Simon & Schuster Books takes me back to the early to mid-70s when I was a child and had just discovered the wonder of what was Star Trek: The Original Series in reruns. While I was meeting Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest for the first time, Paramount and the creative minds behind the scenes, were trying to find a way to bring Trek back to the small screen (before the transition began to make a feature film).
Everyone knows that story now. But do you know how far along the development of the lost series, known as Phase II progressed? Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens gives us an indepth look behind the scenes at what happened, how things changed, and most importantly, a look at some of the designs and stories that never made it to the screen.
A hefty reference-sized tome, the book takes us through the pre-production and casting of the new series, the idea that Nimoy wouldn’t be back to reprise Spock as a regular was taken for granted (though a recurring guest spot was planned for), and new characters were added to the roster.
To steal a comment, it’s a fascinating look at what could have been, and one wonders if Trek would have died there and then had the series progressed instead of becoming a series of films. You can see not only germs of what would become The Motion Picture but things that would be carried over into The Next Generation.
Despite its size, the book is a fast read, the glimpses of stories that might have been are intriguing, and the images, designs, and sketches give us a look at what could have been. It would have been interesting to see if the supporting characters were given more to do in the series if it had progressed (something that definitely came into play for Next Gen) or if they would have stayed focused on the iconic trio, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.
The well-researched joyfully and humorously retells the story of what might have been. And while as a child I would have welcomed all kinds of new Trek (even as I was working my way through the original episodes when I could) I am glad that it became a film series before launching all that was to follow.
The book has been out of print for a while so if you can find one at an affordable price (or can source one from your local library) it’s well worth reading. Meanwhile, Simon & Schuster have tons of other Trek books to keep you sated and enjoying the Human Adventure!
Maybe someone could write a series of novels using the Phase II setting… hey Paramount, CBS, Simon & Schuster, give me a call! I’d love to tackle that one.