The Ten Coolest Things in Starlog #003: The Non-Spaceship Enterprise, Conventions and LASERS!
The third issue of Starlog hit the stands on November 23, 1976, the last of the quarterly issues before settling into the eight-times-a-year groove. In this issue’s convention coverage, Starlog starts to get its Heisenberg on by acknowledging its own existence in the sci-fi fandom it serves. Meta!
As always, if you’d like to read along at home, the full run of Starlog is available over at the Internet Archive, and here are the previous installments of this series.
1. That Cover, Huh?
Seriously, how about that cover? Scroll back up and look at it again. The artist is Jack Rickard, who drew a a more modest Star Trek spoof for the cover of Mad #186 earlier that year. Please, though, make no hay of the fact that Uhura is grinning broadly the sight of Kirk pulling Spock’s pants down.
2. Leonard Nimoy Has His Priorities Straight.
So, the very first time Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner appeared at the same time on television post-Star Trek was Thursday, September 2, 1976, in order to tape The $20,000 Pyramid. The final episode of the original Star Trek wrapped production on January 9, 1969; presumably Shatner and Nimoy had at least been in the same place at the same time together since then; just not in front of a camera.
Sadly, those $20,000 Pyramid episodes aren’t on YouTube, but their return engagement in 1977 is. (The above screenshot, in which Shatner apparently lost a toin coss with Nimoy, is from the ’77 run.)
Nimoy: “I spent a half-hour with Bill Shatner, and I’m worn out!” As with the Rickard cover, stop thinking whatever it is you’re thinking.
3. The Spaceship Enterprise That Didn’t Go Into Space.
Due to a letter-writing campaign by the fans, the name of the very first space shuttle was changed from Constitution to Enterprise. The rolling-out was a big event, and Roddenberry and the cast were there and it resulted in great media exposure for all, except for one thing: the Enterprise never flew in space. That artist’s rendering above is as close as this particular spaceship ever got. Even at the big unveiling, it just kinda sat there on the ground, not slipping the surly bonds of Earth of its own accord until 1977.
Demanding the ship be named Enterprise made sense at the time, I suppose, and my understanding is that there were plans to retrofit it for actual space travel, but those plans were scuttled, and in 1981 the Columbia became the first shuttle to go into space. It’s a damn shame, because as great as the publicity at the unveiling was, I can’t help thinking that the publicity of an Enterprise truly orbiting Earth would have been even better. Alas.
4. The Star Trek Movie Continues to Probably Happen, Eventually.
The Enterprise shuttle publicity certainly didn’t do anything to speed along the development of the movie, which was still in the heavy-spitballing stage. The newest wrinkle was bringing on Philip Kaufman to direct. He didn’t, of course, though he stuck around long enough to get to know Leonard Nimoy, and direct him in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which was released to theaters while Star Trek: The Motion Picture was still shooting in December ’78.
And it’s safe to say that not directing Star Trek didn’t do his career any harm; this past May, Kaufman received the 2013 Founder’s Directing Award at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, and Body Snatchers was screened at a special night honoring him. So he did just fine for himself.
5. Twentieth-Century Fox Is Still Figuring Things out.
The anonymous Star Wars source FTW! And oh, how I wish Damnation Alley had been more like Death Race 2000.
6. They’re Movies, But on Television!
From “Complete Guide: Science Fiction Films Made for TV.”
Gargoyles is the one I remember the most from growing up, probably because it frequently played on Saturday afternoons on Channel 26 in Fresno. As most TV movies in syndication were, it was a rather muddy print, making the whole thing seem darker and creepier than it might have otherwise.
The full movie is available on YouTube:
(To recreate the old-school viewing experience, set the quality to 144p, and turn down the brightness on your monitor.)
Best concept, and best title:
It’s available on YouTube as well, and mostly takes place at day and thus is easier to actually watch. (But don’t ask Megaweapon about working with Killdozer.)
Then there was the original attempt at Wonder Woman, before they decided that she should look anything at all like the actual character. (Okay, technically this was the second attempt, the first one being Batman producer William Dozier’s 1967 test reel for a proposed Wonder Woman series, but that one didn’t make it to the full-length pilot stage and thus is ineligible for competition.)
It didn’t go over well (Wonder Woman pilots rarely do), leading to the Lynda Carter version which was originally titled The New, Original Wonder Woman, pretty much as an eff-you to Cathy Lee Crosby’s attempt. Sadly, this did not lead to a “Famous Original Ray’s”-style naming battle in later incarnations, but at least we can watch the Crosby version if we want to. That’s something.
6. Pros at Cons.
The majority of Starlog #003 is coverage of the hyper-hyphenated Star Trek Bi-Centennial-10 Convention, the unwieldy title referencing both the nation’s bicentennial (as everything was required to by law in 1976) and Star Trek‘s tenth anniversary. Except for Leonard Nimoy (who did manage to find time for The $20,000 Pyramid), pretty much everyone who was anyone in Star Trek was there; the full schedule has been reposted at Therese’s TrekkerScrapbook. Highlights in Starlog‘s coverage include Nichelle Nichols…
…Grace Lee Whitney…
…and Jesco Von Puttkamer, obviously.
But never mind the sexy actresses and the platinum-haired aerospace scientists — what about the fans?
Speaking of very “life-like” reproductions of the bridge, has anyone been to Star Trek: The Exhibition? I visited it at the Tech Museum in San Jose in 2009, and even though photography is not permitted of any items in the exhibit and the staff is present around the set to ensure that rule is enforced, my friend was able to take a picture of me in the captain’s chair.
Topless Robot and Voice Media Group remind you to please follow the rules and not take pictures in Star Trek: The Exhibition, even though the official pictures that the staff takes and then sells to you at an inflated price are done with a flash that washes out the ambiance. (That said, if you have taken surreptitious pictures of yourself on the bridge, by all means, post ’em in the comments!)
Also present at the Star Trek Bi-Centennial-10 Convention was the stalwart David Gerrold, fielding some very dumb questions.
In addition to signing a copy of Starlog at the convention, Mr. Gerrold would become a regular columnist in issue #004. He’s still on the circuit, and I interviewed him for SF Weekly at Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek Convention in San Francisco last November. We spoke for over half an hour, only a fraction of which I was able to use in the article, and I have his consent to post the audio online. Which I really need to do one of these days.
And, perhaps most importantly, the future King of teh Interwebz was present.
7. Pretty Pretty Spaceships!
Look, let’s not kid ourselves. We enjoy space operas for their characters and storytelling and ethical dilemmas, sure, but the real appeal is watching big metal-looking things fly through space, hence “The Dream Machines: 75 Years of Movie and TV Spaceships.” Among the occasionally colorful pictures are the Discovery from 2001: A Space Odyssey (y’know, the movie that Starlog‘s editor feels relied too much on special effects)…
… the United Planets Cruiser 57-D from Forbidden Planet…
… and the various incarnations of the Flash Gordon ship, including the Flesh Gordon vehicle – by the man who would go on to build the exteriors of V’Ger from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and the Enterprise-D models used in the later seasons of Next Generation.
And the titular, Greg Jein-designed Dark Star from John Carpenter’s first film, which also has the best theme song of any sci-fi movie ever.
8. Bigfoot’s Big Return.
With Lee Majors of The Six Million Dollar Man. I dunno why, but neither Lee nor Andr? the Giant as Sasquatch seem quite as into it as Ted Cassidy and Lindsay Wagner did in the Bionic Woman picture from the previous issue.
9. Shoes for Industry! Lasers for Defense!
First off – hey, any excuse to show a picture of the Enterprise firing its
lasers phasers, right? And I love these grainy, photocopied-looking images. But the real question is, if Star Wars had never existed, what would Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative been nicknamed? “Star Trek” would never have had the right ring as a name for a space-laser system.
10. Knights in Starlog‘s Service.
The first two back covers had been kinda meh, but Issue #003’s was proof that Starlog had entered the big time, especially for 1976: KISS!
Coming Up in Starlog #004: David Gerrold signs on, an appreciation of 3-D movies back when they were appreciable, and a look at Star Trek‘s Gorn episode, both pre- and post-Gorn.
Previous articles by Sherilyn Connelly:
25 Years of Star Trek Conventions, Present and Past
Ten Amazingly Strange Celebrity Hotlines of the 1980s
The Top 10 Nerdiest Mail-Order Ads from the Back of Rolling Stone