Captain Kirk and his crew soon discover their advanced technology is due to cultural interference by a Federation scientist called Bayne. Bayne was to be played by the iconic and notorious Milton Berle.
- Milton Berle was set to star in the original Star Trek series episode “He Walked Among Us.”
- Because Berle was known for comedy, Gene Roddenberry wanted to make it a comedy.
- Norman Spinrad, who wrote the script, intended it as a drama and fought to keep the script from being filmed.
Norman Spinrad thought the script he wrote in 1967 called “He Walked Among Us” had been lost to time until it showed up with an autograph-seeking fan at a convention. The fan scanned the faded script and emailed it to Spinrad, who has published it as an e-book.
Captain Kirk Versus Milton Berle
The script had the Enterprise encountering a primitive race called the Jugali, who used technology that should have been well beyond their ability to develop. Captain Kirk and his crew soon discover their advanced technology is due to cultural interference by a Federation scientist called Bayne. Bayne was to be played by the iconic and notorious Milton Berle.
Bayne had good intentions, but as things often do in science fiction, those good intentions result in unintended consequences. Because of his interference, the Jugali begin worshipping Bayne as a god. Captain Kirk’s job is to get him out of there without further damaging the Jugali.
The whole Bayne is a god mess would have ended up being comedic, had the script made it on screen. But that’s not what the script’s writer, Conrad Spinrad intended. So he set out to sabotage his own episode of Star Trek.
How Conrad Spinrad Killed His Own Star Trek Script
By Spinrad’s own account, the screenplay was a victim of a sometimes terrible but integral part of big- and small-screen productions: the rewrite. Roddenberry originally commissioned a dramatic script from Spinrad that would feature Milton Berle (and an “overgrown backlot village set” Roddenberry was apparently fond of). Berle — who was commonly referred to as “Mr. Television” — was arguably the biggest television star in the medium’s history and was mostly known for comedy.
The Star Trek line producer wasn’t aware that Berle could also do drama, though, and rewrote Spinrad’s script into “an unfunny comedy.” Spinrad was so disgusted and ashamed of the rewrite that he campaigned against its production: “This is so lousy, Gene [Roddenberry], that you should kill it!” I told him. “You can’t, you shouldn’t shoot this thing! Read it and weep!”
His pleas paid off, and the script was never filmed — but that also meant he never received any of the residuals that would have gone along with a produced syndicated episode. Eventually, Spinard made at least a little money off his work by publishing the script for fans to read.