Review Fred Freiberger

Doctor Omega

Member: Rank 10
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Fred Freiberger (February 19, 1915 – March 2, 2003)[1] was an American film and television writer and television producer, whose career spanned four decades and work on such films and TV series as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), Star Trek (1968–69) and Space: 1999 (1976–77).

Freiberger is best known for his work as the producer of the third and final season of science-fiction series Star Trek, between 1968 and 1969. His screenwriting credits include 13 films made between 1946 and 1958. He appeared as himself in the short documentary Funny Old Guys,[2] which aired as part of the HBO series Still Kicking, Still Laughing in 2003, a few months after his death in March. Freiberger died on March 2, 2003 at his Bel-Air home, according to his son, Ben. No cause of death was given.

Television career

From 1958 Freiberger worked almost exclusively in television. As a writer, he contributed scripts for dozens of tv shows in the period 1952 through 1989.[8] As a producer, his first assignment was in 1960 on the medical drama Ben Casey, followed by a brief stint as producer of The Wild Wild West during its first season (1965–66). In 1968 Freiberger was hired as producer for the third and final season of Star Trek. He then returned to writing, scripting episodes for a number of early-1970s TV series, including All in the Family, Emergency!, Starsky and Hutch and Ironside, and also worked as a story editor at Hanna-Barbera on the TV series The New Scooby-Doo Movies and Super Friends. Freiberger then moved on to produce the second season of the British sci-fi series Space: 1999 (1976–77), the final season of The Six Million Dollar Man (1977–78), and the short-lived Beyond Westworld(1980). Toward the end of his career, he wrote six episodes of the 1980s syndicated series Superboy.

Producing Star Trek

Freiberger had been interviewed as a possible producer for Star Trek before it entered production in 1966, but had left the selection process due to a planned trip. In 1968, as a result of creative differences with broadcaster NBC, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry resigned as showrunner. Freiberger was again contacted and hired as producer for the series' third season. He assumed this role with a reduced budget that made the series more difficult to produce,[9] as well as a new "Friday night death slot" that resulted in a further decline in viewing ratings for what was already a low-rated program. Many Star Trek fans have since criticised Freiberger for being the cause of this decline, but actress Nichelle Nichols(who played Uhura) has written in his defense. Nichols argues that NBC's considerable budget cutbacks to the third season of Star Trek, in an environment of rising production costs and escalating actors' salaries, meant that:

“ you saw fewer outdoor location shots, for example. Top writers, top guest stars, top anything you needed was harder to come by. Thus, Star Trek's demise became a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I can assure you, that is exactly as it was meant to be ... In the third season [the] new producer Fred Freiberger did everything he could to shore up the show. I know that some fans hold him responsible for the show's decline, but that is not fair. Star Trek was in a disintegrating orbit before Fred came aboard. That we were able to do even what we did is a miracle and a credit to him. One day Fred and I had an exchange, and he snapped at me. Even then, though, I knew he wasn't angry with me but with his unenviable situation. He was a producer who had nothing to produce with. ”

Producing Space: 1999

On 15 December 1975, Freiberger was confirmed as both script editor and producer for the second series of Gerry Anderson's British science-fiction TV series Space: 1999, recruited in part to make the series more appealing to the American market. To that end, Freiberger re-worked the series with major cast and character changes, a heightened emphasis on action and drama, and even ensured that signs appearing in the episodes used American English spelling.[6] He also wrote three episodes for the show's second season, under the penname "Charles Woodgrove", a pseudonym he had employed when writing for movies and television in the USA: he first used that name in 1953 as a screenwriter on the movie The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, and subsequently in writing television episodes of the 1960s Western series Rawhide.

Negative reputation in science fiction fandom

Freiberger has a dubious reputation in science-fiction fandom, due to his involvement in the final seasons of Star Trek, Space: 1999, The Six Million Dollar Man, and the cartoon series Josie and the Pussycats, all of which were cancelled on his watch. This resulted in Freiberger being nicknamed "the Serial Killer" in some circles,[11] although both William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols have refused to assign any blame to Freiberger for the poorly received third season of Star Trek.

Martin Landau, however, blamed Freiberger for the changes, and drop in quality, on the second season of Space: 1999. Landau said, "I'm not going out on a limb for this show because I'm not in accord with what you're (Freiberger) doing as a result ... I don't think I even want to do the promos — I don't want to push the show any more as I have in the past. It's not my idea of what the show should be."

Doctor Omega

Member: Rank 10
Star Trek Executive Producer Fred Frieberger - Episode 53

For many, Fred Frieberger is known as "The Serial Killer." He worked on the last seasons of several beloved TV shows right before they were cancelled. As a result, fans blame him for their ultimate demise. Star Trek is included in that list of cancelled series. But to lay the blame for Star Trek's fall at Frieberger's feet is unfair. Prior to the start of production for Season 3, there was a big mess behind the scenes at Star Trek. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were feuding over screen time, the production budget was cut by $9,000 per episode which was a large sum in 1968 and Desilu had been purchased by Paramount and they didn't really want the show! To make matters worse, Desilu's executive in charge of production Herb Solow, who had brought the show to Desilu and also convinced NBC to buy it, was no longer around in season 3. Frieberger was also dealing with a network that hated Star Trek because of the actions of its creator, and had put the show in the worst time slot imaginable for its audience! Of course, the worst part of it all was that he had been hired by an executive producer, Gene Roddenberry, who wanted nothing to do with the show anymore. He simply walked away and left it to Frieberger. In the end, Fred Frieberger inherited a dysfunctional production that couldn't be fixed. It was a complicated mess and all the powers that could have made Star Trek's third season a success were actually aligned against the show. Co-hosts Bob Turner and Kelly Casto tell you about the life and career of producer Fred Frieberger on this episode of 70s Trek.



Member: Rank 8
I really like the third season of Star Trek. There's some great episodes which really try something different and mostly work well.
The Empath is one I really like, Whom Gods Destroy is possibly insensitive toward mental illness but still a good story, Spectre Of The Gun, who can dislike that, All Our Yesterdays is possibly the best of the season. True, Spock's Brain is dire, but overall the season was good, better IMO than season two.
Frieberger's work on Space 1999 on the other hand was quite poor.

Doctor Omega

Member: Rank 10
overall the season was good, better IMO than season two.

I agree. I find LET THAT BE YOUR LAST BATTLEFIELD to be confronting the stupidity of prejudice with a hilariously simple metaphor that even the thickest of racists should find inarguable.

Rodenberry deserted the sinking ship and left Fred to try and keep the show afloat. The guy fell back on his showman instincts, but still made interesting shows. That he became the universal scapegoat for the cancellation - blamed even by The Great Bird - was unfair. Rodenberry should have stayed if he cared that much.