Friday, May 7, 2010

1974 "Movie Monsters" Trek article

From the December 1974 first issue of "Movie Monsters" comes an eight-page article on Trek. (You can see the magazine cover here, since I have featured the monster articles in it on another of my blogs.) The article is memorable to me mostly from the negative reaction I had to it; I hated it! The strange treatment of the photos accompanying it (except for the first one of the ship), and the somewhat derogatory review of the show really ticked me off when I read it. How dare anyone criticize the show? Reading it now, I have mellowed somewhat and I realize it was not as bad as it seemed at the time; but it was the first time I had read an article that was written in anything other than glowing terms, (notwithstanding this one, which was only an published reader letter)and I wasn't ready for it. I know now that the show was not quite perfect, only nearly so. :) Many of the claims are unfounded or just plain in error; but the one thing that rankled me most was that the writer blamed the third season decline on Roddenberry, when he wasn't even producing the show any more; Fred Frieberger was the one to blame for dragging a beautiful show through the mud of mediocrity. But, it seemed that the author was not aware of this.

(Click on images to enlarge.)

I wasn't the only one angered by the writeup; a few issues later they printed a story that was more positive in direct response to all the irate letters from the fans! Read it here, from an earlier post. Fan power!

Bonus: Below is another from the set of Random House greeting cards put out in 1976. (See all that I have posted by clicking the "greeting card" tag on the right.) The inside text consists of one word: "COURAGE!"

Bonus #2: Below are the front and back covers to the next James Blish adaptation, Star Trek 10. This was a first printing, published in Feb. 1974. I bought this in 1975 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL when I was 16. I still recall the excitement when I saw it in the high school bookstore where I bought it with my lunch money. It has a nice (and unusual for the Blish books) painting of the Enterprise blasting a Klingon Battlecruiser. The artist gave us some great detail, even adding extremely large rivets on the metal of the ship, as if it had been put together by NY bridgeworkers in the 1920's. I mean seriously, they had to have been as large as dinner plates to be visible at that range! Otherwise it's quite accurate.

"Break out the diving suits and the jackhammers!"


Doug said...

I can see why you had a negative reaction when first reading this! The very first page says "a good idea does not necessarily mean a successful idea"? That does a pretty good job of setting us up for what we're in for.

Having said that, it's always interesting to read different reactions to Star Trek. What's particularly fascinating (heh) about this is reading one from just five years after the show left the air, before ST exploded into the massive franchise it's been for the last thirty years or so.

Mention's gotta be made about the errors throughout the article... aside from the Roddenberry/Frieberger confusion you pointed out, "The Menagarie" was not the pilot; the third season was not the first to feature "alternate earths" (which truly was a horrible idea), nor was it the only one to place our heroes into different historical time frames; Chekov was introduced in season two; the third season in no way increased the visibility of the supporting characters (where did he get that from?), etc. But, heck! Considering that the author was working in a time before all the massive amounts of reference materials we have available today... just his memories of the shows he'd watched on TV (no VCRs or DVD recorders in those days)... maybe he (or she, but I'm guessing "he") can be forgiven. All in all, an interesting look into the not-distant past when the Trek phenomena was just getting underway!

Frederick said...


so right about your observations, which I didn't bother to point out, as being so glaring that most of us would just shake our head at. Beside the errors you mentioned, the whole bit about the third season lacking because it began to feature the secondary characters more... plumb silly! They were featured the whole time, as far back as "The Man Trap."

So some slack can be cut the writer , but not much; claiming it to be a direct rip-off of "Forbidden Planet," which it is not, although it is a direct ancestor. But the article is a novelty simply to show that not everyone loved it like we did!

In fact, and listen to this, the magazine soon published a much more favorable article on it in response to the angry mail they got! Funny, huh? I am adding that link to the article now, so check it out.

I appreciate your insightful comment!

david_b said...

Thanks much for the WONDERFUL scans here, Frederick. I LOVE rumaging through all the special, 70s Trek memories.. Yes, this was the last of the Blish books I would collect of this series.. Remember they were only 75 cents a book..?

Anyhow, as for the Klingon ship, I felt the same way on the rivets. It also looked 'icy' for some odd reason. I had just bought/built my AMT models and had lots of play time with battles similar to this scene with friends.

Ah, those were the days.. pining for the next scheduled Trek rerun.. Remember before Starlog #1 or 'World of Star Trek', we didn't have any 'episode guides' per se, so you didn't know whether you've seen all the eps or not..? The 'Making of Star Trek' book only had the first two seasons of eps, due to it's earlier release.

DesiluTrek said...

Doug, right abut the many errors, but "The Menagerie" is indeed the true name of the first pilot; it's only come to be known as "The Cage" because "The Menagerie" was adopted as the title for the two-parter. The first pilot has since come to be called "The Cage" because that was the title Gene Roddenberry gave his original story outline (also back when the captain was April.)

Frederick said...


Thanks for the info! I never realised that, or I could have forgotten it in all the years; but as accurate as that may be technically, the article still got it wrong since it wasn't a two-parter at the time, kicking off the series as the writer erroneously stated. So Doug is right as far as general knowledge, you are right as far as history (takiing your word for it now) but the article writer got it wrong anyhow you look at it.

How I wanted to give that person an extended and painful Vulcan nerve pinch! :) Although I couldn't knock people out when I did it in school, it hurt to the point that they froze and hollered! :)