Story: This outstanding and surprisingly thick tome tracks the progress of the attempt to revive the original Star Trek series in the 1970s which eventually mutated into something we now call Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Review: Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, the authors who brought us 1994’s wonderful “Making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, have truly outdone themselves with this book, which follows the inception, development and pre-production of the second Star Trek series which never was, as well as the studio decisions which caused its metamorphosis into the first of many feature films. The book stops short of following Star Trek’s evolution to the big screen, though the authors drop a hint that they might be working on such a volume. I’ll be among the first to buy it if they should do so, based on their work here.
The books owes its size to the reprinting of several important documents related to Star Trek II, including the original writers’ bible featuring the characters of Science Officer Xon, First Officer Will Decker, and Lieutenant Ilia, as well as story breakdowns and the entire original script for the extended-length pilot episode, In Thy Image, which transmuted into the first Trek film, as well as the Star Trek II version of Jon Povill and Jaron Summers’ The Child, which was also hastily recycled in the form of Next Generation’s belated second-season premiere after 1988’s lengthy Writer’s Guild strike. Though more casual fans may skip over these scripts and story treatments, I can’t stress enough what fascinating reading they make.
Another treat is the photo insert, which reprints numrous screen tests of sets and costumes, including the incongruous sight of Persis Khambatta in one of the original show’s colorful short skirt uniforms, and other similarly-clad extras on the familiar movie-era Enterprise sets. The original engineering set lacked safety rails, and the “warp core” looked a bit silly with huge bulbous components bulging out of it. The Enterprise’s original concept was only slightly updated, and the Star Trek II TV Enterprise would have been a hybrid between the sleek movie Enterprise and the strictly non-aerodynamic ship of the original series.
The authors make the potentially controversial statement in the epilogue that if Star Trek II had aired even so much as one season of episodes, that we would not now be watching reruns of Next Generation, or new episodes of Deep Space Nine or Voyager, because it would almost certainly have failed again, dimming the prospects for the theatrical movies which were responsible for Trek’s TV rebirth in the late ’80s. This is an insightful and truthful assessment which is surprising, even though the Pocket books about the making of the various Trek series have never skimped on opinions. Though fascinating, it is understandable when the Reeves-Stevens declare that Star Trek II’s greatest gift to the franchise is that it remained on paper.
Authors: Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 360 pages