No Chapel, no T’Pau. The original Amok Time story outline

I own the Amok Time story outline Ted Sturgeon submitted to Gene Roddenberry. It’s a fascinating look at the process of creating an episode and at the Trek that could have been.

The outline in my collection came from Ted Sturgeon’s typewriter. This is not a photocopy, but the actual pages he typed and that Roddenberry read.

I found the outline in an eBay auction a number of years ago. Apparently, Desilu gave a bunch of production papers —  scripts and pitches mostly — to a local college for use by film and television students. This document was one of those donated items.

The pages looked like the real thing and obviously came from a typewriter, but I wanted to authenticate them. Theodore Sturgeon died in 1985, but his daughter Noel Sturgeon is the Trustee of the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust. I contacted her, sent her photographs of the document and she confirmed it is real. She wrote to me: “you have a Sturgeon-authored document on your hands.”

Also, written on the first page is the name “Gene Roddenberry.” It is not Roddenberry’s writing, so I asked Noel about it. She replied: “I can say that this is my father’s typewriter and the label “Gene Roddenberry” is his [Ted Sturgeon’s] writing, so it is likely this is Gene’s copy of the treatment (which would make sense given the provenance as you have given me).”

The cover page of the original story outline for the Star Trek episode Amok Time, written by Theodore Sturgeon. The name Gene Roddenberry is written in the corner, and the outline is dated December 12, 1966.

So not only do I own the outline of one of the best episodes, I have Roddenberry’s own copy of it.

There are many interesting differences between Sturgeon’s outline and the filmed episode.

– Nurse Chapel does not appear. On screen, Chapel brought Spock plomeek soup; in the outline, it is a nameless “terrified yeoman” who flees Spock’s quarters. In the two scripts Sturgeon would write based on this outline, that character became Maggie, a young woman infatuated with Spock. But none of the production people liked the character; DC Fontana, in an April 4, 1967, memo to Gene Roddenberry, suggested cutting the character: “Emphasis on Maggie is wrong. We don’t need her in this show.” She suggested using Christine Chapel instead, picking up on Chapel’s interest in Spock from The Naked Time.

– It is Dr. McCoy who figures out Spock’s mating problem and explains the process to Kirk, not Spock who confesses it to Kirk.

– Kirk gets another ship to fill in for the Enterprise, and therefore does not have to disobey Starfleet orders.

– T’Pring awaits Spock on Vulcan, but T’Pau and Stonn do not appear in the outline.

– T’Pring refuses Spock, demands the challenge of combat against Kirk, and sets out the rules for the three rounds of fighting: the first will be fought with maces, the second with knives and the third with fists. A round only ends when an opponent is killed or disarmed. Therefore, if both are still alive by the third round, it must end in a death.

– McCoy urges Kirk to accept a stimulant or to stun Spock with a phaser, allowing them all to beam back to the Enterprise.

– McCoy gives Kirk a shot without the captain realizing it.

– Vulcans are able to “tell at a glance, and positively, that a dead man is really dead.”

– After Kirk is thought to be dead, McCoy says the Enterprise will stay in orbit for 20 minutes. Spock can return to the Enterprise or stay with T’Pring. McCoy promises not to tell anyone what Spock has done.

– McCoy and Kirk agree that they will never tell Spock the truth about the injection, claiming instead that a “miracle” had occurred.

Sturgeon’s outline is close to the filmed episode, but one element really stands out: I am not sure why McCoy thinks he can simply not tell anyone what Spock did. People will ask questions when McCoy beams up with a strangled and supposedly dead captain and no first officer.


Screen cap from TrekCore.

Missing from the outline are also a strong justification for Kirk to fight Spock, and one of the best scenes in Star Trek: Spock’s amazed smile and exclamation of “Jim!” at the end, and McCoy’s “In a pig’s eye.” Also missing is the Vulcan greeting gesture, as it was created by Nimoy during filming. In the shooting script, Spock bows to T’Pau and she lays her hands on his shoulders.

Fun fact: in Sturgeon’s outline, McCoy was to “shoulder” Kirk after the captain is knocked out. I am sure DeForest Kelley would have objected to hauling a limp Shatner up onto his shoulder.

DC Fontana, Gene L. Coon and Roddenberry all worked on the script after Sturgeon submitted his second draft of the teleplay, but Sturgeon wrote a wonderful story and much of the final episode is in this draft, directly from Sturgeon’s typewriter.

2 Comments

  1. Wow, this is quite a treasure. I met a fellow Star Trek collector a few years ago at a Star Trek Shore Leave convention in Baltimore, MD, and this gentleman told me how he acquired one of the original Star Trek scripts from the Shore Leave episode and it supposedly had Gene Roddenberry production notes written in the margins. The origins of the scrip was that it was given to a professor who was a friend of Gene Roddenberry and the professor passed away and one of his students put this script up for auction on Ebay. It seems valid since there are photos of this professor with Gene Roddenberry.

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    1. The production of Shore Leave is such a fascinating story, as Roddenberry was literally sitting under a tree on set and rewriting pages on a typewriter, or marking up pages by hand. These were then handed to the actors. That means the script you saw is an amazing document of Star Trek history.

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