Travelling Through the Star Trek Universe, Part III. Viewing Notes on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. @StarTrek @Hulu #StarTrek #movie

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This is an important movie to me. As always, I’m going to be vague about why. There was a time when, for better or worse (worse, really, but necessary), I asserted my “independence.” This movie was part of that in a strange way. I will say that this is the first movie I saw in the theaters because I got on a bus, rode up to the (now closed) Aspen Hill movie theater, and bought a ticket with my own money. Twice. So, this movie is really important to me for reasons that don’t apply to any of you. Nevertheless, based on everything I’ve heard, I couldn’t believe how good its numbers are. Though I’m not sure how “scientific” Rotten Tomatoes is, I’m certain our personal experiences are even less so, so I shouldn’t be too surprised. Here are my viewing notes.

This movie starts with such high hopes, having us relive the most heartbreaking loss in Star Trek history.

That cadet that wanted a ceremony was a dingbat.

Christopher Lloyd was awesome as Kruge, and as with the Reliant, it was cool to see a new type of Klingon ship.

Are the Klingons still using 8-track tapes?

Why would anyone deal with the Klingons knowing they kill anyone working with them? Oh, wait I know why. Because the script says so.

The existence of Spacedock was also a no-brainer, but it was still cool to see it. The Excelsior was even better. As I said in yesterday’s Wrath of Khan post (and just above), it was neat to see other ship designs that we know must exist. The Excelsior represented the future as far as we knew; same-but-different. Who cares if Scotty liked it? The FASA Star Trek RPG really scratched that itch, but there’s nothing like seeing it on the big screen.

Scotty learning of his new assignment wasn’t the last time Starfleet told personnel their new assignments in casual conversation.

Hey, I know that Klingon!

Was Maltz once a prosecutor for the Klingon Empire?

And here’s another one: The USS Grissom. Another same-but-different design.

David’s hatred for Kirk was intense in the novelization, but in the movie, his brief interaction was polite. None of his thoughts on the matter were explored because there wasn’t any time to do so. The same can be said for David’s romantic relationship with Saavik, which wasn’t even hinted at in this movie. I remember a scene where they were criticized for taking the risky move of holding hands while being transported. Even more, Saavik’s Romulan side came out in the book. She was ferocious when provoked.

Hey, I know that Klingon!

As I mentioned yesterday, the novelization of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan didn’t have the “remember” scene in it.

Admiral Morrow was a dope. How can he not understand “Vulcan mysticism”? He must have witnessed neck pinches and, more importantly, mind melds. Plus, his mustache sucks, though it could be worse.

The highlight of Allan Miller’s career.

“How many fingers do I have up.”
“It’s his revenge for all those arguments he lost.”
“Up your shaft.”

🙂

I remember an interview with Nichelle Nichols. She was initially disappointed in the size of her role. She thought it was too small but eventually was happy with it considering how important it was. The novelization went into her role much more deeply.

I hoped we’d see James B. Sikking again. The reason we didn’t is because Sulu took over as captain of the Excelsior. In fact, in the novel, he was already assigned to do so. As they were stealing the Enterprise, Sulu reflected on how he was throwing away that opportunity. This also explains why This brings up an anecdote. George Takei lobbied heavily for Sulu to become captain of his own ship. I remember Howard Stern making fun of him for it, saying, “You realize that Sulu becoming captain of another ship means you’re out of a job, right?” Takei stood firm. I guess it worked out. By the time he got the Excelsior, it was this crew’s final movie.

So, they find a young Spock. That raises an issue for me. When Spock’s consciousness goes back into his body, what happens to the personality of the new Spock. However briefly he existed, he’s a separate person. Is the new Spock wiped out, or are the two personalities merged? What are the ethical ramifications either way?

That Klingon dog was ridiculous.

“Range, 5,000 killicams.” Why? Why are they speaking entirely in English but use a Klingon unit of measurement? They’re speaking Klingon, of course, and we’re hearing what we would assuming there was a universal translator present. Wouldn’t the universal translator also translate the range into units we’d understand?

The conversation between Kirk and his son, David, was the most cordial David was regarding Kirk in the novel. Then David dies, and Saavik says, “Admiral, David is dead.” After that, she goes nuts and attacks the Klingons. This is what I was referring to when I said she was ferocious.

I was hoping Kirk would say, “No tricks once on board.” That would have been a good call out to the Original Series episode, Day of the Dove. That reminds me: Kang is currently running around somewhere in the Klingon Empire.

Beaming down to a dying planet was a risky plan.

Klingons are like the Drow in D&D. Their society and psyche could never work in the real world, but we overlook that because they’re cool. That is, if Klingon captains are so eager to die, you won’t have many qualified captains running around. Deep Space Nine pulled back on that a little bit, but perhaps not enough. They are cool though.

You know, Kirk left the remaining Klingons on the planet knowing they’d die.

The refusion scene had me thinking about Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Boy did that drag even though it really wasn’t that long. They wanted to give you the feeling that it took hours, but the verisimilitude was broken because no one left to pee. The same could be said about Spock wandering around in a confused state (except the peeing part). Overall, though, a good ending.

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Travelling Through the Star Trek Universe, Part II. Viewing Notes on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. @StarTrek @Hulu #StarTrek #TWoK #movie

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Continuing my revisit of all the Star Trek movies brings me to the gold standard of sci-fi movies, liked by virtually everyone that saw it. This entry is a little shorter than the last, not so much because the movie is shorter, but because I kept getting distracted. I wanted to watch the movie itself.

In an early version of the script, the opening scene took place in the middle of the movie, so it wasn’t a surprise. I’m glad it didn’t stay there.

Everyone I’ve ever heard say the name of the Kobayashi Maru pronounces it ma-RU. I do so myself. It’s actually pronounced MA-ru. Aren’t we all stupid?

If one photon torpedo can take out your helmsman, your ship’s design sucks. Depending on whom you ask, ordinary cars of today make the driver’s seat the safest place in a car.

Saavik seems irritated. So illogical. Of course, in the novelization it’s revealed that she’s half Romulan.

Shatner is such a wonderfully shitty actor.

The Reliant was wonderful. Not only was it a cool design in general, but it was also the first starship design we saw that wasn’t a Constitution or Enterprise class. Sometimes all it takes is a single piece of data to inspire your imagination to run wild and fill in the gaps they don’t have time to provide. The FASA Star Trek RPG helped me in that regard.

The Reliant’s scanners suck. Weather notwithstanding, how did they think that a bunch of humanoids and cargo carriers were just a single “particle of pre-animate matter”? Their computers must also have sucked. How did they not know that there was a colony of genetic supermen living on the planet next door? When Terrell and Chekov saw the cargo carriers, they should have figured it out. *sigh* The things we tolerate for drama. And yes, I know Chekov never met Khan, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t know the story. He served on the Enterprise for years after that incident, which was a matter of Starfleet record. That part was not a continuity error.

Now that’s what I call an earwig.

When I was a kid watching this in 1983 (when it hit TV), I was confused by Spock referring to Saavik as “Mr. Saavik.” I thought, “Wait, is that a dude?” I should have figured it out. My favorite episode of any Star Trek series is Balance of Terror, and in it an officer refers to a female subordinate as “mister.” The subordinate happens to be his fiancee. The FASA Star Trek RPG taught me the generic use of that term. Never underestimate the educational value of RPGs.

Piloting a ship out of space dock? I never thought the buildup was worth the payoff. I’m sure I could do it. All Saavik did was say, “Hey, you guys, do your jobs,” and everyone else did all the work. Managers think way too much of themselves.

Khan’s followers know how to talk to him: Appeal to his inflated ego.

I never forgot an interview that Ricardo Montalban did on the character. A specific part always stayed with me: Basing his approach to the character on this overwhelming rage that built up over 15 years or so.

Go to 3:12 to hear what I’m referencing.

A jump scene (bloody arms) immediately after a fake jump scene (door opening to Kirk’s face)? Not scary.

“But he was late. He had to get back to Reliant in time to blow you to bits.”

Was that supposed to be a joke? It wasn’t funny. It didn’t even appear to be an attempt at funny. What an odd line.

The worm thing continued to scream even after it was liquified by Kirk’s phaser. Duh.

As I said, Shatner is such a wonderfully shitty actor.

I was annoyed about a scene in the 2009 Star Trek reboot. In Kirk’s talk about his cheat on the Kobayashi Maru (yeah, I just said that in my head as ma-RU), he mentions that he received a commendation for original thinking. The fact that the universe was rebooted doesn’t explain why Star Fleet would swing 180° and place him on suspension.

“Explain it to them.”

Yeah, okay, since you’re threatening to kill us, we’ll stop going into the nebula. We’ll stay out here so that you can kill us more easily. Not much of a threat, huh?

Kirk also knows how to talk to Khan: Appeal to his inflated ego.

The way Kirk beat Khan was perfect. Exploit the fact that he’s from the 21st century, and thus doesn’t think three-dimensionally. (We’re all assuming there are no aircraft pilots among Khan’s bridge crew.)

After seeing Star Trek III and reading the novelization, I went back to the novelization of this movie. It confirmed my recollection: The “remember” wasn’t in the book. How could a book not have something important that the movie did?

As a kid, I was disappointed that Khan didn’t see Kirk get away. Then I grew up and shed such prideful notions.

Spock’s death was heartbreaking, especially for a kid watching it.

On a final note, I think it’s appropriate to provide this visual.

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE: THE LAST DAYS OF MADELINE KAHN
It’s “Wrath of Khan,” not “Wrath of Kahn.”

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Travelling Through the Star Trek Universe, Part I. Viewing Notes on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. @StarTrek @Hulu #StarTrek #GuiltyPleasure #movie

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It’s time to revisit all the Star Trek movies. It’s my favorite intellectual property, but don’t expect me to act the apologist. As my friends will attest, I’m happy to criticize the things I love, but there’s a lot to love here as well. The things we tolerate for drama. *sigh* This post doubles as an entry in my Guilty Pleasures; it wasn’t well received by anyone. It isn’t the first Star Trek movie to be in that category, and it won’t be the last. Here are my viewing notes.

Nice theme music. I remember getting into a mild argument with my uncle. I claimed that they reused it for the Star Trek: the Next Generation series. Guess who won that argument.

“I’m so offended they changed the Klingons! How can we explain this in canon?!” The FASA Star Trek RPG did so brilliantly (which they adapted from John M. Ford‘s work), and the canon explanation from Star Trek: Enterprise wasn’t bad either.

Trivia: Mark Lenard was the first actor to play three different species in the Star Trek universe. In my favorite Star Trek episode, Balance of Terror, he played a Romulan commander. In Journey to Babel, he played Sarek, Spock’s Vulcan father. In this movie, he was the Klingon commander. If I’m not mistaken, it wasn’t until Jeffrey Combs played Shran that someone else accomplished the feat. I’m not entirely sure about that though. It could have been Tony Todd or Joseph Ruskin. I’m too lazy to look it up.

I’m not even three minutes into the substantive content, and we’re already getting a scene with unnecessarily long exterior views of things that don’t matter. We get it. The space station is big. Really big.

Ooooo, a backwards-firing photon torpedo. We’ve never seen that before. Wait. Why not? How stupid were the designers of these ships?

I don’t think the movie ever explained that the voice calling out to Spock was Kirk’s, not V’Ger. I seem to remember from the novelization that it was Kirk. I read the novelizations of the first five Star Trek movies. Yeah, that includes the Final Frontier. That book was pretty good. Sybok could have been the best villain ever.

Poor Sonak. He didn’t realize what was in store for him, but he almost deserves it. You’re not Spock, Sonak. Don’t raise your eyebrow like that. It’s a Spock thing, not a Vulcan thing. (It became a Vulcan thing, but it shouldn’t have been.)

Why is the Enterprise the only ship in range to intercept? They’re on Earth, which is the center of government for the Federation. Shouldn’t there be at least a few ships nearby? This isn’t the only time this nonsense was used as a plot device.

And here’s the unnecessarily long exterior view that everyone talks about. I really should fast forward through this one, but writing these notes is distraction enough to make it bearable.

The engineer on the floating disk is probably violating OSHA regulations.

All these actors are amazing. I actually believe they’re happy to see William Shatner arrive.

The real reason Decker was relieved of his captaincy was that he was molesting children. (Too harsh?)

The other person in that transporter malfunction had a pretty decent treatment in the novel. Here, she wasn’t even named.

The crowd of crewmen included a lot of diversity. The rest of the movie? Not so much.

Chekov’s smile when Ilia enters is classic. Sulu tried and failed.

McCoy should have kept the beard for the entire movie.

I don’t think wormholes work that way, but I’ve never been in one. From a dramatic perspective, the scene wore out its welcome not even halfway through it. It had the same effect as any of those external shots.

Kirk needs a ready room.

I’m sorry.
That you left Delta IV? Or that you didn’t say goodbye?
If I had, would you have been able to say it?

Now picture me rolling my eyes so hard they fall out.

I made a simple ST:TMP game on my Commodore Vic-20. There wasn’t a lot of memory to do anything impressive, but it was a good way to connect with the movie.

More external shots. Yes, we know. This thing is even bigger.

Was V’ger related to the Borg in some way? There’s a non-canon story line that says so, but I want that resolved in canon. Hey, what about Control? Could V’ger close a temporal loop by being related to Control?

Oh, Ilia. ☹ She’s so scared.

“This is how I define unwarranted!” How did Decker make Captain? Space travel is risky business. If you can’t handle it, don’t do it. They’re trying to save Earth. There are billions of lives at stake. You must take risks.

Spock is a seer. He can see the future.

The computer’s assessment of what’s going on

Why is the Ilia probe wearing clothes? This isn’t wishful thinking. She was created in the shower without clothes, and then they were added before it exposed itself.

My memory of the novel tells me that it went into a ton of detail about the scan of the probe. It was . . . . fascinating.

Why didn’t the door open for the Ilia probe? She shouldn’t have had to break through it. They’re automatic. We already know it’s extremely strong.

In one of his posts, Kessel Junkie claimed that this ship. . .

I use a toy because Star Wars is for children.

. . . proved that Star Wars got faster-than-light speed theory right before Star Trek did (2002).

Yeah, you beat this one, Hammerhead. 2009.

Bad news on that, though.

I swear it’s clearer earlier in the scene.

Spock getting emotional over a handshake. It’s as if millions of Vulcan voices cried out in terror.

I want to see V’Ger fight the whale probe.

Nimoy was wearing a lot of makeup.

“Mr. Chekov, when do those probes reach their final destination?”
“Fifty-seven minutes.”

What? That means that there’s got to be 57 minutes left in this show for the ending to have a close call! Oh, there’s only 20 minutes left. Phew!

“Captain, I’d like to go along.”

Of course, you would, Commander Decker. Someone’s got to die.

In 1979, I was 11, so the big reveal (i.e., “VOYAGER”) surprised the hell out of me.

Couldn’t they just hit Voyager with a phaser? That’s the whole ship’s brain.

“Jim, I want this. As much as you wanted the Enterprise, I want this.”

Again, how did this idiot become Captain (of the flagship, no less)? It must have been nepotism.

In a sense, this was the perfect Star Trek movie. Lots of human drama, and a “villain” that represents the unknown of space, while representing a cautionary tale for humanity itself: Our actions will always have consequences. But that doesn’t resonate well with non-Star Trek nerds. It didn’t have the face-to-face villain that everyone craves. That’s because the first movie is always about the protagonists, with the sequel about the villain. Maybe the next movie will fare better with the masses. 😊

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Spreading It Too Thinly #StarTrek #StarWars cc: @kesseljunkie @williamshatner @BWingFactory #nerd

Last night, my cousin, Kessel Junkie, and I had our monthly (or so) outing at Buffalo Wing Factory. As always, we talk about all things both political and nerdical. Of all the things we discussed, there was one point made that was wholly mine, rather than a consensus between our two views. It’s not that Kessel Junkie hadn’t heard the argument before and accepted it in the context of Star Trek, but I took it to a larger level.

For all it’s bells and whistles, all of the new iterations of Star Trek will never (apparently) have what the Original Series had: character development. At first, this seems like a ridiculous argument, but I’m serious. It’s not that TNG, DS9, and the rest don’t have character development; the problem is that they spread that development too thinly across too many characters.

The Triumverate of Nerd

TOS had three characters: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Everyone else was secondary. Can any of the newer series or movies say that? No, they can’t. They’ve all moved from being about “the main characters” to being about “the ensemble,” and the result is that none of the characters mean anywhere’s near as much as the original three. As I’ve pointed out before, we know the year that O’Brien’s mother-in-law was born. That’s a bit crazy. If you’re filling in that level of detail about the most minor of characters, you’re not spending time on who matters most. Granted, TOS lasted less years than any of the other series, so inevitably we would have known more about the minor characters as future seasons were released, but it still would have been about the big three.

It’s Not Just Star Trek

I pointed out to Kessel Junkie, a rabid Star Wars fan (seriously, check out his blog), that this isn’t just Star Trek. The original Star Wars trilogy was about Luke, Leia, and Han. Is Obi-Won Kenobi getting too important? Cut the bastard in half … or into thin air. Whatever. Same with Yoda. Bring them back as ghosts occasionally, but get them out of the action.

The Star Wars prequels became about the ensemble. While it should have been about Anakin, Obi-Won, and Padme, it wasn’t. Mace Windu, Yoda, and a freaking astromech droid were just as important. They got a ton of action independent of the main characters.

A Larger Trend

I haven’t done any serious math here, but this appears to be a larger trend, especially in light of the success of comic book movies. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It allows screenwriters to tell a different set of good stories. It’s also no longer “progressive” to just stick a minority on screen, make her a secretary, tell everyone she’s good at math, and rarely let her speak words other than, “I’m frightened.” I can understand a need to continue our social evolution, but it has its drawbacks with respect to the development of characters with whom the audience can relate. If we had the Avengers but didn’t have the benefit of two Iron Man movies, a Captain America movie, a Thor movie, and two Hulk movies, you wouldn’t care as much for those characters as you did (unless you had decades of development through reading their comics, which I do not have).

And this is why Picard will never have shit on original Kirk. Get over it and get off my lawn, you rotten kids.

Of course, Zap’s better than both of those sissies put together.

P.S. Opening day for Star Trek into Darkness is my birthday. Great gift, though it would be better if Cumberbatch were playing Sybok.

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