Spinrad VideoBlog On History Of Doomsday

After contacting Norman Spinrad to talk about his "The Doomsday Machine" he was inspired to do a video on the history of the project. Spinrad talks about how the Decker role was intented for a different actor, how William Shatner himself made some changes to the script and why the planet killer wasn’t exactly as he intended.

Next week TrekMovie.com will talk to Mr. Spinrad again about what he thought of the final Doomsday Maching Remastered. 

more info on items Spinrad refers to in the video:

Robert Ryan

Bug Jack Barron

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This is great!!! Many of us have been knocking the attempts to redo TREK but we rarely took into account what the Writer/Director/Producer’s original intent was.

So, they might be remaking it highlighting and up dating a cheesy effect when it might be closer to what was intended it they looked at production notes and writers intent.

Thanks…this was great!!!

Not sure I buy the Shatner counting and cutting lines thing exactly as told.
It would be interesting to see Spinrad’s drawing of what he thought the machine looked like.
Fun to listen to.

How old is Norman? My favourite book of his must be The Iron Dream

“This video is no longer available”? What’s up with that?

I completely buy the Shatner counting lines and getting more added to his part, several other actors and producers have said this. But he’s an alpha male, can’t blame him for wanting the lion’s share.

Thank you Mr. Spinrad. That was very generous and informative. We would love to watch more video blogs from you regarding your experiences on Star Trek. Thanks again!

There have been many accounts of Shatner counting lines, stealing lines from other actors and trying to keep up with Nimoy’s rising popularity. If you can find it, read Harlan Ellison’s essay and original script for City on the Edge of Forever. It includes anumber of “colorful” accounts by the author and his dealings with The Shat.

That was very fascinating and I’d love to hear anymore insights Mr. Spinrad has on Star Trek. I would also like to see his original drawings for the doomsday machine, though.

I wonder what ever happened to that drawing….

He must have had some REALLY inside dirt on 2001, considering the movie wasn’t released until about six months after Dooomsday aired. Wonder how he managed that.

Interesting video — thanks to Mr. Spinrad and Anthony for posting this!! More videos please Mr. Spinrad!!

As Mr. Spinrad stated, originally Roddenberry had asked him to design the device himself. According to the episode’s original outline, entitled “The Planet Eater” and dated March 6, 1967, it is a “kind of cylindrical ‘living atomic rocket’ at least 10 times the size of the Constellation…with a posterior rocket and a great anterior funnel-mouth big enough to swallow a ship. In addition there are a cluster of atomic blaster beams and tractor beams around the funnel. It is not a machine, but a living organism with a nuclear metabolism.”

Thank you Mr. Spinrad and TrekMovie.com for this delicious treat! Mr. S–please do make more videos; we fans love to hear the kind of behind the scenes stories only people such as you can tell. The “stories behind the story” of great works like yours are almost always just as interesting and compelling as the final product itself.

I’d love to hear more about the TDM roles and conributions of various Trek ‘icons’ such as Gene Coon, Dorothy Fontana and Matt Jeffries, how Windom and Shatner interacted (we’ve heard their was friction there), where there parts of the script that were filmed but ended up on the cutting room floor, etc.

TrekMovie.com–we’d also love to hear from some anecdotes from Mr. Windom, is that possible?


Yeah, Shatner engaged in those kinds of practices back then. That was kind of petty and I’m not excusing it, but I think many actors engaged in that kind of prima donna bull back in those days. I’ve heard similar stories about the “wars” between Richard Hatch and Dirk Bennedict on the original Battlestar Galactica.

Please please can be in .MP4 to Download it .cant see it in Internet Explorer or netscape

Well, the planet killer does indeed look like the equivalent of a great white whale anyway. The next episode I am really looking forward to is “The Immunity Syndrome”! I truly appreciate Norman giving his spin on things and relish his insight as well as any other writers in the future.

How about a Syd Mead version of the planet killer?

God, what I wouldn’t give to see an ascerbic clip from Harlan on his “City on the Edge of Forever” experience.


Can you see if Mr. Spinrad can show us the drawing he did? Also, did he have any ideas about where the thing came from any background ideas?

That would be interesting to hear….


#15 – Hearing from Harlan Ellison would be awesome! Of course, I’d probably have to turn down the volume on my speakers…. :)

Yes, I enjoyed Mr. Spinard’s comments very much. It’s great to hear the comments from someone who was involved with the original series.

Please let Mr. Spinrad know that there is, indeed, plenty of interest in hearing more from on this topic and anything else he wishes to share from his career in scifi!

Excellent! Really enjoyed this! Yes, would love more videos from Mr. Spinrad by all means. Would love to see the original drawing for the Planet Killer as well.

Fantastic. I couldn’t get it all, maybe you can post the more pertinent info from his next interview in text. I’ll try downloading again. If the machine was alive, I’m glad they left that unanswered; it would have raised many unneeded complications to the show. The mystery of this one is one of the reasons it’s so good.

Yes–more Norm on video!

Another vote for both a Norman and Harlen session.

In a much humbler setting (TV News) I’ve known what it’s like to battle oversized egos who actually count lines (or stories.) Congrats to Norman for getting through that. This was fascinating video. I was leery at first, but it paid off. Does Norman have a hot daughter who can spice up his next one?

You know it is really amazing how Paramount with all their resources couldn’t find hardly anything for the 3 season box sets for extras and fans like us can get Norman Spinrad, and YouTube has that British set with all the home films around the set with everyone smoking of camera and the site with all the production footage including cut scenes from several episodes.

I don’t normally like to fling insults but Paramount home video is either run by incompetence or greed. No doubt both.

What a shock, Shatner was Mr. Insecure.
No wonder none of his cast mates like him.
So many of the the same tales from different sources.
He was pulling that crap during the movies as well.
The fact that Nimoy speaks well of him is a testament to
Nimoy as a person.

My son, 6 years old, was watching Doomsday with me today, and he asked me what the ‘windsock’ was! It never occurred to me, but he nailed it apparently.

Thanks for the videoblog insights on “Doomsday”.

Great video. As others have said, it’s good to hear first hand stories of how Trek became what we know and mostly love ( “Spock’s Brain” anyone?).
I’d love to hear more from Mr. Spinrad and others that were there. And can you really blame Mr. Shatner? Like Mr. Spinrad said all Nimoy had to do is walk out on the set in makeup and he would steal the show.

I know the planet killer design gets a lot of grief, but I always sort of liked it — remember, this thing is constructed from collapsed star material! I always imagined the advanced aliens using every bit of their skills and knowledge to extrude this huge hunk of neutronium, doing their level best to make something that’ll even function, cramming an anti-proton beam generator in the business end, setting it loose on their enemies, and breathing a collective sigh of relief! Who cares that it ain’t pretty!

It would look far less alien and intimidating if it were some symmetrical and comprehensible design, like a Borg cube or a Corellian cruiser or Battlestar Galactica. Gimme the horn o’plenty o’death.

BTW, great video piece by Mr. Spinrad. He’s welcome to regale us with any Trek stories he’d care to share any time!

Scott B. out.

^26. In TOS days, from Shatner’s point of view, he would have thought he was hired to be the hero of this adventure show, and it might have taken some adjusting to accept that Spock was the more interesting character and Nimoy was the only one getting Emmy nominations, and Shatner probably felt defensive about his turf because the writers might indulge their interest in Spock at his expense. In the movie era Nimoy and Shatner had contracts that said each of them got whatever perks the other got, so one-upmanship was replaced with supporting each other’s battles because a victory for one was a gain for both. Things changed.

Yes, Thank you Mr. Spinrad.
I for one would certainly be interested in more video Blogs from you.
As a longtime fan, it is great to hear from you in this new media.
Welcome to the Future.

#29: Yes, horn o’plenty was what it always looked like to me. Until seeing this now I never would have thought it was merely a very well-disguised windsock. Another testament to TOS’s ingenuity, inventiveness, resourcefulness and knack for expediency…

My thanks also go to N.S. for taking the time to enlighten us long-time fans.

When I was fourteen I watched StarTrek every week with a can of cream soda and a box of these corn-chip snacks called “Bugles.”

The Planet Killer looks exactly like a Bugle snack. :lol:

Dennis Bailey wrote:
“When I was fourteen I watched StarTrek every week with a can of cream soda and a box of these corn-chip snacks called “Bugles.”

The Planet Killer looks exactly like a Bugle snack.”

BINGO!!! That is the most accurate description yet!!!

Yep. The giant planet-eating Bugle. That’s exactly what we called it at the time.

Do they still sell those things? I’m getting hungry. . .

I would like to echo Reign1701A in reply 8.

Please, more Norman Spinrad anecdotes and please show your original drawings for the Planet Killer.

“The Planet KIller looks exactly like a Bugle snack”

Oh My God! I thought I was the only one that thought that! LOL!

Fantastic. Mr. Spinrad, PLEASE indulge us with more video updates, I’d love to hear about Bjo Trimble’s campaign to save Star Trek, and all about the early conventions in the 70’s which I missed because I was too young :)

I have old Starlog magazines from back then, when Bjo and David Gerrold had columns, and they are still fun to read to this day…especially when rumors started surfacing about the “Phase II” show and eventual first motion picture. Great history.

Maybe truth is stranger than fiction…

I always thought Robert Ryan wasn’t available during June of ’67 (when TDM was shot) because he was filming “The Dirty Dozen.” However, I was wrong; a check of imdb.com shows that movie was released in the US on June 15th, so Ryan must have been filming something else.

Indeed, in the summer of ’67, Ryan was appearently in Mexico filming another movie, “Hour of the Gun.” But get this… also in the principle cast of “Hour of the Gun” is none other than….

tada, WILLIAM WINDOM. Somehow he was still availble to film TDM in June even if Ryan wasn’t. Who’da thunk it???

And just for fun, also in the cast of “Hour of the Gun” were two other TOS notables, Steve Ihnat (Capt. Garth) and William Schallert (Nilz Baris).

My, it was indeed a small universe in 1967.

“Bugles” – we called them a box of “Mini-Doomsday Machines” in my youth. Come to think of it — I still do.

I remember constructing a Doomsday Device as a child with a bunch of tin foil. But when it came time to put the “engine of death” in it, I couldn’t find any sparkler sticks to put into it. It was far too late in the year from the fourth to get proper fireworks. So it got scrapped.

Was it literally a windsock that they used on the special effects stage?

“I always imagined the advanced aliens using every bit of their skills and knowledge to extrude this huge hunk of neutronium, doing their level best to make something that’ll even function, cramming an anti-proton beam generator in the business end, setting it loose on their enemies, and breathing a collective sigh of relief!”

Yeah, too bad that sigh of relief only lasted until it ran out of food, got hungry, and detected the planet of its creators!

Robert Ryan wouldve been great as Decker.

Thank you, Mr. Spinrad. I enjoyed your video blog very much. I would very much like for you to do more. I would be very interested in hearing more about your story idea and how it developed over time.

As an aside for all you Shatner fanatics, this is yet another example of how Shatner continued to harm the show. . . even in the early days. HUGE ego, ity bitty talent.

actors counting lines is nothing new at all, and nothing Shatner started to be sure. It’s been happeining since actors began acting. Acting is ego driven.

Hah, bugles, I haven’t had those in ages, I think they’re off the market now. But yes indeed they sure did look the old doomsday device. I hadn’t really thought of that until now.

Thank you for your comments Mr. Spinrad. I fully enjoyed your insight and perspective on TDDM. The Moby Dick overtures are very clear now that you pointed them out.

Does anyone else think the planet killer has the basic shape of a whale? Was that part of the design thought process?


A windsock dipped in cement. That’s a pretty apt desription. I laughed pretty hard at that one.


That was great, if Spinrad is willing to do more of this (as he says in the video) then go for it. It would be great if you can get more people who worked on TOS to comment about TOS-R, specially producers and writers (Justman, Ellison, etc).

Ah, it’s all coming together now…Take one Bugle snack chip, expose it to radiation, and dun-dun-dun! Who will escape the Bugle of Death? Because after all, with the possibilities of an infinite number of Universes, anything can happen!