Sunday, October 13, 2013

A review of ""These are the Voyages: TOS Season One" by Marc Cushman

I just finished reading a very cool book, "These Are The Voyages" by Marc Cushman. It's a hefty tome -- 580 pages within its hard covers -- and is a fascinating look at the day-to-day creative process which went into making the first season of the original "Star Trek" TV series (also referred as "TOS", for "The Original Series"), using material culled from the extensive files of those who worked on the show, primarily series creator Gene Roddenberry and producer Robert H. Justman. Even if you are not a fan of that first "Star Trek" series, this book is worth reading for insights into how a television series of the 1960's was made. I suspect some of the same issues arise even now when TV series are being produced, more than four decades later -- the rewriting of scripts, the constant battles over budget, and the need to keep things workable on a practical level, to name but a few.

The book isn't lavishly illustrated, and there are no images in color, but there is an entertaining sprinkling of black and white photos throughout, many dealing with behind-the-scenes stuff, some of which I'd never seen before.

Unfortunately, this otherwise wonderful book is marred with what seemed to me to be an overabundance of typographical errors and odd misspellings. My guess would be that much, if not most, if not all of the proofreading was done with the spellcheck function on someone's computer -- leading to some goofy stuff like "breading" for "breeding" in the caption to a photo on page 62.

And there is a very odd line in the author's credit on the back cover, which reads:

"Gene Roddenberry took the pitch from Marc for "Sarek", the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation to include a character from TOS and thereby link the two series together."


According to Wikipedia, "Sarek" was the seventy-first episode of "Next Generation", and appeared in the third season of that series. But… a principal character from TOS had already appeared in "Next Generation", in the very FIRST episode of the first season, no less ("Encounter at Farpoint"): Dr. McCoy. DeForest Kelley appeared in this pilot episode as the aged Dr. McCoy, now an admiral, in a lovely, touching scene with the android character Data. 

For a book as seemingly well-researched as this one, that seems like an egregious mistake.

However, it does not put me off recommending this book highly, especially for fans of TOS. And I will certainly be purchasing the promised following volumes, dealing with the second and third seasons of TOS, when they are released. -- PL

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