Posted November 10 2013 - 09:47 AM
You have just made me think of something I never considered before. Clearly you're right about all that Roddenberry and Coon had in common: artistically, politically, biographically. The most major difference in their work on the series seems to have been regarding the philosophical evolutionary stage of human beings. Coon always shows humans (specifically, Kirk) in transition. In almost every Coon script, as I have suggested before, Kirk starts off embracing some kind of violence or prejudice, and then by the end, he realizes he was wrong and has grown as a character, representing man's growth at the same time.Roddenberry wanted to show a world where humans had already gotten past their instinct for violence and their illogical prejudices. In a sense, Roddenberry may have wanted to tell stories that illustrated his vision and Coon wanted to tell stories that illustrated how we get to that vision.In The Devil in the Dark, Coon knew that if they didn't call the Horta a "monster" throughout, then there was no lesson for the characters to learn. The miners see it as a monster, Kirk sees it as an obstacle to be destroyed, and Spock sees it as a scientific curiosity. None of them see it as a potential individual, and if they did, there would be no story. But Roddenberry may have been less concerned with the dramatic requirements of the script than the compromise of his vision of a more peaceful and evolved humanity.Look at Roddenberry's first "testing" episode (The Corbomite Maneuver) vs. Coon's (Arena). (I know Jerry Sohl wrote The Corbomite Maneuver, but Roddenberry rewrote it heavily and he was at his most active producing phase at that point.) Roddenberry has Kirk demonstrate who we are, but Balok learns the lesson. Coon has Kirk actually change in the course of the story and it is he who learns something before showing the Metrons what is good about humans. Both marvelous stories and inspiring messages, but a different angle through which the themes are examined.Maybe it was that slight conflict underneath all the commonalities that made the time they both worked on the show its most creative and successful.