Sunday, January 08, 2017

From a starship captain to a family Bunch -- TV worlds collide at L.A's Franklin Canyon Park

Many thanks to guest blogger Brian Lombard, who offers this closeup look at a fun filming site on the West Coast.


Franklin Canyon Park is a public park in the hills of Los Angeles. While you may have never heard of it, you’ve most likely seen it, as it has been used in countless films and television series. The iconic introduction to “The Andy Griffith Show,” wherein Andy and young Opie head out for a day of fishing, was filmed in the park. But it wasn’t Andy Griffith that drew me there on a recent visit to L.A.

My interest in the park was twofold, the first involving the final frontier, the second involving a very lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls. Yes, both “Star Trek” and “The Brady Bunch,” two of my favorites series, filmed memorable episodes in the park, so I knew I had to see it firsthand.

In June 1968, “Star Trek” came to the park for production of an early third-season episode entitled “The Paradise Syndrome.” The story finds Captain Kirk joining a tribe of Native Americans after losing his memory on a doomed planet that the Enterprise has been sent to intercept. Much of the story was shot on the shores of Franklin Lake, including a specially designed set piece involving an obelisk. The piece is infamous among “Star Trek” fans, as its cost overruns resulted in the series ending location shoots with this episode. As a result, the third and final season would shoot exclusively indoors back at Paramount Studios, using pre-existing sets over and over (and over) again.

Finding the area where the obelisk once sat is fairly easy to do. Today, it's home to a picnic table and a trash can (below), belying its more popular position in pop culture history.

Look across the lake and you’ll see the area where the Indian village set once was, though it was only used for exterior shots. This is also the area where, just a year later, the Bradys would set up camp in the first-season episode “A Camping We Will Go.” (See the black box in the third photo below.)

Didja notice? Captain Kirk performs CPR on a boy who was pulled from the lake, and Cindy Brady is seen soaking wet after having fallen in herself. But no one is ever actually shown in the lake itself. That’s because back in the '60s, the lake was used as a backup water supply, and park rangers were quick to tell the productions no swimming. In the case of “Star Trek,” canoes were rented for the express purpose of filming on the lake, but instead were shown merely being cleaned on shore.

Today the park is home to locals out for a jog or letting their dogs stretch their legs. Even if you’re not a fan of these classic series, it’s still a scenic and beautiful way to spend an afternoon. But like the Bradys, better bring your own lunch, as there’s no fish to be found in that lake!

Brian Lombard is the author of "Bradypalooza: The Unauthorized Guide to TV's Favorite Family," and a really big fan of classic TV!


Screenshots and photos by Brian Lombard; please do not copy without permission.

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