Star Trek: The Next Generation 365
By Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdman
Abrams Books, 744 pages, $29.95
Let me state upfront that Paula and Terry have been friends for a long time, but I adamantly maintain that they were the ideal people to write Star Trek 365 and the recently released Star Trek: The Next generation 365. Why? Because Paula has been intimately involved with the franchise since the 1980s and knows every nook and cranny within Paramount Pictures to find rare images or information. Terry is an experienced film publicist and has a keen understanding of what people like to know and has an engaging way of sharing that with enthusiasm.
Being the series’ 25th anniversary makes this a nice companion volume to the series; chock full of images, architectural and production drawings, special effects pictures, and some on set antics. Every episode from each of the seven seasons receives not only a brief synopsis but then stories about the show, told from a wide variety of angles. You get some of the best known tales such as the banana clip that became Geordi’s VISOR to lesser known stories in how episodes were conceived. Some of the best are the ones demonstrating how a kernel of a story lingered until the right opportunity, or the right writer, or both, arrived to solve the conundrum. A good example is how long it took to produce the acclaimed “Darmok”.
Given how many images Paula approved for use through the years, she knew which ones to avoid in the hopes of finding a fresh look at the series. One approach meant leaning more towards the black and white shots the still photographer took that have rarely been used, and that adds a nice quality to the book. Many of these are behind-the-scenes and between takes shots of the cast relaxing, prepping or goofing off.
To find fresh nuggets of information about the 178 episodes, the pair interviewed dozens of people who worked on the show over the eight years it took from conception to finale. As a result, they got not only interesting new anecdotes but found additional graphics for use, especially from production designer Richard James and visual effects producer Dan Curry. Effects associate Eric Alba is also credited for coming up with a variety of candid photos for use. All of this enriches the book and ensures that it’s not a retread of previously seen images or twice-told tales.
The comes with a foreword by Ronald D. Moore, who got his big break with an unsolicited script and has gone on to a creative career among the stars. The 365 series of pop culture books are nice, compact treasure troves that are well worth a look.