written by D. C. Fontana
Story by Gene Roddenberry
FINAL DRAFT, dated July 5, 1966
report & analysis by David Eversole
This episode started out as a brief premise
in Gene Roddenberry's original Star Trek series pitch to network television, then entitled
"The Day Charlie Became God."
D. C. Fontana was chosen to write the teleplay from Roddenberry's story--she originally entitled it "Charlie's Law" (explanation given later in the review), a superior title to the one ultimately used.
There are numerous dialogue tweaks throughout the script--most are minor (the changing of passive sentences to declarative ones, something that is noticeable in a large majority of the teleplays I've read). The action is condensed and focused in the aired version and many small scenes were omitted.
We will examine the script act-by-act.
Fontana called for the Antares to
be shown, dwarfed by the Enterprise.
McCoy's examination of Charlie is much longer. In the aired version, we first see Charlie on the diagnostic bed, pumping the cardiovascular exercise blocks (gotta call them something!). In the script, McCoy first examines him
sitting down on the bed with a tricorder, then explains in detail to Charlie how to use the exercise blocks, etc. Most of this is really not needed, serves no purpose dramatically. Best to cut to the exercise.
A good portion of their dialogue is cut. McCoy questions him for a page and a half about how he survived, how he found food. In the aired version, this is cut to only a line or so.
Here is how the scene ended in Fontana's script. McCoy mentions that most seventeen-year-olds want people to like them:
(with the thought...
I never thought about that... that
there are other seventeen-year-old
(as he moves
out the door)
Thousands and thousands.
INT. CORRIDOR - MED. SHOT
ON Charlie and McCoy as they come into the corridor from McCoy's office...hold there.
And every one of them is going
through a time of their lives that
I wouldn't go through again for
anything... but... you do get
through it... and you come out
better for it. I can't prove it...
You'll just have to take my word.
But... I don't know what to say...
sometimes I... on the Antares... I
don't know what I'm supposed to
do... then people get angry... I
When you don't know what to say,
Charlie, say nothing at all...
smile and keep your mouth shut.
It'll save you a lot of trouble.
Shut up and smile. It works wonders.
Then throughout the following scenes as
Charlie wanders the corridors meeting and watching Enterprise crewmen, Fontana calls for
him to imitate McCoy's little half smile exactly.
There are a number of line tweaking and rearranging in the conversation among Kirk, Spock and McCoy when they next discuss Charlie on the bridge. At one point Spock mentions the legend of Romulus and Remus.
Here is some more from the script:
Kirk turns back to McCoy.
The boy check out all right medically.
And he didn't say anything about
Said there aren't any. Mr. Spock
disagrees with him... and I
disagree with Mr. Spock.
Charlie's very existence proves
there must, in fact, be some
intelligent life form on Thasus.
On his own he could not possibly
The boy was three... he could
have managed to get along.
Captain, probes of Thasus have
discovered no edible plant life.
Charlie claims to have found
things to eat. There are none.
Probes have been known to overlook things.
Not a detail of that kind.
Well, Mr. Spock, my opinion is
that Charlie is a seventeen-year-
old adolescent with two left feet
and no frame of reference... no
environment behind him to help
or hinder... whichever environment
does... a very lucky boy to
be alive but that's all.
And, as I said, we'll leave his emotional
orientation to you, Doctor McCoy.
I'll give odds you end up the
father figure, Jim.
I'll depend on your astute
abilities to see that I don't.
(starts for his chair)
What would I do with a
Hopefully, teach him not to make
the same mistakes you made. That's
the traditional parental position.
Shall I schedule you to give him voodoo
and superstition lessons, Doctor?
You can if he provides his own
chicken's teeth and penguin feathers.
I'll see to it, Doctor.
McCoy nods... goes.
Fontana does not specify any of Charlie's
card tricks in the rec room scene. She simply states that he performs a variety of amazing
sleight-of-hand card tricks, amusing all onlookers. The tricks with the cards suddenly
photos of Janice and the disappearing Ace of Clubs suddenly reappearing in her blouse were devised at some point between this draft and the shooting of the scene.
After Janice tells Kirk on the bridge that
sooner or later she'll have to hurt Charlie's feelings, in the aired version we cut to
Kirk having a man-to-man with Charlie in Kirk's quarters.
In Fontana's Final Draft, McCoy and Kirk talk before Charlie enters.
INT. KIRK'S QUARTERS - CLOSE ANGLE
On McCoy... grinning from ear to ear. CAMERA PULLS BACK to include Kirk who is seated with a look of frustrated "I'm about to undertake a chore that is all mess and no pleasure"... which pleases McCoy no end... Kirk is examining the melted chess pieces which sit on the desk top... half examining them...
These are Antarian metal chess
pieces. They can't be melted.
Any subject is better than
discussing the boy, right, Jim?
Biological change is your
The boy relates to you not me
I haven't the time... I haven't
any children... no experience.
I would gladly give up a year's
pay just to sit quietly in the
background and hear your talk with
young Charlie, James.
You're not being much help.
Really? I thought I was giving
you all kinds of moral support.
This is really a medical problem...
Not in this case, Captain. It is
a matter of ship's discipline...
and it's all yours.
And, with that, McCoy moves to the door. McCoy turns back as the door slides open.
I'll leave before your son gets
here, old dad.
And, with a broad grin, he EXITS.
Hoist... knows it... can see the humor in it... also the misery in it... then
there is a soft BUZZ...
The scene this picks up with what aired as
Charlie comes in, and Kirk questions him about the chess pieces, etc.
I'm very sorry that we lost that scene. With Shatner's and Kelley's finely timed deliveries it would have been priceless. And Kirk has no children... hmmm.
Per the script, Act Two ends the moment Charlie yells "Don't laugh at me," and causes Sam to vanish.
In the aired episode, a couple pages of the script's Act Three are incorporated into Act Two, and the act doesn't end until Kirk threatens to carry Charlie out.
I feel that the aired version is stronger. In the script, Act Two ends on a shocking note. That's fine, but I prefer the aired version where the battle of wills escalates between Kirk and Charlie, and Charlie backs down. Give me good old fashioned human drama over shocking disappearances to end my acts any day.
The briefing room scene consisting of Kirk,
Spock and McCoy that occurs immediately after the scene in the ship's gymnasium is a bit
longer and some of the dialogue has been truncated for the aired episode.
The script calls for Rand to initially be present, pouring coffee for Kirk and McCoy.
After Kirk declares that they can't possibly allow Charlie to be taken to Colony Five, we have this, some of which made it into the aired episode, some of which did not:
Kirk rises, moves away from the table, head down in thought. As he turns back to face them:
First... to stay in existence,
we'll have to make sure we don't
"annoy" Charlie... at least for
the time being... until we find
some way to contain him.
Annoyance is relative, Captain.
It's all going to depend upon how
Charlie is feeling minute to minute.
(shakes his head slowly)
Not a boy, Captain...
a destructive weapon.
He's not a weapon... he has a
weapon! I talked with him...
listened to him... he's a boy...
a child in a man's body, trying
to be a whole man with the
innocence in him getting in the way...
And with a weapon in him that
could destroy you, or anyone on
this ship... anywhere!
Well, for the moment, he's stopped.
You're an authority he respects.
Charlie then enters and the scene is pretty close until Charlie exits.
And what about us, Charlie?
I don't know...
Then Charlie turns and goes... no reason... no impetus... just goes... the guard follows.
The doors close... a long silence, then:
I've got sick call to handle.
I can have my nurse...
No... go on, Bones. We've got
to get back to the bridge.
Anything could set him off...
a joke... a look.
We can't let him wipe out another
You could warn the crew.
If they heard me, he'd hear it
too and our only hold over him
would be gone. He'd know just
how much muscle he has and that
would turn this into a hell ship.
(moves for the door)
Isn't that what we've got now?
They start for the door.
INT. BRIDGE - ANGLE ON ELEVATOR
Doors snap open, Kirk and Spock emerge, head for their stations. Hold to finish their talk.
(the thousand and
Do you think a force field will
It's worth a try... but I doubt
if he would let himself be lured
into a detention cell. There is
a possibility... his quarters are
on deck five... we could rig a
force field at his room door...
All the lab circuitry runs through
the main corridor on deck five...
we could use that. If we can
manage it, we could have the
field activated when he was inside...
his door would look the same...
How long will the work take?
Seventy-two hours minimum.
(moves to his chair)
It's going to be a long
seventy-two hours, Mr. Spock.
Get on it.
(moves to his station)
The script then agrees with what was aired until Charlie enters. In the script, Spock does not recite "Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright," instead he says:
(battles a blinding impulse)
Yes, sir, I... Twi... Twiddle...yes, dum...
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle:
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle...
After Spock recites the "Saturn's rings" verse, he continues with:
Have you heard of the wonderful one-horse shay
That was built in such a logical way...
In the aired version after Charlie whirls
and leaves the bridge, Spock tells Kirk that Charlie will soon reach a point where he
won't back down. Kirk replies that he knows. Next we see Charlie stalk through the
corridors and meet with Tina Lawson, the young pretty crewmember Janice tried to
hook him up with.
In the script, after Charlie whirls and leaves, we have this scene separating the two aired bits:
TWO SHOT - SPOCK AND KIRK
Kirk crosses quickly to the shaken Spock.
Are you all right?
(deep breath, nods)
I thought... I was going to do
"Wynken, Blynken, and Nod" next...
Kirk slaps Spock's shoulder encouragingly, swings around toward his Navigator.
Any change in your instruments?
No, sir. Locked on course.
How long can you keep
backing him down, Jim?
I have to keep trying.
The rest of Act Three is written as aired.
The act begins, as aired, in Janice's quarters,
following up on the climax of Act Three. But in a bit of dialogue, Janice explains
"Charlie's Law," which was the title of the episode up close unto airing, but
was changed... for the
worse, I think.
But I only want to be nice to
you. You... ask for something...
you can have it, whatever it is.
That's a switch on Charlie's law.
What do you mean?
(Janice has activated her intercom, and we cut to the bridge, and Kirk and Spock hear the rest.)
Tell me what you meant by that!
Charlie's law... everybody better
be nice to Charlie, or else.
The script was shot without further changes
of significance until after Charlie has locked the Enterprise on course for Colony Five,
and exited the bridge, ridden the turbolift, exited into a corridor and pushed his way
As Charlie comes to a turn... finds himself confronting a female crewman... and Charlie's power forces her to her knees... freezes her.
(at the helpless woman)
You don't look like she did!
And he bolts... runs...
ANOTHER ANGLE (PANNING SHOT)
As Charlie runs... as hard as he can run... going nowhere... appears around the bend of the corridor... runs past CAMERA... disappears around the bend in the corridor (EXITS).
INT. BRIDGE - CLOSE ON KIRK
in mid-speech as we come in:
... We have no choice. We're
twelve hours away from Colony
Five... we're at full power
and can't slow down... Charlie's
got full control of the engines!
CAMERA PULLS BACK TO REVEAL Spock and McCoy with him at the Command Chair.
And he must have realized by
now he can't arrive there with
us aboard. We'll give him away.
No one would believe the story
he'd have to tell to explain that.
Do you honestly believe Charlie
will consider that?
How do we stop him?
I don't know!
INT. REC ROOM - MED. SHOT
Two crewmen... motionless... frozen... a chess board between them... and Charlie facing them... screaming at them...
You always had somebody!!! I
never had anybody... never!!!
And with a vindictive sweep of his hand he shoves the board over... chess pieces scatter in every direction.
The only other changes are minimal -- the
Thasian is described as a wavering, shimmering colorful shape and does not assume the form
of a humanoid face, thus no dialogue is written for it about assuming its form centuries
Charlie's last words are:
They don't care... not about
anything... They don't LOVE
ANYBODY... THEY... PLEASE...
DON'T LET THEM TAKE ME.
The final moments in the screenplay are this:
Suddenly, Janice Rand sinks into the Captain's chair, her control breaking, crying. McCoy and Kirk move to her side.
CLOSER ANGLE - McCOY, KIRK, JANICE
The Doctor putting an arm around her shoulders comfortingly.
It's all right, Janice...
it's over now...
Janice looks up at both of them, tears puddling in her eyes and sliding down her cheeks. They don't understand... she shakes her head.
It's not for me... for Charlie.
Inside him...relief...sadness...and responsibilty...his life...and probably never a boy of his own.
There is nothing that was cut that was
absolutely necessary to the plot. Some of the bits between McCoy and Spock verged on being
a parody of what we have seen of their bickering (Did we really want to see McCoy speaking
of ancient voodoo rituals--chicken's teeth, indeed) even though this early script was
among those laying the groundwork for their relationship.
And seventy-two hours just to rig a forcefield? Seems excessive to me, and we can always assume this was done off screen.
I say the editors did a fine job in pruning excessive verbiage, and discarded just the right scenes to tighten this classic episode.
D. C. (DOROTHY CATHERINE) FONTANA (1939-2019): she was Gene Roddenberry's assistant, and after her first sale of a script to Bonanza, she soon began writing for Star Trek. Her work for the Star Trek franchise includes "Charlie X" (Story by Gene Roddenberry), "Tomorrow Is Yesterday," "This Side of Paradise" (Story by Nathan Butler (Jerry Sohl)), "Journey To Babel," "Friday's Child," "By Any Other Name" (w/Jerome Bixby), "The Ultimate Computer" (Story by Lawrence N. Wolfe), "The Enterprise Incident," "That Which Survives" (Story, using her pseudonym Michael Richards), "The Way To Eden" (Story, using her pseudonym Michael Richards). In addition, in 1995, after nearly thirty years, Fontana finally revealed to Harlan Ellison that it was she who rewrote the majority of the aired version of his "The City On The Edge of Forever." Fontana went on to serve as the story editor, script supervisor and associate producer for the animated Star Trek series. In addition to her duties, she wrote "Yesteryear." When Roddenberry decided to bring forth Star Trek: The Next Generation, he turned to Fontana, Justman and Gerrold. Unfortunately, she and Roddenberry had several disagreements, and her only contributions to Modern Trek were "Encounter At Farpoint" (w/Gene Roddenberry) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's "Dax." Ms. Fontana has also written for Ghost Story, Fastastic Journey, The Six Million Dollar Man, Babylon 5, and also wrote for the fan-made film series Star Trek: New Voyages.
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