The Star Trek blooper reel was a highlight of most early conventions — even if the images were faded and grainy and the sound crummy.
A better experience, surprisingly, can be had on a record called Trek Bloopers, released in the early ’70s. First, the sound quality is excellent and, second, it features recordings from third-season episodes (Whom Gods Destroy, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, The Way To Eden and Turnabout Intruder) while the blooper clips shown most often at cons were drawn from the first two seasons only.
And the LP beats the blooper reels in one other regard. Where the film clips focus on pratfalls — William Shatner bouncing off a door that fails to whoosh open, James Doohan stumbling on the dungeon stairs or Michael Forest air-kissing the camera — the record instead paints a picture of workaday TV production. You get a good share of flubbed lines, curse words and directors struggling to be patient, but the recordings are also a bonanza for production nerds like me, interested in how the show was made.
For example, many takes start with the recording engineer reading a notation like “Production 60043 dash 70” and the back of the album helpfully informs us that 60043 was the code Paramount assigned to Star Trek, and that the 70 refers to the 70th episode filmed, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield. (It’s also interesting to note that Paramount counted The Cage as episode 1, even though at that time it had never been seen on TV.) These notations performed the same identifying role as the familiar clapboards seen in many behind-the-scenes photos, such as this one from the extensive collection of Gerald Gurian (used with his permission).
Where did the recordings come from?
The LP was released by Blue Pear Records, a name that was obviously a joke on “blooper,” and the company was supposedly based in Longwood, Florida. That is about all I or apparently anyone else knows about it. Some online sources say the album was released in 1975 and that the company produced bootleg recordings of stage plays. I don’t know if any of that is accurate.
And neither does the city of Longwood. I contacted the Economic Development and Special Projects Manager to ask if the city maintains any records of companies from the 1970s. I was told “Sorry, but no we do not have such records.”
Here is the LP’s origin story, as detailed on the back cover.
This blooper record has been edited from six original on-set dialogue tapes. These tapes were found in Hollywood in a garbage can. As the story has it, the finder merely wanted some recording tape to use at home and took them with the idea that they could be erased, put on smaller reels (the originals were on ten-inch professional reels) and recorded as he saw fit. It was only when he saw the magic words Star Trek on the side that he thought otherwise and contacted a friend, a fan of the series, to see if he might be interested. The answer, of course, was an immediate yes, and the tapes then passed to another, and another, and another. Their final resting place is an East Coast collector of Star Trek memorabilia. However, on the way, we were lucky enough to obtain copies of these tapes from which this blooper record was created.
Again, I don’t know if this is true but it sounds plausible. After all, the 11-foot model of the Enterprise sat in the corner of a Paramount storage area for years and could easily have been discarded.
I’m just thankful Trek Bloopers exists. It’s a wonderful record of the soundstage between October 1968 and January 1969.
All the tracks are available below. My favourite bits include Shatner on side 2 offering a comforting “That’s okay. You’re alright” after DeForest Kelley flubbed a line and Harry Landers as Dr. Arthur Coleman burning at least 24 takes to get through this one small section in Turnabout Intruder, also on side 2.
KIRK: I thought my presence might quiet Doctor Lester. It seems to have had the opposite effect.
COLEMAN: It has nothing to do with you. It’s a symptom of the developing radiation illness.
MCCOY: Tests with the ship’s equipment show no signs of internal radiation damage, Doctor Coleman.
KIRK: Didn’t Doctor Lester’s staff become delirious before they went off and died?
COLEMAN: Yes, Captain. Yes.
MCCOY: Doctor Lester could be suffering from a phaser stun as far as the symptoms I can detect, Jim.
KIRK: Doctor Coleman, Doctor McCoy has had a great deal of experience with radiation exposure on board the Enterprise. I am guided by his opinion.
COLEMAN: Doctor Lester and her staff have been under my supervision for two years. If you don’t follow my recommendations, responsibility for her health or her death will be yours.
KIRK: Doctor McCoy, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to take you off the case and turn it over to Doctor Coleman.
MCCOY: You can’t do this! On this ship my medical authority is final!
KIRK: Doctor Coleman wants to assume the full responsibility. Let him do it.
MCCOY: I won’t allow it.
KIRK: It’s done! Doctor Coleman, your patient. Doctor Coleman, didn’t you suggest a sedation to rest the patient?
COLEMAN: Yes, Captain.
MCCOY: It’s not necessary, Jim. Can’t you see she’s coming around?
KIRK: Doctor Coleman.
COLEMAN: Nurse, administer the sedative.
But the best bit is the phaser-fire boops on side 1. Here is one take:
Here is the full audio.
The film clips shown at conventions were a treasured glimpse behind the production curtain, but Paramount was not happy about these screenings. One organizer of Toronto Star Trek ’76, for example, was threatened with jail time for showing the outtakes.
8 responses to “Enjoy almost-lost audio from Star Trek’s third season”
I’ve had a copy of this album for years. It’s an intersting insight into the show’s production rather than just being played for laughs.
I agree. The blooper reels were about pratfalls, while this gets into the daily grind of tv production.
Thanks for reading.
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I forgot to mention: the Interglactic Trading Company’s address also places it in Longwood, Florida. I always assumed this was something they were part of, way back when.
Ohh, now that’s interesting. That had not occurred to me. I would love to talk to someone who actually worked on this album.
These are great! Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for reading.
I still have this. Bought it at a Dallas convention in 1975 or 1976. I, too, am fascinated by behind-the-scenes production stuff like this. I especially love the various takes of the songs from “The Way To Eden”, and how one reveals a deleted scene after Spock jams with the “bicycle wheel” girl. Great stuff!
It is great stuff. Thanks for reading