Appendix A, Part I: Star Trek, Season 2 (1967-68)
I'll be doing one production appendix for each season of Star Trek, starting with the second. The differences between OTL and TTL Season 1 are negligible (basically it's just "Operation - Annihilate!" and "The City on the Edge of Forever" switching places in production and broadcast order). We'll start with an overview of the sweeping changes before we get down to the nitty-gritty. (My editorial comments and OTL points of comparison will be highlighted in RED, and placed in brackets.) I warn you now, this post is going to be drier than the Sahara. Also, you'll need to have at least a casual familiarity with the show and its episodes to appreciate it on any level.
Ratings for the show are nothing to write home about, but they're stable, and demographic breakdowns show them to be exactly the right kind of viewers: young, affluent professionals and intellectuals with high discretionary incomes. This, combined with strong support from the studio, means that there is no serious doubt about the show coming back for a third season. The typical episode places in the 40s in weekly rankings, managing to break the Top 40 on a few occasions. (IOTL, the show never reached #50, let alone #40, in the second season. Demographics were excellent and the network knew this, but overall viewership was low enough that the pall of cancellation hung over everyone. Morale was abysmal. Most of the senior production staff left the show for dead, making other arrangements for the following season; many of the actors did not expect to return either. The show was famously saved by a massive letter-writing campaign, which had such high turnout that NBC actually announced Star Trek's renewal to the viewing audience at the end of one episode.)
The production budget per episode is about $195,000. This is a slight raise from $190,000 in season one. (IOTL, it was instead a slight decrease, to $185,000. As a result, the average production quality is going to be noticeably higher, even notwithstanding other changes.)
There are virtually no changes to the senior production staff. All of the "Big Five" remain in their positions from the start of the season to the end, with all of them carrying on into the third season. (Gene L. Coon left in the middle of the second season IOTL, because of a deal he had with Universal. The other four remained until the end of season 2: Solow then left because he was made redundant by Desilu's absorption into Paramount; Fontana left to pursue other writing opportunities; and Roddenberry left because NBC chose "Laugh-In" over Star Trek for the plum Monday night timeslot. Only Justman carried on into season 3.)
Other returning staff include production assistant Edward K. Milkis, Gregg Peters (promoted from Assistant Director to Unit Production Manager), art directors Matt Jefferies and Rolland Brooks, cinematographer Jerry Finnerman, costume designer William Ware Theiss, prop master Irving Feinberg, and (unofficially) creature and effects designer Wah Chang. (IOTL, Both Brooks and Chang left the show partway through the second season. Chang, for his part, had a particularly convoluted arrangement with the producers in which he did pretty much everything under the table. His contributions to the show were immeasurable; his staying on might be even more important than Coon staying on. Between the two of them, they'll boost the rest of the second season well above what it was IOTL.)
DeForest Kelley, as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, is added to the opening credits, alongside William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock. All three appear in every episode of the season. The only new major role is that of Ensign Pavel Chekov, played by Walter Koenig. He joins the other regulars - James Doohan as Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, George Takei as Lt. Sulu, Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura, Majel Barrett as Nurse Chapel, and John Winston as Lt. Kyle. (Who? He was the Transporter Chief. IOTL, he made seven appearances in the second season. ITTL, he makes ten appearances - one more than Barrett as Chapel does. Once again, more money means that they can afford to bring him in more often. He'll be one of several OTL peripheral characters to have a larger role in TTL.) Takei misses several episodes in the middle of the second season to film The Green Berets - other actors, primarily Koenig, but to a lesser extent Doohan and Winston, step in to fill the void created by his absence.
The season ends on a high note as Star Trek (or, Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon, to be specific) takes home the Emmy for Outstanding Dramatic Series. Leonard Nimoy also wins the Emmy for Supporting Actor. ("Mission: Impossible" won Series for the second year in a row IOTL. I'm giving it to Star Trek instead for the reasons that I mentioned in my previous update. Leonard Nimoy is winning Supporting Actor because, really, it's a shame that he didn't IOTL. And considering who actually did win that year - Milburn Stone for "Gunsmoke"?! Really? Anyway, don't forget that "Amok Time", Nimoy's bravura turn of the season, was more widely viewed ITTL.)
Twenty-six episodes are produced in the second season. (We'll only be covering episodes that differ from their OTL counterparts in non-trivial ways... or have some other significance. The episodes are listed in production order.)
"The Doomsday Machine", written by noted science fiction author Norman Spinrad, is a Moby-Dick-in-space yarn that stars William Windom as the Ahab figure, Commodore Matt Decker. It marked the beginning of Spinrad's association with the show. (And, IOTL, the end of it. ITTL, the higher budget and the continued presence of Brooks help elevate the effects on the "whale", a planet-killer machine, to a level where Spinrad is merely ambivalent, rather than disdainful.)
"Mirror, Mirror", in which Kirk, Bones, Scotty, and Uhura, while on a routine diplomatic mission, are accidentally sent to a parallel reality where the Enterprise is the flagship of a brutal and unscrupulous Empire. They have to find a way back, but the new, bearded Mr. Spock may be on to them! (No real changes, except that IOTL, the woman who was cast as Love Interest of the Week Marlena, Barbara Luna, became ill and they had to change around the whole schedule so that she could recover. ITTL, this doesn't happen.)
"The Trouble with Tribbles", the first episode written by the promising young writer, David Gerrold (Yes, he'll be writing more than just the one episode ITTL), tells the story of Captain Kirk becoming sidetracked by a diplomatic dispute and the need to protect a shipment of grain. It gets complicated when Kirk's old rival, the Klingon Captain Kor, arrives on the scene. (John Colicos, who played Kor, introduced in "Errand of Mercy", kept being invited back to reprise his role, but was always busy. Here he isn't. Thank Barbara Luna! Here his First Officer is named Koloth instead.) And then there are these cute little fluffballs...
(Every episode from "Journey to Babel" on will be subtly to moderately different from OTL, as Coon is remaining as Producer.)
Paul Schneider makes his third writing contribution to the series with "Tomorrow, the Universe", popularly known as "The One with the Space Nazis". (IOTL, the "Nazi" episode was instead "Patterns of Force", written by John Meredyth Lucas, who had replaced Coon as Producer.) Writer John Meredyth Lucas is responsible for the episode "The Lost Star", a well-made but unremarkable episode treading familiar ground for the series, similar to previous episodes like "The Apple" and "Return of the Archons". (This is what he gets to make in compensation. Like another late season 2 episode, "The Ultimate Computer", it's actually quite good but can't help feel a little stale.)
Spinrad also writes "Of Gods and Men", which serves as the season finale. The story of a Federation official (played, surprisingly enough, by Milton Berle) who installs himself as a God among primitives is viewed as a highlight of the season. (IOTL, Spinrad abandoned this script, with the working title "He Walked Among Us", dissatisfied with rewrites to both it and "The Doomsday Machine". Here, he's just barely willing enough to see this through. It's similar in plot to "The Omega Glory", which is never made ITTL, but with much better execution.)
(Roddenberry doesn't attempt to create "Assignment: Earth" as a backdoor pilot. That's two of the worst episodes of Season 2 gone.)
So there's a detailed overview of season 2 of TTL Star Trek. In short: the budget is slightly higher, ratings are moderately better, morale among the cast and crew is a lot stronger, and the average quality of the episodes is considerably greater. The show will be moving into its third season with critical acclaim, impressive demographics, and Emmy recognition in its arsenal, as it settles into a plum timeslot. Yessir, everything's coming up roses for Star Trek!
I'll probably be making more appendices when the occasion calls for them. But coming up next time: the beginning of the 1968-69 season!