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The Precursor to Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Written by Harold Livingston

Story by Alan Dean Foster
ROUGH FIRST DRAFT, Dated October 10, 1977
report & analysis by Dave Eversole

 

Though originally intended as the two-hour premiere episode of the aborted Star Trek: Phase II series, this script, reprinted in Star Trek: Phase II, The Lost Series (1997), by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, has no act or episode breaks indicated. On August 3, 1977, Michael Eisner called Livingston, Roddenberry and producer Robert Goodwin into his office and told them that "In Thy Image" was going to be a feature film. They were sworn to secrecy and work continued on the Phase II series with the plan being that first a film would be released to theaters and one year later Phase II would premiere on TV. By the beginning of 1978, plans for a new series were permanently dropped. So, when Livingston wrote his script in October of 1977, he knew very well he was not writing a television pilot--he was writing a feature. Thus the thing had no teaser or act breaks.

 

Deep Space. Three Klingon Heavy Cruisers (Koro class), led by the Amar, commanded by Commander Barak, are suddenly destroyed by a "turbulent whiplash of energy" which strikes from off screen.

The destruction of the Klingon ships is noted by Commander Branch ("a young, very attractive female") at Starbase 9. Whatever destroyed the Klingon ships is headed directly toward Earth.

San Francisco -- a few familiar landmarks still recognizable. A beautiful summer day. Families romp and play in a parkland area. Animals, unafraid, wander about. Tasteful adult nudity here and there.

Admiral James T. Kirk, in civilian attire, strolls through the park, looking for someone. Ahead of him he spots two teenagers and their pet cheetahs. A man, his back to Kirk, gives first-aid to the wounded paw of one of the cheetahs. Kirk smiles, moves forward.

It is Leonard "Bones" McCoy (known to the locals as the "animal doctor"). He and Kirk greet each other warmly, but warily. The Enterprise is nearing the end of her refit, and Kirk wants McCoy to reenlist in Starfleet and serve as the chief medical officer under Wah Chen, her new captain. McCoy is tired of Kirk’s pestering and turns him down again. Kirk is ready to retort, but is interrupted by a communicator call. Admiral Nogura, Starfleet Officer Commanding, has hastily convened an emergency staff meeting. Kirk disappears in the sparkle of the transporter.

In Nogura’s office, Kirk is met by Commander Montgomery "Scotty" (Livingston spells the nickname as "Scottie" throughout) Scott. They discuss the Enterprise refits for a moment, but Nogura interrupts and turns on a holographic display which shows Admiral Carson and Captain Lebutu. Lebutu was in charge of sensor drones near the neutral zone between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. He plays the footage from one of the drones which shows the destruction of the Klingon vessels. Kirk learns that this huge unstoppable object will arrive at Earth in 8.6 days. The U.S.S. Aswan is the only vessel ready to intercept it, Kirk notes. Nogura orders Scotty to have the Enterprise ready to depart in twenty-four hours to rendezvous with the smaller Aswan. Uhura and Sulu are already onboard. Kirk recommends Commander Ronak, a Vulcan, be the new science officer. He decides to reassign Chekov as Weapons Officer on the Enterprise, but since Captain Wah Chen is at Starbase Six, three days away at maximum warp, Captain Bar-Lev, the next senior captain, will have to take command.

Nogura isn’t buying it, looks directly at Kirk, asks him to forget who is next in line. He wants to know who the most qualified person to command this mission is.

Kirk looks Nogura in the eye and says, "I am."

Scotty takes Kirk aboard the Enterprise in a travel pod. As he heads toward the bridge, Kirk meets Dr. Chapel, apologizes for pulling her from her assignment, but since they could not get McCoy, she is best qualified for the position of Chief Surgeon. He travels to the bridge, informs the crew that he (temporarily assigned the rank of captain) will be taking command of the ship for this mission. Cheers and shouts throughout the vessel at this news. Kirk puts a quick stop to the ruckus.

We meet Lieutenant Ilia, the new Deltan navigator, who is sworn to celibacy for the duration of the mission. Sulu is instantly smitten with her but she keeps him at arm’s length. Since Commander Ronak was not available, Kirk pulls Willard Decker off the U.S.S. Boston to act as both his executive officer and science officer. Decker is a bit angry -- he was due promotion to captain and resents having to serve on this mission but Kirk calms him, tells him not to fear, he will still get his promotion.

As they prepare to leave orbit, two final people beam aboard. One is a shabby, long-haired 22-year-old science officer -- Lieutenant Xon, only eighty-one days out of the academy. He has been meditating in the desert and his hair hides his Vulcan ears. The other is a very disgruntled Leonard McCoy. "Seldom used reserve activation clause" -- he was drafted!

The Enterprise gets underway. Lieutenant Xon erases an hour’s worth of flight preprogramming by Decker because he wishes to insure the program’s accuracy. He takes the computers off-line for a moment. As soon as he does this, an asteroid is suddenly in the ship’s path. Sulu reports that the navigational computer is offline. He cannot steer out of the way. Decker orders manual override. Kirk belays that command, orders the phasers to fire, but there is no response when Chekov presses the firing button. He quickly brings the photon torpedoes on line and destroys the asteroid.

Kirk is furious when Xon explains that he took the computers offline. Xon blandly accepts Kirk’s reprimand. Decker questions why Kirk countermanded his manual override order. Kirk furiously stomps off the bridge, orders Decker and Doctors McCoy and Chapel to join him in his cabin.

Kirk tells Decker that unlike the light cruisers he is used to serving on, a manual override would not have allowed a vessel as big as the Enterprise to avoid the asteroid. Decker accepts this, but asks why Kirk would order phaser fire after learning that the navigation system was offline. Surely Kirk knows that if nav is offline phasers would be offline as well. Kirk admits that this fact escaped him.

Kirk orders Decker to work with him and help him readjust. Decker is told to report any behavior he finds aberrant to Dr. McCoy and to report his own problems to Dr. Chapel, to which Decker agrees.

The Enterprise cruises to rendezvous with the Aswan. Commander Corryell of the Aswan calls the Enterprise. They are moments away from intercepting the object. Without warning, the energy weapon from the object totally obliterates the smaller ship.

A few hours later, the Enterprise is closing on the object. Visual expected any moment. A sensor probe is fired in its direction. The probe is overloaded, and its transmissions back to the Enterprise burn out the computer’s integrators. Helm goes dead, weapons go dead. And suddenly, the 70-mile long object appears on the screen:

From the script:

Kirk turns to the viewer, and his expression is equally incredulous.

WHAT KIRK SEES ON THE VIEWER - THE ALIEN SPACESHIP

but, at first, only a section of the front of it. What we SEE resembles a gigantic chrome and silver object, almost like the gaping mouth of some unbelievable large metallic animal--and just a GLIMPSE of a huge circular window or engine duct on the side of the "head," this glowing red and blue. It is perfectly symmetrical, the sides of the "mouth" constructed in equally-sized slabs of metal.

Power is regained aboard the ship and they move in closer to view it. It seems to take no notice and sails on. As the Enterprise maneuvers closer it is as if the ship is a "golf ball floating beside a dirigible" in comparison.

Another sensor probe is launched. Suddenly, the giant vessel fires at the Enterprise. Shields barely hold. The object locks onto the Enterprise with a tractor beam. The helm goes dead again. Kirk orders no return fire. He orders Uhura to send out messages of friendship. There is no response.

The shields are about to fail. Kirk finally orders photon torpedoes made ready. But Xon yells for him to wait. He realizes that the vessel has been responding, but not directly to their messages. It has been attempting to contact the computers themselves! It thinks the Enterprise is alive. Xon programs a message as if it came from the vessel itself, asks the alien ship to break off its attack. He sends it. All wait tensely. The turbulent energy weapon subsides, ceases firing.

It will take twelve hours to get the Enterprise engines back on line. Kirk takes a chance to change into a fresh uniform, orders the bridge staff to take some rest time.

When Kirk returns to the bridge, refreshed, he is pleased to see Ensign Janice Rand, back-up communications officer, on duty. Xon is still at his station, but finally leaves and takes the rest Kirk ordered.

In the recreation room, Ilia and Sulu try to rest. Ilia attempts to give him a Deltan facial massage to relax him but Sulu is aroused instead. Ilia jokingly says that sex is all he thinks about. She looks up, suddenly screams.

Several small sensor-probes appear and hover a few feet off the floor. Intruder alert warnings blare. Before the room can be sealed the sensor-probes sail out into the corridors. Chekov and security men approach. There are three of them, two egg-shaped probes, and one which resembles a ring-shaped pearl mounted on three legs. The three-legged probe begins to emit SQUEALS. It is the only probe that seems to notice the Humans. The other two sail about blissfully hovering here and there in the ship.

Soon there are egg-shaped probes everywhere on the ship, sailing along, inspecting everything in their path, ignoring the Humans as if they were not there. The three-legged probe stomps around SQUEALING, stays away from the crew.

The three-legged probe stomps onto the bridge, looks around, emits a SQUEAL. When Uhura plays back and decodes the squeal it says, "Please allow me to speak to the U. S. S. Enterprise."

When Chekov notes that the ring-shaped pearl atop the three-legged probe reminds him of a cheap ring his aunt Tasha received from her worthless suitor, all begin referring to this probe as "Tasha."

Tasha begins inserting small probes into Kirk’s ear, down his shirt, down his. . . Kirk stops this pretty fast! When Tasha will not respond to his questions, Kirk orders Uhura to transmit messages to it as if from the Enterprise herself. When asked why the alien ship attacked, Tasha says that other beings similar to Enterprise had attacked it recently. Obviously these other beings were malfunctioning. Tasha fears that Enterprise may be malfunctioning. In fact, Tasha asks if Enterprise is aware that it is infested with 430 parasitical beings.

Xon warns Kirk not to tell Tasha that they, the 430 parasites, control Enterprise. He fears that Tasha will take it to mean they are malignant infestations and destroy the ship. Kirk has the computer tell it that the parasites are welcome to inhabit Enterprise. He then asks why Tasha’s ship is heading for Earth. Because it is the "Holy Home of the Creator," of course. Nonsense, Kirk says.

Suddenly, the tractor beam from the huge ship grabs Enterprise again. Tasha believes that Kirk is attempting to deceive him. Tasha begins communicating directly with the computer. Kirk worries that Tasha may download all files concerning Starfleet security, may discover all there is to know of Earth defenses. Kirk orders the computer to shut down. It does not comply. Xon, using his great Vulcan strength, smashes the main computer interface, shutting the entire system down.

Tasha moves toward Ilia. Both suddenly dematerialize as if via a sophisticated transporter. Sulu moves too late to do anything about it.

Two days away from Earth. Enterprise is still held fast in the huge ship’s tractor beam. By shutting down their computers they have no way to communicate with the alien vessel. No way to know what has become of Lieutenant Ilia. Xon and crew work on repairing the computers.

Xon reports that the alien did not download any information from the computer concerning Starfleet strength and Earth defenses. All the compromised data concerned three thousand years of ancient Earth history and some personnel files. Still, Xon is worried. With the history files, he fears the ship will decide that Earth is infested by the same parasites as Enterprise and destroy the entire planet. "Now we’re a plague," McCoy grumbles.

McCoy orders Kirk to his cabin to rest. There he is startled as a perfect duplicate of Ilia appears in his shower. It is the sensor-probe Tasha reconfigured in Ilia’s form. She willingly goes to Sickbay and is examined by McCoy. "Ilia" informs them that the real Ilia was scanned and disassembled. The Ilia-probe has been sent to the Enterprise to find out why the "servo-units" infested it.

Xon advises Kirk to attempt to enter into a "relationship" with the faux Ilia to determine more of her vessel’s origin and purpose.

"Ilia" readily informs them that her vessel is called Ve-jur. Kirk takes her to the bridge where all think the real Ilia has returned. He informs them that this is Tasha imitating Ilia. Meanwhile, computers repaired, Kirk attempts to send a message to Earth informing Starfleet of what has transpired. "Ilia" is suddenly alert and surmises that Kirk is attempting to warn the servo-units which infect Earth of what is happening.

Ve-jur must rush to Earth to rid it of the servo-units. The tractor beam releases the Enterprise and Ve-jur streaks toward Earth.

"Ilia" informs Kirk that he and one other servo-unit may beam over to Ve-jur with her to see proof that the third planet is the Home of the Holy Creator. Kirk, Xon and "Ilia" beam over. They pass through the gigantic vessel, see the real Ilia’s dead body floating inside a gelatinous mass. When Kirk asks if they may take her body back in the hope of repairing it the Ilia-probe asks why they would want it. They have her now.

Soon they discover that at the heart of Ve-jur is the remains of Voyager 18, a probe launched by NASA in 1996. "Glory to NASA," the Ilia-probe says reverently. "Ilia" rejects their pleas that Humans launched the space probe, and all three beam back to the Enterprise. Ve-jur gives Enterprise a five hour head start to get to Earth to prepare the servo-units for its return. "Ilia" tells Kirk that she knows the God NASA will be awaiting Ve-jur’s return.

"Ilia" tells more of her machine race’s history. Three hundred years ago during "The Time of Trouble" her race was breaking down. When Ve-jur landed, although primitive, it provided a "spark" that caused her race to strive to overcome their obstacles. They rebuilt themselves, rebuilt Ve-jur and now wish to go to Earth to thank the God NASA for giving them its Son Ve-jur and his Holy Message.

Kirk takes the Enterprise into orbit above Earth. Since the damaged transporters are not strong enough to beam them to Earth, he commands the Delphi, a smaller ship, to take a lower orbit. He and the Ilia-probe will beam to that ship, then from there they will be beamed to the Starfleet Archives building in San Francisco.

"Ilia," meanwhile, has seen other servo-units kissing and decides to try it out on Kirk. Surprised, he tells her she has definitely got the hang of it. "Ilia" admits that she felt emotions when she did this.

As they beam away, Kirk relays orders to Decker and Xon to stand by to self-destruct in case his plan fails. On the Delphi, he and "Ilia" are retransported, materializing outside the archives building. A small boy is awed by Kirk, says he wants to join Starfleet when he grows up. Kirk has to explain to "Ilia" what "growing up" means. "Ilia" shows anger when she sees servo-units riding a hydrofoil.

Soon they enter the archives building, and Kirk begins to show her data tapes of NASA’s history. "Ilia" says that these are recreations. She wants to see the originals. Kirk tries to tell her that old books and old films have deteriorated, but she will not listen.

On the Enterprise, Decker sends history tapes to Ve-jur, attempting to show that Humans are not infestations. He sends tapes showing man’s great achievements. Xon suggests sending tapes showing man’s wars, his destructiveness, to convince Ve-jur that they have risen above such ugliness, that they are worthy of surviving. Decker decides against it.

In the archives building, Kirk finds an old film projector and an old film can which contains a twentieth century documentary entitled, This is NASA. 'Is this original enough?' he asks. Will she accept it if they can project it? A young technician helps set up the projector which "Ilia" thinks is a beautiful machine.

In orbit, Ve-jur releases weapons which take up equidistant orbits around Earth. Unless Ve-jur hears from the Ilia-probe soon, Earth will be destroyed to save the God NASA. Decker orders a self-destruct be set in motion.

In the archives building, the film begins to run. . . and breaks almost immediately. It is hopeless. Kirk pleads with "Ilia." Humans built Voyager 18, there is no God NASA.

Ve-jur is waiting for "Ilia" to signal. When it does not hear from her, it sets a count-down timer on its weapons.

Kirk continues to plead on the behalf of Humanity. "Ilia" finally glances at Kirk, says that she doesn’t want to hear anymore. She walks away.

Ve-jur’s countdown concludes. Nothing happens.

"Ilia" informs Kirk that she told Ve-jur she had seen proof that servo-units built it. When Kirk questions her, she admits that she lied to it. "Why?" Kirk asks. "I don’t know," she says.

Kirk signals Ve-jur who acknowledges that Humans built it. When Kirk asks if they can communicate further, Ve-jur says it does not communicate with lower lifeforms, turns and sails away.

Kirk and "Ilia" beam to the Enterprise, but there is a flash of light and the Ilia-probe reverts to her three-legged Tasha form and stands inert, dead.

Ve-jur picks up speed and is soon lost to view. An instant before it disappears, the real Ilia is transported to the bridge of the Enterprise, alive, repaired.

The Enterprise is assigned a new mission. Kirk will remain as the captain. He informs the crew that any officer who wishes to return to his former duty assignment may beam off the ship now. No one moves. Kirk smiles, orders the ship into deep space.

As it departs, we hear: "Space the final frontier, these are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, its new five-year mission. . ."

 

Amazingly very little in the way of plot changed between this rough first draft and the resulting motion picture. To its favor, the action never slows for five minute fly-bys of the Enterprise exploring Ve-jur.

The majority of changes are in the characters of Decker and Xon/Spock. Once Nimoy came back aboard, the role was of course rewritten and expanded to include him. Xon, in this admittedly rough first draft, comes across as very much a Spock clone, and had the series come to fruition, many changes would have been necessary to differentiate the two characters.

This script's Decker is almost a non-entity. He has a couple nice scenes arguing with Kirk early on, but then fades into the background. His best scenes, thereafter, are with Xon as the two officers attempt to work together while integrating themselves into the bridge crew. Except for a couple scenes with Ilia, Sulu, like Scotty and Uhura, has little to do. Chekov gets a chance to lead a couple security details, but he too is very much a supporting character, as all were in the original.

Sadly, despite some strong early scenes, McCoy also gets little real screen time of substance.

Ve-jur's motives are given much more background and detail here. Though some may dislike the overt God/Son of God parallels, I thought they added to the story. I've never really bought (hell, I've never really understood!) the whole Decker/Ilia-probe going up in sparks and becoming... whatever the hell it is they become... in the final product, and wish some of this version's ending could have been kept.

Despite its flaws, I still recall the mystery and wonder of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This script put me right back in that same frame of mind. I remember the awe and anticipation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture back in 1979. Starlog ran some great shots of the new uniforms and sets, and of Andrew Probert's art, plus they had already had articles and artwork from Phase II. Man, my imagination was fired up!

Yes, the film as originally produced bogs down here and there. Yes, Khambatta was pretty bad as Ilia, and the fly-bys are too long. The fly-bys I can deal with. I disliked the damn scenes were the camera just crept around the bridge showing everybody's gaped mouth looks of awe. Some may like 'em, but those bored me. Despite these flaws, there are great moments throughout the film. I don't care how long the Scotty/Kirk travel pod scene took -- I loved it! Some fine acting from Shatner and Doohan in that scene.

I'm going to dig it out right now and watch it again for the first time in a couple years, and I bet some of you will, too.


Harold Livingston (1924 - ): Movie and television writer whose career spanned 1966-1984. Initially, he was a producer for the aborted Star Trek: Phase II, and wrote the script for Alan Dean Foster's story "In Thy Image," which was to have been the two-hour premiere. When the series was shelved, his script, after undergoing several rewrites by himself and Gene Roddenberry, was filmed as Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Livingston was given sole screenplay credit despite the fact that Gene Roddenberry considered filing for Writer's Guild arbitration proceedings. Other motion pictures he has had a hand in writing are The Street is My Beat (1966) and The Hell With Heroes (1968). For television, he has penned episodes of Mission: Impossible, Mannix, Banecek, Barbary Coast, Future Cop and Fantasy Island, among others.


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