RE: tech miracles of the year 2000 as seen from 1950

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Wed May 16 2001 - 15:56:19 MDT

Actually, Star Trek started out to be more accurate than it ended up.

The original pilot (pre Captain Kirk) included some very Extropian questions
about virtual reality, whether we are in a simulation or the real world, who
has the authority to make command decisions over others, molecular transport
and teleportation, and the investigation of the unknown. It clearly showed
an evolution of technology from the long-lost ship, to the current
Enterprise, to the advanced aliens.

Unfortunately, it was reportedly "too cerebral" for the audience to follow
(read: network executives), and they directed Gene Roddenberry to dumb it
down. They wanted more action and less thinking. They created a quota of
fight scenes that had to be met in every episode. The network executives
even airbrushed Spock's ears round on the original advertising posters,
because pointed ears were just too transhuman for their comfort levels.
They also rejected the original color of Spock which was going to be red.
They thought red and pointed ears would look too satanic. They really
changed his make-up color so as not to offend religious viewers.

The original pilot also included a woman (gasp!) in a command position.
Roddenberry was told to remove the female and have only male leaders. He
cut out Majel and snuck her back in with a blond wig as nurse Chapel, a
"female" role. He then migrated all the non-testosterone tendencies from
the female advisor to the alien Mr. Spock. This later evolved into the
Vulcan logic which is now famous. This originally was female creativity
versus male aggression.

The series also had a lot of background which was cut out after the original
runs to make more room for commercials. Most people don't realize that
there were many trips from the bridge to the transporter room where the
landing party discussed the merits of the mission and debated tactics and
policy. Most people never have scene the background maintenance workers who
had jumpsuit-style uniforms and provided background people during these
throw-away scenes. There are many interesting discussions between Spock and
McCoy about the merits of vegetarianism or the value of aggression. I
believe that Roddenberry tried to sneak in a lot more thought into the
series between the action scenes, but most of these were cut out.

Roddenberry even tried to develop a more accurate flight sequences, but they
were scrapped. His original effects lit up the Enterprise only on one side,
but it looked like half the ship was missing to the uninitiated. He had the
space ship zoom past the camera in the title sequences without a hint of
noise, because space is quiet. But everyone asked where was the sound.
They reluctantly added the whoosh effect by popular demand, even against
their better judgment. They knew that the ship might fly with the floor
down toward the planet, but in the equator orbit scenes this would look like
the ship was sideways. They knew that phasors should shoot at the speed of
light, but it would make it difficult to follow the direction of the firing.
They knew that lasers wouldn't explode or instantly disintegrate objects, so
they invented "phasors" that could have more dramatic side-effects.

In short, entertainment audiences demand action over reality. When
reality-based presentations are attempted, people complain and producers are
forced to jazz things up. Even "Survivor" discovered that they had to redo
or fake some scenes, because even people tuning in to see reality just
wouldn't accept the lack of presentational style of live reality. I don't
think modern entertainment is ignorant of science, but are more interested
in entertainment over science.

Harvey Newstrom <> <>

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