Stardate 1312.4. The crew of the Enterprise comes in contact with the recorder of a 200-year-old spaceship. The newly discovered artifact is inspected and it’s determined that the ship auto-destroyed itself after encountering a mysterious magnetic storm. Captain Kirk is resolved to find out what exactly happened to the ship.
Reaction & Thoughts:
Where No Man Has Gone Before, written by producer Gene Roddenberry, and directed by James Goldstone (When Time Ran Out), is really the second pilot. It’s also the episode that convinced studio executives of the viability of Roddenberry’s baby.
After the first pilot (The Cage) was rejected for being “too cerebral,” Roddenberry took the criticism to heart and gave NBC what they wanted — action and adventure, and more action and adventure. “It was the episode’s last fist fight what really sold the series,” Roddenberry later said. That may be true, but there is more than kick-butt action here. Roddenberry managed to squeeze in his philosophical mantra swiftly and effectively. The episode explores the idea of “absolute power corrupts absolutely” in an entertaining way.
The episode was filmed a full year before the series went into production and it’s obvious that Roddenberry was still working out some of its cranks. It’s all slowly falling into place, but it isn’t quite there yet.
Although Kirk is pretty much the Kirk we love, Spock is still a work in progress. He is a bit inconsistent throughout the episode. Spock is overly emotional and keeps yelling at people for no apparent reason. The Enterprise’s doctor is Mark Piper (Paul Fix, El Dorado). He was, or course, replaced by Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley). This is the episode that introduces Scotty and Sulu (he plays the ship’s physicist, not a helmsman) played by James Doohan and George Takei respectively.
Gary Lockwood (2001: A Space Odyssey) gives a terrific performance as Kirk’s friend who turns into deadly adversary. Sally Kellerman (M*A*S*H) also gives strong support as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner. The episode was beautifully shot by Oscar-winning cameraman Ernest Haller (Gone with the Wind).
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Wrinkles and all, Where No Man Has Gone Before really sets the tone for the series. P.S. There is an alternative version of the episode — it is part of the new Blu-ray set (R1). Color, 50 minutes, Not Rated.