1973 was a time when Star Trek was in it’s infancy, the courageous efforts of Bjo Trimble to get a third season of the Original Series were fading along with the memories of the show’s original run. However syndicated runs and new ratings analysis confirmed people were watching Star Trek, so NBC commissioned Filmation – the production house behind a vast quantity of Saturday morning cartoons in the 60’s and 70’s – to create The Animated Adventures.
Star Trek: The Animated Adventures premiered on Saturday, September 8 1973.
All of our lead cast, except for Walter Koenig, were back providing their voices to the characters we’ve come to love (and some new ones.) We saw scripts from noted science fiction writers like Larry Niven as well as Star Trek alumni such as D.C. Fontana and Samuel Peeples and although he didn’t star, Walter Koenig penned the episode The Infinite Vulcan where the Enterprise investigates a new planet populated by intelligent plants and a Eugenics War-era Doctor who clones Spock in the hope of making a superior race of galactic peace keepers.
It’s a unique addition to the franchise with Mark Lenard, Billy Simpson and Keith Sutherland the only billed guests in the twenty-two episode series. The aliens of the week, and voices for other crew members, were supplied by James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols and Majel Barrett. Leonard Nimoy is the only actor to voice Spock in every episode, with Doohan a close second for Scotty, who was absent during The Slaver Weapon – arguably though he had a bigger workload across the series run, voicing different characters in each episode.
On board the Enterprise we’re introduced to some new technology previously unseen in The Original Series, including the recreation room and aqua-shuttle. Many non-humanoid alien species appeared including Arex the Edosian, who was the tripedal navigator and the Lactran – slug like creatures found during The Eye of The Beholder.
In 1975 The Animated Adventures won the Daytime Emmy for Best Children’s Series, a first for the franchise which had been nominated numerous times without success.
In 1988, Gene Roddenberry requested most of the show – save for the details of Spock’s youth found in Yesteryear – be scrubbed from official cannon, and it wasn’t until the initial DVD release of the series in 2006 that it was added back into the fold by the official website.
The Animated Adventures is the first series to be added to the new look TREKZONE.org Episode Database, and you can find all twenty two episodes right here. The series will receive a facelift in the new year with updated (and more) screencaps taken from the BluRay release and updated and extended reviews.