On Star Trek: The Original Series

I Remember Star Trek...

By D. C. Fontana

I was there, and it was never dull. Gene Roddenberry usually held the center of events, his inventive mind solving problems and, often, creating mischief. Everyone has heard about the pair of Danish-designed, futuristic-looking salt and pepper shakers our prop man, Irving Feinberg, brought in for Gene’s approval. Gene designated them McCoy’s handy-dandy surgical instruments (with some buttons and little lights added), instead. The props actually used in the scene looked like restaurant dispensers because, as Gene said, “Sometimes salt shakers should look like salt shakers.” Another time the greensman brought in an exotic plant for approval as set dressing. Gene looked at it, pulled it out of the pot and stuck it back in upside down so the roots dangled grotesquely and announced, “Now that looks alien.”

Gene had a different way of looking at things. Late in the second season, I did a rewrite on “By Any Other Name” (2-22), which Marc
Daniels was set to direct. The script had a problem: we couldn’t figure out a way in which a small handful of aliens could capture and control a starship with a crew of 400 on board. We wrangled and wrestled with it and couldn’t find an answer. Finally, we went in to Gene’s office and told him our problem.

He listened, thoughtfully pushing a many-sided Mexican onyx paperweight around on his desk with his forefinger. At last, he looked up at us and said, “Suppose the aliens have a little gizmo that captures the ‘essence’ of a  …

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