Rare Footage of Original “Star Trek: Phase II” Pilot from 1977 — Plus Brief General “Trek” TV and Film History

Herbie J Pilato
4 min readOct 16, 2021

A Television Retro-Spective

In 1965, NBC commissions the first Star Trek TV pilot episode, titled, “The Cage,” starring Jeffrey Hunter, who played Jesus in King of Kings, as Captain Pike, and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock. But it’s deemed too cerebral and doesn’t sell.

A second pilot is ordered, called, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” starring William Shatner as Captain Kirk and Nimoy back as Spock. This new pilot is more action-oriented and sells.

Star Trek goes on the air and lasts three short years, the first being the best, the last being the worst.

The show then becomes a ratings frenzy in syndication.

From 1973 to 1975 NBC airs an animated version of the series on Saturday mornings, which features all the original cast.

By now, Trek Conventions are taking over the world, enough to impress Paramount studios (Trek’s proprietor) to bring Star Trek back.

Paramount is formulating an all-new TV network…a syndicated network…ahead of its time. This is 1977 for gosh sakes!

A new Trek series is a key component of that plan to launch the new network.

Everyone is on board — literally — except Nimoy as Spock.

So, Roddenberry creates a new Vulcan character named Xon, played by another actor, and who replaces the Spock presence.

Then — Star WARS hits the BIG screen.

Paramount nixes the new TV series, which was to be called Star Trek: Phase II (see below for links to rare footage — and not to be confused with the fan-made show of the same name!) in favor of a new big-screen movie called Star Trek: The Motion Picture (as if we couldn’t have figured that out, in wake of Superman: The Movie — with Christopher Reeve).

Now set for the big screen, the new Trek intrigues Nimoy who agrees to return as Spock.

The Motion Picture is born, with Kirk, Spock, et all, and the actor who was to play Xon on the new TV series in a very minor role.

Herbie J Pilato

Herbie J Pilato is a writer, producer, and TV personality whose books about life and pop culture include THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS.