We’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.
We’ve posted the scripted scenes below, along with some visual evidence of the cuts made to hide the missing sequence.
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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: No sign of mechanism or circuitry. No controls or readouts, this nothing at all like any vessel I've seen before. TROI: Groppler Zorn, sir... in great fear... (motions) Just ahead.
INT. TUNNEL CONNECTION Troi and the team approach a wall in the passage. INT. BRIDGE TROI'S VOICE (UNSCRIPTED): 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...
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.
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.
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: 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.
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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.
UPDATE: With the Star Trek: TNG Blu-ray project now complete, this sequence appears destined to remain in the Paramount vaults for the foreseeable future.