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Star Trek and American Television

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

Star Trek and American Television is a reference book which explores the various (production and business) aspects of the Star Trek franchise from its very inception in 1964 and its subsequent place in history and American culture. Its two authors, both holding academic degrees, broach the subject from an academic point-of-view, and the book is therefore written as such and published by the University of California.

Summary Edit

Publisher's blurb
At the heart of one of the most successful transmedia franchises of all time, Star Trek, lies an initially unsuccessful 1960s television production, Star Trek: The Original Series. In Star Trek and American Television, Pearson and Messenger Davies, take their cue from the words of the program's first captain, William Shatner, in an interview with the authors: "It's a television show." In focusing on Star Trek as a television show, the authors argue that the program has to be seen in the context of the changing economic conditions of American television throughout the more than four decades of Star Trek's existence as a transmedia phenomenon that includes several films as well as the various television series. The book is organized into three sections, dealing with firstly, the context of production, the history and economics of Star Trek from the original series (1966-1969) to its final television incarnation in Enterprise (2002-2005). Secondly, it focuses on the interrelationships between different levels of production and production workers, drawing on uniquely original material, including interviews with star captains William Shatner and Sir Patrick Stewart, and with production workers ranging from set-builders to executive producers, to examine the tensions between commercial constraints and creative autonomy. These interviews were primarily carried out in Hollywood during the making of the film Nemesis (2002) and the first series of Star Trek: Enterprise. Thirdly, the authors employ textual analysis to study the narrative "storyworld" of the Star Trek television corpus and also to discuss the concept and importance of character in television drama. The book is a deft historical and critical study that is bound to appeal to television and media studies scholars, students, and Star Trek fans the world over. With a foreword by Sir Patrick Stewart, Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.

ContentsEdit

  • Acknowledgments, p. ix
  • Abbreviations, p. xi
  • Foreword by Sir Patrick Stewart, p. xiii
  • Introduction: "It's a Television Show", p. 1
  • Chapter 1: Star Trek and American Television History, p. 17
  • Chapter 2: Art, Commerce and Creative Autonomy, p. 55
  • Chapter 3: The Craft-Workshop Mode of Production, p. 86
  • Chapter 4: Actors: The Public Face of Star Trek, p. 106
  • Chapter 5: World Building, p. 126
  • Chapter 6: Character Building, p. 149
  • Conclusion: "It's Not a Television Show", p. 185
  • Apendix: List of Quoted Interviewees, p. 193
  • Notes, p. 195
  • References, p. 221
  • Index, p. 231

Background information Edit

  • Authors Pearson and Davies had seven years earlier already explored in some detail the business aspects between Star Trek: The Original Series and NBC in chapter 12 of the reference book NBC: America's Network.
  • Four years later, Pearson did explore the branding aspects of the television franchise in detail in the "Cult Television as Digital Television's Cutting Edge"-chapter in the 2011 reference book Television as Digital Media. (pp. 105-131, ASIN B00EQC7LRS) This copy was incorporated in Chapter 1 of Star Trek and American Television.

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