Prologue: September 20, 1986
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.

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 groundbreaking 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 Desilu - we would 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, to 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 was doing in 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 who died tragically in a plane crash in 1942, has been advising her… 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 totally understands where BALL is going with this, even 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: 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): 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]


[1] Hereafter referred to as 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.


Welcome to my first timeline! And thanks for reading. If you have any input, including constructive criticism, please feel free to provide it.

A few introductory notes before we go any further: This is not going to be an "epistolary" timeline; it's going to be primarily descriptive/narrative. I just thought I would use such an opening to grab the reader's attention. And to lampoon news magazine programs, of course.

As noted, the POD is Lucille Ball receiving a second dream/psychic communiqué from Carole Lombard in late 1966, telling her to hold on to Desilu and give up acting. Therefore, she isn't going to sell to Gulf+Western. Why does this matter? Well, among other reasons, she was a very hands-on studio chief, who was known to go to bat for shows she really liked, regardless of their ratings or their budgets. There was one Desilu show in particular that benefited from this policy, and I have no doubt that most of you will be able to guess what it is.

Despite her being at the centre of the POD, don't expect Ball to be too central to the timeline. We're mostly going to be looking at the effects of her decision. And surprisingly, there are going to be a lot of them, and they're going to come fairly hard and fast. That's what attracted me to this particular POD in the first place.

This timeline is mainly going to focus on popular culture, for a couple of reasons: it’s what I enjoy writing about, and there are many, many people on this forum who write about more serious and weighty subjects with a great deal more skill and finesse than I could.

In the next update, we're going to be jumping back to era of the POD and moving forward from there.

If you're not North American, and some of the details didn't make a whole lot of sense to you, I'm very sorry. Please feel free to ask me for clarification. If you're British, there is a little something I have planned that you might find worth your while - you just have to wait a while.

I went with the current title because it's very vague and hopefully drew in people who might not be enticed by a more obvious one. If you had other ideas of who "That Wacky Redhead" might have been, I would love to hear them.
Lucy! You got some 'splaining to do!

There's another reason I didn't go with an "I Love Lucy"-related title. I knew my readers would quote all the lines back at me anyway! :p

Thanks for the kind words. Expect another update in the next couple of days.
1966-67: This Season is the First Season of the Rest of Your Career
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, 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, when reached for further comment, offered none.”

- From the February 15, 1967 [1], edition of The Hollywood Reporter

The first person she told about her dream was her husband and business partner, Gary Morton, who had been told the story about her previous encounter with Carole Lombard so many times that he knew better than to challenge her. He didn’t mind; he was all for Lucy 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 wouldn’t complain.

One person who did complain was Charles Bluhdorn, the mogul who owned Gulf+Western. The two companies had been engaged in tentative, preliminary negotiations regarding the potential but strictly hypothetical sale of Desilu. It had already been moving far too slowly for his liking; suddenly, the very morning after her fateful dream, Ball 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. [2]

Financial projections showing that the assets acquired from Desilu would not have been very profitable (indeed, several of its programs were extremely expensive to produce) [3] 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.

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 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. [4]

Removing herself from the cast of 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. [5] It made good business sense – another season meant more episodes for syndication, which meant more revenue. A proven revenue source like that certainly beat taking a risk on green-lighting Yours, Mine, and Ours – especially since her expenses were just as high as Gulf+Western’s accountants had projected.

Without question, the 1966-67 production season was a trying 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 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 second Emmy in the category, following her inaugural win in 1953 for “I Love Lucy”. [6] 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. 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 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] 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.

[2] 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.

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

[4] 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 expect this to be a very polarizing revelation.

[5] “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.

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


I assure you, the absence of “The Brady Bunch” is not going to be the biggest butterfly to hit this timeline. And technically it won’t be the first, either, as it wouldn’t have premiered until September 1969, by which time other changes will have taken effect.

Join me for the next update, when I’m going to take an in-depth look at a certain show I’ve very deliberately avoided mentioning…
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I do like popular culture TLs, particularly ones I have some familiarity with. I'm not as familiar with all Desilu's productions...but this does promise to be interesting.
I'll have to use this as a guide to some of "Im Orerc"*...

*A TL idea beginning with a comic superheroine getting her own movie, with butterflies stretching all the way to the White House
but this does promise to be interesting.

Thank you. I hope it lives up to that promise.

with butterflies stretching all the way to the White House
The White House, you say? Interesting...

It's looking like the next update is going to be mostly background information, followed by another post about general goings-on in the 1967-68 season. Expect the first of these in the next couple of days.
Beyond the Rim of the Star-Light, or: Star Trek: The Early Years
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 created in 1964 by Gene Roddenberry, a former police officer and 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 paramount among these. His pitch famously described Star Trek as a "Wagon Train to the Stars"; Wagon Train was actually a contemporary western series, but the phrase in and of itself was so wonderfully evocative that this allusion was soon forgotten.

Herb Solow was, at the time, the assistant to Oscar Katz, Head of Production at Desilu. In 1964, Desilu's only in-house production was star vehicle "The Lucy Show", and so the directive was given to 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 whom 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 NBC, who were reluctant, but after much deliberation, Solow finally convinced the executives to take a chance on making the pilot.

Robert Justman became involved during production, hired as assistant director. His ability and efficiency quickly made him invaluable. Cast in the lead role of Captain Christopher Pike was 1950s matinee 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 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 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 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. Katz, who had overseen production of the original pilot, departed Desilu at this time; Solow was 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 more turnover between the first and second pilots. Jeffrey Hunter declined to return as Captain Pike; in addition, the network refused to allow the character of the cool, calculated, and female First Officer to return. They were also not fond of "that guy with the ears", Mr. Spock, whose pointed, devilish ears were his distinguishing feature, but they allowed him to remain as a compromise. 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 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 run 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 NBC to green-light the series, which would begin airing in the 1966-67 season. When the series 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 both cast and crew helped put some muscle behind their message.

The final piece in the puzzle was Gene Coon, who assumed the role of hands-on Producer from Roddenberry (who remained as 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 of the series 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. [6] They were all in place by the end of the first season, and the first major problem 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 bogged down by needless complications and an odious subplot, and describing 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, 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 next season, they might have a better timeslot, and maybe even win an Emmy or two.

Nobody had any idea 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, well 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 book on the subject. The entire affair deeply offends him. Then again, so does 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!”


I know this update was fairly dry, and I apologize for that. But I thought it would be best to get this expository post out of the way, and lay the foundations for the many changes that Star Trek will be facing in TTL.

I wasn't sure how to approach this post until it hit me to focus on the "Big Five". I'm sure the cast wouldn't be too happy about that, but I'll mention them as they become important. Shatner - who, however self-deprecating he may be now, was certainly a massive egotist back then - no doubt hates that I only gave him one passing mention. Sorry, Bill. At least now you know how your castmates feel!

As a side note, part of the reason I'm emphasizing the "Big Five" is to draw your attention to them. Too many people think that Star Trek was all Gene Roddenberry. Solow, Justman, and Fontana at least lived long enough and had to enough to say that they've earned some well-deserved, if belated, recognition. But Coon - who died in 1973 - is criminally underappreciated.

Of course, there are plenty of other important people I missed. I'll try to get through as many of them as possible in future updates.

Join me next time when we tackle the 1967-68 season, and as we prepare to unleash a horde of butterflies upon an unsuspecting TL…
Even if I'm not too into US television, it's amazing!
Amazing? Well, thank you very much, SavoyTruffle :eek:

I do plan on exploring beyond the US (hence my carrot to British readers at the beginning) and television (as it now looks like I'll be doing at least one movie-related post).

Sadly, I think the closest I'll be coming to your fair country is mentioning Mr. Sulu's last name. Indeed, Southeast Asia in general is going to be pretty quiet, as I've already promised myself that I would never explicitly mention that certain other country that just happens to be a political quagmire in this era... at least within the timeline proper.

Not that it won't play a factor, because it will; I just intend to gloss over it. That's the advantage of doing a pop culture timeline :cool:
The next update should be ready in the next couple of days.

While I write it and you wait for it, I thought I'd encourage a little audience participation.

Are there any TV shows or movies from this period that you want to hear more about? If so, let me know, and I'll do my best to work them into future updates.

Let's stick to North America for the time being, though. For TV shows, it can be anything that aired from 1967 to 1975; for movies, anything released from 1970 to 1975. This was an extremely fertile period for both industries, so even if you weren't alive at the time, I'm sure you have some favourites from this era. I certainly do, after all.

I'll warn you in advance, though; all the butterflies mean your beloved show or movie may not have a happier fate. It may not even become a reality at all ITTL. I've already eliminated "The Brady Bunch". I'm just lucky those rabid Brady fans haven't found me yet.

We'll see how many other fanbases I can alienate.


Monthly Donor
I may be way off on the era from which these shows come from as I only ever saw them years later on various UK/Irish channels.

I always had a soft spot for The Man From UNCLE. It should be winding up around this time (1970?).
Maybe Desilu could reinvigorate the brand?

The Invaders was a good show, from what I remember.
At least it seemed good when I watched it (in re-run on C4 UK IIRC?) as a kid.

Western series also appealed, although I was more of a fan of The High Chaparral than Bonanza.

In Kids TV, I think the Banana Splits were around this time?

Not really sure as it's not my era (or my TV History).

Still loving this unusual and rewarding approach to an ATL. :cool:

A bunch of shows, though I'm not sure any would necessarily be affected:
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Rockford Files
The Monkees
Monday Night Football
I may be way off on the era from which these shows come from as I only ever saw them years later on various UK/Irish channels.
Excellent! A confirmed reader from the British Isles. I look forward to your reaction to my future plans.

Unfortunately, a couple of your shows are too far gone to be saved at the point I'll be covering, but you have given me an idea that involves talking about one of those doomed shows in the very next post. So thank you for that!

Still loving this unusual and rewarding approach to an ATL. :cool:
And thank you very much for this!

A bunch of shows, though I'm not sure any would necessarily be affected:
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Rockford Files
The Monkees
Monday Night Football
That's a pretty significant set of shows you've got listed there. I've already thought a great deal about a couple of them and how they'll be affected by the changes in the timeline.

I'll even give you a hint: at least one of the shows in question will have an "m" in its name :p

And as with Falkenburg, I'll be mentioning one of the shows on your list in the very next update...

... which should be ready today!
1967-68: We Hope You Enjoy the Show
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 a darker period of the show’s history. Creator and showrunner Bruce Geller had been recruited to develop another series for Desilu, and this behind-the-scenes shakeup was mirrored in front of the camera. 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 was Star Trek 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 if he did not renew his contract, and he departed the series after just one season. [2] Peter Graves was hired as his replacement. Additionally, 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 smoother sailing for Star Trek… for the most part. Solow, who had been 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 pay raise. Solow liked Nimoy and knew how much he added to the show, but he had to play hardball, and even began suggesting possible replacements. [3] Eventually, they were able to work it out, and Nimoy remained as Spock. But it would 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. The triumvirate of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, with each character representing one of the three aspects of the Freudian psyche, was now 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 younger 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 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]

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 was 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 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 viewers who were highly 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, would have to pushed back by half a 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 just half an hour 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. [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 Lucy’s real-life children, Lucie and Desi Jr., along with her “I Love Lucy” son, 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, who had previously appeared earlier that season. The ratings were spectacular: it was the second most-watched broadcast in television history, behind only the series finale of “The Fugitive” the previous year.

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, "Get Smart" won the Comedy Series Emmy; "Mission: Impossible" repeated as winner of Outstanding Dramatic Series; and Milburn Stone 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 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, this was a working title IOTL) will never be made.

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


I think this will be the last time I cover so much ground in a single update. TTL 1968-69 is going to be significantly different from OTL, and all on account of that wacky redhead, so I'll probably divide the content into a number of posts.

Let's start with the obvious. Yes, Star Trek is going to last for more than three seasons ITTL, and the "turd season" is going to be much better, thanks to the "Big Five" and their quality control. It won't be perfect, mind you
but we'll get into that. I decided to save production details for Star Trek's second season that I couldn't work into the narrative proper for an appendix update, which will be entirely descriptive and mostly comprised of point form and lists.

The first person to catch all the references to Beatles songs wins the No-Prize!
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