Attempted Murder, He Wrote

I ran across this again just recently: Letters of Note: Maybe it’s just catharsis. But I think it’s more.

Gene Roddenberry defends the original Star Trek pilot.

In other words, am wide open to criticism and suggestions but not from those who think answers lie in things like giving somewhat aboard a dog, or adding a cute eleven-year-old boy to the crew.

No cute eleven-year-old boy? I wonder what changed his mind for TNG?

Which reminded me, I guess I should confess that I once tried to kill Wesley Crusher. Technically I have already confessed but did not deliver an allocution, so perhaps it’s time to do so.

First of all, let me say that this was nothing personal against Wil Wheaton. This was business. There were a lot of us who couldn’t stand the character of Wesley, especially at first. So when the opportunity arose, I tried to have him whacked. Here’s how that went down.

My friend Naren had done an internship with the show and was subsequently offered an opportunity to write a free-lance script as the next step of a vetting process to see if he was potential staff material (they apparently had a policy of not hiring interns directly). Naren had the beginnings of the framework of the story that would become The First Duty when he and I and the remainder of out trio, Gil, were all back home for Christmas vacation. Gil and I were still in grad school, studying physics. So one night after going out to see a movie we ended up at my parents’ house and Naren explained where he was in the script and let us pitch some ideas. As soon as he mentioned that it was to have Wesley in it (Wil Weaton had left the full-time cast to go to college, so Wesley went to Starfleet Academy) we both said, “Kill him! Oh, please, kill him.” Well, that wasn’t going to fly — a writer, especially a free-lance writer wanting to get a job, isn’t going to get anywhere killing off a recurring cast member, so we had to settle for Wesley being injured; as it ended up he had burns and a broken arm from his accident. So, yay us. Someone from Starfleet does die, which is why there is an inquest as part of the story.

Since our coup failed, the rest of the discussion that night revolved around some holes that had yet to be filled, which included the exact reason that Wesley was in trouble. I suggested that he be in a flight accident, as some sort of Blue-Angels-like (or Thunderbirds, I guess, but I was in the Navy so it’s the Blue Angels) flight team, doing close-order tricks, and the maneuver was something they shouldn’t have been doing. Teenagers (or early twentysomethings) feeling immortal and taking risks — that’s not going to require suspension of disbelief. I dubbed the maneuver the Andorian Clusterfuck, which was the first thing that popped into my head, even though I knew that name would never make it into as real script (it ended up as the Kolvoord Starburst). Gil was studying plasma physics at the time and suggested that the maneuver involve igniting a plasma to take the place of the smoke trails that the planes use. That suggestion proved to be important to the plot, since it gave a vital clue that tells Picard what naughty business the flight team was up to.

Since Gil and I were both complaining about our statistical mechanics classes, Naren’s shout-out to us was to mention how the deceased cadet (Josh) had helped Wesley with his stat-mech. Working our names into a story never happened (“Tom” and “Gil” being too mundane for the future).

So that was my involvement in that script. Overall pretty minor — nothing like wrestling with the problem of a homosexual nymphomaniac drug-addict involved in the ritual murder of a well known Scottish footballer or anything, but an important detail in a story that ended up being a pretty decent episode (it made at least one top-ten list). One little slice of ghostwriting fame.

One thought on “Attempted Murder, He Wrote

  1. Babylon 5: If you were a cute pet or a cute kid you got macerated, emulsified, and gruesomely uncreated. Everybody who mattered chugged a nasty can of whoop-ass. The Officially deserving got a double helping plus just desserts. Nice.

    It’s a terrible thing to be a god. Ask Valen-to-be, “how did they know?” Wesley Crusher personified particle physics and quantum gravitation: Always a local excuse, never a global explanation. Hell has a special place for folks like that – reality.

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