No matter how much you already know about the original Star Trek, there's still undiscovered territory out there. And just like with season one, the new book series These Are The Voyages by Marc Cushman uncovers loads of surprising secrets. Here are a dozen things you probably never knew about Star Trek's second season.
Season two of Star Trek was a precarious time — despite high ratings, the show barely won a renewal for a second year, and it got moved to Friday nights. The studio, Desilu, was being sold to Gulf and Western/Paramount, and budgets were a bigger problem than ever — and the network was clashing with Gene Roddenberry more than ever. It's easy to see how Trek could have ended after just a few dozen episodes, which would have killed its syndication chances.
At the same time, the show was becoming a pop culture sensation, with a lot of the attention being focused on Leonard Nimoy, and relations among the main cast were getting strained. (It didn't help matters that the second-tier crew was expanded to include a new member, Ensign Chekov, who stole a lot of scenes that would have gone to Sulu or Uhura.)
Once again, Cushman's bookThese Are The Voyages: TOS Season Two is an invaluable window into the making of classic Star Trek, with tons and tons of details about every single episode that were previously unknown to me. The personalities of the people working on the show come through, and you get a real sense of just how invaluable Gene Coon and Dorothy Fontana were to the quality control on Trek — and what a huge shift it was when John Meredyth Lucas replaced Coon. There are loads of quotes from memos and script notes at the time, plus interviews after the fact.
Again and again, you see how scripts came in that were lacking drama or strong plotlines, and either Coon or Fontana stepped in to punch them up. Trek didn't have a writer's room, per se, but you get the impression that Coon, Fontana and a couple other people were a de facto writer's room by the second season, relentlessly breaking and reworking scripts from outside writers.
For people who are obsessed with in-depth behind-the-scenes glimpses, this book is an amazing revelation — it's like getting to see exactly how the sausage got made.
So here are some weird details about Star Trek's second year that we learned from this book:
Leonard Nimoy almost walked. At the start of season two, it was clear that Nimoy was as much the star of the show as William Shatner, and Nimoy's agent argued that his contract was void — because it specified Spock as a secondary character. Nimoy was making $1,125 per episode, and his agent demanded an increase to an unheard-of $9,000 per episode. A stalemate ensued, and the show set about figuring out how to replace Spock in season two — a new Vulcan would have to join the Enterprise crew, and candidates for the role included Mark Lenard (who had played a Romulan and later played Spock's father) and David Carradine (later to star in Kung Fu.) In the end, they settled on Lawrence Montaigne, who had also played a Romulan and would later appear as Stonn in the episode "Amok Time." Montaigne signed a contract that held him for the entire season but guaranteed him only one episode's work (which is why he wound up playing Stonn.) Desilu's Herb Solow told Nimoy's agent that it doesn't matter who plays the role. "It's the pointed ears that count; they're the star."
But in the end, the studio blinked, giving Nimoy a smaller pay hike than he had asked for, along with script input. Later in the season, the rumors of a "feud" between Nimoy and Shatner started appearing in the press — and they were somewhat overblown, although numerous sources do report that Shatner would count his lines to make sure he had more lines in a scene than Nimoy. And in the episode "Catspaw," Kirk and Spock leave the Bridge to rush down to the Transporter Room, but Kirk arrives at the Transporter Room alone. (Spock got lost along the way.)
One character got promoted out of existence. DeSalle, a minor character, was given a red uniform top instead of a yellow one, because he got promoted to Assistant Chief Engineer — the thinking being that during the episodes where Kirk and Spock are on a planet's surface and Scotty is in command, the show needed to cut to someone in Engineering. But in the end, whenever Scotty is in command, the show never shows Engineering at all, so instead of gaining prominence, DeSalle wound up getting written out because of his promotion.
Zephram Cochrane was a maniac originally. In the original script for "Metamorphosis," the episode that introduces warp pioneer Zephram Cochrane, he's a lot more volatile. When he learns that the Companion, his alien friend, is female and is in love with him, he freaks out and throws rocks at her. He then attacks the Companion with a club. Also, the merging of the Companion and Commissioner Hedford doesn't happen until the very last scene of the story, instead of during Act III as in the aired version — a change which allowed Cochrane to struggle more with accepting the Companion in human form.
"Friday's Child" originally featured a really bad mother. In Dorothy Fontana's script draft of "Friday's Child," the princess Eleen doesn't protect her baby at all costs, the way she does in the aired version. Instead, she hates her baby and is willing to hand the newborn over to be murdered, in exchange for her own safety. Fontana wanted to break out of the stereotype of women always being good, self-sacrificing mothers on television — but Roddenberry nixed this and rewrote it so Eleen is selfless and devoted to her baby. Also, the earlier script had the native Capellans saying things like, "We are not an industrial people, Captain," but Roddenberry wanted them to speak more like TV "natives," and changed that line to, "We are herdsmen. To dig into the ground for metals is a thing strange to us."
They created a whole Vulcan language. In the episode "Amok Time," there was going to be long stretches of dialogue in Vulcan, and writer Theodore Sturgeon and the researchers at De Forest Research came up with a whole Vulcan language. The researchers became very upset when anyone tried to change things so the Vulcan syntax became incorrect. At one point, T'Pring utters a long speech in Vulcan, and Spock replies, "T'Pring! Klart!". The producers decided this was too silly and got rid of all the "mumble-jumbo" in the script. And the term "Kikki-nee-klart" was changed to just "Klee-fah." Also, the line "you will find that having is not so pleasant a thing as wanting" was edited out of the episode — until Sturgeon saw that it had been cut, and "flipped out" — he "raised hell," convincing the film editors to put it back in.
The stars nearly went deaf. William Shatner had permanent tinnitus, a ringing in his ear, after being too close to an explosion during the filming of the episode "Arena" in season one. But then, another explosion went off close to Kirk, Spock and McCoy during the filming of "The Apple," and as DeForest Kelley put it, "the three of us absolutely went deaf." The three of them had to go to the doctor's office, in costume. Two decades later, Kelley said he still had a souvenir of that episode: "a constant ringing in my ear."
The original "Mirror Mirror" was very different. In the original script, Kirk alone is beamed to an alternate universe — where McCoy has a beard, not Spock — and discovers that the Federation is losing a war against some aliens. And Kirk is married to a woman who surprises him in his quarters. Kirk realizes this alternate Federation is losing the war because it doesn't have phaser technology, so he's forced to "invent" the phaser overnight. Also, there's no explanation of where the other Kirk went when "our" Kirk went to this universe.
Unused scripts. There are a lot of details about scripts that never made it to the screen — instead of "The Doomsday Machine," Norman Spinrad had pitched a story where a computer reaches into the minds of Spock, Kirk and another man, and create three beautiful women, who represent each man's version of the ideal woman. But one of these women is dangerously evil because she was created by the mind of the third man, who's a "menace character," and Kirk has to decide whether to destroy them all even though two of the women are just programmed to please. Dorothy Fontana passed on this script because it was too similar to "Mudd's Women."
Also, A.E. Van Vogt pitched a story called "The Search for Eternity," in which the Enterprise crew has amnesia and Kirk is accused of destroying a planet — an Admiral shows up and calls Kirk "you rat" and has him arrested. Spock and McCoy help the Admiral to sentence Kirk to death by firing squad (!), but then it turns out the Admiral is actually an evil alien, and the Enterprise crew was just pretending to believe Kirk destroyed a planet to get close enough to the faux Admiral. Wrote Dorothy Fontana, "I find it difficult to believe a Star Fleet Admiral would under any circumstances address a starship captain as 'You rat,' unless, of course, said Star Fleet Admiral is portrayed by James Cagney." And there are tons more unused Trek pitches and scripts, described in fascinating detail.
Roddenberry tried to push the storytelling about race further. The show famously had the first interracial kiss — but Gene Roddenberry wanted that to happen way earlier, in the episode "The Alternative Factor." The network shot the idea down in season one, so it had to wait until later. Also, Roddenberry pushed hard to have a story called "Portrait in Black and White," set on an alternate Earth where blacks enslaved whites prior to the Civil War — the studio nixed it for season one, so he came back and tried to do it in season two. Also nixed for season one: the Vietnam war allegory "The Omega Glory," which Roddenberry considered a brilliant script and which he did manage to film in season two. (Roddenberry kept trying to get the network to promote "The Omega Glory" for Emmy consideration, to no avail.)
Too many cats. The episodes of season two were routinely going over budget and taking extra filming time — and one reason was cat-related. The episode "Catspaw" had a "giant" black cat who chases the Enterprise crew around spooky tunnels, and the cat would not follow the script, no matter what they tried. Even worse, the episode "Assignment: Earth" had seven cats in it — representing Isis in her cat form. One of the cats was good at walking along a high beam, one cat was really good at sitting on the couch in Gary Seven's office, and one cat could be picked up by the actors. That cat, unfortunately, had a cold and sneezed all over Spock's uniform shirt. "I have cat sneeze on the front of my shirt," said Leonard Nimoy, without quite breaking character as Spock.
More than one spinoff. Season two of Trek famously tried to launch a spinoff for Gary Seven in the episode "Assignment: Earth." But also, Gene Roddenberry really wanted to launch a spinoff about a medical ship, or a space hospital, starring the character of Dr. M'Benga — who wound up appearing in a couple of episodes, but never got his own show.
They debated the boundary of the galaxy. In the episode "By Any Other Name," the Kelvans want to take the Enterprise to the Andromeda galaxy, so the ship once again encounters the energy barrier around the galaxy, as seen in the show's second pilot. The show's researchers, De Forest Research, pointed out that there's no astronomical justification for this idea, and in fact Isaac Asimov had blasted the show for this notion when it first appeared — although Asimov later became of the show's biggest fans. But the producers decided to keep the barrier at the edge of the galaxy, since it had already been established, and they could save money by reusing the footage from "Where No Man Has Gone Before." They did, however, make sure the travel time to Andromeda was accurate — going Warp 14, or 8,192 times the speed of light, it would indeed take around 280 years.
One of the first Star Trek books was a disaster. Mission to Horatius by Mack Reynolds was published in 1968 by Whitman, and told a brand new story of the Enterprise crew. Unfortunately, nobody from the show had been given approval of the book, and it was being sent to printers with a dull, derivative story. Plus the manuscript described Lt. Uhura as a "Negress" and referred to her singing a "spiritual." Gene Roddenberry intervened at the last minute, and a new version was rushed to the printers. Roddenberry wrote that Star Trek "is a valuable property and worth protecting, and I personally would rather blow a deal like his than see the property harmed."