Shuttle Pod Podcast Episode 22 – A Deep Dive Into Star Trek: First Contact

On the 50th anniversary of The Original Series, the Shuttle Pod crew take the time to celebrate another birthday – 20 years of Star Trek: First Contact.

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Not A bad idea for a podcast.

“20 years of Star Trek: First Contact”

Man, I feel old now.

‘First Contact’ was the first Trek movie that I watched in theater, I probably seen it like 3 times in theaters alone.

The best of TNG movies. Oddly felt like a TV re-run.
Didn’t buy into Picard as an aged action hero.

I can see your point, though to an 11 year old at the time, he was a grade-A a$s kicker.

A decent movie aside from the portrayal of Cochrane as a drunken buffoon.

Maybe it was really Cochrane’s cousin in the film. He was nothing like the character in “Metamorphosis”. Although after 150 years of sobriety, well who knows how that reshaped him?

@Stanky M,

I think they were realistic with their portrayal of Cochrane in FC, he was a geniuses not a saint. There are many cases in our own history of scientists suffering from various type of personality disorders. Take Newton for example, The Newton Project described Isaac Newton’s personal life as follow:

“Especially in the earlier part of his life, Newton was a deeply introverted character and fiercely protective of his privacy. Even in his maturity, having become rich, famous, laden with honours and internationally acclaimed as one of the world’s foremost thinkers, he remained deeply insecure, given to fits of depression and outbursts of violent temper, and implacable in pursuit of anyone by whom he felt threatened.”

Sounds familiar?

Newton has more in common with Sheldon Cooper methinks.

I don’t know what people like so much about this movie, or how you get past the myriad plot holes that all add up to a nonsensical story. In addition to that, even when I was younger and didn’t notice the plot holes, I still found Alfre Woodard’s self-righteous character insufferable. And “Movie-Picard” is likewise insufferable. All of a sudden, because there’s a movie to be made, his entire character gets re-written from the one we all know and love in the TNG TV series. He’s all incensed and having a meltdown for no good reason. It’s laughably stupid. Bah—I’m wasting my time even typing this. There’s no accounting for taste, clearly.

Stanky M September 14, 2016 11:30 pm

A decent movie aside from the portrayal of Cochrane as a drunken buffoon.

And this is another point that I was about to make. Even back when I enjoyed this movie in the theater, it never struck me as convincing that a super-genius physics/engineering-type could successfully build such a high-tech thing as a warp-engined spaceship, while being such a drunk. The sort of endeavor that Cochran is famous for requires countless hours of painstaking, laborious work. Measurements, trial-and-error, repeated measurements, problem-solving, precise thinking and calculations, ambition, drive and—above all—discipline. Being a heavy drinker is believably compatible with genius in the more creative fields—writing, music, dramatic arts. You can do those while you’re drunk, and there are plenty of examples of greats who have done. Getting up every morning and working on your calculations, fine-tuning engine parts, etc… You can be an a**hole while you’re doing these, but it’s hard to see someone doing them successfully while maintaining a regular, heavy-drinking lifestyle. And I can’t think of any such examples from real-life. In terms of personality, Zephram Cochran would be a Steve Wozniak, Elon Musk, or Henry Ford type. Not an Earnest Hemingway type. So, that’s another major problem with this movie.

Many geniuses have substance abuse problems. The “Father of Modern Surgery” Dr. William Halstead used cocaine, while performing surgery. Benjamin Franklin, who I would argue Chocrane was styled after (though Cochrane’s personality was obviously based on Gene), was a notorious drunk on 2 continents with numerous illegitimate children. Howard Hughes used opiates. Sigmund Freud used cocaine. Its not uncommon at all for the truly brilliant to be addicts, which is why so many fictional geniuses are.

And the scenes down on Earth are what I assume people like most about FIRST CONTACT. They’re the best parts of the movie for me, anyway. And they all revolved around a poorly conceived character, one Zephram Cochran. Let’s make him a drunk seems like an entirely arbitrary decision by the writers. Cochran doesn’t overcome his alcoholism, nor learn anything about himself or why he drinks so much, in order to accomplish his goal of the first warp flight. Cochran’s alcoholism is entirely superficial and meaningless—it’s just an endearing idiosyncrasy bestowed upon the character for largely comedic purposes. The one thing that we do get from Cochran’s alcoholism is some comic relief. Cochran, the lovable, misunderstood (kind of?) drunk, who also happens to be the genius that the story revolves around. Getting the lovable drunk to his wedding on time serves as the premise for the lighthearted, fun moments in the movie. But, unfortunately those lighthearted, fun moments contribute basically nothing worthwhile to the greater universe, history and canon of Star Trek. The Cochran from TOS “Metamorphosis,” who unwittingly falls in love with a weird, non-corporeal alien creature—that was an interesting Cochran, and the one that FIRST CONTACT should have revolved around. But, no—let’s make him a drunken buffoon instead, because that’s funnier. It’s pathetic how badly written this movie is—it totally unravels the moment you start pulling at any of its threads. I think maybe it’s the utter paucity of good Trek movies, particularly since the end of the TOS movie series, that underlies fans liking FIRST CONTACT so much. Fans are desperate for Trek movies to hold up as “the good ones,” and FC did play well on the big screen. That it doesn’t hold up well, upon any degree of scrutiny, is apparently a fact worth ignoring. Also, the bar is so low for the TNG movies that touting FC as “the best of the TNG movies” gives it perhaps a deceptive luster and reason-to-believe that belie the actual merits of the story, the characters, and the movie on the whole.

Wow 20 years since the Enterprise-E debuted and I am still in love with this ship and the movie. Imo it’s one of the most perfect movies as a whole since characters, actors, production design, direction, music, special effects, camera, story, costumes are all on their absolute top level.

It is by far the best TNG movie and my favourite Star Trek movie and movie overall. I don’t know anybody who does not like FC. So I am quite irritated by the comments of you guys here. Every new Star Trek movie I subconsciously compare to FC. “…to hell with our orders! – Engage!”

Best TNG film – Some great moments
Only nitpick: If the Deflector Dish is a key component allowing the Enterprise to function – How does the Enterprise make the return journey given the Deflector Dish had to be destroyed…?

Victor UK,

Re: How does the Enterprise make the return journey given the Deflector Dish had to be destroyed…?

Simple, Picard orders Enterprise to embark on the journey home in “Full reverse!”