Star Trek Format: The Original Star Trek Idea As Submitted To NBC by Gene Roddenberry

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Title: Star Trek Format: The Original Star Trek Idea As Submitted To NBC by Gene Roddenberry
Date(s): original publication date mid-1960s, in fanworks and other venues beginning in January 1968
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
External Links: The Original Star Trek Idea as Submitted to NBC
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Star Trek Format: The Original Star Trek Idea As Submitted To NBC by Gene Roddenberry was printed in an issue of ST-Phile in January 1968.

It was then sold as a pamphlet by Inside Star Trek and Lincoln Enterprises, beginning in October 1968 with the title "Star Trek Format, the Pamphlet that Sold Star Trek."

From Inside Star Trek #2: "STAR TREK FORMAT! Gene Roddenberry's original descriptions of the Star Trek world, its civilization, artifacts, and people Would you believe — Captain Robert April? Mr. Spock with a reddish complexion to go with his pointed ears? Written even before the first pilot film, it was this Format, when read by NBC, that sold Star Trek. Now available to the public for $1.00."

This pamphlet's info was later integrated into The Star Trek Guide (1967 official publication) and sold by Lincoln Enterprises for many years and was one of their most popular items.

Robert April (who Roddenberry had proposed to be the name of James T. Kirk) appeared as a character five years earlier in a teleplay by Roddenberry for the television Western show, "Paladin".[1]

Some Possible Episode Proposals

For example, some episodes will take place in space ...

"THE STRANGER". In one of the laboratories aboard the cruiser, a seem
ingly harmless specimen plant from the last planet landing. But actually
it is part of the life cycle of an alien intelligence, seeding itself on
to other life (in this case human crew members), with tiny probing ten
tacles slowly talking over the host's body and mind, spreading unnoticed
 from one crewman to another, until Captain April finds himself facing an unbelievable and seemingly hopeless mutiny.

Others on visits to far flung Earth colonies ...

"EMPEROR O'BRIEN",, The settlement on Arcturus IV, weakened by equipment
 failure, crop losses, and internal strife, has gone the way of "strong man rule". Robert April lands supplies only to find an old friend, Thad
 O'Brien, had seized power first to save the colony, then slowly became 
corrupted by it. Ruthlessly dominating the disorganized colonists, 
O'Brien now leads them on a "Holy War" enslavement of the planet's native
 creatures. Robert April finds himself facing the prejudice of both colo
nists and his crew in the dilemma of supporting humans who are wrong or
 fighting for the rights of strange, ugly aliens ...

On unexplored asteroids...

"TORX".. A landing party entirely wiped-out — or, at least, dead for all
 practical purposes since "something" has reduced them to helpless idiots.
 Landing with a rescue party, April, Spock and Boyce discover the existence
 of "Torx", which seems a being of pure thought and no body. It "devours" intelligence. Wandering through space for eons, near starvation, it has been frantically seeking the type of "food" which the Earth could supply in abundance.

There is action-adventure like something out of the Earth's dim past ...

"TYRANNOSAURUS". Seeking the remains of a space ship crash of a century ago, April and Jose discover primitive human creatures in this primeval world. Are they descendents of the space crew, or are they natives? Unable to communicate by any other means, April and Jose are forced to descend to club and fang in order to save their own skins.

And strangeness out of the Earth's possible future ...

"REASON". The planet has obviously once seen the holocaust of atomic war. But under the surface is discovered an advanced civilization almost identical to Earth people's,' yet with a strangeness the Yorktown recon party is unable to identify. April and the others are made welcome, treated well, given unquestioning cooperation on every request until ship's doctor "Bones" Boyce, attracted by the cool logic of one of the hosts, makes a small joke. Trying to explain "humor", he slowly and chillingly becomes aware these are all robots who had accepted the Yorktown party as fellow robots who would share their revulsion for illogical flesh and blood creatures like the ones who had almost destroyed the planet. The crewmen are captured, scheduled for unemotional extermination, and begin a battle of human reason and wit against the frightening, computer-like intelligence of their captors.

Plus, savage parallels...

"KONGO" By every measurement and indication from The Yorktown's orbit, the planet below has an 1800 A.D. level civilization, worth a brief study, but with no special dangers inherent. On landing, they find "West African" type terrain with evidence of fairly primitive "Plantation"-type agricultural society. Except there is a small mistake in dominant-race identification. The land owners here are black, the slaves (shipped in from foreign ports) are white. Thrown off-guard by their mistaken assumption of white supremacy, April and Yeoman Colt, with the rest of the small recon party, are picked up as "runaways", auctioned off as field and household hands.

And even romance ...

""THE RADIANT ONE". Guest star vehicle for an aging "Charles Boyer" crewman. Something of a nonentity among his fellows, a failure all his life, aging George Ely seems to have gone insane when he falls hopelessly in love with one of the squat, web-footed, monstrously ugly females of an Ogton Group planet. Worse, these creatures have deadly alkaloid glands under the needle claws of their "hands". Attempting to save his crewman's life and sanity, the skipper finds himself betrayed by the desperate George Ely. April seems to be facing poison death from the squat, ugly "female", only to discover in the end the claw injection can also be a narcosis which lets "beauty" become what the Creator intended it to be — qualities of unselfish love. In George Ely's eyes (and in April's too) as he leaves the old man behind on the planet), the female has become a radiantly beautiful, angelic creature in a Garden of Eden.

The Original Character Proposals

Robert April. The "skipper", about thirty-four, Acardemy graduate, rank of captain. Clearly the leading man and central character. This role, built about 
an unusual combination of colorful strengths and flaws, is designated for an actor of top repute and ability, A shorthand sketch of Robert April might be "A space-age Captain Horatio Hornblower," constantly on trial with himself, lean and capable both mentally and physically. Captain April will be the focus of many stories — in still others he may lead us into the introduction of a guest star around whom that episode centers. A strong, complex personality, he is capable of action and decision which can verge on the heroic — and at the same time live a continual battle with the self-doubt and the loneliness of command. As with such men in the past (Drake, Cook, Bougainville and Scott), April's primary weakness is a predilection to action over administration, a temptation to take the greatest risks onto himself. But, unlike most early explorers, he has an almost compulsive compassion for the rights and plights of others, alien as well as human.

The Executive Officer. Never referred to as anything but "Number One", this offi
cer is female. Almost mysteriously female, in fact slim and dark in aNile Valley way, age uncertain, one of those women who will always look the same be
tween years twenty to fifty. An extraordinarily efficient space officer, "Number
 One" enjoys playing it expressionless, cool is probably Robert April's super
ior in detailed knowledge of the equipment, departments and personnel aboard the
vessel. When Captain April leaves the craft, "Number One" moves up to Acting Commander.

The Navigator. Jose (Joe) Tyler, Boston astronomer father and Brazilian mother, is boyishly handsome, still very much in the process of maturing. An unusual combination, he has inherited his father's mathematical ability. Jose Tyler is, in fact, a phenomenally brilliant mathematician and space theorist. But he has also inherited his mother's Latin temperament, fights a perpetual and highly-personalized battle with his instruments and calculators, suspecting that space, and probably God too, are engaged in a giant conspiracy to make his professional and personal life as difficult and uncomfortable as possible. Joe (or Jose, depending on the other party) is young enough to be painfally aware of the historical repute of Latins as lovers — and is in danger of failing this challenge on a cosmic scale.

Ship's Doctor. Phillip Boyce, M.D., is a highly unlikely space traveler. Well into his fifties, he's wordly, humorously cynical, makes it a point to thoroughly enjoy his own weaknesses. He's also engaged in a perpetual battle of ideas and ideals with Jose. Captain April's only real confidant, "Bones" Boyce considers himself the only realist aboard, measures each new landing in terms of the annoyances it will personally create for him.

The First Lieutenant. The Captain's right-hand man, the working level commander of all the ship's functions — ranging from manning the bridge to supervising the lowliest scrub detail. His name is "Mr. Spock". And the first view of him can be almost frightening — a face so heavy-lidded and satanic you might almost expect him to have a forked tail. Probably half Martian, he has a slightly reddish complexion and semi-pointed ears. But strangely — Mr. Spock's quiet temperament is in dramatic contrast to his satanic look. Of all the crew aboard, he is the nearest to Captain April's equal, physically, emotionally, and as a commander of men. His primary weakness is an almost cat-like curiosity over anything the slightest "alien".

The Captain's Yeoman. Except for problems in naval parlance, J.M. Colt would be called a yeo-woman. With a strip-queen figure even a uniform cannot hide, 'Colt' serves as Captain's secretary, reporter, bookkeeper —- and with surprising efficiency. She undoubtedly dreams of serving Robert April with equal efficiency in more personal departments. [2]


  1. ^ "I was watching a rerun of the western "Paladin" about a year ago that turned out to be rather I interesting. The title was "The Quality of Mercy." It concerned an old friend of Paladin's who was a chaplain in a prison. He was pursuing an escaped prisoner high up into the mountains in winter, and Paladin went to try to find them. The chaplain was a very charasmatic individual who was certain that he could persuade the prisoner to return peacefully, in spite of Paladin's warnings and every indication to the contrary. The episode had an eerie familiarity to it. The chaplain's name was Robert April, and the credits at the end said the teleplay was by Gene Roddenberry." -- from a fan in K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) 18 (spring 1986)
  2. ^ Well, you wouldn't want to waste a good strip queen reference twenty years later! Here's the original proposal for Star Trek: TNG's Beverly Crusher: "If it were not for her intelligence, personality, and beauty, and the fact that she has the natural walk of a striptease queen, Capt Picard might not have agreed to her request that Wesley observe bridge activities, therefore letting her son's intelligence carry events further." -- from the March 1987 issue of Comlink