Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday Questions

Friday Questions anybody?

Mork (nanu nanu) leads off.

I've got a baseball-adjacent question for you, Ken--what are your thoughts (if any) on baseball cards? Did you ever collect them, either as a kid or adult? Do you think they're good for the game, bad for the game, just plain dumb?

I loved baseball cards as a kid and had a big collection. Back in those days you couldn’t buy entire sets. You had to buy the gum (sugar-coated cardboard) and certain cards were rare and hard to get. You’d also end up with doubles and triples of cards. I think I had 12 Joey Jay, Milwaukee Braves cards one year.

But in my neighborhood you would flip cards. You and your opponent would stand at one end of a room and flip your cards against the opposite wall. Whichever card fell closet to the wall was the winner and you got to keep both cards. You would flip your doubles and triples in the hopes of getting a player you didn’t have.

Back before the internet, baseball cards were pretty much the only source of player statistics. And I would study them religiously.

Now baseball card collecting has become a business and to me that’s a shame. There’s an innocence to the hobby that’s lost.

But overall I still feel baseball cards are good for the game. Anything to promote interest in baseball is a good thing.

And finally, to all the moms out there, don’t throw out your kids’ baseball card collections. They will want them someday, trust me.

Brian Phillips asks:

What are some longest laughs from the studio audience that came from a Levine and Isaacs script?

In the first year CHEERS episode, “The Boys in the Bar” – where the regulars were worried the bar might go gay – we had a scene of Sam and Diane in the poolroom. Sam is trying to come to grips with the news that his roommate during his playing days was gay. At one point he says: “I shoulda known. One night we were in a piano bar and he requested a show tune.”

For some reason that got a thunderous laugh. The audience laughter was so long that director James Burrows cut the cameras to avoid wasting any more film.

When you have a joke that stops cameras – that’s the walk-off grand slam home run for comedy writers.

Mark has a question based on my glowing review of THE MIDDLE.

Given your love for the show back in 2013, did you get an immediate response from the makers of the show to either write or direct an episode?

I did get an immediate response from the showrunners thanking me, but no I was not approached to write or direct one. And that’s fine. I didn’t write my review with any hopes of getting an assignment. It was purely from the heart with no ulterior motives.

There’s talk of a spin-off starring “Sue.” I hope that happens. I’d much rather see that than a ROSEANNE spin-off.

And finally, from Mike Kaiser:

Hi, Ken-- All of these recent suicides got me thinking.... back in the day, was it the network censors that caused the TV version of the M*A*S*H theme to be aired without lyrics or was that a creative decision or something in between?

It was Gene Reynolds and Larry Gelbart’s decision never to air the lyrics. The lyrics do not at all reflect the tone or sentiment of the TV show. I applaud their decision and during my watch not once did we entertain airing the lyrics.

The lyrics are stupid and meant to be. Robert Altman’s teenage son wrote them. And ironically, his son has made more money off the royalties than his dad ever did directing the movie.

What’s your Friday Question? Leave it in the comments section. Thank you.


Rock Golf said...

Friday question: A follow-up to your comment about Robert Altman's son making more money from the (mostly) never-heard lyrics of the M*A*S*H theme.
What kinda money are we talking about?
Barenaked Ladies were asked last year if they made enough money to retire from the Big Bang Theory theme they wrote & perform. Here's their reply (from
"No," laughs Robertson. "I would have to radically alter my lifestyle to be set for life from that song."
"I believe a single woman living in Meductic, New Brunswick, would be set for life," Stewart adds.
"A single woman … no children … and a part-time job," Robertson clarifies.
"And, she inherited the house."

-- And that's on the biggest show in the world that gets syndicated several times daily by multiple outlets. I can't think of any more often played TV theme. (And they also wrote and perform the closing credits music too!)
So what determines royalties on TV themes? Is there a fixed price? Is it negotiated?

Bill O said...

Don't remember specifics, but I've read that Robert Altman ticked off someone and lost his points in the film. I remember thinking that Jackie Cooper came closest to emulating Altman's mise en scene on the show.

Andrew said...

Watching shows like Cheers and Frasier, I'm always amazed how the actors can stay in character when the audience can't stop laughing. It's like they have to wait for the applause to die down, while they act as if they're just waiting silently in their world. The way Niles and Frasier will just raise an eyebrow, or nod, or shrug their shoulders, pretending that there's an awkward pause, and then get back into the flow of dialogue, is really something to behold.

decal1028 said...

Hi Ken,

Long time reader, love it all (baseball, TV, theater).

You've mentioned the "show tune" joke before and the big laughs it got, and I had the same thought as last time...really?

I mean this seriously, do you think that was the first time that joke was used, hence the big laughs? At this point, "show tune = gay" is probably the laziest, easy stereotype you can imagine right? I mean, would that make you laugh today?

So, is it possible that's where that trope came from?

Rory Wohl said...

Hi Ken,

I have what may be a too "inside baseball" baseball question. When I was growing up, most games weren't televised and the radio was the primary method of following your team (unless you were lucky enough to be on Game of the Week, which the late '70s/early '80s Indians never were).

Now that every team broadcasts every game on a cable regional sports network, how does the camera positioning work at the ballpark? Are there two sets of cameras, one for each team? Does the visiting team have to schlep their cameras from one stadium to another on a road trip? Are the positions fixed, home and away right next to each other?

I'm really bored at work and this what my mind turns to.

Also, "Hollywood & Levine" is tremendously false advertising. I've listened to every episode and not once has former Dallas Cowboy Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson or current Chicago Bull Zach LaVine been on!

E. Yarber said...

This may sound like heresy here, but this month I just began following MASH the TV show on DVD after not having seen it for years. Reading this blog finally sparked me to return to the show. It'll be quite a while before I've gotten through the whole thing as I stick to a strict policy of one episode a week for any series I follow, so expect my reaction over an extended span of time.

I watched the movie the week before I began the show and I can already see the adjustment necessary to adapt the story to a weekly format is a lot like that of THE ODD COUPLE. In the play, Felix and Oscar are living together as a short-term fix for the problem of Felix's adjustment to his divorce. To sustain that arrangement for a series, they have to have a relationship built around more than just their weekly poker game. Likewise, the MASH movie characters are brought together randomly for relatively brief tours of duty and regard their work at the camp as a temporary job. To keep them together week after week in a series, they have to have more of an investment in the place, even if they still can't stand being there. So yeah, the nihilistic attitude of the song lyrics wouldn't fit the TV version, even beyond the need to tidy up the surface elements enough to suit Standards and Practices.

Mike Doran said...

In the late '80s/early '90s, when I was old enough to know better, I developed an interest in collecting baseball cards (when I say 'old enough' I was crowding 40).
This was during the Great Glut: there were at least five different companies, most of whom were putting out multiple lines of cards, each one fancier than the others, plus inserts of various kinds - to the point that the bubble gum had to be eliminated from the packages.
Several times a year, I'd go to the card shows; one year, I attended The National, which was held at the then-being-reconstructed McCormick Place - and filled up the joint.
The dealers were out in force at all these shows, commerce and capitalism at its finest; there was one guy who famously brought a suitcase filled with (he said) $1,000,000 in cash to every show - and his line was the longest.
Vintage cards were not overlooked; issues going back to the '50s brought big money (sometimes in bidding wars). One time somebody brought an unopened case of Topps baseball cards from 1955 - I presumed that this included the original bubble gum, which in thirty-plus years could be used to pave your driveway.
Ultimately, it got to be too much for Old Man Me; it was a factor that helped lead to my giving up following baseball altogether (and that's several other stories).
I sometimes wonder whether the shows are still being held - I suppose they still are, but are they as large and unwieldy as they got to be circa 1990?
When I get that curious, I lie down until the curiosity goes away …

Covarr said...

Not only was the MASH theme over the top stupid, but it was directly relevant to the plot of the film, with Painless Pole's ridiculous notions of sexuality leading to one of the worst possible reasons for a suicide attempt. The plot point is never once referenced in the TV show, nor indeed did the character even make the cut when the show was being created. The lyrics would have made absolutely no sense without their already-flimsy context.

blinky said...

OK here is a Friday softball pitch for you to hit out of the park: When will automated balls and strikes happen? I watch the games on TV now and the mistakenly called on balls called strikes or strikes called balls is so apparent that the credibility of the game is in question. The idea that a catcher can frame a pitch to get the strike call is ridiculous. To paraphrase Horton the Who: a strike is a strike, no matter how small.

Kirk said...

Well, in the film, the lyrics are sung twice. First during the opening credits, and then when a man played by John Schuck thinks he's committing suicide but instead ends up having sex with Jo Ann Pflug! Also, the man singing it starts out very solemn, but by the song's end, he's laughing and snapping his fingers. So the whole thing is really a put on. That said, I don't think the lyrics are necessarily stupid. They're tongue-in-cheek, as they should be.

Brian Fies said...

He may have been joking, but Pete Townshend said that he made more money from his songs being used as the various "CSI" themes than he did from The Who.

E. Yarber said...

Correction: the doctors are on rotation. A Tour of Duty specifically refers to combat conditions. I need a technical advisor when making blog comments.

John in NE Ohio said...

@Rory Wohl,

Yeah, but when 43 started doing them in the early 80s, not only did we get more games, we got Joe Tait. And actually, if you don't have cable, there were more games on then.

John in NE Ohio said...

I think I remember reading that producers would add lyrics to instrumental theme songs and submit them as part of the (contract/copyright/whatever) in order to take half of the composers royalties. I'm thinking of Bewitched, or I Dream of Jeanie, or Hawaii 5-0, or something like that. I thought I read it as part of an article that (Mike Post) or someone like him that wrote a lot of theme songs would submit lyrics with every one, even though they were never used, just to prevent that.
Urban legend or something to it?

E. Yarber said...

Gene Roddenberry wrote lyrics to STAR TREK's theme specifically to claim half the royalties. On the other hand BONANZA's theme HAD lyrics which were only sung in the first episode because the Cartwrights looked so lame doing them. I seem to recall they popped up much later in an CHEERS episode. Later this year I should work both BONANZA and CHEERS into my weekly rotation as I wind up a couple other shows. Robert Altman directed quite a few BONANZAs; not very many CHEERS, if any.

therealshell said...

Can we retire use of the goofy term "trope" ?

Janet Ybarra said...

Actually, the Painless Pole gets mentioned by Hawkeye in the MASH pilot episode... but, yes, then never again.

Lars said...

@John in NE Ohio

Gene Roddenberry wrote lyrics for the original Star Trek theme for this purpose as well. (And, if you've ever seen them, they are *awful*.)

Chris G said...

There's something to it -- Gene Roddenberry wrote terrible, terrible lyrics to the Star Trek theme so he'd get a cut of whatever money it ever made.

How bad were they? This bad:

The rim of the star-light
My love
Is wand'ring in star-flight
I know
He'll find in star-clustered reaches
Strange love a star woman teaches.
I know
His journey ends never
His star trek
Will go on forever.
But tell him
While he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me.

mickey said...

Ending up with doubles, triples, etc. of baseball cards was a common occurrence for volume purchasers like 1960s me. They often were repurposed by using a clothespin to attach the card to one's bicycle so it would flap against the spokes for a cool (to an 8-year-old) approximation of a motorcycle. And my apologies to Bobby Knoop—it wasn't personal.

Greempa said...

Growing up in Brooklyn, NY in the 1960's we would flip baseball cards all the time. But we did it differently then you did. We would flip the cards straight down to the ground and try to land on top of the cards that were already flipped. Any cards you landed on top of were yours. Flipping just right could get you more than one card per flip. That's how I was able to get a cherished Casey Stengel card. We would also tie them to the spokes of our bikes, and they would make a neat noise as we rode. In retrospect, those cards we destroyed doing that are probably worth hundreds of dollars today.

JoeyH said...

Rory Wohl: the games usually utilize a "dual feed" system where both the home and away broadcasts use most of the same cameras. The visiting team director typically has three cameras of his/her own to control plus one in the booth. All the other shots come from the shared cameras. This is difficult for the visiting director because he/she does not control the movements on those shared cameras. But the outfield and "high home" cameras are usually steady shots so they are easier to integrate into the show. The crew and equipment are hired locally at each ballpark so there's no schlepping around of cameras. The director and producer travel to the broadcasts. Directors don't like dual feeds but the economics drive the decision.

mike said...

As might be imagined, Alexander Courage, composer of the Star Trek theme, was furious when he found out that Roddenberry had stolen half of his royalties with his bogus lyrics. The two never worked together again, of course, and while I remain a huge fan of the original series, I lost some respect for The Great Bird Of the Galaxy for that move. He rationalized it by saying, 'I've got to make SOME money from this!' But by theft?
And there were reference books and Who's Who and stuff like that for stats back when, over and above the verso of Topps cards.
Lastly, tongue in cheek describes the lyrics of Suicide Is Painless well.

Cowboy Surfer said...

Bill Murray as Lounge Singer Nick Winters nails the Star Wars Theme.

Star Wars nothing but Star Wars, don't let them end...

I like the Meco disco version too.

CRL said...

FYI M*A*S*H* has just been added to Hulu.

Andy Rose said...

@Dean Calderwood: Yes, connecting show tunes with being gay was a stereotype... the joke would make no sense if people didn't know that. But what made it really funny was that Ted Danson said it with absolute sincerity. It wasn't a "gay joke" so much as it played up just how shallow and uninformed Sam could be.

One story of a stolen music credit that a lot of people don't know is "Johnny's Theme." It's actually an old forgotten Paul Anka song called "It's Really Love." Anka agreed to redo it slightly and give Johnny cowriting credit in exchange for them using it as the Tonight Show theme. Anka only got half of the royalties for a song that he wrote (Johnny got the other half), but he decided that half of a song that was going to be played every night was better than nothing.

iamr4man said...

Speaking of baseball cards, some of my favorite Peanuts strips involved Charlie Brown’s quest to get one of his favorite player, Joe Shlibotnick. There’s a Wikia page dedicated to the Joe Slibotnick strips. Here’s a link to one of my favorites, Charlie Brown trying to trade with Lucy who has managed to get a Shlibotnick card:

If Topps had a sense of humor they would have created a Shlibotnick card and included it in is cards for a year.

MikeKPa. said...

I grew up on the East Coast, where you got 5 cards and a stick of gum for a nickel. I had cousins who lived in the Midwest, where they sold individual cards - one card, one stick of gum for a penny. I thought I died and went to heaven. Pretty sure I came back with cavities after spending two weeks out there.

Mike Doran said...

The mentions of Gene Roddenberry's credit grab on the Star Trek theme collide today with the news of the passing of Harlan Ellison, leading to this recollection from my adolescence.

When Star Trek was in its original NBC run, my older brother Sean was a full-bore devotee of the show.
We were both in high school at the time, Sean was a major fan of hard science fiction (and never never never use the term 'sci-fi' in his presence; he considered a slur).
As for me, I didn't dislike SF; I preferred detective/mystery stories, but Sean was a Purist - he wanted me not only to love SF, but to stop loving what I did like.
In Star Trek's third season, Gene Roddenberry formed Lincoln Enterprises, in order to control all merchandising for ST:TOS (it hadn't reached that state yet, but you get what I mean); Sean was among the first to sign up for this, and I'll never forget the Saturday morning when the mail brought a ginormous package filled with various Trek tchotchkes: scripts, handbooks, film frames, and suchlike.
Years later, I read an article wherein Harlan Ellison revealed that Roddenberry formed his merchandising operation for the express purpose of cutting his first wife out of any monies to be made from Trek stuff; his partner in the company was Wife #2, Majel Barrett (what a coincidence!).
The Great Bird Of The Galaxy … was a vulture...

OK, off-topic, but it does tie in, sort of.

Liggie said...

Since we're living in one now ... what's the best political satire/comedy you've seen, movie or TV? Mine is "Dick", which imagines that Deep Throat was two stupid teenage girls (Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst) who live in the Watergate and stumble upon the break-in.

Dr Loser said...

Not baseball, for a change, but cards. (Actually "stickers." Collect 'em and fill in the squad. Pretty similar.)

England had (somehow) won the World Cup in 1966, when I was four, so I didn't have any immediate memory of the thing. And in fact, the 1970 World Cup featured an even better England team, and I was eight, and I went a bit giddy ... so I bought these things like mad. And you'd better believe, we traded them. It was vicious.

For some unknown reason, no what am I talking about, egregious profits, the one single sticker you wanted, because it was so rare, was the Gordon Banks (goalkeeper) sticker. And I got one! I lucked out! It was in one of the first three or four packets I bought! Bliss!

Unfortunately, there were two Gordon Banks stickers. One for Stoke City (I had that one) and one for England.

I never got that one. I'm not even sure that they even issued a single copy of it. And to this day I am still more annoyed that I didn't get GB II than I was when we crashed out in the quarter finals against Germany.

Weird things and strange priorities, nine year old kids.

Tom Reeder said...

You probably know this, Ken, but Joey Jay was the first Little League player who made it all the way to the Majors. He also ended his major league career with 999 strikeouts. When he walked off the mound for the last time, he probably didn't know he would always be just one K short.

Howard Hoffman said...

Bought up baseball cards after 1989 hoping to get that Michael Jordan rookie card? Forget it. Millions of everything after the mid-eighties were stockpiled in warehouses. Unless they have an autograph, just about everything printed since then is worthless.

Howard Hoffman said...

(The above assessment came from three local and different card collector shops. They're not buying squat from that era.)

Janet Ybarra said...

Not wanting to speak ill of the dead but I would take anything Ellison pronounced about Trek or Roddenberry with sufficient salt.

One script did not an insider make, especially when Ellison had a public ax to grind to start with.

I mean if we are citing sci-fi writers related to Trek, Isaac Asimov and Roddenberry were best friends and Asimov was the unofficial science adviser on original TREK.

Astroboy said...

Oh man, I love the 'Sue' character on the Middle and Eden Sher is a sparkling treasure. But the stars really have to be aligned right to make a successful spin-off. But in this case if the original show creators/runners are behind it a Sue spin-off might have a chance of being done right. Off hand I think I would like the show to include as many of the Middle characters and actors as possible, but the center now being being Sue and her career and married life. I don't think a 'Frasier' premise would work, a complete change of scenery and characters. Sue and Orson belong together. I hope they do it, I hope it works and I hope Eden Sher finally gets her Emmy (that is criminally overdue).

repoob said...

Speaking of "Sue" on The Middle: Why can't Eden Sher get an Emmy nomination?

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Tom Reeder- good stuff!

Anonymous said...

Meredith Willson made more money when The Beatles recorded "Til There Was You" than he made on The Music Man.

Keith Nichols said...

As usual, my comment has nothing much to do with today's topic, but with a thought inspired by one comment in it. That is, don't toss out your kids' collections, or collections of any sort. My mom was a freak for traveling light, and when I returned from my first year in college, all my comic books, big-little books, and toys had gone to the landfill, probably the day I left home. Included were first-edition comics, such as Superman, et al, and my parents' early 20th century cast-iron toys of the vintage that fetches hundreds of dollars at toy auctions nowadays. Later, she discarded the family's photo albums covering the entire 20th century and daily diaries from 1920 to 1980.

Edward said...

Last week there was a murder of a camper at Malibu Creek State Park, where parts of MASH was filmed. How often did the cast visit the location to film shows or parts of shows and did you ever feel unsafe out there if filming was done in the twilight or dark? Were there any disruptions while trying to film scenes?

Anonymous said...

Off-topic- and thinking of "Suicide is Painless" - I wonder if the Tom Reeder posting above is the author of one of the great silent comedy histories, MR. SUICIDE: HENRY "PATHE" LEHRMAN AND THE BIRTH OF SILENT COMEDY.

Greg Ehrbar said...

"It's Really Love" was recorded by Annette, who dated Paul Anka for a time, and for whom he wrote "Puppy Love." She recorded an entire album of his songs that included that tune, which is on iTunes.

The closing theme of "All in the Family" was written by Roger Kellaway, but like Gene Roddenberry, Carroll O'Connor added lyrics and the tune was given a title that was credited on later episodes: "Remembering You." He sang it on variety shows and recorded his own solo album, even though it was Kellaway's instrumental originally.

Basically "Hey, let me take away half of your money because I can." Brilliantly talented, but not very nice--and he couldn't take it with him. Ultimately why do things like that?

Jim said...

I collected baseball cards in the Sixties, and kept most of them. Starting at age 5 I sold errant golf balls hit over the fence near my house (HEY MISTER, WANNA BUY A GOLF BALL!”). Every nickel went to Topps (5 cents a pack). Tax kicked in at 25-cents, so I had to walk out the store and come back in to get 5 packs if I only had a quarter. I bought tens of thousands of Topps cards until one fine day I got a new and interesting feeling when looking at Patty H...and instantly found a new way to spend.

While you were studying your card stats religiously, I memorized every line on the back of every card. Not kidding. I would get calls into the 1980’s from bar-arguers, strangers, or reporters who knew my dad (“How many runs were scored in 1963 by Gary Kolb...”). Then, poof, that all was gone when one of my young kids died suddenly. Grief ripped that entire block out of my brain in an instant. Nothing else seemed to have been lost. Never have figured that out. Just, gone. That, and my straight hair developed a wave that night. Weird.

We played topsies. Not a play on the name ‘Topps’, we flipped our cards on porches against the door or a wall. You kept whatever card upon which you landed. Every card’s corner was thus rounded on most Topps cards in my town.

An oddity, to me, was the lack of money value associated with 1960’s Topps or Fleer cards. You COULD NOT buy a card from a friend. Never once happened. You had to trade for them or win them in topsies. They had no financial link, and no such thing as a secondary market in my state until sometime in the 1970’s. A few years later of course, all heck broke loose.

At least your Joey Jay was a star. In 1969, I ended up with 56 Mel Nelsons. Mel Nelson!

Anonymous said...

When I was 12 years old, my parents were watching The Baseball World of Joe Garagiola (the pregame show for NBC's Monday night baseball broadcast). Joe held a Honus Wagner T206 card up and said, "This card is worth $1,500!"

My parents turned to me and said, "You hold onto those baseball cards. You never know what they'll be worth." In later years, my mom did toss the non-baseball cards -- but they gave me money to buy other people's collections for a pittance when their parents were ready to dispose of them.

I now have over 70,000 trading cards (I think - it's been years since I've done a count). Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Anonymous said...

Howard Hoffman wrote:

Bought up baseball cards after 1989 hoping to get that Michael Jordan rookie card? Forget it. Millions of everything after the mid-eighties were stockpiled in warehouses. Unless they have an autograph, just about everything printed since then is worthless.

That's pretty accurate. I was a fairly fanatical collector in the late 1980s and early 1990s (and I worked for SkyBox's advertising agency, which was a nice way to fatten up the collection). There are some cards that are worth it, but as someone pointed out years ago in Beckett's, if you're buying cards from that era in bulk, you're not going to find a needle in a haystack, but a whole lot of hay.

MLB was pretty good about limiting their licenses (they wouldn't grant SkyBox a license, much to our consternation - we designed a really cool set that was years ahead of its time stat-wise, but SkyBox didn't pitch it to them), but the companies that were licensed still printed way, way too many cards for the demand. The NFL, in one person's words, "would license to anyone with a printing press," and the NBA wasn't far behind.

In the early 1990s, Pro Set, which was "the official NFL trading card company," went into Chapter 11. They'd overprinted cards to a great extent, but as part of the bankruptcy deal, they wound up selling all their overstock at Big Lots for pennies on the dollar. It might have helped raise a few dollars, but collectors completely gave up on the company because the cards were perceived as worthless. They folded for good a few years later. SkyBox also had overstock, but they reacted to that by shredding all of those cards in the warehouse, along with taking pictures and sending them to the trade magazines - which helped boost their profile for several years.

Mike Doran said...

Because Janet Ybarra is clearly a person of probity and discretion, I would respectfully point out that just about anything written about Star Trek and its participants (both pro- and con-Roddenberry) has a high sodium content.
In Harlan Ellison's case, he never claimed to be an "insider" on Trek.But he was somebody who got to know most of the people involved, and thus learned of Roddenberry's ways and means of maximizing his own income with what he realized was the Grand Slam of his career.
My source was HE's intro to his published edition of "City On The Edge Of Forever", wherein he presents in some detail what he knew (or had learned) about Roddenberry's business manipulations, naming names all the way through - and pointing out just how commonplace such practices were - and are - in TV and films.

Possible Friday Question:
If Ken should ever decide to write up an OpEd about Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In,what does he make of the long-running turf wars over credit for the show, between Dan & Dick versus George Schlatter?
Victory has a thousand fathers; defeat is an orphan.

DougG. said...

What are your 3 or 5 (or pick a number you like since this is your blog) best sitcoms ever that you never worked on in any capacity. Much like a lot of your readers, you were strictly a viewer of these sitcoms.

gottacook said...

As long as Ellison and Trek are under discussion, I would want to make the point that Roddenberry's 'grand slam' with Star Trek was far from assured when Ellison was first approached to come up with a story; that event (and various revisions and an initial "final draft") all took place during the six months before the first episode aired, and no one knew whether the show would succeed - nor whether Ellison's original ideas (which perhaps would have been a better fit for an anthology series like The Outer Limits, for which he wrote two scripts) would or wouldn't fit into a series that didn't yet exist as such.

Mike Doran said...

It's Clarifyin' Time!:

When I referred to Star Trek as Gene Roddenberry's "grand slam", I was talking about how the Trek Phenomenon turned out over the fullness of time; Ellison's connection was simply to point that out, long after the fact.

Possible Friday Question (of a personal nature):
Can someone explain to me exactly why any connection to Star Trek is considered the Major Achievement in anyone's lifetime, regardless of how extensive that lifetime might have been?
So many times recently, I've seen obits/tributes/memory tales in which a single appearance on Star Trek is treated as the singular achievement of the subject's life and/or career.
Not just actors: just about anyone who ever worked on Trek in any capacity - writers, directors, producers, Teamsters - is regarded as though that was the sole notable achievement in what were often careers that spanned years, even decades.
It's sort of like Bill Wambsganss's unassisted triple play; to use that gentleman's phrase, "It's like I was born the day before and died the day after …".
I mentioned above that my brother was an original 'Trekkie', and never let any of us forget it; it helped to diminish any interest I might have developed for Star Trek in its first run, and didn't really help in later years either.
Lately, the Trekkies have aged into Trekkers; some have gone all the way into being Trekkeurs - for whom there is only Trek and Everything Else.
And all I can do is shake my head and sigh …

gottacook said...

Mike D.: Why do I even care about pre-production minutiae for a show that first aired when I was 9? Although I've never called myself a "trekkie" etc., I did start watching the show when it was on NBC. (My first episode was the season 3 premiere, "Spock's Brain"; only when the show was in reruns did I learn that the third-season scripts were mostly awful by comparison to the earlier ones.)

The music made that show essential for me, then and later. I ended up getting the La La Land 15-CD set of all the music from the original soundtracks, which came out about 5 years ago and is truly a labor of love.