Sometimes I get the feeling the only way we could achieve a STAR TREK segment on budget would be to have 60 minutes of Mister Spock playing a kazoo solo as Captain Kirk holds him in his arms while standing in a telephone booth.
Robert Justman, Producer of Star Trek: TOS, quoted in These Are the Voyages, TOS Season One
“Sometimes I get the feeling the only way we could achieve a STAR TREK segment on budget would be to have 60 minutes of Mr. Spock playing kazoo solo as Captain Kirk holds him in his arms while standing in a telephone booth.” —Robert Justman 1967, one of the original associate producers.
WHY WASN’T THIS MADE, I WOULD HAVE DEFINITELY WATCHED……
Despite only appearing for only a few moments in the final episode, the Salt Vampire from “The Man Trap” remains one of Star Trek’s most iconic creatures. Wah Chang designed the costume and when the episode’s writer George C. Johnson saw it in Robert Justman’s office, he was at first disappointed, feeling that the teeth and appearance was not close to his original vision of “something like a refugee from a concentration camp.” He was convinced, though, upon seeing dancer Sandra Gimpel’s performance in the suit.
“She was incredible. She got the whole spirit of the damned thing,” Johnson recalled years later.
Producer Robert Justman wrote a long, very detailed memo to Gene Roddenberry about the many flaws in his script for “The Omega Glory” but opted to not send it for fear of hurting the other’s feelings. Instead, he made a few suggestions in a meeting, but “…as anyone who has seen the episode knows, it didn’t do much good,” Justman reported in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story.
I'm curious. Why didn't you mention Lucille Ball in your 50th anniversary post?
Hi, curious. I’m Kevin.
I’ve seen this story about how Lucy saved Star Trek kind of grow over the last couple of years, and I get it. She’s a feminist icon that is incredibly important to the history of television. Connecting her to Star Trek through the studio that she owned seems natural, right?
Unfortunately, the facts (as far as I can tell) seem to be that Gene Roddenberry spent the seventies exaggerating how much involvement she had with the series as well as how much time he spent with her. Desilu
Executive in Charge of Production
Herb Solow stated outright that the two didn’t even know each other on a personal basis and that Roddenberry was, for lack of a better word, lying. After all, Lucy surrounded herself with executives (like Solow) whose jobs were to handle the day-to-day business of the studio, providing a buffer between her and individual producers.
(This aspect of the Desilu-Roddenberry relationship is discussed in the 2014 reference book Star Trek and American Television, which goes into some detail about the financial, technical and creative aspects of the franchise. It’s the sort of book I quite like, but I don’t recommend to most people.)
Additionally, Inside Star Trek co-author Robert Justman later wrote:
“Lucy really did not understand the show; it was very foreign to her and she was watching this thing being done. We’d talk once or twice a week and she never looked away when we were over budget. She was there with the money. No interference whatsoever, in fact as I said in the book, when I gave her the first and second pilot scripts, I don’t think she even read them.”
Again: I get it. Lucy’s great. Star Trek’s great. They should be great together, right? Unfortunately, a lot of people (including some authors that should know better) have tended to stick to the legend instead of the available facts.
When in preproduction on “The Galileo Seven,” Robert Justman realized they had a problem: a full-sized version of the titular shuttlecraft was going to be a significant expense, one that the budgetarily-strapped show could ill afford, especially after previously-made episodes had all come in with significant deficits in their wake. However, there was a solution from a very unusual, if logical, source: AMT Corporation, a model kit manufacturer.
AMT executives had seen the previews for Star Trek and wanted to make tiny versions of the ship featured in them for bedrooms, basements and garages across America. They met with Ed Perlstein of Desilu and sealed a deal where they would get exclusive model rights for the Enterprise in exchange for two full-sized versions of the ship (one for exteriors and a second for interior photography) and a miniature for special effects purposes.
“The Women” was an episode logline featured in the original “Star Trek Is…” document and became one of the three story outlines that Gene Roddenberry wrote for NBC to choose from when planning the original series pilot. (The other two were “The Cage” and “Landru’s Paradise,” later to be made as “The Return of the Archons.)
When it came time for a second pilot, NBC asked Roddenberry to present them with three screenplays by three different writers to choose from. Sam Peeples wrote "Where No Man Has Gone Before” while Roddenberry tackled “The Omega Glory” and Stephen Kandel handled “The Women,” which would soon feature a lovable pimp and con-man named Harcourt Fenton Mudd. Kandel had no experience with science fiction, really, but he did understand how to write for television and used Mudd’s bigger-than-life personality to distract the executives from noticing that the story he was developing involved pill-popping prostitutes.
Kandel wrote two drafts of “Mudd’s Women” during the pilot selection phase but had to hand it off to Roddenberry’s team as he was about to produce a series of his own, Iron Horse. TV writer Jack Guss received an envelope from Roddenberry with a request for an overhaul and, without knowing it had been the Great Bird’s concept from the beginning, sent a note back to the office pointing out the story’s weaknesses from top to bottom, most specifically the lack of real conflict.
Guss wasn’t invited back to Star Trek.
While Robert Justman turned in a laundry list of production issues that needed to be tackled based on Kandel’s drafts, Roddenberry handed the rewrite assignment to John D.F. Black, who’d just taken over as the show’s script coordinator. Black and Justman hashed out things while Roddenberry worked on the script for “The Corbomite Manuever” and when he finally got to read “Mudd’s Women,” he wrote a memo to Black that started out “A good script, excellent dialogue and characterizations; enjoyed reading it,” before pointing out a number of ways to improve the screenplay, all dictated while enjoying a late-night cocktail.
Black did another pass, incorporating those suggestions, Justman offered a few more notes (including one that should have been included: Ben Childress actually finds that he loves Eve no matter what she looks like) and then Roddenberry did a Roddenberry and completely rewrote it. Unlike many of his peers, Stephen Kandel understood how Roddenberry worked and in an interview stated “Oh, Gene rewrote. He loved to meddle. No script was ever finished.”
While “The Corbomite Maneuver” would see more substantial changes from first draft to shooting script, Roddenberry felt that his and Black’s contributions merited a full credit, which read “Story by Gene Roddenberry; Teleplay by Stephen Kandel, John D.F. Black and Gene Roddenberry.”
Casting Harry Mudd was easy; Roger C. Carmel had been a guest star on a number of TV shows (including multiple appearances on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and I Spy) and he was the first and only person that Joe D'Agosta called. “He was the right person for that role and, when you look at his contribution, maybe the only person for that role,” the casting director would later say.
The three women were a bit more difficult: a group of 20 appeared but D'Agosta narrowed it down to Karen Steele as Eve; Susan Denberg as Magda and Maggie Thrett as Ruth. Steele had appeared prominently in 1955’s Marty and the acclaimed western Rode Lonesome along with a number of b-pictures.
Denberg came from Poland to Las Vegas, joining a chorus line there before being discovered and taking on a number of TV and film roles. She actually appeared in the August 1966 issue of Playboy, released just prior to the broadcast of "Mudd’s Women.” James Doohan recalled that any of the sequences in which the male cast members were required to ogle the women were not a challenge in the slightest, Denberg in particular. “I looked at her and thought, ‘Wooooeeee.’”
Maggie Thrett had made her feature film debut the same year with Dimenson 5, a science fiction film that featured former Enterprise captain Jeffrey Hunter. Harlan Ellison, who was working on his script for “The City On The Edge Of Forever” at the Trek offices during shooting, kept calling her “Maggie Treat.” When corrected on her name by a woman that worked on the show, Ellison responded that to her, she was a threat. To him, the tall brunette was a treat.
This was the first episode in which viewers would get to see William Ware Theiss’s theories of women’s clothing in action. He believed that it wasn’t how much an article of clothing revealed that mattered; it was the idea that it could slip the tiniest bit and fall to the floor. Roddenberry would (not surprisingly) attend many of the fittings for these costumes and make suggestions that would end up making things even skimpier.
The wardrobe made explicit the sexual nature of the script and while westerns had frequently featured men offering women to lonesome settlers and ranchers with very little attention from the censors, Theiss’s costumes weren’t like those featured on Gunsmoke. This caused some consternation with John D.F. Black and Justman, but thanks to Jerry Finnerman’s soft-focus technique for shooting women (which debuted here) and some discreet editing, the episode made it with very little in the way of interference.
Speaking of editing, this would be director Harvey Hart’s only episode, his technique of cutting in the camera and using elaborate setups made it hard for the editing team to put together the final product. Throw in the fact that he racked up a lot of overtime with his shooting techniques and you have a person who wasn’t a good fit for the budget-minded production.
I’m not a huge fan of “Mudd’s Women” — mostly because I object to Harry Mudd’s way of making a living and how women are treated as chattel — but for an episode early in the series, it does a number of things very well. All of the performances are razor-sharp and even with the occasional continuity gaffes and odd moments (why didn’t Ben Childress have goggles if he was a settler on a dustblown, distant world?), it looks and feels like a more mature vision than its production date would suggest.
“The City On The Edge Of Forever” won major writing awards for both the aired and Harlan Ellison’s original version of its screenplay. The broadcasted script for “City” earned a 1968 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (it was running against four other episodes of Star Trek) while Ellison took home the Writers Guild of America Award for “Best Written Dramatic Episode” for his version.
At the WGA awards, Gene Roddenberry, Gene Coon, Robert Justman, Herb Solow and others involved in the show’s production were on hand to show support for his work despite the problems they’d experienced. Ellison, of course, used his time at the podium to berate the audience about executives rewriting his work.
In Inside Star Trek, Robert Justman recalls when he found the first draft screenplay for “The City On The Edge Of Forever” waiting to be read. He recalls:
“I’m smiling and I go to my office to give it a quick read. I stop smiling. Harlan’s script is brilliantly written, but completely unusable. At first glance, I can tell it’s going to be hugely expensive, and at the same time, his Enterprise characters are speaking incorrectly and, more importantly, behaving incorrectly.”
Even with the numerous problems in the script, he couldn’t help but admire Ellison’s ambitions. Justman fired off a memo to John D.F. Black:
Without a doubt, this is the best and most beautifully written screenplay we have gotten to date, and possibly we’ll ever get this season. If you tell this to Harlan, I’ll kill you.
The first episode of Star Trek that Gerald Fried worked on was “Shore Leave.” The then-38-year-old had been writing music for TV and films since the early fifties and had composed the scores to Kubrick’s The Killing and Paths of Glory before moving on to TV hits like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Gilligan’s Island.
He was hired by producer Robert Justman and described the process of scoring the series as follows: “Now, this was before they handed us DVDs for the work. so we only had one or two shots and watching the edited episode. In a day or two, the music editor would send us timing notes down to a tenth or even a hundredth of a second. And that’s in front of us. There’s every start and stop of dialogue; every pause over a second is indicated by the music editor. So it’s pretty much all there in front of us. We know it’s going to be a crunch of a schedule and we’re used to it and it’s kind of exciting.”
Fried composed the score for “Shore Leave” in just two weeks; it was recorded in a single day: December 2, 1966. The episode aired on December 29th.
The piece featured here, which played when Kirk was reunited with Ruth, is the best part of Fried’s score to “Shore Leave” (even with the Irish jig-influenced fight music for Kirk’s brawl with Finnegan) and would subsequently be used in “This Side of Paradise” and “The Apple.”
“Space Seed” was the sixth episode of Star Trek directed by Marc Daniels, a favorite of the producers. His previous television experience (dozens of episodes of shows in every genre, including I Love Lucy, the program that made Desilu’s founders into megastars) ensured that even complex scripts were filmed within a reasonable schedule and with an eye on the budget.
“During a drought, you pray for rain. During the first year of Star Trek, we prayed for Marc Daniels,” Robert Justman recalled.
Written by prolific horror and science fiction author Richard Matheson, “The Enemy Within” is the first of several ‘evil duplicate’ stories in Star Trek and stands up as an early example of the series as a genre in its own right.
This episode was Matheson’s second major screenplay that featured a screaming Shatner; the first was The Twilight Zone’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” which is widely considered to be among the very best of that series. Matheson was invited by Roddenberry and the team at Desilu to attend a studio screening of “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” where he watched the pilot with several other writers that would make an impact on the series, including “The Man Trap” scribe George Clayton Johnson and Paul Schneider, who’d write “Balance of Terror” and “The Squire of Gothos.”
In an interview, Matheson recounted, “I had just looked at Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and immediately saw the potential of using that transporter device for separating the two sides of a person’s character. Having an accident with that offered a good way to study the alternative personality. And it was part of my original concept that he needed that negative element in his personality in order to be a good captain. I think, probably, we’re all mixtures of good and bad. If any one of us was all good, we’d be boring. And leaders have to have that drive and that ambition.”
However, when the story outline arrived, Roddenberry had mixed feelings. He saw that it would be a great episode for Shatner, but that an attempted rape might be too much for NBC’s censors. Matheson saw it as anything but exploitative and trivial, insisting that the balance between brutality and intelligence was a key part of Kirk’s personality. In fact, setting aside the “evil” Kirk’s attack on Yeoman Rand, Matheson’s outline shows him as an outright brute, drunk and reckless.
Another thing missing from Matheson’s original outline was the stranded away team. While Roddenberry and associate producers John D.F. Black and Robert Justman all loved the core concept, they thought that it was a bit too lean for their show. Matheson wasn’t happy about their comments, feeling that the ship-side story was more than enough for an episode of TV, but when his first draft was delivered, it featured Sulu and the landing party stranded on Alfa 177.
“I was a little disappointed that Roddenberry built in a necessity to have a ‘B-story’ about the members of his crew stuck on the planet,” Matheson later said. “I can see why he did it, because ‘B-stories’ seemed to be a very regular occurrence in television in those days, and maybe still are.”
Roddenberry sent Matheson a list of changes he wanted made to the script, foremost being that Dr. McCoy had replaced Dr. Piper since the pilot. He included a copy of the revised writer’s bible for the show and told Matheson “You will find a cynical “H.L. Mencken” quality which will be most helpful in your script which does use the Doctor considerably.”
In addition, Roddenberry wrote that they should be careful when portraying the “Evil” Kirk as a brute, mentioning that if he’s more cunning, there’s a greater danger attached to him. He also mentioned that the removal of his base impulses should have an effect on the “Good” Kirk as well, leaving him unable to make the gut decisions that’d gotten him where he was.
This change, along with Roddenberry and team’s insistence that Spock and McCoy’s personalities should be a key part of the proceedings, was exactly what the screenplay needed to become as effective as it is. When combined with a slate of good performances, “The Enemy Within” stands out as an episode of Star Trek that improves with multiple viewings.
Even with her fantastic performance, Grace Lee Whitney walked away very unhappy with the episode, especially the last scene in which Spock says “The imposter had some very interesting qualities, wouldn’t you say, Yeoman?”
In her autobiography, The Longest Trek: My Tour Of The Galaxy, she wrote:
“I can’t imagine any more cruel and insensitive comment a man (or Vulcan) could make to a woman who has just been through a sexual assault! But then, some men really do think that women want to be raped. So the writer of the script (ostensibly Richard Matheson - although the line could have been added by Gene Roddenberry or an assistant scribe) gives us a leering Mr. Spock who suggests that Yeoman Rand enjoyed being raped and found the evil Kirk attractive!”
Whitney also recounts that she’d had difficulty getting into the moment when shooting the scene in which Rand confronts Kirk after the attack. It had been several days and bringing out so much emotion was proving difficult. To help her, Shatner slapped the young woman across the face and the cameras began rolling.
A Second Aside
Director Leo Penn saw an opportunity to play up a dramatic moment with Spock’s line “There’s only one conclusion—we have an imposter aboard.” Originally the penultimate scene in Act One, Penn moved it to immediately before the act break to give the line its proper “oomph.”
Do you have a list of the lines and episodes written for other characters that William Shatner stole for himself? He was notorious for muscling the others actors out of screen time. I remember reading once that "The Conscience of the King" was supposed to star Sulu or Chekov as the survivor or something like that.
I don’t, and I don’t think it’s nearly as great a problem as everyone’s made it out to be over the years. Reading screenplays and outlines from the period shows that Shatner’s character was always supposed at the center of the show with Nimoy’s Spock and Kelley’s McCoy on either side of him with rare exceptions.
However, you read something very wrong about “The Conscience Of The King,” as it was always supposed to feature JTK’s past and, in fact, was dramatically toned down from what writer Barry Trivers wrote in his initial outline. This version of Kirk’s backstory featured a future in which Earth had been invaded by “an army of marauders” led by Kodos had nearly conquered the planet. One of their first victims was ”Area Commander Kirk, Governor of a Province,” aka our captain’s father.
Roddenberry took exception to such a grim future for our planet and asked Trivers for a rewrite and the author moved the action offworld, with the death of Kirk’s father still in place. This was removed at the behest of Robert Justman, who pointed out that it might limit them in the future if they ever wanted to do more with the family. It was a suggestion from Stan Robertson at NBC that brought Kevin Riley into the fray as another survivor and moved the story closer to what we ended up with, but again, the story was always about James T. Kirk and Kodos.
So, no, “The Conscience Of The King” was never supposed to star Sulu or Chekov (who wasn’t introduced until the second season.)
A behind-the-scenes photo from the first day of filming for “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”
Roddenberry had wanted James Goldstone (a highly-regarded TV director with stints on Perry Mason, Rawhide, The Fugitive along with Roddenberry’s own The Lieutenant) to helm the first pilot, but wasn’t able to secure him. After all, a man who had a good reputation could have it destroyed with one lousy pilot and like the rest of Hollywood, he was a bit skittish about science-fiction at the time. (That said, he was happy to recommend his friend Robert H. Justman as an Associate Producer for the show early on, which worked out very well indeed.)
When NBC told Roddenberry he would have a second shot, he again approached Goldstone, who agreed to direct the second pilot.
“There had been several problems with the "The Cage.” One of them was that it cost so much money and the other that it took so long to shoot,“ Goldstone said in an interview. "One of the requisites put on the second pilot was to shoot it in eight days which would then prove that a weekly series could be done in six or seven days. The other requisite was that NBC very much wanted something that could be ‘commercial’ against the police shows and all the other action things that were then on television. "Where No Man Has Gone Before” was not so much a pilot as it was an example of how we could go on a weekly level.“
In writer John Kneubuhl’s treatment for “Bread and Circuses,” the surviving Stafleet officer from the SS Beagle who became the First Citizen of 892-IV was a Vulcan named Jeroth. Robert Justman felt that it would be impossible for the differently-complexioned alien to fit in, even if he wore a helmet to cover his ears. He also felt that using another Vulcan as an antagonist should be reserved for another episode.
In a memo, Justman stated: “The big gimmick in this show is that Kirk and Spock must fight each other. Let’s at least consider saving combat between Spock and another Vulcan for another show in which that will be the central Theme.”
William Smithers played Captain R.M. Merik in the final episode, known as Merikus to the planet’s inhabitants.
Robert Justman was not happy with the first draft of John Meredyth Lucas’s script for “The Changeling.” Memos to Gene Coon included passages like “I found myself so overwhelmed by this teleplay that I was unable to come to grips with it professionally. We are deficient in the areas of story, logic, believability, dialogue, characterizations and so on, and so on, and so on, and so on. Good luck!”
He also wrote: “I have a secret way to handle this small spaceship so that it moves with your people and yet at the same time we do not see any wires. You must have this script rewritten before I will tell you my secret. I don’t want to blow a good secret on a bad script.”
Justman’s secret, by the way, was pretty obvious: he told director Marc Daniels to use very thin wiring holding up a very light model. There was also a heftier model of Nomad made that used a dolly when the entire model wasn’t seen moving on-screen as well as a floor-mounted version for steady shots.