So, you’re a dedicated “Star Trek” fan and you think you know everything there is to know about the show and its spin-off movies?
You might want to think again. Unless you already know Spock got caught cheating at chess, that is.
While researching the papers of “Star Trek” movie writer/director Nicholas Meyer, College of Lake County professors John and Maria Jose Tenuto uncovered 800 behind-the-scenes photos from his 1982 “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (along with production memos, drafts of scripts, etc.) that have never been released to the public. They’ll present roughly 100 of them during their “History of Star Trek” program March 21 at the Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills — along with other previously unknown “Trek” treasures.
The Tenutos occasionally involve “Star Trek” in their sociology courses at CLC, and are major fans themselves. They began researching all three of Meyer’s “Trek” films in his papers at the University of Iowa before focusing on “Khan” because of the photos they found. Then they decided to research archival materials at UCLA regarding the 1967 “Star Trek” TV series episode that introduced the character of Khan — “Space Seed.” There, they hit pay dirt again.
“ ‘Space Seed’ may be the most important episode of the original show,” John Tenuto said. “If there was no ‘Space Seed,’ there would be no ‘Wrath of Khan’ and if it weren’t for ‘Wrath of Khan’ being successful, there would be no more ‘Star Trek.’ Because while the first ‘Star Trek’ movie was commercially successful, it was very expensive and a lot of fans weren’t happy with it.”
In fact, he added, producers at Paramount originally planned (and budgeted) “Wrath of Khan” as a TV movie, one of many factors that led Meyer to remark about “Star Trek” that “art thrives on limitations.” The Tenutos plan to incorporate that quote into their presentation as it applies to the strict creative guidelines instituted by “Star Trek” creator Gene Rodenberry as well as financial constraints.
As they did in Meyer’s archives, the Tenutos discovered plenty of intriguing photos and production data about the filming of “Space Seed.” But the real finds involved lost scenes that were filmed but never released. These have not been included in previous lists of deleted scenes. For example, there was a description of a scene in which Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) teaches Captain Kirk (William Shatner) how to use a pair of old-fashioned glasses.
The real finds, though, were scenes that were written but ultimately deleted from the script, including the aforementioned moment when an embarrassed Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) gets busted after programming the ship’s computer to let him win at chess.
“In the very, very early story treatments, Spock acts differently from the Spock we know,” Tenuto said. “We have to give the writer a break though, because this script was written only two weeks after ‘Star Trek’ went on the air and the characters weren’t firmly established yet.”