Despite a strong fan campaign to save it, Star Trek season three saw some of the worst episodes in the franchise as a result of budget cuts.

By Gene Roddenberry Star trek is the lynchpin of modern science fiction television, both as a franchise and as a decades-old pop culture movement that inspired everyone from artists to scientists. But he fought for that longevity, facing cancellation after just two seasons. A strong fan campaign quietly promoted by Roddenberry ensured Star trek won a third season and a guaranteed syndication future. However, the win came with some cruel downsides, including budget cuts, the loss of Roddenberry as a producer, and time slot changes. As star Nichelle Nichols would later hint in her autobiography, it was blatant sabotage.

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The campaign to save Star trek in early 1968 after rumors emerged that the series was on the brink of cancellation, flooding NBC with overloaded mail trucks containing hundreds of thousands of letters demanding that the series be renewed. Peaceful protests erupted on college campuses. Eventually, the situation forced the network’s hand, and NBC made a rare primetime announcement to tell the newly minted Trekkies that the series would indeed be getting its third season.

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The victory was classically Pyrrhic, a battle won but with some questionable results. The first episode of the last season was “Spock’s Brain,” a story so notoriously terrible that it consistently tops the worst lists. Emigrate episodes of all time. William Shatner’s own memoirs from 1993, Star Trek Memories, commented that the episode was a “tribute” to the new effort of NBC to tank the series.

Behind the blatant horror of the series premiere, the gears of the web machine ensured that Roddenberry was crushed and pushed. Discouraged by the news that NBC was also cutting the budget per episode, Roddenberry kept his executive producer title but ceded creative control to Fred Freiberger. Freiberger’s lack of prior sci-fi experience and tight budget made him a scapegoat for the obvious failures of season three. Roddenberry’s trusted co-creator DC Fontana also returned to independent life before the new season aired. Three of his scripts were still filmed, including the Well received “The Company Incident”.

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In addition to budget pressures that forced each new episode to be filmed as cheaply as possible, reducing already rare outdoor and outdoor shots to next to nothing, NBC also tweaked the schedule. Originally the jewel in the crown of primetime, NBC pushed Star trek to the infamous’Friday night death slot. Caught between 10 and 11 p.m. on a night when its very young audience would do anything but sit in front of the television, NBC’s murder of the beloved series was nearing completion.

William Shatner in Star Trek Featured

The series finale, “Turnabout Intruder”, made a surprise return to its original primetime, airing at 7:30 pm on June 3, 1969. Like “Spock’s Brain,” it was a bittersweet moment for the base. staunch fans. Another episode that appears regularly On the worst-case lists, “Turnabout Intruder” turned any discussion of feminism into a sexist romp, all while forcing Captain Kirk into a performance too cheesy for even Shatner’s deep charm to handle. And with that, NBC washed its hands of a series they had deemed too expensive and too taboo to continue supporting.

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However, despite NBC’s exhaustion with Star Trek’s creators and its vocal fan base, the franchise kept walking. It thrived on syndication, sometimes outpacing new shows in competitive time slots. First Star trek The convention took place in New York City, three years after the series’ cancellation, and young viewers continued to rediscover the show during its frequent evening broadcasts.

Star trekThe weak ending turned into a surprising renaissance for the franchise as a whole. Although the 1972 animated series is often forgotten and seen as a victim of a confused audience demographic, it was a surprisingly strong show. Several years later, another television reboot was shelved in favor of going straight to the big screen. And with the blockbuster of Star Trek: The Movie ensuring that there would be much more Star trek to come, Gene Roddenberry got the last laugh at his secret war with NBC.

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