Roddenberry Considered TOS Prequel For TMP

The guys behind the fan audio production Star Trek The Continuing Mission have put up a very interesting audio interview with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry from July 1976. Roddenberry discusses the creation of TOS, why changes were made between the pilots, the birth of the Klingons and Romulans plus much more. But it is the discussion of early plans for Star Trek The Motion Picture that stand out as most relevant to today’s Trek.

There have already been quite a few parallels between Star Trek The Motion Picture (which still holds the Trek record for most tickets sold) and the new Star Trek film. Not since the 70s has Paramount planned such an epic film in terms of the story, scale of production and marketing and merchandising. And from this new audio recording, there seem to be some more déjà vu moments with regards to the two films.

Roddenberry on plans for Star Trek The Motion Picture

We also had talked about maybe doing the story about how all the Enterprise crew came together years ago. But we are all seven years older and that might become such a huge make up problem that it makes it impossible. So we will probably go the direction of the five year mission is ended or has ended and for some reason there is some emergency and the entire old crew has to be put together again in a rebuilt and more powerful Enterprise.

Regarding why give the Enterprise a ‘face lift’ Roddenberry said:

It would have to anyway for this reason. The television version was of course done on a television budget. We did as good a job as we could, but we were having to deal a lot with 2x4s and ply board and that sort of thing and we just didn’t the money for fantastic excursions and all of that. Of course doing a motion picture and particularly doing it on a wide screen where you see everything in so much detail…even if we had the old bridge we would have to redo it to make it more sophisticated and better.

Roddenberry also sounded a lot like JJ Abrams or Damon Lindelof when he said this about plans for TMP casting:

As far as cameo and guest roles we do hope to have six named stars so we will be advertising to theater owners and to the public at large, this is not just an ‘inside Star Trek thing.’ We are going to give you a piece of entertainment that is worth your $3 whether you are a Star Trek fan or not.

In the end they never did get those ‘six named stars,’ but one wonders what TMP might have been had they brought on some big names from the 70s. Of course since this was 1976, Roddenberry is really most likely talking about the “Star Trek: Planet of the Titans,” which was the original planned first Star Trek picture, but that too was planned to take place after the five year mission.

Enterprise concept art for “Planet of the Titans” painted by Ralph McQuarrie

Not the first mention of Roddnberry’s prequel
Here is an interesting excerpt from the the 1997 book “The Art of Star Trek” by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens:

As early as The Original Series’ third season, Gene Roddenberry had spoken of making a Star Trek motion picture. At the 1968 World Science Fiction Convention held over Labor Day weekend in Oakland, California he drew enthusiastic applause when he told a rapt audience his plans for filming a prequel to the series telling the story of how Kirk and his crew had met at Starfleet Academy.

The human adventure is just beginning…again

More from Continuing Mission team
The interview was done by Tim Renshaw, who plays Captain Paul Edwards on Continuing Mission. The interview is broken into three parts and the above quotes were taken from the third, but there is good stuff in all three parts. Roddenberry discusses why they made changes after “The Cage,” the naming of Kirk, the design of the Enterprise and much more. Go to TCM Production to listen or download.

For more info on the new Star Trek audio production, got to ““. The first episode “Ghost Ship” is available for download here.

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From the mouth of the creator himself….
Perhaps people can stop getting worked up over what JJ is doing now?

Probably not. :)

And hopefully first, so that stops all the usual twits…..

exactly – people who think that things can’t be changed need to get a grip, star trek needs to reflect todays future to be relevant, not that of the 60s. Even Gene supported updating the original look as it was just cheap and bodged together, the fact that he stays the TOS set would need to be more sophisticated says it all …

Love it…..even the creator of what all you TOS yahoo’s realized that things needed to be spiced up for the big screen…all i hope for is a great story in which the characters from TOS don’t change…i could care less what the sets look like as long as they look believable…GO JJ…

The great days of a $3 movie, and its uncanny how much thought went and are going into st tmp and st 11. Well except for the $3 movie that is.

Interesting comments by the Great Bird himself. Funny how history repeats.

The adventure continues….

“From the mouth of the creator himself….
Perhaps people can stop getting worked up over what JJ is doing now?

Probably not. :)”

Definitely not. :-( For in the opinion of some who post on these boards, Gene Roddenberry didn’t really create Star Trek at all. At best, he came up with the format that became Star Trek. Gene Coon, Bob Justman and Dorothy Fontana were solely responsible for the series we know, and as for the format itself, it was mostly just a ripoff of FORBIDDEN PLANET to start with.

This is really what they claim–I kid you not.

GR also talked about a prequel idea or Spock-centric movie, about how he came to the Enterprise, at one of his college lectures in the late 1960s. The transcript was published in the ‘Enterprise Incidents’ fan magazine.

“…even if we had the old bridge we would have to redo it to make it more sophisticated and better. ”


But one wonders what he would have done had they made a prequel with younger stars portraying the characters, in a flashback within a framework using the originals. Would he have made the Enterprise better, even if it had been intended to be the original, on the big screen?

Sounds like it.

$3 movie tickets, where have you gone? Wanna know why no one risks going to movies that aren’t super hyped? Through the roof ticket prices. Tickets are upwards of $15 near places I’ve lived recently. Ridiculous.


When adjusting for the rate of inflation, the $3.00 price of a movie in 1976 comes to $12.00 in 2008. Given that the price of a movie currently averages $11.00, that means that a movie is cheaper today.


warning- nothing substantial ahead:

in a yet ta be released “secret journal” of scribbling we find the following ST notes Skipper Gene had in mind for future adventures:

“… shave all bad guys’ heads…” – OK… that be canon now… bald equals bad (in hindsight Picard be evil)
“… someday make Gorn blink…” – check and check
“… make Sulu attracted to men…” – Wow! how prophetic.
“… put a dame in charge but not just to get lost in space…” – check and well.. er… uh, oh…
“… go back before Kirk’s days, maybe 21st Century, and explore possibility of a first starship called ‘Argo’ where they have very few weapons and everything is made in China…” – huh, well… uh…. does Yoshi kinda count?

and finally
“… replace Shatner if ST is still going strong in the real 21st Century…”
huh, well how odd…

arrrr arrrrrr

Hold yer fire- Shatner be doin’ fine.

The statement, “even if we had the old bridge we would have to redo it to make it more sophisticated and better” should put to rest any griping about the “old bridge” being made better now.

But it won’t.

$3 for a movie ticket? Man, those were the days!

It would be funny to get a Roberto Orci quote in on this one, something along the lines of “I told you so!”.

Maybe we’ll get a grand opening music theme before the film starts. Again like TMP did.

..from the horses mouth eh…….well, all I can say is, TMP is the perfect example that more “sophisticated” doesn’t always equate to being better.


And reduced-price tickets on all Tuesday nights, too — at least around the Southern/ Central Coast California area theaters — if memory serves.

One MAJOR difference between the first movie & XI, TMP starred The Shat!

‘Nuff said.

PWND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All those people who wanna keep the TOS enterprise “as is” read this, and SHUT UP.

#16—That’s a matter of opinion. I still enjoy watching TMP to this day. It is a great film, IMO. I rank it right behind TWOK as my favorite Star Trek movie, and as a sci-fi story, I think it is actually better. The only thing wrong with it, again— in my opinion, is it’s pace. It’s certainly not the changes to the ship and uniforms (which are admittedly too dated now) that were the cause of that.


The Great Bird of The Galaxy has spoken! He was not against changing a few things around, he wanted it to be BETTER!! I SEE now certain parallels to what JJ is doing and what Roddenberry wished, but could not on a low budget. I always wondered what Majel Roddenberry’s input on this new film is?? It does not get any closer than that??

#11—Great, as usual. Where’s Mongo and Harry Ballz?

How they came up with the name Kirk would be interesting to know?? The change in uniforms? etc.


It’s true. To be ‘logical’ about it, Roddenberry clearly did not develop the Vulcan race nor the character of Mr. Spock. Roddenberry had nothing to do with creating the concept of “pon farr”. On those facts alone, obviously Roddenberry did not wholly create “Star Trek”.

TOS and onward, it was the numerous input of scads of people…many uncredited that allowed “Star Trek” to evolve into what it is today. Every script, every “Hey, why don’t you do this?” by a fan, a director, a script editor, a camerman. A janitor perhaps. All that input culminated in what is and continues to be “Star Trek”.

Some people have the audacity to claim sole ownership of contributing material, some do not. Some people will stand up and say “Well, then Bob suggested we do such and such and Carl suggested we do that and it really improved my original idea by quite a lot.” Others are content to simply sit back and let people believe they are capable of far more than they really are.

Once I read Nimoy’s account of the creation of the IDIC, I knew there was more than what most fans seem to see with their rose-colored spectacles on. Unless, of course, he was lying, too.

But in the end, it turns out that Roddenberry was most likely a mere mortal like the rest of us who had a basic concept that was improved upon and became a success. Doesn’t seem so far-fetched, now, does it?

ahhhh Victory at last

Just adding GREAT detail to the ship and a visual to what Starfleet Command looked like. Is what I gathered Roddenberry wanted to emphasize?! In my opinion.

sounds like if Roddenberry were around he would have given his seal of approval to the Abrams film.

#25 That is food for thought! Very interesting comment. We tend to overlook that there are many other views and inputs on what made TREK what is today!

Wow. Like it says, the parallels between the old interviews and modern ones for XI are very deja vu-ish.

OOOOh! I see the site that has the downloads is going to have a De Kelley interview soon. *w00t*

That McQuarrie Enterprise is butt ugly

#25—Who is calling him the “sole” creator? It was clearly his vision of mankind’s future that was the template for what all future Trek writers were to help him build. Having a larger than life ego, which you don’t mind being massaged, doesn’t make you a sham. Most great Alpha-males suffer from the same affliction. It doesn’t make what they DID contribute less substantial. If not for GR, there is no vision of Star Trek. You cannot say that about anyone else. You can say it would be different, even less successful as a television series, but that’s it. He alone holds that distinction, whether you like him or not.

Mongo left theater after TMP as a pup. Mongo not know what to think at time. Like what saw but story hard to track. Maybe because Mongo pup. Over time, TMP become more clear. Now Mongo know I like.

British Naval Dude make Mongo laugh!

Mcquarrie was one of the key individuals responsible for the look of Star Wars and Trek and you clearly have no idea about design. Go watch the Teletubbies..

“Of course doing a motion picture and particularly doing it on a wide screen where you see everything in so much detail…even if we had the old bridge we would have to redo it to make it more sophisticated and better.”

Bravo to the people at Star Trek TCS for digging this up. No further justification needed on any updates to the look of the Enterprise or what not. Even without it being the fact that Gene suggested it himself, it is a true statement.

36 what he was actually doin was jj went back in time and asked gene to say this so people would stop moanin and thus change the future of star trek XI

Posting again…

…to see if I got spanked (sorry, Anthony!).

I do find this story very interesting and I haven’t been this excited for a new TREK movie since 1979.

This is great…now people are attacking Roddenberry saying he didn’t create Star Trek…..if you think that, and start nitpicking and say, “Gene didn’t create this, or that….” you might as well not be a Star Trek fan. Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry, nuff said, get used to it. Anyone who starts rambling about, “oh, well Gene didn’t create ponn farr” should just take a hike, Star Trek doesn’t need you.

“But in the end, it turns out that Roddenberry was most likely a mere mortal like the rest of us who had a basic concept that was improved upon and became a success. Doesn’t seem so far-fetched, now, does it?”

No, not at all. No one would give Gene Roddenberry credit for ‘sole authorship’ of Trek. Without the input of Coon, Justman, Jeffries, the actors et al the show wouldn’t have been the one we remember. Television shows and films are the end-product of the labors of many individuals. Nothing exactly new in that observation, though.

#32 got it exactly right: while others contributed greatly to the show’s success over the years and decades, without Roddenberry there is no Star Trek, period. And he’s the only individual who can make that claim, like it or not. Everything else is just speculation and conjecture and hindsight.

And yes, McQuarrie’s Enterprise is butt-ugly.

I have to say, I really like the Ralph McQuarrie Enterprise sketch. I would love to see what that concept would have looked like in a finished model.

Yes, I agree , we should all be thankful that TMPs Enterprise turned out looking the way she did and not like the abomination above. Just think instead of holding true to the Saucer, angled neck , secondary hull, nacell arrangement JJ and his team might decide to go with McQuarrie’s design .

*Runs for cover as the internet collapses in on it self from the onslaught of protest comments*

I get that movie budgets are better than TV budgets- and I appreciate that TMP moved forward in time and advanced Treknology the same way TNG, DS9, Voyager and the movies did.

But that was a step forward in time, for me the point of not wanting to see a change the TOS bridge sets is that the technology of that time has been stated, is familiar, and is as easily reconizable as belonging to that specific “future” time period as a Model T, or Mr. T belong to their time own respective time periods.

Many of us rabid fanboys have invested hours and hours into creating websites for roleplaying, making mods for first person shooters, creating fan fiction, or creating other art all based on the work from the 1960’s. So it might be selfish of me to say it — but for me the bridge, the console, the chairs, the viewscreen- all that IS a character. For me it defines TOS almost more so than the characters.

To place Kirk and crew in a new environment makes sense the way that Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet made sense. My teachers used to talk about the “universality” of Shakespeare- and yes the characters work, the emotion is the same- but the setting is just not quite right. It was @#$@# unsettling to see Mercutio in drag- at a rave, stoned, drunk and tripping – and for me it’ll be unsettling if I see Kirk and crew in a set they don’t belong in.

What’s so fascinating to me is how much debate and yes, controversy, Star Trek can still engender, more than 40 years after its conception. People are passionate about it and it shows in their comments!

I have a few concerns here and there about what the new vision of Star Trek might be, but in the main I am looking forward to it with an open mind and great anticipation. Of course, as a fan of TOS I would not like to see a total revamp, but I also am not so wedded to what is canon and what is not that I can’t see the forest for the trees…so to speak.

Let’s celebrate our differences and respect others’ rights to their opinions. It’s a lot more fun that way.

Why was my message deleted??? It only contained a link to the official forum!

#42: I think The design was used in a star base background scene in Star Trek 3 or 4.

arrrr Mongo and ClosetTrekker- thank ye, me mateys…

one last thought fer tha day…

Is that odd looking Enterprise made outta balsa wood? Hardly seems like it would hold up at sea, let alone yon space.
Wonder if Nimoy or Shatner had toyed with re-doing tha vessel for ST 4 & 5? Nimoy coulda unvieled that balsa beauty at the end of 4 and well, that mayha been tha end of it all… we’d be talkin’ ’bout politics or jam and jellies today instead of STXI…

no offenese Mr. McQuarries who really did do other fine work… but if they had used it, I’d had to put a bag o’er your ship to enjoy me Trek

oh- can we pre-attack posters that we think may have WMDs? bein’ tha Brit Navy, that’s kinda tha modus operandi… arrrrr

arrrr… and more arrrrr

Another try… if you delete this again, please tell me why!

I wrote
“I read in “The Art of Star Trek”, that the Great Bird told the audience that he wants to make a prequel movie at the World Science Fiction Convention 1968 in Oakland. It should have been a story about Kirk and crew meeting at the academy… so it was his idea!? Since many people are agains prequels and Academy-stories, maybe this will change their minds about “violations” of GR’s wishes…”
on 02-05-2008 here at the official forum:

cool – interesting parallels.