What the Shed Looks At

Monday, November 15, 2010


I Love Lucy is often regarded as the most beloved sitcom ever. Star Trek is often regarded as the most beloved sci-fi television show ever.

What do they have in common? Lucille Ball.

The wacky red head comedian along with Cuban born husband Desi Arnaz not only gave us a ground breaking comedy classic, but with their studio Desilu brought to TV audiences the science fiction masterpiece Star Trek. If Gene Roddenberry was its loving father, Lucy was its nurturing, entertainment savvy mother.

It was 1964. Seven years earlier, America had said goodbye to the Ricardos as I Love Lucy ended. Through careful business dealings, Desi and Lucy had amassed an enormous fortune and Desilu, their studio created in 1951 produced everything from sitcoms to spy shows. Gene Roddenberry, a former LA police officer turned screenwriter was pitching a new television series about a galaxy traveling starship or as he described it "wagon train to the stars."

Some at Desilu balked at Roddenberry's sci-fi concept, thinking it was childish fare or mere escapist action oriented science fiction like Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers. While Roddenberry may have gained inspiration from those two pioneering sci-fi properties, he invested thoughtfulness, intellectual stimulation and philosophy into Star Trek that caught the attention of Lucille Ball. She both liked Gene Roddenberry and felt his idea had huge potential. After rejecting the pilot, The Cageas being "too cerebral" - it's said Lucy stood firmly behind the show, prompting NBC to order a second pilot - something exceedingly rare in the television business.

Star Trek premiered on NBC in 1966. After three seasons, the network canceled the show citing dismal ratings. Shortly thereafter, executives realized the most valuable audience segment - the favored demographic of males 18-49 were primary viewers. This is advertising gold. If NBC had known this fact before cancellation, Star Trek may have had additional seasons.
In syndication, Star Trek saw new life and lived long and prospered. Fans who missed Captain Kirk's adventures loved the reruns, while new generations discovered it. The rest is history, as in television, film and book publishing history. It spun off four additional programs and at this count ten feature films with an eleventh being produced and directed by JJ Abrams and scheduled for release in December 2008.

Evidently Lucy not only knew funny, she knew great science fiction too.
So Lucille Ball is the reason we have Star Trek. Well, I now unveil a deeply buried piece of nerd gold.

Song Parodies -> Lucy's In Production Of Star Trek

Original Song Title:

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"

Original Performer:

The Beatles

Parody Song Title:

"Lucy's In Production Of Star Trek"

Parody Written by:

Steve Kalafut

This is the second, and hopefully last, time I'll step on Johnny D's concept album. I couldn't resist this because the original Star Trek involved a real-live Lucy, as in Lucille Ball, co-owner of the studio which first produced the series. NBC would eventually run the show, but rejected its pilot episode, called "The Cage". Mr. Roddenberry then had to scrap all the original characters, except one, and would base his new Captain on a certain American president.
Picture yourself with a new TV pilot
With starships which travel and warp through the skies
Everyone tells you, you must rearrange things
Before they will give it a try

None of your characters they let you keep
But for one with pointy ears
Look for the woman with bright orange hair and she's here

Lucy's in production of Star Trek
Lucy's in production of Star Trek
Lucy's in production of Star Trek, aaaah

Follow their orders to find a new Captain
With Kennedy's daring to do what he'll do
None of the studios wanted your program
Except for one named Desilu

Afterwards Star Trek is on for three years
Space is the final frontier
Sit on the bridge, have the helmsman engage and you're gone

Lucy's in production of Star Trek
Lucy's in production of Star Trek
Lucy's in production of Star Trek, aaaah

Picture your show in rerun syndication
The Next Generation and movies compare
Suddenly someone stands in the transporter
The woman with bright orange hair

Lucy's in production of Star Trek
Lucy's in production of Star Trek
Lucy's in production of Star Trek, aaaah

Lucy's in production of Star Trek
Lucy's in production of Star Trek
Lucy's in production of Star Trek, aaaah

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