Movie News

Norman Spinrad's Long Lost, Unfilmed Script For An Original STAR TREK Series Episode Has Been Located, And Now We Can Read It!!

Published at: Feb. 22, 2012, 1:55 p.m. CST

 

Merrick here...

Over the years, a number of STAR TREK concepts have evolved, morphed, merged, or been done away with entirely.

In the years preceding STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE for example, Philip Kaufman (THE RIGHT STUFF, 1978's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS remake) was close to directing a picture called STAR TREK: PLANET OF THE TITANS - which would've found Enterprise and her crew challenging Klingons over a legendary world.  The plot would've eventually seen a time loop of sorts resulting in the Enterprise gang introducing fire to mankind. 

Another example found scripts for "The Child" and "Devil's Due" - both conceived for the STAR TREK PHASE II television series before that show was repurposed to become STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE -  ultimately dusted off and re-worked as TREK: TNG installments.  

Many notions, poised at various stages of development, were lost in time completely.  Legendary author Norman Spinrad  - who had written the tense and iconic "Doomsday Machine" episode for the original STAR TREK series - found his second script for that show altered and thrashed in an effort to convert it into a "funny" vehicle for Milton Berle.  The problem was...

 

This screenplay was commissioned by Gene Roddenberry as a vehicle for Milton Berle as a serious actor and he also sent me to an overgrown backlot village set he wanted to try to write into the script too.

This original version was rewritten into an unfunny comedy by the line producer Gene Coon apparently unaware that Uncle Miltie was also a serious dramatic actor and a good one. It t was so bad that I complained to Roddenberry.

"This is so lousy, Gene, that you should kill it!" I told him. "You can't, you shouldn't, shoot this thing! Read it and weep!"

Gene did, and he agreed with me.

 

All per author Spinrad, who discusses the matter in greater detail HERE.  

Here's where matters get amazing.  Spinrad's original (pre-Coon) script has been presumed missing for the last 45 years or so, until a fan approached the author for an autograph and presented a copy of Spinrad's MIA script for signing!   Evidently, this was the first time Spinrad had come across any material from his version of  "He Walked Among Us" - and the author has now made it available to the masses for digital download.  

No longer lost forever, STAR TREK: "He Walked Among Us" can be found HERE at Amazon (Kindle), or HERE at Barnes and Noble in ePub format.  

A tease:  

 

CHEKOV:  What kind of danger, Captain...that we're not already in?  

 

The notion of TREKs that could've been has long fascinated me.  I'm aware of the material found in this amazing STAR TREK: PHASE II book  - but if anyone else out there has any (legitimate/official) treatments or scripts that were in development but lost, aborted, or mutated in some way, DROP ME A LINE!  Could make for some great reading, and more than a few intriguing article I should think...

 

Thanks to Robogeek for pointing us towards this!  

 

 

 

 

--- follow Merrick on Twitter ! ---

Readers Talkback

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  • Feb. 22, 2012, 1:56 p.m. CST

    Wow!

    by tomandshell

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2 p.m. CST

    Great stuff

    by Logan_1973

    This is what being a film geek is all about.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2:04 p.m. CST

    Planet of the

    by Yelsaeb

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2:05 p.m. CST

    Planet of the Titans.

    by Yelsaeb

    Sounds like another Clash of the Titans movie.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2:07 p.m. CST

    That is cool. Here's hoping James Cawley and gang do it

    by Jaster Mareel

    If you haven't seen the episodes they've done, it's the closest thing to new TOS episodes we'll ever get. They have EXACTLY replicated the sets and actually use real props/costumes from the show! http://www.startreknewvoyages.com/

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2:16 p.m. CST

    Wow...

    by erik_a

    I had absolutely no interest in this film. After seeing this fan trailer, I may be persuaded to go see it.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2:16 p.m. CST

    oops.

    by erik_a

    Ignore above comment by me. I'm in the wrong thread...

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2:17 p.m. CST

    To boldly go where we went a few years back...

    by Tikidonkeypunch

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2:21 p.m. CST

    Does it explain where the guy got this script?

    by tangcameo

    What do you say to a guy like that? 'Thank you!'? Or 'where the fuck have you been for the past 30 years?!!!'? Wasn't Milton Berle alive during the TNG years? Couldn't this 'fan' have showed up with the script then?!

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2:24 p.m. CST

    *You can't, you shouldn't, shoot this thing! Read it and weep*

    by IAmTommyWiseau

    I said EXACTLY the same thing to George Lucas before The Phantom Menace. If only he had listened like Gene did.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2:25 p.m. CST

    $9.00 for a script -- no thanks

    by ATARI

    Out of curiosity I would get it for $0.99, but 9 bucks? You've got to be kidding me!

  • Mind you, I agree with most everyone else that Wise's never ending glory shots of the Enterprise (as Kirk nears boarding her) are beyond ridiculous. Any time I go back to watch the movie, I always fast forward thru that. But overall, I really like the story, it's very compelling and yet ultimately so simple. The way they tie in this horrible space disaster against the Earth that it's all because of something done in the real (at the time) present day, having it be the original Voyager space probe. Though, it does require a bit of suspension of disbelief that the entity literally would refer to itself as "VGER" because of nothing more than some mud covering the other letters lol

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2:31 p.m. CST

    Something Roddenberry wrote was "terrible?"

    by Chris Moody

    Say it isn't so! Oh wait. Carry on.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2:38 p.m. CST

    Can anyone point to a summary of the story?

    by Brian Hopper

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 2:44 p.m. CST

    The Doomsday Machine is the TOS episode

    by Brian Hopper

    I point non-fans to if they want to get a taste of Star Trek. They always like it. (And why wouldn't they? It's awesome.)

  • and/or do the second 5 year mission that took place between Star Trek TMP & Star Trek II.

  • It would make a great movie. If they did it, they should cast old Stephen Collins as Commodore Decker.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 3:08 p.m. CST

    @m6y Check out the Memory Alpha Wiki

    by tangcameo

    look under 'Unproduced Star Trek scripts/episodes'. It doesn't tell the whole thing but it gives a quick summary of the premise. Seems a bit flimsy though.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 3:10 p.m. CST

    Spinrad is an Amazing writer

    by RG

    The Men in the Jungle is a seriously messed up book, but for some sick reason I like it.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 3:44 p.m. CST

    Milton. ... Berle?

    by Triple_J_72

    Milton Berle. MILTON BERLE??? SMH

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 3:53 p.m. CST

    Why thank you @tangcameo!

    by Brian Hopper

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 4:16 p.m. CST

    by Kizeesh

    I read an old Star Trek script in a book my folks had. It was called "Visit to a weird Planet: revisited" and 5 seconds of internet work has led me to find that the entire text is online here: http:// members.optusnet.com.au/virgothomas/space/ trek/weirdplanet.html I don't think it was official but it was in an official Star Trek book.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 5:22 p.m. CST

    I heard something about this SO long ago.

    by gotilk

    Thanks for the great Trek stuff, Merrick.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 5:29 p.m. CST

    Why doesn't anyone do this anymore?

    by Raptor Jesus

    Hire real science fiction writers to write scripts for a tv show? Why is fucking everything these days 'scripts by committee'?

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 5:43 p.m. CST

    @theseeker7

    by tritium

    Star Trek fans had been waiting for 10 years for this reunion/movie....but you can't sit through 9 mintues of some of the most poignant and beautifully shot FX ever commited to film, ALONG with one of the greatest scores (Jerry Goldsmith) ever composed for cinema. What you find "boring", others find transcendent. Something tells me you would never make it through a Terrence Malick film, either.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 5:44 p.m. CST

    introducing fire to mankind

    by Dreamfasting

    Although some of the most powerful episodes of Trek history have involved time travel, it also ended up being way, way overused to the point where it makes mockery of the fundemental premise "Space: the final frontier".

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 6:13 p.m. CST

    Agreed

    by streetbrother

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 6:28 p.m. CST

    James Cawley and amauteur Trek....

    by rben

    The problem with those is while the look is dead-on even up to the photography, the acting is so abysmal that I literally cannot get through an episode. The problem is not having the money to hire professional actors. It's a shame, because if Cawley could do that, he could have pitched his episodes to network as "retro-Trek". It doesn't help that the audio has the actors sounding like they were recorded in a bathroom. The sound needs work. Admirable try though.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 6:29 p.m. CST

    Introducing fire to primitive humans...

    by Chris Moody

    ...would be a direct violation of the Prime Directive. Am I right?

  • Alternate universe stuff. Hitler instead of going into politics, emigrates to the US where he becomes a pulp writer. The book, the Iron Dream, is the book he wrote. The best part is the supposed literary critique of Hitler's book at the end.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 6:52 p.m. CST

    @banned of brothers...

    by tritium

    My point was that he fast forwards thru (which implies he thinks it is boring) the single most important scene in the entire movie, IMHO. This scene has the perfect synthesis of VFX, reaction shots (acting), and Jerry Goldsmith's amazing score. It is a momentous scene, because of Kirk's return to the Enterprise after so many years, and his return to command of a Starship. It also shows the new Enterprise in all of her glory. I encourage everyone to watch this sequence again, and note the wonderful marriage of musical cues to the onscreen "action".

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 7:03 p.m. CST

    @Tritium - Yeah, good luck with that!

    by Shakeshift

    Asking most geeks to sit back and watch nine minutes of beautiful orchestra mixed with (at the time) AMAZING new visuals of the refitted Enterprise as they slowly circle her and then dock in the shuttle bay is probably asking too much. Most Star Trek fans can't appreciate nuance... certainly not for nine minutes anyway. They might end up growing bored and start playing with themselves or something if there isn't a phaser going off somewhere.

  • Seriously, I would put this sequence up alongside Sergio Leone/Ennion Morricone's "Ecstasy of Gold" scene...when Tuco is running through the graveyard. Okay, maybe not quite as great...but very close: By the way, the Scene starts at 2:53 and runs thru 7:38, so it is only a little short of five minutes in total length: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6peJ2yXizWY

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 7:12 p.m. CST

    @tritium

    by kwisatzhaderach

    One of the greatest cinema experiences of my life. It's that final dolly-in on Shatner's face before the head-on reveal of the Enterprise... gets me every time, magnificent and totally cinematic... the sort of thing JJ Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman could never understand.

  • you know, the scene where Johann Strauss' "The Blue Danube Waltz" is playing, is just a little over 5 minutes long. ...just as a matter of comparison. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8Q3X5Gw5I4&feature=related

  • Robert Wise was a true artist. Combine that with Douglas Trumbull's FX, and Goldsmith's score, you have friggin' movie magic of the highest caliber.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 8:30 p.m. CST

    @rben - if you want good 'fan Trek'...

    by dderidex

    ...check out the 'animated' episodes the Farragut crew did. Like so: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZcLW12tHhI&list=PLD5A829345B945F8F&index=1&feature=plpp_video Still basically awful "acting", but since it's just voice acting, the negative impact is vastly reduced. The animation style is *dead on* to the original Star Trek animated series...they copy it perfectly...so the look of the thing is exactly right, anyway.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 8:46 p.m. CST

    Screw this. We need....

    by TheDesolateOne

    <p>This!<p> <p>This is what we need to read.<p> <p>This is what should have been the Star Trek Prequel.<p> <p>http://www.aintitcool.com/node/22789<p>

  • The technology is almost there to a) remake the original-crew animated episodes in 3D CGI, b) new episodes in the ORIGINAL style (cheap sets) and ORIGINAL CREW. Think of how cool that would be. Surely someone else has thought of that. The J.J. Abrams 'Trek' was garbage.

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 9:11 p.m. CST

    pixelmagic

    by TheDesolateOne

    I could dig that.

  • and spend $9 on a script that the writer acknowledged was crap?!? If you're going to say we can finally read a script why don't you tell us up front we're gonna have to pay to read it...don't tease the crap out of us thinking we're going to be able to read something for free only to find out we gotta plunk down nearly 10 bucks to read it? I've read many books from Amazon/iBooks, etc that were free and weren't claimed to be crap by the writer.

  • Feb. 23, 2012, 5:51 a.m. CST

    Memory Alpha description

    by CARTMANEZ

    "He Walked Among Us" was a script written by Gene L. Coon and Norman Spinrad for TOS Season 2. Story outlines dated 12 May 1967, 17 May 1967, and 18 May 1967. The first draft was dated 25 July 1967, and a later draft dated 28 September 1967. The story involves a Federation health food nut taking over a planet, so flagrantly breaking the Prime Directive that Kirk can't ignore him. He has set himself up as a god, refuses to depart from the planet when asked to and has so tightly woven himself into the planet's society that Kirk is unable to force him to leave without completely disrupting the society himself. Norman Spinrad was originally asked to write the story as a vehicle for Milton Berle, who expressed interest in appearing on Star Trek. The story was ultimately rewritten by Gene L. Coon. Unhappy with the result, Spinrad asked Gene Roddenberry to discard it. (Star Trek Monthly issue 26, p. 24) lots more at: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Undeveloped_Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series_episodes

  • Feb. 23, 2012, 5:55 a.m. CST

    another notable unproduced TOS Trek - 'The Shadow of Space'

    by CARTMANEZ

    this sounds kind of similar to the eerie TNG ep - 'Where No One has Gone Before' "The Shadow of Space" was written by Philip José Farmer in 1966. [21] The story involved the Enterprise traveling outside the universe. Farmer published a prose adaptation of the idea, under the same title, but with names changed from the Star Trek version for copyright reasons. The story first appeared in the science fiction magazine Worlds of If and subsequently in single author collection of Farmer's short fiction. " http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Undeveloped_Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series_episodes hers the full synopsis of the short story (just change the names to the trek ones): http://www.fastcopyinc.com/orionpress/articles/shadow_of_space.htm

  • Feb. 23, 2012, 6:03 a.m. CST

    Planet of the Titans = Prometheus?

    by CARTMANEZ

  • Feb. 23, 2012, 6:11 a.m. CST

    Ingeld

    by Hipshot

    "Iron Dream" was killer. Before he lived in Paris and New York, Norman Spinrad was in L.A. and I got to know him some. Once, we kidded that the other "Hitler" novels listed in the front of I.D. should actually be written, and maybe we could collaborate on them ("Triumph of the Will", "The Thousand Year Rule" and so forth). He was a very cool guy, but there is no way I would have tried to write that stuff. Didn't have half the confidence it would have taken. Anyway, I remember smoking some VERY good pot with Norman, as well as having a hideously embarrassing conversation with Theresa Saldana at one of his parties...

  • Feb. 23, 2012, 7:33 a.m. CST

    Hipshot

    by Ingeld

    Thanks for the reply. Cool story. It would have been interesting to read Hitler's other works, but that probably would have stretched the it too much.

  • Feb. 23, 2012, 8:09 a.m. CST

    nerds

    by KinoEye

  • Kirk is hell-bent on getting underway. There's a "THING" out there that's heading towards Earth. They have to stop it. TIME IS OF THE FUCKING ESSENCE HERE, PEOPLE, LET'S MOVE... ever so slowly, around the entire fucking ship, so we can see every nook and cranny, every beautiful detail, and weep at its majesty... because there's no time to waste -- except for those 5 minutes. Honestly, it was a masturbatory shot of the Enterprise, and you can't convince me otherwise. They could have made a scene like that work, but not after grinding it into our brains that Kirk is not wasting any time here. If I'm not mistaken, he even tells Scottie that he only has x amount of hours and Scottie reluctantly agrees to get it done in time as they're entering the transport shuttle! Come on, Kirk is a swinging dick and all that, but good lord. And I LOVE that movie. Don't attempt to tell me I don't. I'm coming at this purely from the thought that "this does not work because the characterization that was set up IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO THIS SCENE makes it not work."

  • Release the Kraken!

  • Feb. 23, 2012, 4:18 p.m. CST

    J.Cawley would turn it into a Gay Parade :p

    by blueant

  • Feb. 29, 2012, 1:29 p.m. CST

    by CT1

    finders keepers

  • Feb. 29, 2012, 1:30 p.m. CST

    by CT1

    cool '"nice"