Gimme That Star Trek Ep.16: The Wilderness Years

Between The Original Series and The Next Generation, how did you express your Star Trek fandom? Siskoid meets with Rob Kelly to talk about the Trek Gap of the 70s and early 80s, a wilderness, but not quite a wasteland. And perhaps, fertile ground for fandom to grow anyway. Plus, Siskoid continues his Trek reviews by covering The Animated Series and the original cast movies, with a little help from his friends!

Listen to Episode 16 below!

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“Star Trek Theme” by Alexander Courage, with the Irredeemable Shagg on vocals. End theme: “Deep Space Nine Theme” by Dennis McCarthy.

Bonus clips from: 1976 MEGO Star Trek figures commercial; “Batman: The Animated Series” starring Mark Hamill; “Highly Illogical” by Leonard Nimoy; episodes of Stat Trek: The Animated Series, starring William Shatner, James Doohan, Keith Sutherland, Nichelle Nichols, Ed Bishop, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Roger C. Carmel, Leonard Nimoy, and Lou Scheimer; “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” by Robert Wise, starring Leonard Nimoy; “Star Trek: The Motion Picture Theme” by Jerry Goldsmith; “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” by Nicholas Meyer, starring William Shatner; Star Trek II themes by James Horner; “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” by Leonard Nimoy, starring Christopher Lloyd; “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” by Leonard Nimoy, starring Nimoy and Mark Lenard; “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” by William Shatner, starring James Doohan and Shatner; and “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” by Nicholas Meyer, starring Grace Lee Whitney, George Takei, and Leonard Nimoy.

And thanks for leaving a comment!

30 responses to “Gimme That Star Trek Ep.16: The Wilderness Years

        1. I look forward to discussing the best look McCoy ever had – beard and the Saturday Night Fever -inspired uniform.

        2. Who are you and what have you done with Rob?

          Seriously, though, I’d certainly be down for that, but it would need to be an in person recording. I don’t want you pulling a Shag on me. 😉

          1. Gene is absolutely correct. I was exhausted and fell asleep while we discussed FIRST CONTACT. Chris even got me snoring on air. Old people fall asleep when the sit for any given period of time. Since then I’ve always paced while recording.

          2. True, First Contact does that. But at least Picard grows some cajones in that film. Plus I’m constantly quoting “The line must be drawn HE-RE!!!” and “If you were any other man, I’d kill you where you stand!” in the appropriate bad voices.

  1. Every. Animated. Show. Reviewed. And in less than an hour! well done, Ensign Siskoid!

    I suppose I was lucky to have missed the majority of the “Wilderness Years.” Like Rob, I was a second gen TOS kid with the benefit of a daily Trek show in syndication, so it was always around. And some of my first movie memories are from TMP – specifically having to get the happy meal toys.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on ST6, as Kelly Week continues.

  2. I love Star Trek VI! It battles with II for my position of best, and then you have III which is a personal favorite since it was my first, and my Dad and I went to see it, and it’s just damn good. But Cindy and I got to talk about that on Film and Water, so I won’t be jealous of you and DAG talking with Rob about VI. Okay, yes I will. Especially of DAG.

    I have the animated series on DVD, and the kids and I have popped it in and watched it from time to time. I really like Filmation’s design work, and I really feel like they nailed the actor’s likenesses for the most part. But the repetitive stock animation shots hurt the series somewhat. The music, like most Filmation shows, gets pretty repetitive too. Filmations shows often looked slicker than their somewhat rougher Hanna Barbara counterparts in the 70s due to that use of stock visuals, but it does make it a slog to sit through too many at once.

    I’ve floated the idea of someone “re-animating” these episodes with better production values, but some of the acting seems very much like simple line reading, especially from Shatner and Nimoy. Kirk is very low-key through most of this series as you pointed out, and Nimoy sounds like he’s recording voiceover for In Search Of. One wonders what a true voice directing talent like Andrea Romano could get out of the cast. Heck, Shatner killed it in the recent Batman vs. Two-Face, so he has it in him to project with just his voice.

    I still enjoy the series despite these flaws. Hey, it’s more Trek with the original cast!


  3. Hm, not really sure why you think the “wilderness years” lasted until the launch of TNG. Personally, I think that term would be better suited to refer to the period between the end of TOS and the release of the Motion Picture, i.e., that period when there was no live-action Star Trek productions of any kind, with the animated series as sort of a sole highlight. But it was a time rich with so much fan-based activity that sustained the whole Star Trek phenomenon that basically went unmentioned: the conventions first and foremost, but also amateur publications like fanzines and even books. Also, the many Trek novels were already being churned out in the ’70s, and I think you kind of gave short-shrift to the Gold Key Trek comics, such as they were (heck, they even got some nice hardcover reprints in the early ’00s). Anyway, once the movies started coming out, and after “Wrath of Khan” especially, it was pretty obvious to fans and the studio alike that Star Trek had very much returned from the wilderness. Indeed, I think that latter movie marked the beginning of Star Trek as the pop-culture juggernaut we have today.
    That said, I really enjoyed your rundown of the animated series (which I look at as more or less the fourth season of TOS). Also, Rob’s memories of watching Trek with his dad while eating pizza brought such a big smile to my face, but also made me a bit envious: neither of my parents liked SF, and back when I was that young, my dad thought the only things worth watching on TV were the news and Hee-Haw (*shudder*).

    …And while TMP is not my favorite of the Trek movies, it consider among the better ones, so I really appreciated Gene’s rebuttal to all of the network’s naysayers.

      1. Thanks for the link, Gene; – although you’ve pointed me in the direction of that rabbit-hole that is the 2 True Freaks network; I always end up downloading about a half-dozen shows whenever I go there. (However, I have to say I enjoyed that 2-part consideration of Byrne’s Generations you did with Michael Bailey.)

          1. Gene, just listened to it yesterday while shoveling snow. Really enjoyed it, and you guys are so right about the music – really just a memorable and amazing score.

    1. A semantic conceit to justify talking about our childhoods and the tent pole events in Trek history. And since the conventions were outside our experience, we didn’t go there. Those, the novels and the comics can all be their own episodes (in fact, watch for something on the latter in early 2018).

      Hee-Haw, nay… what is this, a stables? But yeah, I was forced to watch Hee-Haw too.

      1. Man, Hee-Haw really seemed to get its clamps into everyone didn’t it? Another cultural atrocity perpetrated against Canada by us Statesiders…

  4. I’m another second generation TOS fan, who grew up in the Wilderness Years. My mom, a fan from the original airing, was the one who introduced me to the series in syndication.

    I have to admit that TMP holds a special place in my heart. It is one of the few movies my dad ever took me to in a theater. It’s not that he didn’t like watching movies, rather he didn’t like the cost of watching a movie. I was four years old at the time, and the visuals just blew me away. I have always been a very slow and deliberate person, and like having time to take things in. So the pacing of TMP didn’t bother me as a kid, and probably even appealed to me in some respect.

  5. Gene Roddenberry shot down Lou Scheimer’s original idea for the animated Star Trek. Scheimer pitched a small group of kids (essentially teenage Starfleet Academy cadets) essentially shadowing Kirk, Spock, and McCoy aboard the Enterprise and joining them on landing parties. Filmation would go on to use that concept for its live-action series, Space Academy starring Lost in Space’s Jonathan Harris. Space Academy’s sequel, Jason of Star Command, featured Jimmy Doohan in its first season.

      1. Ooo, Space Academy was fun. I remember the one kid from a high-gravity planet with almost super-human strength and endurance. It’s an old bit now, but that was the first I’d ever seen that (outside of golden age Superman, but then he’s Superman in a class of his own), so I loved the concept.

  6. I remember watching TAS when it originally aired, but I didn’t really “get” the stories back then. I may have to look them up. Amazing overview, Siskoid! Just … wow!

    My TMP story is a little different. I had seen TOS in reruns, but my folks didn’t go to see TMP in the theaters. However, my Junior High science did as a field trip. That was an amazing treat, so I can’t help but have a lot of affection for TMP.

    Gene’s defense was really good. I don’t agree, mostly because my problems are less with the lengths of scenes, as I did enjoy the “starship porn” scene, being the first chance us viewers got to see the Enterprise on the big screen instead of what passed for a television in the 70s. I found that legitimately exciting at the time. But my problem is more with the blaring claxon red alerts and psychedelic effects making the movie hard to watch. I really wish those were toned down, and some other scenes needed a good trimming. Still, food for thought, Gene.

    IV is really close to being my favorite of the films. II is the winner, but I find IV is easier to rewatch by having a lighter tone. When I need that occasional good cry, then it’s time to watch II. Usually I just want to have something fun on, so IV is the way to go.

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