Star Trek's never-aired 'lost' pilot rediscovered (video)

Most everybody knows there were two pilots for the original Star Trek, but did you know there was a third alternate version? This blast from the past will be available on Blu-ray when CBS Home Entertainment releases Star Trek: The Original Series—Season 3 on Dec. 15, along with plenty of third-season extras.

"When we first discovered the original film print existed, we jumped at the chance to give Star Trek fans the opportunity to add this never-aired pilot to their collections," said Ken Ross, executive vice president and general manager of CBS Home Entertainment. "It will be a real treat for fans to see and hear how it all could have begun."

One of the surprises about this alternate version is Captain Kirk's opening monologue, which goes like this:

Enterprise Log, Captain James Kirk commanding. We are leaving that vast cloud of stars and planets which we call our galaxy. Behind us, Earth, Mars, Venus, even our Sun are specks of dust. ... The question, what is out there in the black void beyond? Until now our mission has been that of space law regulation, contact with Earth colonies and investigation of alien life. ... But now, a new task. A probe out into where no man has gone before.

Considering that, we think the rewrite was way successful. Somehow we wouldn't want to trade "To boldly go where no man has gone before" with "But now, a new task. A probe out into where no man has gone before." It just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Take a look at some alternate-version clips that have already been circulated:

Here are some other fun bits of info about the original pilot and this alternate version:

"The Cage" was the first pilot, starring Jeffrey Hunter as Capt. Christopher Pike. NBC executives rejected the pilot as "too cerebral" (along with their having issues with an alien Spock and a woman Number One), and Hunter left the series. The footage was used later in "The Menagerie, Parts I and II."

It is believed this newly discovered and never-aired alternate version of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was actually the version NBC executives saw when they decided to green-light the series. Apparently "it captured the sense of adventure and action that the network visualized for the series," according to the CBS Home Entertainment press release. This alternate version starred William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk and was broken up in "acts." The version also has different theme music, archived footage and an extended action sequence. No doubt some tinkering went on before the episode was finalized into the version we all know and love.

And it comes from ... Germany? Apparently a film collector in Germany—a well-documented haven of Trek fandom—found the 35mm film print several years ago and finally connected with CBS Home Entertainment and distributor Paramount Home Entertainment. The film was transferred to HD video and then digitally remastered by the Digital Restoration Department at CBS. And talk about a painstaking process. They went frame by frame to remove the dirt from 40-plus years.

Our take: At least this makes up for the inclusion of the first episode of the third season, "Spock's Brain." ... Now why do the Blu-ray folks get all the good stuff?

Would you like an adventure that takes you on .l. "a new task. A probe out into where no man has gone before"?