Sunday, April 13, 2014

Unseen Trek: "The V.I.Ps" by Gene Lesser & Malachi Throne

Malachi Throne in "The Menagerie, Part II" (1966)
Story Outline by Gene Lesser & Malachi Throne (undated)
Review and analysis by David Eversole
Originally Posted at Orion Press 

THE OPENING PARAGRAPH OF THE OUTLINE:

The civilization of an unexplored galaxy – existing unseen... and unknown... in the black end of the light spectrum – almost incinerates the Enterprise and its crew when it arrests the ship’s course to capture it.

SYNOPSIS:

Soon Tares (of the planet Thades, a member of the Thedusian System) communicates his desire to study the ship and its inhabitants. The Thedusians live on a different "light wave length" and they and their planetary system cannot be seen by those living on different light wave lengths. Kirk agrees to host the visitors, despite the manner in which his attention was gained. 

Three "AMORPHIC LIGHT-HAZE" Thedusian V.I.P.s (Tares, himself, among them) arrive on the ship and are given a tour. Despite their outward kindness and pleasant voices, their presence makes the humans aboard fill distinctly ill at ease. The feeling grows to near hysteria. Even Kirk and Bones feel uneasy, but manage to control it. Only Spock is unaffected. The VIPS leave because of the fear they are inducing.

Tares still wishes to know more and insists the Enterprise visit his world. Kirk reluctantly agrees and the ship is put through a "light wave warp affect [sic]" and Kirk  sees for the first time the six Thedusian planets which have been moved into a spherical shell nearer to their sun to maximize its beneficial effects.

Tares informs Kirk that his people once visited Earth thousands of years ago, and even attempted to help the humans. However their advances were repelled and they left. He was surprised to discover an Earth ship passing through their system, and stopped it out of curiosity to see if humans had made any progress. He admits that they have advanced "some."

Tares goes on to tell of how his people planted colonies in those long ago days in the "Earth Galaxy" and his people have been curious as to how they evolved. Imagine his surprise when they detected a descendant of one of those seeded worlds onboard the Enterprise… Mr. Spock. They hope his development can provide an answer to one of their most pressing problems.

Furthermore, since they fear their existence would become known and invite invaders, the Enterprise cannot be allowed to leave the Thedusian system.

Kirk attempts to assure Tares that the people of the Earth Galaxy are no longer war-like, but he will not listen. Tares reminds Kirk of how everybody on the Enterprise reacted in fear and uneasiness when he and his two fellow light creatures came aboard. Plus, they have a great secret that must not be known. And Tares, the gentle being of light, begins to change… into a leathery-skinned, cloven-hoofed creature. A DEVIL. (Dave intrudes -- Hey, these CAPS are not my own, okay?)

A separate city simulating Earth conditions will be built for the crew of the Enterprise. All will live out their lives in peace and harmony.

Tares wants to know exactly which planet in the Earth Galaxy (I love typing that) Spock hails from. Once known, the Thedusians will locate planets of similar chemical make-up, go there and be able to change their appearance so that everybody they meet won't hate them.

(Okay…)

What if you can't find similar planets, Kirk asks. Tares hesitates. Spock surmises that the Thedusians would then seek out his home world and take it over. Therefore Spock refuses to tell them which planet in the Earth Galaxy he is from.

Tares pleads, and Spock is sympathetic. He agrees to tell which planet in the Earth Galaxy he is from… if Tares will release Kirk and the others. Kirk is having none of it, and denies Spock's sacrifice. Tares grows angry, his body pulsates with heat, fire erupts from it, threatening to engulf every crewman on the ship. Kirk ain't impressed. But he does offer to make a deal.

If the Enterprise is released back to their light wave length, he will make a "memory tape" of Spock's mind and transmit it to Tares. Tares huffs and puffs and pulsates, but, you see, its just a show. He really couldn't hurt anyone. He agrees.

Back on the Enterprise, Kirk has McCoy hook Spock to an electrode cap with wires leading to an ionized leaden container to tape his memories. Once done, they transmit it to Tares, and the Enterprise leaps into "ram-warp" speed to escape. But the ship shudders with a "tremendous electronic shock blast," and everyone is stunned "into comatose." 

When Kirk revives he sees that Spock is still sitting there, unmoving, mindless, with the electrode cap on his head. McCoy moves to him, notes the wires which run to the container which is labeled "SPOCK TAPE." McCoy feeds the Spock tape back into Spock's brain -- he revives as well and opines that the escape attempt from the Thedusians was obviously successful.

Huh?  What? What are Thedusians?

FROM THE OUTLINE:

Spock looks at his colleagues – realizing the truth. He mumbles something about having had a dream...Kirk agrees...the heat band they just passed through was a rough one. A report comes through from communications. In checking the tapes – they’ve discovered every tape aboard ship shows a blank.... since hitting the heat wave...but the tapes appear to have run through a two-day period – and they seem to have been wiped clean...simoultaneously [sic].

Kirk looks questioningly at Spock – who merely shrugs. It must have been the heat....“Correct our course for Athosargasa...”


THOUGHTS:

I have nothing but admiration for the acting talents of the late, great Malachi Throne (in fact I wish I had such a cool name -- show me a name more euphonious and impressive than MALACHI THRONE!). He was a fine, fine character actor whose presence lent a gravitas to roles others would have been forgettable in, but as a writer...

Pass.

--------------

Editor's Note: Although Malachi Throne (1928-2013) had a prolific career as an actor, as far as I've been able to determine, he never had a produced screenplay or teleplay. Gene Lesser (born 1925) appears to have been active as a television writer from 1958 to 1968, during which time he wrote for Death Valley Days, Zane Grey Theater, and Lock Up.

Image courtesy of Trek Core.

Review originally posted at Orion Press.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Finding a Composer for Star Trek's First Pilot

Still from 'Requiem for Methuselah' (1969)
The process of hiring a composer to score 'The Menagerie' was an arduous one. According to Herb Solow, "We approached agents and managers, only to discover their top film and pilot composers were working elsewhere or not interested."  After so many rejections, Solow says, "Wilbur [Hatch] came to us with a suggestion, volunteering the name of an arranger working at Twentieth Century Fox." The name of that arranger was Alexander Courage, and rest is history.

Almost fifty years later, however, it's fascinating to read the names of some of the other composers who were considered for Star Trek's first pilot, which we have thanks to notes taken during a music meeting held on December 8. 1964. As music historian Neil Lerner points out, the list is a fascinating mix of "well-established names (such as Franz Waxman, David Raksin, Hugo Friedhofer, and Elmer Bernstein) and up-and-comers who have since become quite famous, like Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams."

This behind-the-scenes document has been printed before, in Lerner's informative essay, "Hearing the Boldly Goings: Tracking the Title Themes of the Star Trek Television Franchise, 1966-2005," although the version found there has been edited from the original.  What follows is a complete transcription of the original document, found in the Gene Roddenberry Star Trek television series papers held by UCLA. The misspellings are the work of whoever originally typed up the notes, possibly D.C. Fontana, who was Roddenberry's secretary at the time. My notes are in brackets.

NOTES ON MUSIC MEETING - 12/8/64

1 - Jerry Goldsmith - Not Available [Eventually hired by Roddenberry to score Star Trek--The Motion Picture in 1979]

2 - Elmer Bernstein - Interested - likes pilot - wants to read script. Wilbur sending script to Bernstein.

3 - Harry Sukman - MGM - Available [Scored an episode of The Lieutenant and the unsold pilot 333 Montgomery Street, both for Roddenberry]

4 - Les Baxter - Available - Wilbur Hatch reluctant to recommend.

5 - Dominic Tronteri - Available [Scored multiple episodes of The Outer Limits, which involved associate producer Byron Haskin and assistant director Robert H. Justman]

6 - Franz Waxman - Available

7 - Sy Coleman - Suggested by Oscar Katz - Wilbur checking him out.

8 - Alexander Courage - Young composer - up and coming.

9 - Hugh Friedholder - Did some of the original music on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

10 - David Raxton - Wrote Laura. Works closely with the producer.

11 - Johnny Green - Would love to do a series. Did music for Empire.

12 - Leith Stevens - Doing Novack. Did the last few shows for Empire. Score a feature with a Science Fiction theme. [Scored Roddenberry's unsold pilot, A.P.O. 923, as well as the Haskin-directed The War of the Worlds (1953)]

13 - Johnny Williams - Did Checkmate - Presently doing music for "Baby Makes Three" pilot for Bing Crosby Prods.

14 - Jack Elliott - Suggested by Oscar Katz - Feels that he has great potential. Wilbur checking him out.

15 - Wilbur Hatch checking out the composer of "The Man from Iphania" [The identity of this composer remains a mystery to me]

16 - Will Markowitz - Wilbur checking him out. [Richard Markowitz was later hired to score episodes of Mission: Impossible and Mannix for Desilu]

17 - Lalo Shiffrin - Recommended by Wilbur Hatch and Herb Solow - Wilbur checking him out. [Later hired to score Desilu's two other successful pilots from this era -- Mission: Impossible and Mannix]

18 - Nathan Van Cleave - Wilbur checking him out. [Van Cleave had previously worked with Byron Haskin on two features, Conquest of Space (1955) and Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)]

Image courtesy of Trek Core.

Sources:

The Gene Roddenberry Star Trek Television Series Collection (1964-1969)

Inside Star Trek : The Real Story (Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman, 1996)

Music in Science Fiction Television: Tuned to the Future (edited by K.J. Donnelly and Philip Hayward, 2013)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

An Evening with Robert Butler: Full Transcript

Director Robert Butler and Archivist Mark Quigley (January 24, 2014)

Last month I promised I would transcribe the rest of the Q&A with director Bob Butler if there was sufficient interest. There was, and today I finally finished that transcription. Enjoy!

(Recorded January 24, 2014 at the Billy Wilder Theater in Los Angeles, California)

Robert Butler: I don’t see any costumes.

(Audience laughter)

Butler: I welcome you whole-heartedly, with the confession, with the admission that I have spent a couple hours lately on the Star Trek DVDs that show the gatherings in various cities around the country. I was trying to figure out you, the Trekkies, and the legs, the popularity, the quick popularity of the show. The thought I’m left with is that I found you Trekkies a little less weird than I thought you might be.

(Audience laughter)

Butler: I drew the conclusion that between us normal civilians and weirdness and Trekkies and civility must be a measure that’s identical.

(Audience laughter)

Butler: Anyway, welcome Trekkies, whoever you may be. We’ll find you out!

(Audience laughter)

Mark Quigley: So, this pilot, NBC decided they wanted another pilot. You had already worked with Gene Roddenberry on The Lieutenant. Do you remember the reaction to this pilot? You were offered the subsequent pilot, but you turned it down.

Butler: Yeah, I turned it down simply because I’d been there. I think it was a couple years later. We were talking about that. Gene had gone ahead, I think, and produced more of a television series that he had on the air at the time and I moved on to other things. And then he came to me with the offer and I passed because I’d been there. I had heard, at the time, probably reasonably, that the network thought and said, “We like it, we believe it, we don’t understand it, do it again.”

(Audience laughter)

Butler: So Gene moonlit another script as he was making his subsequent existence, work, and the show was the result of that.

Quigley: And then this episode ended up getting cannibalized when they ran out of money later in the season with 'The Menagerie.'

Butler: Yes. I looked at 'The Menagerie' the other night and thought a lot of the manipulation was kind of clever. They had this Captain, Jeffrey Hunter, as a very distorted remnant of what he used to be, enabling an actor to sit and play him scarred and in the present at that time, answering with light signals and so on. It was kind of creepy and probably a very good idea at the time. Incidentally, fifty years ago, I saw a lot of innocence and sweetness and trust and less cynicism than we see now. Not that I endorse either one, but this is very aimed at us fifty years ago, when we were more acceptable. I mean, the special effects are a little questionable in spots, and we can see budgetary all over the screen compared to what we see today, and yet those legs, that suspension of willing disbelief that we all seem to do, happens again. We follow the damn thing. It has some beckon for us that works.

I felt that when the first shot kind of goes into the flight deck and we see the crew there, sitting there in control, and then there’s that subsequent Doctor-Pike scene that’s so good. We’ve seen that scene thirty, sixty, a thousand times – the enervated hero needs a lift, confessing to his mentor, whomever – and yet, that beckon was in there. Those legs were playing and (chuckles), in spite of the directorial superiority, the damned thing works. It’s okay!

Quigley: I had fun teasing you about this the other day, but let’s talk about your proposed title change for the series.

Butler: Yes, I thought Star Trek was heavy. I tried to get Gene to change the title to Star Track. That seemed lighter and freer.

(Audience laughter)

Butler: It’s not my business to be able to do that, and yet I was trying to convince him. I believed in it and, you know, water off a duck’s back!

(Audience laughter)

Butler: Which is okay.

Quigley: Let’s spend a few minutes going back, because you have the type of storybook beginning that people can only dream about now. This really wouldn’t be possible. You started as an usher at CBS.

Butler: Yes, I sure did. I wore a uniform for about a week with the Uni High quarterback with whom I shared some celebrity at Uni High. He and I, Ray Bindorff and I, put on the blue uniform and passed out the tickets on Hollywood and Vine to get people to come to the radio and occasional television shows. That’s pretty fascinating. Ray is here somewhere.

Then, seven years later he was on into his business career and I left TV City to take a job with my next partner, Gene Reynolds, with whom we shared an early comedy, Hennesy. We alternated for six episodes until we were both dumped and then we were out on the marketplace wailing away. Ray was there first, Gene was there second, and we’re all here now together, which is good.

(Audience applause)

Quigley: In between your being an usher and working on Hennesy, you worked your way up through what we now call the Golden Age of Television, as an associate and assistant director on Climax! and Playhouse 90. That was where you cut your teeth.

Butler: Television city at Fairfax and Beverly was the best kindergarten for learning the alphabet of storytelling that you can imagine. It was live, you went on the air every week, every other week, whatever, you saw your results that night. I watched terrific directors, associate directors, producers, writers, actors – I mean the whole operation. The cast being put together as the story told unit was just 3-D schooling. It was breathtaking and I learned a lot in those seven years. A lot of it shows, some of it’s still pretty green here, beyond the green dancer.

(Audience laughter)

Butler: But that was a great experience.

Quigley: I think you were telling me, you threw one of the first cues out of TV City onto television – the first broadcast from TV City.

Butler: Great point. TV City was being constructed and finished and was to go on the air on a given night. Shower of the Stars was to go on at seven or eight or whatever, and at that time I was a stage manager and I threw the first cue to the background projectionist who rolled the film that projected starbursts on a screen in front of which our host stood. So, I started that.

(Audience laughter and applause)

Quigley: Now, from there, after Hennesy you did The Dick Van Dyke Show [and] The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. How did you become the go-to guy for TV pilots? How did that start?

Butler: Well, after crediting Television City and all that good experience, I happened on a pilot where the director had gotten gun shy or something and needed to be replaced on a given afternoon. They weren’t shooting yet, they were in preparation, and my agent said, “I’m going to get you a show.” He got me into that producer, and we talked, and I got the job of Hogan’s Heroes. A half-hour, one camera comedy, in black and white, and black and white helped the Nazi comedy, if that isn’t an oxymoron.

(Audience laughter)

Butler: But, it was a terrific experience and that was early in my working life. I don’t remember what the second pilot was, but with that start, and that good, hit reaction that that show made, I’m sure that’s in the mix there, somehow an issue.

Quigley: And then, shortly after that, would have come Batman.

Butler: Yeah…

(Audience laughter)

Butler: I say that out of admiration for preposterousness because that’s totally what that was. Lorenzo Semple was a good family friend – a terrific writer, a well-known craze-o, intellectual, creative guy – whether Lorenzo turned that crank or the reputation about pilotry [sic] was at work, I don’t really know. I remember thinking that the material had to be treated very genuinely because it was so crazy. I mean, Batman explains the villain to the police commissioner, the Riddler, “He contrives his plots like artichokes. You have to strip off spiny leaves to reach the heart.”

(Audience laughter)

Butler: Well, that isn’t a joke, exactly, but it sure ain’t reality, either. So I was aware it had to be carefully handled and I did, with good support from the studio boss at that time, Bill Dozier, who was very wise to have hired Lorenzo in the first place. I mean, that’s crazy writing, and really good, and your friendly director got it, and understood it, and delivered it in an appropriate style for it.

Quigley: You came up with the motifs of having the canted angles for the villains and some other things that just stayed with the series – became hallmarks of the series?

Butler: I just felt we couldn’t not, because when you opened a Batman comic book, which I certainly did as a younger kid, why, the pows, and the zowies, and the biffs and bapps were highlights of the action sequences in the comic strip. Well, how do you do that in Technicolor without biff, boom, bang? You know, [we] just had to. It sounds like an innovation, and honest to God it’s just something that we were conditioned to do. We couldn’t not, so that’s directorial genius again.

(Audience laughter)

Quigley: Now, you and I have talked about this, but Batman was a cultural phenomenon at the time, but for you it was just – you moved on relatively quickly. You did, I think, three sets of two, and one of your villains was George Sanders?

Butler: Yes, yes.

Quigley: But you didn’t get caught up in the cultural phenomenon that was Batman at the time?

Butler: No. I’m paid not to. You know, I’m paid to get that story told and delivered and the disbelief suspended as effectively as I possibly can, and that’s what I do and always did concentrate on, maybe to a fault, but that was my interest: the story, the behavior of the characters, the assistance to the actors in doing what they were trying to do, and the delivery of all that to the audience. There aren’t any tens, there’s no pure vacuum, and the actor is never quite right, the scene is never quite right, [and] the finish has not been applied until take two plus all the post-production and the appreciation. Then it gets…closer to good or excellent or perfect. Perfect is just way below what I’m talking about, somewhere else.

Director Robert Butler and Archivist Mark Quigley (January 24, 2014)
Quigley: Decades after Batman, you’re called to launch another comic book series with The Adventures of Lois & Clark.

Butler: Yeah, Lois & Clark was much the same thing. The writing wasn’t as crazy…it wasn’t less established, certainly. Superman was certainly as established as Batman, and yet there was more sadness in Superman, because here was this person from somewhere else, who was trying his best to fit in and being too, too, too exceptional, etc. That rode with that character a lot, and it was in the writing and in the concept, maybe. I don’t remember the comic strip that well. I have a feeling it probably wasn’t included in the comic strip. It probably was increased for the living rooms and the understanding of a superhero. We were always pleased with the thought that Batman was a human being, who had resources and Superman was this invincible…beyond person. One was for sure going to win; the other, Batman, had to engineer and persevere his winnings. But, on the other hand, Superman had the sadness. He was a freak, he was a foreigner. It cracks me up to think of the guy, you know, and that was played, granted, not a lot, but that’s in there. That brought legs. The audience is being carried in the suspension of disbelief being pursued and realized.

Quigley: In the history of TV, statistically, I mean I haven’t done the analysis, but I really don’t think there’s any other director that directed as many different series as you did. Part of that was by design. You didn’t like to stay in one place too long, but if you look at the scope and scale, you went from Batman to Ironside to Kung Fu to Hawaii 5-0, just to rattle them all of. What was it that propelled you to all these different [shows]? You were welcome wherever you went, you could do any show you wanted, and you did as many, it seems, as you could.

Butler: Well, the freelancing I adored. Doing different things, not knowing what two months was going to bring, and where the pay window was. I loved the freedom and the disconnection of all of that. I mean, it took me a year and a half to get used to it because, you know, I was a middle class kid raised on order and process and repetition and all the rest of it. As a young kid musician I may have gotten into that less known pattern, and maybe that’s why, and I really adored that and was confident that it would turn up in three weeks or three months. It was luck. One can’t dismiss the marketeering and concentrate on the issue. You’ve got to do both and for some reason I did much more of the storytelling preoccupation than the marketeering of myself and the results were good enough so that positive results followed me, or something.

Quigley: I think one of the other most remarkable things about your career is that decades after you started you had reinvented the medium with Batman in the sixties and with Star Trek and then this kind of all culminates in Hill Street Blues, which, again, is something that redefined television, and redefined television in the eighties. Let’s talk about Hill Street Blues and let’s talk about that whole philosophy of “making it dirty.”

Butler: It was a great collision of a number of elements. Timing, of course, had a lot to do with everything. I was at a point where I could act on some of my hatreds, namely, cleanliness. I hated cleanliness. Star Trek was so cleanly [sic]. I tried to get the scenery butchered up as though it had been in use, and I couldn’t do it. The production designer was already working, and I lost that argument. It’s largely as many arguments as you can win. The more arguments you win, the more singularity the yarn has. It’s not rocket surgery, it’s singularity, recognition of people at work and at play consistently and clearly and understandably. That’s what we’re trying to do, so we win as many arguments as we can.

I took Remington Steele to Grant Tinker, who was a friend of mine on The Dick Van Dyke Show. We’d known each other a long time. And he said, before I give you an answer on Remington Steele, let me give you a script, and he sent Hill Street Blues to me. And, immediately, the directorial disdain surfaced.

(Audience laughter)

Director Robert Butler and Archivist Mark Quigley (January 24, 2014)
Butler: Do we really need another cop show? So that kind of cleared my head and I knew I had to go to work again. And, I had the boss’s ear. Grant Tinker was the boss. I had the certainty, which was that cleanliness was hideous and messiness was appropriate, and more real and more recognizable also, so I was able to shake that execution of that story up, overlap the dialogue, [and] make the lighting look kind of routine and hideous and improper in places. Truly, the cinematographer, a very knowledgeable Hollywood guy, knew when I said, “Look, let’s make this thing look awful. I want it to look awful.” He knew I was talking about Hollywood awful.

I mean, we were going to be able to see everybody, it was going to work fine, but it just was going to be less shiny, glossy, perfect, surface-y, clean. So he would come up to me, I think just to assure himself, and he would say, “Listen, man, it’s looking pretty bad.”

(Audience laughter)

Butler: And I would always say, “Good. Make it look worse.”

(Audience laughter)

Butler: And that’s really the truth of the way we worked. You know, the show had legs. Let’s face it, it had legs. I remember the fourth act in the hour form having not much action. There’s a tie-down situation around a liquor store where there’s some hostages inside. That’s not a very big opportunity for a chase with people tied down and movies finish with some form of action, chase, gunfight, whatever, and I remember mentioning to the guys, “Guys, we’ve got a talky fourth act.” I mean, sure, the EATers, Emergency Action Team that Howard Hunter, Jim Sikking, he’s here tonight with us, were active and they blew up the back door and then shot up the liquor bottles, etc., but it was clever and it was wordy and it was somewhat action-less. I expressed this as humbly, secretly, arrogantly, as I possibly could, and blank faces. You try to win an argument three times and if you don’t you forget it and move on because the clock is ticking, the sun’s going down, the teacher is going to take the kids away from you, and you have to get the damned thing shot. So, I gave in, and your friendly director was wrong, man, because the fourth act played great. So bet on me less than a hundred percent of the time.

Quigley: Well, they invited you back to direct more than just the pilot of Hill Street, so you did something right. We have time to take some questions and then we want to come back to introduce Columbo, but let’s first take some questions.

Audience Member #1: Hi, you said you went to Uni High here in West Los Angeles. What were your goals as a high school student, and how did you get into directing? You started as an usher, but what was your experience in directing, and did you learn directing in college like they do these days? What were your goals when you were in Uni High?

Butler: My answer, the director’s answer, is get as close to the scene as you possibly can. The making of the scene – the actors, the directors, what’s happening there. That’s where the action is. That’s where the storytelling takes place. You combine the page with the actor with the cinematography and all of it, and you deliver that to the audience. I knew in high school with my dance bands, because I led them easily and got good results in the rehearsals and so on, that I was some kind of idea man, but I didn’t know what, so I sent letters out to studios and got no results and went to work at CBS as an usher and, more importantly, got into production, got near the storytelling. Not at it yet, but near it. Usher, receptionist, production clerk – a couple, three years of production clerk. What lenses are to be ordered, what cable pullers are to be ordered, how many extra cameras, production, how you do it, the tools that make it work – production assistant. Then stage manager, handling the cast, being there during rehearsals, and watching the director and the actors put the show together and make it recognizable and kind of real and believable. I stood right next to the directors as that was happening as a stage manager. Then, co-pilot, associate director. I did it with directors and now I’m in the booth, in the control room, with the pilot, and I’m like the co-pilot, readying the shots and taking care of the crew, all well-rehearsed under the director’s captaincy, of course, but then co-piloting and then getting a break on Hennesy. Those are the steps.

Sidebar – I’m sitting at NBC playing trombone with the teenagers on a radio show. That’s radio show.

(Audience laughter)

Butler: I’m watching this guy called a contact producer – he’s the director – Ed Cashman, apparently a very well-liked, effective guy. Brooks Brothers suits, kind of jazzy, I knew it wasn’t totally sincere, his act. I realized there was a lot of frosting going on there, but I was watching this guy. He fascinated me, and the idea dawned on me, and this is partly in answer to your question, he’s having fun while he’s working for a living. Ding!

(Audience laughter)

Butler: That was new to me at age sixteen or seventeen, and I carried that with me, and have told our kids, “Don’t work for a living. Find another way.” That’s in the mix, but that’s a capsule of moi.

(Audience applause)

Audience Member #2: As you look over your respected career being the director of so many pilots, I wanted to ask, as you look as the pilots transitioned to series, did you agree or disagree within any casting changes between the pilot and the series, and on those few pilots like Sirens, The Brotherhood, and Our Family Honor that were not a success that Star Trek and Batman and Hogan’s Heroes were, did you understand, perhaps, why those pilots or series did not follow the success of your initial presentation?

Butler: The second part of the question very much has to do with legs. Does it work? Is it believable? Do the audiences recognize the people? Do they sympathize with them? Do they pull for them? Does the notion have legs? Does it carry its audience? Certain ideas just do and certain do less so. Cop shows, wearying as they may be, have legs. The doctor shows used to have, more than currently in our lives, legs. And that’s very mysterious. Only you really know what legs are. We’re trying to figure them out and label them, but you know, and we, as we sit with you in test nights, we can – it’s amazing the way you speak to us as we’re watching a piece of work – where you’re quiet, where you’re fidgety, where you chuckle, where you laugh, whether you’re quiet as a cemetery. All that is clear beyond our knowledge – you know what legs are and we’re always trying to figure out legs and retrospectively, I can see largely, that some of the shows, have better legs than the other[s].

The first part of the question I think has to do with casting and execution further down the line. That’s very personal. That has to do with winning arguments, as I say. You’ve got the character on the page, and the actor walks in, and in eighty percent of the cases you can tell within the first six footsteps across the room whether that actor is going to be in the neighborhood for this part or not be. It’s very clear and it’s very personal. You have to win the argument with the others in the room, the producer and the network, whomever. That’s kind of wordy. What it has to do with is, as you’re telling that initial story, you try to make it as clear as you possibly can with the use of the casting trickery, whatever that may be. Later, as you watch the show, you don’t care, man, you’re on to other things. You’re interested in the next job, not the last one, the next one, or something.

Audience Member #3: What was your technique with the actors, and did it change if it was a pilot, or did it change according to the actor?

Butler: Yes, it did change with almost each actor, slightly. What you’re trying to do is get the actor to be his or her best. I don’t necessarily mean shriekiest [sic] or loudest or more teary or with bigger whimpers. There’s something else inside that’s organic that they are expressing, the character they have read on the page, with who they are. Relaxation, like in sports, is the best way to get there. I ‘m told that in baseball, when you hit the home run, there’s not a crash or a bang or a crunch, there’s a click. All the energy is channeled and it’s efficient and the thing goes over the fence. If you’ve got the actors confidence to the extent that he/she can relax and believe what you’re saying, or question what you’re saying, and go 180 to argue with you. If they’re comfortable enough so that they can get conversant and comfortable with what they’re trying to do, and you chose them or didn’t in those first seven steps across the office, then you’re doing a good job with them. As it changed through the years…

[At this point, my phone reached its recording limit, resulting in about 30 seconds of missing audio.]

Butler: You’ve realized that they’ve done semblances of what they’re going to do with you thirty, fifty, a hundred and fifty times. They know how to do that. Now, the thing’s that different, is that the words are different and their partner is different. So you’re getting a new combination of a recognizably comfortable character like Tilly who lives down the street or George on the next street over. You recognize those people and you don’t want to get beyond, too far, you want to be a little beyond the recognition, which is another point I grant, but you want to be a little beyond the recognition so it’s fresh and unusual and slightly startling. Slightly – not usually startling because you don’t know what the hell you’re looking at, except it’s an odd combination of the discreet sell-out (chuckles). The intelligent sell-out with the audience being considered at every turn, every single constant turn, only the audiences know for sure.

Director Robert Butler and Archivist Mark Quigley (January 24, 2014)
Quigley: That’s a perfect segue to talk about one of the most distinctive shows, if not the most distinctive television series of the seventies, which is Columbo. [It] basically broke a lot of rules, and there was a lot of reasons why it worked and a lot of it had to do with the directors that were working on it and the star as well.

Butler: Yeah, I was going pretty well, so it wasn’t unreasonable of me to be offered a Columbo or two and the producer was a terribly good guy and a funny guy and so on. Peter, as a trained accountant, with his accountant and lawyer, had determined before I got on the scene in the third or fourth season that everybody was making a zillion dollars and he didn’t have to grind them out so bad. They were all scheduled at nine days, and they all went ten, eleven, twelve, and nobody was saying anything. You go over a day or two and boy, they’re on your back, they’re above you like flies, and I kept looking around and there was nobody there. I had a good time, but it was odd and questionable, and really fun. The content was fun, Peter was fun, very respectful, interested guy, who said, “Great, let’s move on. Oh, oh, oh, no, man, let’s just, let’s just, do we have time for one…” [Peter was] always sane, reasonable, encouraging, [and] respectful. “Do we have time for one more shoot?” What am I going to say? No?

(Audience laughter)

Butler: “Yeah man, sure, let’s do it! Go, guys, let’s go.” That’s where the time goes – Peter perfecting and refining. Again, there’s no perfect, it’s refining what he’s doing for that audience. And I said, to Roland Kibbee, the producer, because of the conditions I’ve outlined to you, [it] was strange, I said, “You know, this is really a good show. I’d love to direct one sometime.” And he said, “Yeah, I’ve got a lot of writers not writing ‘em, too.”

(Audience laughter)

Quigley: Really quickly, your take on the Columbo character that you can enlightened Peter Falk a little bit, in a way, is pretty interesting.

Butler: Yeah, Peter hadn’t thought of an idea that was obvious to me, and I hung my interpretation on, and that was that Columbo wanted everybody he dealt with not to be guilty. He wanted them to be innocent (chuckles). I mean, you know the scene. “Listen, Mr. Stone, I’m so sorry that I had bad thoughts about you. I promise that I won’t do that again, sir. Really, good luck in your life, and all your thievery, and all the rest of it.”

(Audience laughter)

Butler: “I just want to say it’s been an honor being with you, sir.” And he walks to the door, and he stops, and he turns around and says, “There’s just one thing…”

(Audience laughter)

Butler: And you know that in the next three minutes the villain is going to get it in the neck. That’s the way the show was built. In answer to Mark’s question, it was an absolutely magnificent marriage of the man on the page and the actor. Whether all that fiddideling [sic] that Peter did was in the original material, or whether it was just suggested, I don’t know, but his training, his orientation, his positivism, I guess, with that character was just strong as an ox. As we will see, he is irresistible. The people around him are good, the performances are good, good people are hired, Jim Sikking is in one of the scenes… It’s just a very, very well-mounted, well-organized, supremely performed show. Now, we can get snobby and say it gets a little cute at times, and what he does is a little redundant, but try and resist it. Try and resist it! You can’t, man. The guy knows the character, he knows the show, and he knows how to reach us, and he did time after time after time.

Watch for one scene. Mariette Hartley, a very nice actress, plays an editor in the show [‘Publish or Perish,’ a season three episode of Columbo], and she and he have a scene that’s just very quiet and natural. It’s not unlike the Doc and our Star Trek hero, Jeff Hunter, that early scene that I’ve said we’ve all seen many times before. There’s a solidity and a familiarity and an ease by them and by us because we know what they’re dealing with and what they’re doing is so terrific and solid. You’ll notice that scene with Mariette and Peter in Columbo.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An Evening with Robert Butler, Director of 'The Menagerie'

Director Robert Butler and Archivist Mark Quigley (January 24, 2014)
I hope readers who were able to make it to the screening and Q&A with Robert Butler at the Billy Wilder Theater last week had as much fun as I did. The first pilot (along with 'Publish or Perish,' a terrific third season episode of Columbo) looked great on the big screen, and Butler was passionate and animated when discussing his work during the Q&A before intermission.

Butler began the Q&A by joking about Star Trek fans, which generated some laughs from an audience with more than a few "Trekkies" in it:
I don't see any costumes, and I welcome you whole-heatedly, with the confession that I spent a couple hours lately on the Star Trek DVDs that show the gatherings at various cities around the country. I was trying to figure out you, the Trekkies, and the legs, the quick popularity of the show. The thought I'm left with is I found you Trekkies a little less weird than I thought you might be.
When asked why he didn't do the second pilot, Butler explained:
Yeah, I turned it down simply because I'd been there. I think it was a couple of years later, we were talking about that. Gene had gone ahead, I think, and produced more of a television series that he had on the air at the time and I moved on to other things, and then he came to me with the offer [for the second pilot] and I passed because I'd been there. I had heard at the time, probably reasonably, that the network thought and said, "We like it, we believe it, we don't understand it, do it again." So Gene moonlit another script as he was making his subsequent existence, and the show was the result of that.
Butler's timeline is a bit off (the second pilot was produced seven months after the first pilot) and his recollections about Roddenberry producing "more of a television series" aren't quite right (Roddenberry wasn't working on another series, although he did produce two other television pilots during this period, The Long Hunt of April Savage and Police Story), but it's hard to blame him for forgetting a few details almost fifty years later. Memory Alpha indicates that Butler turned down the "envelope" as it was called because "he disliked the series" based on this interview, but I think that interpretation is a little unfair (Butler does admit to some "disdain" for the first pilot, but says this was good for him to have as a director, because it allowed him to approach the material with objectivity).

Butler also commented on the two-part season one episode, 'The Menagerie,' that incorporated footage from the first pilot:
I looked at 'The Menagerie' the other night. I thought a lot of the manipulation was kind of clever. They had this captain, Jeffrey Hunter, as a very distorted remnant of what he used to be, enabling an actor to sit and play him scarred and in the present at that time answering with light signals and so on.  It was kind of creepy and probably a very good idea at the time.
Butler immediately followed those comments by discussing the show's tone and its time period:
Incidentally, fifty years ago I saw a lot of innocence and sweetness and trust and less cynicism than we see now. Not that I endorse either one, but this is very aimed at us fifty years ago when we were more acceptable. I mean, the special effects are a little questionable in spots and of course we can see budgetary [restrictions] all over the screen compared to what we see today and yet those legs, that willing suspension of disbelief that we all seem to do, happens again. We follow the damned thing. It has some beckon for us that it works.
Butler seemed pleased with the pilot, which he watched in the audience. He was especially fond of two scenes early on that provided the series with the crucial "legs" it needed to succeed:
When the first shot kind of goes into the flight deck and we see the crew sitting there in control, and then there's that subsequent doctor-Pike scene that's so good. We've seen that scene thirty, sixty, a thousand times, the innervated hero needs a lift confessing to his mentor, whomever, and yet that beckon was in there. Those legs were playing, and in spite of the (chuckles) directorial superiority, the damned thing works! It's okay.
Mark Quigley, from the UCLA Film & Television Archive, mentioned teasing Butler about his proposed title change for the series, which Butler recounted:
Yes, I thought Star Trek was heavy. I tried to get Gene to change the title to Star Track. That seemed lighter and freer. It's not my business to be able to do that, and yet I was trying to convince him. I believed in it and, you know, water off a duck's back, which is okay.
When asked about the "make it dirty" philosophy he brought to Hill Street Blues, Butler spoke for a minute about the look of Star Trek:
I hated cleanliness. Star Trek was so [clean], I tried to get the scenery butchered up as though it had been in use, and I couldn't do it. The production designer was already working and I lost that argument. It's largely as many arguments as you can win. The more arguments you can win, the more singularity the yarn has. It's not rocket surgery, it's singularity, recognition of people at work and at play consistently and clearly and understandably. That's what we're trying to do, so we win as many arguments as we can.
That's just about six minutes of the Q&A. Butler went on to speak for an additional thirty-five minutes about the origins of his career as an usher at CBS, a stage manager at Studio City during the Golden Age of television, a busy director-for-hire (for such programs as The Twilight Zone and The Lieutenant, created by Gene Roddenberry), and ultimately an in-demand director of television pilots, including Hogan's HeroesBatman, Hill Street Blues, and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

Since this is a blog devoted to Star Trek, I haven't transcribed Butler's other comments, but if there's sufficient interest, I would consider it.

--

Author's Note: I've continued writing hard-hitting journalism for What Culture this week. So, if you're in the mood for some silly writing about television, I've linked to my latest work below.

January 29: 10 Silliest Things On 24 (And The Lessons To Be Learned From Them)
January 27: 5 TV Cliffhangers That Had Terrible Resolutions
January 26: Star Trek: 20 Worst Episodes Ever
January 23: Star Trek: 5 Great Storylines The Show Left Hanging
January 21: 10 Episodes That Should Have Changed Star Trek Forever – But Didn’t

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Drive-In Dream Girls: Star Trek's First and Second Yeoman

Tom Lisanti's Drive-In Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-Movie Starlets of the Sixties (2012) will primarily be of interest to Star Trek fans for its interviews with Laurel Goodwin and Andrea Dromm, Grace Lee Whitney's predecessors in the role of the Captain's Yeoman in 'The Menagerie' and 'Where No Man Has Gone Before.' The two actresses have rarely been interviewed about their roles on Star Trek, and provide some valuable insight into their experiences on the show. That being said, the book includes a few inaccuracies and some faulty memories in the chapters devoted to these two actresses which should be corrected before they become part of the popular myth of the making of Star Trek.

For example, consider the following passage about Laurel Goodwin, who appeared as Yeoman Colt in the first pilot episode:
After the pilot was complete, it was shown to all three networks, who passed on it. NBC, though, thought it had potential, but they felt it was too surreal and that the audience would not accept a woman as second in command. NBC commissioned a second pilot. All the actors were dropped except for Leonard Nimoy and Goodwin. Two weeks before filming began, Goodwin learned that she too was being let go. 'I was not replaced--the role was just dropped. I was mad because I missed out on other work during the pilot season from the previous year.'
--Tom Lisanti, Drive-In Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-Movie Starlets of the Sixties (2012), p.41
The phrasing here suggests that Desilu produced Star Trek and then tried to sell it to one of the three networks, but that's not what happened. Desilu knew going into Star Trek that the series would be an expensive venture (indeed, the final cost of 'The Menagerie' was $615,781.56), and couldn't have afforded the series pilot without the financial backing of one of the networks. Luckily, after CBS turned down the program, NBC decided gave Star Trek a pilot commitment. Although the end result wasn't what they were looking for, NBC saw enough potential that they agreed to finance a second pilot episode, which became 'Where No Man Has Gone Before.' It's unlikely that ABC or CBS were ever screened either pilot, since it was an NBC program from early on in the development process.

Moreover, the claim that NBC "would not accept a woman as second in command" has been disputed, most notably in Herb Solow and Bob Justman's Inside Star Trek: The Real Story (1996). Solow and Justman maintain that NBC were perfectly happy with a strong female lead -- they just didn't like Majel Barrett. Roddenberry, not wanting to re-cast the role he had written for his mistress, chose to drop Number One entirely -- although he would later blame the network for this decision.

Laurel Goodwin as Yeoman Colt in "The Menagerie (1964)
The claim that "All the actors were dropped except for Leonard Nimoy and Goodwin" is simply false. None of the actors who worked on the first pilot had options for a second pilot in their contracts. When NBC ordered a second pilot rather than a series, the entire cast became free agents. Even Leonard Nimoy, who continued on with the series, had to negotiate a new contract, dated June 2, 1965 (read more about this in the post and comments here).

When it comes to Goodwin's statement that she wasn't told about being dropped from the series until two weeks before the second pilot went before the cameras (which would have been sometime in early July 1965, since photography of 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' commenced on July 19, 1965), I have to view this with some skepticism. Although Roddenberry was notorious for putting off the delivery of bad news, Colt had already been replaced by Yeoman Smith in the earliest teleplay of 'Where No Man Has Gone' Before (dated May 27, 1965).

Secondly, Goodwin's claim that she couldn't find work because of her commitment to Star Trek is at least partially incorrect. In the UCLA files there is an April 8, 1965 letter from Goodwin's agent to Ed Perlstein at Desilu which establishes terms in which Desilu agreed to take "second position" to Revue Studios (a subsidiary of Universal) while Goodwin auditioned for a Revue pilot. Goodwin didn't get the part (an unspecified role on the series Tammy, which was broadcast for one season from 1965-66), but that shouldn't be blamed on Star Trek.

Andrea Dromm as Yeoman Smith in "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (1965)
The chapter on Andrea Dromm has less to say about Star Trek, and only one claim worth examining here. Explaining why she didn't stick with the series, the book offers the following:
The character of Yeoman Smith was to become a regular on the series, but Dromm passed on it. Explaining her decision, Andrea Dromm says matter-of-factly, 'I was offered a role in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. They told me that you either do the film or the series. I chose the film, but if I had known that Star Trek would become such a phenomenon, I probably would have opted for the series.'
--Tom Lisanti, Drive-In Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-Movie Starlets of the Sixties (2012), p.16
It's been nearly fifty years, so it's possible Dromm's memory is a bit fuzzy, but her account doesn't line up with the archival record. The following excerpt (dated April 11, 1966) of a letter from Roddenberry to Dromm (via her agent) can be found in the Roddenberry collection at UCLA:
Due to changes in format, budget structure, and character concepts, we cannot pick up a number of options, including yours. But we do hope that "Yeoman Smith" will reappear in future stories and hope we will be fortunate enough to find you interested and available at that time.
Roddenberry's suggestion that Yeoman Smith might appear in future stories was probably an empty gesture. He used the same boilerplate languages in the letters releasing Paul Fix and James Doohan from their contracts, which were sent on the same day (read more about James Doohan's fight to stay on Star Trek here).

Despite these mistakes, this post should not be interpreted too negatively. Lisanti's book presents interviews with a number of actresses who have never been asked to speak about their careers in detail. Laurel Goodwin's account of Majel Barrett's on-set relationship with Gene Roddenberry and Andrea Dromm's appraisal of the executive producer (which contradicts James Goldstone's account, from Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, that Gene Roddenberry only cast Dromm because he wanted to "score" with her) will be of interest to any Star Trek fans who want to know more about the production history of the series. Additionally, other actresses who appeared on the program, including Angelique Pettyjohn ('Gamesters of Triskelion'), Arlene Martel ('Amok Time'), Venita Wolf ('The Squire of Gothos'), Beverly Washburn ('The Deadly Years'), Sharyn Hillyer ('A Piece of the Action'), and Valora Noland ('Patterns of Force') are profiled by the book as well.

Author's Note: I recently signed on as a contributor to the pop culture website What Culture. My first post (a Star Trek-themed list, of course) is now online. Don't worry, though -- I'm not about to abandon Star Trek Fact Check. In fact, real life permitting, my research for this year is just getting started. Be seeing you.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

See Star Trek's First Pilot on the Big Screen with Director Robert Butler in Person for a Q&A

Susan Oliver, Gene Roddenberry, Robert Butler, and Bob Justman on the set of 'The Menagerie' (1964)
Readers who live in the Los Angeles area will want to put this one on their calendar. Robert Butler, who directed 'The Menagerie' (also known as 'The Cage') will be appearing in person at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood for a screening of Star Trek's first pilot on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 7:30pm. Admission is free; event parking at the theater is usually $3.

Also shown will be 'Publish or Perish,' a 1974 episode from the third season of Columbo, featuring several faces that might be familiar to Star Trek fans, including Mariette Hartley (Zarabeth in 'All Our Yesterdays') and Ted Gehring (one of the transported policemen in 'Assignment: Earth').

(Click Image to Enlarge, then right-click an select "Open image in new tab" to view full size)
Butler (now 86) has spoken about his involvement with Star Trek before, in an interview with Edward Gross for Starlog #117. I have included that interview above (view the full issue here). For those who will be in the Los Angeles area next week, I hope to see you at the screening!

Starlog courtesy of The Internet Archive.

Top image courtesy of Trek Core.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Unseen Trek: 'Sleeping Beauty' by Robert Bloch

Still from 'The Neutral Zone' (1988)

Story Outline by Robert Bloch (undated)
Review, analysis, and report by David Eversole
Originally Posted at Orion Press

TEASER

Four people beam aboard the Enterprise as it orbits Argelius II--Doctor Henning, Nancy Turner (handsome, late-30s), Jim Comstock (rugged, 40), Michael Oakes (a bright teenager) and Lou Jackson (squat, 50). While Doctor Henning is dressed normally, the other four all wear clothing styles of "today." (1966).

Kirk chastises Scotty when he makes a remark about their strange attire -- "No more of that. I want them treated with the utmost respect. Just remember -- all of them have been dead for over two hundred years."


ACT ONE

We soon learn that Argelius II is the last of the old Cryogenics Centers, and Doctor Henning is a cryobiologist. In the late-20th Century, suspended animation was perfected, and patients at the point of death could be frozen, hopefully to be revived at some future date. Social upheavals and the population explosion on Earth lead to the moving of those preserved to Argelius. In this move, most of the records and case-histories of these people were lost, but the knowledge of how to revive them remained. Of the sixteen people in suspended animation, these four survived being brought back to life, and the Enterprise is to ferry them to a transfer point, where they will board a ship to Earth.

Mr. Spock is interested in observing how these people react to their new environment. "Doc" McCoy is interested in the medical details of their cryogenic freeze. Kirk warns them both to stop thinking of these people as guinea pigs. He goes to meet the uneasy four. Nancy puts on a front of charm; Comstock is cynical; Jackson, flippant, and young Michael Oakes is very interested in the scientific marvels of this "brave new world."

Kirk asks them to go to their assigned quarters, where they will be served dinners. He mentions that later he is going to talk to Doctor Henning about their cases. All react somewhat oddly to this request, especially the fact that Kirk is going to discuss them with Henning, but they do as he asks.

Later, in the "Medical Area," Kirk and McCoy await Doctor Henning. He stumbles in, falls, dead, to the floor, a knife stuck in his back!


ACT TWO

The knife is a dinner-knife. One of the four revivees must have killed Henning. A Yeoman tells Kirk that she saw Doctor Henning visit each of them before he was to meet Kirk and McCoy. Knowing that whoever killed Henning will be missing their dinner-knife (their dinner plates have not been collected yet), Kirk decides to visit each of them to see whose knife is missing.

First he visits Nancy Turner. She is in a bit of a huffy mood because no one in this time recognizes her. She was a famous actress back in the day. She is shocked to hear that Henning is dead. Or is that just acting, Kirk wonders. Since Kirk knows that she was promised revived youth with her suspended animation, he doubts she would have killed the man who could have given her that. And her knife is on her plate.

Young Michael Oakes is shocked to learn of Henning's death. The doctor removed the brain tumor that was threatening Michael's life when he was revived. And like Turner, his knife is there on his dinner plate.

Jim Comstock is agitated when told of Henning's death. The doctor repaired his damaged heart when he was revived. He's even more agitated when Kirk demands to know where his dinner knife is. It is not on his plate. Finally, to Comstock's relief, Kirk sees the knife. It has simply fallen to the floor.

Lou Jackson doesn't care a whit that Henning is dead. No big deal to him. See, he's only interested in getting home and getting the loot he stashed away before he was frozen. To make his points more forcefully, he jabs at the air with his dinner knife.

When Kirk tells Spock of his lack of findings, Spock informs him that he has discovered that Henning was killed with the knife from his own dinner tray.

A killer is loose on Kirk's ship!

(And in a margin note on this investigation, Gene Roddenberry or John D. F. Black, or D. C. Fontana, or whoever, wonders why the hell Kirk didn't think of that before wasting all that time in endless talky scenes!)


ACT THREE

Kirk now conducts in-depth psychological interviews with each of the four. He goads Nancy Turner. She was lied to. Suspended animation can't restore her youth. She will now grow old and die like everyone else. Didn't Doctor Henning tell you this when you were revived? Didn't it anger you enough to kill him, he wants to know. Nancy weeps uncontrollably. Yes, he told her the bad news. Poor thing will grow old and withered, and... but she insists she didn't kill him.

Jim Comstock enters and tells Kirk to give the poor woman a break. Soon we learn that Comstock hated his former life. He hated the world of the late twentieth century, with its wars and hatred, but since his revival he has found the future to be just as bad. Today, you conquer worlds, not countries. Kirk asks if he was angry when Doctor Henning told him of the wars of this century. Yes, Comstock admits, he was angry, but not angry enough to kill him.

Spock goes to visit Michael Oakes. The teenager asks pointed questions about Spock's alien heritage, which embarrass him somewhat, but he gamely answers them. Spock gets Michael to admit he had a terrible childhood in an orphanage, but other than that he's just a normal kid. No clues here.

Kirk talks with Lou Jackson --

(Editorial intrusion: More margin notes complain that this outline is just one talk scene after another, with no action whatsoever! Give it some action, the notist begs, maybe have Jackson and Kirk slug each other.)

-- and discovers that he was a gangster who stashed loot everywhere before he was frozen. With the compound interest he hoped to be rich when he awoke two hundred years hence. Were you angry when Doctor Henning told you that your money did not accrue as you hoped it would due to the "statute of limitations on savings," Kirk asks. Sure, Jackson admits, he was angry, but not angry enough to kill him.

Kirk, Spock and Bones compare notes. They realize that they better find something out fast, for tomorrow they meet the transport ship which will take the four back to Earth. Bones declares that he wants to do things his way.


ACT FOUR

While giving Jim Comstock a medical examination, Doc leaves a scalpel within easy reach of the man. Comstock slowly picks it up... and hands it back to McCoy. He hates violence.

Nancy doesn't even notice the scalpel Doc leaves in easy reach of her during her examination. Doc does discover that she has given birth in the past. It was a baby boy, she admits, it died at birth.

Lou Jackson grows angry during his exam, grabs the scalpel and waves it about. Has Doc discovered the murderer? No. Jackson calms down, tosses the scalpel aside. He's clean, wants to stay that way. Yeah, he's angry about losing all his dough, but he reckons he can start over. He's smart, can play the barely legal rackets in this century just as well as he did in his.

Doc examines Michael's brain tumor scar tissue. Through gentle questioning, he learns that Michael wasn't in an orphanage, he was confined in a mental institution. Michael stares at the gleaming scalpel. McCoy induces a hypnotic state in the young man and questions him about the killing of Doctor Henning.

Suddenly a hand grabs the scalpel.

Nancy Turner wields it in McCoy's face!

The lights go on and Kirk is there. He subdues Nancy and we discover the truth. Michael is her son. She did not want the burden of a mentally disturbed child to detract from her career. When it was discovered that his behavioral aberrations stemmed from a brain tumor, she decided to have him frozen in suspended animation. A delayed maternal instinct caused her to be frozen with him. She killed Doctor Henning because she didn't want him to tell Michael the truth.

Jim Cromwell comforts Nancy. She will have to stand trial, but she takes comfort from Doc McCoy telling her that Michael is totally cured. And, she is told, today criminals are not punished; they are rehabilitated.

From the outline:


And the Enterprise goes on, carrying its strange cargo to meet varied fates in the world they've come to from the past...

FINAL THOUGHTS

I love the works of Robert Bloch, from his novels, to his short stories to his various teleplays and screenplays. He almost never fails to entertain... "almost never." This is not a very good outline. There's little mystery, little incentive -- (Editorial Intrusion: If I go down tomorrow to see my investment counselor, and he tells me solely because of my own stupidity I am broke, wiped out, skint, I'm gonna be angry. I may scream, throw things, drop the "F Bomb" at the top of my lungs, but why the hell would I kill the messenger of the bad news I brought upon myself? Likewise, if someone points out that there is an unjust war going on in Country X, I'm not going to stick a dinner knife in her back for informing me of this...) -- for any of the suspects to kill poor Doctor Henning. And as the writer of the marginal notes pointed out at least twice, it's all talk. And the title is bad as well.


--------------

Image Courtesy of Trek Core.

Review originally posted at Orion Press.

Editor's Note: Marc Cushman's These Are The Voyages claims this outline was written "on spec" by Robert Bloch after he finished work on 'What Are Little Girls Made Of?' There's no source for this claim, and since the outline itself is undated, it is probably speculation. If anyone has access to an interview with Bloch where he talks about this story outline, I'd love to read it. Cushman also claims that this outline was nixed because it "was in conflict with 'Space Seed,' that other sleeping beauty story in the works." I suspect this is also speculation on Cushman's part, since nothing in the archival collection at UCLA suggests this, and Cushman doesn't cite a source. It seems more likely, based upon the hand-written notes found on the draft in the Roddenberry collection, that the outline was rejected because it was talky, made Kirk reactive rather than active, and had little action. Beyond the suspended animation angle, the outline bears little resemblance to 'Space Seed,' anyways. Today, I suspect Star Trek fans will find it has more in common with 'The Neutral Zone' from Star Trek: The Next Generation than it does with any episode of the original series.