William Shatner Offers JJ Abrams Some Critical Star Trek Advice + More TNG Doc Details | TrekMovie.com
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William Shatner Offers JJ Abrams Some Critical Star Trek Advice + More TNG Doc Details January 2, 2013

by TrekMovie.com Staff , Filed under: Abrams,Celebrity,Conventions/Events/Attractions , trackback

William Shatner is getting ready to take his Shatner’s World Tour into 2013 and in a new interview promoting his next stop (in Aurora, IL) Bill gave some more details on his upcoming Star Trek: TNG documentary and he also paid a compliment to Star Trek Into Darkness director JJ Abrams (while at the same offering what might be seen as some combination of advice and a critique as well).


The Shat talks TNG doc and J.J. Trek

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times to promote the upcoming show, Bill discusses the experiences he’s had performing night after night, and gets around to talking a little Trek.

In early September Shatner announced that he was producing a documentary about Star Trek: The Next Generation and the challenges the show faced early on. We now have a little more information. The working title for the production is "Wacky Doodle" (yep you read that right) and will cover the tumultuous first two seasons of the show. He elaborates:

"It’s about how crazy it was, how difficult it was to get it started and do it right."

Mr. Shatner also shares his opinion about J.J. Abrams and his interpretation of Star Trek:

“What [director] J.J. Abrams has done is really wonderful. He’s opened the field to a much larger audience. Perhaps, if he does more, he will come to the idea that ‘Star Trek’ is also a wondrous story and not just a ride of derring-do.”

The interview, where Bill talks more about the show and hints that he’s working on a new music album, can be found at the Chicago Sun-Times.

William Shatner talking about "Star Trek" uring his "Shatner’s World" stage show – Bill is also offering JJ Abrams some Trek advise

Shatner’s World 2013 Tour Kicks Off On Friday in Chicagoland

The original James Tiberius Kirk has spent the better part of the past year touring the globe with his popular one-man show "Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It". After a month-long break Bill is taking his multimedia production to the Midwest, specifically the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois on January 4th. For more tour locations and tickets visit shatnersworld.com/tour.


1. MDSHiPMN - January 3, 2013

Bill’s got it right.

2. Dalek - January 3, 2013

I understand what he is saying. Movies are spectacles. Episodic Star Trek got inside the characters heads. I don’t think the first movie did a bad job of this about a young man finding his way in the world after tragedy shadowed his whole life.

3. chrisfawkes.com - January 3, 2013

Some wisdom there.

I don’t think he is suggesting there is not Story to Abrams Trek but that it’s not just about the action.

Even if it were about action it should not be about someone seeking vengeance all the time either.

I am looking forward to this Trek but if they do another angry alien film for the third i may give it a miss as i plan to miss Iron Man three due to then redoing the same story as they have done in the first two.

4. chrisfawkes.com - January 3, 2013

In fact they should never have revisited a vengeance story after twok, to do it three more time and that in a row is a fail.

5. Calastir - January 3, 2013

mr. Shatner is right.
Strip away all the special effects, and you should still be left with a good story which could be a good stage performance. TOS always had that.

6. T'cal - January 3, 2013

January 3, 1993: airing of the first episode of ST:DS9!

7. Barihawk - January 3, 2013

You all say that Bill got it right. But what Shatner managed to do in mid-sentence is say “yeah yeah, you are making successful movies. But I’m not in them.”

8. Jonboc - January 3, 2013

Of course, Bill is right, but it’s really about perspective. After 20 years of TNG and similar themed lack-luster spin-offs, “derring-do”….a common element of the original series, was conspicuously absent. It was very refreshing to see it again in Trek 09. As far as the story goes, I, along with a pretty large chunk of the world, found the time traveling/alternate universe/origins story to be quite good. Trek should always be a mixture of rip-roaring adventure, romance, imaginative awe of the unknown laced with SUBTLE social commentary and a good dose of humor. IMO, JJ and the writers got it right.

9. Kev - January 3, 2013

Really? DS9 Started up today? yeash damn it I need a time machine.

I miss the 90’s when we had new trek more or less every week, along With B5, sliders, the X files and all of that great sci fi.

and oh come on, he is the original and still working Barihawk, maybe by the time they do a 5th or 6th film or decide to end it they could have him do a cameo

as he probably feels left out as his best buddy got one.

but all that aside, he is shatner, how can you not love him? lol

but back on subject yeah Bill is right, TNG had a hell of a hard start up and those who watch SFdebris know why.

its true and its a plug for my main man there on youtube/blip

I mean maurice hurley does kind of come off as well not a very nice guy, plus well remember all of the stuff Will Weaton has made fun of when it came to the early seasons of TNG.

10. chrisfawkes.com - January 3, 2013

@7 But what Shatner managed to do in mid-sentence is say “yeah yeah, you are making successful movies. But I’m not in them.”

Sure you’re not really saying “I’m desperate for attention, give it to me”.

11. pilotfred - January 3, 2013

they got some of it right for a first go that pretty good, i hope the 2nd go they get more of it right

i am not having a go star trek is hard to do right i.e you want action however not to much and the right type of action for trek however you have to get other people in who want other type of action and so on

just look how boring encounter was! they got the trek story right just blow it with action and Dialogue

i like trek 5 and feel its a trek movie however they is stuff in the film which could of been improved

12. BulletInTheFace - January 3, 2013

#11: Um… what?

13. star trackie - January 3, 2013

Looking forward to Shat’s documentary on TNG so I can see where and why it went astray. An idea so right, with execution so wrong, TNG was so radically different from Star Trek in both structure and content that it gave me a sour stomach from day one. Expecting Star Trek and getting TNG was like coal in the Christmas stocking. Yep, huge TOS fan here, TNG …ummm…not so much. lol

Having said that., I think Shat is a bit off with his assessment of JJ’s Trek. Original Star Trek was always thoughtful, sometimes not as thoughtful, fun sci-fi action/adventure, whereas TNG was, well, lets just say it always seemed to lean more to the side of pretentiousness than fun. JJ’s version of TOS was fun sci-/fi action adventure, as it should be. There’s not one thing wrong with that. More of the same please. Leave the talky-bland tecno-babbly Trek for the TNG reboot!

14. CAPT KRUNCH - January 3, 2013

He’s 82 and into everything….Of course he’s gotta be pissed he didn’t get into the new TREK movie…I don’t think he is ever starved for attention though….#10….He’s as relevant as ever, buthe does need to get over dying in Generations as he did…JJ doesn’t have to explain anything anymore….there’s no magic to bring him back from the dead…. at least he recognize quality and isn’t complaining about it…as much….

15. JohnRambo - January 3, 2013


16. Dennis Bailey - January 3, 2013

This is the guy who directed “The Final Frontier” – not a “wondrous story” by any measure, but certainly an attempt to interpret Trek as “a ride of derring-do.”

17. The Keeper - January 3, 2013

Bill I love and admire you dearly..but do you remember your own installment?

18. Emperor Mike of the Empire - January 3, 2013

Long Live the Shat!.

19. Craiger - January 3, 2013

Would Shatner have been too old to have been the head of Starfleet Academy instead of Tyler Perry?

20. rm10019 - January 3, 2013

18 – in a film where Nimoy is playing Spock, to have Shatner NOT as Kirk would have been very strange, so no that would have been just weird and confusing.

21. sean - January 3, 2013


TNG didn’t go ‘astray’, it solidified Trek’s position in the pop culture at large. It wasn’t perfect and may not have been your cup of tea, but it was wildly successful and remains hugely popular.

22. Shannon Nutt - January 3, 2013

Saw SHATNER’S WORLD in Pittsburgh in November and its a great show…even got a picture and autograph with Bill afterwards.

He’s right about TREK, but I’m not sure JJ hasn’t done that with his new film. Of course, all we’re getting is action bits now (that’s how you “sell” a movie), but I think there will be plenty of story (i.e., moral/social issues) in there as well. We’ll see.

23. Mad Man - January 3, 2013

6. T’cal – January 3, 2013
January 3, 1993: airing of the first episode of ST:DS9!

Wow. It’s been 20 years since DS9 aired. I remember watching it in my dorm room! Has it really been that long since I was in college? Wow I’m old. I miss the 90s.

24. Nony - January 3, 2013

When did Shatner get interested in TNG? Didn’t he once say he’d never watched it — and now he wants to do a documentary about it? Maybe he’s had a marathon viewing and become a fanboy since that quote…

Though I get the feeling he did the entire ‘Captains’ documentary without actually having watched any of the shows/movies involving said captains, so it’s probably possible.

25. BulletInTheFace - January 3, 2013

Shatner is on record as having never watched any of the post-TOS series, which is why Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens were hired to write “his” Star Trek novels for him.

26. kmart - January 3, 2013

TNG was pitched at the times, seriously too Reagan-era, only paying lip-service to the sorts of themes that they should have been diving head-long into. Unlike TOS, TNG seemed more like a show that waited for others to do the cutting-edge stuff, then jumped on the trend. Your statement sounds like old Michael Dorn comments, where he basically says the show is too successful to bitch about.

Back in 91 when Meyer described Trek’s future as being a plaid-pants Republican thing, he HAD to have been thinking of TNG, a show where (to paraphrase something David Gerrold once said about TOS’ failings) the heroes were rarely challenged, instead it being more about us going places and showing the natives the error of their ways or talking down to them about how we long ago moved beyond this kind of thinking …

If you take QWHO out of the equation, there are practically no shows that reveal Picard as a guy with self-imposed limitations who has to acknowledge them. Whereas ERRAND OF MERCY (Kirk’s equivalent of Picard getting chocolate spilled on him episode) was just a major ep illuminating Kirk wasn’t perfect, with plenty of others where he also had to acknowledge it and occasionally grow from it.

TNG was just so flatline … maybe that is why it was so popular, because it was just THERE … if you don’t have too many outstanding eps like QWHO or MEASURE, then for devoted viewers the horrible ones probably don’t seem so horrible (I’m guessing there, cuz some of the rottenest TNGs I never even got through or gave a second viewing to, since they seemed to lack the charm of TOS turds, which at least have the alchemy of the cast going for them.)

In retrospect, I’m now not sure what is worse … trying to honor the notion of TREK and screwing it up (pretty much all of that ModernTrek era with the exception of DS9) or the StarWarsification of it with Abrams, which is so far afield that I don’t even see the characters as remotely resembling the same people. The latter approach is certainly dumber, but the TNG approach was actually offensive a lot of the time. At least the TNG approach allowed for occasional great ones, whereas I don’t imagine there’ll be anything like that for trek century 21 for quite awhile, unless Whedon or maybe even McFarlane (laugh if you want to, he has got a really good idea of how it should be playing) got a shot at getting things back to what TOS was about. Hard to imagine there is much Gene Coon-level talent out there that would be spending time doing TREK at this point though … go do your own thing on FX or AMC or HBO instead of knocking your head against the wall with a lose-lose proposition like TREK.

I really hope Shat’s TNG doc is honest about all the crap from early TNG BTS … get Gerrold and Fontana in there (too bad Robert Lewin and Herb Wright — didn’t know about this till just now — are dead), along with Torme and Hurley (those last 2 in the same room would be pretty interesting!)

27. kmart - January 3, 2013

I was going to agree with you, but look at SKYFALL and how they mess stuff up. You have Craig turning up not with his CASINO ROYALE Aston Martin, but with Connery’s fully-kitted-out one, which is probably as wrongheaded a call — as in not jumping the shark, but jumping out of the universe — as one could imagine, though audiences ate it up anyhow. Then again, most people actually found something to like in that movie, so there’s no accounting for taste.

Having Kirk in the Tyler Perry part walk past Spock and do a double-take wouldn’t have been any more over-the-top than that …

28. Jack - January 3, 2013

23. Didn’t he say Patrick Stewart had told him about that crazy first year during the interview for the Captains, or somewhere, and Shatner was amazed that a Roddenberry would pitch a TV series without any conflict between characters!

Although, even though we’ve heard a lot, since Gene died, about Gene’s no interpersonal conflict rule — that series launched with plenty of built in soapish drama (Picard hates kids! Picard and Crusher have a history, and sexual tension! Tasha Yar! Geordi’s never seen a sunrise! Decker and Ilia… oops, Riker and Tr…).

29. Buzz Cagney - January 3, 2013

#26 I liked it all :-) And as a good friend pointed out to me Skyfall passed the $1 billion dollar mark without a hint of shakey cam, lens flares or a poorly written romance, which was also entirely pointless and only in there to satisfy the Director..

I am somewhat confused about Bill’s sudden interest in TNG? Lord only knows why.

30. Jack - January 3, 2013

13. Star Trackie: ” I think Shat is a bit off with his assessment of JJ’s Trek. Original Star Trek was always thoughtful, sometimes not as thoughtful, fun sci-fi action/adventure, whereas TNG was, well, lets just say it always seemed to lean more to the side of pretentiousness than fun. JJ’s version of TOS was fun sci-/fi action adventure, as it should be. There’s not one thing wrong with that. More of the same please. Leave the talky-bland tecno-babbly Trek for the TNG reboot!”

Agreed! I think you can have intelligent human drama without big actory speeches and clunky “this is the moral!” allegories. This is the guy who made Star Trek V, after all.

31. The Great Bird Lives - January 3, 2013

In spite of what the Shat has done to piss people off in the past, it’s important to not forget his contribution to Star Trek. He made the character of James T. Kirk his own, and week after week we were mesmerized by his delivery. I for 1 think it’s imperative that he reprise his role in one way or the other in this alternate universe. I understand that he was killed in Generations, but his death is not set in stone. Suppose Kirk is half way across the galaxy, and is unable to be there on the Enterprise B’s maiden voyage, and subsequently never dies? And what of this Nexus that consumed Kirks being? Since he was never TAKEN from the nexus, as Soren was, the being that aided Picard in subduing Soren was only an ‘echo’ of James Kirk. So Kirk is still there living comfortably in the Nexus. Now I realize that the Nexus’s nature is discussed, but it’s origins, and full capacity has been left open to interpretation. And it would seem that the actions taken by Captain Picard may have resulted in an alternate reality being created. Remember: Guinan, and Soren were TAKEN from the Nexus. Kirk left the Nexus via Picards experiences of what was happening outside the Nexus, and therefore never really “left”.
All I’m saying is that if the powers that be wanted William Shatner to reprise ‘his’ role as the prime universe Kirk, it would not be difficult.
And there are an infinite number of ways to bring his character back so prime Kirk can have the closure the character deserves. And William Shatner should just take whatever monetary compensation (within reason) he is given, and shut up. It’s just as much his responsibility to give Kirk closure, as it is the powers that be. It was done half azz, and the viewers deserve to see it done right.

32. Colonel West - January 3, 2013

Just saw Mike Okuda mention on twitter, 20 years ago today DS9 started it’s run with Emmisary. A show that was years ahead of it’s time in serialized storytelling with some of the best awriting, acting and characterisation in all of Trek.

“Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren’t?”
“My dear Doctor, they’re all true.”
“Even the lies?”
“Especially the lies.”

Happy Birthday DS9!

Oh and fair point from The Shat there with the derring do comment…

33. Barney Fife - January 3, 2013

I agree with The Shat. I’ve been a fan of Trek since 9/8/66. I think JJ Abrams & Co. got it just right with the movie franchise. But I would LOVE to see them try a new Star Trek TV series once they complete the trilogy. JJ Abram, Orci, etc. have a proven track record with TV series – Alias, Lost, Fringe, Five-O. Can you imagine what they could do with a weekly Trek TV series? I want to see that – – and I sure hope there are discussions at CBS & Paramount regarding a new series.

34. Jeff O'Connor - January 3, 2013

Happy 20th, DS9!

35. Simon - January 3, 2013

@29 – You can’t compare the grosses of SKYFALL, an action/adventure product of a 50-year old *INTERNATIONAL* film-only franchise to sci-fi STAR TREK, which has a traditionally USA-European driven audience (it does not do well in places like Japan, etc).

In other words, different directorial style had nothing to do with their respective grosses. QUANTUM OF SOLACE, which was absolutely horribly directed, made huge amounts of money worldwide and more money than STAR TREK (2009).

36. Simon - January 3, 2013

I’d also like to know, as has been pointed out by #24, how Shatner is suddenly an expert on a show he never watched or had anything to do with. Not to mention resenting the show and blaming it for the failure of THE FINAL FRONTIER…Trekkers had “fresh turkey sandwiches” every week and weren’t so hungry for the film “Thanksgiving” anymore.

Shat’s ideas for the films nearly sank the franchise…it was his pitch that got made. It’s similar to MC Hammer giving financial advice. NEMESIS had the same problem: leave the big ideas to the filmmakers, not the cast!

37. LogicalLeopard - January 3, 2013

I think Shatner gave a fair assessment of ST09, and it’s not really all that critical. With a first movie, you can’t delve into particularly meaty ideas, although the Kirk/Destiny idea is very compelling from that movie. However, like others have said on this board, you can’t really go into a lot of ideas with a movie, compared to a series. You can do veiled stories about racism, politics, war, etc. in an episodic series, but when you have a movie, which you have to go and pay to see, if someone just says, “Oh, that movie is just a thinly veiled allusion to equal rights” then people can say, “Oh, well, I really don’t care to see it.”

38. SoonerDave - January 3, 2013

Betting that TNG “first two year” review talks a lot about the obstacles Roddenberry himself put in front of it, and how (in a way not dissimilar to the shift between TMP and Wrath of Khan) he *had* to be put to the side in order for something credible to get produced.

Realize there are lots of TNG fans out there, and that’s great, I surely enjoyed a good portion of those episodes, but there’s gotta be an acknowledgement that the first couple of seasons of TNG were just wretched, and no small number of them were almost literal word-for-word rehashes of TOS scripts. It is amazing Paramount stuck with it long enough for it to get its own sense of direction.

39. Lt.LanaShelby - January 3, 2013

Bill is, once again, quite correct.

40. Ran - January 3, 2013

“Perhaps, if he does more, he will come to the idea that ‘Star Trek’ is also a wondrous story and not just a ride of derring-do.”

True. So so true.

41. SoonerDave - January 3, 2013


David Gerrold, in “The World of Star Trek” written back in the early 70’s, talked about this very concept when delineating the issues that separate TV and movie production. Movies, necessarily, have to be about *the single biggest thing going on in the characters’ lives*. Episodic TV necessarily has to be *precisely* the opposite – recurring interesting themes and stories involving the *same* characters on a regular (weekly?) basis.

That’s why the criticism hurled at many of the Trek movies has been less the fault of any one Trek movie (well, excepting V, which was just embarrassing) than it was the mere fact of transplanting TV Trek’s “DNA” onto the theatrical format.

42. Moriarty - January 3, 2013

The Aston Martin in Skyfall was an easter egg, 50th anniversary reference, but hardly more unrealistic than “hacker computer interfaces” that look like Flash screensavers – and an IT department that doesn’t use firewalls.

Skyfall was a kind of end to the “hero’s journey” arc of the Daniel Craig reboot. We saw him as newly-minted agent who has his heart, and trust, tragically broken; then as a rogue out for revenge; then, seemingly years later, nearly worn out, forced to face his own history (in parallel with Judi Dench’s M) – and literally blow it all up, Aston Martin included – to survive.

Not too different from Episodes IV-VI, or bits of ST II and III, really. It’s storytelling.

We’ve had the newly minted captain who’s been given a newly tragic and troubled upbringing. It would seem that, with the lack of any real biological family, the Enterprise crew *is* Kirk’s family now. Becoming the head of any family while you’re still in your 20s, genius or not, is a huge challenge, and in time of war, more so.

Mr. Shatner had 70+ episodes to play out those more interesting dramatic moments, and we’re thankful for them, but it’s a different beast. If it wasn’t the best episode ever, or relatively light on action, another one would come along next week.

In the movie business they don’t have that luxury; it has to pay off fans who’ve been waiting for four years with visuals, spectacle, action, drama and a great story; and satiate a studio that wants a worldwide hit to pay back $100-million-plus investments. I thought JJ, his team and the cast did spectacularly well. As a 40+ year fan, there wasn’t a cringeworthy moment. Now the challenge is: can they do as well, or better?

43. Basement Blogger - January 3, 2013

We’ve heard Leonard Nimoy say good Star Trek worked on many levels. Great adventure. But there was also “something important to say.” It could be science. Social commentary.

The 2009 movie had a dedication to Gene Roddenberry. But what did Roddenberry think about the creative process when it came to good writing? He believed that artists should have things to say in the context of the story. Link. So William Shatner is correct. Abrams is a wonderful director. I liked his 2009 Star Trekbut it was somewhat light weight. But we should get excited about the next film since the Supreme Court has said they will go deeper. And the first nine minutes has already raised The Prime Directive. It was also exciting. It’s a very good start.

Link. Roddenberry’s view on what artists should do.

Link. Roddenberry wanted Star Trek to be a mass entertainment that had substance. Letter to agent.

44. kmart - January 3, 2013


That was Harve Bennett with all the turkey sandwich references, not Shatner (unless he has since pirated them.)

I’m 100% certain on that, because I was actually rereading Bennett’s comments in the old CINEFANTASTIQUE (st 6 cover) yesterday afternoon.

BTW, I interviewed Ralph Winter a couple years back for ICG magazine, and he still felt bad about TFF, saying that production let Shatner down enormously in many ways on TREK 5. The guy seemed incredibly decent, nice to know that good guys can succeed and last in the film biz.

I keep thinking that TFF’s FX problems (besides some hairy logistics) tie in with TMP’s … the studio didn’t stay on top of the vendor and didn’t pull the work to another house once they realized things were getting so far behind schedule. In the case of TMP, they did finally pull the work, but that was with 9 months to go prior to release … on TFF, there was barely 9 months from the start of shooting till release, so the time frame was severely constricted. Peter Wallach, Ferren’s choice for shooting the models, really should have read some trade magazines, so he would have had some idea of the cheats and shortcuts used when filming and having to composite ship models against bluescreen … the shots of ships with the no-blur motion were totally unacceptable in 1989, and only marginally so today, now that everybody’s visual sensibilities have been corrupted by 600hz televisions showing weirdly no-blur football games.

45. Robman007 - January 3, 2013

@44..production failed him BIG time in the movie.

The “turkey sandwich” statement was in Shatners book “Star Trek: Movie Memories”..he interviewed Bennett and that was when the “turkey sandwich” deal came up. Perfectly valid, of course, but not the reason 5 failed. Trek 5 failed due to the studio being cheap and cost cutting gutting a film and turning it from an average ok film to a train wreck bad film.

46. Robman007 - January 3, 2013

It’s really funny that it took Paramount up to 10 films worth to finally decide to keep their nose outta the overrall production of the films and to give them the funding needed to make amazing productions. Gotta wonder how TNG films would have turned out if Paramount was not being cheap.

47. Johnny Rockets - January 3, 2013

DS9 premiered the “week of” Jan 3rd. 1993.

In most markets I remember it actually aired Jan 5th. Most promos I saw mention that date. “Week of Jan 3rd”, is because it was a syndicated show, instead of a network show. So there is no actual premiere date. In fact Jan 3rd, 1993 was a Sunday.


48. Jack - January 3, 2013

Did anybody read Captain’s Log, about Shat’s directing Trek V. Interesting.

49. Damian - January 3, 2013

I loved the TNG, but it took about midway through the 2nd season. I think 38 had it right. Once Roddenberry was pushed into a more consultation role, TNG markedly improved. I think Roddenberry was a genius with his creative ability in a general sense, but when it came to details is where he had problems.

I’m afraid I have to disagree with #13. Yes, there are episodes, particulary in the 1st season that causes some eye rolling (Code of Honor anyone). But as the series went on, they started tackling more sophisticated subjects. There were episodes questioning the wisdom of the Prime Directive, and episodes where Picard breaks the directive. “The Drumhead” was an excellent episode portraying what happens when a celebrated admiral goes on a witchhunt. Yes it did portray an idealized vision of humanity in the future, but even the Original Series would do that. That is what attracted me to Star Trek in the first place, a future where we didn’t annihilate ourselves, where we have learned from many of our mistakes and became a more enlightened society.

Happy Birthday to Deep Space Nine. Another show that took until about the 2nd season to catch on for me.Loved the Dominion War arc and the struggles the Federation had in still trying to be an elightened society in a time of war, and not always succeeding.

I think each incarnation of Star Trek has tried to reflect the particular period they were made in. The Cold War references of the original series, the many wars going on around the world in the 90’s reflected in Deep Space Nine, and terrorism reflected in Enterprise and Star Trek (2009) on to Star Trek Into Darkness.

50. kmart - January 3, 2013

Captain’s Log, along with MAKING OF EXORCIST 2 THE HERETIC are two of the more honest making-of books I’ve read, not PR puff pieces at all.
Though to be totally honest, I’ve also heard that the original writer on Captain’s Log (NOT Shat’s daughter) delivered a manuscript that Shatner didn’t like (could he have been painted in an even LESS flattering light?) and so she was paid off and the book trashed, with parts surviving into the ‘as told to’ published version.

Very little online substantiation if any for this story, but I got it from a seriously devout fan of TMP (who never understood my interest in TFF and would be known by various usernames on trekbbs years back) who reached the original author via snail- or email about 10 years back.

I can say that the guy who did PHYSICAL effects — not vfx — on TFF, Mike Wood (who also did great work on Spielberg’s ALWAYS and on POLTERGEIST and I think INNERSPACE too), told me they all really busted their butts trying to make it happen, but that they were really crippled in terms of not having the necessary resources on hand. If you look at it, the fact they could actually ‘land’ the shuttlecraft and have all these people inside run out of it all in one shot is pretty impressive. Even the elevator shaft stuff s fairly ingenious given that they didn’t really have money to do it right while hanging millions of dollars in above-the-line talent on a pole way up off the ground.

Back on topic, I hope they talk with director Rob Bowman too … he was the only guy who could get around the ‘no handheld cameras in the future’ rule to some degree in early TNG, getting steadicam shots into a couple shows. The way TNG staged fights was usually lame beyond belief … look at the fight between the guest star and O’brien in THE HUNTED … they’ve got the camera way the hell down the hall away from the action, which is not exactly dynamic. Even when Worf gets a hunk of styrofoam dropped on him later on, it actually bounces off.

51. Lt. Bailey - January 3, 2013

Well said, Bill Shatner.

ST really is more than a thrill ride, it has a lot more depth but that is not to say the ride cannot be thrilling along the way, if done right.

His next documentary on TNG sounds great, he does nice work on his projects. I am glad we have some one who has been in ST to get these things right.

Look forward to seeing him in 2 weeks at OC Performing Arts/Segertrom Theater.

52. The Sinfonian - January 3, 2013

@50 The elevator shaft sequence was inexcusable for one key reason: The Deck numbers were completely in the wrong direction and stupid. The sequence would have worked fine, had they started on a Deck 20 and went upward to a Deck 5 or something like that.

That’s from a lack of attention to detail, which people like the Okudas deserve eternal gold medals for bringing to Trek.

That is the saving grace of TNG… after the first seasons, the internal consistency became simply marvelous. DS9 was built on that solid foundation. I like to think of TNG+DS9 “Miles O’Brien Trek” as the very best era of post-TOS Star Trek. VOY and ENT not so much. Why? VOY didn’t need internal consistency being out in the Redneck, erm, Delta Quadrant, and ENT, well, completely ignored internal consistency for some dumb reason. Until Manny Coto woke up the staff.

JJ should bring in some of these folks like the Okudas and Coto and have Bad Robot develop a Kelvin series for television, and a continuation of the present altered universe on the big screen for a threequel, and then go to mini-series, such as SyFy did with BSG originally.

53. Damian - January 3, 2013

52–Agree. The Elevator Shaft sequence was inexcusable for that reason. On the surface, it was ok, but the deck numbering was terrible. Deck 72. The Enterprise had a fraction that many decks. And the fact that the same number would show up twice.

I know some fans bemoan the technobabble. I agree, sometimes the technobabble got out of hand, particularly on Voyager. But don’t blame the designers (Okuda, Sternback, Eaves or Zimmerman). Their job was to build stuff and yes, make it internally consistent and reasonable. But they did not write scripts. They had to build stuff that made sense in the Star Trek universe and be somewhat based on reality. If you have a problem with “technobabble” that is the writers’ fault.

My one complaint about Star Trek (2009) was production design. Oh, Church built beautiful sets (well, except engineering), but they were not consistent with the Star Trek universe we have seen since at least TMP. It’s the one thing that pulls me out of Star Trek (2009). The writing and the actors were excellent, but I can’t help when I see his Starfleet Headquarters that I see a totally different design from what we have seen in TMP, TVH, TUC, Enterprise, Deep Space Nine and so on.

And the worse part is, staying somewhat consistent with production design would have done nothing to hurt the broad base appeal of Star Trek. Your average Star Trek (2009) fan would not have cared less in Star Fleet looked similar to what was seen in Star Trek IV.

54. Damian - January 3, 2013

53–Sternbach (sorry I misspelled your name–I would love to be able to edit old posts)

55. @chrisdude - January 3, 2013

Bill’s right on. Star Trek always had action, but it wasn’t big-budget summer action movie material. This is my main complaint with the new movies. Star Trek plots don’t need to center around an vengeful enemy, and they usually don’t.

What I want from Star Trek 3 are some difficult moral decisions or political conflict. Something thoughtful. I point to The Undiscovered Country and Insurrection. But I seriously doubt Abrams and Co. will risk it…

56. Dalek - January 3, 2013

16 – Dennis Bailey

Shatner got Star Trek and Kirk. Not saying JJ doesn’t. Bob Orci certainly does.

Star Trek V was a weakened budget suffering fifth outing riddled with studio interference. JJ can pretty much do what he likes. Paramount wouldn’t let Shatner tell the story he wanted to tell.

Shatner was instrumental in the creation and evolution of his character. Roddenberry had lengthy discussions with him in his office about Kirk, and Shatner chipped in. To hold Final Frontier against him is ludicrous. He did the best with what was dictated to him. Paramount forced that script into something clowny and goofy.

57. Uberbot - January 3, 2013

Yeah!!! I distinctly remember Shat saying he didn’t watch TNG. Then he said he never saw the JJ film. All of a sudden he’s got a lot to say about stuff he’s previously said he’s never seen!

Hahaha!! That Shat’s a funny guy!!! Lol!!

58. Simon - January 3, 2013

@56 and others –

ENOUGH with the budget excuses. TREK V had a bigger budget then THE VOYAGE HOME and they blew it. They didn’t hire ILM (Ralph Winter was butthurt about the “Co-Produced by Industrial Light & Magic” credit they got at the end) and Shatner ran through his money foolishly trying to shoot things an inexperienced director should have not done. It was Shatner’s story, his decisions.

TNG had better production values. Better VFX too. Their motion control team worked with much less money than what Ferren got and turned out terrific model shots.

THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY had a tiny budget, yet they had ILM and a script and story head and shoulders above Shatner’s folly. They had an experienced director in Nick Meyer who thrived in a low budget situation.

59. Robman007 - January 3, 2013

@58: Actually, was ILM not busy working on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade around the time production of Trek V went in? That was the reason why they couldn’t contract out ILM to do the visuals.

“And the worse part is, staying somewhat consistent with production design would have done nothing to hurt the broad base appeal of Star Trek.”

The difference in the production value of the sets, uniforms, character ages, the star ship designs, technology, all point to my theory that the last film must not have been considered an “alternate reality” until far later in the game, when it became apparent that old school fans may not show up to support the film if they were told it was a start over from scratch project.

60. Kenji - January 3, 2013

I love Shat as much as the next guy. I paid full price for his touring show and only flinched slightly when the Groupon came out that would have saved me roughly half of what I paid.

But, you guys. You guys. Come on.

The Shatner Trek novels are billious, self-serving crap, adventures with no discernable larger thematic purpose than to resurrect his character for further performance$.

Ergo, his views on Trek are interesting but hardly definitive.

TOS was always action-adventure. Some of them worked gloriously, some were interesting time-wasters, and some are, at best, camp novelties. DS9 was the one Trek show to attempt to delve into “wondrous” explorations of the eschatological and the esoteric — and was clearly the least Trekkish of the bunch.

As for this whole “Trek is more than vengeance” trope, agreed. But many plots of the best Treks involved situations where people who were motivated by getting even with something or someone. The Ultimate Computer, Space Seed, Balance of Terror, Best Of Both Worlds/Family, Court Martial, Doomsday Machine…

It’s all in how you do it. Trek09 is not WOK.

Which is not to say that this trope can’t be overdone. I myself am quite ready for a change of pace, a Shore Leave, Yesteryear, Wounded Sky, Last Configuration….

61. Dalek - January 3, 2013

#58 Who is making excuses. It was a bad movie. But it was hardly all Shatner’s fault. It was not his story. He settled, and regrettably so, on a weakened comedy-version of his original pitch which was that the Enterprise crew search for God but end up finding Satan. I refer you to Star Trek Movie Memories for an indepth account of all the studio interference and demands. Shatner’s largest regret was giving in to them on so many thematic and story fronts that it betrayed his original premise.

The fact Star Trek V was a bad movie does not equate that Shatner doesn’t understand Star Trek or Kirk. It’s not a correlation at all.

#60 Have you read the Shatner novels? With the exception of the final trilogy they were actually better than the majority of the Berman produced Star Treks (DS9 excluded). Oh and yeah they made the New York Times best seller lists. But hey ho!

62. Robman007 - January 3, 2013

@61…I love the Shatner novels. The first 4 books were great, books 5-6 were ok, but the other 3 novels were meh. Still, far more enjoyable then most Berman Trek.

Although, as much as I love the novels (I even got Shatner to sign a copy of my 1st edition hard cover The Return), I know that he didn’t write a single word of those books. He came up with the basis idea of what he wanted to see Kirk do and Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens did the rest. I love the Shat as much as the next trek fan, but I’m willing to admit he has close to zero knowledge of Trek outside of Kirk and maybe Spock, and has even admitted to have not watched but a handful of the episodes and nothing of the other shows/films.

Still, great series of novels.

63. MJ - January 3, 2013

““What [director] J.J. Abrams has done is really wonderful. He’s opened the field to a much larger audience. Perhaps, if he does more, he will come to the idea that ‘Star Trek’ is also a wondrous story and not just a ride of derring-do.” ”

This from the king of cheese and leader of meaningless entertainment drivel.

No thanks Fat Shat — and I don’t really want or value your opinion on this.

64. Jonboc - January 3, 2013

#63 “No thanks Fat Shat — and I don’t really want or value your opinion on this.”

…wow, I guess it’s a real good thing then, that neither he, or his millions of dollars, care.

65. sean - January 3, 2013

Guys, Shatner’s concept for TFF was awful on its face, and should never even have made it to the scripting stage. I’m fairly certain the execs shoehorned comedy into it because they realized the original concept was so goofy it could only work as a comedy.

It’s also worth nothing that both Leonard NImoy and Deforest Kelley had strong objections to the script, and those objections were about the Shatner-penned ‘serious’ scenes, not the broad comedy stuff.

66. Simon - January 3, 2013

@59 – Ralph Winter has ADMITTED they could have used ILM but didn’t. It was *a lie* that they were “too busy”. It didn’t matter than GB II and LAST CRUSADE were in production. The summer THE WRATH OF KHAN came out ILM also did POLTERGEIST and ET, both of which were more FX heavy than either GB II or LC (which had the least FX of the Indiana Jones series). ILM could have done THE FINAL FRONTIER easily. Needless to say they were contracted early for VI, and that year they also did T2 and HOOK. Matter of fact HOOK tied up the matte department so much that they could only do the paintings of the planet Khitomer. The rest of the mattes were done by Matte World, which was a spinoff of ILM (like Pixar).

So it’s time to end the lie that ILM was too busy. Truth is Ralph Winter didn’t want them to do it.

67. Red Dead Ryan - January 3, 2013

I wonder if Shatner would be singing a different tune had J.J Abrams offered him the part of the Kirk Prime hologram scene in the last movie?

68. stunkill - January 3, 2013

I loved TNG right from the start because i was only 11 years old so thats where i came into the franchise. it was later that i saw TOS and didnt like it nearly as much, i guess i couldnt relate to the 60’s mentality and thought TNG had gotten it right. All thes TOS fans constantly downgrading TNG dont take into account all the new generation fans brought into the fold at the time, and what it meant for us from then on in. So dont tell me I’m not a true fan just because I dont like TOS very much but i do respect it more now thanks to JJ Abrams.

69. Kev-1 - January 3, 2013

Think Shatner has a point, the 2009 story was kind of thin. STV did at least try to do an ambitious story, which bore some similarities to Roddenberry’s “The God Thing”. I would have to ask if making Star Trek accessible means anything if the end product is no longer Trek? Is the new version that popular outside of movie grosses? It doesn’t seem to be very marketable via toys, games or books (Don’t know how the first person shooter will do). I understand Paramount wants to make money. That’s fine. But I’m not required to pay for anything just because they put Trek on it. It’s just too early to see how the alt universe trek will play out. By the TV numbers, TNG should have blown the TOS movies away.

70. I am not Herbert - January 3, 2013

“… just a ride of derring-do.” (JJ-version)

that’s a nice way to put it… ;-)

Shat knows Trek! =)

71. DestinyCaptain - January 3, 2013

20. Nick Meyer is a cigar chompin’ weasel. TUC sucked. He knows about as much about Trek as Berman, Braga, or Abrams. None of them get it. None of them have any real love for it. None of them see it as anything more that a paycheck. Nick Meyer’s comment that you cited is one of the single stupidest things I have ever read having come from the man. He wasn’t speaking about TNG. He’d gavd to gave watched sone of it to be able to speak abour it intelligently. He wasn’t about to do that, the was no paycheck involved. He was talking about TOSfilm. TOSfilm and TOS were more Kenedy than Reagan. They were more Progressive than Conservative or Republican.

I give the man credit for making WOK what it was. Beyond that, I have no use for him. He’s the Braga of TOSfilm. I respect Harve Bennett far more than ANY of the people I mentioned above. He atleast respected the source material enough to get aquianted with it and understand that the fans deserve more than flipping them the bird while cashing your check. Their work was mercenary at best. That would be fine if they would contribute and leave, but they kept getting asked back over and over. That would make sense if they gave two craps about what they were contributing to. Nick was so locked into the Cold War crap that he’s gone on record as saying he wanted to redesign to Enterprise as a submarine in space. He basically wanted it to be like the Red October. That’s fine if it stated out that way. But it didn’t, and honestly Trek was so much more than a metaphor for the Cold War. Another idea high mark of his was the alien in the flying car with the glowing hand that basically was a ripoff of The Last Starfighter. Glad that didn’t make it into the film.

72. Shilliam Watner (Click for Trek Ships Poster) - January 3, 2013

I have to agree with Bill! Though there were some times I really wanted more derring-do in Star Trek. It’s possible, but more difficult, to have both. I hope Abrams and co. can achieve that balance. I’ve been plenty pleased with their derring-do, half please with their humor, and mostly displeased with their sense of (or absence of) wonder.

I don’t want them staring at V’ger for minutes at a time, but I would definitely like a moment or two where you say “wow” along with the cast.

73. Shilliam Watner (Click for Trek Ships Poster) - January 3, 2013

But Shatner was WRONG in STV: Final Frontier. THE worst Trek movie of all time, in my opinion. Still, I agree with him here.

74. Simon - January 3, 2013

With all the complaints about the lack of story I learned more about Kirk and Spock’s backstory in 20 min than the entirety of TOS.

75. Shilliam Watner (Click for Trek Ships Poster) - January 3, 2013

74. Simon – People are complaining about lack of story??? I don’t know what movie they saw. There was a proverbial ton of story in Star Trek 09.

76. MJ - January 3, 2013

Two of the last three three times Shat was involved in a Trek movie:

STV = worst Trek movie of all time that he directed

STVII = took the cash payoff despite the horrid way they killed off Kirk. Shame on him!

And this guy is taking potshots at JJ Trek. Give me a break. He just has sour grapes that JJ did not pick him — and that is Shat’s own fault for both developing a persona as a bufoon in recent years, and also ballooning out to the size of the Michelan Man — making him not credible to play Kirk anymore.

77. afr - January 4, 2013

@76 – I couldn’t agree more!

78. chrisfawkes.com - January 4, 2013


You know Shatner was involved in more that two movies, right?

His comments are based on years of Star Trek.

Even the fact that his attempt at directing was an action movie does not discount his comments. Not all of Star Trek was about action yet JJ,s first two have been based on exactly that formula.

To say there is more to Trek is spot on.

79. chrisfawkes.com - January 4, 2013

The Final Frontier was a dog but had some great character moments.

Nemesis had nothing.

So the award for worst Star Trek film of all time goes to Nemesis. Secong place goes to Insurrection and third to Generations.

Shatner’s contribution would get 4th if there were a place.

80. star trackie - January 4, 2013

#78 “His comments are based on years of Star Trek. ”

Thank you! Shat created the character, gave feedback to the writers…to Roddenberry, to Justman, to Myer, to Bennett.. like it or not, ideas that contruibuted to developing his character, and Trek, since 1966. #76 MJ has never played Kirk nor has he ever been involved in any capacity in ANY Star Trek,other than the much coveted position of arm-chair quarterback. Like all of us, his opinions are nothing more than that.

Shatner’s opinions, however, while still opinions, are just a tad bit more informed and valued because, unlike most fans, he HAS walked the walk.

81. Damian - January 4, 2013

Shatner will always be the original Kirk, and up to Star Trek IV I thoroughly enjoyed his portrayal. Yes, he was always a bit of a ham, but it worked. Then Star Trek V happened and something changed for the worse. As MJ noted, he became bufoonish. He was still over the top in VI, but it was a good enough movie that I was able to overlook it. It continued in Generations. I was never interested in seeing some hamhanded story to bring him back in Star Trek (2009) that would have ruined the movie. He agreed to do Generations, he obviously had the clout to just walk away (which would have hurt the movie producers more than him), but he didn’t. He took his money and said adious.

I have the special edition of Star Trek V (I still wished they let Shatner redo the effects–it may not have helped the story, but at least it would have been up to the usual Star Trek standards). As 79 noted–it did have some better character moments. Even though Sybok as Spock’s half brother was over the top, Luckinbill did do a great job in the role. And how can you not like Goldsmith’s music. I do love all 11 movies, but TFF ranks number 11 on the list. Shatner certainly shares the blame, but Paramount does too. They were the one’s that insisted there be more comedy to try to cash in on TVH’s success.

Re: ILM, there is some interesting information on Memory Alpha. Apparently it was a combination of factors. Their top team was working on Indiana Jones at the time. But another team could have worked on V (which would have still been far better than Ferren’s). It looks like money was partially a concern as well. They apparently tried to get Nicholas Meyer to work on the script but he was unavailable. This movie might have been far better with Meyer’s help and better effects, and had Paramount not insisted on trying to recapture TVH.

82. Damian - January 4, 2013

71–Whatever you may think of Meyer, he saved the original series from having Star Trek V be the final hurrah. Whatever your feelings about VI, it was a popular movie with Trekkies and the general public. It allowed the original crew to go out on a high note. If V was the last hurrah, that might have been it for the original crew.

He may have wanted a submarine in space, but he acknowledged that he did not create it. He kept the same production people from TMP in TWOK. An in VI, he kept on Herman Zimmerman who did the production design of V. The bridge design of VI is the same as V (with some cosmetic changes which could easily be explained by the 7 to 8 year universe gap between V and VI). So he had enough respect for the Star Trek universe that he knew he couldn’t make the Star Trek universe in his own vision. He even took some of Roddenberry’s advice with changing the character of Saavik to another character.

83. Tom - January 4, 2013

#67 Red Dead Ryan

They should have offered it to him. Would have been nice to have him in one of these movies

84. Danpaine - January 4, 2013

Respectfully, I think history will remember the character of Captain Kirk as played by William Shatner, not Chris Pine (who admittedly will go on to bigger things and leave Kirk behind in a few years), or anyone else who comes along in the future.

One guy’s opinion. The character belongs to Shatner. Always has, always will.

85. kmart - January 4, 2013

58, 66 Simon:

You’ve got some half-truths in there about the VFX, but don’t make out like you’re telling the whole story, because that undercuts your case (which I guess deserves undercutting.)

TFF cost more in large part because it was telling a much more epic story than TVH. They were back to doing what they were supposed to be doing, going places other than Earth (TVH almost plays like a late 2nd season ep where the Enterprise has to discover another so-much-like-Earth-type planet, except the repartee is not as on-target as JM Lucas or GL Coon would have delivered), and that costs money.

The idea was to save money on the VFX in order to afford the location work and creatures, and if the makers had chosen DREAMQUEST or maybe the Skotak Brothers — who underbid on TWOK like Trumbull but also lost out because Par wanted to be in bed with ILM for the foreseeable future to safeguard INDY and TREK from any TMP-like excesses, not that THAT was Trumbull’s fault — to do the work (if they were available … I think they were all on THE ABYSS at that point) I think they’d’ve sidestepped a lot of FX woes that plague the film. It’s worthwhile to note that at least one major bidder on TFF apparently blew off the VFX bidding test with a token effort, which suggests that either ILM or Apogee wasn’t taking the prospect seriously.

Also it is worthwhile to point out ILM worked on a full DOZEN shows in 1989 not counting their itsy-bitsy contribution to TFF, so they probably WERE working near capacity (which might explain why so much of INDY 3 looks like an absolute suck-fest … the zepplin escape with plane bit should have just been dropped outright, it looks so bad.)

In retrospect it is easy to say Shatner shouldn’t have spent money on combat costumes and new phasers so he would have something to put toward the climax of the film, but if the money is spent BEFORE the budget crunch happens (which is what I have been told is the case), then it is, as they say in TWILIGHT’S LAST GLEAMING, “blood over the dam.”

The area that I find rather troubling is that fx and production were in agreement about getting the shots done in-camera at the end with God, but at the last second production decided not to do it that way, which pushed all of those God shots into postproduction too. THOSE kinds of decisions would have cost the film a lot more money than Shat going over schedule a few hours on location while cutting into resources needed to do the seemingly straightforward starship model shots and their compositing, which Wallach and TheOpticalHouse were just not capable of executing given their different kinds of experience.

I’m still of the opinion that regardless of what people thought of the story, if the film had released at xmas instead of in the biggest summer I can remember outside of maybe 1982, that it would have made a significantly higher amount of money. 6 months extra time to play with what they had, and doing so with regular hours instead of costly overtime ones, could have finessed it a helluva lot.

Until the AbramsThing, NO TREK FILM made after TFF was released in summer (and the same can be said for Bond, which also tanked in the US in 1989 … ALL subsequent Bond films were winter releases, because apparently even now they fear summer competition … and given that crap like SKYFALL can make a billion, they’re probably positioning their films just right, the jerks.) And the Abrams hardly counts, since it had nearly infinite resources compared to the other trek sequels.

86. Matias47 - January 4, 2013

I’m going off topic here, but have you guys read this? It’s pretty funny.


87. BillyLone - January 4, 2013

I am surprised Shatner is doing a documentary on TNG. He admitted in interviews and in front of Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes that he never saw an episode of TNG.

I guess he’s done milking the TOS cow and now onto TNG.

88. Damian - January 4, 2013

85–Memory Alpha has a pretty good article about Star Trek V. According to that, there were actually a number of factors that plagued V. It looks like there were budget problems that had some linkage to the Effects, and Paramount butting in on the story and so on. Also Harve Bennett’s heart probably wasn’t in it, he was talked into it by Shatner.

And the fact is Shatner just wasn’t a great director. As 84 noted, when people think of Kirk, it will always be Shatner’s Kirk people think of first. He was great in the role up until Star Trek V. But a director, no. (maybe directing V caused him to be extra hammy:))

89. Vel Jaeger - January 4, 2013

What I would like to see is a director’s cut of ST:V – The Final Frontier – with Mr. Shatner in complete control while Paramount picks up the tab – without the stingy-budget stranglehold they did with what was released in the theaters. And while they’re at it, tell us why you stopped making Star Trek movies with Harve Bennett – his greatest talent is that of a fabulous storyteller; he’s been quoted as considering Star Trek to be “grand opera!” Stop trying to fix what ain’t broke & let the people who know what they’re doing get back to work. IMHO!

90. kmart - January 4, 2013

88,I actually think (and if you care to look it up, even Mark Altman agrees with me) that Shatner absolutely has a director’s eye. The compositions in the film aren’t just strong on their own, but they often cut together nicely (the ‘mirrored’ angles on the god planet as the pillars come up, for example), and the way he stages some of the character movements in the observation deck scenes (in the first one, you have KSM 3-shots that kind of reconfigure as the scene goes along.)

Even the rotating, down from the ceiling bit during the Capt’s Log malfunction is pretty good. If you consider a lot of the camera compositions in the show were compromised by having to blow the film up to hide where the camera scratches happened more than one day (and I can’t think of ANY movie where that kind of problem happened more than once, it’s as unprofessional as spending a whole movie pointing your camera straight at the lights COUGH AbramsShootsLikeA7-Year-Old-With-First-CameraCOUGHCOUGH), there’s an awful lot of TFF that looks more like a movie than most of the other films. SFS has some good use of color at times, but most of TVH (even stuff on the aircraft carrier, which should have been photographed clean) looks like it was filmed inside of a cloud bank. And anybody who saw TUC in 70mm (hell, even in 35mm) probably remembers how insanely dark and grainy it looked.

I think Shatner as actor was most badly served by Nimoy with that godawful KlingonBastards speech in SFS … in a career with way too many over-the-top moments (thinking of “SHE’S HUMAN!” from REQUIEM FOR METHUSELAH right now), that one might be among the most cringeworthy. There are missteps in TFF too, but look at his “oh Please” and his “till you’re green in the face” for absolute gems in delivery and timing.

As much as I dig Shatner (I think his work in THE INTRUDER was pitch-perfect, as was a lot of his early Kirk — “go to your quarters or I’ll pick you up and carry you there” — even before he had Gene Coon to write good speeches for him), I think he was a total miss in THE ANDERSONVILLE TRIAL, which is what most people seem to rave about (even Harlan Ellison cited that while tearing Shat a new one over TMP.)

Bennett was shown the door (or allowed to let his contract lapse) when the studio decided it didn’t want to do his and Ralph Winter’s STARFLEET ACADEMY film. Bennett wanted to do that before what turned out to be TUC, whereas Paramount wanted film 6 first, with an option to do ACADEMY later … and Bennett thought this meant they’d pay him to do 6 and pay him off to not do ACADEMY, which he really wanted to make (and direct.) He has talked about this a few times, but if you find the TUC issue of CINEFANTASTIQUE, it is discussed at length (and also mentions gems like Kim Cattrall getting in trouble for posing nude and in ears while curled up in the Capt’s chair on the bridge, and Nimoy going ballistic over it.)

91. Spock's Bangs - January 4, 2013

Good post Kmart (#90), I always loved how Shatner staged Kirk Spock, McCoy And Sybok as they lined up, staggered, outside the Galileo on the God planet. Very reminiscent of another favorite framing of mine in Spectre of the Gun. Shatner definitely has a good eye for composition and camera movement. Despite some blooper type moments I loved how the focus was on Kirk Spock and McCoy in trek 5. As it should be.

92. MJ - January 4, 2013

@81 “Then Star Trek V happened and something changed for the worse. As MJ noted, he became bufoonish. He was still over the top in VI, but it was a good enough movie that I was able to overlook it. It continued in Generations. I was never interested in seeing some hamhanded story to bring him back in Star Trek (2009) that would have ruined the movie. He agreed to do Generations, he obviously had the clout to just walk away (which would have hurt the movie producers more than him), but he didn’t. He took his money and said adious.”

Well said, Damian!

93. MJ - January 4, 2013

@87 “I am surprised Shatner is doing a documentary on TNG. He admitted in interviews and in front of Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes that he never saw an episode of TNG. I guess he’s done milking the TOS cow and now onto TNG.”

Yea, I mean that was such an awkward moment on the Captains special feature discussion, when he told Frakes and Stewart he had never even watched one of their episodes. Although I am not a big NG fan, I was embarrassed for Shatner and all Trek fans the day I saw him come across like a horses ass in that discussion video. It was nauseating.

But not nearly as nauseating as him now, after proclaiming he never watched the show, having the hubris and bad tasted to do a documentary on the Next Generation. Come on, that’s like letting David Beckem do a documentary on American Football.

94. DestinyCaptain - January 4, 2013

As for TFF, it is VERY imperfect. A huge number of factors contributed to that. Shatner ultimately and somewhat deservedly shoulders the blame. That being said the scene with McCoy’s pain is some of his best work in Trek. The movie has bright spots. It has the heart of TOS much like SFS does. All these years later, I’d still take it over TUC any day. TUC forces the TOS characters into situations and has them act in ways that are contrary to who they are. In that way alone, it is just like Braga’s VOY. The story of the complete destruction of a GALACTIC empire by a single moon going pop is at least as laughable as the Red Matter crap from Trek 11. The complete misunderstanding of what Star Fleet is in the board meeting is nauseating. It’s repeat with contemporary MILITARY ribbons. Just so you don’t forget they’re supposed to be the United States. Complete lack of continuity with TNG’s depiction of Kllingons, even though it feels necessary to cast one of them in order to connect the two. Would it have really bothered them to pay attention to what was being done over there next door? The ridiculous scene where Checkov reduced to a bumbling idiot is maddening. The jaw droppingly aweful scene with Uhura trying to speak Klingon is topped only by the stupidity of everyone cracking books on the bridge to translate. Not that the books are the problem, it’s the fact that books suddenly appear out of nowhere. It’s the fact that there is no translation software running for Uhura to read. It’s not funny it’s dumb. At least as dumb as Scotty hitting his head in TFF. All Trek movies are better than TUC. That includes INS and NEM…

95. MJ - January 4, 2013

“TUC forces the TOS characters into situations and has them act in ways that are contrary to who they are. In that way alone, it is just like Braga’s VOY.”

You’ve just re-convinced me why the movie is the worst of the bunch. Yes, it’s as bad as Voyage and the characters don’t behave right. Agreed!!!

96. Shilliam Watner (Click for Trek Ships Poster) - January 5, 2013

Well, I think TFF is still worse than TUC, but I can’t stand to watch either of them ever again. The two worst Trek movies ever.

But MJ, I don’t think Shatner was taking “pot shots” at Abrams. At other times I’ve felt he has, and I’m no supporter of Bill’s narcissism and ego, but this time I felt he had a good point.

I loved Abrams’ Trek, but I do wish they could create more of a sense of wonder. That being said, that sense of wonder is largely missing from the other Trek films, which is why I rate Abrams Trek higher than most of the other Trek films. I haven’t seen any criticism of it that couldn’t also be leveled at the other films.

Mostly, though, I think all Trek films prove that Star Trek works better on the small screen. At least in my opinion.

97. Jeff O'Connor - January 5, 2013

I love TUC, but I will agree with you on that last point. The films always remind me of that little fact. Boy, do I hope STID does so damn well we get another small-screen outing in the next several years.

98. Jack - January 5, 2013

95. Meyer wrote the 1980s parts of Voyage Home, and I read somewhere that he recycled some of the bits, or planned bits, from somewhere in time, where someone from the past is baffled by the future. But here the crew is baffled by the relatively recent past on their own planet — tee hee, they don’t know what pizza is! I’m all for not treating them as somber, infallible heros but as real people, sure, but lets not make them complete buffoons.

The actors in TUC made the ‘we’re racist !’ bits work, but it was all pretty clunky.

99. Jonboc - January 5, 2013

#94 “Complete lack of continuity with TNG’s depiction of Kllingons, even though it feels necessary to cast one of them in order to connect the two. Would it have really bothered them to pay attention to what was being done over there next door? ”

To be fair, it was a TOS movie. The honor-loving, howl- at- the- moon Klingons were an invention of TNG, and were a complete about-face from the devious, evil, back-stabbers depicted in the original series. Would it have really bothered the producers of TNG to depict Klingons as they were originally intended? Also, Chekov has been used as comic relief since 1967, that will never change. The translation scene, I agree, is completely ridiculous. A rare moment for Nichelle to showcase her comedic chops, she handles the scene fine. It’s just totally out of place and in the context of a Trek movie, like you said, the business with the books is just dumb.

100. Uberbot - January 5, 2013

You people saying TUC was worse than FF are INSANE!!!

Nicholas Meyer was in charge, just like on STII and he did a fantastic job with it. You don’t think if someone killed your kid, you wouldn’t have some negative and possibly even racist axes to grind? You would definitely have some hostility as Kirk did.

That’s the what real people are! And that’s the way Meyer wrote Kirk and crew for TUC.

The visuals are night and day compared to TFF. No comparison. Production design and visuals alone put TUC FAR FAR ahead of TFF.

Personally, I loved it. It made them seem like real people to me.

101. Jonboc - January 5, 2013

#100. “Production design and visuals alone put TUC FAR FAR ahead of TFF”

If its all about production design and visuals, you must really hate the original series! Fortunately, it’s not always about visuals.

102. Red Dead Ryan - January 5, 2013

Well, I would make the argument that of all the previous movies, only “The Wrath Of Khan”, “The Search For Spock”, “First Contact”, and Bad Robot’s “Star Trek” could truly be considered “good” or “great” movies. But even then, the first three of those are mosty great within the context of the Trek universe, while the reboot prequel manages to bust out of the box and elevate the movie franchise into new heights never done before by any of the other Trek movie directors/producers.

J.J Abrams gets a lot of bashing on this site. But at the end of the day, should the sequel (and the potential third movie if there is one) blow the first out of the water, the previous ten movies would look even more outdated and old-fashioned in comparison.

Heck, when it came out, “The Voyage Home” was the highest grossing Trek film. For awhile, it was also considered the best. While it is entertaining to some degree, I would say it is far from being the best. It just comes off being cheesy, with it being set in San Francisco in the 1980’s with highly questionable wardrobe for the main characters. Kirk wearing the red outfit and pink undershirt? Spock in a bathrobe?

“The Undiscovered Country”, though featuring some good moments, and good characters in General Chang and Chancellor Gorkon, is badly dated, with William Shatner looking and acting tired all throughout the movie. Even some of the other cast members looked like they were ready to move on.

103. fansincesixtynine - January 5, 2013

Saw the show last night in Aurora and got to meet the man himself. Never much cared for the personal views of the actors on Star Trek before, was only interested in the characters they played, but I was deeply impressed with Shatner. His shoe was funny, touching, interesting and very much worth the price of admission. I highly recommend it.

104. Chain of Command - January 5, 2013

How can someone do a documentary about something they’ve never watched?

105. Jack - January 5, 2013

“To be fair, it was a TOS movie. The honor-loving, howl- at- the- moon Klingons were an invention of TNG, and were a complete about-face from the devious, evil, back-stabbers depicted in the original series. Would it have really bothered the producers of TNG to depict Klingons as they were originally intended?”

It was also almost a century before — lots of things could explain why Klingons, at least those in the elite, behaved differently. and I’ve always liked the idea that its a big planet/big empire, with different races, factions, cultures, etnic groups etc. Heck, China alone has hugely varied languages, ethnic groups, cultures, traditions, religions, cuisines…

TNG (and beyond) really made most races into homogenous, boring, one-note caricatures; including humans. I never liked the TNG Klingons (apart from Worf — and you could buy that a lot of his ‘I am Klingon’ perspective was also about his own hangups) or the TNG Romulans.

106. Jack - January 5, 2013

And, first season TNG had a lot of similarities to third season TOS.

I suspect Phase 2 would have been fairly awful — more Galaxy Quest (the series) than first-season TOS.

107. Jonboc - January 5, 2013

106 “I suspect Phase 2 would have been awful…”

Agreed. Rodenberry was already well on the way to his new state of enlightenment, reflected later in both TMP and TNG. I fear Phase 2, would have been more of the same…so radically different from what had come before, aside from basic aesthetics, it would have been barely recognizable as Star Trek.

108. Kev-! - January 5, 2013

Read the Phase II scripts in the book by Judith and Garfield Reeves Stevens. It would have been an awesome series. Very action oriented.

109. kmart - January 5, 2013

Jon Povill would have tried to get the weaker stories (i.e., most of them) for phase 2 into shape before shooting, but face it, he wasn’t Gene Coon.

I think Phase 2 would have had NIGHT STALKER or ROOTS ratings for the first night, and it would have gone in the crapper immediately thereafter.

The one thing that might have made a difference (good or bad) is that Shatner would probably have stepped up and demanded more for Kirk. I mean TJ HOOKER was supposed to be him as the guy training the regular cop cast, he’d have been like Lt Ryker on THE ROOKIES, the ‘crusty but benign’ guy. Well, obviously TJ HOOKER changed drastically, since he was jumping down onto schoolbuses within a couple weeks of it going to series. Same thing might have happened with p2.

110. Uberbot - January 5, 2013

#101 — Well, fortunately, in 1989 no one was expecting TOS level of quality visuals and production values. That’s an inane comment you made.

TOS, by the way, was state of the art for it’s time.

TFF was substandard by even 1989 standards.

But no, it takes ALL ASPECTS of a film to be a modern standards or better to make a great film.

Sadly, TFF was NOT a great film…it was not up to the level expect for Star Trek in several categories.


111. MJ - January 5, 2013

@107 “Agreed. Rodenberry was already well on the way to his new state of enlightenment, reflected later in both TMP and TNG. I fear Phase 2, would have been more of the same…so radically different from what had come before, aside from basic aesthetics, it would have been barely recognizable as Star Trek.”

I agree completely as well.

@110 “TFF was substandard by even 1989 standards.”


@102 ““The Undiscovered Country”, though featuring some good moments, and good characters in General Chang and Chancellor Gorkon, is badly dated, with William Shatner looking and acting tired all throughout the movie. Even some of the other cast members looked like they were ready to move on.”

Yea, I actually liked TUC Country when it came out.. But I see it now and it perhaps has aged the worst of any of the Trek movies. TMP, in contrast, has aged less and I like better now than in 1979. It’s funny how some films age and others seem more timeless.

112. kmart - January 5, 2013

TOS was far from state of the art with its vfx. Take a look at THE TIME TUNNEL pilot and it is like seeing FORBIDDEN PLANET done for TV. The SEAVIEW stuff on VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM is mostly terrific too, The Allen shows all sucked, but they had the old vets from the Fox FX dept, and they delivered the goods a lot of the time, often without resorting to the opticals that TREK sometimes had major problems with.

You could say the ship model itself was a cut above any other TV miniature, I’d grant you that much, but that is just the exterior; the art direction on the sets didn’t use much in the way of new materials … in fact they were working the same way folks doing Roger Corman movies did things a decade and 15 years later, by dumpster diving for odd foam and packing materials.

Even in terms of art direction on sets they weren’t using much in the way of new materials.

But to show how not being state of the art doesn’t matter even in the 80s, look at TWOK. They were stuck with the TMP leftovers, but they tarted them up by basically putting xmas lights everywhere. The blinkies in TWOK are not much above BUCK ROGERS season 2 in credibility, and it isn’t helped by their renting the same computer console props that turned up everywhere in the 80s, from AIRPLANE 2 to KNIGHTRIDER.

I don’t blame any of that on Joe Jennings, that is all on Meyer wanting a busier environment. But when you’re so desperate that you are cutting up those binders that were used to hold audio cassettes and mounting those on the bridge to break up the smooth surfaces, that’s pretty pathetic (and to my eye, totally noticeable and obvious.) Then again, I really don’t like any TREK bridges after the original series until TFF anyway. At least that one DOES conform to the idea that you have places to go dramatically with how it looks, rather than it being the same thing all the time … when you’re on alert status on the TFF bridge, it looks WAY different than its usual Architectural Digest Magazine cover standard look.

What exactly, by the way, is the level expected for a trek movie? That it be ponderous but with gorgeous exterior shots like TMP, or snappily edited like TWOK, or shot in a very basic way with ship design that was ported in from the STAR WARS universe like SFS, or shot in a hysterically over the top smokey manner like TVH (they even put smoke in the aircraft carrier scenes!)

If you don’t dig TFF, fine, but at least give me some idea of what standard you are holding it to in a series of pictures in which there was practically no constant up to that point. You certainly can’t get too angry about the TFF script if you’ve sat through SFS with its ‘science’ and plotting. Each movie has its charms, and if they are charming enough, you overlook the massive flaws in them. Hell, that’s true of most Bond films too, except for FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, which delivers on a level that no TREK pic is ever likely to manage.

113. MJ - January 5, 2013

@112. You are vastly overstating The Time Tunnel as SOA VFX. While some of the sets in the time tunnel are better than some of the sets in TOS, nothing in The Time Tunnel approaches either the Enterprise Bridge or exterior model shots. At best, the VFX of the two shows are on par with each other.

And I’ll put TMP special effects up against anything during that timeframe.

114. Red Dead Ryan - January 5, 2013

The TOS Enterprise sets are iconic. Especially the bridge. They have that retro-futuristic minimalist look. The jewel buttons. The reds, blacks, greys, and pastel color lighting.

You can’t do that today, obviously, but Matt Jeffries designs certainly were imaginative, and yet quite believable in terms of functionality.

115. K-7 - January 6, 2013

I also disagree with kmart’s critque of the TOS VFX. It was definitely state of the art at the time, and was superior to the other shows by far.

116. K-7 - January 6, 2013

@112 “Hell, that’s true of most Bond films too, except for FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, which delivers on a level that no TREK pic is ever likely to manage.”

Huh??? LOL

117. Jemini - January 6, 2013

well thank you, things like this remind me why Mr. Shatner is my favorite guy

” ‘Star Trek’ is also a wondrous story and not just a ride of derring-do.””

yeah, because “the final frontier” was so high quality writing and such a wondrous story Shatner! You surely are the best person who can tell Abrams how to make good movies, after all your movie is the most loved one of the franchise it’s not the movie that most of the fans prefer to pretend it isn’t canon and it surely isn’t the one that Roddenberry himself despised.


118. MJ - January 6, 2013

@117 “yeah, because “the final frontier” was so high quality writing and such a wondrous story Shatner! You surely are the best person who can tell Abrams how to make good movies, after all your movie is the most loved one of the franchise it’s not the movie that most of the fans prefer to pretend it isn’t canon and it surely isn’t the one that Roddenberry himself despised.[/sarcasm] ”

I agree 100%. Jemini. Well said!!!

119. Aeolis 14 Umbra - January 6, 2013

All this debate seems so meaningless now, especially when, in the span of less than two weeks, you lose your Mother, and both your wife’s Father and Mother. Just be glad you guys don’t have to deal with that now. Be glad with what you have in life, and don’t pay attention to what you don’t like or don’t have. That goes for me, too.

Over and out, and LLAP.

120. MJ - January 6, 2013

@119. Sorry for your loss– that is just awful! God Bless your family!

But this does that mean we can’t have a little fun debating some Trek topics here. This is not casually related to anyone’s ups or downs in their personal lives — this is just some Trek fans having a few not very important discussions, but having a bit of fun debating nevertheless.

121. MJ - January 6, 2013

meant to say “causally” (as in causality)

122. Dennis C - January 6, 2013

Shatner’s right. As much fun as “Star Trek” in 2009 was it seems that a thoughtful Star Trek story on the big screen will never happen again. Star Trek is more than just pretty pictures and ‘blowin’ up stuff real good’ but ultimately about the human condition. Even Star Trek V, which is considered the weakest of the original six features, still gets what Star Trek was all about despite some clunky and awkward moments.

The franchise is now an action series, not a thoughtful sci fi series with moments of action. Unless Star Trek makes it’s way way back to the small screen the writing will never be what it once was.

123. kmart - January 6, 2013


I’m not. I am also no fan of THE TIME TUNNEL (well, I like Michael Rennie so the pilot was okay) or VOYAGE, but the quality difference on visual effects with these Allen shows and TREK is staggering. TOS almost never even tried to incorporate live action into miniature environments. You never got views in TREK like there was in VOYAGE, where you could see inside a ship and actually get a glimpse of a pretty credible environment through the window.

Now I happen to love TOS and I like what they tried to do with the VFX, and on a small TV set, it was just fine a lot of the time. But using the phrase state of the art with respect to the work is just a joke. Even the Whitlock matte paintings, while mostly splendid, aren’t as credible as his work elsewhere, probably due to time limitations or expectations for the small screen.

I don’t know why you’ve got TMP in that post at all, since obviously there is no comparsion between the vfx there and what could be done by ANYONE except Kubrick’s 2001 crew in the 60s … TMP has got a mixed batch of VFX, but the ones that are good are just plain fantastic, not 2001-level but way the hell ahead of whatever would be in second place for space movies.

I am not a fan of most of ILM’s TREK work, mainly because their style, while pretty, wasn’t too credible (how much fill light have you got in deep space, anyway?) They struck a pretty good balance on TUC and GEN with the lighting, it was definitely levels above their twok/sfs/tvh work.

124. Red Shirt Diaries - January 6, 2013

#123. While I do remember the cool main time travel control center set, I also remember the incredible cheesy looking scenes of the time travelers floating in some bright lights like they were falling down a Christmas tree funnel or something, plus multiple cheesy encounters with past cultures with horrible costuming and VFX. All in all, while the main set in Time Tunnel was superior to any VFX on Trek for the reasons you mention, other VFX were not even close to being on par with Trek’s VFX, and so I would agree with the poster who said that in totality, the level of VFX in Trek and Time Tunnel were about equal. Each had their good points and bad points, and were roughly equal in overall quality of VFX.

125. MJ - January 6, 2013

@124. Well said. Yea, overall, when you look at all the VFX and scenes, the quality and level of VFX on Time Tunnel and TOS is about equal. I think kmart has forgotten about how horrid the VFX on Time Tunnel was once you got away from the outstanding command center main set with its associated VFX.

126. JohnM - January 7, 2013

All I know is tht Mr Shatner and Mr Nimoy are still with us (and touch wood will be for a very long time yet) – it’s bordering on criminal that somebody at Paramount don’t at least write a high quality 2 or 3 part TV movie to bring Kirk and Spock bsck together again finally. Right the shitty send off Kirk ot in Generations. Tell a meaningful, and heart warming tale with these two legends reunited at last. Could be about Spock getting back to the Prime Universe?

Have The Guardian of Forever make an appearance too perhaps to restore ‘what was’…

It would wrap Star Trek TOS properly by having them bow out on the ‘small’ screen again, where thet originally started.

I doubt it will happen, but it just drives me nuts that the original Kirk and Spock are still with us, and nobody is doing anything about it…..

A TV movie could also be a superb primer/test bed for the viability of Trek back on the TV screens again. What better way to kick start a new series by a getting Kirk and Spock back, tie up their stories nicely (and fittingly – no killing anybody off this time!) and somehow kick starting off a new era with a new ship/crew as part of it…

Just a thought ;)

127. JohnM - January 7, 2013

Sorry for typos – damned virtual keypads!

128. K-7 - January 7, 2013

#125 “Yea, overall, when you look at all the VFX and scenes, the quality and level of VFX on Time Tunnel and TOS is about equal. I think kmart has forgotten about how horrid the VFX on Time Tunnel was once you got away from the outstanding command center main set with its associated VFX.”


129. Disinvited - January 7, 2013

#123. kmart

I’m an Allen series fan too but as I actually watched that TT pilot as ABC premiered it, I would think you’d make a better argument avoiding mention of it as it was B/W and a different cut than the color version that made the rounds, later, after it completed its original network run.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that the color version exists and is in my box set, but for whatever reason ABC/Allen decided to air it an a vastly inferior form than that.

130. MJ - January 7, 2013

@129. Wow, that is hardly a fair comparison then that kmart is making if the VFX wasn’t ready for the advanced color version for the 1966 pilot???

131. kmart - January 7, 2013

I had the ViewMaster of that pilot episode and IT was in color … believe me, we didn’t have a color set till 1970, so that ViewMaster got a TON of play.

Maybe I need to find Kevin D. and bring him into this conversation. He is the biggest Allen fan I know of (dropped out of film school and moved back home when he heard TTT was going into syndication there in the 70s), and he even spent a few days on the Warner lot with Allen and his cronies in the early 80s.

There were different cuts of various Allen pilots like LOST IN SPACE, but I’ve never gotten the impression that they went back and finessed fx after broadcast … wouldn’t make any sense, because that’s money you’re spending after the fact, and shows didn’t really have a profitable afterlife at that point except LUCY.

132. Greg2600 - January 7, 2013

Wow, Shatner has the wording perfectly right. Trek is not only about fighting with ships and phasers.

133. DiscoSpock - January 9, 2013

So let me get this straight, kmart. Star Trek, which was in color and had its VFX done, is being unfairly compared to your color viewmaster memories of Time Tunnel, which wasn’t even premiered in color, nor did they use some of the VFX that you are now claiming to be superior to Trek’s VFX?

This is not a fair comparison.

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