Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Star Trek scripts from -- the company run by Gene Roddenberry's son -- has teamed up with to offer handsome perfect-bound volumes of the scripts for the original Star Trek. They started with a special limited-edition of "The Cage" (the original pilot, later incorporated into "The Menagerie"). I bought that, and was favorably impressed. And now I've bought the first two (of five) volumes of the first-season scripts. "The Cage" had been retyped on a word processor, which I guess means no clean copy of the original typewriter script still exists; it also seems that "The Cage" is no longer for sale. The scripts in volumes one and two are very clean copies of the original typed versions.

I'm enjoying the heck out of these. These scripts date back to the era when writers tried to direct on the page ("Close up on Kirk. Kirk's eyebrows go up. Two shot: Kirk and Spock ..."). No one writes scripts like that anymore; directors hate it when writers try to compose shots. But it's fascinating to see how much of what we saw on screen, including a lot of the subtleties in the acting, WAS indeed in the scripts. Plus there's lots of little bits that were cut, or changed (like a long opening narration by Kirk for "Where No Man Has Gone Before").

Anyway, check 'em out here. I'm going to order all the season-one scripts, once the rest of them are released; I'll probably stop there, since it gets kinda pricey to buy all three seasons, and what I'm particularly interested in seeing is how the stuff we came to know and love on screen was first conceptualized on the printed page (in "Where No Man Has Gone Before," there's a great description of what a journey in a turbolift is supposed to feel and sound like, for instance). Lots of fun.


At November 21, 2006 10:44 PM , Blogger Steve said...

I was starting to think I was the only person buying these. I've seen next to no discussion about them online. They're pretty darn expensive for something slapped together from photocopies, though. US$40 each is a bit much.

At November 21, 2006 11:26 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hi, Steve. I agree on the price. US$25 would be closer to my comfort level. I just ordered volumes 3, 4, and 5 yesterday -- that completes Season One, and that's where I plan to stop.

I must say, though, that I really am getting a kick out of these. The script for Where No Man Has Gone Before was excellent, and it's amazing to see how much of the detail and nuance we saw on screen is right there in the script for The Naked Time.

At November 22, 2006 11:50 PM , Anonymous Judy said...

JMS has done something similar with his scripts from Babylon 5. In addition to the scripts, JMS has been writing a lot of original commentary material as well, and in the last two volumes has included some newly rediscovered conceptual artwork.

I think the $40 price is a standard CafePress for books of that size, but it's worth it for the author/creator insight.

At November 27, 2006 12:32 AM , Anonymous Chris said...

Just to add to Judy's comment. Strazynski didn't do something similar, he did it first ;-)

He's including 7 scripts per book instead of one as well as all the extra background material surrounding the production etc. Check them out at - they are $10 off the first week of release too.

At November 27, 2006 10:32 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Weeeellll, just to be fair, Rod Roddenberry isn't including "just one" script per book; he's got five of 'em, or so. And, all due respect to JMS, one of the things I'm finding particularly fascinating about the ST:TOS scripts is seeing how so many different writers handle scriptwriting. John D.F. Black has an almost shorthand notation, filled with ellipses; Samuel Peeples writes like he's writing a novel.

But the lack of background material in the ST:TOS collections is unfortunate ... and I can't imagine the actual authors are getting a penny, and that's unfortunate, too.

At November 29, 2006 1:42 AM , Blogger Chris said...

My bad on the just one per book - I didn't check that before commenting - my apologies.

I wonder if those different styles would still exist today with all of the 'standards' and 'formating rules' that exist? Were things still lax enough in the 60s to allow the different writers personal styles to show through over and above the content I wonder?

Why Joe is only including his scripts in the books are due to the ownership issues as I understand it. He felt it'd be too much hassle to get permission from all the individual writers and then have to worry about paying them out individually as well. It is interesting to see how some of the 'notes' that he sent to Warner Brothers came to live in other writer's scripts though.

At November 29, 2006 9:57 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Script formatting was just as strict in the 1960s as it is today (and maybe more so, because it included a lot of shot information that's left out today). And, yes, personalities can still shine through, but you mostly see that in feature-film scripts. Most TV shows today are group-written in a staff writers' room, and that imposes a homogeneity on them (and on the resulting episodes). Part of what made ST:TOS so special was the range of voices and styles in the scripts and resulting episodes. Whereas most episodes of, say, ENTERPRISE are pretty much fungible, "The City on the Edge of Forever" is about as far removed from "The Trouble with Tribbles" as possible -- both are great, both are indisputably STAR TREK, but both are completely their own in pace, rhythm, and style of dialogue.


Post a Comment

<< Home