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F Entries
Federico Fellini
Richard Fleischer
Louise Fletcher
D.C. Fontana
Anne Francis
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John Frankenheimer
Brendan Fraser
 
FONTANA, D. C.
(Dorothy Catherine Fontana 1939– ). American writer.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Wrote: "Charlie X" (story Gene RODDENBERRY) (1966), "Tomorrow Is Yesterday," "This Side of Paradise" (script; story with Nathan Butler), "Journey to Babel," "Friday's Child" (1967), "By Any Other Name" (with Jerome BIXBY, story Bixby), "The Ultimate Computer" (story Lawrence M. Wolfe), "The Enterprise Incident" (1968), episodes of Star Trek; "Yesteryear" (1973), episode of Star Trek (animated tv series); "The Rescue of Athena One," "Straight On 'Till Morning" (1974), episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man; "Elsewhen" (1974), episode of Land of the Lost; "Turnabout" (with Ken Kolb) (1977), episode of The Fantastic Journey; "The Innocent" (with Ray Brenner), "Carousel" (with Richard L. Breen Jr.) (1977), episodes of Logan's Run; "Planet of the Amazon Women" (with Richard Fontana) (1979), episode of Buck Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century; "Encounter at Farpoint" (with Gene RODDENBERRY), "The Naked Now" (story by John D. F. Black and Fontana writing as J. Michael Bingham; script credited to Bingham); "Lonely among Us" (story Michael Halperin; with Halperin) (1987), "Too Short a Season" (with Michael Michaelian; story Michaelian), "Heart of Glory" (story with Herbert Wright; script by Maurice Hurley) (1988), episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation; "The Meek Shall Inherit" (1989), episode of War of the Worlds; "Dax" (with Peter Allan Fields; story Fields) (1993), episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; "The War Prayer," "Legacies" (1994), "A Distant Star" (1995), episodes of Babylon 5; episode of Hypernauts (1996); "Miracle" (1997), episode of Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict; "Where No Sprite Has Gone Before" (1999), episode of ReBoot (animated tv series).

Also: story consultant, Star Trek (1966-68); script supervisor, The Sixth Sense (1972); story editor and associate producer, Star Trek (animated tv series) (1973-74); story consultant, The Fantastic Journey (1977); story editor, Logan's Run (1977).

 
In defense of Dorothy C. Fontana, one could argue that it was her Star Trek episodes, more than any others, that helped to attract the program's unprecedented legions of female fans, thus contributing to the eventual ubiquity and longevity of the Star Trek franchise. Yet today, I strongly suspect, the same women who once sighed over her dramas—now older, wiser, and more attuned to the science fiction genre—find that it is precisely those same D. C. Fontana episodes that they can no longer endure watching.

Although she stumbled into a lifelong association with science fiction through the happenstance of working as a secretary to Gene RODDENBERRY, which led to her writing first for his series The Lieutenant (1963-64) and then for Star Trek, Fontana had no real aptitude for science fiction. She certainly didn't know much about science, as evidenced by the trite Kirk-outwits-the-computer plot of "The Ultimate Computer," mortifyingly na´ve even in the context of the embryonic technology of the 1960s. Neither could she intelligently employ the genre as a vehicle for social or political commentary, as evidenced by the melodramatic "The Enterprise Incident," which grew out of her bright idea to retell the then-controversial story of the Pueblo incident in science-fictional guise. At her best, she could concoct entertaining fluff like "Tomorrow Is Yesterday," the only episode with her name on it that stands up to repeated viewing. But more often, Fontana would sidestep her difficulties with the genre by transforming the Enterprise into a starfaring General Hospital, a gaudy setting for soap-opera scenarios of personal conflict: the cold, unemotional Mr. Spock falls head-over-heels in love (twice); Spock is alienated from, then reconciles with, his father; a troubled boy with dangerous powers seeks to escape from his alien mentors; the chieftain of a primitive tribe is killed, leaving a beautiful widow to raise his infant son; a planned invasion from the Andromeda galaxy is foiled because its advance agents become embroiled in emotional discord. While Fontana has often spoken about her special affinity for Spock, Theodore STURGEON's single episode ("Amok Time") did more to make the character interesting than all of Fontana's soapy sagas—because Sturgeon, as an experienced science fiction writer, could develop and present some intelligent and novel ideas about the physiology and culture of an alien humanoid, while Fontana could not. To further document Fontana's woeful inclination to drag a genre with grand aspirations down to dull domesticity, consider that Harlan ELLISON created a time machine which Captain Kirk employed to avert a disastrous change in human history making Hitler victorious in World War II ("The City on the Edge of Forever"); later, Fontana borrowed the same machine so that an adult Spock could go back in time to ensure his own existence and comfort his childhood self about the death of a beloved pet ("Yesteryear"). What more needs to be said?

I cannot be confident that I have tracked down all of Fontana's many adventures outside of and after Star Trek, which reportedly include episodes of The Big Valley, Bonanza, Dallas, The High Chaparral, Kung Fu, Lonesome Dove, The Streets of San Francisco, and The Waltons, as well as a television movie entitled A Special Act of Love (1973)—all venues better suited to her mundane talents. But her credits in science fiction suggest a certain pattern of behavior: every time a new science fiction series was announced, she would come knocking on the producer's door, holding a résumé with the words "STAR TREK" splashed on the pages in big bold letters, and the producer, hoping to capture a bit of the Star Trek magic for his own project, would often be happy to hire her as a writer or consultant. Then, either the series would die a quick death, or Fontana would wear out her welcome and find that her services were no longer required; even Star Trek: The Next Generation managed to drive her away after she helped to make its first season very uneven, though she later returned to her old territory to write "Dax," an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Perhaps invited back on board to develop in some innovative fashion the character of Dax, a woman with an alien implanted in her body and merged with her personality, Fontana instead offered a characteristically contrived scenario of a murder charge against the alien's previous host, a tense courtroom trial, and a last-minute exoneration when a general's wife testifies that she was having a romantic rendezvous with the accused host at the time of the murder. As for her work outside of Star Trek, if her episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man, Land of the Lost, The Fantastic Journey, Logan's Run, Buck Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century, War of the Worlds, Babylon 5, Hypernauts, and Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict were in any way especially memorable, that information has somehow been omitted from the chronicles of science fiction television.

In the 1990s, Fontana kept milking her Star Trek connection by writing a Star Trek novel about Spock and a Star Trek-related episode of the animated series ReBoot. However, she has received more attention for authoring the still-unavailable computer game, Secret of Vulcan Fury, featuring the vocal talents of the original Star Trek cast. Once scheduled for release in 1998, the extended delay in its appearance represents either a company's foolish suppression of a brilliant interactive drama or its wise business decision to avoid wasting money on promoting a boring mess that would never succeed and would only serve to embarrass its distinguished participants. Based on D. C. Fontana's track record, one scenario seems more likely than the other.

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