Not sure about that one. DS9 got its hero to a great start by basically telling the audience that the only apology he would accept from the original show's leading character would be a slow and painful suicide...
Had Kirk been the one to take the rejuvenating poison, I'd expect him to die at the end of the episode. There'd be no future for the character in a rejuvenated form, and no dramatic value in his return to his aged form. But the confrontation between Kirk and whoever got to represent the folks at Tyree's planet would no doubt have involved Kirk getting the final word and making his opponent repent, to the point of him delivering a touching eulogy. Picard would be the one left speechless in the final confrontation.
It's difficult to see how Kirk could have become more of a good guy in the story, though. And the very point of doing it would be the shock value of him not being one.
Agree for the most part. There did
seem to be a consistent knee-jerk "No" to including more than a passing reference to anything TOS on the part of Roddenberry and company. That said, the production team seemed to enjoy sneaking in what they could, such as the Constitution
model that liked to float around, or various schematics on display montages. So to include Kirk, surely they would have had to have a good reason, such as using the shock value.
I tend to agree that it would not have been a great send-off to the TOS gang. I suspect that you could have substituted Kirk for Jameson (James son eh?) and it would have flowed more or less as is, however, Kirk would have been older and maybe the serum would not have aged him down so much - maybe just to Shatner's actual age in '87. That wouldn't have been a horrible ending.
I wonder if the original pitch was serious in revisiting "APLW" or if it was merely a "Suppose we went back to a planet like that one..." sort of pitch?