The Doomsday Machine love

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Ssosmcin, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Captain Captain

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    On one issue, Spinrad's memory may be a bit a faulty... perhaps even intentionally so.

    Spinrad was asked several years back about the James Blish novelization of "The Doomsday Machine," where Decker doesn't die but instead survives to tell Kirk rather lamely that will resign/retire after repeating his 'error in judgment.' Spinrad claimed that Decker's suicidal death was in every version of the script, all the way from the first draft Spinrad submitted.

    I accepted this on Spinrad's word, having read in various places where Blish, having only early draft scripts to use to create his novelizations, would make changes to stories on occasion to resolve story problems in order to have "his version of the episodes" make sense. But I never could understand why Blish would erase Decker's death; what possible improvement to the story would that plot change bring?

    Fast forward to the Season two edition of "These Are The Voyages," which credits Gene Coon with adding that plot point in one of the later re-writes, reflecting Decker's death wish mentality and further stating that the new twist served the double purpose of giving Kirk a clue as to how to defeat the planet killer.

    So what's the truth? From my dispassionate viewpoint, I lean towards giving Coon the credit. Cushman had copies of the draft scripts, in addition to memos between Coon and Spinrad. There's no reason I can think of why Cushman would want to switch credit to Gene Coon if the documents didn't support that.

    However, there may be a reason that Spinrad might not want to give Coon credit for such a major change. Turns out that Spinrad was furious with Coon for re-writing Spinrad's next story submission, "He Walks Among Us." Spinrad wrote it as a very serious piece, and Coon completely re-wrote it as a comedy. Spinrad ended up appealing directly to Gene Roddenberry to not produce the story if Coon's version was to be used. GR in fact did as Spinrad requested, and the story was never produced.

    Spinrad wouldn't be the first writer to hold a grudge for decades over a re-write he felt ruined a good story of his. For a great example of that, Google "Ellison, Harlan."
     
  2. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    But that looks like it might be a shooting script, Maurice. Is there a copy of Spinrad's original outline or first draft available? Justman probably took one look at it and thought it would be too expensive to pull off.
     
  3. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Captain Captain

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    After reading Spinrad's initial submission, DC Fontana went as far as to write in a memo (paraphrasing), 'The cost of the opticals and miniatures will drive us to the poor house. No, we'll probably have to walk to the poor house.'
     
  4. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Spinrad's first draft* story outline (http://www.missionlogpodcast.com/discovereddocuments/035) would be a useful place to start. I'll take a look at it, unless someone beats me to the punch.

    Edit 1: Spinrad's description of the Planet Eater:

    Edit 2: Spinrad's description of Decker's fate:

    Is Cushman asserting an earlier draft of the story outline than this (March 6, 1967)? And alleging that Coon wrote this version of the story outline (which only has Spinrad's name on it)?

    *Judging from my research records, this is probably a revised draft of the story outline, although I don't have any evidence that it is anything but Spinrad's.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2014
  5. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe Spinrad's"bristling with weapons" is his partially remembering his verbal pitch before they gave any feedback and said write it.
     
  6. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    To be fair, Spinrad's description doesn't just call it a funnel in the story outline, although "the funnel," upon skimming, seems to be the most used term for the planet eater. There's also the possibility that Spinrad is remembering the teleplay or his pitch.
     
  7. cbspock

    cbspock Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is one of my all time favorite episodes. I think the remastered version just adds more to the episode. It makes it feel even more like a Trek movie.


    -Chris
     
  8. cbspock

    cbspock Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I did the same thing, it was the first thing I went to.


    -Chris
     
  9. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I seem to remember drexfiles or someone who had some sketch of what spinrad wanted...I like what we got.

    There is ome program where you can show several photos, and the computer wil come up with a 3D view. Someone might want to try that with screen caps and a 3D printer.
     
  10. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I agree and I was a little disappointed that Cushman didn't dispute it. Not for anything, but isn't wet cement a thick and heavy substance? And wouldn't a windsock, designed to flap in the breeze, simply scrunch up if "dipped in cement?" Or "dipped in water" for that matter? It certainly wouldn't hold its shape.

    I find Daren Dochterman's research to be more conclusive. Or just what I wanna believe. :)
     
  11. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think Daren's theory about the DDM's construction is pretty logical, albeit I remain skeptical that the thing was built around a "mini mole" or other studio light as the interior of the thing never looks as brightly illuminated as one would expect if that were the case.
     
  12. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It probably didn't look as nice up close and in person.

    This is where more primitive types of media enhance the look of something.

    It would have looked horrible in HD

    But as it looked on screen, it looked like whittled neutron star material--so it worked.
     
  13. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Slight update on this. In addition to the March 6, 1967 story outline (which appears to be the only draft of the story outline), there's also Spinrad's April 4, 1967 teleplay. Both have Decker die by flying a shuttle into the Planet Eater. The May 8, 1967 draft of the teleplay has him encountering the same fate.

    An April 10, 1967 memo from Bob Justman to Gene Roddenberry says, "I am pleased to see that Captain Kirk does not react hypocritically to the death of Dekker..." Coon's memo dated April 17, 1967 to Spinrad calls the script "a most commendable first effort for STAR TREK," and asks Spinrad to "number your scenes so we can refer to the particular scene in question when we talk about it." The April 5, 1967 first draft teleplay credited only to Spinrad has no scene numbers.

    In short, Spinrad was the originator of Decker's death, not Coon. Would you mind quoting the passage in question from These Are The Voyages, because I'm astounded that Cushman could make such a colossal error of judgment (which is saying something).
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In the treatment Decker "rams the shuttlecraft into the body of the Eater at top speed." Is it possible Coon's suggestion was for Decker to ran it down the thing's throat instead of slamming into the hull?
     
  15. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Great summary. Star Trek broke ground using its own licensed products (AMT kit) in the production--something ILM would do years later in the production of The Empire Strikes Back.
     
  16. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think Star Trek was able to do it because it was the only show with an accurate-ish model kit which could be used for such things. MCA-57 (aka post Star Wars ILM) also did this for Battlestar Galactica, notably the Cylon hangar populated with Monogram kit Raiders in "The Hand of God".
     
  17. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    It was just too bad that in the original effects, the aft view of the Constellation didn't look as detailed as the saucer section. It looked like they also had trouble with focus due to the model being so small.
     
  18. feek61

    feek61 Captain Captain

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    Yes but that the view of the Constellation from above the saucer (during the title) is a great shot and looks convincing as hell to me.
     
  19. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    The distance is JUST right on that to belie the model kit origins. It was the very first film clip I ever bought of STAR TREK, that shot.
     
  20. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I think the protoApogee exILM group withdrew from GALACTICA after the initial 7 hrs (pilot plus 2 2parters), so the rest of season 1 was done by Universal Hartland.

    I'd never heard of the MCA-57 moniker before. Is that referenced in a lawsuit or an onscreen credit?