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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Howard Weinstein
    October 29, 2022 @ 6:45 pm

    Hi, L.I. Underhill — I just stumbled across this essay of yours from quite a few years ago. In case you’re still monitoring comments on this ol’ blog, thanks for the kind words about the episode and how I happened to be fortunate enough to sell this script when I was indeed a 19-yr-old college junior at UConn. I don’t generally seek out critiques of stuff I’ve written (especially from so long ago) — who wants to find out some stranger HATED your work?!? So this was a pleasant surprise all around. Your thoughtful notes on how the story might have been better are intriguing, and I don’t disagree. Hindsight, right? The only real changes I made from the first draft were to satisfy producer Lou Scheimer’s order that I get Kirk off the bridge, to take advantage of animation’s unlimited ability to take the crew to even stranger new worlds. So that led to the confrontation on the asteroid. Best regards — Howard Weinstein


    • Christopher Brown
      April 2, 2024 @ 12:27 pm

      Hi, Howard! I just watched this episode for the first time last night. I can’t speak for L.I., but I will say that while I also agree with some of the critiques of the episode, it’s still an incredibly impressive achievement and one I hope you look back on proudly. 🙂


        April 2, 2024 @ 1:13 pm

        Hi, Christopher. Thanks for the kind words! I can’t believe it’s been 50 years since I sold “Pirates” to Filmation. It certainly opened lots of fascinating if unpredictable doors to me over the years that followed (including being summoned to a lengthy brainstorming session with Leonard Nimoy in ’84 while he was seeking story input for STIV, which you can read about here — ). I’d certainly write “Pirates” differently in some ways if I wrote it today with five decades of experience behind me, but I must’ve done a pretty decent job the first time for Filmation to buy it as a spec script with only minimal rewriting (a rarity, I’ve since learned). Of course, there was a certain amount of luck and accidental timing involved (they only bought 6 new scripts for ST: A’s short second season) so I will always be grateful for being in the right place at the right time! And I’m enjoying the recent ST: LOWER DECKS episodes which focus on Orion pirates. Best regards — Howard


        • Christopher Brown
          April 15, 2024 @ 7:39 pm

          Howard, I had no idea you were involved with Voyage Home (if indirectly) – that’s my favorite Trek film. Thanks for sharing that article. Like you, I’m a big fan of handcrafted special effects so I appreciated all of the fun behind-the-scenes info. I’m going to remember that trick with the smoke for my own film projects!


          • Howard Weinstein
            April 19, 2024 @ 4:54 pm

            Glad you enjoyed the STIV article from Star Trek magazine. Getting to visit the sets and watch some shooting was a real treat. Watching behind-the-scenes featurettes on the OPPENHEIMER DVD, I was happy to see that some directors still choose to do visual FX the old-fashioned way — I thought everything was done via digital magic these days.

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