Roddenberry Productions has entered into a deal with Ron Howard’s Imagine Television to develop Gene Roddenberry’s 1970s pilot "The Questor Tapes" into a new TV series. The announcement was made by Rod Roddenberry on Wednesday night at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences TV Hall of Fame Ceremony where Gene Roddenberry was being inducted posthumously.
The Return of Questor
In the 1970s, between the end of the original Star Trek on NBC and the beginnings of Star Trek Phase II, Gene Roddenberry developed a number of sci-fi TV shows which were turned into pilot TV movies, but never picked up as series (like "Genesis II" and "Planet Earth" which were recently put out on DVD – see TrekMovie review). One of these projects was called "The Questor Tapes" which was originally conceived as a television series pilot about an android (played by Robert Foxworth) with incomplete memory tapes who searches for his creator and his purpose. The pilot aired as a TV movie in January of 1974. Star Trek producer Gene Coon also worked on the pilot, and Majel Barrett Roddenberry had role as well. NBC had committed to a 13 episode order, but after failing to agree on changes with Roddenberry, the project was scrapped.
In a statement about the new "Questor" Rod Roddenberry notes:
My father always felt that Questor was the one that got away. He believed that the show had the potential to be bigger than Star Trek.
Gene and Majel Roddenberry on the set of "The Questor Tapes"
Now 36 years later "Questor" is back. Gene’s son Rod Roddenberry will develop the project along with Roddenberry Productions COO Trevor Roth and Imagine Television’s President David Nevins and EVP of Development Robin Gurney. The team is currently in negotiations with writer, producer and show runner Tim Minear (Lois & Clark, The X-Files, Angel, Dollhouse) to produce. Of course there still is no guarantee that the new "Questor" will get picked up as a series either, but Imagine Entertainment, which was founded by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, has a good track record on TV. Imagine developed shows like 24, Friday Night Lights, Lie To Me; Arrested Development, and many more (including JJ Abrams Felicity).
If the new Questor turns into a TV series, it actually wont be the first Gene Roddenberry show to get on the air since he passed away in 1991. Roddenberry’s ideas were developed into Earth Final Conflict (1997) and Andromeda (2000). Both shows ran for five seasons in syndication.
Questor the proto-Data
Gene Roddenberry may never have got "Questor" as a series, but he didn’t forget the idea of that android on a quest. "Questor" influenced the creation of the character Data in Star Trek The Next Generation. Gene Roddenberry’s character description of Questor (available at roddenberry.com) includes much that has a familiar ring to TNG fans, such as this passage:
The android design includes some abilities beyond normal human capacity, i.e., an exceedingly delicate sensor hookup between fingertips and computer brain capable of delicate measurements of size, temperature, and texture of objects; photo-cell “eyes” which can adjust to provide both microscopic and telescopic vision; a cerium nuclear furnace “stomach” energy yield which should somewhat surpass normal human male strength.
In fact, there is a scene in the TV movie "Questor" which worked its way into the second season TNG episode "The Royale", check out the two scenes below.
"Questor" casino scene
"The Royale" casino scene
Roddenberry inducted into TV Hall of Fame
Wednesday night Gene Roddenberry was one of seven inductees into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Television Hall of Fame (see previous article). Rod Roddenberry was on hand to accept the posthumous honor for his father. The award was presented by Trek fan (and Family Guy creator) Seth MacFarlane. Also on hand were Walter Koenig and Star Trek’s new writing team of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.
TrekMovie will provide photos when they are made available.
Questor on YouTube
The entire TV movie of "The Questor Tapes" is on YouTube, here is the opening nine minutes.