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Pioneers of Television Science Fiction

Opening titles of the Pioneers of Television: Science Fiction documentary

Pioneers of Television: Science Fiction was a fifty-five-minute television documentary which first aired on 18 January 2011 as part of the PBS network's Pioneers of Television series. The documentary primarily focused on early science fiction television series such as The Twilight Zone, Lost In Space, The Time Tunnel, and many others.

Star Trek: The Original Series was the most prominently featured series by far, and the documentary examined Gene Roddenberry's origins and efforts to create the series through the use of re-enactments and archival photographs and footage. New interviews regarding Star Trek were conducted with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, and Martin Landau.

The documentary was notable for showing stills and footage from the early television and film work of Roddenberry, Shatner, Nimoy, and Nicols and included Howdy Doody, Zombies Of The Stratosphere, Alexander the Great, and The Lieutenant, among other projects.

The casting of Leonard Nimoy in the role of Spock was also examined. Martin Landau, who was originally approached by Roddenberry for the role stated, "I turned down Star Trek. It would've been torturous. I would've probably died playing that role. I mean, even the thought of it now upsets me. It was the antithesis of why I became an actor. I mean, to play a character that Lenny (Nimoy) was better suited for, frankly, a guy who speaks in a monotone who never gets excited, never has any guilt, never has any fear, or was affected on a visceral level. Who wants to do that?"

The documentary also featured Nichelle Nicols talking about her interactions with Martin Luther King and her (and American television's) first on-screen interracial kiss (with Shatner).

Archival footage shot in 1970 of Rod Serling (from The Twilight Zone) showed him giving a mixed review of the original Star Trek series. He stated "Star Trek was again a very inconsistent show which at times sparkled with true ingenuity and pure science fiction approaches. At other times it was more carnival-like, and very much more the creature of television than the creature of a legitimate literary form."

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