teleplay by Gilbert A. Ralston and Gene
story by Gilbert A. Ralston
FINAL DRAFT SCRIPT: May 15, 1967
"Who Mourns for Adonais?," a title borrowed from a line in Percy Bysshe Shelleys eulogy for John Keats, is a terrific episode from Star Trek's second season. It treats us to some memorable dramatic moments: we see Scotty fall for a woman for the first time, an "alien" who is complex and non-melodramatic, and Chekov with a sense of humor. Interestingly, this final draft script, completed two weeks before the start of shooting, is quite different from the aired version. In fact, if I were forced to use one word to describe this script, that word would have to be "rough."
There are several major differences between this draft and the aired version, so lets start off by examining those before looking at the details in the various acts. First on the list: Spock is used differently in the script. Specifically, he accompanies the landing party to the planet along with Kirk, Scotty, McCoy, and Chekov. In the broadcast version if you recall, Kirk leaves Spock on the ship because he reminds Apollo of Pan (a line, incidentally, that Apollo uses in the script when he first sees Spock on the planet). When rewriting the script to keep Spock on the ship, his dialogue was given mostly to Sulu. And in turn, McCoy and Chekov were given Spocks scripted planet-side dialogue in the aired version. Overall, I think the script works fine with Spock on the planet, though Chekov is somewhat underutilized in it. Clearly the broadcast version gives our newly-introduced ensign much more to do.
Another major difference between the scripted and aired versions is the proper names used in the teleplay. Specifically, many of the names in the script were altered often to correct factual gaffs as the script progressed to the final shooting draft. Its unknown as to whether Ralston and Coon made the changes themselves or whether they were suggested by Kellam DeForest research, but, in my opinion, all of the changes were good. Here are examples of some of the more prominent differences:
Finally, Ill note that the landing partys communicators are not destroyed with the phasers in the script and are working throughout its story. As well see, Kirk regularly talks with Sulu and this significantly affects the action.
The scripted teaser contains the same basic dramatics elements as the broadcast version but it is far less refined. Specifically, the dialogue is awkward and not always appropriate to the character. For example, here is an excerpt of an exchange concerning Scottys interest in Carolyn that just doesnt quite ring true:
Would you believe this thistle-hearted Hibernian
is showing signs of the grand passion?
Even from here I can tell his pulse rate is up.
I find it rather disappointing. I would expect Mr. Scott
to share his meals with a reactor or a generator, but not a woman.
Also, for inexplicable reasons, Uhura does not appear in the teaser. Chekov speaks all of her lines in the broadcast version.
There are relatively few differences between the scripted and aired versions of this act. Some of the major ones include:
Of all the acts in the script, this one is the most different from those aired, mainly because many of its scenes are juxtaposed. Some of the other variations include:
But we have our weaknesses. When a god is not needed
when his worshippers are gone his spirit weakens, like a fading candle.
The scripted scenes in act III are essentially the same as those broadcast, just rearranged. Here are some of the differences:
She is as if hypnotized. As he pulls her closer, she looks up at him, and her expression shows that she is looking into the infinite. Something so huge as to dwarf her.
What can I do
His lips are upon hers. For a moment she is stiff and resisting in his arms and then she melts against him, returning the kiss. When he finally releases her
Oh, yes yes
His arms are around her, holding her close as we
With the exception of the tag omitted from the broadcast (discussed below), the differences between the aired and scripted versions of this act are fairly minor:
Mr. Spock, I suspect we are dealing with a woman in love.
You are a man of many talents and skills, but what you
know about love I could put under the eyelid of a gnat
and not make it blink.
Ouch a very poor joke in my opinion.
EXT. SPACE THE ENTERPRISE
moving rapidly through the wide field of stars.
Spock and Kirk are in conference at the command chair. McCoy enters from behind them, looking somewhat bemused. He approaches them, stops. Kirk and Spock look at him.
You might be interested. Carolyn Bassett managed
a picturesque faint at breakfast this morning.
Just after the smell of coffee made her slightly ill.
Kirk and Spock stare at him.
Should that be of significance to us, doctor?
I dont expect it to be to you.
But it should mean something to you.
Something going around?
I certainly hope not. I just finished examining her. Shes pregnant.
Even Spock looks surprised.
You heard me.
Kirk and Spock look stunned. McCoy continues, dryly.
Now Ill give you an interesting question to chew on.
What will the child be. Man? Or God?
(beat to Spock)
You want to try that on your computer for size, Spock?
Kirk joins McCoy in staring at Spock. Spocks eyebrows rise. He is at a loss for words. Kirk stares back at McCoy. McCoy shrugs, as we
EXT. SPACE ENTERPRISE
Speeding forward into the eternity of stars.
A fascinating and thought-provoking ending, but one that may have pushed the bounds of propriety for 1960s television.
To conclude this review, there are a lot of differences between the final draft of this script and the aired episode: Chekov gained a sense of humor, Spock was relegated to the bridge, and we lost a god-child--just to name a few. In many regards, this draft reminds me of a first draft rather than a final. No matter though, the script for "Who Mourns For Adonais?" was eventually polished to a high gloss enabling the episode to take its place as one of Star Treks best.
Gilbert A. Ralston (1912-1999): Producer and writer during the 1960s and 1970s. During his career, he wrote more than 50 screenplays including 2003s Willard. He was also responsible for co-creating the television series The Wild Wild West.
Free counters provided by Andale.
Click here to return to the Unseen
Click here to return to the Articles Page.
Click here to return to the Main Index Page.