Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A (Temporary) Hiatus

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy pose for a second season promotional photo (1967)
Readers who follow me on the Trek BBS will know that I'm moving back to Los Angeles next week. Unless I get very, very lucky, I expect to be spending the next several weeks (at least) in the Golden State looking for work. Until I find stable employment again, it is necessary for me to place Star Trek Fact Check on hiatus.

The good news is that I've written content that will sustain this blog for the next several weeks. On this Saturday, September 28, 2013, I will finally run my review of Marc Cushman's These Are The Voyages, TOS, Season One. One week later, on Saturday, October 5, 2013, I will be begin a serialized post about the writing of 'A Private Little War,' which will continue for several weeks.

In the meantime, if readers would like to pose their research questions in the comments field of this post, I'd be happy to answer them once Star Trek Fact Check is up and running again. Thanks for reading!

Image courtesy Trek Core.


  1. I had thought that Spock was Kirk's First Officer during all of the episodes of the TV show (but not during the first pilot, when Christopher Pike was Captain and Number One was First Officer, obviously). I've been reading some Star Trek fan fiction recently, though, and I find that most fan authors assume that Gary Mitchell was Kirk's First Officer until Mitchell's death at the end of "Where No Man Has Gone Before*."

    I know that fan fiction isn't anything close to a reliable source, but when a dozen people all assume the same thing, I start to wonder if there's something I'm missing.

    Do you know for sure, either way? And do you know where the idea comes from, true or not? It seemed like a bizarre assumption to me.

    In Leonard Nimoy's second autobiography, there is a picture of Kirk and Spock from "Where No Man Has Gone Before." The caption of the picture reads "Checkmate: The first officer and his captain (William Shatner) in 'Where No Man Has Gone Before'" (I Am Spock, Leonard Nimoy, first hardcover edition, 1995, pp 32-33), suggesting that Mr. Nimoy thought that his character was first officer for that episode. And he seems likely to know. :D

    The Memory Alpha wiki, though, in its entry for James Kirk, says "Following the tragedy [that happened in "Where No Man Has Gone Before"], Kirk shuffled the Enterprise's command crew. Lieutenant Commander Spock, a legacy officer from the former commander, Captain Christopher Pike, remained science officer and Kirk acknowledged him as first officer." I don't know where they get this from, though, since I see no indications that someone else was First Officer during "Where No Man Has Gone Before."


    *Since "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was the second pilot, it was the first episode to feature Kirk's Enterprise in production order, even though it wasn't the first in broadcast order. So people are assuming that Gary Mitchell was First Officer for that episode only (and for any unshown events that happened between the time that Kirk took over the ship and the time of that episode).

  2. Replies
    1. Hi, Cory. I just wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten about this. Real life has just gotten in the way of looking for the answer. I'll definitely get to it in the new year.

    2. Thank you! I'll look forward to your reply, whenever you manage to get to it.

      I continue to read new fan fiction stories that assume that Gary Mitchell was First Officer until his death. And Memory Alpha claims that Spock didn't become First until "The Corbomite Maneuver," even though they don't cite any evidence for this. (Well it DID say that until I edited it, but it will almost certainly be edited back into its original form again soon. :-D)

      In addition to Mr. Nimoy's autobiography, which I mentioned above, "The Making of Star Trek" seems to assume that Spock is First Officer from the beginning. And it's clear from the history of the script of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" that Gary Mitchell wasn't even going to be a member of the Enterprise's crew in the first few drafts and didn't become a friend of Kirk's until quite late in the script revision process, suggesting that the widespread notion that HE was First Officer during WNMHGB is incorrect. But some sort of definitive statement would still be welcome. :-)

    3. Here's a little something which might be the beginning of an answer. A 5-22-66 memo from Roddenberry entitled "Character Analysis Mister Spock." The relevant passage:

      "Mister Spock is the ship’s Science Officer, in charge of all scientific departments and personnel aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. As such, he is the ship’s Number Two ranking officer."

    4. Thanks! That does sound like the beginning of an answer.

    5. A couple of other things on the matter...

      Here's what the first draft of the writer-director information guide says: "Mister Spock. This is the ship's Science Officer, the number two command position aboard the starship U.S.S. Enterprise."

      And here's what the script to "Where No Man Has Gone Before" says when Spock first appears: "Ship's Captain JAMES KIRK sits across the table from Science Officer MISTER SPOCK, a three-dimensional chess game between them."

      Seems pretty cut and dry to me.

    6. It looks that way to me, too, but a lot of people are saying that since "Where No Man Has Gone Before" doesn't mention that Spock was FIRST officer but only that he was SCIENCE officer, someone else must have been First Officer.

      Thanks for checking, though; I guess I'll just have to privately think that people are nuts while Memory Alpha says that Spock became First after the events of WNMHGB and speculates that Gary Mitchell was First before his death. :-)