Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Unseen Trek: 'The Surrender of Planet X' by Benjamin Masselink

The Enterprise fires phasers (1967)
Story Outline by Benjamin Masselink, no date
Review, Analysis, and Report by David Eversole
Originally Posted at Orion Press

The Enterprise arrives at Planet X, a barren, uninhabited planet, whose only feature is a giant garbage dump, because, this planet is the garbage dumping planet of the galaxy. The starship is here to practice firing their weapons. Like a WWII sea-going vessel firing at some atoll in the middle of nowhere, the Enterprise will practice firing its phasers at Planet X.But unknown to our stalwart heroes, three early-teen boys have run away from home in their little spaceship and have landed on Planet X, which the leader has named after himself. Thus Planet X has become Planet Adams. The boys set up a headquarters, one guards their locale with an old rifle his dad brought home from the war, another plants a vegetable garden, and so on.

Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, we have this scene:
Things are going smoothly aboard. Janice reads the ship’s paper. Not much has changed. It is Easter week and teenagers are massed on the beaches of Newport andFort Lauderdale and zooming about the desertof Palm Springs. Janice shakes her head. Kirk laughs and kids her about it. Didn’t she ever do these things? He did and he had a ball.
Anyway, the kids think the Enterprise is there to collect their truant asses and take them home. So they prepare to defend themselves. Kirk eventually discovers the kids are there when he and his men beam down to practice planet landing drills. The boys quickly surrender, and Kirk has them beamed aboard the Enterprise.

That is truly the entire plot to this piece. I seriously doubt it could have sustained a half hour program, let alone an hour one.

This was an early submission to the Star Trek offices, pitched well before the series aired. Masselink had probably only seen 'Where No Man Has Gone Before,' if that. I'd like to think this excuses such a piss poor affair of an outline. Hardly anything, even remotely, seems Trek-like. If he was being serious, say, about the problems of pollution, surely he could have envisioned a better solution than a planetary garbage dump. If the problem of teenage runaways weighed on his conscience, surely he could have done better than the three boys presented here, jolly young lads out for an adventure on Planet X.

I'd like to think Roddenberry, et al, saw something in the story that led them to spend $655 bucks on it, but I'm just not sure what it was.


Benjamin Masselink (1919-2000) was a script writer, novelist and teacher. During his time in Hollywood, Masselink worked on 22 shows for 32 separate TV programs. He was a writer for Barnaby Jones, The F.B.I., Then Came Bronson, and Starsky and Hutch.

Editor's Note: Although Mr. Eversole calls this "an early submission to the Star Trek offices," the exact date of submission is unknown. 'The Surrender on Planet X' is not one of the 45 story outlines from season one that were given a ST# according to Marc Cushman's These Are The Voyages (So far, I've been able to locate paperwork for the first 40 of these). However, Cushman describes at least one outline purchased during season one (Philip Farmer's 'The Uncoiler') that he does not indicate received a ST#. If 'The Surrender of Planet X' was unsolicited during the first season, Marc Cushman's These Are The Voyages makes no mention of it. It's also possible, of course, that the outline was submitted (solicited or not) during a later season.

Image courtesy of Trek Core.

Review originally posted at Orion Press.

1 comment:

  1. Sure this wasn't the plot for one of the early Gold Key comics?