Star Trek: The Animated Series
Most of the original cast returned as voice actors. Filmation producers had planned to hire only the core cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and James Doohan. Doohan and Majel Barrett were to provide the voices of most extras and other crew members, including Sulu and Uhura. This did not sit well with Leonard Nimoy, who threatened to walk away if the Enterprise's ethnically diverse crew were not properly represented. Nichelle Nichols and George Takei were finally brought on board, while Walter Koenig remained cut, owing to limitations in the budget. His character, Chekov, is here replaced by two alien crewmembers: a six-limbed Edosian named Arex (voiced by James Doohan) and a Caitian feline named M'Ress (voiced by Majel Barrett).
Roddenberry hired Trek alumnus Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana as associate producer to oversee the day-to-day production. She also acted as story editor, as she had done for the original series. Thanks in part to a writer's guild strike, many veteran Trek writers (and others) were available to contribute scripts to the animated series, as animation writing was not under the jurisdiction of the guild. Almost half of the episodes are written by Trek alumni.
The design work, however, is a cut above the usual Filmation fare. The character likenesses are surprisingly good. Many of the alien designs are inspired, and thankfully take full advantage of the freedoms afforded by animation. No longer limited to bipedal zipper suits, the crew encounters giant slugs, sea monsters, a multi-tentacled shapeshifter, mer-folk, plant creatures, and many, many others.
The backgrounds are a particular standout. Care has been taken to faithfully reproduce the EnterpriseŚwith a few modifications, such as a second entrance to the bridge. The alien landscapes are vivid and lush, with an openness that couldn't be achieved on a live-action budget. Occasionally, the show even takes the crew to places that the original series could never have gone, such as the underwater kingdom of "The Ambergris Element."
Some creatures and their animation get reused throughout the series. I'm pretty sure I saw Kirk and crew attacked by the same pterodactyls in at least three episodes. This was standard practice for Filmation. Several of Star Trek's creature designs, backgrounds and even musical cues would even turn up later in other Filmation series.
To be sure, there are some hilarious slip-ups. In scenes set on a planet with constant volcanic eruptions, several layouts have the skyward-spewn smoke and lava painted onto the background, frozen in mid-eruption. Check out the opening credits, where a three-quarter angle drawing of the Enterprise is dragged sideways across the screen. There is also the recurrent misuse of the color pink on such things as enemy ships, the costumes of ferocious aliens, and tribbles. It turns out that director Hal Sutherland is color blind, and when he did the color assignment he assumed that this particular shade of pink was a light grey.
You may also notice a few surprising names in the credits, such as an early screen credit for Disney animator Glen Keane on layout, and a late one for Warner veteran Virgil Ross on animation.