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Thread: Fred Freiberger

  1. #1

    Fred Freiberger

    I've watched some 4th and 5th SMDM episodes recently, most of which I hadn't scene since they were re-run in the mid-90s. I saw Fred's name in the credits and began to wonder if he is the show killer a lot of people seem to believe. I'm not so sure.
    I personally enjoy the 3rd season of Star Trek and feel it may be underrated. Part of this probably stems from avoiding those episodes as a teen because of all the negativity, which I bought into, and later re-discovering them, which made them seem fresh. Nevertheless, while they may be less nuanced and more heavy handed than earlier episodes, they often refine the recycled themes and scenarios brilliantly. Apparently Nichelle Nichols also defended Freiberger, saying that he was doing the absolute best he could with a show that by that point was intended to fail. Production values were not what they had been, but coffee cup lid laden walls aside, I don't feel many of these shows diminish Trek's legacy anymore than say, The Alternative Factor or The Apple.
    In the case of Space 1999, that show had been mandated to change drastically in order to be salvaged. I am not a fan of the second season and find it difficult to watch, but much of that has to do with the extremely poor writing, not the production aesthetic Freiberger would have had more of a hand in.
    SMDM had already written it's epitaph with the appalling 4th season. If anything, I think some of the 5th season episodes are an improvement overall.
    Anyhow, I don't want to bore you guys too much with my opinions, I'd rather like to hear your take on it.

  2. #2
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    I do think he gets a bad rap in general, especially with Trek but in the case of Space:1999, he was hired by the US ITC office and well, the Anderson crew said he was a lovely man but then went on to throw him under the bus. He did contribute stories to the series (like the Rules of Luton) and his fingerprints are all over season 2 i'm afraid.

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    Freiberger does get somewhat unjustly maligned, for sure. I'm not sure he had the touch to save ailing shows though, and that's why he's saddled with the stigma. He wasn't the one who necessarily killed those shows, but he didn't "save" them, either. Star Trek's budget was slashed, and Roddenberry basically abandoned the show, only being involved to change scripts enough to hawk product he could sell through his Lincoln Enterprises. Shatner flatly refused to do a commercial for the IDIC medallion, and poor Leonard Nimoy got stuck doing it, and now it's part of Vulcan iconography.

    These is the situation Freiberger inherited. A show falling apart from within, and without, with the network burying it on Friday nights to spite Roddenberry, who they strongly disliked.

    Chris
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    My biggest problem with the 5th season of Six Million Dollar Man is their many 2 part episodes.

    Sharks, Deadly Countdown, Dark Side of the Moon, Return of Death Probe, Lost Island, Date with Danger

    Every single story above could have been trimmed to 1 episode.

    Some are so padded, they are almost unwatchable because of boringness -- see Sharks, Deadly Countdown and Date with Danger.

    Bionic Woman had the same problem … Too many 2 part episodes that don't deserve to be 2 parts
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    I can't comment on Space: 1999 (which I haven't seen except in clips) or SMDM (which I haven't rewatched in decades and never watched closely). But I think ST:TOS Season Three is far from a failure. Some episodes are derivative, yes. Sometimes characterization is off or the narratives are too blunt, yes. But I would only consider Spock's Brain, The Paradise Syndrome, and Mark of Gideon as truly awful.

    Most others are middling and still interesting/engaging--and still far above contemporary episodes of shows like Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The much-excoriated Turnabout Intruder, though sexist, suffers more in execution than content. Perhaps it's that Freiberger's episodes lack nuance, and perhaps that is more damning in hindsight.

    But still, episodes like The Tholian Web and Is There In Truth No Beauty? rank among the best of the series IMO.
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    I don't remember why the first season of The Wild Wild West had so many different producers but the Freiberger episodes are what the show would become known for. He certainly wasn't a show killer there.

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    To me, Fred Freiberger is like Richard Lester. He's the guy we like to blame for when our beloved franchises go sideways. There's a good interview with Fred in issue #39 of Starlog, so I included the link below. He gives his perspective on Season 3,and has some valid points and good info. I won't say I'm a fan now, but it's a great read. Part II of the interview is on Starlog #40, which can be found easily on line, too. That one is all about Space 1999.

    https://www.billcotter.com/projects/...starlog-39.pdf

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    thanks for posting that link. that was in interesting read

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    I don't like most of what he did to Space:1999, but Fred isn't really responsible for killing the series...to be frank, Lew Grade did that, by losing interest and pulling his funding.

    Dana
    "Do you want a doll?" Kurt

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