INT. ALIEN MEDICAL FACILITY – CORRIDOR – DAY
CLOSE ON a wide sliding door opening… TWO MALCORIAN medical technicians rush someone on a gurney through the doors and into a small room crowed with medical equipment for emergency trauma care. The level of the technology is approximately mid 21st century Earth with just enough differences that this is an alien world. There are two treatment beds/tables, Cabinets, and trays with medical instruments, and a display for reading scans. The Malcorians are humanoid with a slight difference in facial features…their hands are shaped like mittens without fingers (If this is a difficult makeup job they can all wear gloves)
There is a sense of urgency as the technicians rush the gurney into the Emergency Room…two young Malcorian physicians NILREM (male) and TAVA (female) quickly move equipment and get a table ready for the incoming patient. Throughout the following scene, we should NOT SEE the face of the man lying on the gurney, but he is in a Malcorian civilian garb, and has a large bandage on his head. We may notice that he does wear gloves (mittens) on his hands. They have the gurney in position and the technicians help move the victim off the gurney and onto the table.
They all lift and move the victim on the table. The medical technicians now move away and EXIT.
This is not the beginning of the latest episode of a hospital trauma TV series, although it certainly has the feel of an emergency room/casualty situation! This is the first few words from a Star Trek the Next Generation script that arrived in my mail box the other day. The episode is in Star Trek TNG’s fourth season and is entitled “First Contact” not to be confused with Star Trek – First Contact the feature film involving the TNG cast fighting the Borg from 1996. The script in my hand is rough and used, with the date NOVEMBER 28th 1990 stamped at the bottom, the name of the person who the script is to be issued to labeled on the upper right. A couple of other unusual things you will find on the front cover of this script that you won’t on the actors’ copies are – stunt replacements for the actors who will need to be doubled, their rates for the day. That’s right, stunts; this is the script for the stunt-coordinator of the episode, my friend, Dennis Madalone.
I knew I would be receiving a shooting script from Star Trek TNG as Dennis and I had discussed it in our many conversations over the last month. I had no idea which one I would be receiving and was very excited when the other day the package arrived; I tore it open with the anticipation of a seven year old on Christmas Day and to my pleasure discovered this script. Complete with the dog-eared feel of a manuscript that has been used for the sole purpose of producing a TV show, with no thought of it ever falling into the hands of a fan. In fact, Paramount make allowances for such an eventuality with the following statement inside the front cover:
“THE WRITING CREDITS MAY NOT BE FINAL AND SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR PULICITY OR ADVERTISING PURIPOSED WITHOUT FIRST CHECKING WITH THE TELEVISION LEGAL DEPARTMENT.
Copyright 1990 Paramount Picture Corporation. All Rights Reserved. This script is not for publication or reproduction. No one is authorized to dispose of same. If lost or destroyed, please notify the Script Department.”
As it is near to sixteen years since the date this script was issued, and I know the person to whom it was issued, I see no harm in discussing and quoting from the original piece. It should be said at this point I have checked eBay for other scripts being sold and they appear to be mostly copies and spares, I did not see any from the production crew, labeled as with one is.
I started to read the script as soon as I opened it. I noticed immediately, as my memory for these things is generally very reliable, that it was very different from the version that ended up on the television screen. I hunted through my personal libraries and drew my own copy of the episode to compare to the script. I opened the script and began to watch and read.
The scenes played out with the same feeling that the script gave, I know from my other Star Trek books and my years of interest that script writers put words like “med-tech” in where the technical consultants would come up with an alien of the week medical gadget name or medicine. The appearance of “med-tech” in this script tells me this was not the version taken to the set for the actors, but a version prior to the consultants culling.
I was excited to see use of writer’s lingo such as “Columbo moment” and “oh shit look” when referring to Commander Riker’s expression when the aliens we come to know as Malcorians discover that he is not of their world. As I said the general feel and dialogue that appears in the episode is in the script, but it is not identical, nor can one expect it to be.
I continued to watch the episode with the aid of the script and couldn’t stop marveling on how the script really does tell the STORY of the episode I couldn’t help but notice how short the episode really is. I had finished in forty-four minutes. The story came together. Captain Picard managed to convince the Chancellor of the Malcorians that he could be trusted and should release Commander Riker. A portion of the story that talks about the fear of the new “threat” from the Starfleet ship, plays out with Krola, the Minister of Security going as far as to force the Chancellor to dis-regard progress in favor of the more traditional ways of life.
The episode drives home the Star Trek ethic of always telling the truth and the Enterprise leaves orbit at the end with Riker safe. Krola, the Minister of Security has recovered. Mirasta, the Malcorian Space Administrator fulfils her childhood dream of voyaging into space and remains onboard the Enterprise when they leave orbit. If you are interested in knowing something specific about this episode of Star Trek you are quite welcome to email me and ask.