Gimme That Star Trek Ep.5: The Animated Series

Star Trek: The Animated Series. That most forgotten of Star Trek series. Is it even canon? Is it worth watching? Siskoid and frequent Fire and Water contributor Aaron Bias dare answer yes to both questions. It's time to reevaluate Filmation's entry in the greater Trek story...

Listen to Episode 5 below!

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Credits:"Star Trek Theme" by Alexander Courage, with the mellifluous tones of the Irredeemable Shagg. End theme: "Deep Space Nine Theme" by Dennis McCarthy.

Bonus clips from: Star Trek The Animated Series by Filmation, with themes by Ray Ellis, and starring Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, Majel Barrett, Mark Lenard, Keith Sutherland, Nichelle Nichols, and Ed Bishop; clips mostly from "Yesteryear", "More Tribbles, More Troubles", "The Lorelei Signal", "The Magicks of Megas-Tu", "The Infinite Vulcan"; and "Super-Friends" also by Filmation.

And thanks for leaving a comment!

14 responses to “Gimme That Star Trek Ep.5: The Animated Series

  1. I love this show (Gimme That, specifically).
    ST:TAS is a nice take on TOS that feels like the “tales of the Enterprise” original pitch Roddenberry made. TAS is often just ok, but its standout episodes make it worthwhile.

    I think we have to remember continuity wasn’t a concern for TOS – and it certainly wasn’t in TAS.

  2. Marvelous episode, Aaron is a great guest. He should podcast more.

    Filmation is a beloved brand to me, in many ways even more so than H-B since, outside of the Super Friends, their shows tended to be more action/adventure than what H-B was offering. I remember watching ST: TAS in the same manner I watched the ST: TOS, I saw no real difference. Kids are accepting that way, limited animation and all.

    Thanks for the kind words on our video store episode of Film and Water! Our store had all 79 Treks in VHS form and that was how I filled in the gaps for any episode I might have missed. It also allowed me to watch ST TNG from the beginning, in order. Good times.


  3. I loved this episode. I consider the animated series canon for the most part. There’s too much established here to ignore. In many ways it was the original EU. Whoever the nameless runners of Trek are nowadays, they have obviously strip-mined what they wanted, and discarded the rest.

    I’m uncertain when I first saw the series. I know it was before Nickelodeon ran the series in the late 80s, but that’s where I was able to see the entire run. The pitfalls of all Filmation productions hold it back, basically the repetitive stock shots and music as mentioned. That music is also heard in their live-action shows as well, like SHAZAM. I think it hurts Trek more than other shows because it is more cerebral and “talky” than almost any other Filmation production. The cold stiffness of the dialog delivery is a bit hard to get past at times, especially from the usually lively Shatner.

    Having said all that, I think Filmation’s look was actually more visually pleasing than Hanna Barbera’s in many ways, because the characters ALWAYS looked on model. Not hard to do when you reuse the same cells over and over, but it worked in the favor of a show based on real people.

    I think the stories (for the most part) are very well written and the show FEELS like Star Trek. I’m not big on revamping existing productions (I too, have had a hard time with the HD version of TOS, but I’m learning to live with it), but I wonder what a top-flight animation studio could do with the best of this show, say “Yesteryear”. Use the audio, but totally “re-animate” it, with new music, or existing TOS music. The mind boggles.

    Thanks for spotlighting the series. It deserves far more attention than it gets. As far as quality of writing and acting, its far superior to any US animates show of the decade. And have Aaron back soon!

  4. I’ve never watched the animated series but Siskoid and Aaron made a good case for it. I like me some Filmation so it should seem like a lock but for some reason it always seemed out of my wheelhouse. Given the kind words the hosts and others have given it I guess this goes on to the geek watching bucket list.

    Quick question; I don’t know if it was brought up during the episode but did the Star Trek episodes have the usual Filmation “moral of the story”? I know that wasn’t with them from the beginning but as much as I hated those bumpers at the end of the episode I now find them charming, so I was wondering if Star Trek was before or after they started doing the PSAs.

    (Quick aside; a few years back I was watching a behind the scenes feature on Filmation’s Superman series and they revealed that when they went to DC in the sixties they were still a very small outfit. To seem bigger than they were they had DC meet them at their offices and brought in friends and relatives to sit at desks and pretend to be working there. It’s hilarious to me that the “teach the kids a lesson” animation house was built on a foundation of lies.)

  5. I enjoyed this exploration of the animated series. I have only the vaguest memories of having seen any of it, and I’m not even sure where or when that would have been. In fact, the only clear memory I have of the series is the scene from Yesteryear where Spock makes the decision to euthanize his pet. So it was a treat for me to learn more about this Trek gem. I’m looking forward to future episodes.

  6. Great episode; I love the animated series, too. As far as canon goes, well, I basically consider season 4 of TOS. I have only the vaguest recollection of watching the show on Saturday mornings back in the 1970s, but I caught up with them later, and currently have the DVD edition.
    One thing that surprised me watching them as an adult is just how cerebral the show was, especially since this was supposed to be Saturday morning kids’ fare. And that brings me to the episode “The Magicks of Megas-tu”, which I consider one of the stronger ones. While I’ll acknowledge that many elements of it are quite silly, it still stands out to me for the reasons Aaron mentions, i.e., the fact that there’s this very frank discussion of what “the devil”/Luficer actually signifies in Western culture.
    By the way, I’m a fan of Filmation’s output as well. I remember loving their Tarzan, Batman and especially Flash Gordon cartoons of the later ’70s.

  7. When I was growing up in Hamilton, Ont. Canada in the 1970s, I noticed that Star Trek was advertised on the French channel (I can’t remember if it was Radio-Canada, the French CBC, or something else we were picking up), and when I tuned I’d see it was a cartoon version of Star Trek. For ages I wondered what the heck this cartoon version of Star Trek was.

  8. “It was The Motion Picture of the animated episodes.” You just couldn’t resist, could you Siskoid? 😛

    Another great episode. I’ve always had a soft spot for TAS, which anyone that listens to the opening of my show will understand. I grew up watching it whenever it was on. It was one of the special things about going to my grandparents house in Fanwood, NJ. They got different stations on their cable company than us, and one of those showed TAS.

  9. If anyone wants to see more of the TAS-only characters, Peter David (who else?) used them in the DC ST comic, until he was ordered to drop them, and in his New Frontier novels.

  10. Lou Scheimer’s Creating the Filmation Generation has a chapter covering the Star Trek series. In 1969 they wanted to do a series were the crew trained a group of teenagers about space travel. Spock’s teenage counterpart was to be a young Vulcan named Steve. Thank god this didn’t come to pass. A few things I wanted to comment on is, one is the limited animation. This was due to the cost of the animation, which was all done in America, being so high that with the stock system in place they only broke even on North American distribution. They were paid $75,000 per episode to produce star trek, only 5k to 10k more than a standard animated show. Filmation had to sell the cartoon overseas to turn a profit. Lou didn’t like having to send animation overseas and wanted to keep it produced in America. Nimoy was also on tour and did most of his voice work in Massachusetts. Produce Hal Sutherland was color blind. Leonard Nimoy not Bill Shatner was the person who fought for George Takei and Nichelle Nichols to be in the show. They let Walter Keonig present scripts, which is were the Infinite Vulcan came from, since they couldn’t afford him as a series regular.

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