Read an Excerpt
By David Gerrold
I have now spent more years on this planet known as "the guy who created thetribbles" than I spent wondering what I would be when I grew up; if I had known Iwas going to be "the guy who created the tribbles" for the rest of my life, Imight have thought twice about it. When I wrote it, I just wanted to write onegood Star Trek episode, just to prove I could do it. And I was deliberate abouttwo or three things in the script. In particular, I wanted each of the ancillarycharacters to have something important to do, not just open hailing frequenciesor fix the doubletalk generators. One of the things that I had learned in IrwinR. Blacker's screenwriting course was that "every character gets his page."I loved these characters; not just Kirk and Spock, but McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, andChekov, too. I wanted each and every one of them to have at least two or threegood pages. And I think that's one of the reasons why they all enjoyed the scriptso much; it was a chance to show a different side of their characters, a chanceto have some fun. For me, of course, the real fun was watching the actors say thelines I had written. I had been watching them for weeks, studying the way theytalked; I spent hours on each scene, listening to their voices in my head, tryingto match the way they spoke in the dialog I wrote.And, of course, there was other stuff to learn, too; one day, for instance,producer Gene L. Coon pointed out to me that there were no pockets in theuniforms. "But where do they keep their money?" I asked."We don't use money. We use credits."
Okay....When William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and the others finally brought the dialogto life, I was thrilled; they found things in the script, ways to say the lines,things to do with the action, that made the whole thing even funnier than I hadimagined.The only real disappointment for me came as a result of having writtenin a single line for myself. The part of Ensign Freeman. And Gene L. Coon hadtold me I could play the part; but then at the last moment, it didn't happen. Iwas too young-looking. Too skinny. So Shatner's stand-in got my line of dialog.*sigh* "The Trouble with Tribbles" was first broadcast on December 29, 1967. Ihad just graduated from college, and I invited all my former classmates over tomy house to watch the episode with me. They watched it as an episode and had aterrific time. I watched it as a terrifying collection of production values thatmostly worked, sort of, but not quite the way I had imagined it, and, oh, dear,why did they use that take instead of the other one? That's the problem with being on the soundstage; later on, when it's all puttogether, you can't see the show; you can only see the production of it. But myfamily and friends enjoyed the episode, and they congratulated me on my firstprofessional credential, and it was otherwise a wonderful night. But I remember,quite clearly, that at one point I said, "It's only a television show. Thirtyyears from now, who's going to remember it?"Duh.The answer was, everybody is going to remember it!Copyright © 1996 by Diane Carey