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Old 05-22-2013, 06:00 PM
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Default That Wacky Redhead

Welcome, everyone, to my first timeline! I intend to post one update every few days or so, until such time as I’ve caught up with the backlog in transfers from AH.Com. I’ve written over half of this timeline overall, a task which has taken me eighteen months so far, and I estimate that I’m perhaps another year or so from completion of this “rough draft”. Since I’m posting here for further input on the original material, I’m going to resist the urge to revise my old posts beyond simply error correction, except where noted. In this case, I’m merging my first two posts, because some of my readers have commented that my initial “attention-getter” post may have detracted more from the subsequent updates than it added. I’ll let you be the judge. With that said, thank you all for reading, and please enjoy!

“That Wacky Redhead!”

September 20, 1986

We open on a lavishly decorated but somehow cozy and intimate interview room, with two empty chairs in the middle. Assorted flower arrangements are everywhere. Everything is in soft focus – an appropriate stylistic choice, for more reasons than one.

Enter Baba Wawa – I mean, BARBARA WALTERS. [1]

WAWA
: Her career in television has spanned thirty-five years – for almost as long as the medium has existed, she has been a part of it. First as an actress on her ground-breaking sitcom, I Love Lucy, and then as a producer, with her company, Desilu, being responsible for some of the most beloved shows to have ever aired on television. But despite her incredible power and influence, she has always been known for her modesty, and her willingness to share credit with others.

Cut to LUCILLE BALL, sitting in one of the chairs (with WAWA in the other).

BALL: I couldn’t have done any of it without everyone else. I Love Lucy was Desi, and Jess and Bob and Madelyn, and Viv, and Bill… Karl Freund, Marc Daniels… so many others. And then Desilu – well, we’d be here all night if you wanted me to tell you who’s been keeping that place running. I just take credit for finding them, picking them, and keeping them around. That’s what a manager does, what a producer does.

Cut back to WAWA, alone.

WAWA: Even if her only talent is in making decisions, she has made some of the best of them. And they have brought Desilu Productions – the studio she co-founded with her late ex-husband, Desi Arnaz, in 1950 – to the forefront of the entertainment industry. Her decision earlier this year to retire, and leave show business behind once and for all, has surprised a great many people. But tonight, in our exclusive interview, we’re going to look at the woman behind the empire: the First Lady of Television, Miss Lucille Ball.

Cut to various shots of BALL – smiling, laughing, nodding, contemplative, seeming almost in tears – before they dissolve into a title screen, with the text being “written”, in familiar cursive, over a giant “valentine” heart on velvet: “EVERYBODY LOVES LUCY: The First Lady of Television… in her own words”

Cut back to WAWA, alone, again.

WAWA: Join me as we discuss her humble beginnings, her rise to fame, and her triumphs and tragedies – personal and professional.

Cut back to BALL, looking very solemn.

WAWA (OC): And some of her most intimate secrets.

BALL: For a while there… I didn’t want to keep going. Didn’t want to do what I had been doing, starting from the early sixties.

Cut over to WAWA, nodding mutely and trying very hard to look sympathetic and perceptive at the same time. [2] Cut back to BALL.

BALL: I knew I couldn’t run Desilu and keep up my screen career at the same time. One or the other would have to go, and that’s when she came to me.

WAWA (OC): Lucy has often shared what she feels is the secret to her success. She believes that Carole Lombard, the legendary screwball comedy star from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and her personal mentor, who died tragically in a plane crash in 1942, has been advising her ever since… from beyond the grave.

BALL: She came to me when I was deciding whether or not I should do I Love Lucy, and she told me to “give it a whirl”. And that’s what I did.

Cut over to WAWA. Still nodding, this time with an “aha!” expression, as if she understands where BALL is going with this, though she obviously doesn’t. Cut back to BALL again.

BALL: Then she came to me when I was deciding whether or not to sell Desilu. [3] She told me I was done being a star, that it was time to start making stars. She knew I could do it, said I was the only one who could. (laughs) There’s a reason everybody loved Carole.

WAWA: Do you still believe that Carole talks to you?

BALL: Oh yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

WAWA: And if you could say anything to Carole right now, what would it be?

BALL: Just, thank you, Carole. Thanks so much for everything.

WAWA (OC): And that’s just the beginning of the insightful and revealing discussion I had with Lucy, as the First Lady of Television talks about herself, her life, and her legacy… all in her own words.

Cut back to WAWA, alone, for the last time.

WAWA: We’ll be right back for more with Lucy, after these messages… [4]

PART I: “Where No Man Has Gone Before”

This Season is the First Season of the Rest of Your Career (1966-67)

“Desilu Productions and Gulf+Western Industries have announced an agreement that would see Desilu provide exclusive use of their surplus studio space to the conglomerate that owns Paramount Pictures, whose own facility is located just next door. It is believed that this arrangement will facilitate chief executive Charles Bluhdorn’s plans to expand into television; Paramount is the only major studio that does not yet have a television division. Initial negotiations for G+W to purchase Desilu outright were unsuccessful; nevertheless, that studio’s President, Lucille Ball, is believed to be receiving a substantial lump sum payment in addition to the favourable rates agreed upon for the use of her facilities. Both Miss Ball and Mr. Bluhdorn, upon being reached for additional comment, declined to speak further.”

– From the February 15, 1967 [5], edition of The Hollywood Reporter

The first person that Ball told about her dream that night was her husband and business partner, Gary Morton; by this time, he had heard the story about her previous encounter with Carole Lombard so many times that he knew far better than to challenge her. In fact, he didn’t even mind; he was all for his wife staying at Desilu in the first place. If this apparition of her long-dead friend was what finally made her convince herself that it was what she wanted, too, then he wasn’t about to complain.

But one person who did complain was Charles Bluhdorn, the mogul who owned Gulf+Western. The two studio heads had been engaged in tentative, preliminary negotiations regarding the potential but strictly hypothetical sale of Desilu, which had already been moving far too slowly for his liking; suddenly, the very morning after her fateful dream, Ball quite abruptly called the whole thing off. Eventually, their attorneys were able to work out a compromise deal, but that still left him without rosters – either in terms of qualified staff or in terms of established programming. They would have to recruit people to work in their leased studio space. Plans to make a triumphant entry into the television arena for the 1967-68 season were abandoned; it was back to the drawing board. [6]

Financial projections showing that the assets to be acquired from Desilu would not have been very profitable (as, indeed, several of its programs were extremely expensive to produce) [7] did much to mollify Bluhdorn, who decided to start from scratch. His R&D department was dispatched to contact freelance producers and writers who might be interested in getting in on the ground floor.

Meanwhile, and in what she would later describe as the hardest decision of her career, Ball decided to drop out of the female lead role of her pet project blended-family picture: Yours, Mine, and Ours. She began shopping around for another lead actress, but never found anyone who met with her satisfaction. In the end, the movie was never made. [8] Removing herself from a starring role in the film was the result of a conscious effort to lighten her workload. As part of her established agreement with CBS, she was set to end production on her sitcom The Lucy Show after the 1966-67 season, but network executives – mindful of the show’s very high ratings – convinced her to stay on for an additional season. [9] It made good business sense – another season meant more episodes for syndication, which meant more revenue. A proven source of income like that certainly beat taking a risk on green-lighting Yours, Mine, and Ours – especially since her expenses were indeed just as high as Gulf+Western’s accountants had projected.

Without question, the 1966-67 production season was a grueling one for Ball. But it ended on a high note, as one of her programs, Mission: Impossible, won the Emmy for Outstanding Dramatic Series. It was a vindication for her: she had fought hard for that show, and now it was earning the recognition that it so richly deserved. Years later, she would reflect that she knew, at that very moment, that she had made the right decision, staying on as head of Desilu. The show’s creator and producer, Bruce Geller, was already working on a new show for Desilu, called Mannix, which would premiere in September 1967.

Amusingly, earlier that night Ball won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for The Lucy Show, her third Emmy in the category, going back to her inaugural win in 1953 for I Love Lucy. [10] By this time it was well-known within the industry that she would be retiring from acting at the end of the following season, which she briefly acknowledged in her acceptance speech. It was the first time that the general public was made aware of that fact, and the news made big waves, appearing on the front page of most newspapers’ entertainment sections the next day, and dominating discussion on the breakfast talkies the following Monday, with Baba Wawa devoting an entire segment to the topic on the Today Show. It even made the cover of TV Guide (“Say It Ain’t So, Lucy!”).

But of all the shows that Desilu produced during this era, the most complex and interesting relationship that Lucille Ball had was the one with a little show about boldly going where no man has gone before

---

[1] Hereafter referred to as simply Wawa. I really want to write all her lines phonetically – but I’m (barely) resisting the urge.

[2] FYI: Whenever any of these news magazine shows cut to the interviewer “reacting”, it means that they just edited what the interviewee was saying. Most of you probably know that already, but if you didn’t, there you go.

[3] And this is the POD. In OTL, Lucille Ball sold Desilu to Gulf+Western in 1967, and they merged it into Paramount shortly thereafter. Ball continued to star in a weekly series until 1974. She created a new “studio”, Lucille Ball Productions, which was essentially a holding company for her star vehicles.

[4] So why did Wawa drop this bombshell before the first commercial break? Actually, it isn’t one – IOTL, Ball frequently shared her Carole Lombard dream story. Here she just has two to tell instead of one. She was always happy to divulge some very strange personal stories to anyone who asked – though the famous “radio waves in her fillings” yarn was likely apocryphal.

[5] In OTL, on this date, Ball and Bluhdorn announced the sale of Desilu to Gulf+Western. The company continued to operate as an independent division of G+W until December of that year, when it was formally merged into Paramount.

[6] As noted, Paramount was the only major studio that didn’t have a dedicated TV division. In 1967. That’s like a Fortune 500 company not having an internet presence… in 2009. That’s why Bluhdorn (who bought Paramount in 1966) wanted to buy Desilu, which had: a long and storied history; dedicated production facilities; and established programming on the air, with experienced producers at the helm.

[7] This actually happened in OTL – after Gulf+Western had sealed the deal and Bluhdorn actually bothered to look at Desilu’s books.

[8] Yours, Mine, and Ours is significant in popular culture for one reason: The success of the movie – which was about a single father with loads of kids, and a single mother with loads of kids, getting married and forming a massive blended family – resulted in ABC green-lighting a sitcom with a very similar premise. That sitcom? The Brady Bunch. That’s right: there will be no Brady Bunch ITTL. I expected this to be a very polarizing revelation, though I’ve yet to receive a single complaint about it.

[9] The Lucy Show ran 1962-68 IOTL (and ITTL). As part of her contract with CBS, Ball had the right to end production on The Lucy Show at a time of her choosing. The suits begged for an additional season ITTL because the show’s ratings were gangbusters (#3 overall for the 1965-66 season, and #4 for 1966-67), and because it gave them time to develop a replacement series.

[10] Both Emmy wins from that night are as IOTL. But the butterflies will be flapping their wings here soon enough!

---

Thanks so much for reading. If you have any input, up to and including constructive criticism, please feel free to provide it.
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Old 05-23-2013, 05:53 AM
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It's so nice to see that TL here, Brainbin, all on account of That Wacky Redhead! And I actually like the combo post here.
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:55 AM
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I'm very pleased to see this here at last. Great beginning!
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Old 05-24-2013, 05:15 PM
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It's so nice to see that TL here, Brainbin, all on account of That Wacky Redhead! And I actually like the combo post here.
Thank you, Dan! And you were even nice enough to quote the catchphrase back at me, too I'm glad you like the combo post. There will more of those in the future.

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I'm very pleased to see this here at last. Great beginning!
Thank you, MrP! I'm more than happy to bring That Wacky Redhead to a wider audience.

---

The next update should be posted in the next couple of days. Until then, please enjoy the Official Theme Song for That Wacky Redhead!
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Old 05-26-2013, 12:00 PM
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Default Beyond the Rim of the Star-light, or: Star Trek: The Early Years (1964-67)

This is going to be the biggest hit or the biggest miss God ever made.
DeForest Kelley, aka Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, on Star Trek [1]

The history of Star Trek is an especially convoluted one, which has only added to its mystique. It was first devised in 1964 by Gene Roddenberry, a former Los Angeles police officer, and an experienced television writer. Roddenberry believed that a science fiction action-adventure series had great untapped potential. He also felt that it would be an excellent vehicle to promote his own personal values – tolerance, understanding, diversity, and optimism for the future being foremost among these. His pitch famously described Star Trek as a “Wagon Train to the Stars”; Wagon Train was actually the name of a contemporary western series, but the phrase, in and of itself, was so wonderfully evocative that the allusion thereto was soon forgotten. His pitch, entitled “Star Trek is…” was drafted on March 11, 1964.

Herbert F. Solow was, at the time, the assistant to Oscar Katz, Head of Production at Desilu. In 1964, that studio’s only in-house production was their star vehicle, The Lucy Show, and so the directive was given to make use of their ample studio space and find original concepts that could be developed into new series. Naturally, Star Trek caught their attention right away, earning their approval, along with that of Lucille Ball herself. [2] The pitch was then brought to CBS, with which Desilu had a right-of-first-refusal agreement; the network, however, declined in favour of another science fiction action-adventure series called Lost in Space. It was then decided to take the pitch to the executives at NBC, who were reluctant, but after much deliberation, Solow finally convinced the executives to take a chance on making the pilot.

Robert H. Justman became involved during production, hired as assistant director. His ability and efficiency in that role quickly established him invaluable to the production team. Cast in the lead role of Captain Christopher Pike was 1950s matinée idol Jeffrey Hunter; veteran character actor John Hoyt played ship’s doctor Boyce. Roddenberry had preferred another veteran character actor, DeForest Kelley, for the part, but he was overruled by the pilot’s director, Robert Butler. Cast as the alien Mr. Spock was little-known actor Leonard Nimoy, and in the most controversial casting decision, Roddenberry’s mistress Majel Barrett played the First Officer. The presence of both a woman and an alien as part of the command crew was a deliberate effort to promote diversity; unsurprisingly, given the era, they met with some resistance among the higher-ups.

Reaction to the pilot, screened to executives in early 1965, was thoroughly mixed. Even many in the cast and crew, including director Butler and star Hunter, had serious doubts about the show. NBC decided not to go ahead with the series; the reasons given for this have varied, depending on the source, but the most common explanation is that it was “too cerebral”. [3] However, the network made the surprising – and unprecedented – decision to produce a second pilot. However, Katz, who had overseen production of the original pilot, had departed from Desilu at this time; Solow was thus promoted to Vice-President of Production, and assumed the role of Executive in Charge of Production for Star Trek, which he would retain for the entirety of the show’s run.

There was a great deal more turnover between the first and second pilots. Jeffrey Hunter declined to reprise his role of Captain Pike; in addition, the network refused to allow the character of the cool, calculated, and female First Officer to return in that capacity. They were also not fond of “that guy with the ears”, Mr. Spock – said pointed, devilish protrusions were his distinguishing feature – but they allowed him to remain as a compromise, and he absorbed many of the First Officer’s character traits. Thus, Leonard Nimoy was the only actor to appear in both pilots. William Shatner was cast as the new lead, Captain James Kirk. Again, Roddenberry hoped to have DeForest Kelley play the ship’s doctor, now called Mark Piper; again, he yielded to the director, who selected another veteran character actor, Paul Fix. The new pilot was called “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, chosen by the network as the best of three potential scripts. Another script, “Mudd’s Women”, was produced and aired as part of the initial batch of episodes in the first season. (The third, “The Omega Glory”, was never produced). [4] Robert Justman was among the returning crew, having been promoted to Associate Producer. He served in this key position throughout the early years of the show, his bean-counting and penny-pinching abilities becoming the stuff of legend.

The new pilot, produced in mid-1965, was deliberately more “exciting” than the more sedate original had been, complete with an action-packed climax. It was good enough for those at NBC to green-light the series, which would begin airing in the 1966-67 season. When the show proper began production in mid-1966, most of the cast were in place. DeForest Kelley finally got the ship’s doctor role – he played Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. James Doohan and Japanese-American actor George Takei, who had played minor roles in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, were given greatly expanded ones in the series proper, particularly Doohan as Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. African-American actress Nichelle Nichols also joined the cast as Lt. Uhura. Among the writers who set to work on the initial batch of episodes was Roddenberry’s secretary, Dorothy, who professionally went by D.C. Fontana. Her insight and understanding of the characters did not go unnoticed; before the end of the first season, she was Story Editor. She had the distinction of being both the youngest writer and the only woman writer on staff. This diversity among cast and crew helped put some muscle behind their message.

The final piece in the puzzle was Gene L. Coon, who assumed the role of Producer from Roddenberry (who still remained as nominal showrunner) in the middle of the first season. Like Fontana, he was also a skilled writer with a strong grasp on the characters and setting. Over 25% of the episodes in the series would credit one (or both) of the two as writer in some capacity [5]; unofficially, the two had a hand in virtually every script that made it to air. The “Big Five” of Star Trek, as they became known – Roddenberry, Solow, Justman, Fontana, and Coon – formed the core of the production staff from then on. [6] They were all in place by the end of the first season, and the first major challenge they faced as a unit was also one of the most notorious: the development of the classic episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”.

The author of the original script, Harlan Ellison, had written a truly beautiful time-travel love story – though one bogged down by needless complications and an odious subplot, and calling for effects that were so far beyond the show’s budget that it cost far too much money even thinking about them. Ellison agreed to make changes, but he was too close to be objective, and it became clear that the staff writers would have to do the job themselves. [7] Coon made an uncredited rewrite, as did Fontana, and even Roddenberry himself. Ellison, never the most agreeable man at the best of times, began railing against being wronged by these horrible people and took his complaints all the way to the top at both NBC and Desilu. The famous story that he had stormed into Lucille Ball’s office was apocryphal, however; it was invented by Roddenberry as a means of getting back at him. Still, continued delays pushed the episode to the very end of the production season; it aired as the season finale. [8]

The first season of Star Trek was an auspicious beginning in all ways but one, and the most important one at that: ratings. They were barely good enough for a second season, which was about all that could be said in their favour. Still, reviews were good, and word of mouth was excellent. There was always hope that in the next season, they might have a better timeslot, and maybe even win an Emmy or two while they were at it.

Nobody had any idea just what they were in for…

---

[1] Yes, he also said this in OTL.

[2] The other series to result from this talent hunt was Mission: Impossible, created by Bruce Geller. Roddenberry and Geller both worked on a western called Have Gun – Will Travel, leading commentators ITTL to sometimes call the late-1960s/70s era Desilu “The House that Paladin Built”, Paladin being that show’s lead character.

[3] Read: “We didn’t get it”.

[4] In OTL, “The Omega Glory”, also known as “The One Where Kirk Reads the Preamble to the Constitution”, was produced and aired late in the second season, after our POD.

[5] The figure is per OTL; the two have a combined 22 out of 79 writing credits (including story credits and pseudonyms), though they had no joint credits IOTL.

[6] We can thank TTL David Gerrold for the nickname, which he coined in the early 1970s.

[7] There’s a lot more to the story than that, of course, and if you want Ellison’s take on the whole thing, he has written a whole book on the subject. The entire affair deeply offends him. Then again, so does most everything else.

[8] Our first substantial butterfly to hit Star Trek. Not having the pending sale to Gulf+Western to worry about, the senior management at Desilu are able to spare some attention to the matter. In the end, this achieves little, but the added deliberation results in the episode being delayed. Thus, this episode becomes the season finale. In OTL, it was the penultimate episode of the season, behind the adequate but forgettable “Operation – Annihilate!”

---

And so, let the Star Trek begin! There will be more where that came from, believe you me…
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Old 05-26-2013, 12:07 PM
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Excellent continuation, old boy!
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Old 05-26-2013, 12:31 PM
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As always, Brainbin, amazing.
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:41 PM
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Subscribed. I am looking forward to more.
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Old 05-28-2013, 04:05 PM
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Excellent continuation, old boy!
Thank you, P! That was probably my favourite of the earliest updates (which is to say, the ones that came before the "turning point", which will make itself apparent when the time comes). I'm happiest with my decision to "humanize" the production of Star Trek by focusing on the "Big Five" - we'll definitely be seeing more of them!

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As always, Brainbin, amazing.
And thank you, Dan, as always, for your profuse praise

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Subscribed. I am looking forward to more.
Welcome aboard, Colonel! You won't have to wait long, because I hope to have the next update ready for the end of this month! (I'm going for the hat-trick )
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Old 05-29-2013, 06:45 AM
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I am looking forward to the end of the month.
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Old 05-31-2013, 06:00 PM
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Default We Hope You Enjoy the Show (1967-68)

Live long, and prosper.
Spock, Star Trek

Sock it to me!
Judy Carne, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

Mission: Impossible had won the Emmy for Outstanding Dramatic Series in June of 1967, but this was a lone bright spot during what was otherwise a rather dark period in the show’s history. Creator and showrunner Bruce Geller had been recruited to develop another series for Desilu (which became Mannix, the studio’s only new offering for the 1967-68 season), and this shakeup behind-the-scenes was mirrored in front of the camera as well. Original lead Steven Hill was proving, to put it delicately, difficult. His peculiar scheduling needs and reluctance to commit to the material made him few friends among the cast and crew. [1] The executive in charge of production, Herb Solow, was among the first to float the idea of replacing him. He knew from his experiences working on the revolving door that Star Trek had been during the pilot stage that sometimes it took more than one try to get the right actor for the right role. Hill was no fool, and he wasn’t much happier than the production staff at any rate. Both parties came together and agreed that it would be best to terminate his contract, and he departed the series after just one season. [2] Peter Graves, the younger brother of James Arness from Gunsmoke, was hired as his replacement. Additionally, the popular recurring character Rollin Hand, played by Martin Landau, became a regular, and Landau formally joined the cast as the second lead. This cemented the show’s “classic” roster of Graves, Landau, Barbara Bain, Greg Morris, and Peter Lupus.

In contrast to the challenges facing Mission: Impossible, it was much smoother sailing for Star Trek… for the most part. Solow, who had been more than happy to see the back of Hill, found himself facing the flipside of the coin when Leonard Nimoy, who played breakout character Mr. Spock, demanded a hefty pay raise. Solow liked Nimoy, and knew how much he added to the show, but he had to play hardball, and even began scouting for possible replacements. [3] Eventually, they were able to work it out, and Nimoy remained as Spock. But it would surely not be the last time that an actor on the series sought greater remuneration… or recognition.

In happier news, DeForest Kelley was given a place in the opening titles alongside his co-stars, William Shatner and Nimoy. The triumvirate of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, with each character representing one of the three aspects of the Freudian psyche, became firmly established. But the major cast change was the addition of Walter Koenig as Russian Ensign Pavel Chekov. The youthful character, crafted to appeal to the Baby Boomer generation, was originally intended to be British as a nod to Davy Jones, a member of the Monkees. He was changed to Russian at the last minute, reputedly because of an article in Pravda, criticizing Star Trek for the lack of a Russian presence on the show, despite the advanced Soviet space program. Whether this article actually existed is questionable. Back in the U.S.S.R., Star Trek had never even been broadcast.

“Amok Time”, written by famed science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon [4], was the fifth episode produced in the second season. It was considered the strongest of the initial batch of episodes, and was duly chosen as the season premiere. Following up the acclaimed, award-winning “The City on the Edge of Forever” with “Amok Time” was described by Robert Justman as “the greatest one-two punch we ever made”. [5] But the primary creative challenge faced by the “Big Five” in the second season was the question of humour. The cast and the writers had a strong comedic flair, which had already exploited in numerous episodes. But there was a line that could not be crossed. “Camp” was one of those terms that could not be adequately defined without providing examples, but the very popular Batman series defined camp better than any dictionary ever could: loud, ostentatious, completely over-the-top, not taking itself at all seriously, and inviting the audience to laugh at its characters rather than identify with them. Another great example was Lost in Space, the very series that CBS had chosen instead of Star Trek in 1964. It had started as a serious program, but had become a joke on every level. It served as the perfect cautionary tale for the Big Five. Camp had also capsized the once-serious The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series; the producers of that program attempted to reverse this, but it was too little, too late; the show was cancelled mid-season. It was decided that Star Trek could only be funny if the audience was laughing with the characters at their absurd situations, and felt sympathy for their plight, sharing in their ultimate triumph. [6]

Replacing U.N.C.L.E. was Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, whose producer, George Schlatter, found himself locking horns with Gene Roddenberry. NBC had promised to move Star Trek to a friendlier timeslot in mid-season, but instead gave the slot to Laugh-In, which became an instant hit, tapping into the zeitgeist. Star Trek, meanwhile, had middling ratings, but an incredibly devoted fanbase; it received more fan mail than any other show on the air. Demographic breakdowns consistently showed the program to be popular with those viewers who were most attractive to advertisers, with ample room for growth. Eventually, to compensate for their earlier reneging, NBC promised a plum timeslot – Mondays at 7:30 – to Roddenberry for the show’s third season. Laugh-In, which aired at 8:00 that same night, would have to pushed back by half an hour to accommodate this, and Schlatter was livid. Why should his show have to move for Star Trek and have it as a lead-in?

What followed was a battle royale between Roddenberry and Schlatter. Network executives were divided right down the middle. The impasse was ended by none other Lucille Ball herself. She went to bat for Star Trek, reminding the executives of the show’s positive ideals and its great potential. And as for Laugh-In: well, surely audiences would be able to wait thirty minutes more before they tuned into the show in droves? Her arguments tipped the scales; on March 1, 1968, NBC announced that Star Trek would be returning for its third season on Monday nights at 7:30. Laugh-In would follow an hour later. Schlatter was enraged; he decided to teach the network a lesson and abandoned Laugh-In to its fate, quitting as showrunner to focus on a show he was developing for ABC called Turn-On, which would have a strong counter-cultural bent that, he was sure, would attract audiences in even greater numbers than Laugh-In had done. [7]

The series finale of The Lucy Show, airing at the end of the season, was the television event of the year. Ball spent most of the week prior to its airing promoting it on the talk show circuit, even taking the red-eye to New York City to speak with Baba Wawa on the Today show. It got the cover story on TV Guide, extending the record that she held for most appearances there. The finale would be an hour long and, in the grand tradition of her shows, it would feature a star-studded cast. Luckily, she got by with a little help from her friends. Among those invited to participate were her real-life children, Lucie and Desi Jr., along with her son from I Love Lucy, Keith Thibodeaux. Also returning was Vivian Vance, Lucy’s beloved sidekick, and – in a huge surprise – Desi Arnaz himself. Among the other guest stars was Carol Burnett, Ball’s friend and protégée. The ratings were spectacular: it was the second most-watched broadcast in television history, behind only the series finale of The Fugitive in the previous season. At the Emmy Awards that year, Lucille Ball won Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series for the second time in a row. The Lucy Show also won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. In a twofer for Desilu, Star Trek won Outstanding Dramatic Series, with Leonard Nimoy receiving the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Series. [8]

Meanwhile, Charles Bluhdorn announced the creation of Paramount Television effective January 1, 1968. Douglas S. Cramer became the Executive Vice President of the new division, holding a role analogous to the one held by Herb Solow at Desilu. Sherwood Schwartz, who had created Gilligan’s Island, was among the first to bring an idea to the new company, a blended-family sitcom he called The Bradley Brood [9], but it didn’t sell. Paramount was going to enter the 1968-69 season without any programs on the air. There was still a ray of hope for the company, however, when Bluhdorn was able to convince NBC executive Grant Tinker [10] to join forces with him…

---

[1] Hill was devoutly Orthodox Jewish, and therefore would not work on Friday afternoons. Also, as a Serious Thespian, who was often mentioned in the same breath as Marlon Brando, there’s some evidence that he felt the role beneath him.

[2] He would temporarily leave acting entirely after this. IOTL, he would return to the business and have a late-career resurgence as DA Adam Schiff on Law & Order – ironically, he replaced the original actor (Roy Thinnes, as DA Alfred Wentworth) in doing so.

[3] This is all OTL. Nimoy sought a raise from $1,500 an episode to $9,000 – both sides agreed on $2,500. Among the replacements suggested if a deal had fallen through? Mark Lenard (who had played the Romulan Commander in “Balance of Terror”, and would go on to play Spock’s own father, Sarek, in “Journey to Babel”, and many other projects) and Lawrence Montaigne (who had played Decius in “Balance of Terror”, and would go on to play Stonn in “Amok Time”).

[4] Sturgeon, despite his illustrious career, is today best known for his adage that “90% of everything is crud”, also known as Sturgeon’s Law (technically Sturgeon’s Revelation). IOTL, just two of the numerous scripts that he submitted were produced: “Amok Time” and the first season episode “Shore Leave”.

[5] ITTL, thanks to the recency effect, Star Trek has more buzz coming into the new season. People remember “The City on the Edge of Forever” and want to see more. The network makes far and away the best possible choice for season premiere to capitalize on it (which, to be fair, was the same choice they made IOTL). As a result, the ratings for “Amok Time”, and the rest of the second season, are slightly higher than IOTL.

[6] Many of the show’s most popular deliberately comedic episodes IOTL follow this logic: “The Trouble with Tribbles”, “A Piece of the Action”, “I, Mudd”... Contrast “campy” episodes that don’t: “Spock’s Brain”, “Plato’s Stepchildren”, “And The Children Shall Lead”... most of the third season, really. Not surprisingly, this is after four of the “Big Five” left IOTL, and resulted in the fifth (Justman) quitting in disgust.

[7] What Schlatter did ITTL is exactly what Roddenberry did IOTL. Roddenberry did it purely out of principle, whereas Schlatter at least has a fallback in development. Though, if you know anything about Turn-On, you might appreciate the Schadenfreude. However, there’s also another wrinkle here which will make itself clear in the coming updates.

[8] IOTL, The Andy Griffith Show, also in its final season, won the Comedy Series Emmy; Mission: Impossible repeated as winner of Outstanding Dramatic Series; and James Milburn of Gunsmoke won the Supporting Actor Emmy. Why the changes? Well, the goodwill toward Lucy is one explanation; Star Trek’s moderately better ratings and goodwill from being on the good side of the scheduling fiasco (in which Schlatter acted like a child and Roddenberry was dignified ITTL) is another. The average quality of the episodes is also higher, which I’ll explain in more detail later.

[9] As previously noted, The Brady Bunch (yes, that was a working title IOTL, as well) will never be made.

[10] IOTL, Tinker formed his own company, MTM Enterprises, with his wife Mary Tyler Moore in 1969.

---

Can you spot all the Beatles references?
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Old 05-31-2013, 07:39 PM
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I enjoyed the latest update. Including the back to back airings of City on the Edge of Forever and Amok Time. Looking forward to how Trek evolves in its 4th season.
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Old 06-01-2013, 04:58 AM
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I'll keep my mouth shut on the Beatles references, since those were revealed at The Other Place (TM). (Or were they? I don't remember.)
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Old 06-02-2013, 12:55 PM
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I enjoyed the latest update. Including the back to back airings of City on the Edge of Forever and Amok Time. Looking forward to how Trek evolves in its 4th season.
Thank you very much, Colonel Healy! Though you're getting a bit ahead of yourself - we still have to hear about the second and third seasons, first

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I'll keep my mouth shut on the Beatles references, since those were revealed at The Other Place (TM). (Or were they? I don't remember.)
Indeed they were - an intrepid reader did eventually guess all of them, though it took him a couple of tries
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Old 06-04-2013, 05:00 PM
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Default Appendix A, Part I: Star Trek, Season 2 (1967-68)

I’ll be doing one production appendix for each season of Star Trek, starting with the second. The differences between OTL and TTL Season 1 are negligible (basically it’s just “Operation - Annihilate!” and “The City on the Edge of Forever” switching places in production and broadcast order). We’ll start with an overview of the sweeping changes before we get down to the nitty-gritty. (My editorial comments and OTL points of comparison will be highlighted in RED, and placed in brackets.)

---

Ratings for the show are nothing to write home about, but they’re stable, and demographic breakdowns show them to be exactly the right kind of viewers: young, affluent professionals and intellectuals with high discretionary incomes. This, combined with strong support from the studio, means that there is no serious doubt about the show coming back for a third season. The typical episode places in the 40s in weekly rankings, managing to break the Top 40 on a few occasions. (IOTL, the show never reached #50, let alone #40, in the second season. Demographics were excellent and the network knew this, but overall viewership was low enough that the pall of cancellation hung over everyone. Morale was abysmal. Most of the senior production staff left the show for dead, making other arrangements for the following season; many of the actors did not expect to return either. The show was famously saved by a massive letter-writing campaign, which had such high turnout that NBC actually announced Star Trek’s renewal to the viewing audience at the end of one episode.)

The production budget per episode is about $195,000. This is a slight raise from $190,000 in season one. (IOTL, it was instead a slight decrease, to $185,000. As a result, the average production quality is going to be noticeably higher, even notwithstanding other changes.)

There are virtually no changes to the senior production staff. All of the “Big Five” remain in their positions from the start of the season to the end, with all of them carrying on into the third season. (Gene L. Coon left in the middle of the second season IOTL, because of a deal he had with Universal. The other four remained until the end of season 2: Solow then left because he was made redundant by Desilu’s absorption into Paramount; Fontana left to pursue other writing opportunities; and Roddenberry left because NBC chose Laugh-In over Star Trek for the plum Monday night timeslot. Only Justman carried on into season 3.)

Other returning staff include production assistant Edward K. Milkis, Gregg Peters (promoted from Assistant Director to Unit Production Manager), art directors Matt Jefferies and Rolland Brooks, cinematographer Jerry Finnerman, costume designer William Ware Theiss, prop master Irving Feinberg, and (unofficially) creature and effects designer Wah Chang. (IOTL, Both Brooks and Chang left the show partway through the second season. Chang, for his part, had a particularly convoluted arrangement with the producers in which he did pretty much everything under the table. His contributions to the show were immeasurable; his staying on might be even more important than Coon staying on. Between the two of them, they’ll boost the rest of the second season well above what it was IOTL.)

DeForest Kelley, as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, is added to the opening credits, alongside William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock. All three appear in every episode of the season. The only new major role is that of Ensign Pavel Chekov, played by Walter Koenig. He joins the other regulars – James Doohan as Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, George Takei as Lt. Sulu, Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura, Majel Barrett as Nurse Chapel, and John Winston as Lt. Kyle. (Who? He was the Transporter Chief. IOTL, he made seven appearances in the second season. ITTL, he makes ten appearances – one more than Barrett as Chapel does. Once again, more money means that they can afford to bring him in more often. He’ll be one of several OTL peripheral characters to have a larger role in TTL.) Takei misses several episodes in the middle of the second season to film The Green Berets – other actors, primarily Koenig, but also Doohan and Winston, step in to fill the void created by his absence.

The season ends on a high note as Star Trek (or, Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon, to be specific) takes home the Emmy for Outstanding Dramatic Series. Leonard Nimoy also wins the Emmy for Supporting Actor. (Mission: Impossible won Series for the second year in a row IOTL. I’m giving it to Star Trek instead for the reasons that I mentioned in my previous update. Leonard Nimoy is winning Supporting Actor because, really, it’s a shame that he didn’t IOTL. And considering who actually did win that year - James Milburn for Gunsmoke?! Really? Anyway, don’t forget that “Amok Time”, Nimoy’s bravura turn of the season, was more widely viewed ITTL.)

Twenty-six episodes are produced in the second season. (We’ll only be covering episodes that differ from their OTL counterparts in non-trivial ways… or have some other significance. The episodes are listed in production order.)

“The Doomsday Machine”, written by noted science fiction author Norman Spinrad, is a Moby-Dick-in-space yarn that stars William Windom as the Ahab figure, Commodore Matt Decker. It marked the beginning of Spinrad’s association with the show. (And, IOTL, the end of it. ITTL, the higher budget and the continued presence of Brooks help elevate the effects on the “whale”, a planet-killer machine, to a level where Spinrad is merely ambivalent, rather than disdainful.)

“Mirror, Mirror”, in which Kirk, Bones, Scotty, and Uhura, while on a routine diplomatic mission, are accidentally sent to a parallel reality where the Enterprise is the flagship of a brutal and unscrupulous Empire. They have to find a way back, but the new, bearded Mr. Spock may be on to them! (No real changes, except that IOTL, the woman who was cast as Love Interest of the Week Marlena, Barbara Luna, became ill and they had to change around the whole schedule so that she could recover. ITTL, this doesn’t happen.)

“The Trouble with Tribbles”, the first episode written by the promising young writer, David Gerrold (Yes, he’ll be writing more than just the one episode ITTL), tells the story of Captain Kirk becoming sidetracked by a diplomatic dispute and the need to protect a shipment of grain. It gets complicated when Kirk’s old rival, the Klingon Captain Kor, arrives on the scene. (John Colicos, who played Kor, introduced in “Errand of Mercy”, kept being invited back to reprise his role, but was always busy. Here he isn’t. Thank Barbara Luna! Here his First Officer is named Koloth instead.) And then there are these cute little fluffballs…

(Every episode from “Journey to Babel” on will be subtly to moderately different from OTL, as Coon is remaining as Producer.)

Paul Schneider makes his third writing contribution to the series with “Tomorrow, the Universe”, popularly known as “The One with the Space Nazis”. (IOTL, the “Nazi” episode was instead “Patterns of Force”, written by John Meredyth Lucas, who had replaced Coon as Producer.) Writer John Meredyth Lucas is responsible for the episode “The Lost Star”, a well-made but unremarkable episode treading familiar ground for the series, similar to previous episodes like “The Apple” and “Return of the Archons”. (This is what he gets to make in compensation. Like another late season 2 episode, “The Ultimate Computer”, it’s actually quite good but can’t help feel a little stale.)

Spinrad also writes “Of Gods and Men”, which serves as the season finale. The story of a Federation official (played, surprisingly enough, by Milton Berle) who installs himself as a God among primitives is viewed as a highlight of the season. (IOTL, Spinrad abandoned this script, with the working title “He Walked Among Us”, dissatisfied with rewrites to both it and “The Doomsday Machine”. Here, he’s just barely willing enough to see this through. It’s similar in plot to “The Omega Glory”, which is never made ITTL, but with much better execution.)

(Roddenberry doesn’t attempt to create “Assignment: Earth” as a backdoor pilot. That’s two of the worst episodes of Season 2 gone.)


---

So there’s a somewhat more detailed overview of season 2 of TTL Star Trek. In short: the budget is slightly higher, ratings are moderately better, morale among the cast and crew is a lot stronger, and the average quality of the episodes is considerably better. The show will be moving into its third season with critical acclaim, impressive demographics, and Emmy recognition in its arsenal, as it settles into a plum timeslot. Yessir, everything’s coming up roses for Star Trek!
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Old 06-04-2013, 11:18 PM
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Milton Berle on Star Trek , would of been great. To bad you weren't there to make it happen
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:40 AM
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Lovely update. It's pleasing to imagine what might have been. I'm getting a buzz just thinking about The Omega Glory not being made.
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:17 AM
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Lovely update. It's pleasing to imagine what might have been. I'm getting a buzz just thinking about The Omega Glory not being made.
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Old 06-07-2013, 01:30 PM
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Milton Berle on Star Trek , would of been great. To bad you weren't there to make it happen
They actually were planning it, too! Uncle Miltie wanted to appear on Star Trek, and Spinrad wrote "He Walked Among Us" as a potential vehicle for his appearance. But since he had been burned so badly by "The Doomsday Machine" IOTL, he asked that they not produce his script, and so they didn't. That said, one of Spinrad's quibbles was the casting of William Windom as Matt Decker (he wanted Robert Ryan), about which he was apparently quite distraught (Ryan had scheduling conflicts). Anyone who's seen that episode (my very favourite, incidentally) knows how much Windom makes the character of Decker come to life, and I simply refuse to change that ITTL.

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Lovely update. It's pleasing to imagine what might have been. I'm getting a buzz just thinking about The Omega Glory not being made.
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Seconded
I know it's awful, but I actually enjoy (parts of) "The Omega Glory" (I have a very high tolerance for so-bad-it's-good episodes - I love "Spock's Brain", for example). Kirk reciting the preamble to the US Constitution is some of the hammiest acting you will ever see in your life; it really is a thing of beauty

But yes, the plot is ridiculous and the script is absurd. What's even more frightening? This was a candidate to be the second pilot! ("Mudd's Women" was another - clearly "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was the best choice out of that lot by a country mile). Fortunately, it never passes Coon's muster ITTL.

The next update will be ready in the next few days - at the moment I'm currently working on my next "real" update, which is inching ever-closer to completion.
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Old 06-07-2013, 02:06 PM
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Oh, I agree it's a funny episode - just not really one to enhance the show's image.
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Old 06-08-2013, 09:16 PM
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They actually were planning it, too! Uncle Miltie wanted to appear on Star Trek, and Spinrad wrote "He Walked Among Us" as a potential vehicle for his appearance. But since he had been burned so badly by "The Doomsday Machine" IOTL, he asked that they not produce his script, and so they didn't. That said, one of Spinrad's quibbles was the casting of William Windom as Matt Decker (he wanted Robert Ryan), about which he was apparently quite distraught (Ryan had scheduling conflicts). Anyone who's seen that episode (my very favourite, incidentally) knows how much Windom makes the character of Decker come to life, and I simply refuse to change that ITTL.


That's fascinating for it is my favorite TOS episode as well, I am glad it stays the same here, as for the Omega Glory, there would be no Trek today if that had been chosen for the pilot.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:10 PM
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Default The One-Two Punch

As with the first post, this update is actually a combination of what were originally two separate posts, because they are very closely intertwined (in fact, the second was written in response to a revelation which was divulged in the first – and you’ll know that when you see it). That remark I previously attributed to Justman about “the greatest one-two punch we ever made” proved prescient, as these two posts remain the ones for which my timeline is best known to this day. I hope you all enjoy reading it.

---

Where No Man Has Gone Before (1968-69)

That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.
Neil Armstrong, on the surface of the Moon, July 21, 1969 [1]

1968 was, to put it delicately, an eventful year. Unrest at home, entanglements abroad, high-profile deaths, and closely-fought elections were a visceral reminder of how divided the people were, when once they had seemed so united, and against even greater adversities.

On September 16, a Monday, at 7:30 PM, Star Trek aired its season premiere, “The Enterprise Incident”. [2] Ratings were even better than network executives had predicted: the episode finished in the top 20 for the week, winning its timeslot over the venerable Gunsmoke. Subsequent episodes did not match this feat, but the show remained comfortably within the Top 30 throughout the season. Demographics, of course, continued to be superb: an anonymous NBC executive was quoted as saying “the audience we have for Star Trek alone is worth more than the people watching five of the top ten CBS shows”. [3] At first, the rival network – still the undisputed champion in terms of overall viewers – brushed this brash boast aside, refusing to be baited; but over time, it started to needle at them.

It didn’t help that Laugh-In had rapidly emerged as the #1 show on television – yes, even a half-hour later, and yes, even without George Schlatter. As a lead-in, Star Trek was perfect – it provided exactly the kinds of people the producers wanted to be watching their irreverent antics. Schlatter, for his part, was now shown to be not only incredibly immature, but also rash and short-sighted. All he had left was his pride, and he made good use of it, never once conceding that he might have made the wrong decision. Sure that lightning would strike twice, he made the notorious boast that “Turn-On is going to make Laugh-In look like Lawrence Welk”. [4] Well, he was right… so much so, that one might say he was a little too on-the-nose. Turn-On premiered on ABC on February 5, 1969, a Wednesday, at 8:30.

It was cancelled fifteen minutes later. [5]

The spectacular failure of Turn-On, one of television’s most infamous bombs, was enough to capsize Schlatter’s career. [6] Though his production company continued to produce Laugh-In, NBC made it clear that they would not accept him returning to work on the show in a hands-on capacity. In later years, his story would become a powerful cautionary tale of hubris and entitlement. In contrast to his career immolation, Lucille Ball and her studio, Desilu, “The House that Paladin Built”, were going from strength to strength. Star Trek was now comfortably within the Top 30, and Mission: Impossible even cracked the Top 10 for the season. [7] Even the weak link in the Desilu stable, Mannix, had decent ratings and good reviews. Producers and executives were beginning to take notice.

Meanwhile, with Grant Tinker in charge at Paramount, that company finally made some headway. Two of their pilots were sold, both to ABC: Barefoot in the Park, an adaptation of a Neil Simon play (also adapted into a film in 1967), and starring Robert Reed [8] of The Defenders; and Room 222, an ensemble program loosely based on the recently-released Sidney Poitier vehicle To Sir, with Love, but set in an American high school. [9] Both series would be shot at Desilu, and were set to debut in September 1969.

At the 1969 Emmy Awards, Mission: Impossible won Outstanding Dramatic Series for the second time. [10] Winning for Lead Actor and Actress were husband-and-wife Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. This was Bain’s third consecutive win in the category. [11] The pair became the second spouses to win Emmy Awards on the same night, following Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne four years earlier. Star Trek went home without any Emmys – the category that had been seen as a shoo-in, Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Series, was not awarded at that ceremony. [12] Lucille Ball herself presented the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, which was awarded to Get Smart.

After the conclusion of the broadcast season, and as the culmination of a decade-long effort, NASA became the first organization to send men to the moon and bring them safely home again. The moon landing took place on the 20th of July. Early the following morning, as reckoned by Coordinated Universal Time, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon. All of these events were watched by an estimated 500 million people worldwide. But as significant as they were, the truly unsung achievement was Armstrong and his fellow astronaut, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, taking off from the moon and reuniting with Michael Collins in the orbiting Command Module.

Returning to Earth on July 24, they were all personally welcomed home by President Hubert H. Humphrey…

---

[1] Yes, the “a” is clearly audible ITTL. Which means that either the mic picked it up or he didn’t fluff his line. Your choice.

[2] IOTL, Star Trek premiered on September 20, a Friday, at 10 PM (the Friday Night Death Slot), with what is widely regarded as its very worst episode: “Spock’s Brain”.

[3] Said anonymous executive was actually in favour of Laugh-In remaining at 8:00. Executives have the worst long-term memories.

[4] Schlatter never said this IOTL – as he was still working on Laugh-In, and he wouldn’t disparage it like that. (I personally have nothing against Lawrence Welk, mind you.)

[5] This isn’t technically true – the show wasn’t officially cancelled for another few days – but several network affiliates refused to return to the program after the first commercial break, and many promised not to air another episode the following week.

[6] Turn-On was as colossal a disaster ITTL as it was IOTL. Our Schlatter was able to shrug it off because he was also producing the #1 show on the air at the time, but this one has no such luxury. Remember, kids: don’t put all your eggs in one basket, and don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched!

[7] Mission: Impossible finished at #11 for the season IOTL. However, Here’s Lucy, which starred Lucille Ball, finished at #9. As that show doesn’t exist ITTL, everything below it is bumped up by one spot. (At least, until we get to the Ersatz-Lucy-starring sitcom that replaced The Lucy Show ITTL, which we’ll say is just below #30.)

[8] Reed had been starring in the play on Broadway at the time and was lured back to Hollywood in 1968 to appear in a Barefoot sitcom. However, it was soon thereafter decided to turn the show into a vehicle for an African-American cast, and Reed was shifted to another project Paramount was developing, which was, of course, The Brady Bunch. Without that in the works ITTL, they go ahead with a straight adaptation of Barefoot instead.

[9] The show was produced by 20th Century Fox IOTL, though it did still air on ABC. ITTL, the combination of Tinker and Cramer – a former Fox executive himself – would be enough to lure the creator over to Paramount instead. That creator’s name? James L. Brooks. We’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the future.

[10] IOTL, NET Playhouse, an anthology series airing on the precursor network to PBS, won instead. This was likely a political decision, however, and the factors leading to it do not exist ITTL. Why did Star Trek not win instead? That’s what production appendices are for!

[11] IOTL, Carl Betz of Judd, For The Defense, won for Lead Actor instead. Bain’s three consecutive wins are as IOTL.

[12] As per OTL. To date, 1969 marks the last occasion that this award was not presented.

---

(Just as before, my editorial comments, and comparisons to OTL, will be highlighted in RED and placed in brackets.)

Appendix B, Part I: US Presidential Election, 1968

With the counting of the last ballots in Illinois, CBS News is now ready to project that Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic nominee, has been elected the 37th President of the United States. His running mate, Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine, will succeed him as Vice-President. California remains too close to call at the moment, but even if former Vice-President Nixon wins his home state, it will not be enough for him to take the Presidency. With at least 275 electoral votes, Vice-President Humphrey has also surpassed the 270 necessary to attain a majority in the Electoral College, thwarting Governor Wallace's attempts to split the electoral vote and throw the election to the House. Once again, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey will be the next President of the United States of America.

Walter Cronkite, for CBS News, calling the presidential election early in the morning of November 6, 1968


Map of Presidential election results. Red denotes states won by Humphrey and Muskie; Blue denotes those won by Nixon and Agnew; Gold denotes those won by Wallace and LeMay. (IOTL, Nixon won seven states that he lost ITTL: New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri to Humphrey; and Tennessee and South Carolina to Wallace. It's not a uniform swing: Nixon very narrowly retains California, along with Alaska and Wisconsin, despite them being closer IOTL than several states that were lost ITTL. Also IOTL, Wallace received the support of a faithless elector pledged to Nixon, one Lloyd W. Bailey from North Carolina; butterflies take care of him.)

Turnout for the election was approximately 60%. (Just below 73 million; slightly below OTL.) Though Democratic Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey and his running mate, Senator Edmund Muskie, carried only 18 states out of 50 (along with the District of Columbia), this translated to 275 electoral votes out of 538; in contrast to Republican Richard Nixon and his running mate Governor Spiro T. Agnew, who won 25 states but only 199 electoral votes. Third-party candidate, Governor George Wallace, and his running mate, retired General Curtis LeMay, won the remaining seven states and 64 electoral votes. (IOTL, Nixon won 302 electoral votes, Humphrey won 191, and Wallace won 45; Wallace then gained an additional vote at Nixon's expense from the aforementioned faithless elector.)

As is so often the case, the popular vote was much closer than the electoral tally might suggest. Humphrey had a less than one million-vote lead over Nixon; approximately 32 million to 31 million. This translated to a lead of slightly more than 1% of the vote: 43.6% to 42.4%. (This is almost double the OTL margin - in the other direction, of course - of about 500,000 votes. Nixon loses over 750,000 votes from OTL; Humphrey gains a little less than that.) Wallace received over 10 million votes, or almost 14%. (Up about 200,000 or so from OTL.) No other candidate received more than 25,000 votes nationwide. (Eugene McCarthy receives about 20,000 write-in votes in California, which is larger than the margin between Nixon and Humphrey there ITTL.)

As for the campaign, it was a long and divisive one, on both sides, though certainly more so on the Democratic side. Both Humphrey and Nixon emerged as candidates largely because the opposition to them within their respective parties could not coalesce around an alternative. From the nadir at the Democratic Convention in late August, when it had seemed that most factions within that party's coalition of supporters would not support the ticket, Humphrey staged an incredible recovery. By October, most polls showed him in a dead heat with Nixon - a few had him slightly ahead. (Though still within the margin of error.)

(And so begins the chain of events: In early 1967, Lucille Ball did not sell Desilu to Gulf+Western, and remained in a hands-on role running her company. In this capacity, a year later, in early 1968, she spoke on behalf of her series, Star Trek, to NBC executives. Because of her prestige and influence, the network decided to move the show to a better timeslot. IOTL, they instead sided with George Schlatter, producer of Laugh-In. But ITTL, Schlatter was shafted. In retaliation, he abandoned his duties at Laugh-In to focus on the ill-fated sister series, Turn-On. But Schlatter had the idea to invite both Nixon and Humphrey to appear on Laugh-In and say “Sock it to me!” IOTL, only Nixon accepted. ITTL, Schlatter can't even make the offer, so Nixon can't accept it.)

(So here's where we play the numbers game. Laugh-In was the #1 show on the air in the 1968-69 season. It had a 31.8 rating. This means that 31.8% of all television-owning households were estimated to be watching the average episode. At this time, that comes out to over 18.125 million households (because each ratings point equals 570,000 households). Let's assume that just one person in each of those households goes to vote. In fact, we'll even go down to a nice, round number: 18 million. Now, suppose that 1% of these people are swayed toward Nixon by his appearance on Laugh-In; that they find him warmer, more personable, and so on. That's 180,000 people, or all you need to change the election result from OTL (as it's more than half of 300,000). But we know these people are more easily swayed than most, less set in their ways; that's why advertisers find them so attractive. So let's bump it up to 5%. That's nearly a million people, with a potential impact of 1.8 million votes. These people, being so demographically attractive, would be disproportionately found in urban and suburban states, like Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, and Illinois.)

It was during the month of October that Humphrey opened up a lead and maintained it until election day. This was largely due to two key events: first was the endorsement of his nomination rival, Eugene McCarthy, and the second was the announcement of a bombing halt in their quagmire of an overseas conflict, and a resulting peace conference. (Sorry, I promised I wouldn't say the “V”-word. It's verboten. And yes, Nixon's people attempted their backdoor sabotage ITTL, too, but the polls showed Humphrey slightly ahead and those in charge waffled; they saw that Nixon wasn't likely to win and weren't sure what move to make. In the end, they didn't pull out of the peace talks.) The last Gallup poll taken just before the election showed Humphrey's lead to be just outside the margin of error; as it turned out, support for Nixon was understated, and the result was the second close election in three cycles. Nixon had the dubious distinction of being on the losing end of both of them. (Projecting based on Gallup's poll would show Nixon losing Alaska, California, Wisconsin, and Oregon to Humphrey, and North Carolina to Wallace; in the actual TTL results, he won all five states by less than three points.)

A third high-profile defeat, following his loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960 and his California gubernatorial loss to Pat Brown in 1962 was the final curtain for Richard Nixon's political career. He became to the Republicans what Adlai Stevenson had been to Democrats a generation earlier: a respected elder statesman, revered within his party, who nonetheless failed to gain traction with the people. Never terribly gracious in defeat, Nixon largely retreated from public life, doing his best to avoid the scrutiny of his bête noire, the news media. (And so, Nixon and the man who won him the election, George Schlatter, are two of TTL's biggest losers. I'm not deliberately planning a zero-sum game, but when you focus on a dog-eat-dog industry like television, it's hard to avoid.) The closely-fought election and, to put it delicately, the eventful year of 1968 behind him, Hubert H. Humphrey was inaugurated as the 37th President of the United States on January 20, 1969.

---

And yes, believe it or not, I’m serious about Laugh-In. Allow me to present to all of you, the six seconds that changed history (WARNING: Link is to YouTube).
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Old 06-11-2013, 05:59 AM
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Colonel Healy Colonel Healy is offline
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Hmmm for want of a TV appearance an election was lost, though I have some times wondered what a fourth season would of been like I never imagined it would have such big political effects, looking forward to more.
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:25 AM
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Ah yes, that was an amazing update - not to mention somewhat controversial. Still, it's amazing what the butterfly effect can do vis-à-vis electoral politics.
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Old 06-12-2013, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colonel Healy View Post
Hmmm for want of a TV appearance an election was lost, though I have some times wondered what a fourth season would of been like I never imagined it would have such big political effects, looking forward to more.
I certainly hope you won't be disappointed! Though I try my best to maintain causal links, changing this election has been most effective at producing butterflies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan1988 View Post
Ah yes, that was an amazing update - not to mention somewhat controversial. Still, it's amazing what the butterfly effect can do vis-à-vis electoral politics.
Thank you, Dan, for your very kind words Believe it or not, the overall response to that update, though it does go out on a limb, has been overwhelmingly positive, for which I have been (and remain) very thankful. Though it's certainly had a significant impact on my writing process, which I will go into in some detail at a later date.

The next update should be made available in the next few days! I appreciate your continued interest.
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