Monday, May 11, 2015

Star Trek Stardate

In my Reflections post, I asked the question, Do you still feel like a Zombie or are you loaded on black coffee? D A Cairns whos blogs at Square Pegs stopped by to say that he was neither followed by a real doozy of a question! Thanks for the high five trekkie.

I do not feel like a Zombie, nor am I powered by coffee, but I am enjoying the original series of Star Trek on DVD atm. You might be able to tell me why the episodes appear on DVD in a different order than they aired on television.

They seem to be organised thematically or chronologically (according to star date). Any thoughts or knowledge you can share?

Thanks DA, for the great Star Trek question. Let me just say I've always prefered Star Trek TNG Stardate system to Star Trek's TOS series because TNG's version makes better sense!

To prove my point. TNG script co-ordinator Eric Stillwell served as the shows keeper of stardates for 5 years.

How do stardates work?

Star Trek TNG uses a neat 5 digit system vs Star Trek The Original Series 4 digit system which for the most part is an entirely different ball game.

During Star Treks classic first production season, stardates advanced on average of about 57 units per episode. Why? No-one knows. It just looked and sounded good.

If you enjoy being tortured with head wrecking trivia, then a detailed official stardate explanation should do the trick! All you've got to do is head over to Memory Alpha. By the time you've read all the ambiguous versions, believe me, you'll be experiencing the onset of Zombie/Trekkie symptoms.

To my mind TNG's clear cut stardate system is far easier to understand than the original, (sorry trekkies. you can beat the pulp out of me up in the comments later.) Heres a short TNG captains log entry to explain what the heck these things stardates mean, enjoy!

Captain log stardate 43999.5

First digit                           =       Shows (24th) century.  (The first digit is always 4 in TNG)
Second digit                        =       Number of the shows current season.
Third, Forth and Fifth digits =       Proceeds unevenly from 000 to 999 and is an episode guide. So 999 equates to the last day of the third season of star trek.

Decimal point/digit               =       The digit following the decimal point is generally regarded as a day counter.
1 unit = 24 hours.

The Head Melting stuff:

The reason Star Trek's classic stardate system is a little perplexing is because theres a few episodes in which stardates go backwards instead of going forwards from the previous weeks show. When I look at the correlating numbers logic goes out the airlock, LOL The official explanation for this phenomena is here:

 Dorothy Fontana explains:
The late arrival of a completed writers script affected the filming of some episodes which put stardates in the original series out of sync. She gave no names!
Is there a simple reason why Star Trek's production dates differ to the show airdates?

Stardates in general were never meant to be scrutinized in detail. The reason stardates fluctuated in TOS is because Star Trek production staff didn't always know which order the TV Network would air the episodes.

 D A asked why the episodes on DVD differed to those aired on television. I've covered TOS and TNG to share my understanding of stardates during Star Trek's production which for one reason or another impacted on television airdates.

Question "why the episodes appear on DVD in a different order than they aired on television?" 

When Star Trek TOS DVDs were released worldwide in 2004 fans got the yellow, blue and red boxsets with 79 regular episodes. We know Star Trek was mass marketed to appeal to fans everywhere.

The classic show episodes are supposed to be listed in order of their original airdates. However It is interesting to note Star Treks original pilot "the cage" isn't present in the classic yellow boxset. "The cage" was rejected as a pilot and never aired until October 15, 1988! The TV network NBC said it was too "cerebral." What it needed was more action and adventure and less geek. It was later included on the final disc in the original and "remastered" Season 3 DVD red boxsets.

Whats not widely known is Herb Solow saved Star Trek from the scrap heap! Gene Roddenberry's writers went back to the drawing board and came up with "Where No Man Has Gone before."  Various factoids have been in play during Star Trek's 50 year reign in the galaxy which include:

1) Star Trek's Production episodes
2) Star Trek's DVD episodes
3) Star Trek TV Network Airdates

Memory Alpha lists Star Trek TOS DVD episodes in production order. While stardates are used to denote time and units per episode, ambiguous levels of meaning have arisen over time. We've had numerous Star Trek shows, trekkie vs trekker debates, Star Trek vs Star Wars, Star Trek reboots, conventions, technobabble,  4 and 5 digit stardate systems.

Which stardate system do you prefer? ? TOS or TNG or are you a Niner, Voyager or Star Trek Enterprise fan????

Where is the confused Techie Trekkie who created all this Star Trek turmoil?  Lets get him! Have you ever seen a Romulan or a Klingon using stardates? Do you feel like having a Nomad meltdown after reading this? 

Can you tell the difference between a real Zombie and a Trekkie? Find out on Friday what the difference is.! 

Slash Live Long and Prosper, Bloggies and Trekkies


Elephant's Child said...

Oh dear. Both of my brain cells hurt. Going to lie down now...

Tony Laplume said...

I was relieved when the new movies vastly simplified the whole thing. But I suppose for certain fans, the fact that Star Trek had a peculiar logic helped create an additional layer to its world-building efforts.

A Beer For The Shower said...

I actually had no idea they put so much thought into this. That's pretty cool. Whenever I watched, I just thought they were spewing random numbers. You know, because TV...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Some of the writers were a little slow in other words?

Misha Gericke said...

Head's spinning... :-D

Jo said...

Too much to take in. I never really bothered about the stardates anyway.

Spacerguy said...

Its cool TNG stardates use the 5 digits decimal point system to show the century, current shows season, and acts as an episode guide. It even gives the time of day in the episode.

Pat Hatt said...

Wow, they sure put a lot of effort into it.

Spacerguy said...

They sure did Pat. The shows creator Gene Roddenberry worked 12 - 14 hour days putting TNG together along with production staff, actors and actresses, some of whom took up permanent residency on the Paramount lot.

Christine Rains said...

That's a lot of thinking for a Monday! I am consistently impressed by TNG, though.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Reading that was like watching a America's Funniest Home Videos. You just can't look away although you know you should. And you really shouldn't laugh but you do. I've actually wondered if the star dates were in order or just randomly picked for episodes but never checked it out. Now I know.

Michelle Wallace said...

Wow, that's a LOT of info... which has boggled my brain.
Thank you for visiting my blog!

cleemckenzie said...

With all the technical Trekkie stuff, production glitches still seem to come down to "someone missed a deadline."

DA Cairns said...

Still confused but fascinated nonetheless and I won't be losing sleep over it. It just doesn't make sense when you watch the episodes as presented on DVD. Sulu in, Sulu out for example in consecutive episodes. Anyway, I love it.

Birgit said...

Vger would understand and that's about it:) I do not want my head to explode so I just still think of Stardates as goblegook. I love TNG and the original. I also love Voyager. I was never into Deep SH*&^ Nine (nyuck, nyuck) and Enterprise was ok but it missed its mark

Jeffrey A. Scott said...

Thanks to Star Trek, I came up with over complicating my personal journal back in the 80's. Whenever I'd write a journal, the header would be a series of numbers, most likely confusing anyone trying to figure out what the numbers stood for. Fortunately, I understood them and that's all that matters.

I just love Star Trek debates. What Trekkie doesn't?

Spacerguy said...

A shot of cordrazine should do the trick, Elephants C.

Stardates create the framework to create, explore and experiment, Tony

TV make up stuff? No way! I don't believe it. Don't play with the trekkie, beer for the shower. We've got phasers, lol.

Late with scripts probably because they procrastinated too much, Alex.

Try a shot of saurian brandy, Misha

Theres always a first time, Jo.

Gene Roddenberry actually consulted with NASA about the USS Enterprise NCC 1701, Pat.

TNG has a more contemporary flow to the show, Christine.

Each Star Trek show's stardates is a little different Susan

You're Welcome Michelle, the pleasure was all mine!

Gene Coon standing on top of G. Roddenberry's desk is a real classic, Cleemckenzie

Delighted I could help, DA.DC Fontana explained a lot, I thought.

My brother used to ask me what happened to DS9's spaceship? Birgit

I know what you mean Jeffrey, I've covered so many of those debates here over the years.

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