The second pilot for Star Trek, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was, and this isn’t any exaggeration, an extraordinary event, especially with the amount of money already spent on “The Cage.” NBC had invested $450,000 in the first pilot (Desilu threw an extra $164,000 to cover cost overruns) and was willing to pony up an extra $300,000 to get a second pilot made because they believed in the core concept of Star Trek so strongly. There was, however, a caveat: if NBC was going to end up spending $750,000 ($5,400,060 in today’s dollars) on a TV show that might not even air, major changes were going to have to happen, across the board.
Roddenberry took it in stride and immediately started making alterations that would bring Star Trek that much closer to the show we now know. The first thing to do was, quite naturally, come up with a story to tell that would work well as an expression of the new direction. Roddenberry and his writing team put together three screenplays — “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” “Mudd’s Women” and “The Omega Glory” — and presented them to NBC executives. As you can probably figure out, Sam Peeple’s “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was the one they went with, as it offered a nice balance of interpersonal drama, sci-fi whizbangs and action.
(It’s perhaps fitting that Peeple’s script was picked. Roddenberry had sold NBC on the series as a western in space and Peeples had written a number of popular western novels under the nom de plume Brad Ward.)
As fans, we should be thankful than neither “Mudd’s Women” or “The Omega Glory” were selected. With the exception of Roger Carmel’s amazing performance, “Mudd’s Women” is singularly embarrassing as a piece of Star Trek. It’s sexist, demeaning and, worst of all, pretty dull. “The Omega Glory” was, of course, finally produced for the show’s second season and is easily one in the bottom quarter of the episodes that made it to air in Trek's prime.
I’ve previously written of the difficulty casting the captain of the Enterprise but most of the legwork had been done by the production team the first go-round, which meant a much smaller field of players was considered. Desilu’s production head, Herb Solow, and casting director Joseph D’Agosta sat down with the original 40-player list and winnowed their choices down over the course of a long workday. Their first pick? Jack Lord.
At the time, Lord was known primarily for his supporting role as Felix Leiter in the James Bond film Dr. No and Roddenberry felt that he embodied the chisel-jawed, all-American look that NBC (and audiences) would go for and offered him the job. Lord’s response? He’d take it for a production credit and a 50% profit participation in the program on top of top billing.
The production team moved on; Jack Lord took the role of Steve McGarrett in 1968 and filmed 279 episodes of Hawaii Five-0.
William Shatner’s name came up soon after as someone with a resumé that closely resembled Lord’s. He’d appeared in over 45 different TV programs and was eager to get moving again after the mid-season cancellation of the legal drama For The People. Shatner’s agent negotiated hard and got him a pretty sweet deal for a television actor in the 1960s: $5,000 a week and 20% of that salary for each of the first five airings of an episode’s reruns.
NBC liked the casting because Shatner had an undeniable charm and had proven that could do dramatic, comedic and action with equal aplomb. Now they just needed a name to match the man sitting in the center seat.
While the original “Star Trek Is…” memo featured the name Captain April, Roddenberry had also considered the names Winter and Gulliver (as a tribute to Jonathan Swift’s famous satire) before going with Pike for “The Cage.” Wanting a clean break from the first pilot (and perhaps sensing that he’d need to reuse that footage fairly quickly to get in the good graces of Desilu and NBC’s accountants,) Roddenberry sent a list of fifteen new names to the Desilu research department to seek out legal clearance.
Those names (which are featured on a memo reproduced in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story) included: January, Drake, Flagg, Thorpe, Christopher, Hannibal, Richard, Raintree, Boone, Patrick, Hamilton, Hudson, Timber, Neville and, at the end…Kirk.