The Shuttle Pod Crew Returns To Genesis As They ‘Search For Spock’

Shuttle Pod 67 – Return To Genesis With ‘The Search For Spock’

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The full complement of the Shuttle Pod crew report in to celebrate Star Trek III: The Search For Spock on its 35th anniversary. Brian, Jared, Kayla, and Matt discuss the middle child of the unofficial “Genesis Trilogy,” as they reflect on the good, the not so good, and the downright cheap. And yet the movie also created new costumes, props, ships, and tweaked the makeup of the Klingons, all of which would be carried through the rest of the franchise. Listen along and see if you agree with the opinions of the podcasters.

The crew in future fashions via the 1980s. Always in command, Kirk, with popped collar, draws his phaser.

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Genesis! Genesis allowed is not. Is podcast forbidden! :)

Keep up the great work, folks.

I loved Yoda in this movie!


Yoda was bigger in this picture than he was in any of the FOX and DISNEY flicks!

Haven’t listened yet but wanted to say this. While it was fun to see the Tribble cameo it was one of those cases where it made no sense. Unless someone came up with a way to stop them from reproducing.

And I want to say that this film sorta destroyed everything the 2nd film tried to say. It was nice to get Spock back but I didn’t think it worth contradicting lessons from the previous film.

And I hated that they destroyed the Enterprise. But so be it.

I thought it did a decent job of carrying over the theme of sacrifice in TWOK, even though the “needs of the many” is reversed this time. At least Kirk calls attention to it in the end. If TWOK shows us the logical Vulcan way, then TSFS shows us the illogical human way. I like that balance.

I always felt that this film’s theme was more Star Treky than Wrath of Khan’s anyway. Its like Picard’s speech to Admiral Dougherty in Insurrection. You can’t ignore the needs of the few just because they conflict with the needs of the many.

But it wasn’t really about the needs of the many. It was about coming to terms with your own life situation and the changes that come with it.


Re: someone came up with a way to stop them from reproducing

Is that really hard to have expected? As I recall, in the original episode that’s exactly what Kirk charged McCoy with discovering and McCoy came back with “Don’t feed them!”

Yeah, but the flip side of that… Wouldn’t that just kill them?

“Don’t feed them, don’t trust them … They’re animals.” (in anticipation of a GREMLINS/TUC crossover)

It’s no masterpiece, but I think it works for what it was trying to do. I don’t agree that it destroyed everything that TWOK tried to say, since the coexistence of life and death, “life from lifelessness,” was one of its core ideas.

I actually like the destruction of the Enterprise in that film . . . you know, back when it was earned and still meant something.

Finally, the death of Kirk’s son sets up what is, for me, Kirk’s defining arc through the rest of the series. I love many things about TUC, but Kirk finally coming to peace with that reality is near the top for me. So, I cannot hate it.

III is the 2nd best Trek movie after Khan *checks setting on Trek III type phaser*

On the phaser topic. The one thing I didn’t bring up, but wanted to if there was more time, is that the props of TSFS are great. While parts of the movie are cheap, the new tricorders, communicators, and phasers are excellent and show a clear linage of being updated versions from TOS. The tricorders and communicators made for TSFS end up being re-used in TFF and TUC, so they had some staying power. And of course the TSFS phaser ends up being used as an “old” phaser for less advanced societies in TNG a few times too (“Too Short A Season”, and “Final Mission”).

The TSFS phaser also was clearly an inspiration for the special advanced phasers Section 31 uses in Discovery season 2.

And I’d like to point out that the only reason we saw the space station and bird of prey over and over again in TNG was because they had the model ready to go. It was a cost move more than anything else. I’m sure you are aware of this.

The space station only showed its mushroom head on Berman Trek once by my recollection, in TNG S1. The remaining TOS movies continued using it of course (including STV, courtesy of recycled footage).

I will have to check but it certainly seemed like they used it and slight variations of it throughout TNG.

I was pretty sure it also featured in REMEMBER ME, but I haven’t seen that since 1990 or whenever it aired.

For the record, I was 18 when this film came out.

Overall, it is a real downer of a film. A lot of really dark things happen in it.

So the trailer showing the Enterprise biting the dust… A friend told me he saw the Enterprise blowing up in a trailer but I absolutely didn’t believe him! And I did hear the stories of Bennett being stunned at showing it in the trailer.

I chalked up Kruge’s behavior towards his woman and crew as just him being Klingon.

Forced to agree that the Genesis planet sets did look bad. Even Vulcan looked bad, too. Perhaps one step above what we saw on TOS.

Great point of changing Kruge to Kor. That could have been pretty darn sweet. Never thought about that before.

As someone who has thought he has caught most of the plot holes in the films, I have to admit I never considered that! Kirk had no idea Spock’s body was intact. As far as he knew it was incinerated. So there was no reason to go to the planet to begin with! Great call! I read the novelization too and I don’t recall a reason given there, either.

Forced to say that when I saw this the first time in the theater I HATED the ending. Spock wasn’t Spock. Kirk was an outlaw. The Enterprise was a billion tiny bits… I didn’t really care that they got Spock back. The price was way too high. But I’ve softened on that feeling over the years.

Agreed that this very well could be the best Uhura moment.

When I first saw the Enterprise bite the dust, I was more affected by it than I did when Spock died. I have to be honest. I hated that they did that. But again, years later I get it and am over it. And the scene where Kirk watches is still gut wrenching.

The other thing is… I was irritated when they called the ship a Bird of Prey. That was previously established as a Romulan thing. Perhaps a holdover from when the big bads were Romulans? It made no sense. It was also the first time they showed Klingons using a cloaking device. Which again, was a Romulan thing. And please don’t use The Enterprise Incident as an excuse. I don’t buy that. That was just a budgetary thing only.

Also the Bird of Prey is supposed to be a scout class but in the scene showing both the E and it, the BoP is framed in such a way to make it look like it’s the same size of the Enterprise! I noticed that the very first time I viewed the film.

Looking back I like this film now more than I liked it when I saw it. The novelization did explain away a few things when I read it. But it was unfortunate in that at the time I had no idea the downward spiral the movies were taking. Sure, this film was not nearly as good as Wok. But then I had high hopes for the next one. Sadly, that film was just shockingly bad. Then the one after that was only mildly better. We’d have to wait 8 years before we saw another Decent Trek film again.

I’d like to point out that I really liked the quick exchange between Kirk and Kruge.

Genesis. I want it.
Beam the Vulcan up. And we’ll talk.
Give me what I want, and I’ll consider it!
Look around you the plan is destroying itself!
Yes! Exhilarating, isn’t it?
If we don’t help each other we’ll die here.
Perfect! Then that’s the way it shall be.

I felt the same way about the destruction of the Enterprise-D – at least the original (no bloody A, B, C, or D) went out in absolute honour, whereas the almighty D went down because of utter incompetence :(

Ryker should have been court-martialed.

The Klingon characters were orignally Romulans not Klingons. Hense the Romulan ship. I forget why they changed them to Klingons.

Nimoy thought they were more “theatrical” (his words).

Reread the novel. Grissom notified Starfleet it located the tube on the surface and Kirk’s log entry in their way back to spacedock had him state the news of Spock’s tube has shaken him. Later Sarek explains he knew Spock’s body survived because McCoy was still alive. He explains the Vulcan mind and body are one and with Spock’s mind in Mccoy, the body still had to exist but McCoy was still in grave danger reacting incompatible with the katra

This is one case where I think the novel is actually better than the movie. It’s very well fleshed-out.

It was written by the late Vonda N. McIntyre, who passed away on April 1st this year.

I actually didn’t care for any of Vonda McIntrre’s novelizations, and didn’t like her novel Enterprise either. For those I never bothered to read The Entropy Effect, which I assume landed her the novelization assignments. Her portrayal of Kirk in particular was very childish as I recall. And compared to Dillard I just didn’t think she was a great novelist.

In the movie itself, we see Grissom find Spock’s tube intact on Genesis, and they inform Starfleet of this. They also detect an “animal life form” at the spot, but Captain Esteban won’t report that until they confirm, so Saavik and David beg to go down for themselves.

The next scene is Kirk’s apartment, so I assumed enough time had passed for Kirk to have read/heard the latest Grissom/Genesis update: “Captain Spock’s tube found on Genesis surface.” Thus, Kirk would have a reason to think he could recover Spock’s body to take back to Vulcan after Sarek’s mind meld gives him a reason to.

And yes, I love the Kirk/Kruge dialogue. Even just reading your quote of it brings back their voices, the sounds of Genesis exploding around them, Kruge’s insane eyes, Kirk’s disco-dance-floor-appropriate space-pirate outfit… :)

OK. But that would be a script or editing mistake. You can’t leave such a thing to the audience to figure out. We need to see Kirk getting the communique.

Thanks for the comments on the Kruge-Kirk exchange. It’s only a few seconds but I find it one of the best moments in the film, myself.

I think it’s a debatable filmmaking choice more than a mistake. For me and some fans I know, it’s no issue–we just took it as a piece of implied exposition. (Because of COURSE Kirk would stay current on Genesis no matter how classified it might be…that was our thinking, anyway.)

But plenty of fans are with you about it being a goof-up, and at some point also I might have seen it as such (can’t remember). That’s why it comes across (to me) as a questionable choice more than a mistake.

Either way, “Yes! Exhilarating, isn’t it?!” is both a great line for a Klingon and a gleefully scenery-chewing performance by Christopher Lloyd. Like the Joker of a later era’s The Dark Knight, Kruge was happy to see the world burn! ;)

Sarek specifically chews Kirk out for having left Spock’s body on Genesis. It is thereby implied when he later tells Kirk to bring “them” both to Mt Selaya that Kirk must go back and retrieve Spock. He accepts mostly on faith that he needs to do this. His crew does likewise. They sacrifice their careers in Starfleet, and later their ship, not even knowing what (if anything) they are supposed to find on Genesis.

That has always been my interpretation of the movie, since it is made very clear on Genesis that nobody was expecting to find Spock alive.

I will give you that they did act as if they knew he wasn’t incinerated entering the atmosphere or smashed when it struck the ground. But the film never showed Kirk being informed of this. It’s an assumption. In fact, it could have been solved with just an extra line from Sarek. Telling Kirk that Spock’s body survived and was on Genesis as it would make sense that a family member would be informed.

If not for David’s comment on the tube having soft-landed, its remaining intact would be the default assumption coming out of the ending to STII. It’s not a HUGE stretch to figure Kirk had been updated if he appeared to believe Spock’s body was still back there. Openly establishing as much would only further highlight the absurdity of Sarek not simply asking Starfleet that the Grisson retrieve it.

Fans often think they can fix a movie with one added line of dialogue. But then they would keep adding, plugging every hole, until the script was so stilted and exposition-heavy as to be unreadable. More often then not, those details were cut on purpose. And no movie is completely bulletproof from nitpickers. Movies also shouldn’t do all the work for audiences.

You already admitted to never having noticed the discrepancy. That means the movie has obviously worked (and worked for a long time) in spite of its holes. And “plot holes” are far from this movie’s worst problems.

I think that is a bit of a stretch. Maybe that was the case but if it was, needed to be made clearer. It’s a lot of assumptions piling on. But usually one line of dialog can easily fix a plot hole. Do plot holes kill movies? Not by themselves. A lot of really good flicks have plot holes. And yes, I never noticed that particular error until just this pod cast! Yes, the movie did work even with that mistake. But it could have been avoided.

If you dialed the script back to an earlier state of conception, maybe there’s a place to stick it in there. As it is I can’t think of a place to insert the info where it doesn’t stop the movie by reminding the audience what they already know. The whole premise requires suspension of disbelief, with Sarek insisting Kirk find solutions that he himself has much better clout to effect. But to me the arbitrary moral sacrifice of David, and the paranoid portrayal of a post-Genesis Starfleet with its sudden distrust of competent staff, are much bigger problems than not being in the room when Kirk is brought up to speed with the audience.

Your entire premise relies on the premise that the audience already knows that Kirk knows. They don’t. In fact, it is logical that the audience thinks Kirk DOESN’T know. The audience knows Spock’s body was not splattered into a billion pieces. But Kirk does not know that. However, this could have been fixed by altering the Kirk-Sarek conversation with Sarek telling Kirk that he received word that Spock’s body was found on Genesis. This makes sense as Sarek is his father and a high ranking official. Boom. Problem solved.

The Romulans as the villains were changed to Klingons presumably because klingons were more popular. The ship stayed a ‘bird of prey’ (as in a Romulan Bird of Prey’ from TOS) but surely the design must have been based on the traditional Klingons ships? as it looks ‘Klingon’ ..although the bird of prey pattern was on the romulan TOS shipand did the Klingons really not have cloaking devices in TOS? I can’t remember. But since the Romulans were using the Klingons ships (lol) in the Enterprise Incident I guess Klingons would’ve had access to their cloak tech (as well as stealing their ‘bird of prey’ name/pattern)

I’d like to see IDW do a 5 issue adaptation of Bennetts original ‘Return to Genesis’ script featuring the Romulans as villains (with a different BOP design more like their TOS BOP) and serial killing Spock. with the likenesses of Edward James Olmus as the Romulan commander and 1984 ‘Runaway’ Kirstie Ally as saavik

The Klingons never had a cloaking device in TOS. Ever. The first time we saw them with it was in SFS. As a fan, I found that weird. I felt like the filmmakers made a HUGE mistake in confusing Romulans for Klingons. Felt that way a bit in WoK when they spoke of a Klingon neutral zone. There was never a neutral zone with the Klingons in TOS. Only the Romulans. I don’t recall there being much fan complaining back then but there was no internet in those days. Can you imagine such a mistake being made today?


I think you are forgetting about the Organians and the peace treaty they imposed. It may not have been referred to by that exact label, but it was fairly clear Sherman’s planet and space station K-7 were in the Organian Peace Treaty’s neutral zone.

No one ever mentioned anything about a Klingon neutral zone. Only the treaty stipulation about developing planets more efficiently. Sure as fans we can come up with educated guesses for why things that seem contrary to what was already established worked out that way. But the fact is there is no source material that says it. I just sometimes wish there was some sort of Trek expert on set to point out such things. Most are avoidable with just a simple line of dialog.


But clearly if both parties were allowed access to the planet by the Organians to see who could best develop it, then the planet and the zones of access to it had to be neutral.

But that does not mean there was some sort of geographic neutral “zone”. Neutral planets could be anywhere.


You do realize that geography is stable for far longer periods of time than objects in space which are constantly moving at relatively fantastic speeds as opposed to that? There has to be a better way to describe it?

The Organians have dictated a peace treaty to resolve disputed space at the Klingon/Federation edge of their civilizations. Call it whatever archaic term you like but it is clearly a zone of space that both parties have peaceful neutral access to for planetary settlement resolution by the Organians.

No, it is not clear that there is a defined zone where that portion of the treaty applies. Not clear at all. The only thing that is clear is the stipulation of developing a planet more efficiently. Nothing was mentioned about where those planets might be. Again, they could be anywhere. You made an assumption it only applied to a specific area. There is no reason it would not apply to ANY neutral planet both sides had an interest in. No matter where outside of their respective empires said planet may be,.


The Organian Peace didn’t occur in a vacuum. The two parties were fighting a War. Wars are fought on zones of contention, i.e. battlefronts.

But even if the Organians had implemented this random planet contest that you dreamed up, the two contestants would have to have unfettered access to the planets in the contest and those routes would be zones of neutrality.

Also, in THE TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES, Spock clearly explains that Sherman’s planet was NOT chosen at random but in a disputed quadrant and near the site of a battlefront in the war:

KIRK: Mister Spock, immediate past history of the quadrant?

SPOCK: Under dispute between the two parties since initial contact. The battle of Donatu Five was fought near here twenty three solar years ago. Inconclusive.

KIRK: Analysis of disputed area?

SPOCK: Undeveloped. Sherman’s Planet is claimed by both sides, our Federation and the Klingon Empire. We do have the better claim.

Kirk: Key points of dispute?

Checkov: Under the terms of the Organian Peace Treaty, one side or the other must prove it can develop the planet most efficiently.

Kirk: And unfortunately though the Klingons are brutal and aggressive they are most efficient.

(Screw citing my source. I punched up the episode on Netflix.)

Has anybody ever had unfettered access to planets within the Romulan Neutral Zone? Or the Klingon Neutral Zone during the time of TOS films II-VI?

Sam, as far as I know, the Romulan Neutral Zone is basically a “buffer” zone to keep the two from even accidentally running into each other. I personally doubt there are star systems within it but you never know. Wait… Was Numbus III in the Neutral Zone? I don’t recall.

Nimbus III WAS in the Zone, if you regard STV as canonical. This time no mention of whether it bordered Klingon or Romulan space (or both) from Federation. However Klingons were the ones to respond to Enterprise showing up.

On TNG the crew have on at least a couple occasions visited star systems inside the Zone.


Re:Nimbus III

But the Romulan, Klingon and Terran there were all identified as consuls and its “The Planet of Galactic Peace”. Space is three dimensional and maybe more. Perhaps its a Neutral Zone to all three parties at the same time?

I think that was STV’s take on the material, that the Zone bordered all three regions of space. And it was definitely J.M. Dillard’s interpretation when she novelized the movie.

Sam, I guess the takeaway is that there is a lot of contradictory information regarding the Neutral Zone. I guess it is whatever that particular story needs it to be.

I think STV makes the most sense out of STs II-IV, Neutral Zone-wise, if one regards it as canon. Things get funky again in STVI, when everyone starts talking about the Zone as if it’s going away.

Disinvited, I am aware of the dialog in the episode. It’s a top 5 episode in ALL of Trek for me. But everything you said does not prove the existence of a specified Federation-Klingon neutral zone. Only that this particular planet was located near the battle of Donatu V. We don’t even know if that was a Federation-Klingon conflict. That’s an assumption.


According to this onscreen dialogue transcript:

The only mention of a neutral zone in the TSFS is by Kruge, as an ambiguous destination;

KRUGE: (in Klingonese) New course. Federation Neutral Zone. (about the pet) …Feed him!

He could have just as well been heading into what the Federation refers to as “The Romulan Neutral Zone” as he may have been using Romulan nomenclature for the same area. And why not? He was already violating Federation space what’s a little Romulan Neutral Zone space violation to a guy like that?

Why would he head to the Romulan Neutral Zone if he did not mention it specifically? The Klingon Neutral Zone was already established in STII, as mentioned in the post to which you originally replied.

In addition, the Kobayashi Maru scenario in STII copied these EXACT details over from TOS’ ‘The Deadly Years’, presumably before switching which species was referenced:

-The Gamma Hydra system is in extremely close proximity to the Romulan (nay, Klingon) Neutral Zone.

-Entry into the Romulan (nay, Klingon) Neutral Zone warrants immediate and deadly force from the Romulans (nay, Klingons), such that their own having violated the Zone (in order to already be in such immediate proximity) should be suspect.

-The Romulans (nay, Klingons) never take captives, specifically even in the event of one having merely violated their neighboring neutralspace, even though Klingons had already been shown to take prisoners (in general) on at least two occasions prior.


Simulations and holodeck adventures are no guarantee of reality. Also, they never specifically identify it as the KLINGON Neutral Zone. Again, the Klingons can go and attack from whatever area of space they like, see:Kruge at planet Genesis. The only mention of “the Neutral Zone” outside of the simulator is by McCoy:

McCOY: I only use it [Romulan Ale] for medicinal purposes. I got a border ship that brings me in a case every now and then across the Neutral Zone. Now don’t be a prig.

And how likely is he to acquire Romulan Ale across a Neutral Zone that’s Klingon?

Re: Why would he head to the Romulan Neutral Zone?

Why was he flying around in Federation space? Why does he do anything? As the movie establishes, because it suits him.

Also, remember he’s flying around in a ship bearing Romulan markings, maybe he believes it will afford him a moment of respite on the way to Genesis?

Also, I thought I made it clear that just as the Federation calls it “the Romulan Neutral Zone” that the Romulans would refer to the same thing as “the Federation Neutral Zone.”

Even it there ever was a mention of a KLINGON Neutral Zone, which at this point is yet to occur, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the Klingons would call it “the Federation Neutral Zone” too which would make the term ambiguous when Kruge uses it, especially when flying around in a ship clearly constructed and marked as intended for Romulan space navigation?

Well I’ve never questioned that McCoy would need to have his Romulan ale smuggled across the Neutral Zone. And whether I ever found it odd that the Klingons were the ones to show up in the Kobayashi Maru I really don’t recall. But in over 32 years I don’t believe my thoughts on those two scenes, barely a minute apart from each other, have ever intersected.

However I can’t fathom that a Starfleet training program wouldn’t be kept up to date with the current political situation between Federation and its neighbors. At worst some of the hardware programed into the simulator might occasionally be out of date.

Have we established Kruge’s ship had Romulan markings, outside of those markings being put there when the model was indended to be Romulan (Has every other Klingon BOP seen since III not had them? I know the BOP stock footage from STs III and IV got used a lot on TNG).

Absolutely if Klingons shared a neutral zone with Federation they would refer to it as Federation. Which is why they would need to quickly differentiate it from the Romulan Neutral Zone whenever either one came up in discussion. If there was only the Romulan Neutral Zone they could refer to it as either/or. If the Zone bordered all three empires they would refer to it by name of whichever party they planned to meet or infiltrate. This incidentally establishes he was not already in Federation space when his crew blew up the merchant ship. He intended to go there.

Disinvited, A Klingon neutral zone appeared in the simulation in WoK.

As a fan in the 70’s, it was just extrapolated from “enterprise incident” that the Klingons and Romulans had a tech trade. Romulans didn’t have warp drive in “Balance of Terror”, remember. So this Klingon BOP was taken in stride, even if it was all a goof. I believe one of John Byrne’s IDW comics covers this alliance.

Comics aren’t canon. And a lot of fans speculated that the Romulans must have traded the tech. I get that. But I have a hard time buying it because we all know the only reason the Romulans were using D-7’s in The Enterprise Incident was because they already had D-7 models ready to go.


I’m curious why you are acting as if only Kirk could steal cloaking technology from the Romulans? The Klingons were tasked with stealing Genesis, why would they hesitate to steal whatever they thought would aid that goal?

First, Klingons weren’t tasked with stealing Genesis. Kruge was acting on his own. Sure, Klingons could have come up with the tech themselves. But it never felt like a Klingon thing to do, to be honest. They also could have stolen it, yes. But again, this is something that could have been fixed with just a line of dialog.


Not tasked? The Federation and Spock claimed the same for Kirks’s impossible mission too, but we knew better.

Even if we go with your assertion, this was obviously not Valchris’ first heist. And further, Kruge being unsanctioned likely stole the Bird of Prey, cloak and all, for what you may perceive as his Iotian 11 caper.

If it were some sort of secret Klingon mission, don’t you think that the audience would have been cued in on it at some point? Further, he didn’t decide to go after the genesis device until AFTER he saw the stolen report. While your theory is possible I think it more likely he is working rogue and there are plenty of possible reasons why he decided to act on his own and nab that weapon. Maybe he was disgraced and was looking to atone? Maybe he was a patriot just looking for a way to give his people an advantage? We do not know why.


His being a rogue only further strengthens a contention that Kruge stole the cloak-enabled Bird of Prey, still bearing its original Romulan art, from the Romulans. The previously established technology exchange between the two empires probably allowed him to easily customize its computer and various systems to his needs, i.e. everything in Klingon for his monolingual crew.

You’re forgetting Sulu already identified Kruge’s ship as a Klingon BOP, establishing it as already being a “thing” in Starfleet’s database.

Although I always found it interesting that in the novelization, instead of Bird of Prey, Sulu identifies it as a ‘klingon fighter’ which is how it is referred to throughout. Don’t know if it was McIntyre using her own Trek knowledge to try to fix things — a lot of stuff in this novelization kind of reeks of desperation, trying to justify the unjustifiable (though I think it is easily her finest adaptation.)


I always wondered how Sulu accomplished that identification? Maybe it’s the limitation of my DVD or old eyes, but I couldn’t find any clear Klingon markings on the outside to reveal that it was “Klingon.”

I assume he recognized the silhouette, it hadn’t even finished fully deshimmering by the time he said that.


You’re right, but there’s no difference in silhouette between a decloaking Romulan or Klingon BoP? Is there?

Maybe he recognized their radio chatter or telemetry signals leaking out in decloak?

I mean the story goes the cloak consumes so much power that all the weapons systems, including shields, suffer.

That’s if you buy into the idea that it is a shared design. In the movie, I don’t get that feeling at all, though I wish it had been stated as such, given the clear bird/rom aspect to what ILM worked up and executed prior to the script change.


Good catch! I stand corrected. Thanks.

Disinvited… But no one questioned that there were Klingons staffing that allegedly stolen Bird of Prey. They all acted as if they EXPECTED there to be Klingons on a Bird of Prey. Which as an audience member, I did not.


Re: Expected Klingons

Clearly, me too. Forgot Sulu identified it as Klingon. But you got me as to how he accomplished it?

One solution is that both Klingons and Romulans had Bird of Prey ship classes. That seems unlikley to me but… It does explain things a bit better.

Starlog magazine used to have a catalogue page of model kits, and both the Klingon and Romulan BOPs were on it. And they looked… fairly identical. How close the Romulan one looked to the TV series version I can’t say. I’ve never been able to look at the TV series footage and mentally visualize it as resembling the Bennett/Berman Trek era Klingon counterpart.

At this point I fear we may be diving too deep into this. I wish they were more consistent with these things but… So be it.


Re: If it were some sort of secret Klingon mission, don’t you think that the audience would have been cued in on it at some point?

Well, the same director in the following movie had the Klingon Ambassador not disavow Kruge and his ship, but claim Kirk had stolen what he identified as a Klingon vessel and killed its crew at Kirk’s Federation trial so there’s that.

It’s not canon but on DVD disc 2 of TSFS’s special collector’s edition DVD set the model guy that designed the Bird of Prey says that an earlier script had Kruge commandeer a Bird of Prey from the Romulans, which is why it has Romulan BoP pylon wing art, but later it was rewritten to just be a Klingon ship.

Disinvited.. First, while I loathe everything about the following movie, it is still (unfortunately) an official Trek film and is still canon. So…
Problem: If he disavowed Kruge, he undermines his own case against James Kirk.

Behind the scenes stuff also explains things as the original script had them as being Romulans to begin with. Hence, the bird of prey ship.

It’s actually open to interpretation whether the Klingons had a cloaking device (and are in fact shown using it) on TOS.

Klingon ships were never originally seen on ST prior to S3 because the model for them didn’t exist. For this reason, the crew often behaved as though they were having wonky scanner/sensor issues whenever they were tracking a Klingon ship (even though they never appear to suspect a Klingon cloaking device.)

In ‘Elaan of Troyius’ a Klingon cruiser is actually seen shimmering into existence (de-cloak style), and Spock even makes a comment to this effect (“Our ‘ghost’ has materialized”). The CBS-D teem in their HD revamp made it clear this was merely a switch in the viewscreen magnification. However in the original version it could be either/or. Production order also places this episode well before ‘Enterprise Incident’, making this ST’s first onscreen appearance of a Klingon ship prior to the HD revamp.

The Klingon/Romulan tech trade has been official canon since ‘Enterprise Incident’, even though it was obviously made so for budgetary reasons (the BOP model from ‘Balance of Terror’ had not been preserved? Who knows). And it has remained the ‘fanon’ explanation for all Klingon/Romulan discrepancies in the feature films.

In TWOK, it is made clear that the Klingon neutral zone occupies the same coordinates as the Romulan neutral zone in S2’s ‘The Deadly Years’, however one chooses to reconcile that. The same star systems are referenced.

In some of the novels (including the novelization for TFF) the Klingon and Romulan neutral zones are established as being one and the same. Most of the novels are little more than fanon however.

Has the tech trade become official canon, though? There is no mention of it in a show or feature film. The only places that can set canon.

There is mention (nay, evidence) of it in The Enterprise Incident. The Romulans were using Klingon ships. That’s the reason it’s never considered a mistake that the Klingons have a cloaking device.

I addressed that. That does not imply an exchange of cloaking tech. Only a ship design. And on top of that, the only reason they were using Klingon ships was budgetary. So while plausible I don’t put a lot of stock in that theory.

Surely you’re not disputing those were Klingon ships in that episode on account of their model having been used for budgetary reasons. And if the Romulans were borrowing Klingon ships, then what do the Klingons get out of it?

The Klingon BOP and cloaking device have been accepted as canon for 35 years, so much so that fans stamped their feet (what they do) and cried foul (what they do) when STD offered its own origin for the latter.

It was budgetary and to justify it in the episode they threw in the quick line, “Intelligence reporting that Romulans now using Klingon design.” Was there a tech exchange? Maybe. Did Romulans just decide the D-7 kicked ass? Maybe. Personally, my head canon (until SFS came along) was to treat it like Romans speaking English in Sand and Sandal films. Those ships were really Romulan they just didn’t have the models.

Actually, my head canon has always been that these movies fall under Bennett (or Meyer) Trek, and on Bennett Trek it’s always been the Klingons (not the Romulans) who fly in cloaked bird-shaped vessels and share a Neutral Zone with Federation. (Accept apparently we still need to smuggle Roluman ale across the Zone, so that doesn’t entirely work.)

But whether Bennett’s team did the research (I think clearly they did) but then ignored it (perhaps unintentionally?) whenever it got in their way, that almost-decent episode from ST’s crappiest season seems to be the reason why their transgressions have been mostly forgiven.

I think they did have it in TAS, so SFS wasn’t the first time they had it.

While the best of the odd numbered Treks, I will say that this is the picture where Shatner gave his finest performance as Kirk.

It has some of his best moments, but also one of his worst. I find his controlled work, in Spock’s quarters with Bones and especially the scene with Morrow, to be truly excellent, but after he falls on his butt, that just becomes a self-conscious epic fail for me (and I’m not picking on Shat — I found Picard’s crying in SAREK and ‘the line must be snorted HERE’ in FC to be burst-out-laughing moments, and his scene with Troi in GEN to be nearly as painful … these guys can’t even come close to touching the real raw truth of pain the way say, Mandy Patinkin did in CHICAGO HOPE when he failed to save the hospital’s legal guy. I’ve only seen that scene once, a quarter-century back, and it was like seeing Jack Lemmon on steroids, it was just real, and so a lot of so-called good work just pales in comparison.)

SFS also has De’s best scene ever with the monologue to Spock in sickbay. I’m a huge TFF fan (possibly its biggest devotee), but I think this absolutely wallops things way beyond the euthanasia scene. De could have been Jimmy Stewart+plus if he got the right roles.

I think Shatner is great in the scene where he falls on his butt. That chair is the single most familiar place to Kirk, but he is so shaken by hearing that David is dead that he can’t even get to it before his legs give out. His repeated “Klingon bastard, you’ve killed my son” shows him processing what just happened, realizing there are other lives to save, pushing it down, and gathering his composure as Captain of the Enterprise. He’s broken but barely manages to hold it together because that’s what he does–turns death into a fighting chance to live.

Also, intentionally or not, “Klingon bastard, you’ve killed my son” works as a good way to tell Kruge he’s in danger from Kirk, in Klingon terms. Basically ‘You killed my father. Prepare to die’ in different words/context. The right thing to say to family-honor-revering Klingon warriors if you want them to pee themselves before you kill them.

I think Shatner is almost faultless in his performance throughout TSFS. Nimoy knew how to bring out the best in his long-time friend at that point.

And yes, McCoy talking to Spock in sickbay here is a wonder to watch. Your comment about DeForest Kelley’s quality when given a chance is spot-on. :)

I agree. Kirk falling out of the chair was great and the way he choked it down… I felt it was good. I recall Nick Meyer saying that the way to get the best out of Shatner is to do a LOT of takes. He felt Shat’s early takes can be too over the top but as he wears down he becomes more subdued. Nimoy seemed to get the best out of him in SFS, however. Nimoy also included the other crew a lot. He inserted a number of reaction shots that just seemed to work to show the crew was a family. In particular I recall a quick shot of Scotty looking at Kirk when he fell from the chair with the David news. As they said in the pod cast, there was indeed a lot of character in this. More so than Trek stuff. So the film did have that going for it.

PS… I also liked De in the euthanizing his father scene from TFF.

I love De in the McCoy/father euthanasia scene, but then again, it’s hard for me to think of any examples of Kelley giving a less-than-wonderful performance as McCoy. Even in films I’m not fond of (names REDACTED to avoid re-bickering), McCoy always rings true because DeForest Kelley gave it his heart and soul.

As for Nimoy’s direction, you are right about the reaction shots of the crew being so important. Scotty also has a good reaction shot during the Fal-tor-pan process when all the Vulcans close their eyes and join T’Lar in “[using] all our powers” to refuse Spock’s katra and body. Scotty watches Saavik join in with the Vulcans, and he looks a bit…well, fascinated.

TSFS is definitely a top Trek film for the characters.

I also HATED the ad for the movie. And Sulu’s cape. And the Rev. Jim as a Klingon. And the fact they recast Savik. (Not a knock on Robin Curtis — I just don’t like change in my Trek.) On the plus side: Space Dock! BoP. Vulcan nymphs.

My memory of the destruction of the Enterprise in Star Trek 3 is that it was widely known months before the movie came out. Gene Roddenberry allegedly leaked the script to fan groups out of spite for Harve Bennett.

I find that somehow very easy to believe.

Well, not EVERY single thing looked cheap. ILM did a fantastic job with the BoP, Excelsior, and Spacedock. And the destruction of Enterprise, while painful to watch, was beautifully executed. Love that sort of liquidy, bluish fireball they used when the saucer explodes.

I think the ILMization of TREK in SFS is as bad (and further-reaching) as the cheap look of the live-action. Spacedock doesn’t have any of the beauty and filigree of a built-in-space structure … I’ve often thought it was ILM conflating cloud city with the Moffet Field blimp hangar on the exterior, with the interior dock looking amazingly like they just repurposed the reactor core from RETURN OF THE JEDI. And if you tear the wings off the BIRD OF PREY, you almost have ready for camera the alien ship from EXPLORERS, done shortly afterward.

One reason I like TWOK a lot more is that RELIANT was designed by Mike Minor and the Paramount gang, not by the ILM folks, who to me were always baking STAR WARS into their design work. They kind of trashed his design for the master wide of the Eden cave in TWOK also, it doesn’t look like the concept art at all and is particularly unsuccessful, though the earlier shots looking out from the set piece are pretty okay.

I hate spacedock so much, I really wish that somebody had crashed into it and knocked it out of orbit (which is kind of how I wished TUC had ended … Kirk singlehandedly piloting the E into spacedock and taking it out so that the Chancellor could make it to Earth for the conference. Yeah, I know, a different movie than we got, but the one I wanted to see.)

Whatever you think of the designs, they don’t look cheap. They’re about as good as any other space shots from the ’80s. I mean far better than Final Frontier.

hmm. Trek III has the best FX of the entire 13 movies imo

Wow. There’s a slick uniform sameness to most of SFS’s effects, which might strike some as meaning really consistent, but it still has its howlers. After Enterprise clears spacedoors, the ship looks like it is going to list right into the dock. There’s nothing laugh-out-loud bad like the Scotty-in-midair stuff in TVH that seemed like a bad comp from a 60s movie, but there’s nothing remotely with the beauty of the best of TMP, that’s my two cents there.

When criticizing the The Genesis stages, we should keep in mind that they actually caught fire (I think I remember one of our California wildfires was responsible?) which severely limited some of their utility. Shatner even said one of the reasons he picked up a firehose was because he knew that if allowed to flame unchecked it would have severely set back the film’s shooting schedule. This may be lore but I seem to recall that in pulling the cameras off set to save them one of the DPs had the sense to film some of the actual real flames which made it into the film?

This is all hazy and unresearched on my part for this post. But I look forward to others recollections.

It is tricky to film fire, and without movie lights, it would have either overexposed and looked white and unusable or too black and smokey, because the blaze was uncontrolled and therefore not art-directed to camera. I don’t think there’s even an insert shot in the movie that wasn’t filmed in controlled conditions. It would have stood out like a sore thumb.

The story about the Bond cameraman whose foot got cut off by another helicopter then actually filming his foot after it happened? Now that IS true. Poor guy was back for the next Bond movie, and would probably have made a dozen more if he hadn’t fallen out of a plane and died while shooting CATCH-22.


Yeah, I suspect it was lore or a wonder on my part misremembered as such, but on the STIII DVD Special Collector’s Edition’s second disc, the pyrotechnics and movie moving set pieces guy in charge of the Genesis stage effects said it was so much trouble to reset the set in the event of needing a retake that they used 20 cameras simultaneously shooting from various angles just to have to avoid having to do so for a technical glitch.

Hypothetically, if 20 cameras were rolling when the sets caught actual fire, from what you know, there’s absolutely zero chance of any actual fire footage being useful?

I didn’t know about the 20 camera thing, so maybe it is possible. y’know, the ‘you have enough monkeys typing, you eventually get Shakespeare’ kind of thing.

”Firefighters rushed to Sound Stage 15, where an expensive set depicting the Vulcan planet for STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FO SPOCK had just been completed, Paterson said. The set features 40-foot- high “rocks” made of polyurethane, which is highly toxic when it burns. However, a sprinkler system went off in the stage, which did not catch fire but suffered water damage, said Michael D. Eisner, president and chief operating officer of Paramount Pictures Corp. “We came within about 30 seconds of losing the set,” said Shatner, who plays Captain Kirk in the movie. Shatner said he had to man fire hoses outside the set until more help arrived. Lestz said shooting of the film would begin on schedule next week.” – MOVIE, TV SETS BURN AT PARAMOUNT STUDIOS from AP, THE PARIS NEWS, Friday, August 26, 1983,Page 8


Am I reading the call sheet for STAR TREK III:

correctly? Stage 15 was actually the GENESIS Klingon camp?

I think that is what it said in the books/mags, stage 15 fire.

There was a problem with the Vulcan stage — I don’t know which one that shot on — in that they hung the cyclorama at the wrong height, but no fire there.

I just came across a thread from 5 years back dealing with the Cushman books and their rabid defenders, and found you coming rather valiantly to my defense, even citing my bona fides. Don’t know if I ever thanked you properly for that, but … thanks, man.


You are welcome. It was an honor and a privilege.

DeForrest Kelly used to have his own fan club back in the day. I often wonder what sort of stuff they did.

They deforested each other’s Kellies

Take a drink every time somebody comes up with a new, “I’m a doctor not a … “

They probably got drunk in the woods and kept shouting, “We can’t see DeForrest for the trees!!”

(runs and hides)


I’ve been an obsessed Star Trek fan, having watched every episode of every series more times than I can possibly count along with the movies, since I was a child. Only a few moments really, truly, and deeply hit me:
Picard joining his crew’s game of Poker at the end of “All Good Things”
Picard eventually letting go of his Starfleet life in “The Inner Light”
Picard then losing the life he had embraced in “The Inner Light”
The Borg returning in “The Best of Both Worlds”
Picard’s reflection on his torture at the end of “Chain of Command”
Adama being promoted to Admiral at the end of “Resurrection Ship Pt 2 (oops wrong show, but I shed a tear!)
And “Stealing” the Enterprise in “The Search for Spock”, everything aspect of that was awesome :D

I am convinced that if Nick Meyer agreed to direct Trek III, (Yes he was asked to direct and turned it down) there’s no doubt it would have been a far superior movie. But, if that happened, would Nimoy have returned if he didn’t direct? Maybe, maybe not.

I don’t know. There are a lot of stories about Nimoy directing this film and supposedly the hook that got Nimoy back for Trek II was Spock’s death. I heard him say once that while he came back for the Spock death while they were filming he started having 2nd thoughts. So when time came for him to enter the chamber he asked Nick if there was something he could do to open the door. He had no idea what yet but on set he came up with the “remember” line. Not knowing what it might lead to but he said if felt like something they could use should he come back.

Then I heard him talking about directing III and the studio originally balking at the idea because they though he hated Star Trek! He said he had to convince them he really didn’t.

I think unquestionably Nick Meyer would have directed a much better movie. The thing is, to hear either one of his TWOK commentaries, there is no way they ever would have gotten him to do it.

Even the revised ending with Spock’s tube on Genesis (necessary to create an uplifting ending even if they had intended to keep Spock dead) happened only because Meyer’s clout was limited next to Harve Bennett’s and the studio’s.

The only (direct) sequel Nick Meyer might have agreed to make would be one in which Spock remained dead and someone was able to get Kirstie Alley to continue staring in place of Nimoy (and good luck getting her to do it).

Nimoy definitely had to struggle to convince Michael Eisner he even wanted to play Spock again in order to (eventually) get the offer to direct TSFS. And it was one of those now-or-never circumstances. Without Nimoy at the helm of III (even if largely as a director-for-hire) The Voyage Home could never have happened.

But the idea of ST continuing on with Kirstie Alley (even though I suspect audiences would’ve been too fickle to accept it) is too inviting to not fancy at times.

I always loved this movie. William Shatner does some of his best work as Kirk in this movie and, let’s face it, the Klingon’s in this movie defined Klingon’s from that film moving forward. It was funny at times, somber, moving and exciting (stealing the Enterprise will always go down as one of the best moments in Star Trek history).

The other thing that stands out about this film was that it established not just the relationship between Kirk, Spock and McCoy but the bond shared between this entire crew.

It’s a good movie. Still one of my favorites.

I saw SFS when I was 3 years old, I remember it well how much of an impression on me it made, stealing the Enterprise alone was the most epic thing I’d ever seen, and it was the one work of Trek that got me hooked. Still might be my favorite Trek movie!

Absolutely loved this film and make it a point to revisit it a couple of times a year.

Great job. You guys nailed what was wrong with this movie while still pointing out the highlights. You probably ran out of time, but I was hoping for discussion about the Klingon language. Many items from this movie were used again such as the bird of prey, the Excelsior, spacedock, Klingon makeup and costumes, but none had the lasting impact that the Klingon language did. It has been used in every version of Star Trek since.

Yes, TSFS dragged at times and had a thin plot, but I think it’s the most underrated Trek movie. It’s busting with themes and character moments. It’s also fascinating that it came out after the Star Wars trilogy ended, so you could say it rode on the Star Wars coattails or just continued the trend. Either way I love it. I was ten when it came out but didn’t watch until VHS. It feels like a pulpy sci-fi adventure with heart and focus on friendship.

Great job, you’ve earned a new subscriber!

If I may, I think some points were missed regarding the Klingon crew boarding the doomed Enterprise. I’ve always felt that the Klingon warriors that went over were of a lower class than Kruge and Maltz, who stayed behind. Perhaps those Klingons never learned Federation Standard (aka English) which explains why they didn’t recognize the self-destruct countdown. Kruge did of course, but it was too late to get his men back.

I’d say that the English spoken in the scene, and others, was just dramatic license to avoid making more Klingon dialogue. Like Ancient Romans with British accents or Nazis always speaking English, etc.

I recall in the novelization it mentioned that the few highest level officers on that Klingon ship did know Federation standard. And spoke it to each other when they wanted a little privacy. But the rest of the crew only knew their Klingon and all the orders were barked out in Klingon. From what I gleaned, the soldiers who boarded the Enterprise did not know Federation standard. (And were only speaking it on screen for the benefit of the audience.) So when they heard the countdown they had no idea it was numbers. Kruge, however, recognized it immediately. Another element that was not explained well in the film and when seen it really didn’t make much sense.

Hmm, that was something I picked up intuitively, but interesting to hear that was touched on in the novel. I should try to find and read all of the books.

Also in the podcast they mention the “death frame of reference” callback in IV. A bit of trivia to point out if you guys do a Voyage Home episode… the writers forgot that McCoy did actually die before; in TOS “Shore Leave.”

That’s right, he did die in “Shore Leave.” Good call :-)

We did our TVH podcast last year. We’ve been going in descending order (aside from doing TWOK before TSFS, since TSFS is such a direct follow on). So TMP is next, which we’ll do in the fall closer to it’s 40th anniversary date.

We’ll also be doing ST 2009 soon since it turned 10 this year, and was the reason TrekMovie was initially founded.

Fantastic! I`m looking forward to it! (Or should I say “backward”? ;-) )

Definitely looking forward to your guys’ 2009 podcast, not to mention your TMP one! Into Darkness can probably wait until next year… or at least I think its successes and failures deserve discussion apart from the 2009 movie. Loved your review as always.

I’ve always felt that the Klingon warriors that went over were of a lower class than Kruge and Maltz, who stayed behind. Perhaps those Klingons never learned Federation Standard (aka English) which explains why they didn’t recognize the self-destruct countdown. Kruge did of course, but it was too late to get his men back.

I agree I think that was the intention. But of course it’s not clear. Might have been helpful to have them speak in Klingon to Kruge over the communicator when they’re on the bridge so it nailed the point home.

Guess I just assumed the Klingons were pulling a Red October/Undiscovered Country in that scene. (“Don’t wait for the translation while I appear to be speaking to you in English! Answer me, now!”)

The Klingon and English in the film was not handled very well. It was a different time. Had the film been made 20 years later I feel pretty sure there would have been a lot more Klingon spoken with subtitles to make it obvious when it was spoken and when it was not. I do recall that the novel makes clear the language issues.

A funny thing: in the “original” german-dubbed version all klingon spoken scenes were dubbed and the english subtitles were kept. That was corrected in the DVD version.

I think Star Trek handles languages quite well. In some cases they will entirely have dialog in another language with subtitles, in other cases they “start” the conversation in native language but then switch to English (ala The Undiscovered Country scene where Kirk and McCoy are being sentenced by the Klingons) to show it is in another language but don’t frustrate us with the ENTIRE conversation remaining that way (ala Discovery’s first season where it was painful watching ENTIRE scenes in Klingon), and in other cases they’ve either shown the universal translator in use or (in the case of Enterprise in particular) that it took a few moments to lock on. I really don’t think The Search For Spock actually meant to have Klingons talking English, rather they start off that way and then switch to English for convenience… hence the boarding party talking English yet not understanding English, yet Kruge did. I would’ve been gauging my ears if that entire scene had been in Klingon just like Discover initially did – wasn’t necessary, I knew and get they were talking Klingon, so the ST3 scenes work for me.

My fav Trek movie!!!

Okay so now that I’ve actually listened to the podcast here are my thoughts:

I must point out that the whole “they didn’t have DVDs” back then comment isn’t completely correct; obviously they didn’t have DVDs, but Wrath of Khan sold extremely well on VHS and helped expedite the adoption of the format and kill Betamax. In fact the entire home movie market basically grew out of competitive pricing of WOK on VHS. You can read about it here:

Glad you point out the “Jedization” of the Vulcans, it’s so frustrating how George Lucas made the Jedi all wear robes in the prequels. Like??? So Obi Wan’s been in hiding for 20 years just wearing Jedi clothes? Not a great disguise.

SFS totally is directed in “tv style” and the weirdest editing decisions were made in the exchange with Kirk and Kruge, where like I can’t really tell if Kirk can see him on the Enterprise viewscreen or not because we never see them interact via viewscreen, we only see Kruge pushing buttons on his chair and them exchanging audio, even though Kruge sees Kirk turn and react on his viewer on the Klingon ship, but the way Kirk talks makes it seem like they don’t see each other, because Kruge is openly talking with his crew right in front of him until he hits his little chair button. So I have no idea who can see whom in that scene and it’s confusing.

Love the score, some themes Horner reused in Cocoon. Dude was a menace when it came to reusing themes.

What super bothers me about the stealing the Enterprise scene with Scotty hacking the doors is like when they cut to the empty chairs where the door control consoles are and the operators had been when they opened the doors for the Enterprise in the first place. Like are you kidding, the door in and out of this place isn’t constantly being manned by people? Why would there ever be a moment in the operation of this floating city when the door operators wouldn’t be at their desks?

It’s funny how we call the TMP dock a dry dock and Spacedock is just Spacedock, when a real life dry dock is where they drain the water around ships to work on them easier, so like if the Spacedock were to serve any purpose with its giant enclosed hangar bay you would think it would be to operate as a pressurized dry dock, or something? So Spacedock seems more like a dry dock than those scaffolds they build ships in as seen in TMP, GEN, VOY, etc.

Still love this movie though! It also inspired Thor 3’s destruction of Asgard, they wanted to do something epic, blow something up really important, a la Trek 3.

It’s a bit offtopic, but has anybody noticed that Horner’s klingon theme was reused in Aliens?

His ST:TWOK theme for the moment when Spock takes the Reliant’s shields down is in Aliens as well.

Khan’s 20th century/recollection victory trumpets feature in various “spooky” moments in ALIENS, such as coming across the preserved facehuggers in medlab, seeing cocooned bodies or tracking Newt back to sub-level 3.

And Excelsior’s pursuit of Enterprise outside of spacedock (right after Styles predicts Kirk won’t even try going to warp) is heard as Bishop and Ripley fly up to the landing platform inside the atmosphere processor.

It’s obvously not unusual that composers reuse themes in other movies. I once discovered the Theme of ST IV in the Lord of the rings animated movie from 1978 (?) and some theme of TMP in Poltergeist.

I can hear MARCUS WELBY in TVH. And all of these Horner cues turned up in WOLFEN earlier, and probably BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS with different orchestration.

That would be something if Goldsmith reused TMP music in Poltergeist. He was VERY annoyed at being wrongly accused of borrowing from himself in A L I E N after Ridley Scott used segments of his earlier work in that movie.

Why there should be such a stigma against composers recycling their own music (if Goldsmith’s reaction is to be taken at face value) is baffling to me.

There’s some stuff in OMEN 3 that does sound like TMP, just as there is some RAMBO 3 that is used in TFF, maybe five notes at the start of a cue in the latter. But it isn’t the shameless duping that Horner nearly always did!

See there’s exactly what I’m talking about. Why is it “shameless” to borrow from oneself? Or for that matter who would you trust as qualified to assert that doing such a thing is in any way deserving of negative criticism?


Re: “shameless”

Because what a scriptwriter or composer wrote for a movie production company belongs to the production company – not the writers of those works. Copyright only permits composers to “sample” short segments from others copyrighted music, but Horner would reuse sheets and he didn’t limit his copying to solely his composed works, regardless.

If you cue up the soundtrack of BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between much of it and his TWOK. In fact, the only significant difference that I noticed is where he copies Goldsmith.

Horner is a frustrating composer. He definitely had the talent, but he carried over the course of his career bad habits he developed as a starving artist to meet impossible deadlines – a crutch he no longer needed once he made a name for himself but he never seem to quite abandon.

He also got full of himself in his youthful self-promotion, and refused to acknowledge the great debt he owed to others, most notably Jerry Goldsmith, in getting his career launched.

As I recall in researching this for a previous discussion on trekmovie, this riff between the two was most likely why Goldsmith refused to conduct a tribute to Horner when asked by the Academy.

I’ve only ever picked up a couple brief segments that BBTS and TWOK [seemed to] share in common. And this blogger found them all:

It seems more than a little hyperbolic (as a matter of understatement) to suggest that almost everything in BBTS was either copied from Goldsmith or re-used in TWOK, one or the other.

I should also add that this guy appears to be really stretching on at least a couple of other comparisons he provides of Horner’s work.

Any more “shameless” instances of Horner’s self-copying I likely have already heard. Such as Star Treks II and III in Cocoon, ALIENS or Amazing Spider Man. Or Sneakers in Apollo 13.

If what you say is true, then studios have certainly had plenty of opportunity to sue Horner for having the temerity to reference himself. This doesn’t appear to have ever happened. Which must stick in the craw of people who are critical of him.

“Most likely” why Goldsmith refused to tribute Horner… meaning nobody has anything more substantial on whether this was true?

DISINVITED already gave a reply to this I can’t possibly top, but just from my own perspective … in film writing, I see a lot of repurposed stuff. Basically, where a guy would do an interview, then reuse most of the same quotes while writing new frames around them, and then sell what amounted to being the same article to a different magazine. And get away with it. That isn’t even creative typewriting. It’s cheating on a level that currently I can only describe as presidential. Ditto for the ‘writers’ who bascially cutNpaste the work of others and substitute the odd word to claim it as original, even though they didn’t do any of the interviewing or hard work.

Maybe the best example I could give is something from nearly 40 years back. I was in broadcast school, and for one week, the class was broken into two sections and each group spent the day writing up current news stories and at end of that day’s class, performing the freshly-written material. It was a real pressure-cooker, a good exercise, and some of the work was godawful bad.

Last day of that week, we had some bigwig from a station visiting, and the other group, instead of writing fresh material, just cherrypicked the best stuff they’d already done in previous days, polished it, and did a presentation that, if you weren’t noticing what was today’s news and what was old news, seemed totally brilliant. That was utter crap, totally dishonest — and yet the instructors applauded them and I think at least a couple of those people got job offers out of that day.

In addition to convincing me that the money I’d spent on that school was utterly wasted, that day also told me that ethics had to be its own reward, because opportunists were always going to take the low road, and usually get away with it even when called on their actions.

I see Horner’s work in exactly the same way. As catchy as much of TWOK and GORKY PARK sounds, I can never fully enjoy it, because of all the way-too-obvious resonances to the work of others and to his past and future work.

Need an example that ties into TREK of what else might have shaped these views of mine? Go back to Harlan Ellison, and his response to another writing bragging about how he had put one over on Roddenberry by selling TREK on a story that was just FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX with Spock in the Jimmy Stewart role. Shame at one’s own profession with respect to its other practicing members figures largely.

Okay, well I just posted yet another reply and it too vanished. I’m beyond exhausted with that happening. As I’ve already posted in reply (twice now) I don’t agree with the comparisons made, at all.


This site has a wonky old automate spam filter and family language filter. It often dumps messages for no apparent rhyme or reason based on what it “thinks” is spam or fowl language which is why when I find myself getting lengthy in response I copy it over to a word processor that preserves it – just in case. Most of the time messages that get flagged by this “AI” goes to a bin where moderators can push the message onward to post if they find it within the guidelines. However, I’ve had more than a few just go into a blackhole never to be seen again which is why I take the precaution that I mentioned.

I had a response here in an above thread vanish on me. I can’t imagine what was objectionable in it. I opted to not replace it and move on.


Oh, and if you see what you just posted on this feed:

There’s good odds that it took, but leave nothing to chance if what you contributed has length and you believe merit.

Maybe “reuse” is not the right term, but atleast “inspired” or “shared a similar atmosphere”. There’s nothing bad about it.
There were a few episodes on the Orville were the music sounded heavily inspired by TMP.

I just found the segment:

Sounds like the scene were the Enterprise is inside V’Ger.

In the Home Video featurette, “James Horner: Composing Genesis”, Horner tells of learning the actual mechanics of the art of film scoring from attending many of Jerry Goldsmith’s recording sessions for STAR TREK — THE MOTION PICTURE AT Goldsmith’s invitation.

This site:

translates a 1998 French interview where he asserts no other film composer influenced his work.

“Not as far as cinema is concerned. I was trained as a classical composer, which means I love the music of Berlioz and Prokofiev. But when I started to compose for the movies, no one was a real influence.” – James Horner

Those horns are in the opening to his BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, an obvious lift from PATTON, one of many Goldsmith rips there. BATTLE even has stuff of Goldsmith’s as recent as the previous year’s THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY. BATTLE also has a John Williams feel in a lot of spots, with mucho STAR WARS in the orchestrations.

Horner was known to steal his own cues from time to time, yes.

Christopher Lloyd said in an interview that had no idea why he was cast as Kruge, and that he’s never thought that he was right for the part.


I’m playing DVD disc 2’s CAPTAIN’S LOG of TSFS’s special collector’s edition and that’s not what he says for that.

He says in seeing the movie again over the years, there are scenes where he feels he nails the character of Kruge. He goes on to note that, of course, there are some where he feels he could have done better, “But that’s with everything.”


Hm… Maybe in the interview I’m remembering he just said that he has no idea why they cast him, but stopped short of saying that he didnt’t think he was right for the part. I’m sure that I remember him saying he didn’t know they cast him, though.

I haven’t check it lately, but I think you may be referring to the STARLOG interview done at the time of SFS and BUCAKROO BANZAI. I remember him saying something offhand like ‘working for mr. spock, I was honored’ but also getting some idea that he didn’t really understand some aspect. As opposed to BANZAI, which he is clearly over the moon about. There’s an online starlog database, if anybody cares to check.


FWIW on the same DVD Nimoy says Lloyd got the role because “the man is a chameleon” and that he nailed Kruge in the audition. However, Robin Curtis notes that Lloyd was a great actor but had difficulty relating to the props. She recounts numerous takes where Kruge had to order his beam up because Enterprise arrived, and Lloyd would dramatically fling open his arms and project his voice into the heavens as if he could just shout the order up to the ship. Leonard would yell CUT! and explain to Lloyd that the communicator prop was how his commands got up to the ship, and he had to hold it up to his mouth. Chris would say “Yes, yes.”, Leonard would start cameras rolling again, and there’d go those arms…

Apparently, by the time he got to filming BTTF III he mastered the use of prop walkie talkies?


That’s funny.

You mean this one?:

”When the role of Klingon Commander Kruge was offered to him, Lloyd was surprised. “Hey, working with Mr. Spock? I was honored. Really, I was tickled and delighted. What can I say? I felt like I was becoming part of a special club. I like to think that whatever I did in the film fulfills the Trekkian hopes. Know what I mean? I’m thrilled thinking that somehow I’ve contributed to the whole Trekkian mystique.”

Lloyd can’t quite figure out how his name came up during casting. “I guess, well, maybe it’s because Leonard Nimoy has a great deal of respect for actors. He has a theatre background. He may have felt he needed people well grounded as actors to make the Klingons work.” — CHRISTOPHER LOYD:CALL HIM KLINGON By Lee Goldberg, STARLOG 82, p20, MAY 1984


Actually, I think it was this one: ww w .startrek. com/article/christopher-lloyd-interview

Lloyd: “I hadn’t done that much film work before then and I didn’t quite know what about me they saw from previous work that convinced them that maybe I’d be a good Klingon.”

I didn’t quite follow the line of reasoning that Brian started about the plot hole and Kirk et al having no reason to go to Genesis. It sounds vaguely familiar, and I think I wrote something about it the last time you guys reviewed this movie, but I can’t. . . remember. . .

I need to rewatch this movie.

Act 1, where McCoy is running around all crazy and obsessed and meets with the alien smuggler dude… that’s all very funny and entertaining. And even the initial scene with the Klingons in space I remember being very well done. What’s not as good is all of the cat-and-mouse stuff with Kruge, who beams down to the self-destructing Genesis planet for no reason, instead of staying safely up on his ship and dictating terms to the helpless Kirk down below. I also remember a plot hole relating to the whole katra sub-plot, which I think Disinvited found was actually explained by something that wasn’t in the movie.


I can’t take sole credit for that. We had a very productive discussion on that with significant contributions by quite a few others.

But we did come to the consensus that there were lines either cut or simply Nimoy, for some reason decided not to film, that explained the katra motivations for going to Genesis which you pointed out that, whatever the motivation, their elimination left that part of the film flawed.

It’s just the “Klingon way” i.e. the stupid way for Kruge to beam down and beat Kirk with his bare fists. They’re right to point out in the podcast that the Klingon Empire is organizationally disfunctional, and same with Starfleet, like how do you build an advanced civilization where no one follows rules or basic common sense?

Doesn’t excuse the stupidity on the human side of things. Why beam down to an unstable planet (David already warned that Genesis didn’t work) when there’s a perfectly good, only semi-damaged ship that is practically empty of defenders? Really thought that was a time when McCoy should have re-trotted out the ‘what the hell kind of strategy is this?’

They’re right to point out in the podcast that the Klingon Empire is organizationally disfunctional, and same with Starfleet, like how do you build an advanced civilization where no one follows rules or basic common sense?

I always saw a problem with that, too. Later, in DS9, came the explanation (or retcon) that not all Klingons are equally bellicose and war-crazed, and that, as in all cultures, some Klingons are more extreme than others, from which we are meant to assume that there were more calm, rational Klingons that created the technology and other non-martial elements of their culture. But, that seems like a post-hoc cheat, given the prevalence of the bellicose Klingon persona. It seems dubious that even the warships are able to accomplish any missions, given the blood-thirsty maniacs shown to operate them.

That is actually a conceit I gave the Klingon empire long before it was even mentioned. Mainly because their society couln’t function if other elements didn’t exist. So I just assumed they did.


Sure, and that makes sense. It’s just that, the way Klingons were portrayed in TSFS and TNG, we are left to wonder…how? You can imagine a thoughtful Klingon scientist type being normally derided as weak and lacking the heart of a warrior. Maybe he brings the Klingon high command in to see his breakthrough experiment, and one of them smashes it with his batleth, “BAH! This is a toy for children, not a weapon for a Klingon warrior!”

Well we did see in ENT’s Augments storyline that the healers of the Empire aren’t really respected, but they exist nonetheless, so it does seem logical to assume that they have people who aren’t batsh*t crazy keeping things in order, but those Klingons just don’t seem to interact with Starfleet very often


Yeah, that’s the retcon that I was referring to. It worked well in ENT, and I think the characters and shows are better for it. But, what you said is correct. And up until the retcon, we were all left to wonder how they hell these people ever made it out of the stone age.

I didn’t consider Kruge a representative Klingon. Clearly he was a spy with expertise in stealing technology. Those types tend to be a little unhinged, even in human society.

As a fan of this film who acknowledges that it has shortcomings I was really looking foreword to this.What a disappointment. You are all idiots. Way to fill up time knitpicking a film. Sarek’s robes? Are you serious? Maybe they are his travel clothes. Who cares! For fans who care about the characters this is a good film, and as the middle piece in the “trilogy” it is a great bridge.

I’ve always loved TSFS.

I can share one memory from the time before the movie’s release. I saw Leonard Nimoy speak at a convention not long before STIII was to come out, and he was asked about a rumor. The audience member asked “Does the Enterprise get dusted in the movie?” Nimoy responded, “we all get pretty dirty.” I thought that was great. He never did directly confirm the rumor. Of course, the trailers did spoil this before the movie came out, but I don’t think that lessened the impact of seeing our beloved ship blowing up.

I’m on a vacation in Iceland (and haven’t had time to hear this podcast) and as we drive it pops into my head how similar it is to the Genesis planet: I feel quite lucky to relate this interesting experience where we can see tectonics in action.

TSFS is by far my favorite of the ST movies, but I never thought the destruction of the Enterprise was that big a deal, especially when compared to the death of a human being, even a fictional movie character. The *murder* of the fictional David is the real tragedy in this story, not the “death” of a fictional sci-fi/fantasy movie spaceship.

The destruction of the “E” is akin to when my wife got t-boned years ago…she was fine, thank goodness, but her car got “dusted” in this instance. It was still just an effing CAR! She got another one a week or two later, and kept on rolling as before. Sure, I liked that old car, but it was a *hunk of metal*. So was the “E” a hunk of fictional, inanimate metal … anthropomorphized. Priorities? Might as well be attached to a brick.

it is a big deal because kirk let it happen.
he did everything to keep the ship in one piece in the OS but saving spock meant more to him this time.

Well, it is a little bit more than that. She had an AI after a fashion, and people are already getting attached to Siri and company.

Right, so I re-visited the movie. The plot hole that Brian alleges in the podcast, is he arguing that Kirk et al didn’t have to go to the Genesis planet because the Grissom was already there, and Kirk could have sent them a message telling them to find Spock and bring him to Vulcan?

I don’t know whether the Genesis planet is on the way to Vulcan from Earth, but McCoy would have had to be brought to Vulcan anyway. If not for the Klingons interfering, I suppose that the Grissom could have taken Spock to rendezvous with the ship carrying Kirk and McCoy to Vulcan. I guess we’re meant to assume that because Star Fleet was so uncooperative with Kirk when he requested to go to the Genesis planet to retrieve Spock — the commander dude having accused Kirk of being intellectually chaotic, telling him “that way lies madness” — that Kirk figured there was no point in trying to enlist Star Fleet’s help and cooperation in retrieving Spock. Star Fleet would just have accused Kirk of being emotionally overwrought and wouldn’t have told the Grissom to search for Spock. As it happens, the Grissom survey team finds Spock on their own but are then taken captive by the Klingons. So, if Kirk hadn’t gone to the Genesis planet, then the Klingons would have contacted Star Fleet and tried to ransom David, Saavik and Spock in exchange for info on the Genesis device. At that point, Kirk, having not yet become involved, surely would. And then we’d have some sort of confrontation between Kirk et al and Kruge et al.

So, I don’t really see Kirk’s decision to go to the Genesis planet as much of a plot hole, if any. Yes, a message could have been sent by Star Fleet Command to the Grissom telling them to find and retrieve Spock. But, Kirk had reason to believe that Star Fleet Command wouldn’t cooperate in that way. So, Kirk took matters into his own hands, not knowing that the Grissom survey team was going to find Spock on their own. Seems reasonable enough to me.

There’s no reason to go back to Genesis. As far as Kirk knows, Spock’s physical body is still dead. He doesn’t learn that Spock is alive until they arrive at Genesis.

“This…Vulcan. Is he alive?”

And I think a case could be made that Kirk had no idea there was even a body! They shot it into an atmosphere. Even if photon tubes are tough enough to not burn up on entry to an atmosphere, the impact would have splattered Spock all over the impact zone. Yes, Estiban ordered the message saying Spock’s burial tube was found. But would that news had reached Kirk immeditately? I doubt it. It may have reached Sarek quckly. He’s an important person and it’s his son. So it would have worked better had Sarek told Kirk the body was in fact, intact.

Brian Drew

Sarek goes to see Kirk in the first act and castigates him for leaving Spock’s body on the Genesis planet. After they watch the video of Spock giving katra to McCoy — “Remember.” — Sarek explicitly tells Kirk, “You must bring them both [Spock and McCoy] to Mount Seleya on Vulcan,” to which Kirk responds, “What you ask is difficult.”

Kirk then speaks with Star Fleet Commander dude about retrieving Spock’s body from the Genesis planet, to which Commander dude responds by accusing Kirk of intellectual chaos and so forth. So, Kirk believing that Star Fleet won’t help him retrieve Spock’s body — because they think the whole idea is crazy — he decides, “I am therefore going anyway.” Kirk didn’t know that the Grissom survey team was going to find Spock’s body alive and he had no reason to think that he’d get any cooperation from the Grissom or anyone else in Star Fleet, anyway.

There is a plot hole relating to all this, however. Sarek castigates Kirk for not taking Spock’s body and katra to Mount Seleya for refusion, implying that it’s a regular part of Vulcan culture. But, at the end of the movie, when that refusion is about to take place, T’lar says to Sarek, “What you seek has not been done since ages past and then only in legend,” explicitly stating that the procedure is not normal as Sarek implied earlier. If the refusion ritual is so rare that it’s never even known to have actually been done, then how is Sarek so certain that Spock would have asked Kirk to see it done, to the point where he castigates Kirk for not following through? It’s like yelling at a medical doctor for not utilizing a mythical healing technique: Dammit, Doctor, why didn’t you use your magic wand on him!

“Only his body was in death, Kirk.”

Sarek castigates him because he initially believed that Spock melded with Kirk before he died, and should have known to come and bring his katra to Vulcan.

“Forgive me. It is not here. I assumed he mind-melded with you – it is the Vulcan way when the body’s end is near.”

When he says “you must be bring them both to Mt. Seleya” he’s talking about McCoy and Spock’s consciousness. Sarek has no idea that Spock’s body has been reconstituted, and even if he does know, the movie fails to convey that information to the audience.

Brian Drew

Disinvited is right. To put it all a bit more simply (if I can)…

Sarek initially believes that Kirk has Spock’s katra. We know this because, after mind-melding with Kirk, Sarek is surprised to find that Kirk doesn’t have Spock’s katra.

So, when Sarek initially (prior to the mind-meld) castigates Kirk with, “Why did you leave him on Genesis?!” “him” must be a reference to Spock’s body, as Sarek believes at this point that Spock’s katra is inside of Kirk.

Additionally, Sarek says to Kirk, “He asked you to bring him [Spock’s body] to us …and bring that which he gave you, his katra, his living spirit.” Sarek is alleging that Spock asked Kirk to bring “him…and…his katra” to Vulcan. This line doesn’t make sense if “him” isn’t referring to Spock’s body.

Moreover, when they all arrive at Vulcan and ask T’lar to perform the refusion, she doesn’t act surprised or confused when the bodies of Spock and McCoy are both presented for the ritual. She proceeds to transfer Spock’s katra from McCoy’s body back into Spock’s body like it’s the way the ritual is supposed to go. If they’d shown up with just McCoy and no Spock body, Spock’s katra would have nothing to fuse with, as far as the audience knows.

But, I think it’s clear from just the dialogue that Sarek asks Kirk to go to the Genesis planet in order to retrieve Spock’s body, so that he can bring it “AND…his katra, his living spirit…” to Vulcan for the refusion. And that’s a request that Kirk can’t refuse.

I don’t think the refusion was part of anyone’s plans at all at the beginning. Sarek just wanted Spock’s katra so he can do with it whatever Vulcan culture dictates they do with katras. The refusion was not an option until Spock’s katra-less living body appeared.

There is a little confusion here, however. Brian is right in that Sarek often referred to Spock’s katra as “him”. And I think it obvious that “them both” was McCoy and the katra he was carrying. The weird part is asking “why did you leave him on Genesis?” Certainly he wasn’t referring to the katra. At that point he assumed Kirk had it. Did he object to how Kirk treated his son’s body? Did he want the body for some sort of Vulcan reason? And again, he wasn’t interested in refusion as that only works with a LIVING body. So perhaps he wanted both corpse and katra? The way that conversation went it seemed very reasonable that Sarek had no idea that Spock’s body was intact.

Brian Drew,

I’m sorry, Brian, but Sarek hits Kirk with this right off the bat:

SAREK: Spare me your human platitudes, Kirk. I have been to your Government. I have seen the Genesis information, and your own report.

KIRK: Then you know how bravely your son met his death.

SAREK: Why did you leave him on Genesis! Spock trusted you. You denied him his future!

At this point the immediate assumption would be, Sarek believes Spock’s katra is left on Genesis not in Kirk, and the only known way for that to be is if Spock’s body is intact, so in the report and Kirk’s information it must have been established the body is indeed on Genesis.

But then Sarek says:

SAREK: Then you must know that you should have come with him to Vulcan.

KIRK: But …why?

SAREK: Because he asked you to! He entrusted you with his very essence, with everything that was not of the body. He asked you to bring him to us …and bring that which he gave you, his katra, his living spirit.

Which seems clear, that no, Sarek is telling Kirk that Spock asked Kirk to bring Spock’s body to Vulcan AND his katra which Sarek believes is in Kirk.

To me that darn conjunction means Kirk was not only to bring his katra to Vulcan but something else, i.e. his body.

Now what’s always puzzled me is Savik is Vulcan, and later it is established that she’s well versed in katra rituals. So why did she let Kirk launch Spock’s body into space to begin with, if she new it was important to his family that the body be brought to Vulcan? Did she somehow convince herself that it was Spock’s last request?

“is Savik is Vulcan, and later it is established that she’s well versed in katra rituals. So why did she let Kirk launch Spock’s body into space to begin with, if she new it was important to his family that the body be brought to Vulcan?”

That is a very good question. Sarek obviously felt like the dead body and Katra were spiritully important. Saavik ought to have known that. But here is a goofy reason… Perhaps Saavik practiced a different form of… er…. Vulcan mysticism and was not familiar with whatever Sarek’s family participated in?


Sarek’s question, “Why did you leave him on Genesis?”, only makes sense if Sarek has been informed that the coffin landed there. It is the only thing of Spock that could have made it there.

I think that question still works even if he didn’t know the tube soft landed. But the rest of the conversation doesn’t.


Re: question works

True, we have no idea what state the physical remains have to be in for a normal katra ritual (At the very least, they were radiation cooked dead, freeze dried from space, and likely recooked on atmospheric entry.), but we must assume the impact, if there was one, was confined to a retrievable area – why else would Sarek bother questioning the remains being left there? If they weren’t in a retrievable state wouldn’t Sarek have rather chastised Kirk for ejecting Spock’s remains into space to begin with?

“Sarek have rather chastised Kirk for ejecting Spock’s remains into space to begin with?”

That is what I thought he was questioning when he asked why he left him on Genesis.

We never witness Kirk or Sarek learning or see them discussing any notion that Spock’s body had been regenerated. Risking life and limb to retrieve what they believe to be a lifeless corpse makes ZERO sense. It also doesn’t explain Kirk’s reaction when he learns that Spock is alive.

You’re making suppositions to try and fill in a huge hole. It’s a critical plot point that is not spelled out in the film. There were a few lines in the shooting script where Sarek tells Kirk that Spock’s consciousness was to be brought to the Hall Of Ancient Thought to live forever (something that is also mentioned in the novelization, I believe), but they either didn’t shoot it or dropped it in the edit. That would have made the whole thing much clearer.

My bad. It’s Saavik who tells him, not Sarek.

Estimating Vulcan at point one

CAMERA MOVES IN to Kirk and Saavik.

Saavik: message to Ambassador
Sarek. Tell him we bring McCoy
and a living Spock. Ask him to
prepare for the Katra ritual.

Saavik raises an eyebrow.

Yes, Admiral. But that
may not be possible.

What? What are you saying?

The Katra ritual is meant to
deposit Spock’s consciousness in
the Hall of Ancient Thought – not
in his body.

But we have Spock alive! That’s
more than we bargained for!

Or less. What you describe is called
Fal Tor Pan – the refusion. It is
very dangerous. The elders may not
choose to attempt it.

And if they don’t.? What will
Happen to Spock?

. He will remain always as he

There’s also this, when Kirk finds McCoy in Spock’s quarters:


It is dark and shadowy as Kirk enters. He peers, try-
ing to adjust his eyesight to the darkness. He steps
forward carefully — trips temporarily on some small
object — but recovers. He moves slowly inward, then
stops, staring into the impenetrable dark. Then he
reacts, as we hear SPOCK’S VOICE. It is hoarse, raspy,
as it was in the final scene with Kirk in Star Trek
II. But is unmistakably Spock.

Jim… Help me… take me… up
the steps… of Mount Seleya…
through the hall of ancient

Brian Drew,

You left off the SPOCK’S QUARTERS dialogue’s very important preamble:

McCOY: (in Spock’s voice) Jim, …Help me. …You left me on Genesis. …Why did you do that? …Help me.

where Spock, although Kirk believes at the time it’s McCoy but surely figures it out after talking to Sarek, tells him that he left him on Genesis.

For whatever reason, Nimoy nixed the Hall of Ancient Thought concept without changing enough of the dialogue to properly accommodate the missing concept.

Prior to nixing the Hall, the in-story purpose of retrieving Spock’s body may have been just to give it a proper burial on Vulcan. Spock’s body would be interred and his katra would go into the Hall, as per Vulcan ritual. In other words, interring Spock’s body was part of the ritual.

But, with the Hall concept absent, the story plays like re-fusing Spock’s katra with his body was the plan all along — a sort of Frankenstein procedure — and it was just dumb luck that Genesis revived Spock’s body. And then, T’lar’s line about the re-fusion being only a legend doesn’t make sense. And there’s your plot hole.

Retrieving Spock’s body was ALWAYS going to be part of the plot, being that the title implies it and it was the only way to bring the Spock character (as portrayed by Leonard Nimoy) back into the movie series. So, the question we have to ask is: given that there must be a reason in the story for retrieving Spock’s body, what is that reason? The only two possibilities that I can think of are: to give Spock’s corpse a proper burial or to re-fuse Spock’s body with his katra. It appears that the story started out with the first reason — retrieving Spock’s body to give it a proper burial — and then switched to the second reason (the re-fusion) after Spock’s body was discovered to be alive and viable. The confusion arises due to the missing Hall concept, without which the only initial reason to retrieve Spock’s corpse is to Frankenstein it with his katra. And, when Spock’s body is found to be alive and viable, we’re expected to think that it was just a lucky turn of events.

In any case, the initial in-story reason for going to Genesis is clearly to retrieve Spock’s body. For what purpose Spock’s body is to be retrieved — that is the ambiguous part. As the movie plays, without the Hall concept, the initial purpose of retrieving Spock’s body is apparently to Frankenstein it with his katra. And, then, it’s just lucky that Spock’s body happened to be alive on Genesis, which makes the whole procedure easier, I guess. But, the dialogue plainly has Sarek asking Kirk to go to Genesis to retrieve Spock’s body. With the Hall concept, the purpose of retrieving Spock’s body may have been simply to bury it properly as his katra was put into the Hall. Without the Hall concept, the only apparent reason for retrieving Spock’s body is to re-fuse it with his katra. I would agree that the whole katra concept is deeply flawed. But, there is an in-story reason given for Kirk going to Genesis: Sarek asks Kirk to retrieve Spock’s body, and Kirk agrees to do it. The whole katra concept being lame or not making sense is a different issue. I would agree that re-animating Spock’s lifeless corpse is hokey, but not necessarily any more hokey than the whole katra concept.

Brian Drew,

Re: lifeless corpse makes ZERO sense

Only because you are looking at the remains retrieval as if they are needed for some scientific purpose when, quite the opposite, they are needed for a Vulcan Mystic religious ritual. For Kirk, it doesn’t have to make scientific sense, he told the Admiral as much when he made the request to go to GENESIS.

Brian Drew,

Re: lifeless corpse makes ZERO sense

And, to be clear, the Vulcan Mystic religious ritual to which I was referring is the Hall of Ancient Thought deposit.

Brian Drew

Did you read what I wrote? I don’t understand where the disconnect is. I agree with you that the “Hall of Ancient Thought” omission would have made the whole thing clear. But, the fact is it’s not in the movie and therefore we can’t use it as an explanation for on-screen events.

Additionally, Sarek, believing that Kirk is in possession of Spock’s katra, asks Kirk, “Why did you leave him on Genesis?!” “Him” must be a reference to Spock’s body. There is no other reasonable explanation. Your critique was that Kirk has no reason to go to Genesis. I am showing you clear evidence of Kirk’s motivation for going to Genesis: because Sarek asked him to. This cannot be disputed, as it is unambiguously stated in the dialogue. Sarek, knowing that Spock’s katra is in McCoy, asks Kirk to go to Genesis and get that which he left behind, which, by process of elimination, can only mean Spock’s body. And there’s Kirk’s reason for going to Genesis: because Sarek asked him to retrieve Spock’s body from Genesis. No plot hole there. (As for when they reach Vulcan, yes, there’s a plot hole there in T’lar’s reaction).

I see what you guys mean about the cheapness of the sets and props. The sound effects and music, though, are fantastic. The end showdown between Kirk and Kruge on the Genesis planet has an interesting mood and feel to it, owing to the sound effects and lack of music. It’s an example of less being more. The sound effects and lack of music give a certain gravitas and gritty realism to the mood of the fight, raising the stakes of it.

The final scene, when Kirk says, “Because the needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many,” might have served better as the final words of the movie, rather than the cheesy bit afterward where Spock remembers, “Jim! You’re name is Jim!” Obviously, the last bit was to set up the next movie by showing us that everything’s returning back to normal with our heroes. But, ending on the philosophical note might have made for a better TSFS movie. TSFS was All for one… where TWOK was …one for all. It’s a nice symmetry and a good note to end on.

The other substantial theme in TSFS is the scientific hubris of creating Genesis and the consequences stemming from it. David sacrifices his life in atonement for all of the damage that he realizes he’s responsible for. I can’t think of any prior movies that had raised scientific hubris as an issue. The only other one that comes to mind is JURASSIC PARK, which was obviously made well after TSFS. It would have been good to hit a few more notes and play out the hubris theme a bit more in TSFS and maybe even tie it into the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many somehow. As it stands, the hubris theme is almost the driver of mini-story of David within the larger story of searching for Spock. The two don’t seem connected in any way, other than loosely by plot.

You can see the difference between TWOK — which is the product of three writers and effectively a greatest hits of two different screenplays (or something like that…I may have the precise details a bit off) — and TSFS which is the product of just one writer, Harve Bennett. TWOK is sooo much richer. Every scene has more meaning in it. There’s just no comparison. Noticeably missing from TSFS is an inner journey for one of the main characters, either the villain or the protagonist. Kirk’s outer journey and desire are obviously to find Spock and get his friend back. But, there’s no inner conflict for Kirk in this story and obviously none for Kruge, either. Along the way, Kirk loses his son, which is a moving scene but really just an accident unrelated to the through-line of the story. David dying, as I mentioned below, is kind of the end of the mini-story of David and doesn’t bear upon the outcome of the greater story of finding Spock. David realizing his own hubris is actually the most substantial inner journey in the story, but he’s ultimately just a side character. McCoy has a moment toward the end, where he confesses that he’s missed Spock, but I’d hardly call that an inner journey. At best, one could say that it’s part of an inner journey for McCoy over the arc of the entire TOS and TOS movies up until that point. But, in TSFS, it’s really just a touching scene. It’s not as though McCoy has been conflicted about Spock since the beginning of the movie, and is now resolving that conflict.

I found myself a bit curious as to why Uhura stays behind rather than going with the rest of the crew on the Enterprise. Not a big deal, just a curiosity. Maybe Bennett felt that having Uhura along on the Enterprise would be too many characters, so he gave her a nice scene at the beginning knowing that would be the sum total of her dialogue in the movie.

At any rate, the main reason that TSFS is not as good a movie as TWOK is that the plot of the former is not driven by an interesting theme. The story is all outer journey and desire and little or no inner journey. The conflict in the story is all external — i.e. the Klingon villains — who are likewise pursuing an external object (the secret of Genesis) on an outer journey with no inner journey. Our protagonist (Kirk) doesn’t learn anything about himself nor overcomes any weakness of character or internal hurdle by defeating Kruge. Their conflict is entirely external and ultimately just a roadblock that our protagonist eventually gets around in his search for Spock. And that’s really the main flaw of TSFS — the story is plot-based rather than character-based. What’s TSFS about? It’s really all there in the title. Except that the search for Spock isn’t even a metaphor of any kind. It’s not as though Kirk is searching for what it means to be Spock, or for how Spock differs in character from himself, or anything like that. Kirk is literally just searching for Spock, the missing person. Again, the desire, conflict and ultimate goal in the story are entirely external, which is less interesting than if there were also some sort of inner journey and conflict going on simultaneously. In TWOK, we see a man (Khan) destroy himself and lose everything that he has because he is unable to overcome his inner conflict, and it’s terribly exciting to watch it happen. The outer journey (for Khan) in TWOK is the Genesis device, and he gets that prize. But, then he loses it because he can’t get the inner prize. The story of TWOK is driven, not by a plot goal (such as searching for Spock), but by Khan’s inner struggle — his desire for material goods vs. his lust for an emotional satisfaction that constantly eludes him. It’s the character of Khan that guides, informs and creates the plot of TWOK, and that makes for a more interesting story than if the plot, itself, were the main focus.

Also there is Kirk, feeling like his best days are behind him. But learning that may not be the case. Even after losing his best friend.


There’s a bit of that in the opening V.O., but Kirk actually doesn’t even say that his best days are behind him. He says that he feels “uneasy” and that “the ship feels empty, like a house with all of the children gone.” And that he “left the noblest part of [himself] back on [Genesis].”

It’s not quite the getting older theme that we get at the beginning of TWOK, but a more general disquietude about missing his friends, especially Spock. In any case, it doesn’t really continue through the story. I suppose one might consider getting Spock back at the end a resolution, but that’s very generalized. After all, the title of the movie is The Search for Spock. Finding Spock at the end of the story is a literal resolution, anyway. So, I wouldn’t regard this as an inner journey or theme for Kirk. It’s effectively a mood-setter and starting point for the beginning of this story, which is a continuation of TWOK and the second part of a trilogy. I suppose that Kirk’s unease at the beginning of TSFS could be viewed as the emotional valley that the protagonist of a trilogy typically finds himself in during the second installment of his three-part hero’s journey. But, there’s not much more to it beyond that in TSFS. Again, there’s not really an inner journey for Kirk in TSFS. The only thing Kirk is looking for throughout the story is Spock, the person. Yes, Spock is Kirk’s friend, and yes, finding Spock will (it is assumed) cure Kirk’s uneasiness, but I miss my friend and I’ll feel better if I find him is not much of an inner journey. Spock is an external object, Kirk’s desire is for that external object, and that desire is what motivates his entire journey, which is likewise external. If it turned out that Spock really was dead and gone forever, but Kirk learned something about himself and resolved some inner conflict over the course of searching for Spock, then that would be an inner journey for Kirk and Spock would be, in this case, a MacGuffin.

My mistake. I was referring to your reference to WoK. Kirk’s struggle was in that film. Not SFS.

‘Our protagonist (Kirk) doesn’t learn anything about himself nor overcomes any weakness of character or internal hurdle by defeating Kruge’-

not so.
kirk cast his loyalty to starfleet and his care for his ship for his friends, things he valued so much in the OS.
he learned a lesson that would carry through to the end of the OS films.

But breaking with Starfleet over this doesn’t make him rethink his commitment to them. I realize that’s a much bigger issue, and would have played out over subsequent films if they had dealt with what I imagined the post SFS world would look like, which is that these folks would be renegades from the Federation for life … and finding they’re just fine with it, because they can explore and deal with stuff out there w/o a bunch of bureaucrats setting bad policies, and this would also let the show get back to being ‘Kirk has a decision to make’ because he would no longer be an errand boy asking for orders.

I’ve never liked SFS, and I never will (to misquote the guy from TUC.) I find it has one of the best premises any of these films might have, and honors that in the early going, but then just goes sour in just about every way possible. And this is not just my usual knock on Nimoy’s camerawork and direction (which I find better here than in his followup film, mainly with Kirk/McCoy in Spock’s quarters and during the self-destruct setup), but instead focusing on Bennett writing and then riding a stupid script into the atmosphere and letting it burn up. The RETURN TO GENESIS outline is very arbitrary about major aspects and amazingly hokey to read, but it felt more like TOS to me, which makes me think that ultimately it might have been better received (I feel the same way about PLANET OF THE TITANS vs TMP — it would have missed in another direction, but might have been a more entertaining misfire. Treks not taken obsess me.)

I also think ceding way too much creative control to ILM was a very bad idea. Don’t think they had any business doing things like designing tricorders (shades of Robert Abel trying to design for live-action non-fx parts of TMP), and have never been anything other than dismissive of their spacedock. It isn’t their fault the thing has doors (?!) but the rest of the design is on them, and it has nothing to do with being in space, just looking SW-sized.

and kirk also learned he can’t always win at poker against an enemy.
it backfires horribly this time.

The end of the movie made me very happy

and the adventure continues….

Funny… This film had the most downer ending of all of them for me. Look at the situation. Enterprise blown to bits. Kirk and crew are all renegades. Spock was not Spock and the only bit of hope was “Jim. Your name is Jim.” When that final card came up I would have done a spit take had I been drinking something. It made no sense to me. How could the adventure continue under such dire circumstances? WoK was a more satisfying ending even if they stuck with the original cut of NOT showing the photon tube survived. Spock made a noble sacrifice and Kirk was feeling “young”. That was sad, but still hopeful.

This was the first Trek movie I ever saw. The recap at the beginning was helpful