written by Don Harden
first published in Stardate 9, March 1981
The first season of Star Trek can be described into two parts. The first part consists of those episodes in which the job of producer was credited to Gene Roddenberry and the second is made up of those which Gene L. Coon produced. Roddenberry is credited with producing the first eleven shows, from "The Cage" to "Dagger of the Mind," and Coon is credited with producing the next eighteen. There is some contention that part of the credits of certain Roddenberry shows between "The Man Trap" and "Dagger of the Mind" were to have been reshot but never were. It is speculated that Robert H. Justman (later to become co-producer of the series) was actually the producer of these particular episodes, but there is no documentation for this.
Page 68 of The Making of Star Trek describes the job of producer as being "the chief executive officer of the production." He is also "involved with daily problems arising in all departments. In television today, the producer is usually a writer, and much of his time and effort is devoted to story and script. He often rewrites the scripts (properties) submitted by writers on assignment. The producer is responsible for the successful completion of the entire production process from first vague story idea to final completed film."
Page 69 describes the role of Associate Producer as that of "right hand man" to the producer. Robert Justman handled this job in "Where No Man Has Gone Before," and he was assisted by Byron Haskins in "The Cage." During the first season episodes "The Corbomite Maneuver" to "Miri," Justman was assisted by John D.F. Black.
The associate producer is concerned with the "how-to" of all stages of film-making. He is also involved after filming is completed during the post-production phase and has a hand in editing, special effects, sound effects, and musical score.
Page 70 refers to the script consultant (or story editor), who primarily rewrites scripts and also writes "a certain number of original scripts for the series." The first script consultant for Star Trek was John D.F. Black, a Writers Guild Award winner. Page 267 says that "his official title was Associate Producer [along with Bob Justman], but his primary function was dealing with writers, scripts and rewrites." Black was Associate Producer (technically, a script consultant) from "Corbomite" to "Miri" ("Miri" was the first episode produced by Coon).
The episodes Roddenberry produced were mainly written by science fiction authors such as Richard Matheson, George Clayton Johnson, Robert Bloch and S. Bar-David (also known as Shimon Wincelburg), all of whom had previous motion picture and/or television work. These early episodes tended to deal primarily with alien contact. "The Man Trap" was very much in the style of The Outer Limits and was basically a "Lets kill the monster" episode. It was a complete antithesis to Coons "Devil in the Dark," in which Kirk and Spock do a great deal of soul-searching as to whether the Horta should be killed, which was the last of its kind, similar to the Salt Vampire. "The Corbomite Maneuver" dealt with the menace of Balok, who apparently could destroy the Enterprise at his pleasure. However, this encounter ended with a twist. Balok was revealed to be a small, but friendly sort who was "just testing" our intrepid crew, thereby setting the tone for the rest of the season.
Coons episodes tended to move along the same lines, with episodes like "Arena" (which he scripted from a story by sf writer Frederic Brown), in which the "evil" Metrons were "just testing" Kirk in his struggle with the Gorn. But Coon broadened the show into other areas, such as an excursion through Shakespeare in "The Conscience of the King," fantasy in "Shore Leave" and "The Squire of Gothos," time travel in "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" and "The City on the Edge of Forever," and finally emphasized that area for which Star Trek has been most noted the morality tale.
Indeed, the Roddenberry-produced "Where No Man Has Gone Before" made the statement that absolute power can corrupt even the best of men, but this moral statement seemed pale next to Coons "A Taste of Armageddon," in which two civilizations had to be changed in order to make the point that "sanitized war" is wrong.
It is interesting to note that while he was producer, Roddenberry wrote only one script ("The Cage") and did the story treatment for two other episodes ("Mudds Women" and "Charlie X"). Coon, while he was producer, wrote three scripts ("Arena," "The Devil in the Dark" and "Errand of Mercy") and co-authored two others ("A Taste of Armageddon" and "Space Seed").
The associate producers do not really get involved in the actual writing of episodes, but John D.F. Black did while serving technically as the story editor. Blacks script during his stint with Star Trek was "The Naked Time."
On page 25 of Enterprise Incidents #7, D.C. Fontana stated that Black left Star Trek for a lucrative motion picture project. Steven W. Carabatsos, a young writer, was brought in to replace Black. However, Carabatsos was designated as the script consultant for the series and not as an associate producer. He began his job with "The Conscience of the King" and left the series after "A Taste of Armageddon." No script consultant was listed in the next episode, which was "Space Seed." Carabatsos did write one script ("Operation: Annihilate!") and co-authored another ("Court-martial").
Dorothy Fontana became the script consultant following a major rewrite of Nathan Butlers "This Side of Paradise," as noted in Star Trek Poster Book #10. The original story was called "Power-Play" and was written by Jerry Sohl, and later changed to "The Way of the Spores.") Fontana also wrote the earlier scripts, "Charlie X" and "Tomorrow Is Yesterday," and reportedly was the individual responsible for the rewrite of Harlan Ellisons "The City on the Edge of Forever."
The best segments of Star Trek did indeed emerge from the first season, but that statement can be generalized about most series. After all, even Lost in Space was better in its first few segments than the rest of the series.
But it appears that Star Trek, while going through the generally hectic and frantic pace of filming each episode in six or seven days, was also plagued with making key staff replacements from time to time. However, the replacements, particularly in story editors, worked to the benefit of the series by infusing new ideas for stories and, with the addition of D.C. Fontana, creating new emphasis on characterization.
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