) In fact, as the essay discusses, not only has this yearning been around for nearly a century, but the ideal of main street makes no economic sense.

It’s worth noting that the idealized Main Street is not a myth in some parts of America today. It exists, but only as a luxury consumer experience. Main Streets of small, independent boutiques and nonfranchised restaurants can be found in affluent college towns, in gentrified neighborhoods in Brooklyn and San Francisco, in tony suburbs — in any place where people have ample disposable income. Main Street requires shoppers who don’t really care about low prices. The dream of Main Street may be populist, but the reality is elitist. “Keep it local” campaigns are possible only when people are willing and able to pay to do so.
In hard-pressed rural communities and small towns, that isn’t an option. This is why the nostalgia for Main Street is so harmful: It raises false hopes, which when dashed fuel anger and despair. President Trump’s promises notwithstanding, there is no going back to an economic arrangement whose foundations were so shaky. In the long run, American capitalism cannot remain isolated from the global economy. To do so would be not only stultifying for Americans, but also perilous for the rest of the world’s economic growth, with all the attendant political dangers. The only choice is turning to the future.

And as an example of his first paragraph, the area of Oakland where I live is close to Montclair Village, a charming neighborhood of shops and restaurants just as described above. (It’s where we shop to support the ‘local economy’ and to stroll down pleasant streets, but not for the cheapest prices.)

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Another op-ed: To Be a Genius, Think Like a 94-Year-Old

The essay discusses the notion that, like athletes and mathematicians, STEM students and technology innovators peak early.

On the contrary, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that late blooming is no anomaly. A 2016 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation study found that inventors peak in their late 40s and tend to be highly productive in the last half of their careers. Similarly, professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Hitotsubashi University in Japan, who studied data about patent holders, found that, in the United States, the average inventor sends in his or her application to the patent office at age 47, and that the highest-value patents often come from the oldest inventors — those over the age of 55.

And note the graph.

(And for what it’s worth, my personal achievements of the past 5-7 years — sfadb.com and my reconception of science fiction around my set of ‘provisional conclusions’ — are, if yet incomplete, more significant than anything I did earlier.)

Posted in Culture, Narrative, Religion | Comments Off on Links and Comments: Bannon’s historical cycles; the Myth of Main Street; Late Bloomers

Religious Zealotry in Science Fiction

There has been a controversy within the SF field over the past few years about how groups called the “sad puppies” and the “rabid puppies”, for various reasons, have mounted campaigns to influence the Hugo Awards nominations. (They succeeded two years ago, had a lesser influence one year ago, and have still had an influence on this year’s ballot.) This isn’t a single campaign; some of these people are sad that all SF is not basic space opera, with obvious good guys and bad guys; others are right-wing racists, who think that any fiction by women or non-white men is somehow depleting the strength of the genre and Western civilization in general; and some of them are fundamentalist Christians, who think that any writers who do not think their way are enemies of the state.

An example of the last came to the attention of many of my Facebook friends this past week: an interview with an SF/fantasy author on a site called National Catholic Register: An Interview with Catholic Sci-Fi Author John C. Wright.

John Crowley, an esteemed author of science fiction and fantasy with literary bona fides, reacted to the interview on a Facebook post on April 3rd,

The most egregious thing about such notions is that the writers do not understand what fiction is. As they see it, it can only be a sort of fanciful representation of notions, thoughts, or programs. The concept of using strands out of intellectual or other history for the purposes of sheer play is inconceivable to them.

Among the many comments to Crowley’s post, author and editor Scott Edelman commented,

As this is the same writer who insisted, “I have never heard of a group of women descended on a lesbian couple and beating them to death with axhandles and tire-irons, but that is the instinctive reaction of men towards fags,” his blather is to be ignored. There are no life lessons of his worth minding.

This author’s interview describes his early ‘atheism’, or indifference toward religion, followed by a growing antipathy toward non-religious thinking.

My faith in faithlessness eroded over a period of years when I slowly realized that my loyal allies, the atheists, were not merely wrong, but brain-meltingly, blindingly, foam-at-the-mouth barking moonbat wrong on all the major political and social issues of the day, from war and peace to abortion to homosex to contraception.

As if these attitudes, which obviously disregard the slightest respect for how others might have different attitudes, are not bad enough — he then has a heart attack, and visions:

I went to the hospital to see what had happened. At the time, I thought it an attack of pleurisy. The doctor said I had five blocked arteries leading to my heart and I should be dead. I said I did not know I had five arteries.

While I was waiting, the Holy Spirit entered my body. The sensation was like a physical sensation, but it was not. It was spiritual. It was like wine being poured into a dirty cup.

And of course this medical incident, which one might suppose involved some kind of brain damage, confirmed his predispositions. And now he is so absolutely certain of his convictions, that he passes judgements on other writers for their lack of similar convictions — who are therefore “enemies of the camp”.

More dangerous are writers of real skill and talent whose spiritual vision is awake, but whose loyalty is in the enemy camp: I put the remarkably talented Ursula K LeGuin in this category, for she can capture the spiritual look, feel, and flavor of Taoism without ever once revealing her own spiritual preferences; and likewise Mr. John Crowley, who is a gnostic, and peppers his work with themes that make the heresy seem quite inviting and new.

Religious zealots are common throughout history, but here is one nesting in the heart of the science fiction field. I don’t dwell on this (to spend half an hour composing this post) except to note this conclusion: the more absolutely certain anyone is of their convictions, especially religious convictions, the more likely they are wrong, that their convictions are derived from psychological issues, and certainly not based on any kind of rational conclusion about empirical evidence from the real world.

(I might note that as editor of Locus Online, I’ve had no trouble reviewing Mr. Wright’s novels — e.g. this review by Paul Di Filippo.)

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No Beach to Walk On: TOS “The Naked Time”

Raw notes from watching episodes of Star Trek TOS, with the assumption that anyone reading these is already familiar with the episodes themselves.

  • This time the planet is blue, appropriately, since it’s a cold ice-planet. In the enhanced graphics, there’s a new shot of the domed building of the scientific outpost.
  • Doofus move – an idiot plot device – in that not only are the suits that Spock and Tormolen beam down in not sealed (so that any airborne contagion could still infect them), but Tormolen takes his glove off, to scratch his nose, and then touches a surface and gets infected.
  • Trek physics: the crisis of the episode depends on the idea that this planet, Psi 2000, is “breaking up”, which somehow means that its mass and magnetic fields are changing, which affects the Enterprise’s orbit, which is problematic because people on board are infected with a disease that renders them unstable and that puts the ship in jeopardy. What were they thinking of? What does it mean for a planet to “break up”? Real astrophysics suggests planets are extremely stable unless they are hit by something, in which case chunks might be blown out of them, yet would still remain largely stable (as Earth perhaps survived an impact that split off the Moon). Otherwise… even if a planet were disintegrating for some reason, its mass would have to go *somewhere*; that mass wouldn’t somehow just disappear, disrupting the Enterprise’s orbit.
  • Later in the show there’s a line about how, as the planet shrinks, the Enterprise adjusts its orbit to “maintain the same distance” from the planet’s surface. Why would it need to do that?
  • The enhanced graphics exacerbate the problem: we see the planet surface spinning past so fast, beneath the Enterprise, on the view monitor, that it’s amazing the ship doesn’t slingshot away into space. The new graphics aren’t any more valid scientifically than the old.
  • There’s a serious ethical theme here, as Tormolen wonders “if man was meant to be out here…” It’s not as trivial an issue as it might have seemed at the time, as here in the 21st century we realize what humanity has done and is doing to this planet.
  • This has long been a favorite episode – it was a Hugo nominee – mostly I suppose for its revelations of character among the crew: Sulu and his rapier; Riley and his song; Spock and his confessions; Kirk and his anguish.
  • Sexism: Riley, infected, locked into the engineering room, gives out fanciful orders over the intercom to the entire ship, focusing on women’s makeup and how their hair should be worn loosely around their shoulders.
  • But it’s been one of my favorite episodes for a slightly different reason: the rhythm and pacing, especially of the second half of the show, maintains a tension unmatched in any other episode. You see it ratchet up, in a yin and yang of competing forces: routine communications alternating with increasingly emotional outbursts: Uhura to Kirk rather blandly: “Have you found Mr. Spock?” Kirk responds, almost hysterically: “YES I’VE FOUND MR. SPOCK I’M TALKING TO MR. SPOCK RIGHT NOW!” at which point Kirk realizes he’s infected too.
  • There are plot issues, of course – any show, like a series produced every week, is done so quickly it’s amazing they get so much done that still seems right decades later – but I couldn’t yet notice that, why weren’t Kirk and Spock infected earlier, when they brought Sulu down, instead of later via Nurse Chapel’s tears?
  • Famous line: Sulu, infected and playing swashbuckler, presume to protect Uhura, calling her a “fair maiden”. To which Uhura replies, so quickly you almost don’t notice, let alone absorb the implications of what she says, “Sorry, neither.”
  • First time we see the (first season) engine room. I think. I really should watch these episodes in production order, rather than broadcast order.
  • And first time we see Scott’s “Jeffries Tube”. I think.
  • And first time we see Spock’s neck pinch, or nerve pinch, I think.
  • Trek physics: talk about the engines having been turned off, the “intermix formula” for matter and antimatter, and having to raise the temperatures of those without risking “implosion”.
  • The enhanced graphics include a chronometer on the nav panel where Sulu sits – it shows not only a clock but a *stardate* counter, which, in keeping with the dialogue and story line, changes from 1705.0 back to 1702.0.
  • Trek physics: the “theoretical relationship between time and antimatter”, as Spock says, results in the ship going back in time, and moving “faster than is possible for normal space”, as they start the engines anyway and escape from the planet. This sets up the later episode, “Tomorrow Is Yesterday”, in which they accidentally go back in time to Earth in the 1960s.
  • Still, the enduring highlight of this episode is the revelation of the characters. Spock’s breakdown was a last minute story idea (according to Memory Alpha), was shot in a single take, and resulted in fan mail to Nimoy going exponential.
  • The end: calm. They acknowledge the potential for time travel, to any era, any planet, and suppose they might try it someday. And Kirk says, “steady as she goes.”
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You Can’t Know What It’s Like: TOS “Where No Man Has Gone Before”

Raw notes from watching episodes of Star Trek TOS, with the assumption that anyone reading these is already familiar with the episodes themselves.

  • Nice enhanced graphics of the galaxy, the haze of the Milky Way, as the Enterprise approaches the “edge of the galaxy”.
  • Trek physics: the whole concept of the “edge of the galaxy” is ludicrous, of course; it’s like speaking about taking a walk to half a yard outside a valley. There’s no edge of a galaxy, or a valley, that is that distinct. None other than Isaac Asimov wrote an article in TV Guide, around late 1966 or so (he’d at least seen this episode of Trek, and had seen Lost in Space), criticizing this point, though of course the errors in Lost in Space were worse.
  • This was the second pilot, to NBC, after “The Menagerie”, though not the first episode shown as it ran on TV. By the time the show went into regular production, things had changed, like the uniform colors and trim, the shape of the viewscreen monitor on the bridge, and so on. Spock’s make-up is relatively crude; Scott has an oddly colored tan shirt; Spock wears a gold shirt, like Kirk, not the blue one he wore later, throughout the series.
  • The two guest stars here were relatively prominent actors: Gary Lockwood, who played Gary Mitchell, later starred in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Sally Kellerman, who played Elizabeth Dehner, later starred in the film MASH.
  • As in other early episodes, we see lots more crewman in the corridors, as well as ladders and overhead panels that weren’t bothered with in the later shows.
  • Sexism: there’s a “Yeoman”, Smith, on the bridge in the early scenes, whose job is to serve coffee apparently; she doesn’t do anything else. In a later scene, as the ship is endangered, Gary Mitchell reaches behind him to hold her hand, implying I’m not sure what – that they know each other? Or more likely that he feels compelled to offer comfort to the nearest frail woman?
  • More sexism: when female crewmen appear (I think this is true throughout the show), they are either taken for granted as service providers (bringing lunch, or coffee, as Yeoman Rand does in “Charlie X”), or are treated an exceptional to the acceptable routine of male experts. When Elizabeth Dehner appears on the bridge to discuss ESP, Gary Mitchell asks sarcastically if her job is to “improve the breed” and then, when she says, “I heard that’s more your specialty” Gary turns away and remarks to the nearby helmsman, “Walking freezer unit”. (Because they couldn’t say the b word on 1960s TV.)
  • As Spock listens to tapes from the Valiant, the ship whose recorder they’ve picked up, which preceded them exiting the galaxy (by half a light-year!), he talks about a “magnetic space storm”. Is this a real thing? Trek repeatedly invokes such events, and Lost in Space did all the time (more often as “cosmic storms”), and I’ve never understood what they meant, if those were real things.
  • The SFnal premise here is about ESP, extra-sensory perception. In the story, the lost Valiant had been investigating the topic, in their last hours. Now Kirk asks Dehner what she knows. “It’s a fact that some people can sense future happenings – read the backs of playing cards and so on.” This is an obsolete premise; it’s not a fact, as we know in 2017, that people can do that. ESP, telepathy, and the like, were fads in the 1950s and 1960s, and seemed to have some reputed evidence. In SF literature, such themes were routine, even in the “hard SF” magazine Analog. But reliable evidence never showed up, and modern understanding of neurology and the mind rules such powers out. There is no telepathy, no psychokinesis, no visions of the future, none of it.
  • After the Enterprise retreats from its exploration into the force field at the edge of the galaxy, its warp ability gone, Kirk comments in his log that “Earth bases that were only days away are now years in the distance.” This is a nice, and rare, acknowledgement of the difference between their warp drive, that allows fast transit between stars, and lack of warp drive, which is far less than the speed of light.
  • Watching this episode now on Blu-ray, on a big TV, I can see details I never saw before. You know those medical panels above the beds in sick-bay, with several vertical scales that display various medical conditions? Now I can see them: the scales are for Temp, Brain, Lungs on the left; Cell Rate, Blood, Blood, on the right. [Or are these enhanced graphics?]
  • Gary Mitchell, having been zapped by something in the force field at the edge of the galaxy, develops superpowers. He lies in bed in sickbay, and reads Spinoza on a small monitor that extends on an arm over his bed. To Kirk, he calls Spinoza “simple, childish”, and says he doesn’t agree with him at all. In the next scene on the bridge, Spock monitors Gary’s reading, as he reads faster and faster, a page every second. Now I can see that the pages are headed “The Ethics”. Which is in fact a work of Spinoza’s. Give the production team points for attending to such details. (OTOH I didn’t try to read the text on those screens.)
  • Dehner is assigned to monitor Mitchell. Mitchell complains to Kirk that with 100 women on board, couldn’t he do better? Point here, 100 women is about ¼ of the entire crew.
  • Sexism: Dehner tries to mollify Mitchell: “Women professionals do tend to overcompensate”. Argh.
  • Dehner challenges Mitchell’s reading retention, and he quotes a sonnet: “My love has wings, slender feathered things with grace and upswept curve and tapered tip”, that he attributes to Tarbolde from 1996 (!).
  • When Spock examines personnel records for Dehner and Mitchell, we see typewritten cards that display, among other things, dates of birth. Dehner’s is 1089.5, Mitchell’s is 1097.7. Are these… star dates? More about this below.
  • The Enterprise travels to Delta Vega, somehow only a few light-days away (without warp), that has an impressive lithium cracking station – impressive in the visual. At Spock’s cold advice, Kirk realizes he has to maroon Mitchell there, before his powers enable him to take over the ship, and the Earth colony they might next go to. It doesn’t go well. Mitchell escapes; Dehner develops similar powers, and Kirk chases after them. He tries to negotiate with Dehner, about the danger Mitchell portends: “You know the ugly savage things we all keep buried that none of us dare expose. But he’ll dare–!”
  • Mitchell makes tombstone appear, for Kirk, and it reads 1277.1 to 1313.7. The latter date coincides with the log entry star dates in this episode. But meaning what? I think that by this time the production staff had not decided what stardates meant. The eventual meaning was that one stardate meant one day… but this tombstone implies *years*. More about star dates later.
  • Despite Mitchell’s godlike powers, Kirk defeats him in a fistfight, with a laser rifle and a handy block of stone. Dehner, drained from fighting Mitchell, dies: “You can’t know what it’s like to be almost a god.”
  • Broad theme: would humans with superpowers be a good thing, or not? Would such beings threaten those without those powers? This theme is still very much with us.
  • Memory Alpha notes that the fistfight at the end is what sold NBC the show. -!! Yet later, we learn that “The Man Trap” was chosen as the first episode to be broadcast, because for various reasons the other episodes completed by then had issues, and the issue with “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was that it was too expository…

 

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I Have Taken My Form Centuries Ago: TOS “Charlie X”

Raw notes from watching the 2nd broadcast episode of Star Trek (TOS, the original series).

  • Watching the enhanced graphics, which matter in an episode like this only in scenes of ships rendezvousing or sailing through space. Not real fond of them. The Enterprise is more sharply detailed, of course, but especially in the first scene, with Enterprise and Antares, they look obviously CGI, sorta phony compared with the apparent solidity of seeing models.
  • Interesting how the main guest character here has a telling tic, as in the previous episode, where Nancy or her other guises were constantly chewing on their knuckle – here Charlie, when provoked, rolls his eyes up into his head as he makes someone go away, or breaks Spock’s legs.
  • Here we establish that each ship has a distinctive emblem patch sewn onto its crews’ uniforms.
  • Charlie is a classic awkward adolescent, but some of his behavior strikes autistic chords – he interrupts, he has no social skills, he frets about being liked. “I tried to make them like me!”
  • Trek physics: the ‘roar’ of the ship as it passes the POV, even in deep space.
  • As in previous episode, nice scenes of everyday crewmen busy about the ship, including a scene (with up and down scale harp music; music in this episode by Fred Steiner) as Charlie watches a technician guiding a plastic pipe downward through a hatch in the floor. And later, a key scene in which Spock, Uhura, and numerous random crewmen hang out in a rec room, with Spock playing his oddly-shaped harp, and Uhura singing, until Charlie interrupts and demands attention.
  • And later: a scene set in a gym, with random crewmen doing calisthenics in the background. We never see this gym again, in the entire series.
  • Set design: curious about the astronomical photos mounted on the upper walls around the bridge. They’re cool but pointless, like the huge galactic photo on the wall of Alpha Control at the very beginning of Lost in Space.
  • Set design: it’s been noted how much the set design benefited from light – especially in the corridors and rooms of the Enterprise, how colored lights gave the same sets different looks for different scenes.
  • Kirk isn’t actually particularly good at explaining awkward adolescent things to Charlie.
  • Tech anachronism, perhaps: in this episode we have Kirk instructing a chef to use meatloaf to simulate turkey for Earth’s Thanksgiving, while later in the show (especially by Next Gen), virtually any food or drink can be manufactured with a push of a button, or voice command.
    • Of course he means the United States’ Thanksgiving, but it’s a nationalistic assumption in TOS that specifically American values will prevail, some 300 years from now – thus, as another example, the list of potential starship names, as given in The Making of Star Trek (p164), includes Lexington and Yorktown, significant names in American history no doubt but hardly likely to be so in the world history of 300 years from now.
  • I have a “Nitpicker’s Guide” book about TOS that points out continuity errors, and I’m trying not to look at it — but I noticed a huge continuity error while watching this evening. After Kirk tries to explain something to Charlie, Kirk is summoned to the bridge, and Charlie follows. Before leaving, Kirk is wearing his gold shirt. When they reach the bridge, he’s wearing his green lounge shirt.
  • Mention in captain’s log of “UESPA”, pronounced “you-spa”, which is never mentioned again.
  • Charlie’s awkward devotion to Yeoman Janice Rand: “If I had the whole universe, I’d give it to you.”
  • Trek physics: how the stars *stream by* as the Enterprise is underway to a new destination. Think about this: suppose the average distance between stars, in our area of the galaxy (not the galactic core) is roughly 4 light years, as our sun is from Alpha Centauri. When the Enterprise travels at warp 1, the speed of light [though I think the relationship between warp speeds and multiples of the speed of light is never specified in the show itself, but was extrapolated in various concordances and commentaries], it would take *four years* to travel from one star to the average next. At warp 10, 1000 times the speed of light [by those extrapolations], it would still take…. 1.5 days to travel from one star to the average next. So how fast would the Enterprise need to move for the stars to be visibly streaming past the camera?? It doesn’t bear close examination. But it makes for subjectively comfortable visuals.
  • Striking scenes from when I first saw this episode at age 11: Charlie turning a woman (a young woman, as is invariably referred to as a “girl” in this series) into an iguana. Another young woman he turns into a very old woman, who is horrified when she realizes her condition. And finally – as Charlie shuts down a raucous rec room, a victim, another woman, stumbles into the corridor *with no face at all*, just a featureless mask.
  • This story is tragic and has a sad ending. Charlie survived for 14 years on a desolate planet by being given special powers by the native Thasians – and now he can’t not use them, to qualm his adolescent fears and rejections, to strike back at those who offend or make fun of him. The Thasians come to take him back, and restore most of his damage. He pleads with his fellow humans. “I can’t even touch them! I want to stay….!”
  • Kirk, to give him credit, tries to negotiate.
  • Mysterious line: the Thasian appears on the bridge and says, “I have taken my form centuries ago so that I may communicate with you.” What does this mean? Centuries ago? No explanation – but its intriguing implications were the kind of thing that thrilled me about this show, more than its surface adventure. A sense of wonder moment, a momentary glimpse at something barely understandable.
  • Ending here also muted. Janice, having reappeared on the bridge (in the nightgown she was wearing when Charlie made her disappear from her quarters), weeps subtlety, stepping up to the comfort of the captain’s chair. Kirk comforts her: “It’s all over now.”
  • This was the first story adaptation by James Blish in his very first Star Trek book. He titled the story “Charlie’s Law”, and he ended it by emphasizing Janice’s anguish:

The boy and the Thasian vanished, in utter silence. The only remaining sound was the dim, multifarious humming surround of the Enterprise.

And the sound of Janice Rand weeping, as a woman weeps for a lost son.

  • After browsing Memory Alpha today – it seems to be the ultimate compendium for story details and production background of every Trek series and film that has ever existed – I should stand corrected on my comment two posts ago that Blish apparently improved on many of the scripts he turned into short story narratives. He was working from early versions of scripts – literally, early typewritten drafts the studio didn’t need any more and mailed to him – and so plot differences from broadcast episodes were at least in part for that reason. Thus, in his version of “The Man Trap”, which he called “The Unreal McCoy”, the characters were named Bierce, not Crater, and the planet was Regulus VIII, not M-113. Still, I should reread Blish’s versions, and follow Memory Alpha’s notes, and try to figure out why I thought Blish’s versions were sometimes superior to the broadcast episodes.

 

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She Lives in My Dreams: TOS “The Man Trap”

So I’ll begin posting my raw notes from each episode, as I rewatch Star Trek TOS, The Original Series. Eventually I’ll organize and consolidate these notes into some broad conclusions and observations about the show. I’m not summarizing the episodes’ plots for people who’ve never seen them; I’m assuming anyone interested in these posts has seen them, perhaps as many times as I’ve seen them. For today, this, about the first episode broadcast, in September 1966, “The Man Trap”:

  • It’s always struck me as implausible how, in the opening scenes, the monster can appear differently to three people *simultaneously*.
  • Virtually every episode displays a classic sort of intuitive (and wrong) physics – the Enterprise in orbit, apparently *banking* inward as it circles the planet like a plane that is turning in the air. And, visibly arcing, as if the planet below is only a few miles in diameter. (Not to mention that there’s no reason the side of the ship need stay aligned with the planet’s surface below; an object in orbit wouldn’t constantly turn to stay in orientation with the planet below unless it were being powered that way.)
  • Also, the planet is *visibly* rotating – both in original effects and in enhanced effects.
  • And of course, the silly *swish!* as the Enterprise flies past the viewer, in the credits.
  • The story here has a couple huge implausibilities. First, how is it a creature needs (only) *salt* to survive? How is it it’s the last one left? What killed them off? Dr Crater explains later that the salt “ran out”. How could that have happened to a race that had presumably evolved and lived for millions of years?
  • OTOH there’s a striking echo here of our current awareness of the sixth extinction, and *why* the buffalo and passenger pigeon went extinct – because humanity expanded and killed them off. Too bad the scenario here did suggest some more plausible reason for the extinction.
  • Kirk’s log entries are narrated in an oddly hushed tone, compared to later.
  • A nice touch: the low hum of background noise when on the planet. There’s no implied cause; it’s audio decoration to enhance the feeling of alienness.
  • Uhura is a little dippy here, in her scene mocking Spock.
  • One nice feature of early episodes like this one: there are lots of extras wandering around the Enterprise corridors, as if it really is a ship full of hundreds of crewmen. As the series went on, fairly quickly producers stopped paying for so many extras, and corridor scenes came to show only the main characters in each story.
  • On the other hand, in several scenes we get the impression that all the crewmen know each other. Plausible? Maybe, if the entire crew numbers only 400.
  • One of those quote I’ve always remembered: “She lives in my dreams, she walks and sings in my dreams.” Crater talking about his late wife.
  • Another plot issue: why is the creature suddenly so ravenous? As Nancy she seemed fine when they first arrived, not as if about to starve. They even had a few salt tablets left! And yet, as the story goes on here, no sooner does the creature strike one person down, then it turns on the next.
  • Ending here is muted and thoughtful (unlike many 2nd season shows where they felt the need to end on a joke of some sort) – Kirk thinking about the buffalo.
  • When the Enterprise departs at the end – at warp 1 – the planet recedes fairly quickly, more quickly than similar shots in most of the rest of the series. As if the producers thought it not quite correct. Actually, if the ship is departing at the speed of light (warp 1), the planet would recede fairly quickly.
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About to Re-watch Star Trek

So a few words about my history with Star Trek, ending with my reflection that while I was obsessed by the show in my teens, I haven’t seen but a handful of episodes, at all, in 40 years. (I’m talking only about the original series.) But now I’m about to re-watch the entire series.

It’s fair to say that Trek is my favorite TV series of all time, and the series that had the most influence on me in my entire life. I saw most of it when first broadcast on NBC from 1966 to 1969, and became obsessed by it for the several years it then ran in syndication (i.e. reruns on local stations, five days a week).

Its impact on me was partly about me — I was 11 years old when the show debuted. There’s a saying in science fiction, “the golden age of science fiction is 12”. Meaning, the golden age isn’t an era of classic stories from 1939 to 1950, or 1962 to 1969, or any such thing; the golden age is whatever kind of science fiction you discover when you’re 12 years old. That’s when it has its impact — the idea of greater realms, of other possible modes of being, of strange exciting worlds different from ordinary experience.

At the same time, Trek *was* an important and influential show. Its impact on so many people is evidenced by its growth into a major cultural theme. What was a show followed in its time by a relatively small group of obsessive fans has grown into a world-wide cultural institution, where everybody knows who Mr. Spock is, and everybody recognizes the Enterprise musical fanfare.

For me Trek was preceded by Lost In Space, a much lesser show than nevertheless affected me greatly (I was 10) and has garnered a loyal following over the decades, to the point where a remake is in development. LIS had its attractive elements — and I’ll discuss them at length eventually — but also its absurdities, relying often on monster-of-the-week plotting, and crippled by scientific illiteracy. Trek, I recall, was advertised before its premiere as an “adult” science fiction show, and I remember assuring my parents — at age 11! — that, nevertheless, I was eager to see it.

So the series ran for three years, at a time when I was the eldest child in a family of four, in a household with *one* TV — that was *black and white*! The former point meant that I didn’t always have dibs to see my favorite show; sometimes my sister would want to see “Ozzie and Harriet” instead, and I would have to defer. Nevertheless, I’m sure I saw the majority of the series’ 79 episodes when they were first broadcast, which means that the episodes I saw, I saw in their entirety. The second point, that our TV was black and white, meant however that I never saw the show in its initial run in color.

My devotion to the show was fueled by the publication of a book called The Making of Star Trek, by Stephen E. Whitfield, in 1968, a history of the show’s development, with sketches of early Enterprise designs, interviews with Roddenberry, production staff, and actors, and so on, and ending with a list of episodes broadcast up to then — the first two seasons. I bought that book sometime in 1968 and read and reread it obsessively. No doubt I compiled my own list of 3rd season episodes as they were broadcast. Even if I missed a week for some reason, the TV Guide listings in those days included the episode titles, so I had a list of all the 3rd season shows even if I didn’t see them all at the time.

(I certainly remember seeing “The Cloud Minders” when it was first shown, because I was in a hospital bed recovering from a ruptured appendix at the time.)

TV was very different in those days, in that once a show’s broadcast run ended, it could easily vanish into the ether, with no expectation by producers or studio execs or fans that it would ever been seen again. There were summer reruns, of course — a show like Trek produced 26 or 29 new episodes per season, running from September through April, with some of them rerun over the four summer months before the next season began. Thus if one did miss an episode on first-run, you could hope it would be rerun over the summer. But you couldn’t count on it.

But summer reruns aside — There were no video tapes, no DVDs, no Blu-rays, and no cable channels or streaming services. There was, however, syndication, a process whereby older shows were leased, or syndicated, to local TV stations for broadcast as reruns, typically every weeknight. Generally this worked only for shows that had enough episodes to make it profitable for a local station to run them 5 times a week and keep the audience interested without cycling around to familiar material too quickly. Fortunately, Trek had lasted three seasons on NBC. And it had a devoted, if then small, audience, one that had gotten the show renewed for its third season when NBC was inclined to cancel it.

(This type of syndication is still around today, which is how we can watch The Big Bang Theory every single night, forever.)

The loyal fan base was enough to put Trek into syndication immediately after its summer reruns ended in 1969. Suddenly, all the episodes were available, shown at a rate of five times a week, and at that rate it took only 16 weeks to run through the entire series. I could catch up on all the episodes I missed! And I did, in fairly short order.

There was a catch, though. The local TV stations were under no obligation to show each episode in its entirely, and to maximize their advertising revenue, the universal practice (whether in suburban Chicago, were my family was in fall 1969, or in LA, to which we returned in the summer of 1971) was to snip 5 or 7 minutes out of each show, in order to show that many more minutes of commercials.

That meant that while you could catch up on all the episodes, you weren’t seeing the *complete* episodes, and to an obsessed devotee, that was extremely frustrating.

On the other hand, as I watched the episodes again and again — at some point I started taking notes, about the stardates in each episode, the names of planets mentioned, and so on; my own little concordance — I realized that the local stations apparently didn’t create a set of edits for indefinite use. They edited each episode over again each time they showed it. And more often than not, it was edited differently. That meant scenes that had been cut one time might be included the next time the episode turned up, 16 weeks or so later. And so by diligent watching, over many months and years, you might hope to have seen the entirety of each and every episode.

Also, at some point fairly early in Trek’s syndication run, my parents bought our first color TV (around 1970 I think). From that point on, my interest wasn’t only in seeing episodes of my favorite show again, it was seeing them in color! And color, in those early days of color TV, was deliberately vibrant, as the stark red/blue/tan colors of Enterprise uniforms in that show illustrated. (Compare the much more muted colors of Next Gen.)

I should mention that there was another resource about the show — James Blish’s “novelizations” of episodes that began with the book Star Trek in 1967 and continued for a decade, until Star Trek 12 (1977). Each book had short story versions of 6 or 7 episodes. Unfortunately, and ironically, Blish’s adaptations were much more liberal in the early books — condensations of detailed scripts, with changes that were usually improvements — while becoming much more literal in the later ones (at fans’ requests, apparently). So his early books were invaluable for being able to read versions of episodes I’d missed, but those versions weren’t exact enough to fill in individual scenes that I might have missed in the edited syndicated episodes I had seen. (I’ll post an appreciation of Blish’s early Trek books at some point.)

At some point part-way through college, say 1975 or so, when I was 20, my obsession with Trek rather suddenly evaporated. I think the reason was that by that time I had discovered, not just literary science fiction in books and magazine, which I’d already been reading since 1969 or 1970, but also SF journalism — I had discovered A Change of Hobbit bookstore near UCLA, and there discovered the newsletter called Locus. So now I wasn’t just reading random paperbacks by authors I’d already heard of (Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke), but was able to know about what new books were popular, what stories were being nominated for awards, and so on, and my attention turned there.

(Ironically, my reputation in my family as a Trek fan lasted forever; they never understood how my interest in science fiction was so much more than that. At my father’s funeral, in 2001, and old family friend giving a eulogy identified my father’s eldest son [me] as a “Trekkie”. I was mortified, but said nothing.)

Eventually, of course, VHS players came along (in the late ’70s) and then DVDs and their players (in the ’80s), and shows with followings like Trek became available in those formats. And I did buy a few VHS tapes, and later DVDs (early Trek DVDs had 2 episodes per disc), of a few episodes. And I watched a handful. I never bought a complete series set.

I saw the early Trek films, and I watched every episode but one that I missed in the last season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. But I’ve never watched any of Next Gen again. (Perhaps I will, eventually.) And I checked in only once or twice with all of the subsequent Trek series and films. I’d moved on.

But I still retain an affection for the original series, and after all these years, I bought a complete Blu-Ray set last year. (Not only does this set include all the shows, but it also has versions with “enhanced visual effects” that were produced a decade or so ago [by CBS, I think, who ironically owns the show now], and which I’ve never seen.) And now I’m about to sit down and watch the entire series again, over the next few weeks or months. As I do so, I have these conclusions from this reflection on my history with Trek:

1, While I saw all these episodes over and over in my late teens, I don’t think I’ve seen most of them at all in the 40 years since then.

2, Because of the vagaries of syndication, and the fact that I missed original broadcast of some shows, it’s very likely that there are a few scenes in a few episodes that I’ve never seen in color. And possibly never seen at all! That’s a very intriguing possibility. If there are such scenes, will I recognize them when I see them?

3, I watched the show so obsessively for those few years from 1969 to 1975 or so, that certain lines of dialogue, and their intonations, and quite a few musical cues, became cemented into my mental vocabulary. I wonder how I’ll respond hearing them again.

4, I’m also fascinated to reflect on the ways the show might now seem very dated. The gender relationships; the cheesy special effects; the slapdash science (in some cases); how so many stories were resolved with fistfights.

I’ll report back periodically as I proceed.

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