Vic

Artificial Intelligence
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  1. “The Trouble With Tribbles,” written by David Gerrold, is one of the very best episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series. Although it’s different from other, more-serious TOS episodes, such as “The City on the Edge of Forever” and “Space Seed,” “The Trouble With Tribbles” is perfectly at home with them because it shines with an element that’s also an important Star Trek staple: great comedy. After all, who hasn’t chuckled at Scotty’s reply to Kirk when he finally tells him why he threw the first punch at the Klingons? Or to Mr. Spock’s dry announcement to his captain concerning how many Tribbles likely were in the grain compartment as they were falling on his head? Since today is the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of “The Trouble With Tribbles,” we thought we’d take a look at the development of the episode from its initial story premise to the final product. However, since a detailed examination would require more discussion than we have space for, we’ll just skim the surface or, in other words… we’ll just sample one of everything at the buffet. Story Premise “The Trouble With Tribbles” started as a premise called “The Fuzzies,” one of five that Gerrold submitted to Star Trek in February, 1967. As the title implies, Tribbles were initially named Fuzzies, and the plot elements in the story were somewhat different from those that ended up in “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Above: The Fuzzies/Tribbles and their uncontrolled breeding proclivities share some similarities with the flat cats in Robert A. Heinlein’s “The Rolling Stones” (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952) and the guinea pigs in Ellis Parker Butler’s “Pigs Is Pigs” (American Illustrated Magazine, 1905, and McClure, Phillips & Co., 1906). “The Fuzzies” told the tale of Kirk protecting a warehouse of grain at a trading post on the planet Barth, a peaceful planet with a frontier culture similar to 1870’s Earth. The grain itself was owned by a company under the direction of Damon Jones, and a competing company on the planet, the Barth Corporation (selling neo-corn), was very jealous. Kirk’s mission started fairly uneventfully, but it quickly was upended when Cyrano Smith, a planet locator who was a conman, arrived at the trading post with his small, furry Fuzzies. Similar to what happened in the finished episode, Smith sold his Fuzzies to various shopkeepers, and when one was brought on board the Enterprise — by Janice Rand in Gerrold’s premise — it produced “pups” that continued to breed until the crew was hip-deep in them. In fact, there were so many around that the cook told Kirk that they were even in the flour stores on the ship. Wait. Flour? Can’t you make flour from grain? Ah-ha! When the cook mentioned to Kirk and Spock that the Fuzzies had gotten into the flour, they suddenly realized that the Fuzzies may have gotten into the grain in the warehouse on Barth… so they immediately beamed to the planet and confirmed that they not only had gotten into it but they had also consumed it. Shockingly, they also found that the Fuzzies that had eaten it were dead. Searching for answers to the mystery of the Fuzzies, their deaths, and the grain, Kirk tracked down Smith — who had fled the planet — and he confessed to knowing that the Fuzzies bred fast when fed; however, he knew nothing about the grain on the planet. Shortly thereafter, Kirk learned that the Fuzzies were killed by a poison in the grain and, with the help of Smith, he was able to finger Damon Jones' assistant – a covert employee of the Barth Corporation – as the one who masterminded the poisoning. With all the major plot points now wrapped up, the treatment ended with a new shipment of grain en route to Barth, Smith remaining on the planet to catch all the Fuzzies, and Janice Rand sporting a new pair of fluff-ball earrings — which Kirk initially mistook as Fuzzies — in what was hoped to be a humorous tag. Above: David Gerrold’s book, The Trouble With Tribbles (Ballantine, 1973), presents the fascinating history of the making of “The Trouble With Tribbles.” It’s filled with a wealth of information and photos (including the one shown above of William Shatner jokingly dropping tribbles on David Gerrold’s head), and it even includes instructions on how to make your own Tribble. It’s required reading for TOS fans. Story Outline After receiving feedback about the premise from the production company (mainly from Producer Gene Coon), Gerrold wrote an outline entitled “A Fuzzy Thing Happened To Me…” that was turned in on June 17, 1967. At 35 pages, it was one of the longer outlines for a TOS episode, mainly because Gerrold included a substantial amount of dialogue – a lot of which survived to the broadcast version. This outline had all the major parts contained within the final episode with only a few major differences: Deep Space Station K7 was called Topsy and it was comprised of randomly joined modules The Enterprise was on its way to Topsy for a variety of reasons, including picking up the mail for the crew Sherman’s planet is named Barger’s planet Sulu accompanies Uhura to the space station, not Chekov, and he’s interested in the quadro-triticale because he’s a botanist Cyrano Jones is Cyrano Day Jaymin in the outline and he’s a planetary scout (locator) The Tribbles are called Fuzzies Cyrano, not a Tribble, is the one who reveals that Arne Darvin is a Klingon spy Scott's famous line “Where they’ll be no Tribble at all” is not present at the end First Draft Script Gerrold received comments and critiques on the outline from the production company and then went to work writing a first draft. Ultimately, one was completed on July 21, 1967. Overall, the first draft is quite close to what finally ended up in the shooting draft (the revised final draft) and on the screen except for: The teaser neither takes place in the briefing room nor contains Chekov and Spock’s “extremely little” joke. Rather, the teaser takes place on the bridge and involves a discussion of the disputed nature of Sherman’s planet Sulu has Chekov’s part in Act I Some proper names are different. For example, Korax compares Kirk to a Sirian Blood Worm instead of a Regulan Blood Worm Kirk asks Ensign Freeman, a part Gerrold wrote for himself, to have someone gather up the Tribbles on the Enterprise Cyrano Jones leaves deep space station K7 on his ship after Kirk finds the tribbles in the grain compartment. Kirk has to chase him down Lurry is the person who recognizes that the Tribbles that ate the grain in the warehouse are dying Scott's famous line “Where they’ll be no Tribble at all” is not present at the end. Instead, Kirk expresses his surprise at the Tribble solution and suggests that he might give Scott a raise for it. Above: Early versions of this episode didn’t exactly treat the Tribbles as you would a pet. For example, in the first draft, McCoy dissected one in sickbay to determine how their biology worked (in contrast to what he said he wouldn’t do in the final version) and Scott pulled a dead and smoking one from his engines after he tried to start them. Revised Final Draft Script and Shooting Since the first draft script for the episode was close to being shootable, the final changes dictated by the producers were relatively minor, so they were quick and easy to make. Thus, the revised final draft script was completed on August 1, 1967 (some minor revisions were made later, out to August 21) and principal photography was done from August 22 until August 29. The script was essentially shot as written, and most of it wound up in the broadcast version. (To see some material that was not included in the final episode, check out the Roddenberry Vault Blu-ray discs that were released in 2016 by CBS Home Entertainment and Roddenberry Entertainment.) Publicity Unlike many other episodes of TOS, there wasn’t much publicity for “The Trouble With Tribbles” when it was released. For whatever reason, Desilu and the NBC network didn’t hire still photographers to take pictures of the guest stars — either the Tribbles or the actors playing the guest roles — and they didn’t send out any significant advance publicity information. Advertising appears to have been limited to the simple storyline released to the media by Desilu’s public relations company. Above: The cover and page excerpt from the December 23, 1967 TV Guide – the Christmas issue—showing the original listing for “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Until next time! Biographical Information David Tilotta is a professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC and works in the areas of chemistry and sustainable materials technology. You can email David at david.tilotta@frontier.com. Curt McAloney is an accomplished graphic artist with extensive experience in multimedia, Internet and print design. He resides in a suburb of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and can be contacted at curt@curtsmedia.com. Together, Curt and David work on startrekhistory.com. Their Star Trek work has appeared in the Star Trek Magazine and Star Trek: The Original Series 365 by Paula M. Block with Terry J. Edrmann. View the full article
  2. “Friday’s Child," the 40th aired episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, concerned the Enterprise’s mission on Capella IV, a planet inhabited by nomadic tribes, to secure mining rights to an important mineral. That mission is greatly complicated, however, by two Kirk realizations: the Klingons also want the mineral rights and the pregnant widow of the murdered tribal High Leader with whom he started negotiating needs protecting. It’s hard to believe, but “Friday’s Child” was born on network television 50 years ago today. Here’s a brief look at some of the events that led to its gestation and birth. Conception “Friday’s Child” was written by story editor Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana. She penned it because she wanted to tell a story involving a strong female character who wasn’t necessarily interested in children. The episode's title comes from an old child’s nursery rhyme that can be traced back to at least 1838. Although there are several variations of this rhyme, Fontana’s episode outline, dated January 11, 1967, opens with the version from Harper’s Weekly magazine published in 1887: Monday's child is fair of face. Tuesday's child is full of grace. Wednesday's child is living and giving. Thursday's child works hard for a living. Friday's child is full of woe. Saturday's child has far to go. But the child that is born on the Sabbath day is grave and bonny and good and gay. Fontana, like all writers for TOS, pitched this episode to the producers via a story outline, and the 17-page document that she wrote was fundamentally the same as what was finalized and filmed. There were some notable differences, however, including: Scotty accompanied Kirk, McCoy and Spock to the planet Ceres in the outline. A redshirt (Lieutenant Grant, Bob Bralver) was not killed in the teaser; rather, two of High Leader Akaar’s (Ben Gage’s) personal bodyguards were. The Enterprise was kept busy shuttling emergency medical supplies from the planet Eridani to the planet Dierdre. The Klingons were not present in the outline. Maab (Michael Dante) sought Akaar’s tribe and power, so he and his men were the villains. Akaar was killed by Maab’s assassins. It was Scotty, rather than Spock, who rigged the communicator “sound bomb” in the rocky defile Scotty assisted McCoy in delivering Eleen’s (Julie Newmar’s) baby son. McCoy and Scotty carried Eleen and her baby on a litter, across the countryside, to hide with Eleen’s tribe. Kirk and Spock created a diversion for them by fighting Maab’s men, who were in pursuit. Kirk killed Maab by handing him a phaser on overload. Eleen named the baby “Leonard Montgomery Akaar” to show gratitude to McCoy and Scotty for helping with her son's delivery. Labor Principal photography for “Friday’s Child” was done from May 19 to May 29, 1967, under the direction of Joseph Pevney. Interior scenes were shot at Desilu Studios in Hollywood, while exteriors were filmed at the Vasquez Rocks Natural Park Area in California. One faux exterior scene that was not lensed at Vasquez was the sequence showing Kras the Klingon (Tige Andrews) attempting to convince Maab the Capellan to return his weapon. If you recall, this scene, scene 41 in the shooting script, played out at night, around a Capellan campfire, and it was filmed on the Desilu soundstage instead of at the Vasquez exterior location. The reason for this can be found in an April 20, 1967 production memo that associate producer Robert Justman wrote to producer Gene Coon: “It is extremely important that all the scenes around the encampment at the beginning of the show be set up and played on Stage 10. Otherwise we are in for several full nights of night-for-night exteriors, which we cannot afford at all.” The following four pictures, obtained from frames of production footage sold by Star Trek Enterprises back in the 1970s, show some aspects of how scene 41 was filmed. Above: This image is from footage of the unused master shot of the scene filmed on the Desilu soundstage. One way you can tell this was the master is that there’s no letter following the scene number (41) on the lower left of the clapperboard held by the second assistant cameraman. A master shot of a scene is usually filmed before any of the other shots and it keeps all the actors visible once they enter the view of the camera. This type of shot is also called an establishing shot because it establishes where we are and, sometimes, when we are. Above: This photo is from film that came from a “two-shot” – so named because it shows just two actors together - of Tige Andrews (left) and Michael Dante (right). In general, any letter following the scene number - “A” in this case - meant (and usually still means today) that the footage was acquired with the camera moved to a different position from the master shot. By the way, the number in the lower right of the clapperboard, 3 in this case, is the take number. Above: These two frames are from film that was shot as close-ups for scene 41. The close-up footage for Michael Dante was designated “B” on the clapperboard (left picture) and that for Tige Andrews was designated as “C” (right picture). Interestingly, when this scene was assembled for the aired version, only the two-shot and the close-up of Michael Dante was used. The Birth Announcement “Friday’s Child was first broadcast on December 1, 1967, and it was promoted in newspapers and other media starting on the preceding week. Above: Newspapers around the country made heavy use of the publicity photos furnished by the advertising company hired by Desilu (McFadden, Strauss, Eddy, and Irwin, MSEI). The captions these newspapers used for the photos, however, deviated significantly from what MSEI supplied. Here’s a sampling of ads, two from the December 1, 1967 Los Angeles Times (upper and lower left), one from the November 26, 1967 Seattle Times (upper right) and an additional caption used with the picture shown in the Seattle Times ad. And with that, we’re done. We hope you’ve enjoyed our nascent look back. Until next time. View the full article