Review by C.J. Bunce
Actor Vic Mignogna, who has played Star Trek’s Captain Kirk on the fan-made series Star Trek Continues, has taken on an enormous task in his latest project, narrating the mammoth behind-the-scenes look at classic television and creator/producer Gene Roddenberry in an audio play adaptation of the Saturn Award-winning These Are the Voyages–ST: TOS Season One–nearly 29 hours in all. Master researcher and TV historian Marc Cushman has meticulously crafted several volumes detailing the Golden Age of Television, including four volumes (and fifth on the way) of Star Trek history. With the new audiobook, Cushman has assembled nearly 100 voice actors, including several Star Trek insiders quoted in the book, who returned to voice their contributions from Cushman’s first book in his series. Among the voices you’ll hear writer Dorothy Fontana, writer Ronald D. Moore, actor Clint Howard, casting director Joe D’Agosta, actor Sean Kenney, and director Ralph Senensky, plus sons of Leonard Nimoy (Adam) and James Doohan (Chris) voicing their fathers’ quoted material, and other surprises, like Mythbusters co-host and Star Trek Continues actor Grant Imahara as the voice of George Takei. The result is a fantastic way to kick back and enjoy the long-lost past and inner-workings of your favorite 1960s sci-fi series.
Marc Cushman’s adaptation of his own work, with Susan Osborn, smartly distills his lengthy first volume into the key narrative elements–Gene Roddenberry’s arrival in Hollywood, the development of Star Trek, Roddenberry’s assemblage of creators, directors, producers, writers, and actors for his series, and the episode by episode chronicle of the ups and downs of season one. Mignogna is a fantastic choice to walk the audience along, a mix of 1930s radioplay storyteller and Ken Burns’ award-winning series of documentaries. For anyone afraid of embarking on a lengthy 658-page non-fiction book, this is your answer.
Voice actor Ralph Miller really nails the talkative and often irritable Gene Roddenberry. The less-known players in the story often provide the most interesting performances, men and women reproducing 1960s inflections and accents in a myriad of types believably well. The dialogue in the book has a more lively feel and effect when spoken. As an example, Gene Roddenberry and Matt Jefferies’ discussions (originally via written correspondence) over details of military components to be incorporated into the series sets provides for some humor in the drama. Listeners will really get a good picture of these two negotiating over who was better able to sign-off on the look of the practical, visual bits of the series. And the production values are spot on–These Are the Voyages–ST: TOS Season One is a well-produced, entertaining work full of trivia for Star Trek fans and classic TV buffs, presented in an unusual, unexpected way.
The audio recording includes a prologue by Gene’s son Rod Roddenberry, with original music composed and conducted for a live orchestra for the Star Trek Continues series by Andy Farber, Jonathan Kruger, and Vic Mignogna. Also on the DVD is a video segment with Mignogna and Cushman discussing the making of the audio play. As for the content of the book adapted, check out my 2013 review at borg of These Are the Voyages–ST: TOS Season One here.
Cushman’s most recent look at Star Trek, These Are the Voyages: Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek in the 1970s, Volume 1 (1970-75) is available now here at Amazon. Come back later this year for my review of the forthcoming Volume 2, which will cover Star Trek: Phase II and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Cushman’s books are the most comprehensive behind-the-scenes books on the series available. In case you missed them, take a look at them here: These Are the Voyages Season One, These Are the Voyages Season Two, and These Are the Voyages Season Three, and don’t miss a surprisingly related “prequel” book of 1960s television, Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space Volume One. And finally, we’ll have a review of Cushman’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea later this year.
Available on a two-disc DVD set, playable on Region 1 DVD, Region Free DVD, Blu-Ray players, combination CD/DVD players, and personal computers, or via streaming audio, These Are the Voyages–ST: TOS Season One–The Audiobook is available for order now from Jacobs Brown Media Group at its web shop here. Audio excerpts are available at the Jacobs Brown website here.