The familiar colors and positions of the crew had not yet been finalized when this second pilot was shot. The tunics for operations crew are beige instead of red. The locations of the helmsman and navigator are reversed (when Kirk is facing the viewscreen, Mitchell, whom Kirk addresses as "helmsman," is on his right, and Kelso, the navigator, is on his left). Spock is wearing a gold command shirt, not a blue science one. Both Mitchell and Kelso wear beige operations shirts, rather than the gold command shirts later associated with their stations. Smith, the captain's yeoman, wears a gold command shirt, and Lieutenant Alden, the communications officer, wears a blue sciences shirt, rather than the operations shirts most later yeomen and communications officers would wear.
The change in Gary and Elizabeth's eyes was accomplished by Gary Lockwood and Sally Kellerman wearing sparkly contact lenses. They consisted of tinfoil sandwiched between two lenses which covered the entire eye. Wearing the lenses was difficult for Lockwood. He could only see through the lenses by looking down while pointing his head up. Lockwood was able to use this look to convey Mitchell's arrogant attitude.
Arlene Martel was originally considered for the role of Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, but she had sensitive eyes and there was concern that the silver contact lenses the role required would have caused damage to them. She later guest-starred in Star Trek: Amok Time (1967).
During filming the studio was infested with wasps that had built a nest up in the rafters. Sally Kellerman and William Shatner were both stung, the latter on his eyelid which swelled up, causing delays in the filming of some of his scenes.
During the opening scene while Kirk and Spock are having a chess match, Spock acknowledges his mixed blood but attributes it to an ancestor in his lineage which in subsequent episodes it was later developed that he was the offspring of a Vulcan male and a human female.
The gap in time between filming this and the rest of the series explains some of the apparent inconsistencies, notably some changes in the Enterprise architecture, the fact that most of the female crewmembers wear trousers and Mr Spock's peculiar yellowish skin tone.
According to the Starfleet Access commentary on the Blu-Ray, the remastering crew debated over whether or not to change the middle initial on the "James R. Kirk" tombstone to the proper "T". While some members of the crew were for it and some against it, they ultimately decided not to, due to the ridiculous amount of rotoscope work it would have required.
While the bridge of the Enterprise appears similar, the main viewing screen is very different, having a larger border, rounded corners and a narrower aspect ratio more like television at the time of shooting.
Ernest Haller was a last-minute hire as cinematographer, after the first pilot's cinematographer, William E. Snyder proved to be unavailable, second choice John L. Russell demanded too much money, and third choice Jack A. Marta was involved in another production which over-ran. Gene Roddenberry questioned the aging Haller's suitability for the role and questioned what experience he had, to which Haller replied, "Well, I did shoot a little film called Gone with the Wind (1939) about thirty years back."
Both pilots for Star Trek (1966)--this episode and Star Trek: The Cage (1986)--were the only episodes not filmed at the Paramount Studio lot in Hollywood. They were filmed at what was the MGM lot, now known as Sony Pictures Culver Studios in Culver City, CA.
Gary Mitchell conjures a grave with a headstone where he intends to entomb Kirk. The headstone reads "James R. Kirk." Kirk's middle initial was changed to "T" later in the series, and the full middle name (Tiberius) was revealed in Star Trek (1973) (and carried over into the movies). It wasn't until Star Trek (2009) that it was revealed that "James" comes from Kirk's maternal grandfather and "Tiberius" from his paternal grandfather.
Veteran character actor Paul Fix got the role of the ship's doctor, replacing John Hoyt. Gene Roddenberry wanted to cast DeForest Kelley in the part, whom he originally wanted to play Doctor Boyce in Star Trek: The Cage (1986). Then, he was outruled by director Robert Butler's suggestion. Here again, Fix was recommended by director James Goldstone. Roddenberry thought Fix didn't work out well in the role, and decided that if Star Trek became a weekly series, he would cast Kelley as the ship's doctor.
Gary Mitchell states that the "Nightingale Woman" poem was written in 1996 and that it is one of the "most passionate love sonnets of the past couple of centuries". Taken literally, this line of dialog seems to suggest that the episode takes place no later than the end of the twenty-second century, which in turn would imply that the Valiant was launched during the twentieth. In reality, the poem ("My love has wings...") was written by Gene Roddenberry about his World War II airplane.
Film trickery enabled Kirk, Spock, and Mitchell's elevator ride to look like an actual ride from one deck to another, without relying on editing. When Mitchell jumped in, there was a gray wall outside the door that hid the bridge set. When the doors closed, the wall was removed by the stage crew, and then seconds later, they're on the bridge. The turbolift in the background after this scene sports "double doors" like modern elevators - the inner one is gray and the outer is red. This feature survived into Star Trek: The Corbomite Maneuver (1966) and at least until Star Trek: Tomorrow Is Yesterday (1967), but then was phased out.
Spock says that one of his ancestors was Terran, indicating that the writers had not completely worked out his backstory yet. In the very next episode to be filmed, Star Trek: The Corbomite Maneuver (1966), he was revealed to be the product of a Vulcan father and a Terran mother, an element of the story which became the official, set-in-stone backstory for Spock.
According to the tombstone that the "godly" Gary Mitchell creates for Capt. Kirk, we see that Kirk was born on Stardate 1277.4. Of course, this information is widely debatable, given the numerous inconsistencies with the first few episodes of this series (such as Kirk's name being James R. Kirk, which later becomes "T", etc.).
The voices of damage control personnel responding to the emergency situation were reused many times in subsequent episodes. These voices were provided by Gene Roddenberry, Robert H. Justman, Majel Barrett, Herbert F. Solow, and other production staff members, including some from Mission: Impossible (1966). Roddenberry can be heard saying, "Communicator, we need more lines to the impulse deck!" in subsequent episodes.
Spock's pointed ears are a bit smaller than in the first pilot, and his eyebrows are severely slanted (yet not as bushy as in Star Trek: The Cage (1986)). Most importantly, his hairstyle is reworked to show the bangs typical of his race - and that of eventual nemeses, the Romulans.
Gene Roddenberry, Herbert F. Solow, and NBC were all happy about the casting of Lloyd Haynes as communications officer Alden. Haynes was one of the first African-Americans hired to play an important role in a network series pilot. However, he was not rehired for the series itself, as the production staff saw the role as dull and uninteresting.
The different title sequence resulted from the fact that the main responsible visual effects director, Darrell A. Anderson of effects company Howard Anderson Company, suffered a third nervous breakdown, brought on by the stress he was under to deliver the new opticals in time and on budget, as Robert H. Justman recalled when he and Gene Roddenberry came calling in August 1965 on the status of the Enterprise footage for the title sequence, "We had seen maybe six good shots and some others that were partially usable. We had expected many more angles, some of which were badly needed for our series main title. 'Where's all the other shots, Darrell?' Darrell began to shake. He jumped to his feet, screaming, 'You'll never make your first air-date.' Bursting into tears, he ran out of the room, still screaming, 'You'll never make your first air-date! You'll never make your first air-date!' Gene sat there in shock. I raced after Darrell and caught him outside. He was weeping. And no wonder. We later found out he had been working both day and night for months, trying to satisfy our needs. That afternoon, Darrell went to Palm Springs for a rest cure." Roddenberry and Justman managed to compose a title sequence from the footage already shot, the same day. The more sophisticated title sequence was produced (with Anderson returned to his duties) for subsequent showings. Incidentally, Darrell Anderson suffered his second nervous breakdown while working on the second pilot a year previously, from which he needed two weeks to recover.
After NBC saw this episode, they were pleased with the results and decided that Star Trek would be a weekly television series. Gene Roddenberry said that, like Star Trek: The Cage (1986), this still had a lot of science fiction elements in it, but that it was the bare knuckle fist fight between Kirk and the god-like Gary Mitchell that sold NBC on Star Trek (1966).
The matte painting of the lithium cracking station was created by matte artist Albert Whitlock for this episode. A still exists showing the entire landing party in the doorway within the matte, but only the shot of Kirk and Dehner ended up being used. The matte painting would later be altered and reused in Star Trek: Dagger of the Mind (1966). The image of the matte painting later appeared on the March 1953 issue of the Incredible Tales magazine in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Far Beyond the Stars (1998).
The aired version of this episode features a different version of the first season opening credits, which does not have William Shatner's opening narration, and uses a different orchestration of the main and end title themes. These orchestrations were used until mid-season during the original run and the initial syndication showings. However, in the 1980s, Paramount withdrew the prints from syndication and redistributed remastered and pre-cut episodes with standardized opening and closing credit music for the first season (using the Fred Steiner arrangement created for the back half of the season). These remastered prints were also used, in their uncut form, for the video and laserdisc releases. Only this episode was permitted to keep the original Alexander Courage arrangement. The 1999 DVD volumes, and later season sets, however, restored the opening credits to their original form, while leaving the end credits in their altered state (again, except for this episode which remains as originally aired).
Robert H. Justman anticipated that the second pilot would take nine days to shoot. However, after Star Trek: The Cage (1986) went severely over schedule and budget, Desilu's "old guard" executives worried about the same situation regarding the second pilot. To avoid these fears, this was scheduled to be filmed in seven days. The "old guards" skeptically expected that it will take ten or even eleven days. Filming began on Monday, 19 July 1965. As expected, filming the pilot went over schedule, finally resulting in eight days and an extra day of shooting pickup shots and "inserts" - nine days, exactly as Justman expected.
A bit of the transporter chamber was changed from Star Trek: The Cage (1986). The centre of the ceiling was "hollowed out," allowing white light to pour down onto the platform when the "materializer" was not in operation. After this episode, however, the dark, grilled ceiling from Star Trek: The Cage (1986) was restored and remained in place throughout the series.
Except for the shot of the Enterprise leaving the Barrier - which was shot using the three-foot unlighted model - all other ship fly-bys were produced using the eleven-foot model used in all subsequent episodes. At the time, this model still had no sparkling effects on the front of the nacelles. It also had a larger sensor dish, grilles on the backs of the nacelles, and not as many lighting effects. This footage was re-used in later episodes, often mixed in with shots of the improved model that is on display in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. In the standard side-to-side fly-by, two lights on the angled pylon (which connect the two hulls) go out, followed one second later by two near the shuttlebay.
The photo images of Dr. Dehner's and Lt. Cmdr. Mitchell's medical records reveal part of their home addresses on Earth. Dehner was born in a town called Delman; Mitchell in Eldman. The town names are simple anagrams of each other.
There is a different, pre-broadcast cut of this episode in the archives of the Smithsonian Institution. This unique cut includes a few brief scenes trimmed from the aired cut of the episode, different opening titles, and a unique opening and closing theme. The alternate themes can be heard on the GNP Crescendo CD Star Trek: Original Series (Volume 1) "The Cage" / "Where No Man Has Gone Before". The pre-broadcast cut was originally available only in bootleg form, although it has been screened at numerous conventions and is now finally available commercially on the Season 3 Blu-Ray set. James Doohan was credited as "Engineer", Paul Fix as "Ship's Doctor", George Takei as "Physicist", and Paul Carr as "Navigator" in the end credits of the original cut.
The title is based upon the opening credits' introduction. "Space--the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."
The original "bridge zoom-in" Enterprise shot from the beginning of Star Trek: The Cage (1986) is reused from stock footage in this episode, making it the only shot from the original pilot to appear in the second one. The same shot is also used when the Enterprise hits the barrier with added purple background and lightning effects.
The gravestone Mitchell creates for Kirk says "James R. Kirk". According to D.C. Fontana, when the mistake was discovered, Gene Roddenberry decided that if pressed for an answer on the discrepancy, the response was to be "Gary Mitchell had godlike powers, but at base he was Human. He made a mistake." The gravestone also suggests that an important event marked "C" took place on stardate 1277.1; Kirk may have assumed command of the Enterprise on this stardate.
Although NBC rejected Star Trek: The Cage (1986), they felt that the series concept was strong enough to give Star Trek (1966) a second chance, despite having already spent an exorbitant US$630,000 on the first pilot. The network ordered three scripts, from which they would choose one to be developed into an unprecedented second pilot. The three scripts were Star Trek: The Omega Glory (1968) by Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek: Mudd's Women (1966) by Roddenberry and Stephen Kandel, and this one by Samuel A. Peeples. The advantage of Star Trek: The Omega Glory (1968) was that it showcased Roddenberry's "parallel worlds" concept and could be filmed using existing studio sets on the back lot as well as stock wardrobes. Star Trek: Mudd's Women (1966) was mainly a shipboard tale and could also be shot using the existing Enterprise sets left over from Star Trek: The Cage (1986). In addition, both required a minimum of new outer space effects shots. However, Star Trek: Mudd's Women (1966) guest starred "an intergalactic pimp", selling women throughout the galaxy, exactly what NBC didn't want, and Star Trek: The Omega Glory (1968) wasn't very good. The network finally chose this, which, although it required many new special effects, sets, props, and costumes, was the most powerful and compelling of the three scripts.
A large panel seen in the background of the Delta Vega control room was recycled as part of the main engineering set in the series itself. In the very next produced episode (The Corbomite Maneuver), the panel would be seen on the alien Balock's ship.