written by William Shatner
unproduced story outline, dated April 29, 1966
report & analysis by Dave Eversole
Though I cannot vouch for this outlines authenticity, it at least looks legitimate. The copy I own clearly shows an original produced by a manual typewriter, or an early electric model. Different depths of keystrokes and the slightly jagged uneven nature of the underscoring are dead giveaways.
Additionally, it has a bit of credence owing to an October 15, 1966 article in TV Guide. In the article, Gene Roddenberry does mention that early on William Shatner brought in an outline and he read it, fearing it would be terrible. Roddenberry reported that, to his amazement, it was quite good, and had a "good flow."
Plus, there are clues in the outlines language to its early nature--"phaser guns," "pistols," etc. Throughout, the act of transporting, or beaming, is called "materializing." "They materialize into the Momentous." "They materialize back to the Enterprise."
And the outline never names the doctor. Perhaps in April 1966, Shatner knew that Paul Fixs Doctor Piper wouldnt be back, but did not know what character and actor would replace him.
The Enterprise is sent to find out the fate of her missing sister ship, the Momentous. Near the planet Urus III, the missing ship is sighted.
The Enterprise slowly approaches the Momentous, which is hanging motionless in orbit. Hails are unanswered; there is no sign of life. And then the men of the Enterprise see that the Momentous is completely covered in a white opaque substance.
Kirk Spock and the DOCTOR "materialize into the Momentous." Though all equipment is undisturbed, there is not a single bit of food left on the ship. Nor is there a living soul to be found. Uniforms, clothes, shoes, underwear are all found, but their owners are gone.
"The whole ship seems to have been sucked dry."
Back onboard the Enterprise an example of the sticky substance coating the Momentous is being examined. Someone notices that the Momentous seems to be dangling at the end of a "string" of the same white substance, dangling the way an insect might dangle in a spiders web.
Spock theorizes that it is indeed a giant spider which has wrapped the Momentous in a cocoon, then sucked the ship dry as an Earth spider does the body of its prey.
Kirk is ready to leave the area to protect the Enterprise, but it is too late. The Enterprise is being covered with the sticky white substance, and cannot maneuver to escape. Soon it is also cocooned like the Momentous.
The giant spider is sighted. It is coming toward them.
The spider descends to the top of the ship, examines them. The "phaser gun" cant be fired--the gun ports are all gummed up by the substance. The men all draw their "pistols." "Rifles" are issued. The Enterprise will go down fighting.
Then the spider suddenly leaves. All rejoice. . . except Spock.
"It will eat us when it gets hungry," he says. "Which could be in five minutes or five years."
Kirk has a plan! He fills two separate containers with two different gases which interact to become a deadly poison, and tells Scotty to keep working on a way to remove the sticky substance from the Enterprises hull.
Kirk and Spock materialize to the Momentous. They restart the engines of the dead ship, set it in motion. They throw all the chairs and movable objects to the floor so that they will roll about, they program the sound system with voices and music--all to simulate movement and life on the Momentous.
As they materialize out they open the containers of gas, the gases intermix, filling the ship with poison.
Back on the ship Kirk orders the engines shut off. He orders computers shut down, all sound must cease, all movement must stop. Crewman are instructed to lie quietly, no one can even so much as sigh. He hopes the spider will mistake the Enterprise for dead prey and move back to the Momentous, which seems alive.
The spider approaches the Enterprise. It can be heard scraping against the hull of the ship. The ship is shaken and rattled. Silence. Tension. . . will the spider be fooled?
The spider finally leaves, approaches the "noisy" Momentous. In a corner of the viewscreen not covered by the cocooning material, Kirk sees the spider approach the Momentous. It pierces it with its fangs, then dies in horrible death throes as it ingests the poison.
The spider is dead, but there is little celebration. Kirk and many members of his crew had friends on the Momentous.
We end as Scotty announces that they will be able to clean the cocooning material from the Enterprise.
Well, at least Shatner didnt end the thing with a belly laugh after many horrible deaths, a la "The Galileo Seven."
This is not a bad little 4-page premise. Yes, it is way beyond a bit trite and seems straight out of an issue of some 1930s horror pulp magazine, but then again, many episodes of television science fiction (1960s or present day) seem to be little advanced beyond the "Bug-Eyed Monster" stage.
Flesh it out, change the spider to something a bit more "alien," put a timer on the thing--the Enterprise must break free and deliver medicine to a colony within five hours, ya know, the typical trying to beat the clock plot--and up the personal danger to Kirk (perhaps he must, for whatever doubletalk nonsense, stay onboard the Momentous to release the poison at the last possible moment), and this might have been a halfway decent 49 minutes.
It would have cost half a seasons budget to realize the special effects, though.
Free counters provided by Andale.
Click here to return to the Unseen
Click here to return to the Articles Page.
Click here to return to the Main Index Page.