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17 In 1966, the original Star Trek series was just another television show, as subject to the established institutional practices of the television industry as all the other shows made by Desilu Productions and broadcast by the NBC network. By 2005, when Star Trek: Enterprise ceased production, Star Trek and its spin-off series had become an unprecedented television phenomenon and a major asset for Paramount and its United Paramount Network (UPN). This chapter tells the story of how Star Trek went from failure during the classic network era to astonishing

106 “Few Hollywood franchises can claim the popularity and durability of Star Trek. From the launch of the first television series in 1966, its various TV and movie incarnations have entertained millions around the world, made pop culture icons of characters like Capt. James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock and Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and turned actors such as William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Stewart into stars.”1 So states the Los Angeles Times web guide to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where not only Patrick Stewart (Picard in TNG), William Shatner, and Leonard

completely distinct alternative to religious culture. Today, however, popular culture has taken on a life of its own, creat- ing its own stories and myths through which people fi nd meaning and identity. Popular culture has become an independent producer of ch a p t e r e l ev e n It’s About Faith In Our Future Star Trek Fandom as Cultural Religion michael jindra 224 / Popular Culture as Religion mythical narratives, a refl ection of cultural themes and a producer of new ones. Though often using indirect religious themes and imagery (as in Star Wars or Harry Potter

Star Trek in its various incarnations is one of the most successful television franchises ever produced and one of the longest-running. It is also a cultural phenomenon that goes far beyond television. For this the world has NBC to thank. Yet, also thanks to NBC, it nearly did not become so. In an ironic twist of fate, the current (in 2005) franchise owners, Paramount Network Television and UPN, announced in Febru- ary 2005 that the most recent Trek series—the fifth, Star Trek: Enterprise—would be canceled that May, after four seasons, because of falling ratings

in NBC

xi DS9 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine TNG Star Trek: The Next Generation TOS Star Trek (the original series) Abbreviations This page intentionally left blank

America’s Network

Contents Acknowledgments ix Abbreviations xi Foreword by Sir Patrick Stewart xiii introduction: “it’s a television show” 1 1. star trek and american television history 17 2. art, commerce, and creative autonomy 55 3. the craft-workshop mode of production 86 4. actors: the public face of star trek 106 5. world building 126 6. character building 149 conclusion: “it’s not a television show” 185 Appendix: List of Interviewees Quoted 193 Notes 195 References 221 Index 231 This page intentionally left blank

193 Unless otherwise noted, all of these people worked on all of the television series from Star Trek: The Next Generation to Star Trek: Enterprise. Thomas (Tom) Arp, construction coordinator and union local coordinator Rick Berman, executive producer Robert Blackman, costume designer Brannon Braga, executive producer and scriptwriter Dan Curry, visual-effects producer Jonathan Frakes, actor and director Merri Howard, supervising producer Robert Justman, associate producer, TOS, TNG Winrich Kolbe, director Peter Lauritson, supervising producer, postproduction

185 Despite this book’s continued insistence that Star Trek must be considered as a television show, Star Trek has not been a television show, or at least a television show producing original weekly episodes, since Enterprise’s crash landing in 2005. But as we argue in the book’s introduction, Star Trek pro- vides an excellent case study for illuminating the American television industry’s past—its modes of production and narrative conventions during the classic network and multichannel eras. In the present, CBS monetizes the Star Trek library and