written by Jeremy Tarcher and Shari Lewis
FINAL DRAFT, October 28, 1968
with revised pages dated 10/31, 11/1, 11/4 and 11/8
report, review & analysis by Dave Tilotta
The "disembodied megalomaniacal brain" theme of science fiction storytelling was popularized in the 1940s-1960s. Examples of classic tales that utilized this premise are Donovans Brain, The Brain That Wouldnt Die, and The Outer Limits episode "The Brain of Colonel Barham." Star Trek, too, had its own disembodied brain yarns such as "The Gamesters of Triskelion," "Spocks Brain" (no megalomania for the brain in this one, though), and of course, "The Lights of Zetar."
For the most part, "The Lights of Zetar" an episode from the third season was filmed as written. However, when comparing the broadcast version of the episode with the script, there were definitely some portions of the latter that were either transplanted or lobotomized.
A Brain in Space
"The Lights of Zetar" tells the story of a giant space brain that attacks the crew of the Enterprise, and the script really leaves no doubt of this. In fact, the description of the "storm" when the Enterprise first comes upon it in the teaser is written in the script as:
A light form of varied hues It is shaped like a brain. It sparks and flashes intermittently like a series of inspired thoughts.
And then later:
INSERT MAIN VIEWER
The sparking brain is moving in.
Fortunately for us, the brain-in-space concept was toned down because it is referred to as either "the storm" or "the community" in later page revisions following the teaser. It is interesting, though, that the major optical effect for the Zetar community is colored red and blue like oxygenated and deoxygenated blood, respectively.
Relocated Teaser Footage
Speaking of the teaser, ever notice that, as Kirk recites his captains log about Scottys love life, Scotty and Mira Romaine suddenly jump from Emergency Manual Monitor (EMM) to the bridge? Actually, that short footage of them in the EMM was filmed for another scene but cut from it and used here as part of a montage. Originally, the EMM footage in the teaser was the beginning of the EMM scene with Scotty and Mira following the beam-up from Memory Alpha:
INT. EMERGENCY MANUAL MONITOR
Mira and Scott are working side by side. She has hand device with a switch control. She holds it carefully in front of a section. She checks it. Then she moves it to another section and flips the switch and notes the device.
When I thought we lost you
just now in the transporter room
well, youre not to do that again.
It was so frightening
I felt pulled apart.
You almost were. There was
interference with the transporter
And thats more than
you can say about me.
Ill tell you something. You are
the sanest the smartest the nicest
and the most beautiful woman that
has ever been aboard this ship.
And what else?
Anything else, Im keeping
to myself for the moment
But, Ive been so much trouble to you.
Trouble? What trouble? Of course
you could drive a man daft but thats
not what I call trouble.
(a smile of delight)
Drive a man daft
I drive you daft Scotty?
Well now if it was me,
you might have to work at it.
Id be willing
Realizes she is perhaps too forward and with some embarrassment turns away and tries to be busy.
The Enterprise has been my life.
I love this ship, and I love every day
Ive spent on it. But, until you came
aboard, I didnt know how lonely it is to
be free in the galaxy So, dont you talk of trouble.
(begins to take her in his arms)
Now I want you to forget about Memory Alpha.
So, why was some of this material cut and redistributed? The likely answer is that the production team wanted to establish more quickly that Scotty and Mira were having a romantic relationship. So, rather than shoot additional material for the teaser, they simply used existing footage. It's unfortunate, however, that some of this dialogue was cut entirely because it does add greater depth to Scottys character and his relationship with Mira.
The Zetarians, as Written
As shown in the broadcast version of the episode, when an individual gets possessed by the Zetarians, their face shifts colors (an effect done in post-production) and they mumble a guttural-type sound. Interestingly, the script specifies that both a face be seen for the Zetars as well as a language be heard. For example, here are some descriptions from the script of the technician on Memory Alpha as she becomes possessed:
ANGLE TO TECHNICIAN (GIRL)
She is on her knees struggling to get up. She is speaking a strange language. An already dead man had evidently tried to help her.
CLOSE-UP - TECHNICIAN
Her speech is the same strange language Mira spoke.
CLOSE-UP TECHNICIAN (MATTE OR OPTICAL)
The Technicians face begins to disappear. Finally only seen are her hair, her eyes the mouth which continues to speak the unknown language.
Her face alternates back and forth between its normal look and the faceless creature. The faceless image holds.
And similarly, when Mira is possessed in sickbay towards the end of the episode, this is how the scene is described:
INSERT MIRA (OPTICAL)
Her contorted face begins to lose its flesh. Like the Reidonian, she is the eyes and the voice of the Enemy Life Force. The eyes blaze. The mouth speaks.
(She speaks the strange syllables
that she and the Reidonian used.)
Clearly, the writers intended for the Zetarians to be represented in a somewhat believable manner during the possession sequences. Perhaps budgetary constraints prevented them from doing this.
Also, by the way, the Reidonian is apparently a reference to the original name for the species of the technician on Memory Alpha.
The Briefing Room Scene, Shortened
The briefing room scene where Kirk investigates the link between Romaine and the Zetar community was shortened in the final broadcast version. Here is a small portion of the excised material:
Dr. McCoy, is there anything else in
Starfleets psychological file?
McCoy repeats procedure.
Lt. Romaine has developed strong
defenses to guard against her extreme
competitiveness. Marked scientific and
mathematical abilities set up an early competition
with her distinguished father. Problem still not
completely resolved in Lt. Romaine.
CLOSEUP - MIRA
Tears come to her eyes.
Thats not true. It was over long
Im not like that Not any more.
BACK TO SCENE
Everybodys record has much worse
comments from the psychology majors.
Luckily for us, nobody ever reads ours.
Pretend you didnt hear.
Mira is looking across to Scott.
It just isnt fair!
Scotty is having a hard time keeping still. Kirk notes it.
Of course, it isnt fair. Anyone of
would feel the same way, But we have
(turning to Spock)
Mr. Spock, functional and motivating
data on the life force.
Spock activates the computer.
(to the computer)
Why do these beings pursue the Enterprise?
Spock and the others look puzzled.
Meaning not clear. Request alternate
This material was likely cut for either timing or pacing, and really, none of it is necessary to advance the story. It does, however, shed some interesting light on Miras personality.
The Missing Tagline
Finally, this review would not be complete if I didnt mention that Kirks final line in the broadcast version ("Well this is an Enterprise first Can I stand the strain?") is not present in the script. In fact, its painfully obvious when you read the tag that the punch line to the joke is missing. Im glad someone added it.
SHARI LEWIS (1933-1998): Entertainer, actress and writer was best known for her work as a ventriloquist and puppeteer for the characters of Lamb Chop and Charlie Horse. She starred on her own TV shows, The Shari Lewis Show and The Shari Show, in the 1960s-1970s. She also had a revival of her career in 1992 with Lamb Chop's Play Along which aired on PBS and garnered her another Emmy award (she won 12 over her career along with a Peabody Award). Lewis wrote "The Lights of Zetar" with the intention of appearing in the episode as Lieutenant Mira Romaine.
JEREMY TARCHER (1932-2015): Shari Lewis' second husband and the brother of novelist Judith Krantz. He was a writer, production manager and producer. The bulk of his professional work was on The Shari Lewis Show, but he had a publishing company which published a number of books on paranormal and psychic phenomena. Tarcher and Lewis' daughter, Mallory Tarcher (aka Mallory Lewis), wrote for Lamb Chop's Play Along and has assumed the role of Lamb Chops herself.
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