Scenes Worth Saving: Farpoint’s FX Fiasco

farpoint-swsWe're going all the way back to the beginning for this entry in our Scenes Worth Saving feature series, with footage that was removed from "Encounter at Farpoint", the September 1987 pilot episode of The Next Generation.

This collection of scenes, taken from the Enterprise away team's visit to the spaceborne entity orbiting Deneb IV, was a pair of two major special effect sequences which were filmed on June 12, 1987, but were later cut because of the producers' disapproval of the filmed outcome.

The first cut portion involves Troi, Riker, and the away team passing through a wall in the living ship's corridors, which is how they originally get to Groppler Zorn's location - finding him trapped, floating in a forcefield.

After they free him from imprisonment, the ship begins to come to live around them... but the episode then cuts right to the bridge of the Enterprise, leaving no follow-up on the group until they are magically transported back to safety.

There is little evidence that this footage was actually shot, save for a mention on a now-offline 2007 entry on StarTrek.com. While the post can is no longer available at the official website, it is still accessible through this Internet Archive link.

eaf-delscene-note

We've posted the scripted scenes below, along with some visual evidence of the cuts made to hide the missing sequence.div_spacer

-- INT. BRIDGE - EMPHASIZING PICARD (AS AIRED) --

Geordi and Worf at their positions.
Picard is in the command seat, antsy.

RIKER'S VOICE
Enterprise, Riker. This is turning out to be a very long
tunnel or corridor, sir. No ship's crew in sight...

-- INT. NARROW MYSTERY SHIP TUNNEL - RIKER AND GROUP --

Still led and followed by the security people, they're now moving along fairly rapidly although this tunnel is narrower here. Otherwise, its look hasn't changed.

RIKER
(continuing)
No sign of mechanism or circuitry. No controls or readouts,
this nothing at all like any vessel I've seen before.

TROI
(interrupting)
Groppler Zorn, sir... in great fear...
(motions)
Just ahead.

farscape_pano_thumbTroi approches the wall first, followed by Data, Tasha, and Riker in the rear.

-- INT. TUNNEL CONNECTION --

Troi and the team approach a wall in the passage.

-- INT. BRIDGE --

TROI'S VOICE (UNSCRIPTED; LIKELY ADR RECORDED AFTER SCENES CUT)
There's a different feeling here than in the tunnel. Very different.

-- INT. TUNNEL CONNECTION (AS SCRIPTED) --

Troi and the team arriving, standing puzzled at what seems to
be only a sharp turn where we SEE a strange indentation in the
tunnel wall there. Troi, intent on this, steps closer, pushes
her body against the indentation.

TROI
It's definitely Zorn, Commander. Here!

RIKER
(stepping in)
Careful...

eaf-riker-leadsAn insert from the previous trip down the corridor - with Riker leading - is used to hide the cut.

But the tunnel wall is soft here -- it gives perceptibly, as Troi pushes harder and then PLOP... she disappears through it. (NOTE: Or the 'wall' opens to let her through and then closes behind her.)

RIKER
Troi!!!

Then he pushes, disappears through the same wall.

-- INT. ZORN'S "CELL" --

Riker sliding through the pliable opening in the tunnel wall,
joining Troi who is standing there aghast at what is suspended
in the center of this area.

eaf-cell-entranceTroi correctly enters the cell first, as she was the first through the wall entrance.

-- ANGLE AT FORCE FIELD (OPTICAL) --

Zorn is held suspended off the deck in a cylindrical forcefield. The force field edges GLITTER SOFTLY to outline the shape.

-- ANGLE ON THE AWAY TEAM (OPTICAL) --

As the other team members come through the 'wall' too, stand, reacting at the sight of Zorn.

-- ANGLE AT FORCE FIELD (OPTICAL) --

The FORCEFIELD SPARKLES, CLICKS, causing Zorn to writhe and twitch. He SCREAMS.

ZORN
No! Please! No more! Please, no more...

-- ANGLE ON AWAY TEAM (OPTICAL) --

They move forward toward him, and are brought up sharply by the leading edge of the force field. Data has already started to scan with his tricorder. Riker calls to Zorn.

RIKER
(continuing)
Zorn. Can you hear me?

Zorn manages to lift his head, and WE SEE his pain-filled face,
his features twisted into a grimace of intense agony.

ZORN
Make it stop the pain. Please...

TROI
Has the alien communicated... ?
(breaks off; then to Riker)
That's it, sir! It's just one alien that I'm sensing here.

ZORN
(another GROAN)
Please! I don't understand what it wants.

TROI
(studying Zorn; then)
Not true. He does know.

Data interrupts by holding his tricorder so that Riker can see the readings he's gathered. Riker registers at seeing something unique as Data pulls out his phaser, Riker does the same and both of them concentrate on making some exact setting on their phasers.

-- ANOTHER ANGLE (OPTICAL) --

As Data and Riker raise their phasers toward Zorn.

ZORN
(in terror)
No, no, please don't!

Data and Riker trigger their phasers and we SEE a SORT OF COLORED GLOW on the FORCEFIELD HOLDING Zorn, the GLOW SPREADING OVER THE ENTIRE FORCEFIELD. Then, suddenly the FORCEFIELD DISAPPEARS, and Zorn tumbles out onto the floor free of restraint. The cell walls begin to glow, and a loud rumble begins to surround the away team.

eaf-glow-wallsThe walls begin to glow as the ship comes to life around the away team.

-- EMPHASIZING "LIVE" PART OF CELL WALL (EFFECTS) --

Where the wall seems to be "alive", undulating. Beyond it, Tasha is assisting Zorn to his feet, supporting him. Meanwhile, Troi looks around Zorn's "cell", sensing something troubling.

Riker has turned on his communicator:

RIKER
Away team to Enterprise...

A TENDRIL OF PLASMA EMERGES FROM THIS PART OF THE WALL,
swaying and moving toward Troi.

DATA
(interrupting; warning)
Troi... !

But the TENDRIL is already wrapping around her. Data tries to pull the TENDRIL from Troi, succeeds only in getting a NEW TENDRIL wrapped around himself.

The floor of the area suddenly going soft, away team members sinking into it while still ANOTHER SECTION OF WALL FOLDS ITSELF OVER TASHA.

RIKER
Enterprise, come in. Beam us...

Interrupted as his feet are YANKED OUT FROM UNDER HIM.

DATA
Enterprise, we need help...

Interrupted by the NEW TENDRIL WRAPPING ITSELF AROUND HIS HEAD.

-- INT. BRIDGE (AS AIRED) --

WORF
Captain... !

PICARD
Transporter chief, yank them back! Now! Riker, acknowledge!

-- ANGLE INCLUDING MAIN VIEWER (OPTICAL) --

Toward which Lieutenant Worf is pointing. On it the IMAGE of the mystery vessel is BEGINNING TO CHANGE IN SHAPE. The firm, hard edges of the spaceship are giving way to something softer, very mysterious in nature.

-- ANOTHER ANGLE (OPTICAL) --

In which we SEE a familiar BLINDING FLASH and "Q" appears, now wearing the uniform of a STARFLEET CAPTAIN.

"Q" (STARFLEET)
Your time is up, Captain.

div_spacer

This "Farpoint" footage might be a bit more complicated to restore than the other deleted scenes we've covered in this series, as CBS Digital would need to enhance the originally-filmed special effects - but we trust them to do this one right, should it be rescued from the archives.

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  • Rob

    i’d love to see this footage, if only to see if the FX are as bad as theorized. if it seemed cheesy in 1987, one can only imagine how bad the scene would look now!

  • pittrek

    “Bride of the Enterprise” ? I hope it’s a typo :-) But this sounds like a very interesting scene

    • http://www.randomtuesday.com/ Aatrek

      Fixed!

    • ErikEspo

      That would be the episode in season 8 that followed up on season 7′s “Emergence”

  • Ryan Stevens

    I know Corey Allen spoke of this a bit while teaching at Columbia College Hollywood.

  • Allen Williams

    I don’t see this happening unless they are greenlit to do a 4K version of the series. This is season 1 and I think they have moved on.

    • http://www.randomtuesday.com/ Aatrek

      All the cut scenes we’ve been featuring have been from the first few seasons of the show.

      • Allen Williams

        You’re telling me that CBS is going to spend time and money on restoring this and putting in new effects and everything and including it on season 6 or season 7? I don’t see it happening.

        • http://www.randomtuesday.com/ Aatrek

          The entire point of this SWS series is to highlight scenes we wish CBS would go back for.

  • James Michael Avalos

    I reckon it would be fascinating to view !!!

  • SpaceCadet

    I always thought the scenes of the away team traveling through the corridors of the alien ship were boring and monotonous and these cuts kind of help to explain why. The alien reacting to Zorn being rescued makes more dramatic sense and would have added some action to those scenes. It would be nice to see these scenes in their rough form just to see how they turned out.

  • Joe_Atari

    Great story TrekCore; please keep stuff like this coming! The use of stitched together frames and the animated gif did a great job illustrating how the scene was supposed to work as best possible.

    Interesting that the script says that “Zorn tumbles out onto the floor” (with suspension wires and pillows highly visible even on 1987-era televisions) because the first teaser for TNG (available on TrekCore) clearly shows an alternate shot of Riker and Data’s phasers emitting blue beams and gradually lowering him to the floor. Having never seen the original script, I had always assumed that the gradual lowering (through some new levitation functionality of the 24th century phasers) was the original intent but changed by the creators as being too far removed from their use in previous shows. Now it seems like the “Zorn tumbles out onto the floor” was the original intent after all?

    A couple of other things surprise me about this sequence:

    1. Given all of the alternate / test footage unearthed during the TNG-R project, the team apparently found nothing relating to these shots. Surely Burnett, et al. would have included anything along these lines they found in the S1 release, however incomplete VFX-wise.

    2. I would also expect at least one still from this sequence to make it out in the open. Stills from deleted scenes are inadvertantly used by publicity departments all the time (the best example I can think of are all of the “Memory Wall” stills that were released for TMP), particularly if they depict an exciting action sequence (alien plasma tendrils should qualify). Previusly unseen stills of the “Memory Wall” and “Khan’s baby” from TWOK are still turning up but with all of the work going into TNG-R, zero photographic evidence of this intricate scene can be found?