…hey, they’ve got the next three weeks off
Ok, I’m way late posting on here, so I’ve got TWO Doclopedia posts. Enjoy!
The Doclopedia #1,092
Alt. Television: Star Trek
It is a strange fact that in almost all realities, the television series “Star Trek” is pretty much the same as it is here in our reality. True, the sexes of characters might be reversed ot the dominant species might not be human, but the basic premise, characters and history of the series is barely affected.
The version most interesting to geeks in our reality is the one from Earth 222, the same reality that produced the version of Doctor Who in the previous Doclopedia entry. Like DW, Star Trek premiered in the fall of 1965 and was very popular right from the start. Unlike DW, Star Trek did not have an unbroken 49 years as a single series.
Everything about the series was identical to our version until the middle of the third season, where it surpassed the 79 (80 if you count the first pilot) episodes we know. After that, the series went on with episodes we have never seen, including the famous crossover episodes with Doctor Who (the ST episode was “The Two Doctors” and the DW episode was part one of the similarly named two episode story arc.), in which Kirk, Spock, McCoy and a young Vulcan cadet named Silvok get transported to the DW universe, then the Doctor and his companions Denny and T’lana get transported back with them.
Other episodes we’ll never see were “Dark Mirror”, “The Death Of Jim Kirk”, “The Evil That Men Do” and the hilariously funny “Spock’s Bad Day”.
By the start of the fifth year, several of the lead actors were itching to move on to movies and other television ventures. The fear of being typecast was, as Leonard Nimoy once said “like the Sword of Damocles hanging over us, the thread getting thinner each season. When Season 5 was halfway through production, Nimoy, Shatner and Nichelle Nichols said they would not return for a fifth season.
In response to this, NBC offered up “bags full of money” and promises of time off to make movies if the cast would stick around for one more season. While negotiations went on, Gene Roddenberry used the time to create a “transitional” season 6 that would lead to a new series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. When all contracts were signed for Season 6, the pre-production for the new series was started.
The second half of season 5 was a lead up to the final episode, “To Boldly Keep Going”, in which the 5 year mission of the Enterprise comes to an end and the crew and the ship are turned into a training vessel.
Season 6, the final original series season, was a mix of original crew + new crew episodes and those which featured mostly the new crew alone. The final episode of the season had the highest ratings ever for ST.
Shatner, Nimoy, Nichols and James Doohan went on to movies, other tv series, recording contracts, plays, etc. The remaining original cast members stuck around for the first two seasons of the new series, before moving on.
And then, 10 years later, in 1980, the entire original cast returned for the first Star Trek movie Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan” and 4 sequels.
As of 2014, there have been 6 Star Trek series: ST, ST:TNG, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, ST: Enterprise and ST: Frontiers. There have been a total of 14 motion pictures, two animated series and a Tony winning play. The number of Star Trek Novels numbers well over 400.
The Doclopedia #1,093
Alt. Television: Kolchak, The Night Stalker
In 1972, ABC Television was trying to cash in on the same audience that NBC had for it’s “Science Fiction Wednesday” programming schedule. ABC decided to go with “Friday Night Frights”, a series of made for tv movies with horror and science fiction themes. Most of these movies were made on low budgets and, truthfully, sucked. It also didn’t help that Friday was something of a graveyard for television in those days. However, one movie rose above it’s budgetary constraints and the Friday night curse to garner huge ratings and critical acclaim. The Night Stalker starred Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak, a rumpled and abrasive reporter who stumbles onto a series of murders committed by a vampire. The movie spawned a sequel, The Night Strangler, and a weekly series that, in 1974, headlined ABC’s new “Thursday Night Frights”, which featured the series followed by slightly less sucky made for tv movies.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker was well received by both audiences and critics, although the episodes ranged from excellent to schlocky. It lasted for only two tears and 54 episodes before star and producer McGavin decided to call it quits. Later, between 1983 and 1990, four made for television movies were made, the last of which appeared to show Kolchak dying as he fought with a madman, falling into a volcano.
The importance of this series lies in two others that it spawned decades later. In three episodes (“In Dog We Trust”, “Golem” and “Oh, Rats”), Kolchak teamed up with a ten year old boy named Fox Mulder. Twenty years later, ABC would create a new series called The X Files that featured the adult version of this character as an FBI agent. In fact, during season 2 of The X Files, Mulder finds out that Kolchak faked his death and assumed the new identity of Arthur Dales, a sports reporter in Florida. The character, portrayed by McGavin, appeared in five episodes over the next three years before the Kolchak character was “killed” in an explosion.
The other series spawned by Kolchak: The Night Stalker was Mr. Ring, a direct spinoff from the episode Mr. R.I.N.G., about a killer android. In the series, which lasted from 1986 to 1990, Mr. Ring had developed sentience and escaped from his military creators. The series was a mid-level success, with one critic describing it as a mix of “The Fugitive and Mr. Spock from Star Trek”.
In 2010, a revival series titled “The Night Stalker” debuted on CBS, but only lasted one season due to issues like no sense of humor and trying to have a “supernatural conspiracy”.