Stardate 1312.4. The crew of the Enterprise comes into contact with the recorder of a 200-year-old spaceship. According to data found inside the artifact, the old ship auto-destroyed itself after encountering a mysterious magnetic storm. Captain Kirk (William Shatner) is determined to find out exactly what happened to the ship.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“Morals are for men, not gods.”
Although officially recognized as the show’s third episode, this is really the program’s second pilot. Directed by James Goldstone (Rollercoaster) from a teleplay by novelist Samuel A. Peeples, Where No Man Has Gone Before is also the episode that convinced studio executives of the viability of creator Gene Roddenberry’s project.
After the first pilot (the unaired The Cage) was rejected for being “too cerebral,” Roddenberry took the criticism to heart and gave the network what they wanted: action and adventure. “It was the episode’s last fist-fight that really sold the series,” Roddenberry later said. That may be true, but the show also deals with serious issues — the episode explores the idea that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Where No Man Has Gone Before 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. William Shatner’s Captain Kirk is pretty much the Kirk we love, but Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock is a work in progress — Spock is overly emotional and keeps yelling at people for no apparent reason.
The ship’s doctor is Dr. Piper, played by Paul Fix (El Dorado). He was, of course, replaced by Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley). This was the episode that introduced Lt. Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, played by James Doohan. Interestingly, Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (George Takei) is the ship’s physicist, not a helmsman.
Gary Lockwood (2001: A Space Odyssey) gives a terrific performance as Kirk’s old friend who turns into a deadly foe after acquiring unlimited powers. Sally Kellerman (M*A*S*H) also provides strong support as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, an expert on ESP who helps the crew fight the “Evil Lockwood.” The episode was beautifully shot by celebrated cameraman Ernest Haller (Jezebel and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?).
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Wrinkles and all, Where No Man Has Gone Before really sets the tone for the series. It isn’t nearly as good as the original pilot — the unused pilot The Cage had better production values — but it is an entertaining, suspenseful episode. And it was fun seeing actor Gary Lockwood on a sci-fi show right before he made Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 space saga 2001: A Space Odyssey. P.S. There is an alternative version of the episode — it’s part of the new Blu-ray set (R1). Color, 50 minutes, Not Rated.