Carl beams aboard the starship Enterprise and takes a guided tour around the final frontier with The Official Guide to Star Trek: The Animated Series
Oh boy, here we go!
Everyone knows how much I love Star Trek. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw the first episodes on TV during the series’ syndication run in England back in the early 1970s. I must admit that I didn’t come into the show until the end of season one and the classic episode ‘Operation Annihilate!’. I still love that episode to this day. I mean, come on, what’s not to like about a rubber fried egg being seen flying through the air and injuring our beloved Mr Spock? Ok, I laugh my head off at the absurdity of it now but I still hold the episode close to my heart. Every week, I used to tune in and watch what trouble Captain Kirk and company could get themselves into this time. And of course, during season two, we were given possibly one of the best episodes of the show ever to grace our screens in ‘The Doomsday Machine’. I hadn’t seen the best episode the show had made yet (Balance Of Terror, season one) but this episode was possibly the pinnacle of the show’s success. Even now, with the enhanced effects and sounds that the show has been lovingly given on DVD and Blu-Ray, you can’t ever beat seeing the episode as it was originally transmitted for the first time ever.
Sadly, the show only ran for three seasons before it was cancelled. We all know that the show went into worldwide syndication and giving the show a new lease of life that continues to this day. New shows, books and eventually movies made sure the Star Trek brand continues to live long and prosper. But one show that came out of the surprise success of syndication doesn’t really ever get the respect and success it deserves. I remember seeing it on TV when it was first transmitted and have to admit I was hooked from that very first episode. I own the show on DVD and Blu-Ray and even though it does have its faults (some big ones), I still curl up in the dark and put it on and enjoy watching it over and over again. That show was Star Trek: The Animated Series.
Star Trek: The Official Guide To The Animated Series | By Aaron Harvey and Rich Schepis
Titan Books have now published the official guide to the animated series. Written by Aaron Harvey and Rich Schepis, both names in Star Trek Online content and graphic novels, the book is an in-depth and loving look at the show. Starting from the nucleus of an idea to the show actually hitting the airwaves, the book chronicles everything that the show contained, all the drama behind the scenes (Originally, only Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley, Doohan and Barrett were invited back for the project until Nimoy threatened to walk) through to the music and the animation style, everything is covered here. Walter Koenig didn’t come back due to monetary concerns and was replaced by a new character Lieutenant Arex (Who was voiced by James Doohan). The company, Filmation was behind the project. Founded back in 1963 by Lou Scheimer, Norm Prescott and Hal Sutherland, Filmation was one of the leaders in TV animated fare in the 1970s. In fact, I remember British Saturday morning animated shows being almost totally dominated by Filmation. Only Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry really got a look in apart from them.
The book chronicles everything that made the show tick. The animation style is detailed, the script to screen process is described, everything about the show and its emergence onto the small screen once again are looked into in fantastic detail. From here, we are indulged with the episodes that were transmitted. Storyboard to screen comparisons and the original production drawings are here given the love they deserve. From the intimate details of the planets we will see right up to the faces of our beloved crew and of course, the U.S.S.Enterprise in animated form, there is nothing left to chance. Behind the scenes information about several episodes is included along with bloopers that somehow slipped through the net and made it into the show and onto our screens. In one episode, Kirk’s pants are the same colour as his tunic in one shot, making it appear that he has three arms and a shot of Scotty having a captain’s rank on his uniform instead of his engineering badge.
Every episode is delved into and great pains have been taken to bring the reader as much background information as is possible for each. Guest voices are brought to the reader’s attention and of course, classic returning characters such as Harry Mudd, Ambassador Sarek and of course, the hilarious Tribbles all get their proper mentions as is their want. The production drawings of the various otherworld characters we will meet throughout the show are presented to us. Databank entries printed on the page show us people and objects we will see throughout the episodes, explaining every detail about them. The episode ‘The Infinite Vulcan’ has the distinct honour of having Checkov himself, Walter Koenig as its writer. Although the character will not appear in the show, it is fitting that the actor leaves his imprint on it in some way. Koenig did request that Checkov be involved in the episode even though he didn’t write him into it and provide the voice once again but was sadly denied due to the lack of budget for his participation. A great opportunity missed by the makers of the show.
The show only ran for two seasons and the second only contained six episodes but it left an impression on those who watched it around the world. Once again, the book delves into the background politics that led to the second being the final season. It also has the foresight to include the merchandise the animated series managed to spawn. Novels, baseball cards, Laser Video discs, candy, a view master disc set (Those over a certain age will know what a view master was! And yes, I had one) through to comic books, VHS releases, Christmas Tree ornaments and the expected figures. It was so much fun reading and seeing the merchandise as I recall I had quite a lot of it. Shamefully, most if not all of it has now gone to that great big merchandise collection in the sky but it was a great look back at what I had as a child/ Young man.
The book ends and I feel a sense of exhilaration as well as a sense of loss. A sense of loss of what could have been, of what the show meant and of the loss of such treasured toys and books from that period of my life. Exhilaration at being able to return to those Saturday mornings once again and reminisce of sitting in front of the TV in my pyjamas and being enthralled with what the crew of the Enterprise had in store once again.
Harvey and Schepis have written a book for all ages to enjoy but for ‘Trekkers’ like myself, it is a fascinating and rewarding insight into a long lost but ultimately fantastic show. The love and attention paid to the series are beyond reproach and is shown for all the world to see in this completely wonderful book. I must thank the authors for allowing myself to go back in time and to enjoy the adventures once again. My advice? Beam yourself a copy up right now!
Star Trek: The Official Guide to The Animated Series by Aaron Harvey and Rich Schepis is published by Titan Books and is available to buy NOW!
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Indiana Jones and Horror movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!
Editors Note: A big thank you to our friends at Titan Books for sending over our advance review copy.
- ISBN: 9781789093650
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 160
- Published: 22 October 2019 (UK)
- Dimension: 266mm x 241mm (UK)