June 19th to 26th, 1968
This week, 47 years ago, the Star Trek cast and crew were filming the classic “The Enterprise Incident” episode. At that time, the top news story was the armed takeover of the American Naval intelligence ship U.S.S. Pueblo by North Korea, and its crew being held in captivity, famously known by the press as “The Pueblo Incident.” Dorothy Fontana quickly wrote the script so that “The Enterprise Incident” could air while the crises was still a top news story. When she sent in her script, Fontana included a note to Gene Roddenberry and co-producer Robert H. Justman, making reference to both the hot topic story and the terrible timeslot NBC had for Star Trek for its third season (10 to 11 p.m., Fridays), saying: “I’m sure NBC will not like this premise. But we can always tell them at 10 on Friday we’re only likely to upset two or three people anyway. And they don’t have Nielsen sets.”
NBC had always shied away from Star Trek making commentary on any current news, or stories that touched on political or social themes. After reading the script, and Fontana’s note, co-producer Robert Justman wrote to producer Fred Freiberger: “I think that D.C. Fontana is correct in her assumption that NBC will not like the premise of the story. For some reason, the seizure of our Enterprise by the North Koreans – I mean, the Romulans – is likely to give the network the idea that we are attempting to draw a parallel between our story and current events…. [But] I think this story can end up being one of the most exciting segments we do this coming season.”
To NBC’s credit, they saw the importance and timeliness of “The Enterprise Incident,” and rushed the episode onto the air while the “The Pueblo Incident” crises was still happening and the opening story on the network’s nightly news reports. And Justman was right -- it was one of the most exciting episodes of the new season.
Read more about the writing and making of “The Enterprise Incident,” including seeing the Nielsen ratings report from when the episode first aired, in the latest volume of the award-winning book series by Marc Cushman, These Are the Voyages – TOS [The Original Series]: Season Three, available now.