Thursday, September 22, 2016

A word about the animated Star Trek

I was never a big fan of Filmation cartoons, even though I watched them as a kid: Fat Albert, Tarzan and the Super 7, He-Man. I might have dug their live-action material slightly more: Shazam!, The Secrets of Isis, Jason of Star Command. I'd have to look at them again to see if they hold up at all. They probably don't.

The animated Star Trek aired when I was a baby - the early 70s - and I don't remember seeing it in repeats, so I never had an affinity for the show. At some point later on in my life, I must have sat down with it, but it never made much of an impression if I did. For this post, I watched clips from the show on YouTube to reacquaint myself.

It doesn't come across like a kiddie show, that's for sure. In terms of story and dialogue, it feels not unlike what the fourth season of the live-action series might have been like, with a bigger budget. No attempt is made to dumb it down. Amidst a landscape of Scooby-Doo, Space Ghost and Looney Tunes, this show must have stood out, even if it only lasted two seasons.

Still, the stories are undone by the pedestrian animation style. If you've seen enough Filmation cartoons, you know exactly what I'm talking about: the big-head close-ups, the dutch angles, the stock footage repeated over and over, the inability of the characters to emote further than blinking and moving their eyebrows. I realize American animation in the 70s wasn't anything special, and as kids, we certainly weren't picky, but this is ridiculous.

Having the original actors voice their own characters makes the show feel authentic - and kudos to Leonard for fighting to get George and Nichelle included as well. In places, it seemed as if the animators couldn't quite keep up with the actors' recitation of their lines. I didn't see much of the three-armed guy and the cat lady. I suspect they were there just to have some really alien-looking aliens.

I dunno. I appreciate what they tried to do with this show, and it must have been catnip to Trekkies who missed the live-action show, but honestly, I can do without it. I know the novels refer to events in the show every once in a blue moon, but I don't feel like I'm missing much.

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