I mentioned in another thread recently that I am in possession of a book titled 'Creating The Next Generation', by well known Trek fan scholars Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross. It contains several synopses of early versions of TNG season one scripts, examines the changes made in subsequent drafts right up the broadcast version, and in a fascinating study in how several of the stories were destroyed by excessive rewrites, but others were saved from a fate worse than Gagh. In this thread, I propose to provide my own summaries of these early drafts, to demonstrate (for those who do not know the history) how TNG progressed from early conception to what we are familiar with. First up is "Encounter At Farpoint". The book contains a couple of different versions of this 'pilot episode'. The first is an Outline which is dated December 5, 1986, and credited only to Dorothy Fontana (who was the co-writer on the finished version). It is the earliest document of TNG in story form. (Bare in mind this was only an outline, it never reached script form in exactly this description.) Titled 'Meeting At Farpoint', the story opens with the Enterprise (1701-D) arriving at Farpoint station. Farpoint is described as a "staging station", the kind of place where ships might refuel, come under minor maintenance for jobs not requiring a full starbase, resupply, exchange of crews and so on. The Enterprise is here to partake in an exchange of crews. Of particular note here is that the Enterprise is not described as a new-build: rather, the ship is already an established vessel with some unseen history. Already aboard are Captain Julien Picard, Security Officer Mascha Hernadez, Leiutenant Deanna Troi and Leiutenant(j.g) LaForge. Enterprise is about to lose it's First Officer, Kyle Summers, who is going off to become a Captain on his own ship. Also present in orbit of Farpoint is the USS Starseeker, from which the Enterprise is going to take on Summers' replacement, Lieutenant Commander Will Ryker. Also being transfered aboard Enterprise at this time are Lieutenant Commander Data, Dr. Beverly Crusher, and Crusher's 15 year old daughter Leslie. As the exchange takes place via shuttle, the new crew members discuss their assignment to Enterprise. They've all been taken from various ships and met here at Farpoint, so while some of them already know each other (Ryker, Data), the others don't. There is some spoken suspicion of 'the Android', but Ryker defends Data, declaring him one of the best officers he's served with. Aboard Enterprise, the crew have a meeting and begin to create a cameraderie. They are about to depart, when an unidentified vessel arrives at Farpoint. The intentions of the ship are immediately established as hostile, with them sending a communique to both Starfleet ships: "Surrender, transfer all personnel to the planet surface, or die". The enemy vessel is some kind of massive gun platform. The Starseeker takes immediate action, engaging the hostile ship in combat, and is promptly blown out of space. Picard watches this with distress, then orders the crew to comply with the enemy request. Ryker naturally objects, having just watched his former assignment and many of his friends get destroyed before his very eyes, but Picard wisely notes that he intends to play a waiting game, and see if the enemy have got a weakness to exploit. Ryker remains unconvinced, but bows to his new captain's decision. The crew are soon press-ganged into servitude on the planet. The enemy, described as simian-like humanoids, are named the Annoi. Their goal is to gather Balmine, a mineral found on the surface of this planet. The crew are forced into labor, mining the mineral, then transporting the ore to the gun platform. The Enterprise remains in orbit, but is under Annoi control. The Annoi, it is discovered, have got a caste system. The Enterprise crew attempt to use this as a way of driving divisions between the servants and their masters. Meanwhile, Troi says that she can sense something sad. Ryker dismisses this as being a general feeling of the Enterprise crew and their plight, but Deanna is insistent it's something bigger. He suggests to Picard that he and Mascha could take a team onto the gun platform and disable it, an idea which Picard says he is willing to approve only if every angle is covered. Leslie Crusher, who has been put into service aboard the gun platform as a kind of conduit between the command center and the receiving end of the ore, has memorised the lay-out of the gun platform. Using this knowledge, Ryker and his team board the gun platform via a shuttle transporting Balmine ore. Once there, Data observes that despite all the ore that has been transported already, there is little evidence of it aboard the platform. He declares it implausible for so much of it to be exausted so quickly... The crew attempt to find the engine room of the vessel, intending to destroy power. But they can't find it, because the gun platform hasn't got engines. Deanna has a break-down, sensing pain. She quickly establishes, through telepathy, that the gun platform is a sentient being. The base of the platform is a massive being that has been taking prisoner by the Annoi, the gun platform bolted onto it and it being forced to provide weapons and power for them in exchange for sustinence (the Balmine ore). But the creature is most certainly being exploited against it's will. Before the crew can learn more, they are captured by Annoi and imprisoned. Inside the cell, Troi re-establishes telepathic contact with the creature. The being says it despises all the destruction it has been forced to do for the Annoi. Ryker asks Deanna to inform the creature that if it can land on the planet, this would effectively neuter the weapons and give them an advantage over the Annoi. The creature does this, and in the impact the cell is broken open. The creature now refuses to move, leaving the Annoi helpless and harmless. The Annoi are taken into custody to face trial later, the creature is freed to go on it's way, and the Enterprise is again under the control of Starfleet. My take:This outline clearly shows the seeds of what we eventually got in "Encounter At Farpoint". The basic premise, of a creature enslaved against it's will, is intact. The story differs however in many details, not least that the Enterprise is not a new vessel but already a firmly established one, and also in that Farpoint station (on the planet) is not a second creature. The story was written for a standard hour-long timeslot, and lacks the Q subplot, added by Gene Roddenberry in later drafts to bolster the story up to two-hours in length. It also comes across as much more 'action orientated', very much in the style of a TOS episode (an intriging philosophical concept is hidden in an action-adventure format). Several of the characters are recognisable, but have slightly different origins. Wesley is a girl named Leslie, and Worf is absent entirely. In some ways the outline feels a little rougher around the edges, but in other ways it has a certain pace to it that is lacking in the broadcast version. It may have made for an exciting hour-opener in places. Subsequent drafts certainly emphasised the philosophical concepts over the pure action. The destruction of the Starseeker shows a story which isn't afraid to start with a bang. The actual First Draft Script, dated Feb 17, 1987, and also credited solely to Dorothy Fontana, is in essence closer to the finished broadcast version in a lot of ways (but still written for an hour-long slot and missing the Q/trial for humanity subplot). We are in this version introduced to the Enterprise via Ryker, who is our audience identification figure. He's waiting at Farpoint for the ship to arrive, where he (and several other crew) notice odd things happening. The intendent of the station, Elzever, is evasive when asked questions about these things. When the Enterprise eventually arrives and the crew are united, Captain Picard tells Ryker that their assignment is to try and convince the natives to perhaps enter a deal with the Federation, to build more of these remarkable bases. Farpoint was constructed in record time, and it is believed that a deal with the Annae, the natives of the planet, would be beneficial. To this end Picard, Ryker and Troi beam down to meet with Elzever again, who is initially very welcoming, but again becomes evasive when pressed for details on the station. Eventually he becomes agitated to the point where he dismisses the crew: "If Starfleet do not want to do business, perhaps I will go to the Ferengi Alliance". The basic plot points in this version then pretty much follow those in the finished two-hour version, including the Admiral McCoy cameo, and the reveal at the end that Farpoint is the subjucated creature. Only the details differ: While Wesley is now male, he has no memory of Picard bringing the body of Jack Crusher back, what he does know he heard from his mom. Jack was Picard's superior on the Stargazer, not an officer under Picard's command, and Picard blames himself for the man's death (having, as first officer, let Crusher beam down to a planet and lead an away team himself). Tasha Yar is still refered to as Mascha Hernadez, and much focus is given to establishing a strong working relationship between Ryker, Mascha and Data (although in this version Ryker explicitly hasn't met Data before this). And of course, Q remains entirely absent, and Farpoint is therefore not being used as a means of 'testing' humanity. My take: Neither of the early drafts are substantively better or worse than the finished version, but are certainly different. I am not sure if the addition of the eventual Q subplot adds to or subtracts from Fontana's story, but I do like how this script treatment introduces us to the world of the new Star Trek directly through the character of Commander Ryker, and also how in both versions the Enterprise-D itself has already got an established history before the Farpoint mission (the broadcast version implies strongly this is a new vessel). NEXT: "The Naked Now".