Saturday, October 15, 2016

Star Trek: The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years by Altman & Gross

  • THE BOOK
    • The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J.J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, and Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross
    • Published August 30, 2016
    • Other work by authors together: The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years
    • Separately they have written numerous books on Star Trek and its spin-offs as well as other TV shows and movies.

  • THE PREMISE
    • See title.
    • Both of the authors have had ties to Star Trek over the years, interviewing numerous cast and crew of the TV and movie series.
    • This book takes the interviews and organizes them into sections relating to "Star Trek: The Next Generation", "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", "Star Trek: Voyager", "Enterprise" (changed title to "Star Trek: Enterprise" eventually), the films featuring the cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", and the recent films of J.J. Abrams. 

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • First, this book does not have a consistent title compared with part 1:
      • Book 1: The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years
      • Book 2:  The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J.J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, and Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek
      • It's a small thing, true, but certainly noticeable when you type out the full titles.
      • And goodness, no need for THREE subtitles!
    • I will never be a fan of oral histories but this one had its virtues compared to the first book.
      • Book 1 was 576 pages about the original series of "Star Trek" and its movies. There was a LOT of repetition involved with the same actors and producers quoted ad nauseam about the tiffs they constantly had. Snore!
      • This book covers several different casts so that added some variety even though the production crew stayed basically the same.
      • Book 2 was therefore longer than Book 1, clocking in at 864 pages, having that much more ground to cover.
    • The producers and writers make up the main interviewees with several of the actors making up the rest. Some actors are quoted often and others never appear at all. 
      • Some comments are puzzling when there was no follow up. It is entirely possible that some of the actors were being facetious or joking but you couldn't tell from the context.
        • Example: One "Enterprise" actor makes a comment how difficult it was to work with an actress in the cast but she is never quoted for a response and the actor never elaborates so you have to wonder if he was joking.
    • One thing that was fun to read was the story behind "Deep Space Nine", the "middle child" of the spin-off series. As such they were able to get away with more serialization --- story arcs spanning several episodes and seasons --- which was a no-no in the Star Trek world.
      • It's a no-no because for syndication purposes they want viewers to be able to jump in at any point without knowing the backstory. Serialized stories generally need to be watched from the beginning.
      • On the other hand, the very serialization they loathed is the same thing that increases the interest in it because it lends itself very well to the binge-watching methodology of today.
      • And now almost all of the greatest dramas are serialized!
    • There was a lot of turmoil behind the scenes in the writers' rooms as they needed to balance the wishes of the Paramount executives, the show producers and Gene Roddenberry.
      • Roddenberry decreed that in the future there would be no conflict among the crew, for example, because humans would have evolved beyond that. This makes it difficult to write certain dramatic stories because conflict is inherent in character situations.
        • "DS9" got away with it more because most of the characters weren't human (Starfleet), and Gene Roddenberry had died by the time it went on the air.
    • Recommended for those interested in the shows and movies that came after the original "Star Trek" (see Book 1 for that story) and those interested in behind-the-scenes look at how television was run in the late 1980s through the early 2000s.

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