Common Star Trek lore says creator Gene Roddenberry stepped back big time from the third season of the original “Star Trek” series, which produced an infamous style that many fans would rather forget.
But Roddenberry wasn’t totally separated from the show, and still was hoping for further development of his characters like Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and outlined major areas of improvements for each of the characters in a 1968 memo unearthed by Mission Log Podcast.
Mission Log Podcast is owned by Roddenberry Entertainment, a partner in 1701News.
One of the issues fans seemed to have with Kirk after the first two seasons is that he was a little too “jolly.”
“The trick is something akin to making Capt. Kirk seem at times a bastard, but keeping the audience in on the fact that he is really a good guy with a tough job which requires a certain amount of command ‘play acting,'” Roddenberry wrote. “He knows that all eyes are on him constantly.”
That means being the strong captain in public, but then showing his human side in the more private cabin scenes. It also meant stronger interaction with Spock, who Roddenberry credited Leonard Nimoy among others in helping to really develop the character over the first two seasons of the show.
“In the beginning of ‘Star Trek’ episodes, Mr. Spock was a fellow who occasionally said ‘illogical,’ and that was about it,” Roddenberry said. “We all worked very hard to build him into a fully dimensional characters … But we should keep in mind that he is difficult to write properly. And our writers, like all others, do have that unfortunate tendency to avoid the difficult.”
Roddenberry wanted writers to reinforce the fact that Spock is not only the science officer on board the Enterprise, but also the second-in-command. And he should also be something more than a character that speaks only when spoken to.
“Spock’s role should go far beyond merely providing a captain with information upon request,” Roddenberry said. “In our best scripts, he has volunteered information, had opinions, pressured the captain, argues with him … and there is certainly no rule on ‘Star Trek’ that Spock cannot occasionally be proved right and Kirk wrong.”
And those debates would not be limited to just Kirk, but to McCoy as well.
“The single most numerous and most consistent complaint from fans of all age groups and levels has been the fact that Spock and McCoy no longer ‘battle’ as they once did,” Roddenberry said. “Again, no one dropped the idea, no one is at fault. We simply didn’t realize how well it worked and how much the fans loved the bickering between our Arrowsmith and our Alien. No one believes for a moment that they do not secretly like each other, but let them show it, and we invariably are deluged with irritated fan responses.”
Roddenberry was also interested in expanding the characters of Scotty, Uhura and Sulu as well, playing to the strengths of those actors.
“Jimmy Doohan is capable of handling anything we throw at him,” Roddenberry said. “And the more protective of his engines and his prerogatives as chief engineer, the better the character seems to work. Nichelle Nichols and George Takei deserve more attention this year, too. Let’s develop them further as multi-dimensional individuals.”
Although the writers of the Original Series would not get too much of a chance to implement Roddenberry’s guidelines, those would be the baselines used for the characters in the later movies.
To read the actual memo, visit Mission Log Podcast by clicking here.