Second Pilot Overview

Second Pilot Enterprise

The Starship Enterprise as seen in the second pilot episode.

After the rejection of “The Cage”, NBC made the unprecedented move of commissioning a second STAR TREK pilot.

This chance  to improve upon the series’ concept and execution and make it more commercially viable also allowed for more revisions to the 11-foot Enterprise. So, in the fall of 1965, Richard Datin was once again called upon to modify the model that he and his team had built.

From the beginning, series creator Gene Roddenberry had wanted more detail on his spaceship, in order to make the scale and complexity of the vessel believable. By late 1965, the model has already been altered twice to add detail–both before and after visual effects filming for the first pilot. Enterprise designer Matt Jefferies allegedy chafed at this, wanting as smooth and simple a look as possible (his early designs and blueprints didn’t even include windows).

Nevertheless, the model was modified. Most of the changes were purely cosmetic–some markings and details were added, while others were removed. The two biggest changes were the switch from painted markings to decals, and the addition of internal illumination.

For the first pilot, the 11-foot model had been designed and built to be filmed from the right side only, and featured painted-on registry markings. For the second pilot, the markings were painted over with the hull color (and much of the weathering appearently eliminated as a by-product), and were replaced with removable decals. This would allow for decals to be applied backwards–when the model was filmed, and the footage then flopped horizontally (thus causing the name and numbers to read correctly), this would give the illusion of seeing the (in reality unfinished) port side of the ship. However, flopped footage with reversed decals only appeared in two episodes of the entire TV series–“Dagger of the Mind” and “Mirror, Mirror”.

The addition of the lighting effects was more complex. The entire portside of the model was torn up to accomodate electrical cables. Lightbulbs were installed in the secondary hull, dorsal, and saucer, which illuminated windows that had been cut into the skin of the model. Blinking white anti-collision lights were also added to the saucer and secondary hull.

A (possibly unintentional) feature of the lighting effects can be seen in footage of this version–several sets of windows on the secondary hull and dorsal blink on and off at a slower rate (and out of snyc with) the navigation strobes.

After the second pilot episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, was screened for NBC, STAR TREK was finally greenlit–and still more changes to the Enterprise model(s) were made–but we’ll get to that. However, as a cost-cutting measure, reused footage of the second pilot version of the model still appeared in every single episode of the original TREK series, both in the main credits and in the episodes proper.

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