Part of being an older sci-fi fan was the experience of watching any show from the 1960's that involved special effects of some sort or some type of extra-normal creature, and willingly accepting that suspension of disbelief was part and parcel of the process. Shows had neither the money nor the know-how to compete with the CGI heavy modern competitors, but without precedent, or the greener grass to compare to, nobody particularly cared; you went along with the ride because you wanted to be entertained as the story unfolded. At the heart of the matter, when it came to depicting alien races, sometimes the technology just wasn't there: even the ground-breaking Star Trek had to suffer what the limitations of mid-20th century special effects could provide. That much you could forgive. But sometimes, it wasn't just the special effects; sometimes the writers the creative engines behind the show also created some races that we just COULDN'T accept: they were either flawed creations that simply didn't make sense or were just downright silly in nature, like the frankly depressed looking Alfa 177 canine (in reality a normal dog with some bits and pieces glued to it) in the image above. Luckily, these things didn't detract from Gene Roddenberry's incredibly creative vision, but there were still those wince-worthy moments when you had to grit your teeth and overlook the vast cloud of cheese, whether it was in 1968 or 1988.
15. The Tellarites "Journey To Babel" TOS
Whoever thought that humanoid, man-sized pigs were a threat to the galaxy? Perhaps the Tellarites were originally thought to be some sort of boar-like creatures with razor-sharp tusks and a powerful, muscular build. If so, then the casting director and the make-up guy should have been given their walking papers. What we got was a walking reason to avoid pork for the rest of your life: the Tellarites were chunky, dyspeptic, argumentative and just downright irritating. Plus, you could easily see the plastic ridges of the mask eye-holes. You're supposed to hate the Tellarites, but fearing them is out of the question: they're repulsive, butt-ugly and their colour sense is all wrong - of course, that could be a function of the 1960's choice of tones and shades, but the effect is the same: you hate them for what they are instead of what they represent. The problem with the Tellarites was the reach; the creators of Star Trek tried too hard with a plastic mask and extra padding in the costume, which failed because you can see the human skin under the eye holes. Where's the verisimilitude in that? In Star Trek: Enterprise, they improved the mask using skin-contact latex and modern cosmetics, but it's pretty interesting to note that you still couldn't accept them. The ghastly make-up of the 1960's ruined the hostile effect of this species for future generations of Trek-watchers.
John Kirk is a Teacher-Librarian and currently a History/English Teacher with the Toronto District School Board.
But mostly, John teaches Geek.
Comics, Sci-Fi (Notably Star Trek), Fantasy and Role-Playing and table-top games all make up part of John’s repertoire, There is a whole generation of nerds-in-embryo who rely on him to make sense of it all, to teach that with great power comes great responsibility, that the force will be with us always and that a towel IS the most useful thing to have in one’s possession.
When John isn’t in the classroom, he can be found in his basement writing comic reviews for www.popmythology.com and features for Roddenberry Entertainment's www.1701news.com.