Star Trek Crap

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    Sorry to lower the tone and for being so early in the morning. But if you’re a fan of ageing sci-fi franchises generally, or a fan of complaining about them, here are some things going on with Star Trek at the moment:

    Star Trek: Short Treks. Out Now! 4 x short episodes (10-15 mins) being released once a month before Discovery returns. Minimal and supplemental, but proper stories rather than DVD-padding minisodes. The second one (Calypso) is the most Trek has intrigued me since the 90s, written by Michael Chabon. I don’t know where you can watch these where you live.

    Discovery season 2 starts in January. Hope it’s good. I found S1 watchable and they’ve already concluded (abandoned) the war arc I didn’t like. Fan service tends to repel rather than attract me, but I have a soft spot for the ‘lost’ Captain Pike era (I probably watched ‘The Cage’ more than any other episode as a kid), so I’m more interested to see their take on that vaguely-defined crew than watching another reboot of Kirk & co.

    Star Trek: Lower Decks. An adult animated sitcom in development focusing on the humdrum lives of Starfleet technicians. Creator Mike McMahan explains, “I want to do a show about the people who put the yellow cartridge in the food replicator so a banana can come out the other end.” Where do they get their crazy ideas from? Maybe the same places Rob and Doug did, it’s not that similar really.

    Picard series in development starring Patrick Stewart. I didn’t find this announcement exciting, because I prefer new things, but I just found out Michael Chabon’s on the writing team, which will help. Excitement may come as details are released.

    – Various rumours about other shows or miniseries invariably centred around existing characters and concepts, but I don’t think anything’s been confirmed and may all be uninteresting clickbait.

    – Reboot Star Trek 4 is supposedly stuck in development hell, and something about a weird Tarantino proposal. I don’t care about the films any more.

    But never mind that tot – best Trek film? I’d probably go with VI, because I love how timely its analogy is at the end of an era, but 1-IV are all classics or comfort watches in their own ways.



    Star Trek VI is also my favourite Trek film, yeah.

    There is something about the TOS films that makes them endlessly rewatchable.


    Ben Saunders

    I just finished The Motion Picture and holy shit what a boring, slow, plodding, humourless, drab, ugly, beautiful, engaging, glorious, funny, wonderful film.

    There were moments in it where I was thinking holy FUCK won’t SOMETHING just PLEASE happen, but overall I thought it was pretty damn good. Nimoy’s voice is weird and the director does some really strange shit with the focus on the film making parts of it distractingly blurry, and there is one cut to a scene where the music stops, the grade looks different and the sound is messed up or something. Great stuff. Looking forward to Star Trek II.



    I watched the first Trek film as a small kid in the early 90s, and remember it being slow and boring, but also having some kind of epic special spiritual feel that made me want to watch it again some day. I’ve always meant to get a copy but never got round to it.


    Pete Part Three

    I started watching The Motion Picture on 24th December 1995 (it was on telly). I switched it off an hour in, meaning to come back to it. 21 years later, I got around to it but decided I’d better start again from the beginning as I couldn’t remember what was happening (for some reason). I fell asleep during the achingly long tour of the outside of the Enterprise about 15 minutes in.

    I’ve scheduled another attempt at finishing the movie in 2037.



    I’ve always had appreciation for The Motion Picture, but less after seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey and realising how much they were trying to do that, down to the colour of the spacesuits. The model shots and soundtrack are the best thing about it by miles, so ThomasHuntFilms’ ships-only YouTube video is better than sitting through the actual film:

    Ben, there are a few versions of the film around, one a director’s cut that adds/removes scenes and adds new VFX in perma-SD DVD quality, maybe you saw something like that. If you honestly don’t know what’s in store for Star Trek II+ and haven’t seen these before, that’s exciting to me.


    Ben Saunders

    I watched the original version, I checked. I always like to watch the original versions of things first to experience them as a general audience would have for the first time way back when.

    Because Star Trek is so ingrained in popular culture and so often referenced/discussed, I unfortunately do know what happens at the end of Star Trek II, have seen snippets of Star Trek IV from when my dad was watching it and know Star Trek V is some ambitious disaster about finding God, but apart from that I know pretty much nothing else about the movies. I also know all the even numbered ones are the good ones, apparently



    I’ve been thinking lately about the similarity between Kirk’s fate in Generations and Luke in Last Jedi – right down to the actor publicly not liking it – though I’m sure Hamill won’t bother with personally having his own EU novels ghost-written, like Shatner did to bring Kirk back. (not that the new canon rules would let him). But yeah, Kirk really does get an anti climactic end (though maybe that’s the point. He’s a hero, even if it’s not a cool looking battle). I don’t get why they made that film such a dark non-crowd-pleaser. I don’t really get any of the TNG films other than First Contact – they seem to have all the worst of the show without the good.


    Plastic Percy

    Much as Kirk falling off a bridge is crap, it was more dramatic than the originally shot ending where Malcolm McDowell just shoots him the back.



    First Contact was my favourite when I was a teenager, but it hasn’t held up since. I’d rather watch the terrible Star Trek V than any of the other TNG films, because at least that has some real weirdness and ineptitude that gives it so-bad-it’s-funny value.



    I do like the TNG films but they’re TV movies with a massive budget really, apart from Patrick Stewart stretching his acting legs a bit more, there’s not much in them that makes them feel special. Nemesis wasn’t great though obviously.

    The Motion Picture I just can’t figure out. I can’t even remember if I’ve seen it all the way through, I had to stop because I was bored out of my mind after an hour. I think I resumed but I just don’t like it. It’s like Gene Roddenberry ate a load of magic mushrooms before he wrote the screenplay to me.

    Also the uniforms are offensively bad.


    Ben Saunders

    TMP is great if you can stay awake during the gratuitous 17-minute special effect wankfests, they really could be cut in (at least) half and not remove any impact. It’s a shame that the Blu-Ray transfer is so dirty and the matte lines on everything are so obvious, I’m sure it looked fantastic in the cinema in 1979, though. But Star Wars for example doesn’t suffer from the same issues. I mean obviously Star Wars was digitally touched up but it’s a shame to have that as a reference for what great spaceship effects look like only to get hit with dirty film and matte lines wider than headphone cables


    Pete Part Three

    I’m doing a very condensed TNG rewatch at the moment (40 of the best episodes from a list I found online). I haven’t watched the show at all since BBC2 repeated it in full in the nineties, save for a few classics. I think it says a lot for the quality of the show that I can remember the stories of many of these episodes, despite not watching most of them more than once about twenty years ago. TNG nailed so many of TV’s best examples of particular sci-fi stories on first attempt.

    Patrick Stewart effortlessly acts everyone off the screen and Tapestry is up next, which I think may be my all time favourite.

    In terms of the movies, Wrath of Khan is brilliant. Undiscovered Country was the first Trek I ever really watched and I love the Detective Spock stuff. The Search for Spock gets an unfair rep and since it’s the middle part of a trilogy is unskippable., Voyage Home gets a *bit* too much love.

    I don’t quite get the Generations hate. The plot is complete bobbins, but it would be a perfectly good episode of the show, mich like Insurrection. First Contact is fantastic.



    First Contact is the best TNG movie.



    I never really watched TNG when it was on, I always thought it was a bit boring, but having watched it since I feel like it really helps if you can watch it from the start and get to know the characters. I think it’s probably the best Star Trek overall, there’s just quality there.

    Conspiracy was a great watch too, even if I’d have been watching the BBC broadcasts I wouldn’t have seen it as intended anyway, it’s great.



    Top of my head top 10 Trek: The Cage (TOS), The City on the Edge of Forever (TOS), Star Trek VI, Yesterday’s Enterprise (TNG), Tapestry (TNG), All Good Things (TNG), The Way of the Warrior (DS9), The Visitor (DS9), Far Beyond the Stars (DS9), In the Pale Moonlight (DS9).

    There’s so damn much Trek, you can focus in on really specific arcs and get a whole season out of it. TNG’s Q or Data episodes, Ron Moore’s Klingon soap opera in TNG-DS9, DS9’s Ferengi sitcom, poor O’Brien getting punctually put through hell every year…



    Forgot to include Wrath of Khan, idiot.


    Ben Saunders

    Just finished Star Trek II, currently sobbing. For the most part STII is an above average action flick with some strong characters and a notably tight script, but that ending would make a statue cry. And Kirk’s speech, oh man.

    I’ve only seen TOS in its entirety so far, catching various episodes of TNG and Voyager as a child, but according to my imdb ratings my top stories are (in no order): A Taste of Armageddon, The City on the Edge of Forever, This Side of Paradise, All Our Yesterdays, The Corbomite Maneuver, A Piece of the Action, Amok Time, Requiem for Methusela, The Doomsday Machine, The Motion Picture, The Deadly Years



    I didn’t rate Wrath of Khan much when I first saw it, but I’ve come to love it over time. It’s great how it addresses the cast’s ageing and makes that part of the story, like we like in Red Dwarf. I like the pompous literary Moby Dick / Paradise Lost stuff too.

    The main difference between TMP and WOK is Roddenberry was sidelined and Nicholas Meyer got to reinvent the series, plus James Horner’s horns set a different tone than Jerry Goldsmith’s harps. Roddenberry wouldn’t have much control again until early TNG, where Riker and Troi are cut from the same template as Decker and Ilia in TMP.


    Ben Saunders

    I’ll come back and watch the alternate cuts of the movies once I’m done with the theatrical run and see if I grow to like them more, or less.

    WoK reminded me of the phenomenon wherein sometimes having something spoiled for you can actually increase your enjoyment of it. Knowing that Amy and Rory were going to die gave me a sense of foreboding and fear and made me really not want them to go, and perhaps my overall enjoyment of Angels was higher than it would have been going in blind. A similar thing happened with the ending to WoK, because just as things were starting to get critical I thought, oh boy, here it comes. And when Spock stood up from his chair without a word my heart sank and my mouth stood agape as I felt this rushing sense of inevitability and almost hopelessness that nothing can be done to stop what is about to happen. So I wonder if went into WoK totally blind what my reaction would have been to that scene, knowing I had a very strong reaction having had it already spoiled for me.

    Do you think Doug got the idea of Cat needing glasses from Star Trek II? The bit where Kirk has to stand with his back to the viewscreen and put on his spectacles almost in shame was hilarious.

    I have heard early TNG is boring because Roddenberry forbade conflict between the characters, but I’ll see when I get to TNG.



    Apparently, a disgruntled Nimoy (RIP LLAP) spoiled Spock’s death to the press while it was still in production, which might be why he “dies” in the simulator at the start as a misdirect to the audience. But he was still open to negotiation before they finished filming, hence the mind-meld open ending.

    Star Trek III has flaws, but you’ll definitely enjoy it. The odd-numbered “curse” was probably coined after IV was massively successful and V massively shite.



    I really like early TNG, I think there’s some great episodes there.


    Ben Saunders

    Why did Nimoy have such a love/hate relationship with Trek?

    Oh, and having credits at the start of a movie takes a lot of getting used to, I guess I haven’t seen too many older movies but it’s a comparatively dull experience to sticking them at the end, a lot of waiting around. And the Star Trek movies so far are just littered with extremely obvious ADR that sounds completely different to the on-set sounds (much of it from Bones), and sometimes the sound mixing/effects is really odd. The “my son” scene in Star Trek II can’t decide which footstep sound effect it wants to use for the one character and can’t even give us one for each step.

    Star Trek III is the only movie in the series I know nothing about so I’m excited for that.



    He wrote his ‘I Am Not Spock’ memoir in the 70s, which isn’t as negative as it sounds, but he probably wanted to move on and be known for other things, especially directing. They lured him back by letting him direct III & IV, and he had a lot of input into IV’s story. That all turned out good. Unfortunately, it compelled Shatner to demand he direct Star Trek V.

    This year I’ve mainly watched older films that have no credits at the end, where the story’s still going on up to 10 seconds before the end of the runtime and ‘The End’ title card. That’s the way to do it.


    Pete Part Three

    Oh, I hate that. Hitchcock had a bit of a dodgy track record with final scenes, and some of them have very sudden endings. When there’s no end credits, there is no time at all to reflect on the film before the studio logo appears.

    I’ve no problem with a long opening. I really appreciate a nice titles sequence. Spectre’s was better than the movie that followed.


    Ben Saunders

    Nothing wrong with a long opening, it’s just you have The Motion Picture (two minutes of black with some nice music followed by a lot of writing on a black background) and The Wrath of Khan (a lot of writing on a black background) and it makes you so glad that we don’t do that anymore.


    Toxteth O-Grady

    Best film has to be II, although I do really like VI as well. The Motion Picture has some great visuals, but has to be the slowest film in history.

    The Picard series sounds interesting, but not exciting, and has the potential to sour the TNG legacy even more than their poor films.

    Lower Decks sounds terrible. Any adult animated sitcom based on Star Trek should be a parody of it, rather than under the actual Star Trek banner. But then we’ve already had Red Dwarf, Futurama, Rick & Morty, The Orville, Final Space; so isn’t this a bit of a dead horse by now?
    Sounds like the cringe-fest that was ‘Star Wars Detours’ – which at least somebody had the sense to cancel before it even started.

    Haven’t seen Discovery, but I’m glad it has a second season.

    Reboot Trek 4 – this is the only thing here I’d want to see. 1 and 3 were in the better half of Trek movies, and I enjoy a nice 2-hour story with the TOS characters.(although Quinto still hasn’t got Spock right IMHO). The possibility of Tarantino being involved is too interesting to not do.



    To be honest, after Discovery the only way is up in my opinion so I’m looking forward to Picard.

    Discovery feels like an “alright I suppose” sci-fi show that didn’t want to do all its own hard work and establish itself so it piggy backed on Star Trek.



    Not to mention some of the ugliest CGI I’ve ever seen on a modern show.


    Ben Saunders

    Just finished The Search for Spock… I think that’s my favourite of the Trek films so far. That was outstanding. I loved the humour, I loved the sequence of them stealing the Enterprise, I loved the emotion, and I loved that moment when the TV theme plays at the end. An odd structure perhaps, but I don’t understand why this installment is looked down upon so much. Christopher Lloyd as a Klingon captain was totally unexpected, but brilliant.

    One thing that’s for sure is the movie felt incredibly short. Maybe because I was enjoying it so much?

    Consulting Google, the unbearable long ST1 was 132 minutes, the decently sized ST2 was 112, and 3 was… 105. Yes, comparatively short. I could have done with a little more, I wonder how long the director’s cut is.


    Ben Saunders

    I will say it was extremely dark and emotional in a way the television series flirted with but didn’t really get into all that much, so perhaps that is the reason for the dislikenment – it is much more of a dark action adventure serial than an introspective science fiction slow burner. I enjoyed it for its dark tone, with moments of levity, but I can’t imagine ST3 being the “comfort watch” people say the TOS movies generally are. 1 and 2 yes, but not 3. It’s too dark and emotional to just put on if you want to have a good time, I would think.



    Great: stealing the Enterprise (feat. Excelsior’s smug dick captain), destruction of the Enterprise (did you know that was coming?), introduces those new models that would be endlessly reused for the next 15 years, fake soundstage planet has fun TOS vibes, Christopher Lloyd makes the mandatory villain memorable.

    Not so fond: convenient/lazy plotting that gets them out of the hole they’ve dug – just kill off Kirk’s son and put Spock’s magic soul (that exists now) into his new body when it reaches the correct age. And Spock’s hardly in it, Saavik’s been downgraded, and then there’s this guy:



    As for alternate versions, I think it’s only I & VI that have a notable director’s cut. II has a special edition that incorporates a few deleted scenes you could just watch on YouTube (Saavik was supposed to be half-Romulan, etc.) and III had nothing. I stopped collecting the special edition DVDs after that disappointment.

    The longer Star Trek VI (which enriches the story and the climax) is the one we got at UK cinemas and was the only version released worldwide on video and DVD until they reverted to the US cut for the Blu-ray. Unless that means it’s not available in HD, I’d go with the longer version there.


    Ben Saunders

    I knew the Enterprise would be destroyed, I didn’t know in what fashion. I really like how they did it, and I really like how they used the same destruct codes from Season 3’s Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, that was a really nice continuity nod and I felt a real sense of “fuck yeah” at the Klingons getting owned.

    Killing off Kirk’s son gave us an extremely powerful moment from Shatner, damning those Klingon bastards. If you need proof Shatner isn’t a bad actor, see Star Trek’s two and three. Spock’s essence living on sort of almost makes sense with Vulcans being such telepathic races – think of the Time Lord’s Matrix and how if you can transfer thoughts and memories this is just one step further. Also remember (if you dare) Turnabout Intruder. It is a bit easy and tidy, though, I’ll give you that.

    I was amazed how well the plot plot of 3 came out of 2, and how easily the mind meld “remember” stuff fit into the ending scenes from the previous movie. Was any of that reshot a la Back to the Future 2 or was it all pre-planned/left open?

    Leonard Nimoy isn’t in it, but “Spock” is, and his presence and his ideas are all over the film, I don’t mind the lack of Leonard. Obviously I’m glad he came back, in the end.

    Half Romulan was mentioned in the cut of Khan I watched, and I’m certain it was the original. I loved Saavik’s original actress, she had this sassy energy about her where everything seemed tinged with sarcasm, and she seemed to find everything surely humorous. The new actress is indeed a downgrade, and honestly I wasn’t sure if she was supposed to be the and character at all or not. I watched the movie as if she was a new character and it all worked fine.

    The cantina scene was fun if read as a deliberate homage to Star Wars rather than a ripoff.

    I’m still intent on watching original cuts first, but that’s interesting regarding VI. A UK audience would have seen the longer cut, and I want to place myself in the position of an audience member back then for historical context (even going as far as to intend to watch the various Trek movies and episodes all in production order), so watching the longer cut of VI wouldn’t necessarily violate that rule.


    Ben Saunders

    Slightly humorous*

    And I only THINK she was mentioned as being half Romulan in the movie, I could have learned that after the fact and got my memories mixed up



    The mind meld bit was definitely tagged on near the end of filming to keep it open, but it seems they were realistically expecting the films to end there (before TWOK proved profitable), or at least go on without Nimoy. Saavik only existed as a potential replacement in the first place (probably).

    I just checked and there are no alternate versions for III, IV or V. Though the DC comic adaptation of III supposedly follows an early edit that started with the Klingon/Grissom/Genesis stuff and moved to Kirk and crew later, rather than having parallel plots like in the film. I’m sure everyone reading Ganymede & Titan is really interested to know that.

    Speaking of your context, after watching Star Trek VI you should probably read a summary of what it’s *really* about, unless you’re already schooled up. It’s one of Trek’s most on-the-nose and timely real-world allegories that adult audiences would have got it in 1991, but later generations might have to wiki to fully appreciate. Works fantastically at concluding TOS and setting up the TNG universe too.



    …But if you’re watching in production order, you won’t see Star Trek VI until you’re five seasons into TNG anyway.


    Ben Saunders

    I might end up watching V and/or VI early if I’m feeling particularly burnt out on TNG or something, but we’ll see. I already gave up on watching The Animated Series, going straight to The Motion Picture, as after the excellent animated episode Yesteryear the cartoon just felt so… superfluous, and not of the highest quality, so I gave up on it. I also don’t like Star Trek stories being only 20-or-so minutes, everything feels rushed and inconsequential, give me between 50 and 150.

    I originally planned to go TOS-TAS-TOS movies-TNG-DS9-VOY-ENT and maybe Discovery if I can be arsed, before realising TNG/DS9/VOY were somewhat interconnected and aired at the same time



    Sounds good. It’s not as interconnected as you’d probably expect, but they lay some crossover groundwork for the spin-offs around the time they start, and there’s the production continuity and changing trends. Mainly, I think (weak) early DS9 would benefit from alternating with late TNG, as at least it would have novelty value as the weird, alienating show alongside the familiar one, rather than going full-on and struggling through before it gets better. Personally, I think DS9’s already winning by the end of the first year.


    Plastic Percy

    <<I just checked and there are no alternate versions for III, IV or V. Though the DC comic adaptation of III supposedly follows an early edit that started with the Klingon/Grissom/Genesis stuff and moved to Kirk and crew later, rather than having parallel plots like in the film. I’m sure everyone reading Ganymede & Titan is really interested to know that.>>

    I love the DC Star Trek comics. Shoehorning in dozens of issues between II & III where Saavik is Science Officer. And then even more issues between III & IV where Kirk commands the Excelsior and it ends with them going back into exile on Vulcan and Spock gets his mind wiped again to tie into the start of IV.



    If the Picard series is better than Discovery, even at a surface level, it’ll be worth a look.

    Discovery is complete piffle, utterly hopeless. Look how quick they were to throw away the Klingon arc and cater to fanwankery with the Enterprise.

    Bollocky ol’ nonsense, it makes me nostalgic for early season Voyager.


    Ben Saunders

    I watched a video yesterday about the writer’s room for the new Picard series, and how they were sent to a “canon bootcamp” led by somebody who’s only writing credits are for season one of Discovery and how they drew up a shitey wee map of the Star Trek universe etc, and it didn’t exactly instill me with confidence. It was of course from one of those “everything is shite now” channels, so was inherently biased, but still. Discovery is so far away on my watchlist, I still have everything from 1984 onwards to catch up on.



    Discovery is doubleplusungood, brother comrade



    I just watched Forbidden Planet (1956). Very much Star Trek’s Red Dwarf’s Dark Star, I see it in the pilot especially (which also has a lot in common with a 1960 Twilight Zone episode that even shares an actress). Industrial/robot influence on Star Wars too, and Doctor’s Who’s ‘Planet of Evil’ more blatantly rips it off and doesn’t care who knows it. Good film, despite being even more sexist than Star Trek.


    Ben Saunders

    >Star Trek’s Red Dwarf’s Dark Star
    My poor brain

    They mention Planet of Evil being Forbidden Planet on the DVD, it definitely wore its influence on its sleeve.

    Planet of Evil is one of the best examples of how hideous video tape looks compared to film, especially when they cut from the luscious forests to the horrid, cheap spaceship interior.


    Ben Saunders

    I wasn’t in the mood for a movie so I watched TNG S01E01 Encounter at Rarpoint instead of Star Trek IV. That was… really weird. Everything happened so quickly in the beginning and the ending was touching but utterly bizarre. “Lets see what’s out there” gave me chills, naturally. My favourite part of the episode has to be Marina Sirtis’ legs.



    TNG definitely improves later, but I feel like early TNG is “my” TNG just by accident of those ones being repeated on the Beeb when I first got into the franchise after First Contact came out, so I’m forgiving. My god, it sometimes gets SHIT though. But there are some really great episodes in there like GlenTokyo said. Wesley Crusher isn’t going anywhere.



    TNG S1 is a real clunker but it is entertaining. It always gets to the end of the episode with a resolution, the cast never falter and the production value is on point.

    It was the writing, and the way they approached it that was the downfall. You have to write the shit out of something as Rob Grant put it on the Bodysnatcher documentaries to glean an idea of the characters and their motivations in a visceral and natural way and in addition, they had to stop thinking it was 1967. There’s a lot of Gene hovering about the scripts, a lot of very twee thinking and once they shuffled him out of the day to day production, they could move the series forward.

    I’m sure it’s rose-tinted glasses but the ’90s was fucking astonishingly good for American TV in the form of TNG, The Simpsons, The X-Files and Frasier.


    Ben Saunders

    The Naked Now was pretty good, a little funny, a little saucy. But… use the tractor beam to push away the STAR, not the other ship, surely?!

    Also while Wesley didn’t annoy me in this episode, I can see him becoming more annoying as time goes by.

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