Gene Roddenberry and Lieutenant Tyler actor Peter Duryea between takes on the set of ‘The Cage’.
When Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek he brought to life a world that would become iconic for decades to come. But he was far from being a perfect man or storyteller. Now with Alex Kurtzman in the big chair we have a worthy successor.
The original pilot to Star Trek was a demonstrable failure, leading to an unprecedented re-casting and re-shooting of the pilot episode, so while Gene may have left NBC impressed he didn’t strike command gold it until the second time around.
By the second season of The Original Series NBC was considering cancellation, but a letter writing campaign by fans was able to keep the series on the air, again it was an unprecedented action, this time taken by fans to keep the show they loved.
For the third season NBC had moved Star Trek to the 10pm Friday time slot, known in the industry as ‘The Death Slot’ as it is often the final nail in the coffin for a show to be placed there, and sure enough immediately after the third season, despite another aggressive letter writing campaign by fans the show was cancelled for good.
Star Trek Phase II
Motion Pictures and Phase II
In 1975 Paramount announced that they would be making a Star Trek Movie along with Gene Roddenberry and the original cast of Star Trek, however following a major fight between the writers, Gene Roddenberry and the studio the plans for the movie called Star Trek The God Thing were cancelled. The story in which the Enterprise would be sent on a mission to essentially explain and prove the existence of God to the Vulcan’s. It’s likely a good thing this was cancelled.
When Star Trek Phase II was ordered Gene was brought back in to breathe life into it, but the designs he approved, characters he created and overall story were not especially strong, much like the pilot for the original series Gene was on to something, but he was just off the mark.
These elements have all since been reused, with his leading couple becoming Captain Decker and Ilia, and later also becoming the basis for Commander Riker and Councillor Troi. His storyline was torn apart and became several things including Star Trek The Motion Picture and several episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation, his ship designs essentially became the USS Discovery.
Star Trek Phase II was cancelled as quickly as it was announced and plans began once again for a film adaptation which this time would become Star Trek The Motion Picture. The script was based upon one of the pre-written entries for Star Trek Phase II entitled In thy image, notice the thread of religious elements Gene attempted to infuse into this iteration of the series?
During the filming of The Motion Picture Gene again battled with other writers and the studio, attempting to get himself the sole writers credit despite the work of others going into the project. The budget also ballooned from the original $5 million to a final cost of $35 million, this lead to Harve Bennett taking over control of the movie franchise.
By the time Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan came into pre-production Gene’s behaviour had him moved into the role of Creative Consultant, essentially meaning that he no longer had any say in the direction of the franchise, he wasn’t happy about it and began to cause issues for the production, allegedly he was even responsible for the leaked information about Spock’s death during the movie.