During the original series of Star Trek, some episodes were conceived and written as vehicles for special guests stars, just as you’d expect. And so it was with Norman Spinrad‘s screenplay, He Walked Among Us, intended to showcase Milton Berle.
Berle was perhaps the all-time biggest and almost certainly the first real TV star, and I’m not at all surprised to know that Gene Roddenberry wanted to feature him on Trek.
But the script never made it to air. According to Spinrad himself:
This original version was rewritten into an unfunny comedy by the line producer Gene Coon apparently unaware that Uncle Miltie was also a serious dramatic actor and a good one. It was so bad that I complained to Roddenberry… and he agreed with me. I killed my second Star Trek, which, down through the years has cost me tens of thousands of dollars in lost residuals.
Spinrad considered the original script to be lost, and was surprised when he recently met a fan with a hard copy. In return for Spinrad’s signature, the fan made a PDF of the whole thing, and now it’s been published for the Kindle.
I doubt very much that this will help recoup those lost residuals, but I’d also expect that the hardcore Trek fans will be snapping up enough to give Spinrad a little bit of pin money.
At first glance, the story seems to be about a self-made god who needs to be taken down a peg or two by Kirk and co.
Note that Spinrad later used the same title for a completely unrelated novel – waste not, want not.