"Breaking into television, you're not going to do it the way I did. I don't think anybody now can do it the way I did," David Gerrold admits early in a chat with University of California Television. The underrated science fiction writer gave the world both Tribbles and Sleestaks, not to mention a pile of brainy, visionary novels. Gerrold broke into the industry as a freelancer for Star Trek. He thanks television's unfamiliarity with science fiction as his foot in the door.
"[The studio was] desperate for stories that could work in the Star Trek universe, and not a lot of script writers understood either science fiction or the Star Trek universe," he says.
In the hour-long video interview, which you can watch below, Gerrold gives some insider info on the production of Star Trek: The Original Series. The 72-year-old recalls some of the early treatments he turned in to the studio.
"One of them had a teddy bear–sized creature who responded to negative emotions and projected negative energy out," he recalls, "and the crew turns on Kirk." This idea of a seemingly adorable and innocent creature becoming something quite sinister led to the development of Tribbles. The writer was also inspired by the uncontrolled rabbit population in Australia.
"I didn't like ["Tribbles"] at first," he confesses about the name of his most famous creation. He explains that it was simply chosen because the other ideas were crossed off a list.
Gerrold also dishes on the behind-the-scenes issues with third-season producer Fred Freiberger. Suffice to say, Gerrold does not have kind words for some of the output from that season, especially "Spock's Brain." Though, like us, he does not think that it is the worst episode. "I think 'Alternative Factor' was worse," he says. "At least with 'Spock's Brain' you could laugh."
There is also an amusing anecdote involving actor Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund at a viewing party for "The Trouble with Tribbles." Englund congratulated Gerrold on his fine script. Gerrold humbly shrugged it off, noting, "In 20 years, nobody will remember it." As if!
Watch the interview below.
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