|Gene Roddenberry on the set of "The Menagerie" (1964)|
Review and Analysis by David Eversole
Originally posted at Orion Press
This collection of short (one-half to two-thirds of a page each, single-spaced) premises are springboards from which longer outlines could be written. They laid out the bare bones of the plot, usually only from Kirk's viewpoint.
On a world paralleling 1966 Earth, an Enterprise landing party goes in search of an earlier landing party which has disappeared. They find a world where every action seems scripted. The people go through their life's routines, never missing a beat. Any deviation is punished, and it is surmised that the earlier landing party was so punished. Soon we discover that these are actually robots emulating the behavior of their long-dead creators.
But a few nonconformist robots have developed sentience and do not play along.
Kirk is more than a bit angry when Earth Base replaces Mr. Spock with an irritating new officer -- one who seems bent on inciting mutiny and in general upsetting the normal routines of the ship. Kirk begins to wonder if the guy is an alien planted there to bring his ship down.
But no, just the opposite. The guy is a loyal officer, placed there to ferret out suspected aliens bent on bringing the ship down.
"PASSENGERS FOR DIMOS"
The Enterprise is assigned the duty of transporting prisoners to Dimos, a penal planet. But a young officer falls in love with a prisoner who insists she is innocent. Complications arise when Kirk discovers that there might be an alien race living on Dimos who will destroy the prisoners once the Enterprise departs.
"STAR TREK TIME MACHINE"
The Enterprise discovers a planet where time travel has been realized. A guest star crewman steals a time machine, goes back in time and does something that affects the present. Kirk and Spock go back and stop him. They return to find everything has been set right.
It ends with a suggestion that this could be the pilot for a Star Trek "Time Machine" spin-off series.
"VALLEY OF THE GIANTS"
The Enterprise discovers a world where the super intellects amuse themselves by bringing back to life great men from Earth's past. Luminaries such as Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Washington, Lincoln, Richard Wagner and Bluebeard. Kirk and crew are pitted against these giants in a life and death struggle.
No storyline is presented in this one sentence premise. Roddenberry simply proposes a world where ghosts are the norm and the living are the interlopers.
A planet where a "sex warp" switches the gender of anyone going ashore. Roddenberry wonders if they can pull off a story with Bill Shatner playing a woman without becoming too "fey."
Good heavens, the worst of the lot actually made it to air! Minus the "Sex Warp," thank goodness.
As these are merely springboards, one wonders if they could have been given to other writers to develop… The time machine sounds a lot like "The City on the Edge of Forever," but then again, most time travel stories sound like that if you break them down to the bare bones. Could it have come early in Roddenberry's musings for "Assignment: Earth?" And yes, "Machine X1004" does have a few slight similarities to "The Return of The Archons," though I'd be hard-pressed to say if the story originated there. "Valley of the Giants" is reminiscent of "The Savage Curtain." Could "Passengers For Dimos" been the notion behind "Dagger of The Mind" or did "Regulation 11" lead to "I, Mudd?" The connections are tenuous at best, I know, but it is fun speculating.
Editor's Note: Although "Machine X1004" may have a few similarities to "The Return of The Archons," that episode's origins are much earlier, as one of Roddenberry's three original outlines submitted to NBC in 1964 as candidates to be developed into the first pilot.
Image courtesy of Trek Core.
Review originally posted at Orion Press.