Review by C.J. Bunce
It only takes a few pages of David Tilotta and Curt McAloney’s new book Star Trek: Lost Scenes to realize this fantastic new book is like discovering the Lost Ark of Star Trek fandom. Beginning with a spirited foreword by Doug Drexler (life-long Star Trek fan and later multi-award winning creator of later Star Trek series), who provides personal context for the book, it is like no other Star Trek book published in the five decades since the original series wrapped. As the annual Star Trek convention gets under way in Las Vegas, thanks to Titan Books we at borg.com are providing this first look and review of what is sure to be the biggest hit for fans of the original Star Trek series this year. For early Star Trek fans who collected original film clips (also called cels) from Gene Roddenberry’s personal Lincoln Enterprises company after the series first aired, this book will be viewed as a gold mine they only dreamed about–an almost archaeological recreation of the lost past. For fans that have longed for anything truly new from the 1960s series, this is what you have asked for, as it includes images never before published of deleted scenes from 36 episodes, plus never before published angles of actors, sets, costumes, and props from the series. For fans of Hollywood television history, carefully assembled rare images take readers onto the studio stages, backlots, and on-location sets, providing a detailed explanation of how the production shot the actual visual effects and used the technology of the day to create a vision of the future that continues to inspire generations 50 years later.
As explained in Star Trek: Lost Scenes, “Everything that went before the cameras during the production of Star Trek: The Original Series, both intentionally and unintentionally, can be seen in the film frames.” In the late 1960s fans wanted any souvenir they could get from Star Trek. Thanks to Gene Roddenberry and his wife Majel Barrett Roddenberry, a legion of fans could purchase the actual film from the TV show in the form of film clips. You’ve no doubt heard of the concept of footage shot in TV and movies that “hits the cutting room floor”–parts of film roll footage, called “dailies” or “rushes” that were filmed and then printed in color for viewing the next day by production staff, taken either from bad takes or alternate takes attempted but not preferred by the director, or maybe footage shot that was intentionally deleted from the show for time constraints or editorial decisions, and unused for any number of reasons. Where every other production threw away these trimmed film roles and segments of footage, show creator Roddenberry was savvy–he collected them and took them home to sell in his side business. From 1968 through about 1990, Roddenberry’s company sold fans these film clips by the millions, most images containing a single frame from episodes that were seen in the final cuts of the episodes (initially at eight clips for $1). Because of the nature of the film stock used, most of these film clips are faded, and many simply have been lost to time. But some collectors over the years, including the books’ authors, chose to focus on collecting and preserving those most rare and obscure images that went beyond the scenes everyone knows so well. Those otherwise “lost” images are what readers will find collected in this book, and they’ve been methodically restored to reveal their original quality and colors for the first time.
The authors match collected film clips to the actual text pulled from the production scripts that was edited out of the final cut of 36 episodes, re-creating scenes that almost made it into production but didn’t (like more Vina and Captain Pike from “The Cage,” more Romulan footage from “Balance of Terror,” more Khan footage from “Space Seed,” new views of the Mugato from “Private Little War,” more Gorn from “Arena,” and much more footage of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, and the rest of the Enterprise crew). For aficionados of television history, the film clips and the authors’ commentary provides a film school study guide on Star Trek’s optical effects, demonstrating the use of filming miniatures (models of iconic ships, space stations, planets, and other models), blue screen photography, matte paintings, split-screen effects (as used to see two Kirks in a single frame), superimpositions, animation-based effects, dissolves, cloud tanks, and combinations of these (like phaser beams and the transporter effect), plus make-up, costume, and stunt effects. Fans of bloopers will enjoy pages devoted to outtakes and production gaffes, plus a section delves into information that tells even more surprising stories from the production via clapper boards and the most obscure details in frames discovered by the authors after years of study.
For those who have examined the Roddenberry Vault Blu-ray sets, note that Star Trek: Lost Scenes uses a completely different set of source materials for its full-color photographs–the Vault was sourced from reels provided by Roddenberry’s son left in Roddenberry’s estate whereas these images are from the authors’ collections and research. Likewise, other images from Lincoln Enterprises film were used to supplement chapters in Marc Cushman’s historical account of the series These Are The Voyages (reviewed here at borg.com), but in that book they were printed only in black and white.
Although these new visuals coupled with deleted material from the scripts do not amount to Star Trek “canon,” the extended scenes could provide inspiration for new stories in the vast tie-in works created for Star Trek. For cosplayers and costume historians some of costume designer William Ware Theiss’s costumes get new angles to investigate, especially with aliens of the week and other guest star costumes. Prop collectors may also find some images with new views of iconic props and set decoration never seen in this way before. Film students outside of Star Trek fandom will find a new resource for visual effects processes from the 1960s–many production techniques that are still used today. And if you are one of the thousands that carefully collected and catalogued your own set of film clips you bought via mail order from Lincoln Enterprises over the years, get ready for some fun.
A great surprise that delivers all that fans could hope for, this book is the result of some serious, scholarly work on the part of the authors, full of great film research and analysis. In a metallic oversized hardcover edition with 272 pages of content, Star Trek: Lost Scenes is the next required reading for Star Trek fans. Pre-order your copy now here at Amazon.