Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Star Trek: The Animated Series
Star Trek: The Animated Series is an animated science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe. The series was aired under the name Star Trek, but it has become widely known under this longer name (or abbreviated as ST:TAS or TAS) to differentiate it from the original live action Star Trek. It is also sometimes referred to (such as on STARTREK.COM) as "The Animated Adventures."
The series was produced by Filmation and ran for two seasons, 1973 and 1974, airing a total of twenty-two half-hour episodes. It featured most of the original cast performing the voices for their characters, except for Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig), who was omitted because the show's budget could not afford the complete cast. He was replaced by two animated characters who made semi-regular appearances: Lieutenant Arex , a member of a species which had three arms and three legs; and Lt. M'Ress , a female cat-like alien. James Doohan, and Majel Barrett, besides performing their characters Montgomery Scott and Christine Chapel, performed the voices of Arex and M'Ress, respectively.
Koenig was not forgotten and later wrote an episode of the series, becoming the first Star Trek actor to write a Trek story in the process.
It is generally assumed that the episodes in the series take place after the events of the Original Series, possibly during the last year of the NCC-1701's five-year mission. However this is never stated on screen. It is impossible to support this notion using the stardates mentioned in the episodes, since they are often inconsistent with the Original Series. One episode, "Magicks of Megas-Tu" carries a stardate lower than that of first pilot of the Original Series ("Where No Man Has Gone Before") however McCoy, who wasn't a member of the crew at the time of that early episode, is present. Another episode carries a stardate higher than that given in Star Trek: The Motion Picture which takes place several years after the events of the five year mission.
As is usual for animation, the voice actors did not perform together but recorded their parts separately to avoid clashing with other commitments. For instance, William Shatner, who was touring in a play at the time, would record his lines in whatever city he happened to be in and have the tapes shipped to the studio. Doohan and Barrett, besides providing the voices of their Original Series characters and newcomers Arex and M'Ress, performed virtually all of the "guest star" characters in the series, except for a few notable exceptions such as Sarek, Cyrano Jones and Harcourt Fenton Mudd, who were performed by their original actors from The Original Series. Occasional other guest voice actors were also used, such as Ed Bishop (Commander Straker on UFO) who voiced a character in "Magicks of Megas-Tu".
While the freedom of animation afforded large alien landscapes, budget constraints were a major concern and animation quality was generally poor, with very liberal use of stock shots. There were also occasional mistakes, such as characters appearing on screen who were elsewhere, or a character supposed to appear on the bridge main screen appears in front, indicating bad ordering of animation plates. These were typically one-off errors however. Occasionally, though, parts of episodes would be animated at a near-theatrical quality level.
All the episodes of this series were novelized by Alan Dean Foster and released in 10 volumes under the Star Trek Logs banner. Initially, Foster adapted three episodes per book, but later editions saw the half-hour scripts expanded into full novel-length stories.
A few episodes are especially notable due to contributions from well-known science fiction authors:
- "More Tribbles, More Troubles" was written by David Gerrold as a sequel to his famous episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" from the original series. Here the infamous Cyrano Jones is rescued from the Klingons, bringing with him a genetically-altered breed of Tribbles which do not reproduce but do grow extremely large. The Klingons, due to their hatred of Tribbles, are eager to get Cyrano Jones back because he stole a creature they created: a predator that feeds on tribbles.
- "Yesteryear" is a time-travel episode in which Mr. Spock uses The Guardian of Forever, a time gateway from the original series episode "The City on the Edge of Forever", to travel to his own childhood past. This is the only animated Trek episode written by noted original series and Next Generation writer D.C. Fontana.
- Larry Niven's "The Slaver Weapon", adapted from his own short story "The Soft Weapon ". It includes some elements from his Known Space mythos such as the Kzinti and the Slavers.
- "The Magicks of Megas-tu", by Larry Brody , sends the Starship Enterprise to the center of the galaxy. Its crew find themselves befriended by a devil-like alien whom they must defend against accusations that he has brought evil to the world of Megas-tu. The Enterprise in this series, while supposedly the same ship as from the original series, had a holodeck very similar to the one introduced on Star Trek: The Next Generation which was set approximately 80 years later.
For a variety of reasons (most likely legal ones, such as the use of concepts from Niven's own works), Paramount Pictures does not consider The Animated Series to be canon with the rest of the Star Trek universe. Gene Roddenberry reportedly asked soon before his death that the series not be considered canon. An official accounting as to why the series has been "decanonized" has yet to occur. There have been occasions where writers and other production crew have sneaked animation-series references into one of the live-action series. Most recently, the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes "The Catwalk" and "The Forge" included references to "Yesteryear".
- An early Filmation proposal for this series had children assigned to each of the senior officers as cadets, including a young Vulcan for Mr. Spock.
In June 2004, several websites reported that Paramount was planning to release the Animated Series to DVD in North America in 2005. These reports turned out to be premature, as the studio plans to concentrate on releasing Enterprise to DVD during the year instead. According to a February 2005 report on the Digital Bits.com website, the studio is now eyeing a 2006 release of the series, which would make it the last Star Trek series to be released to DVD.
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