Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Second Pilot Episodes Before Star Trek?

Still from an unaired, early version of 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' (1965)
According to behind-the-scenes lore, when Desilu produced 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' in 1965, it marked the first time a second television pilot was produced for a single series. Like many bold claims about Star Trek, this one seems to have began its life in the pages of Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry's The Making of Star Trek (1968):
NBC shattered all television precedent and asked for a second pilot. This caused quite a stir within the industry, because up until that time no network had ever asked for a second pilot. 
--Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, The Making of Star Trek (1968), p.126
To be fair to Whitfield (the nom de plume of Stephen Edward Poe, who shared credit with Gene Roddenberry, but wrote most of the book himself), he wasn't claiming that a second television pilot had never been produced for the same property before — only that, prior to Star Trek, no television network had ever asked for a second pilot episode after rejecting the first one.

In the years since Whitfield's book was first published, however, the record-setting mythology about Star Trek's second pilot episode has only grown. By the time The Making of Star Trek—The Motion Picture (1980) was published, Star Trek's second pilot episode had become unprecedented in and of itself (for now, I'm ignoring the other inaccuracies in this passage):
After knocking on all the doors in town, he [Roddenberry] eventually got Desilu Studios to put up the money for the first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage.” It was rejected by all three networks. Later, an unprecedented second pilot was ordered (“Where No Man Has Gone Before”), and NBC added Star Trek to its fall lineup for 1966.
--Susan Sackett and Gene Roddenberry, The Making of Star Trek—The Motion Picture (1980), p.9*
Although I believe this was the first time that Star Trek's second pilot episode was described as being "unprecedented," it was hardly the last. These are just some of the examples I found with the help of Google Books:
After spending $630,000 on "The Cage," NBC felt the series format deserved a second chance. For the first time in television history, a second pilot was commissioned. Amid the chatter of disbelief within the industry, NBC let Roddenberry and Desilu know that some changes had to be made in the "Trek" format.
-Allan Asherman, The Star Trek Compendium (second edition, 1986), p.17 
The pilot was submitted to NBC in February, 1965. They rejected it. But the project wasn't canned; NBC still saw promise in the series and authorized an unprecedented second pilot—including an almost entirely new cast. 
--Author Unknown, Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (1988), p.86 
However, instead of dumping the project, NBC did the unprecedented, giving Gene the go-ahead to film a second pilot that they hoped would be more appealing to the network’s sensibilities. 
--William Shatner with Chris Kreski, Star Trek Memories (1993), p.66 
However, the executives were impressed enough by Roddenberry's efforts to make an unprecedented request for a second pilot, a more adventurous story by Samuel A. Peeples called "Where No Man Has Gone Before." 
--Jeff Bond, The Music of Star Trek: Profiles in Style (1999), p.14
NBC then made the unprecedented decision of asking Roddenberry to shoot a second pilot, but with changes... 
--David J. Shayler and Ian Moule, Women in Space: Following Valentina (2005), p.146
But they [NBC] requested a second pilot. This was unheard of in NBC history.
--D.C. Fontana, Star Trek 365 (2010), from the book's introduction
NBC executives were impressed enough with "The Cage," Star Trek's rejected original telefilm, that they took the unprecedented step of ordering a second pilot rather than abandoning the concept. 
--Mark Clark, Star Trek FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise (Kindle Edition, April 2012)
Roddenberry was hoping Mort Werner was going to make good on his word and order a second pilot, even though such a thing had never before been done. 
--Marc Cushman with Susan Osborn, These Are The Voyages — TOS: Season One (First Edition, August 2013), p.199.
Still from 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' (1965; broadcast 1966)
Like any oft-repeated claim about Star Trek breaking television precedent, I have to ask the question — is any of it true? Did 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' mark the first time a series had a second pilot episode? Was NBC the first television network to order a second pilot after rejecting the first one? Did the move cause "quite a stir within the industry," as first claimed in The Making of Star Trek?

Contemporary accounts in newspapers and trade magazines are helpful in answering these questions. Consider the following, from the Los Angeles Times:
Desilu is reshooting two pilot films. Star Trek, which reportedly cost $500,000 the first time around, is being filmed again without Jeffrey Hunter. The Good Old Days is undergoing script and premise revisions and will be shot a second time with another actor replacing Darryl Hickman.
--Inside TV: Eddie Albert to Play Rural Lawyer, Los Angeles Times (May 3, 1965), p.D28
The passage above was not the lead in the newspaper's regular "Inside TV" column — that was dedicated to announcing the series that would become Green Acres (1965-71). The news about Star Trek's second pilot was buried in the column's fourth paragraph and, notably, was announced alongside the news that another Desilu program for NBC was also receiving a second pilot and recasting its lead.

Nine days later, Weekly Variety covered the same story in a little more detail:
Two Desilu pilots shot for next season, but not sold, may yet be aired. 
NBC-TV has okayed production of a second seg of "Star Trek," hour-long sci-fi series, and William Shatner will replace Jeffrey Hunter as the lead in this projected series. Web has also okayed three more scripts, and is interested in "Trek" for a mid-season or 1966-67 start. Second seg rolls around July 5, with Gene Roddenberry, who produced the first one, producing it. 
Second Desilu pilot involved is "The Good Old Days," half-hour comedy starring Darryl Hickman. NBC-TV, for which it was made, and Desilu execs are talking of the possibility of reshooting this pilot, and there may be a change in its cast if this is done. 
--'Definite Maybe' for 2 Unsold Desilu Pilots, Weekly Variety (May 12, 1965), p.167
Buried on the bottom of page 167, the news about Star Trek wasn't treated as a prominent story by Weekly Variety, either. And, once again, it was covered alongside the news that another Desilu series for NBC was being slated for a second pilot. In light of this information, the claim that 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' was causing "quite a stir within the [entertainment] industry" seems rather dubious at best.

Having established these facts, however, I could find no evidence in the Hollywood trades that a second pilot was actually produced for The Good Old Days, a proposed half-hour sitcom "about a caveman who goes searching for adventure." Does that mean 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' really was the first time a second pilot was produced for a single series — or, at least, the first time the same network ordered a second pilot after rejecting the first one?

After further research, I'm sorry to report that the answer is a resounding no — not even close. What follows is a chronological list of ten pilot episodes that were rejected, but followed by a second pilot episode. Not all of these second pilots became series (like all television pilots, many didn't sell), but all of them were produced before Gene Roddenberry began developing Star Trek at Desilu.

This list should not be viewed as comprehensive, as my research into this area has been far from exhaustive. If there are other programs with second (or even third) pilot episodes that do not appear here — especially if they were produced before 1965 — I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Still from Lum and Abner's second pilot (CBS, 1949)
Lum and Abner (Pilots: 1948, 1949, 1951, 1956)

The earliest program with a second pilot on this list is Lum and Abner, an attempt by CBS to translate their successful radio program into a weekly television series:
The first Lum and Abner TV pilot was filmed for CBS in 1948 and tried to emulate the daily fifteen-minute format of the radio show...CBS president William S. Paley supposedly like it but felt that the market for fifteen-minute television programs was rapidly going to disappear. He commissioned a second pilot, which was filmed during the summer of 1949. 
--Tim Hollis, Ain't That a Knee-Slapper: Rural Comedy in the Twentieth Century (2008), p.148-149
The first Lum and Abner pilot is not available, but the second pilot can be seen online. Surprisingly, after rejecting the second, half-hour pilot late in 1949, CBS decided to try again and made a third television pilot about a year later:
A third Lum and Abner pilot actually made it onto CBS' airwaves in February 1951...Although the pilot received favorable reviews after its airing, it still did not lead to a series. 
--Tim Hollis, Ain't That a Knee-Slapper: Rural Comedy in the Twentieth Century (2008), p.149-150
A few years later, a fourth attempt to launch a Lum and Abner television series resulted in three half-hour episodes filmed in late 1954 and early 1955, but these trio of pilots for a proposed series were never broadcast. Instead, they were hastily spliced together into Lum and Abner Abroad (1956), which was released theatrically to poor reviews.

Still from The Great Gildersleeve television series (1955-56)
The Great Gildersleeve (Pilots: 1954, 1955)

Like Lum and Abner, The Great Gildersleeve was an attempt to bring a successful radio program to television. After showing their first pilot episode in 1954, NBC announced they were commissioning a second pilot:
Apparently dissatisfied with audience reaction to its "Great Gildersleeve" pilot film, NBC yesterday announced that it has signed producer Robert S. Finkel to film a new pilot for the long-time radio program.
"Gildersleeve was previewed twice on the net this fall in order to gauge viewer response. The second pilot film, also starring Willard Waterman, will first be aired on January 6.
--NBC Sets New 'Gildie' Pilot, The Billboard (December 25, 1954), p.7
The Great Gildersleeve's second pilot led to a weekly series, but it struggled to replicate the success of the radio show, and was finally cancelled after one full season on NBC.

Still from Fibber McGee and Molly (second pilot, 1959)
Fibber McGee and Molly (Pilots: 1954 and 1959)

Fibber McGee and Molly was also a popular radio program, broadcast on NBC from 1935 until 1959. NBC twice attempted to develop the property for television. Their first effort was a half-hour pilot produced in early 1954:
NBC signed Frank Tashlin to produce and direct a pair of pilot telefilms for the "Fibber McGee and Molly" and "Great Gildersleeve" shows which the network owns. He reports next week and expects to finish the assignment by the end of February.
--NBC Sets Tashlin To Guide Telepix On 'Fibber' & 'Gildersleeve, Weekly Variety (January 13, 1954) p.26
Variety reported that sponsors were bidding on the pilot in May of 1954, but a series failed to materialize. Two years later, Weekly Variety reported that a second pilot was in the works:
Jim and Marion Jordan are once again interested in a television version of "Fibber & Molly" and a second pilot may be coming along soon...
--From the Production Centres, Weekly Variety (March 21, 1956), p.30
Interest, apparently, took a while to develop into action, but three years later the second pilot was finally ready to go before the cameras:
As a video entry, F & M will have Bob Sweeney and Cathy Lewis playing the lead roles. Pilot is being shot this month in Hollywood with Bill Lawrence as producer.
--Johnson Wax Still Loves That Fibber, Weekly Variety (March 18, 1959), p.32
The second attempt to bring Fibber McGee and Molly to television was only a little more successful than the first. Although it became a weekly series produced by William Asher for NBC, it only lasted twelve episodes before being cancelled.

Still from Have Camera, Will Travel (second pilot, filmed February of 1956)
Have Camera, Will Travel (Pilots: 1955 and 1956)

Have Camera, Will Travel never became a series, but not before going through two pilot films produced by Hal Roach Studios for NBC. In June of 1955, the first pilot was filmed:
Paul Gilbert pilot, to be filmed by NBC-TV, has been set to roll at Hal Roach Studios on June 6. Program, to deal with the adventures of a pair of photographers, has been titled, "Have Camera, Will Travel."
--NBC-TV Skeds June 6 Start for 'Camera,' The Billboard (June 4, 1955), p.13
NBC rejected this pilot, but ordered a second one:
A second pilot of the Paul Gilbert starrer, "Have Camera, Will Travel," will be shot from a new script, the thinking being that the concept is a sound one but that the first half-hour, lensed at Hal Roach Studios last spring, was mis-written and miscast.
--NBC-TV Bears Down on Color Programs, The Billboard (October 22, 1955), p.14
The second pilot (which guest starred a young Charles Bronson) was filmed in February of 1956, and can be found in three parts on YouTube here, here, and here. Daily Variety reported that this pilot was screened for NBC executives in April of 1956 along with four other potential shows. That screening must have been unsuccessful; afterwards, I can find no mention of the pilot or the proposed series in any of the Hollywood trade papers.

Double Indemnity (Paramount, 1944; source: Filmmaker IQ)
Double Indemnity (Pilots: Unknown and 1963)

I have been unable to find detailed information about the first of these two pilots, but a Weekly Variety story from late 1965 mentions that neither resulted in a series:
U TV has ventured into other Par pix as potential series, but not always with success. It made a pilot based on "Double Indemnity," the Par hit of yesteryear, but it didn't sell. A second pilot of the same property was made last season as a spinoff, but it didn't make the grade either. 
-Universal TV Tries More Old Par Pix as Video Vehicles, Weekly Variety (October 13, 1965), p.34
The spin-off mentioned above was an episode of Kraft Mystery Theater (1947-58), an anthology program which often broadcast potential pilots. Entitled 'Shadow of a Man,' and first aired on June 19, 1963, the pilot was a very loose adaptation of Double Indemnity with Broderick Crawford and Jack Kelly in the roles originated by Edward G. Robinson and Fred MacMurray in Billy Wilder's 1944 film version. This pilot can be viewed in full on YouTube here.

Promotional still for Tombstone Territory (1957-59; source: Shout! Factory)
Tombstone Territory (Pilots: Both 1957)

From 1948 until 1960, Ziv Televisions Program, Inc. was a major supplier of syndicated television, sold directly to local television stations to fill out their schedules outside of prime time. Ziv also employed Gene Roddenberry early in his career, hiring him to write scripts for series including Mr. District Attorney, I Led Three Lives, Highway PatrolDr. Christian, Harbor Command, and West Point.

Beginning in 1956, Ziv also began selling programming directly to the networks, which was the case with Tombstone Territory, a half-hour western that began its life as a pilot called Tombstone in 1957:
Ziv TV today rolls pilot for a new western vidpix series, “Tombstone.” Jan Merlin co-stars with Richard Eastham and Norman Foster directs.
--Daily Variety (February 12, 1957), p.11
Daily Variety later reported that the series had been sold to a sponsor, re-titled Gunfire Pass, and was set to appear on ABC:
“Gunfire Pass,” oater [Western] series starring Richard Eastham, has been sold by Ziv TV to Bristol-Myers, and will be seen on ABC-TV next season....Pat Conway has a featured lead in “Gunfire” series, which will be based on stories of Tombstone, Ariz., produced by Frank Pittman and Andy White. The 89 episodes go into production around the first of June. 
--Ziv Sells 'Gunfire' To Bristol-Myers For ABC-TV, Daily Variety (May 23, 1957), p.9
Although the sponsor (Bristol-Myers) was satisfied with this pilot, apparently ABC had second thoughts, forcing Ziv to produce a second pilot with significant revisions:
Following reshooting and recasting of a pilot nixed by ABC-TV, Ziv TV's second pilot, called "Tombstone Territory," has been okayed by the network and will be seen on ABC next season, with Bristol-Myers sponsoring.
Ziv had originally lensed a pilot called "Town at Gunfire Pass," which BM bought, but ABC termed "unacceptable." As as result, pilot was recast, with Pat Conway, who was second lead in the first pilot, upped to top lead, and the second pilot proved acceptable both to the sponsor and the network. Pilot was directed by Eddie Davis.
Conway plays role of a sheriff of Tombstone, while the crusading editor of the Tombstone Epitaph - originally the lead character - is now relegated to a secondary role. Series will be on Wednesday nights following "Disneyland."
--Ziv Tombstone' Passes Muster After ABC Nix, Daily Variety (August 22, 1957), p.15
Tombstone Territory's second pilot was enough to convince ABC to go forward with the series, which premiered with its second pilot episode on October 16, 1957. ABC eventually broadcast the first pilot (with a new title, 'Guilt of a Town') on March 19, 1958. Tombstone Territory lasted for three seasons and a total of 91 episodes.
Still from Collector's Item (2nd pilot, filmed late 1957)
Collector's Item (Pilots: Both 1957)

The earliest mention of this Vincent Price-Peter Lorre television vehicle I've been able to find is a casting item that appeared in an early 1957 issue of Daily Variety, indicating that the pilot would begin filming on January 29, 1957:
Jockey Billy Pearson has been cast by producer Julian Claman in pilot of "Collector's Item," new telepix series 20th-Fox rolls tomorrow for CBS. Vincent Price, who appeared with Pearson on "$64,000 Challenge" stars in series, as does Peter Lorre.
--Collector's' Mount For Billy Pearson, Daily Variety (January 28, 1957), p.3
Variety followed this story a few weeks later with more detail on the prospective program:
An adventure-comedy series co-starring Vincent Price and Peter Lorre called "Collector's Item." This is a wholly-owned CBS property created by west coast program exec Hunt Stromberg Jr., the idea stemming from the audience excitement generated by Price's recent participation in "$64,000 Challenge" with Edward G. Robinson. However, this one's not a quiz show; strictly comedy with adventure overtones in which Price portrays the owner of a N.Y. art gallery with Lorre as a phony art dealer who goes to work for Price. Web's hopes are particularly high on this one.
--Hopes High on 30-Min. Bundle, Daily Variety (February 20, 1957), p.23
A few weeks later, according to a story in the March 16, 1957 issue of The BillboardCollector's Item was ready to be shown to advertising agencies in New York, in search of a potential sponsor. Apparently, however, CBS was unsuccessful. Not ready to abandon the project, however, CBS hired a new writing team to script a second pilot:
Gwen Bagni and Irwin Gielgud have  been  signed  by CBS-TV  to teleplay pilot of a new vidpix series, "Collector's   Item," which will  star Vincent Price and Peter Lorre.
--Pair Plotting "Item," Daily Variety (July 10, 1957), p.3
Bagni and Gielgud did not work out, leading CBS to go with Herb Meadow instead:
CBS-TV has signed Herb Meadow to a five-year pact as producer-writer and assigned him to produce its new series, "Collector's Item," starring Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Meadow scripted pilot, which rolls soon. First pilot of series, made long ago, was junked.
--Herb Meadow's 5-Year CBS-TV Prod.-Writer Pact, Weekly Variety (November 6, 1957), p.52
By the end of the year, the second pilot was completed (it can be viewed in three parts herehere, and here), and CBS again went looking for a sponsor for the show:
Collector's Item—Remake of last season's pilot, starring Vincent Price as an art collector who becomes embroiled in crime and mystery.
--Nets Vary Widely On Show Types For Fall, The Billboard (February 3, 1958), p.6
Once again, however, the network came up empty, and the second pilot ended up on the shelf. Interestingly enough, however, this was not the last time the series would be mentioned in the Hollywood trades. About eight months later, Weekly Variety reported that CBS still thought the core idea of Collector's Item had potential, and was considering filming new episodes:
The question of what to do with shelved pilots again is being bandied around, but this time with a new twist.
If the basic idea is good, why give up the ghost if the execution didn't come off well?...
CBS along with its syndication subsid, is pruning all of the unsold pilots, discarding those which it feels don't have a good basic idea. But those such as "The City" and "Collector's Item," dealing with fraudulent art practices and starring Vincent Price, are being revived. New episodes may be shot on the latter. Reason for the approach is that what are considered basic good ideas for a series aren't too plentiful. Advertisers and agency execs will be urged to give the second tries a fresh look. Plan will be abandoned if the new pilot is met with that "I've seen that one before" comment, when screened along Madison Ave. 
--What to Do With Old Pilots, Weekly Variety (September 24, 1958), p.23
There are a few more references to the potential series in late 1958, which indicate that CBS considered producing the series for syndication with a different lead. Ultimately, however, it appears that nothing came of it. As far as I can tell, neither pilot was ever broadcast.
Poster for Tarzan and the Trappers (1958)
Tarzan (Pilots: 1957 and 1958)

Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan stories have been filmed on many occasions. Relevant to Star Trek is the 1966-68 television series, which featured Nichelle Nichols in two episodes and served as Star Trek's second season lead-in on NBC (to disastrous results; Tarzan went from being a top thirty show in the 1966-67 broadcast season to a cancelled flop in 1967-68). Also relevant: an unmade film version written by Gene Roddenberry in 1968 (the project Roddenberry left the Paramount lot to go work on during Star Trek's third season).

Prior to both those versions, however, producer Sol Lesser twice attempted to bring the character to the small screen with veteran Tarzan actor Gordon Scott. The first attempt was made for NBC in early 1957:
Deal has been finalized for NBC to be partnered with Sol Lesser in his "Tarzan" theatrical films under an agreement concluded with Alan Livingston, the net's program vee-pee in Hollywood. Included in the joint control is "Tarzan and Lost Safari," now being released by Metro, and the library of animal and native tribe footage shot in Africa. Lesser will produce the half-hour "Tarzan" telepix series for NBC, with Laslo Benedek directing the first episode. Lisa Davis has femme lead opposite Gordon Scott.
--NBC, Sol Lesser Partner in "Tarzan," Daily Variety (March 22, 1957), p.16
Ultimately, NBC passed on the project, but Lesser was undeterred:
With a "Tarzan" theatrical film now before the cameras, Sol Lesser has reactivated his plans to shoot a vidpix series based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Previously, Lesser filmed a pilot with Gordon Scott and Lisa Davis co-starred but objections and a legal hassle with Commodore Productions at that time curtailed continuation of the "Tarzan" telefilms. Now, however, Lesser is resuming shooting on the "Tarzan" telepix and has already completed filming a second pilot film at Desilu-Culver.

Eve Brent, femme lead of the theatrical version, co-stars with Scott in the televersion. Rickie Sorensen, also in the theatrical film, will recreate his "boy" role in the series.

Pilot, it's understood, is entitled "Tarzan and the Trappers." Latter pic is now in the editing stages and ' will be available for agency screening shortly.
--Lesser's Tarzan Telepix on Again, Weekly Variety (February 19, 1958), p.25
Unfortunately for Lesser, Tarzan and the Trappers did not sell. Following a shake-up in leadership at Lesser's company, it was decided to forgo television exploitation of Tarzan altogether:
Lesser had completed a pilot film for the possible introduction of Tarzan as a telepix series. However, after analyzing the costs and market potential, it was considered "complete insanity," according to Howard, to go into TV. Howard's point being that it would be suicide to destroy a property which has grossed some $ 200,000,000 in 40 years. Since 1918, there have been 32 Tarzan films and, according to Howard, there has never been a loss on a Tarzan film. He said the smallest profit has been $ 500,000.
--Untried Blood Guiding New Lesser Co.; More Films, One Message: 'Escapism,' Weekly Variety (July 23, 1958), p.4
Tarzan and the Trappers was Sol Lesser's final producing credit. Eventually, it was re-edited and broadcast as a TV movie.

Still from I Remember Caviar (1959)
I Remember Caviar (Pilot: 1959) and All in the Family (Pilot: 1960)

I Remember Caviar was a thirty minute sitcom pilot that starred Pat Crowley, about a wealthy family forced into poverty. It was produced by Screen Gems for NBC, but was not picked up. However, NBC and Screen Gems decided to try again, shooting a second pilot called All in the Family (not to be confused with the Norman Lear show that would be produced a decade later — after three different pilot episodes, incidentally), again with Pat Crowley in the lead:
Stars of one of last year's unsold Screen Gems pilots, "I Remember Caviar," reportedly are being recalled to the studio... Although sources at the Columbia vidsubsid will admit only that there is discussion of doing a second pilot of the vehicle, Pat Crowley, who starred in the original, has been paged for the return chore.
--SG 'Caviar' Pilot Stars Recalled To Serve Up Another, Daily Variety (November 5, 1959), p.6
Unlike Star Trek, after giving the Pat Crowley-starring series a second chance, NBC passed on the prospective series. Both pilots ended up being broadcast as installments of Alcoa-Goodyear Theater (a popular graveyard for failed pilots, including the Gene Roddenberry scripted 333 Montgomery, which starred DeForest Kelley), one in 1959 and one in 1960.

Still from Head of the Family (filmed 1958)
Head of the Family (Pilot: 1958) and The Dick Van Dyke Show (Pilot: 1961)

When Carl Reiner first developed a half-hour sitcom about a television writer and his family, he intended to star in the show himself. Indeed, Reiner starred in a pilot that he wrote, called "Head of the Family," in 1958. Ultimately, however, this pilot did not sell, and it ended up being broadcast on CBS during the summer of 1960:
CBS-TV will inject a dubious element of freshness info three of its summer time slots with series consisting entirely of unsold pilots. Two of them will be devoted fully to comedy pilots-the "Hennessey" replacement Monday at 10 and the Red Skelton slot Tuesday at 9: 30. Third show will consist of dramatic pilots mostly CBS' own, on Fridays at 9...
Comedy lineup includes Carl Reiner in "Head of the Family," which he scripted and starred in and was produced by Peter Lawford...
--Like Old Razor Blades, What Do You Do With Unsold Pilots? CBS Giving ' Em Summer Airing, Weekly Variety (May 25, 1960), p.27
Later, with producer Sheldon Leonard, Reiner re-conceived the material for actor Dick Van Dyke. A new pilot episode, "The Sick Boy and the Sitter," was filmed on January 20, 1961. This incarnation picked up a committed sponsor, Proctor & Gamble, and the series (now called The Dick Van Dyke Show) debuted on CBS on October 3, 1961. It lasted for five seasons and 158 episodes.

Still from 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' (1965; broadcast 1966)
Ultimately, what can be said about 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' is that it was unusual for television in 1965 — but it was not unprecedented. In the early history of television, when a pilot did not sell, that was most often the end of it. Cast contracts certainly had no contingency in them for second pilot episodes. Most typically, actors were signed for a pilot episode, and the studio had an option to continue their services — if a weekly series materialized within a set time frame. Such was the case with Star Trek, which is why Jeffrey Hunter could walk away without repercussions when he declined to do the second pilot.

In a few cases, however, one or more of the entities involved (be they the studio, the network, or the sponsor) liked a pilot enough to produce a second or even a third version of the concept. As I have outlined above, this happened at least ten times prior to Star Trek.

Images from 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' courtesy of Trek Core.

Special thanks to Neil B. for offering many corrections and suggestions after reading an early version of this post. Any errors that remain are entirely my own.


The Making of Star Trek (Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, 1968)

The Making of Star Trek--The Motion Picture (Susan Sackett and Gene Roddenberry, 1980)

The Star Trek Compendium (Allan Asherman, 1986)

Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (1988)

Star Trek Memories (William Shatner with Chris Kreski, 1993)

The Music of Star Trek: Profiles in Style (Jeff Bond, 1999)

Women in Space: Following Valentina (David J. Shayler and Ian Moule, 2005)

Ain't That a Knee-Slapper: Rural Comedy in the Twentieth Century (Tim Hollis, 2008)

Star Trek 365 (Paula M. Block with Terry J. Erdmann, 2010)

Star Trek FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise (Mark Clark, Kindle Edition, April 2012)

These Are The Voyages: TOS, Season One (Marc Cushman with Susan Osborn, First Edition, August 2013)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Unseen Trek: "The Corbomite Manuever" (FINAL DRAFT)

Still from "The Corbomite Maneuver" (1966)
Written by Jerry Sohl
FINAL DRAFT, dated May 3, 1966
Report and Analysis by David Eversole
Originally posted at Orion Press

If any of you are interested in seeing how a competent, workmanlike, but somewhat bland teleplay that is just another "first contact" story, no better than the thousand first contact stories that came before it, becomes an excellent episode filled with nice touches and character moments, then buy a copy of this script and compare it to the show. 

This teleplay is full of "babbling." Everything is discussed, everything is stated in very obvious terms, there is no room for the actors to actually act. Here's a sample of an unshot scene in the script:


Taking one of Kirk's uniforms off its hanger is JANICE, the Captain's yeoman. The sound of the o. s. door opening causes her to turn toward it.


coming in, unwinding the towel from about his neck, tossing it on the bed as he joins Janice, CAMERA GOING WITH him.

                                       Turn on the screen... Get the bridge.

                                       It is on, Captain.


Janice EXITS.


Kirk moves INTO FRAME, flicks a switch on the panel to talk to Spock, who is seen on the screen, though his back is to us.

                                       Mister Spock.

Spock turns, sees Kirk in his own monitor viewer.


as Spock talks to Kirk in the o. s. viewer.

                                                        KIRK'S VOICE 
                                       Any change?

                                       Negative, Captain. The cube is
                                       right where it was. 

                                                        KIRK'S VOICE 
                                       Is it monitoring us? 

                                       It has an elementary sensor
                                       beam, pulsating type. Emanates
                                       from the cube edges. 

                                                        KIRK'S VOICE 
                                       Any sign of life?

At this stage there was no Uhura. Dave Bailey is the Communications Officer, Lieutenant Ken Easton the Navigator. Their dialogue was combined and given mostly to the Dave Bailey we see in the episode. Uhura got a line or two of it, but nothing of importance. 

There are so many small moments that are not present in the script. No flypaper, no adrenaline gland, no coffee zapped by a phaser, no green leaves, no curiosity by Spock to gain Balok's image (Balok initiates visual communications with the Enterprise in the script), no comparison of Balok to Spock's father, no pity from Scotty for Spock's mother, no chess and poker analogies (Kirk just suddenly decides to bluff, no setup, nothing). 

Most significantly, there is no subplot with Bailey flipping out. In the script, Bailey shouts something like, "What does he expect us to do?" Kirk gives him a stern look and says, "He expects us to lose our heads. We're not going to do that are we, Mr. Bailey?" Bailey bucks up, says "No, sir," and that is that. 

To Sohl's credit, he did write the famous "I never say that" bits for McCoy. 

Someone pruned and reshaped the dialogue masterfully for the aired episode. 

Now, about the babbling. The final seventeen pages of Sohl's script play out in about six or seven minutes. When Kirk decides to answer the distress call Balok sends out, Sohl writes pages and pages of everybody, even Spock, vehemently disagreeing with him, questioning his decision. It is bad. In the episode, Kirk gets a couple of surprised looks, and the characters professionally do as told, and we know they disagree somewhat with him, but we don't need to be lectured on how and why. A raised eyebrow, a slight pause from the actors tells us all we need to know. 

The final scene on Balok's ship is pretty much as written, except Bailey does not accompany Kirk and McCoy over, so there's no leaving behind of a Federation representative to get to know Balok and the First Federation. 

Balok mentions the name of the planet where he intends to intern the Enterprise crew. It is called Carpi.

JERRY SOHL (Gerald Allen Sohl, Sr., 1913-2002): American Science Fiction writer, best known for his novels The Haploids and Costigan's Needle. For television, he first ghost-wrote episodes of The Twilight Zone for Charles Beaumont (when the latter was suffering from Alzheimer's), nine episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, then later wrote for The Outer Limits and The Invaders. For Star Trek he wrote "The Corbomite Maneuver," provided the story for "This Side of Paradise" (under his pseudonym Nathan Butler), and co-wrote the story for "Whom Gods Destroy." Sohl also served on The Committee of science fiction writers hired by Desilu to evaluate the original pilot of Star Trek and make improvements.

Editor's Note: The "someone" who pruned and reshaped Jerry Sohl's dialogue into the shooting script was Gene Roddenberry, according to Herb Solow and Bob Justman's Inside Star Trek: The Real Story (1996).

Image courtesy of Trek Core.

This article was originally published by Orion Press and is reprinted by permission of publisher Randall Landers. All rights revert to the original authors.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Star Trek and Color Television Households

Still from 'Charlie X' (1966)
The subject of today's post comes from the pages of Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman's Inside Star Trek: The Real Story (1996):
In 1966, NBC, at the behest of RCA, commissioned the A.C. Nielsen Company to do a study on the popularity of color television series as opposed to all television series. The results were expected–and very unexpected.
Favorite series were popular whether or not they were viewed in color. For example, NBC's Bonanza series was a top-rated series on the overall national ratings list as well as on the color ratings list.
However, in December 1966, with Star Trek having been on the air only three months, an NBC executive called with some news. The Nielsen research indicated that Star Trek was the highest-rated color series on television. I distributed the information to the Star Trek staff. We thought it was all very interesting, nothing to write home about, and went back to work. We were wrong; we failed to see the importance of the research.
Perhaps those initial and subsequent Nielsen color series ratings contributed to giving Star Trek a second year of life. Putting aside low national ratings and lack of sponsors, perhaps a reason for renewing Star Trek, other than all the phone calls, letters, and demonstrations at NBC, was its position as the top-rated color series on the 'full color network.' NBC's parent company was RCA. Star Trek sold color television sets and made money for RCA.
- Herbert F. Solow, Inside Star Trek: The Real Story (1996), p.305​
In the twenty years since Solow and Justman's memoir was first published, authors of both popular and academic texts have seized upon this story as an explanation why Star Trek lasted for 79 episodes (despite low national ratings). Citing the above passage from Inside Star Trek, for example, British scholar Catherine Johnson writes:
When in 1966, RCA commissioned A.C. Nielsen to study the popularity of networked colour television series, the research revealed that Star Trek was the highest-rated colour television series on the air at that time... Herbert Solow argues that this research was a factor in the network's decision to renew the series for a second season despite its relatively poor performance in the ratings.
- Catherine Johnson, Telefantasy (2005), p.84-86
I've even cited Solow's theory about Star Trek's second season renewal in an earlier post on this blog.
Still from NBC television promo (1968)
Before I go much further, I should provide some historical context. On January 1, 1967, a few weeks after Nielsen's special survey of color television households, there were about 55 million homes with television in the United States. According to estimates published in Broadcasting Magazine, about 9.5 million of those homes were watching in color:
Estimated color-TV households in the U.S. rose 82% to 9,510,000 homes as of Jan. 1, 1967, as compared to 5,220,000 homes on Jan. 1, 1966, according to NBC.
- Color sets up 82%, Broadcasting (February 13, 1967), p.58
Color television households represented a small segment of the viewing audience (about 17.3% of television households as of January 1, 1967), but their numbers were growing rapidly. By 1971, nearly half of television households were watching in color

Color television households also represented an important demographic for advertisers. In an April 20, 1966 interview, Tom Sarnoff, an NBC Vice President, told Weekly Variety, "color set owners...are the heaviest spenders and buy more quality products." Sarnoff's comments made a certain amount of sense. After all, not only did color television households have the extra cash to purchase a pricey new television, studies showed they watched more television (and, therefore, more advertisements) than households watching in black and white:
The Trendex study also found that TV usage in color TV homes is 22% greater than in black and white homes.
- Tint Advantage Still Mostly NBC's, Weekly Variety (November 16, 1966), p.26​
RCA color television advertisement featuring NBC's Star Trek (1967)
NBC had begun billing itself as the "full color network" during the 1965-66 broadcast season. Although the network didn't fully realize this promise until November 7th, 1966, it had a clear lead over CBS and ABC in both color television programming and viewership when Star Trek premiered, a lead which continued throughout the 1966-67 broadcast season:
NBC has 47% higher ratings in color TV homes than in black and white homes. These are the comparative ratings of the three networks in color TV homes and black and white homes, based on the Oct. I and II Nielsen reports:
NBC had a nighttime average of 26.4 in color TV homes and an 18.0 in black & white homes; CBS had a 19.8 average in color homes against an 18.8 in b& w homes; and ABC had a 17.8 average in color homes versus a 18.4 in black and white homes.
- Color Edge, Weekly Variety (December 21, 1966), p.26
NBC's significant edge in color television households was, pardon the expression, only logical. Its parent company, RCA, was in the business of selling consumer televisions and high-priced color broadcast equipment (including cameras), which led NBC to invest more quickly and heavily in color television than either of its competitors. RCA's ownership of NBC also meant that on-air promotional spots pushed consumers to watch NBC's line-up in color, and advertising for RCA color television sets urged consumers to watch programming on NBC (see the above ad, for example).

Since NBC had such a compelling lead among color television audiences, it begs the question – how could Star Trek have been the number one show among color television households, when it had such middling ratings overall (the series placed 52nd for the 1966-67 broadcast season)? To answer that question, I once again turned to the Gene Roddenberry Star Trek Television Collection at UCLA, where I found the original correspondence Solow references in Inside Star Trek – a December 7, 1966 memo from Solow to Star Trek's cast and crew:
Some of you may be aware of the fact that the Nielsen Company does a special research sample of ratings in color set homes only. I do not have the specific rating on STAR TREK but have been advised that STAR TREK is the highest rated color show in its time period, i.e. beating out MY THREE SONS, BEWITCHED, DATING GAME, and the CBS THURSDAY NIGHT MOVIE. It is NBC's feeling that while other high-rated color shows, such as BOB HOPE, BONANZA, and DEAN MARTIN, score well due mainly to the star value within the show (Bob Hope and Dean Martin) or the longevity of the program (BONANZA), STAR TREK derives much of its color rating from the magnificent technical quality of the show from the basic concept, design, photography and effects. You are all to be congratulated on this fine work.
Reading this memo now, it's clear that Herbert Solow's account in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story doesn't quite match the archival record. On the one hand, Star Trek did do better in homes with color televisions than it did in homes with black and white sets. In the color television sample, Star Trek beat the network shows it aired against (most notably, BewitchedMy Three Sons, and the CBS Thursday Night Movie); in the National Nielsen ratings, Star Trek was regularly beaten by all three of these shows.

However, a victory in its timeslot (Thursday nights, 8:30-9:30) in the color television sample does not mean that Star Trek was the number one show in color television households, and there's nothing in the Solow memo to suggest that this was the case. In fact, the results of a separate Trendex report on color television viewers, released just a few weeks prior to Nielsen's study, strongly suggests that this scenario was unlikely:
The top ten regular network programs in color TV homes were tabulated by Trendex to be, in order: "I Spy," NBC; "Jackie Gleason," CBS; "Sunday Night Movies," ABC; "Saturday Night Movies," NBC; "CBS Thursday Movies"; "Girl from UNCLE," NBC; "Tuesday Night Movies," NBC; "CBS Friday Night Movies"; "Bonanza," NBC; and "I Dream of Jeannie," NBC.
- Tint Advantage Still Mostly NBC's, Weekly Variety (November 16, 1966), p.26​
As I've done in the past, it must be emphasized that A.C. Nielsen and Trendex were different companies, which approached audience measurement in different ways. However, it is unlikely that Nielsen's survey of color television households would have found Star Trek to be the top rated show, while Trendex's survey of the same audience wouldn't even find Star Trek among the top ten list of programs.

In all likelihood, Solow's memory was a bit fuzzy after the passage of almost thirty years. Although Star Trek's ratings improved when sampling color television households instead of all television households, this was largely true of all programming on NBC, and there's no evidence that Star Trek was ever the top rated show among color television households. While its ratings in color television households may have been a factor in NBC's renewal of Star Trek for a second season, I suspect they were just one of many reasons that ultimately led to the network's decision.

Thanks to TrekBBS users DroneChristopherThe Old Mixer, and CorporalCaptain for the original questions and subsequent conversation that led to the research and writing of this piece. Additional thanks goes to Neil B. and Maurice M., who graciously took the time to read and critique several earlier drafts of this post. Any errors that remain are entirely my own.

Top image courtesy of Trek Core.


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

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

Telefantasy (Catherine Johnson, 2005)

Star Trek FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise (Mark Clark, Kindle Edition, April 2012)

The Color Revolution: Television In The Sixties (Television Obscurities, December 22nd, 2013)

Star Trek and American Television (Roberta Pearson and Máire Messenger Davies, 2014)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Fact Check: Richard Arnold on Mission Log

Screenshot of Mission Log Podcast website (accessed June 2015)
In 2014, Richard Arnold – a former assistant to Gene Roddenberry and research consultant on Star Trek: The Next Generation from 1989-1991 – recorded an interview with Ken Ray and John Champion for Mission Log, a weekly Star Trek podcast produced by Roddenberry Entertainment. Since that interview was released, I've been asked by several readers to fact check some of Arnold's claims, particularly those regarding the original Star Trek television series. It has taken a bit longer than originally planned, but I can finally present this piece, which fact checks a number of claims made by Arnold during the course of the interview.

If you haven’t listened to it, Richard Arnold’s interview can be streamed or downloaded from the Mission Log website. It can also be found on iTunes, along with every other episode of the podcast. Readers of this blog will be particularly interested in Mission Log's Discovered Documents section, which features scans of story outlines, memos, call sheets, ratings reports, newspaper clippings, and more from Gene Roddenberry's private archives, including material unavailable in the public collections at UCLA.

In the interest of full transparency, I should disclose that I've met Mission Log co-host John Champion a couple of times, and briefly corresponded with him online about writing this piece. To date, I haven't met Ken Ray, nor have I met Richard Arnold, although I have seen Mr. Arnold at a number of conventions run by Creation Entertainment over the years. Some of Mr. Arnold's comments below have been slightly edited for clarity. I’ve included the time stamp of each quotation for those who would like to follow along with the podcast itself.
Still from 'I, Mudd' (1967)
The Enterprise Crew
[Roddenberry] wanted it to be half men, half women from the beginning and the network said, ‘No, the audience would think there's too much hanky-panky going on.’ He said, ‘Okay, we'll make it a third women and two-thirds men, because a third healthy women could certainly handle two-thirds men.’ He did whatever he could to try and make it as fair as he could, but again, he was fighting censors, he was fighting [NBC], he was fighting [the] front office, so there wasn't a lot that he could do in the original series, but he did have Uhura in a traditionally male position – communications officer – in today's navy, rarely female. 
--Richard Arnold on Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast (2014), 1:02:03 - 1:03:04
Arnold is repeating an anecdote that Roddenberry loved to tell (it can be heard on the 1976 Inside Star Trek album). In short, Roddenberry claimed that NBC asked him to reduce the percentage of women on the Enterprise from being one-half of the crew to a more palatable one-third. To date, however, I've been unable to find any archival evidence that Roddenberry ever intended the crew of the Enterprise to be 50% female.

The first time the gender breakdown of the crew was even mentioned in the writer-director's guide was the third revision, dated April 17, 1967. That version indicates that the ship "has a crew of 430 persons, approximately one-third of them female." Previous versions of the writer-director guide, as well as Roddenberry’s early pitch document (dated March 11, 1964, it references a 203 person crew) contain no specifics as to the number of women onboard the Enterprise.

Other archival evidence, such as an August 12, 1966 memo from Gene Roddenberry to Joe D’Agosta, the show’s casting director, lead me to be further skeptical of Roddenberry’s claim that NBC wanted the number of women onboard the Enterprise reduced (the subject line of the memo reads, “female extras”):
NBC has requested that, for purposes of believability, we use more pretty young females in backgrounds, corridors, and rooms aboard the Enterprise. Can we see that more young women extras are used in these areas?
Still from 'Who Mourns for Adonais?' (1967)
Gene Roddenberry and Religion
Directors and actors would sometimes make changes on the set... There were a couple of occasions on the original series where Gene's very clear instructions in the Writer's Guide [that] we do not support [or] condone any specific religion [were ignored]... I think there were notes on his copy of the script that he sent out to everybody for ‘Balance of Terror’ when we were in the chapel and they were getting married: ‘Absolutely no religious symbols or dialogue.’ It had to be as generic as possible so as not to offend anybody, or at the same time say, ‘We're this,’ or, ‘We're that.’ 
--Richard Arnold on Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast (2014), 17:02 - 18:38
No draft of The Star Trek Guide (one draft can be found online; all three revisions, as well as a plethora of related notes and memos, can be found in the collections at UCLA) contains any reference to religion whatsoever. It's possible that Arnold is remembering something from the Star Trek: The Next Generation series bible, although a version available online doesn't seem to contain any reference to religion, either.

Regardless, although on-set changes occasionally happened, they were strongly discouraged by Star Trek’s producers, as evidenced by several terse memos from Roddenberry to various members of the production staff early in the show’s run.

On the subject of 'Balance of Terror,' here's what the revised final draft (dated July 18, 1966, a week before the chapel scenes were filmed) says about the chapel:


Simple... a chapel designed to accommodate all faiths of all planets... 

Of course, it's possible that Roddenberry sent out the more absolute dictum that Arnold remembers, but so far I have found no evidence of this at UCLA.
Originally, at the end of the episode, McCoy scans Carolyn Palamas and she's pregnant, and the question is, is it going to be human or God? Broadcast standards did not want that in the episode! That was cut. I can't imagine them convincing Gene that he had to put in something about one God being enough. I can't imagine it getting by him. I can't imagine him saying that that would be okay. That wasn't Gene at the time, it certainly wasn't Gene later. 
--Richard Arnold on Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast (2014), 19:15 - 19:50
Kirk's line from 'Who Mourns for Adonais?' ("Mankind has no need for Gods. We find the one quite adequate.") may have conflicted with Roddenberry's point-of-view later in life, but it was certainly in the episode's shooting script, and I've found no evidence that Roddenberry objected to the line in 1967.  There's also no evidence that the line was inserted at the behest of NBC's Broadcast Standards department. The closest comment on the subject from Broadcast Standards that exists in the UCLA files is a letter from Jean Messerschmidt dated March 15, 1967, which approved the story, but cautioned the producers to make sure, "that the religious aspects be treated with dignity and good taste."

That same letter also instructed the producers that "Carolyn's pregnancy not be treated lightly or as commendable," but allowed the plot point to go forward, at least at that point. Contrary to claims in These Are The Voyages – TOS: Season Two (2014), there's no evidence that network censors stopped the filming of the tag scene at the last minute (more on this to come in a later piece, I hope). Broadcast Standards may have ultimately nixed the scene during post-production, but thus far I haven't found any proof of this in the archival record.
Unfortunately, Gene Coon and Gene Roddenberry were taking a break, and this is a story that Gene Roddenberry told me, [because] Coon had died before I came out to L.A. He told me that they had taken a break, and they came back, and they didn't even know that they had shot [the tag scene for ‘Bread and Circuses’] that way. Even though it was the end scene for ['Bread and Circuses'], it was something they shot at the very beginning before they got back, so it was already in the can. I seem to recall Gene having gone out to the location at some point. I don't think he was even aware that this had changed. 
It was one of those, ‘Oh, God, how did this get by us?’ Because when Uhura says that one of their commentators on the radio was trying to put down their religion, but he couldn't, and Kirk just doesn't get it. ‘It's not because it was the sun in the sky, it's because he was the son of God,’ and they all had that knowing, "ah" look. 
It's like, Lord, that is not this show, and of course it wasn't. It wasn't the only time that things got by. It was a story that Gene and Gene had written themselves. It's not something that either of them would have put in...I think that got changed on set by either the actors or the director...I don't think that's the script they handed the actors. 
--Richard Arnold on Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast (2014), 21:58 - 23:20, 28:43 - 29:01
In actuality, the tag scene in 'Bread and Circuses' was shot exactly as it was scripted by Gene Coon and Gene Roddenberry. It's not something that was changed by the director (Ralph Senensky) or one of the actors. Roddenberry may well have told Arnold that the actors or the director were to blame, but it's not what happened. Compare these September 14, 1967 page revisions (my transcript reflects some hand-written deletions and changes, as the script was being re-written by Roddenberry as the episode was shot) to the dialogue as aired, and you'll see they are nearly identical:


turning with interest to overhear:

                                       ... would evolve a philosophy
                                       of total brotherhood. Worship
                                       of the sun is almost always a
                                       primitive superstition-religion...

                                       I'm afraid you have it all wrong,
                                       Mr. Spock. All of you.


Kirk, Spock and McCoy turning toward Uhura questioningly.

                                       I've been monitoring old style
                                       radio waves, heard them talk about
                                       this? Don't you understand? Not
                                       the sun in the sky... the Son,
                                       the Son of God!

                                                  (half to self)
                                       Ceaser and Christ... they did
                                       have both. And the word is
                                       spreading only now.

                                       A philosophy of total love, total

                                       It'll replace their Imperial Rome.
                                       But it'll happen during their
                                       twentieth century.

                                       It would be something to watch,
                                       to be a part of. To see it happen
                                       all over again.
Still from 'The Corbomite Maneuver' (1966)
Production: Seasons One and Two
They started early, in the spring, shooting for September [of 1966]. They hadn't been on the air yet, and they were already through more than a dozen episodes, so that the people who were being brought in to write – and Gene wanted good, solid writers, and he wanted people from the science fiction community – there was nothing to show them. There were all the scripts they were working on, and the episodes they were cutting, but nothing had aired, nobody was a fan yet. 
--Richard Arnold on Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast (2014), 12:56-13:22
Arnold's timeline is a bit off here. NBC’s pick-up of Star Trek as a weekly series was announced in Daily Variety on March 1, 1966. Writing assignments were handed out shortly thereafter, and the first story outlines were delivered by mid-March. By early April, John D.F. Black had joined the staff as an associate producer, and nineteen writers were working on eighteen different stories in various stages of development. On May 24, 1966, the cameras began rolling on 'The Corbomite Maneuver.' This was in (late) spring with an eye for a September premiere date, but it wasn’t particularly early in terms of television production. To draw a useful comparison, Mission: Impossible assigned stories at the same time that season, and began production only a week later than Star Trek, on May 31, 1966 (as reported in Daily Variety).

It is true that Gene Roddenberry sought out members of the literary science fiction community to write for Star Trek. Some, like Harlan Ellison and Jerry Sohl, had their work produced for the series. Others, like A.E. van Vogt and Robert Sheckley, were paid off for their proposed stories before having the chance to write a teleplay. When Arnold implies that the first season was through “more than a dozen episodes” and still bringing in new writers, however, he’s way off-track. The thirteenth Star Trek episode produced (counting both pilot episodes) was 'The Conscience of the King,' and it didn’t finish filming until September 21, 1966. By that date, 38 stories had already been assigned, including every story that became an episode of the first season with the exception of 'Arena,' 'The Devil in the Dark,' 'Errand of Mercy,' and 'Operation—Annihilate!' Three of those episodes were penned by producer Gene L. Coon, and the fourth by departing script consultant Steven Carabatsos. None were the work of freelancers (Fredric Brown’s after-the-fact story credit on 'Arena' notwithstanding).

It also isn’t true that there was nothing to show potential writers for the show. By mid-September of 1966, two episodes had aired and a half dozen other shows in various stages of editing could be seen. Even as early as March of 1966, when most of the show’s freelancers actually came on board, both pilot episodes had long been completed, and attendance records in the Roddenberry collection at UCLA indicate that dozens of freelance writers (including many literary sf authors) were screened at least one of the pilots. Prospective writers could also read the seventeen page writer's guide, the first draft of which was completed on March 15, 1966.
They always shot bridge first – same with [Star Trek: The Next Generation]. They would finish the bridge on any episode and then move on to the other sets. Meanwhile they're constructing whatever planet sets they need on their swing stage, and then they move there, and then they go back and start the bridge again, and so on. 
--Richard Arnold on Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast (2014), 20:12 - 20:31
Shooting sometimes began on the bridge set, but this was not always the case on the original Star Trek. The schedule for 'Amok Time,' for example, began in the Enterprise corridor set and subsequently moved to Spock's quarters. The bridge wasn't scheduled to go before the cameras until the third day of production. 'The Deadly Years' started its schedule with planet exteriors, and then shot material in sickbay and the medical lab. The bridge wasn't scheduled until the second day of filming. 'I, Mudd' didn't shoot on the bridge until its final day of production. There are many other examples.
Film trim from 'Bread and Circuses' (September 12, 1967; source: Antiques Navigator)
With 'Bread and Circuses,' it's obvious they went off on location, but they shot all the bridge stuff first and anything else they needed on the ship for that episode. You don't go back to reshoot, not when you're under such pressure from the network to get the stuff out as fast as possible. They did not have the seven shooting days that [Star Trek: The Next Generation] had; they had six, and then eventually they were being almost forced to try and do it in five. It didn't happen often, but they tried [in] the third season particularly. 
--Richard Arnold on Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast (2014), 20:32 - 21:02
Arnold is certainly right about reshoots; given the pressures of a television schedule, these were exceedingly rare on Star Trek, as they would have been on any weekly television series at that time. However, Arnold's other comments here are incorrect. A number of Star Trek episodes were shot in at least seven days – during the first season alone, when the studio was most lenient about overtime, a total of fourteen episodes took seven days (or longer) to complete. When Desilu became Paramount Television, the production was pressured to finish episodes at a faster pace – but at that point, they were trying to finish shows in six days, not five. In fact, the only Star Trek episode to be shot or scheduled for five days was 'The Doomsday Machine,' which was filmed before the Gulf+Western takeover that led to tighter shooting schedules.

The shooting schedule for 'Bread and Circuses' at UCLA is not complete – it only covers the first two days of filming – however, none of the scenes planned for those two days took place on the bridge (instead, the production planned to shoot in Bronson Canyon and the Paramount Test Stage). Although the daily production reports for 'Bread and Circuses' do not exist in the public collections at UCLA, film trims such as the one above suggest the shooting schedule was followed. In addition, revisions of the episode's "son of God" tag scene (by Roddenberry, who rewrote the troubled script as it was being filmed) include the dialogue as broadcast and are dated September 14, 1967 (the third day of production on the episode). All of the evidence suggests that Arnold's chronology of the production is simply wrong.
Still from 'The Empath' (1968)
The Gulf+Western Takeover and Reduced Budgets
When Charles Bludhorn, [at the] end of the second [season] and all the third, when it became one company, Gulf+Western, bought Paramount and Desilu, and they wanted to know why the show was costing so much. They were saying, Lost in Space or whichever series, I think it might have been Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, costs so much less, and Gene had to explain very patiently, and very detailed, [in] several pages, single-spaced, [that] they don't have to do this, they don't have to do that, they're set in the same time then we are now, we have to create all our costumes, etc. He explained why it had to cost more, but they still pared down their budget. It was pretty awful. I think they were doing it for just over a hundred thousand dollars an episode, which is horrifying now. 
--Richard Arnold on Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast (2014), 21:03 - 21:56
The memo Arnold mentions here was written by Gene Roddenberry (based on detailed information compiled by Bob Justman) and sent to John Reynolds, President of Paramount-Desilu Television. It can be found in the UCLA special collections, but is more readily available on pages 298-300 of David Alexander's Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry (1994). In the memo, Roddenberry presents twenty-six reasons why Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea cost so much less than Star Trek (a budgetary comparison done by Justman at this time shows an episode of Allen's series coming in at $166,485, while comparable episodes of Star Trek totaled $189,696 and $195,674).

Additionally, while it's true that Star Trek's budget was cut further to the bone after the Paramount-Desilu merger (in fact, it was cut every season), Arnold's figure of "just over a hundred thousand dollars" is way off track. In actuality, the average budget per episode during the third season was a little over $179,000.
Still from 'Bread and Circuses' (1968)
Battles over Credit
[Roddenberry and Coon] turned the script over to a writer named John [Kneubuhl] and he added some things to it, and sent it back, and they said, ‘Okay, go ahead and do it in first draft.’ He did, and then he sent it back and they said, ‘Okay,’ and then he started to work on finalizing it, and it was just too much. His health wasn't good, and he finally said, ‘I can't do this.’ He turned it back to them and they then went back and started from their original story and Gene Coon took it through first draft, and turned it over to Gene [Roddenberry], who then kind of rewrote it and did the final version. The writing credits on it should have been story by Gene Roddenberry and Gene Coon, teleplay by Gene Roddenberry and Gene Coon. Gene [Roddenberry] never really battled that much for credit; he didn't need it. 
They find out that the Writer's Guild is going to do an arbitration on that script and they're, like, ‘Why?’ ‘Because John Kneubuhl wrote the script,’ and they said, ‘No, the one that he turned in and then turned back to us, we didn't use. We went back to our original and we went from there. We didn't use his script.’ Despite Gene making it extremely clear what the entire genesis of that script was, the Writer's Guild still went with John Kneubuhl and gave him the story credit, even though it was not his story, it was their story, and only gave Gene Roddenberry and Gene Coon the teleplay credit. 
--Richard Arnold on Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast (2014), 23:24 - 25:08
It is unlikely that Roddenberry and Coon were surprised by the WGA initiating arbitration for 'Bread and Circuses.' An October 2, 1967 memo from Gene Roddenberry to Adeline Reilly matter-of-factly indicated that, "Although there will be an automatic arbitration in regards [to] the original writer, neither Gene Coon nor I want any arbitration between ourselves." Arbitration is automatic when someone who is a production executive (per the WGA, this includes all directors, producers, and story editors) “is proposed for credit and there are other writers on the project who are not production executives.”

Arnold's account of the writing process does roughly match a September 19, 1967 letter from Gene Coon to Mary Dorfman (of the Writer's Guild of America, West, Inc.), in which the departing producer detailed the development of the story and script:
Gene Roddenberry and I sat down and developed the story idea, which you have in your possession at this time, included among other pertinent material.  We then called in John Kneubuhl, gave him the story, which, while not completely developed, was considerably developed.  John added a few pages to the story, we had it approved and then he went into First Draft; then into Second Draft.  But he had many personal problems and his health failed him, and one day John called me and told me that he simply could not finish the screenplay and requested that he be withdrawn from the project.

This was granted.  At this time, I went back to the original story, the one written by Roddenberry and me, and wrote a brand new First Draft, with different structure, dialogue, character development, and so on, which you will see in the first mimeographed copy of the script.  When I had finished with a First Draft, Re-Write and a Polish, Gene Roddenberry stepped in and contributed a complete Re-Write, with new structure and character, based upon NOT THE KNEUBUHL SCRIPT, but upon my script, which was, in its turn, a complete original and not a simple Re-Write of the Kneubuhl effort.
That said, to date, I have found no evidence in the files at UCLA that John Kneubuhl was awarded "story by" credit for 'Bread and Circuses' at any time during arbitration. The episode itself gives the "written by" credit to Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon, which matches the October 10, 1967 credit memo for the episode at UCLA.

Arnold may have been recalling the version told by Marc Cushman and Susan Osborn in These Are The Voyages – TOS: Season Two (2014). In that book, the authors claim that, "After arbitration, it was determined Roddenberry and Coon would indeed share the “written by” credit. Surprisingly, considering the story originated with the producers, the Guild determined John Kneubuhl would receive a “story by” credit. Of this, Kneubuhl declined."

However, Cushman and Osborn's account makes little sense, as it would be against guild policy to award "written by" credit when another writer was to receive "story by" credit. If someone does have evidence that Kneubuhl was ever awarded screen credit and declined, I would love to see it. As it stands, I suspect that the WGA ultimately sided with Roddenberry and Coon, and awarded them the full "written by" credit they receive on the episode as it was originally broadcast.
We talked about the other one, ‘A Private Little War,’ where, again, they had turned it over to Don Ingalls, who did a good job on it, but it wasn't what Gene wanted. He wanted to make his comments on Vietnam, etc., so he ended up having to rewrite it, but did not try to get the writing credit for it, but Don Ingalls was so angry with Gene that he took his name off it and used the name ‘Jud Crucis’ – Christ on a cross – because he felt he'd been crucified by Gene, and didn't speak to him for years because of that. And yet he still got the money for it, as John Kneubuhl got to keep his money [for ‘Bread and Circuses’] even though they never used anything that he did.  
--Richard Arnold on Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast (2014), 25:14 - 26:05
While it's true that Roddenberry did a complete re-write of 'A Private Little War,' it's an exaggeration to suggest that he didn't use anything that had been written by Don Ingalls (who, after arbitration, received story credit; Roddenberry received full credit for the teleplay). Ingalls' story outlines and first draft teleplay certainly have their differences when compared to Roddenberry's final, aired version, but the broadcast episode's premise, most of its characters, and many of its narrative turns come straight from Ingalls.

Additionally, although David Alexander's Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry (1994), claimed that the pseudonym Ingalls used on the episode, "Jud Crucis," was shorthand for "Jesus Crucified," Ingalls himself offered a different explanation for the pseudonym in the pages of Starlog:
His pseudonym, which he has only used twice in 32 years, comes from 'judicious crucis,' which he describes as 'a form of combat in which two kings would send out their two Paladins to battle each other, rather than two armies. Whoever won the fight, won the war.' 
--Lee Goldberg, Paladin in Blue, Starlog (June 1992), p.37
For what it's worth, that same feature in Starlog also claimed that Roddenberry and Ingalls' "differences on the script...hurt neither their abiding friendship, nor Ingalls' fond memory of the series."

Regarding Arnold’s comments about money, of course Kneubuhl and Ingalls were paid to write. Whether or not their work was produced in part or even at all is immaterial – Kneubuhl and Ingalls were professional writers with a contract; they were not working on spec. Stories that were cut off before they even had the chance to become teleplays were bought and paid for the same as stories that became the episodes we know and love. Residuals, on the other hand, were another matter. Since they were based on screen credit, Roddenberry likely received a healthy share of residual payments over the years for both 'A Private Little War' and 'Bread and Circ,' thanks to frequent re-runs of the series following its cancellation in 1969.
Still from 'Turnabout Intruder' (1969)
The Ratings
Star Trek was considered a failure by just about everybody. Only recently has NBC or Nielsen, somebody has finally released the actual ratings for the original series. They were better than they admitted. They basically were telling Gene that the show [was a ratings failure. That was] one of their excuses for cutting the budget, I'm sure. 
--Richard Arnold on Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast (2014), 41:05 - 41:28
In all likelihood, Arnold is thinking of the ratings conclusions of author Marc Cushman, which I've thoroughly examined and debunked previously. As evidenced by the Roddenberry papers donated to UCLA, as well as documents from the Roddenberry archives published on the Mission Log website, Roddenberry frequently saw Star Trek's actual Nielsen ratings during the run of the series, as well as ratings provided by Arbitron and Trendex. As a result, it would have been difficult for NBC to pull wool over his eyes regarding the size of the Star Trek's audience.

Additionally, it should be noted that NBC wasn't the entity that slashed Star Trek's budget during the show's third season – that was entirely Paramount's doing. NBC actually paid a larger license fee per episode during the 1968-69 broadcast season of Star Trek (the annual license fee increase was contractual).
[Gene Roddenberry] could have had it back on the air within a year. That was the first time they came back to him, when they discovered that the Nielsen ratings were actually wrong, and that the new demographics showed that it had been NBC's most popular show when they cancelled it – in the most important demographic, not overall, but in the 18-35. They said, ‘Congratulations, you just cancelled your most successful show.’ 
--Richard Arnold on Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast (2014), 51:42 - 52:10
Many sources have made similar claims, suggesting that NBC did not have access to demographic information when they decided to cancel Star Trek. Shortly after the show’s cancellation, the story goes, Nielsen began measuring demographics, and NBC realized it had cancelled its most popular show with young adults.

The problem with these accounts is that they’re not accurate. In truth, Nielsen not only measured demographics in the late 1960s, but the networks considered demographics when they renewed or cancelled programming. NBC’s vice president of research even cited Star Trek’s young demographic as the reason for its renewal in a 1967 interview, despite the fact that the show had low overall ratings (read more about this here). You can read more information about Star Trek and demographics in this piece at Television Obscurities, which comes highly recommended.

Images courtesy of Trek Core.

Editor's Note: Roddenberry Entertainment recently announced "The 366 Project," which "will see one piece of Trek history posted to Roddenberry Entertainment’s social media channel each day beginning in 2016." How cool is that?