Interview: Nicholas Meyer On The Art Of Making Star Trek Movies

TrekMovie recently had an exclusive chat with Nicholas Meyer about the release of the audio version of Meyer’s memoir The View from the Bridge. We have already released a couple of excerpts covering the news that Meyer recently pitched a new Star Trek movie to Paramount and his update on the status of his Ceti Alpha V television mini-series.

We now present the rest of our wide-ranging interview, in which Meyer talks about writing and directing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as well as writing Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Let’s start with the release of your new audiobook. After 11 years, why now record the audio version of your memoir?

The truthful answer is that Viking/Penguin didn’t see fit to record it at the time. And Steve Seibert of Oasis Audio turns out to have been a fan of mine. My sister-in-law narrates a lot of books and is friends with Steven and when she mentioned it, he perked up saying he would love to do the audiobook and I said, “Sure, great.”

Did you make any additions or edits to it as you went along?

There are minor tweaks or corrections. Occasionally I saw typos which scandalized me, but substantively it’s identical.

But it has been 11 years, so as you return to this material, had your views on any of the topics changed or evolved?

That’s a terrific question. But it also poses some—I don’t know whether to call them ethical or aesthetic dilemmas. There is an enormous tendency—particularly now in our new puritanical age—to revise everything to make them make it politically correct. Let’s cut out those happy slaves from Gone with the Wind; let’s get rid of Shakespeare because of Petruchio; let’s forget about Dr. Seuss; Huckleberry Finn, let’s get rid of that. I don’t believe in any of that.

George Santayana said that those who do not learn the lessons that history teaches are condemned to repeat those lessons. And in my opinion, I would rather let works of art more or less stand as they were, or books as they were written, than try to correct them. If I said something that doesn’t wear well with the passage of time, tough on me. But I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t say it or write it.

Meyer’s Trek memoir is now available on audio

That leads me to think about crafting a film, and deciding what stays in or has to go. I recently saw the deleted scene in Star Trek II discussing how Saavik was Romulan. I’m not sure if you want to talk about that decision in particular, but can you talk about how you make those kinds of decisions?

Well, a screenplay is a blueprint for a building that hasn’t yet been built. When you start building a building, you may find out that things that were or were not anticipated in the blueprints either seem relevant or are getting in the way. There’s not enough light sockets in the kitchen, and these windows would do better if they opened out instead of opening in, et cetera. The film becomes a living thing when you shoot it and when you start putting the pieces together. First of all—just talking about dialogue—in my experience, and maybe I’m better at this now than when I started, but in my experience, the attrition rate for dialogue in a movie of mine between the first draft and the finished film is 50%. Half of the words are going to go.

And what happens when you are editing the film, you look at the first cut of the film the editor has strung together of what you’ve shot and you want to kill yourself. That’s the first reaction and you go, “Oh, my god, this is so wrong!” This is boring, and we don’t need that, and the audience is ahead of us at this point. So you start planing away. Imagine you’re planing a piece of wood that’s got a lot of knots and bumps in it. And you look at it again. And you still want to kill yourself but maybe not quite so urgently. Because now that you’ve planed off the bigger mistakes, you see littler things. Instead of mountains, they’re hills. Get rid of those hills and make this thing smooth. And pretty soon you’re looking at just frames, tiny little moments. And somewhere along the line this thing now has assumed a life and a shape of its own.

So, I’m not prepared to answer your specific question. But I am prepared to answer what I just did—the implications of your question, and how those decisions are arrived at… Somebody once said you should throw away your darlings. There may be things to which you are wildly attached. It took me six hours to get the shot of this sunrise. Six hours to be there in the middle of the night and set up the camera and everything is right. It’s an amazing shot, but it no longer belongs in the movie. Painful. You have to be ruthless. You have to be able to be as objective as possible. And when it is something that you’re in love with, it’s very hard to let go of it.

In fact—just to free-associate for a minute—we have such things now, they’re called “director’s cuts,” the director’s edition. Besides being a gimmick to sell more copies of the movie, in my opinion—with some exceptions—director’s cuts are rarely better than the original release print of the film. They’re always longer. They always contain a lot of those darlings that had to be thrown away. And you go, “Oh God, really, he thought that was essential? She thought that was essential?”

When they re-released Star Trek II, didn’t they call it a director’s edition?

They may have called a director’s edition because I wouldn’t let them call it the director’s cut.

Is that because of the scene at the end with Spock’s coffin on the Genesis Planet, which you didn’t shoot yourself?

No, it wasn’t that. That scene was always in the movie. It was in it over my objections from the beginning. But rightly or wrongly, this is the movie business and that’s how it worked. I lost a couple of smaller battles with Paramount about stuff where they felt bound to lift a leg and pee on it a little bit. And once the movie was released and we were doing the television version they basically said, “Well, we don’t care, what is it that you feel so strongly about?” And what I felt strongly about was that the midshipman who gets killed is Scotty’s nephew. Otherwise, I don’t understand why he’s so freaked out over the death of one particular crewman. And just little tiny tweaks that you couldn’t seriously call this [mockingly] “the director’s cut,” it is a little ridiculous.

James Doohan as Scotty with his dead nephew in Star Trek II

That brings me to another question I am not sure you will want to answer in specifics, but I did send you a link to where some people are still discovering things in Star Trek II, and specifically thinking they may be seeing these skulls in the Genesis Cave. The question being: are these intentional or optical illusions?

I didn’t, I’m very bad at clicking on links, but let me answer your question with a sort of digression. It is my opinion that artists lose all proprietary authority over their creations when they’re finished. Artists are people who put messages in bottles. We throw it out into the wide world and hope that somebody will find the bottle and pop the cork and be able to decipher what was inside. But the chances are, we’re not going to be there looking over their shoulder when that happens. And people will make a work of art what they will. We live in a sort of a talk show mentality where the artist is sitting on the couch next to the host and answering questions as if his work of art was a book of math equations, and he’s the answers at the back of the book. In my opinion, anything I offer up is just another opinion. It’s not authoritative. And I can’t tell people what to make of what’s in my work. When people say to me, for example, as they have for 40 years, “Why does Khan wear one glove?” And I go, “Why do you think he wears one glove?” So I can’t answer your question.

I recently interviewed Ron Moore and he started lamenting about how with writing Star Trek movies you are expected to include certain things like action sequences, but he pointed to Star Trek IV as an exception. So when you were writing it, was there any pushback from Paramount? Did they want you to throw in a battle with the Klingons or anything like that?

The only argument I ever had with my friend Dawn Steele—who’s no longer alive, tragically—when she was running Paramount. And the big argument that we had—and it was hilarious—was she kept wanting to know what the probe was asking. And I had I kept saying, the gas will go out of the balloon if you find out what the probe is asking. She’s very literal-minded about this and we had a lot of screaming phone conversations, sort of laughing at the same time. And she was saying, “You’re wrong, Nicky Meyer!” It was like being in the kitchen with your mother. But that was the only time that she ever did and that was before we ever rolled. And once we rolled it was very smooth on that film.

The Whale Probe in Star Trek IV

With the recent passing of Christopher Plummer, could you talk a little bit about how you came to cast him in Star Trek VI?

Well, as you may or may not have intuited, I am a Shakespeare fool. One of the big, transformative moments in my life occurred when I was about 13 years old and I snuck out of school to see a movie that I thought was called “Henry Vee,” I didn’t know it was Shakespeare because it didn’t say on the poster, it just said Henry V and there was pictures of guys with swords and horses. So I snuck out of school and had a religious experience. I was like Saul of Tarsus, on the road to Damascus. I had a vision… And [Laurence] Olivier made a recording of excerpts of Henry V, and it was all done to the music from the film and I love this recording, but the sound was quite inferior as it was made in the late ’40s. But in the 1980s Chandos Records produced a brand new CD with Chris Plummer doing the same excerpts. You can still get it.

I would go into a kind of alpha state sitting in the dark and listening to Chris do this. And when it came time to figure out a villain for Star Trek VI I was in the midst of listening to this and I thought, ‘God, wouldn’t it be great to have a Shakespeare spouting villain.’ There is this very famous line during World War II the Germans said, “You have never heard Shakespeare until you have heard him in the original German.” And I just borrowed that and started writing General Chang for Chris, who I didn’t know from Adam. This is the only business where you get to shake hands with your dreams. And we didn’t have a lot of money. They weren’t taking us very seriously. A lot of people just thought after Star Trek V, this is all played out. But my casting director, Mary Jo Slater was not of that opinion. She loved this script. And I said to her, “Listen, Mary Jo, if we don’t have Chris Plummer, we don’t have a movie. No pressure, but don’t come back without him.” Now, why he ultimately accepted? I hear bits and pieces of stories. He obviously liked the role.

Any other memories to share about working with him?

He and I got along like a house on fire. Among other things, we’re both music fools. So I remember over dinner, just talking a lot about Szymanowski and Mussorgsky. He was very knowledgeable. And it was common ground, as was Shakespeare. And he thought the script was quite witty where Chang was concerned. And the only issue I ever remember having one day we had a very, very long day and he had been in this makeup for hours. And he said to me, “Hey, boss, this is getting…” and I said, “Fine, we’re stopping.”

Christopher Plummer as General Chang in Star Trek VI

We just talked about those three Trek movies you worked on, II, IV, and VI, which set up the cliché of the good movies are the even-numbered ones.

My blushes, Watson.

So, as an expert witness, what do think is quintessential in making a good Star Trek movie?

I should preface my answer by saying I don’t have a very analytical mind. I think movies are like soufflés. They either rise or they don’t. And speaking for myself as a sometimes chef, I don’t know why some of them rise and some of them don’t. I don’t know why mine are the best, if that’s the consensus. This is just an opinion—it’s certainly not an answer—but I think perhaps it was an advantage for me to have had no history with Star Trek. I really didn’t know anything. The only thing I got was that Star Trek reminded me of these books I loved as a kid, the Horatio Hornblower books. I thought this is Horatio Hornblower in outer space. And I love those books and I love movies about submarines, whether it’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or perhaps more particularly regarding Star Trek, to The Enemy Below.

The thing that for me, is that I am interested in people. And I’m interested in the characters. I don’t care if they’re sympathetic or their whatever that studio says. I don’t give a fuck. My only issue is: are they understandable? Do I understand who they are and what they want, what they don’t want. And if I can figure out how to put in action, I’ll do it. If I can figure out how to put in a love interest, I’ll do it. Because all those things are fun and why we go to the movies.

What is the purpose of art? Tolstoy said the purpose of art is to teach you to love life. Maybe other people would say that purpose of art is to teach you to endure life to escape life. And certainly part of going to the movies is to escape life. And to be on the high seas or outer space with Captain Hornblower or Captain Kirk and have adventures to strange new worlds. But I want to be able to be interested in the people. And I don’t care if the people are aliens or not. As Kirk says in VI, “Everybody’s human.” And Henry James said that the least demand that you can make of a work of art is that it be interesting. And the most demand is that it’d be moving. My job is to make people laugh or cry. And if later on, they think about the things that made them laugh or cry, so much the better. As Robert Bresson said, “My job is not to find out what the public wants and give it to them. My job is to make the public want what I want.” I would never tell you a joke that I didn’t think was funny. Because I wouldn’t get the laugh otherwise. I have to like it. I have to be involved, engaged by it. So I’m writing or directing first and foremost, to please myself. And I make the assumption that if I like it, other people will like it. It’s the best I can do. I can’t second guess 60 million people I never met.

William Shatner as James T. Kirk in Star Trek II

Is there anything you would have done differently? Any regrets from your time with the franchise?

You know, directors looking at movies is like looking at home movies of your life. Why didn’t you get that shot? Why didn’t you go closer? There’s all those kind of things. But am I going to argue with the fact that people love these movies? Am I going to say, “No, you’re miss-reading what’s in the bottle?” I don’t know. I feel very fortunate to have been involved with Star Trek. I certainly have never fully understood it. But over 40 years I’ve understood it more than I did at the beginning when it was on TV and I didn’t even stick around to watch. I just saw these people in Dr. Dentons and cheesy sets. And I managed to miss every single thing that was important about this show. Every single thing. I was a dummy. Then later I thought, ‘Oh, this is Hornblower.’  Well, that’s an improvement. That’s something that’s better. But it still wasn’t really what the show was about. It was just the way it went about it. In my life, I seldom regret the things I did. I only regret the things I didn’t do.

Between your time on Star Trek VI and when you were brought in as a consulting producer for Discovery, were they any other times you were—possibly informally—brought in for Star Trek?  

Not that I recall. I was on the Paramount lot when J.J. [Abrams] was filming something and I’ve known J.J. since I used to read him bedtime stories. And I met the guys who were writing the screenplay for that movie. I can’t remember which one it was, but they were really enthusiastic and so pleased to say hi. Besides that I don’t recall any other interactions.

So nothing during the ’90s when Rick Berman was in charge?

Rick Berman was not interested. A very nice person, but for whatever reason, had no use for me.

Can we talk about your time on Discovery?

I was on it for a year. It was a very shaky year for the show. There was a lot of comings and goings. And I think it would be probably indiscreet to say a lot more than that. I served out my time.

Are there any other projects you can talk about that are keeping you busy now?   

So I had a novel out last year called The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols. I have another novel coming out this year, called The Return of the Pharaoh, which I’m really jazzed about. I have an idea which I’m researching now for another Holmes novel and I’m very excited because I thought it up all by myself. And you know about Medici, well my partner on that, Frank Spotnitz and I are working on something else at the moment, which has the name Jet Set attached to it. And we’ll see where that goes if it goes anywhere.

It’s been 11 years since you wrote the memoir that is now on audio. Do you expect to do another?

The memoir that I wrote is largely a professional memoir. And it’s only intermittently and glancingly a personal memoir. But I think that if I were ever to write another autobiographical fragment, it would be less professional and more personal. I don’t know that anybody would be interested in that. But there you go.

Nicholas Meyers’ recent Holmes novels

New audio version of Meyer’s Trek memoir

Earlier this month Oasis Audio released audio version of Meyer’s memoir The View from the Bridge, which is narrated by the author.

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You can tell they didn’t have money for Trek 6. The Enterprise looked like a plastic model in one scene. They had shields but the Klingon torpedoes kept putting holes in the hull.

They used the same shooting model that was made for TMP and used in the other films.

Yes, they had the same model, but the dipwads who borrowed it to do the VFX for Star Trek V stripped the paint job and damaged the model itself before returning it (Source: TOS Movie Collection Blu-ray special features), so yeah, i can understand how the model looked cheap and plasticky in Star Trek VI, even though it was the same beautiful model used in Star Trek TMP, et. al.

ILM not only repainted the whole thing for TUC prior to shooting, they also rewired it completely, so all damage from Ferren and Wallach on TFF was fixed. If you don’t like that one shot where the ship is frontlit (I absolutely love it, wish it ran longer, as it was planned and first shot as a 180 move, showing the changing perspective from Chang as his BoP circles it), feel free to complain, but it is one of the only times when the ship actually looks like it is in hard sunlight, which is one of my main complaints about ILM’s VFX on TREK (especially compared to TMP.) ILM’s space stuff looks pretty slick, but the way they filter the ships to look kind of blue is very annoying (probably a side-effect of shooting the model in yellow light to facilitate the matting on TSFS.) The breakthrough on TUC (which actually happened on BACK TO THE FUTURE 2) was shooting an extra pass against BLACK, so they could actually have a bright key light and not worry about spill from the bluescreen (necessary on BttF2 because of the shiny DeLorean.)

Source: me, i interviewed a dozen people at ILM for an article on TUC’s VFX.

Thank you for the info Kmart. Always fascinating to hear details on VFX, especially as pertains to the Enterprise.

That is awesome Kmart!!! Must have been cool interviews!

The Meyer interview was a disaster (my girlfriend trashed my notes right before the studio called, plus he was in a bad mood –years later I realized the film had only just been greenlit a day or so before the call, so he must have been feeling very beat-down), but other than that, the FX interviews were all really good. The only part that didn’t work out was talking with Nilo Rodis, who I was told could connect me with Herman Zimmerman. Rodis seemed to think I was somebody else, someone he had met at a convention I guess, when I called him up, and nothing seemed to reassure him, so I got nothing there, not even the Zimmerman contact info. That was only my third article for Cinefex, so I was by no means a seasoned pro, though I definitely did my homework.

Paramount was tremendously unhelpful on my TUC, GEN and FC stories, it was only on INS that they got us images on time and had me come in to the studio to do some in-person interviews (only time I ever met Okuda and Eaves, though I’d talked with the latter a couple of times and the former once, unofficially, when we were going nuts trying to get pics for GEN or FC — the magazine’s publisher actually threatened to cancel one of those articles in order to get images approved in time.)

I had my Meyer interview early in 91, and then I didn’t hear ANYTHING for over eight months. In fact, if not for the intervention of associate producer Brooke Breton, who basically got me phone numbers for everybody Paramount was not delivering on and utterly saved my bacon, there wouldn’t even have been an article. The down side was that the models were all gone by the time I got to go over to ILM, though I did see the ‘courtroom’ model used by Matte World. Weird, but with all those articles I did, I only once ever got onto a motion-control stage, on FC where I saw the E-E (they had just completed the ‘intro’ shot of it in the nebula) and briefly held the Phoenix, which had nacelle caps that were like little jewels. Total and instant retreat to childhood, it was like FIREBALL XL-5 only a million times cooler!

I did catch a piece of Veridian during a model pyro shoot on GEN (shot wasn’t used in the film), but it melted away to nothing, so no souvenirs!

Actually they used a much bigger dish for the part where the torp cannonballs up through the hull. You can see it hanging on the wall in some b-t-s stuff back when they were still in Marin.

I personally like the shields being on closer to the hull, you can “damage” the shields that you can see their status, and I liked still have some equipment overloads with hits. Made everything more dramatic. Very similar to active armor on tanks. And the shot through the hull was when the shields were down.
I liked how Meyer actually incorporated some strategy into the starship combat that it lasted more than 30 seconds and wasn’t just ships rushing at each other. Also awesome shots of computer panels, red alert klaxons, etc. “Shields collapsing Captain” and then you could see the little dots disappearing off the computer console. And the tactical monitor showing ENT and RELIANT around Regula… wow!!
And as for not having money for VI, let’s remember that in Generations they used the exact same BOP explosion. The EXACT SAME SHOT. I was embarrassed for all TNG fans seeing their beloved hotel go down to the 80 year old BOP minus the fire when cloak ability where the ENT-A succeeded the movie prior.

That was head-smackingly bad when that shot of the Klingon ship showed up in “Generations”. Head-smackingly bad.

Well, Generations is head smackingly bad across the board, so there’s that….nothing but respect for Ron Moore’s work with the franchise, but this wasn’t his best outing.

I recall that moment well. The Great Bird wanted a Hilton in space although it was never clear from whence the idea came.

If I recall correctly, in what could be classified as a case of art presaging eventual reality, didn’t it actually end up in a Hilton in Vegas as STAR TREK:THE EXPERIENCE?

Last time I was in the former LV Hilton (right before the Rona, 1/2020), there were still a few facades from ST:TE visible in the retail section of the resort.

Meyers awesome WOK battles influenced the tactical combat role playing games that i always saw displayed in scifi stores in the 80s but never bought. and the 1982/3 Trek arcade game (which was like a combination of TMP and TWOK)

FASA, Starfleet Battles and the TOS DC Comics of the time are so awesome!!
If they can’t get Nick Meyer, bring in Peter David to write a script.

I Loved TWOK and TUC.If there were budgetary deficiencies, I was too busy enjoying myself to notice them!

I fully agree, Gary 8.5! Quality story and acting can make up for slightly-less-than-spectacular VFX.

Totally agree luck to have these wonderful movies

feel the same. recently saw TUC again and never had the feeling it was cheap. such a fine farewell for the crew.

NEver got the feeling ST VI was done ont he cheap… nor ST II, despite the obvious reuse of the Klingon ships from ST TMP. In my opinion, the destruction of Relilant and the near-destruction of Enterprise made up for the Kobayashi Maru simulator using stock footage.

More than the reuse of the stock, it was the way those shots were used. Showing the same little guy doing a flip and wave as the ship pulled out was going too far, that’s showing a stock character moment, not a generic flyby. And ALL of those stock shots from TMP show a huge dip in image quality in TWOK — they must have been sloppily recomped or (more likely) they were just duped, which is a no-no with opticals that are already a generation or two removed from the original. In the theater (and now, on blu-ray with a big TV), you can again see the huge drop in image quality when the stock shots come on.

TUC in general looks better because it had a better cinematographer and actually shot on Kodak filmstock — as much as I love TWOK’s camera angles, the actual look and lighting is pretty rocky a lot of the time. And on TUC, there were other quality issues. I learned a long time back to avoid 70mm showings of films made in 35mm, because you’re paying to see more grain and image degradation that the filmmakers didn’t intend you to see. So I was flabbergasted opening day with TUC to select a 35mm screen and yet see a print so dark and so grainy that the Kirk/Bones sleeping in penthe scene was pretty much just black screen for two minutes … it was like being at a bad drive-in. Am guessing they made a mistake and switched the 70mm and 35mm, because when I went back a couple weeks later and saw it at the next-door theater, it was a lot less objectionable. It took me 2 weeks because I was so pissed off by the movie’s treatment of Kirk and Spock that at first I didn’t think I would even ever see it a second time. But every TREK movie has stuff that drives me bananas, so I eventually am able to settle in with being able to rewatch them for other aspects (well, that hasn’t happened with the utterly appalling and downright despicable Abrams 09 yet, so let me qualify that by saying nearly all of them.)

I just love that you can see the details on the ship and they are used. When Khan targets engineering, he hits engineering. Kirk in a travel pod docks in a travel pod. The Reliant has aft torpedoes, it fires from aft torpedoes.
It’s funny because when I was like 6-14 loving TWOK and TMP, never even noticed it’s the same footage but it totally is!!!
Then you watch Discovery supposedly like after two (three?) decades of CGI enhancements and everything looks like a grey blur. Does the new starfleet ships (Voyager J) even have phaser banks, I don’t know, looks like a blur to me. And the warp nacelles detach… when they aren’t at warp so WTF?!? wouldn’t you want increased warp maneuverability when you are.. at warp?

Seems very much that TUC never received the acknowledgement it deserved.

FX shots still good.
ST V shows you what happens when you don’t have ILM on a ‘trek’ movie

That script was not worthy of ILM FX.

It might have helped if they had provided FX instead of the lame brain they used on that film

True… usually some nice shots of that beautiful Connie refit can make the movie (TMP).

Especially if the Rock Monsters had worked

It is my understanding he did not do ST III because he was opposed to Spock’s resurrection which cheapend his death and prevented a next generation (Saavik, etc) from becoming. I’d love to know if he ever had thoughts of what his III would be.
When I read that, I think I was 10, I was horrified that he was begging them not to bring back Spock. Now at 40, I think he was totally right. Yes, we got a few more hours of Spock in III, IV and VI which were great and some nice scenes in ST: 2009; but it did take away the ultimate death of the character in II and it did prevent the series from moving forward like the DC Comic stories of the time (opening the door for Trek to lose it’s frontier/Wagon Train to the Stars/Horatio Hornblower in space awesomeness and decline after IV).
What route would Trek have gone if Nick Meyer had his way in III???

Don’t forget about Spock in Unification and the Sarek episode. In fact Spock remaining dead would mean no Romulan-Vulcan reunification movement, and that is na important, if underutilised, part of TNG lore.

Could have done that with Xon or Saavik. It actually makes better sense with Saavik, especially if you go back in and reinsert the stuff about her being half-Rom.

Obviously, Harve and Paramount wanted Nimoy to continue

I think Saavik was specifically put in as the new Spock but with the added element of being half Romulan. That would have really brought the whole Romulan passion vs. Vulcan logic concept to the forefront. Ironically she would have been in the Command role with David Marcus, her love interest, being the science officer (and pretty pacifist!).
In my mind TNG should have been ENT B under Captain Saavik after a couple movies, maybe a TV show with the original crew.
Regardless what was Meyers plan for III? Did he plan anything out or have any thoughts on the subject?

I don’t think he’d have ever touched III, because it would have had to deal with sci-fi and fantasy tropes in ways that would impact his storytelling. TUC contains no sf content at all, just an in-universe gimmick of a ship being able to fire while cloaked, everything else is just spaceship windowdressing, unless you want to ring in the old alien changing into Kirk’s form thing. And the science in TWOK is mainly alchemy (to quote David Gerrold), because the terraforming is presented as more magical than as a scientific process.

Now I DO think Meyer could have really helped with shoring up TFF, but maybe he just felt butting heads with Shatner was not going to do either of them any good. If nothing else, Meyer could have actually been an ally to Shatner when Paramount started pushing him around … Meyer could have let Shatner know when and how to push back, like when they wouldn’t let Meyer reshoot Khan torping the bridge in TWOK. Meyer said to take the money for the needed reshoot out of his salary, and then paramount, was like, ‘oh, okay, if it means that much to you,’ and caved. Shatner, as Bennett said, was easily conned about things, so outside of fighting to preserve his story successfully against the screenwriter and producer, Shatner seems to have lost nearly all his other creative battles (and spent his money early on nice but unnecessary things, like great super-terrific phaser guns, when he needed that money for the finale.)

I assume we would have ended up with completely new scripts on III and V.
III because he wouldn’t have resurrected Spock – so what would have happened next? How would Genesis be resolved?
V because, well, pretty sure he would have read it and just tossed it in the garbage as subpar and irreparable.

That could have been done with other characters. As I recall, there were lines for Spock in Generations, when Leonard Nimoy declined that stinker, others got the lines.

Scotty got Spock’s lines, almost unchanged.

And Chekov got the lines that were originally intended for McCoy.

Wasn’t “Unification” originally pitched as a Sarek story? It was Sarek who started the reunification movement in the original pitch (which makes more sense since Sarek was the Ambassador, not Spock.) He went missing and Starfleet orders Picard & Co. to investigate much as in the actual episode, and at the end of Part 1 Spock shows up to join the mission.

Unification could have worked without Spock, if necessary.

Ironically I think Unification went with Spock to promote/profit off TUC (this the mention of the Khitomer conference) coming out.

Wow I never knew Unification started out as a Sarek story. I could see that, especially him already being a diplomat and all.

Sure it could’ve worked without Spock. I mean it could’ve been any new Vulcan character frankly, why wouldn’t it? But of course we want to see Spock! ;)

There might not have been III

Nimoy enjoyed II so much that he changed his mind, you need Spock, you need a Director, the rest is history

I think Spock is integral to the franchise. Losing him in the early 80s? Could have derailed the film franchise enough to delay The Next Generation. Would have certainly changed Nimoy’s directing career and dramatically changed the plots of every film after. I think having Meyer back for V would have been a far more positively consequential alternate path.

“enough to delay The Next Generation”
This could have been a blessing in disguise. We could have potentially got a movie era follow up TNG (Ent training ship, new generation). None of the 90s Roddenbery rules it took them three years to toss out.
The real loss I see is the TNG’s one good contribution, the idea of an evil AI collective unimind. Would have have occurred in a movie era TNG?

But who knows how long it would have taken them to reboot the movies or try a tv show again if the TOS movies pestered out early. Such a big difference between taking advantage of a strong franchise and making a concurrent tv series versus rebooting everything. And I think losing the cast we had for TNG would be as big a shame as possibly missing out on the Borg.

Unlike TNG dying out with subpar movies, I think III would have worked with Meyer (he after all did good with IV and VI). That being said I have no idea what his III would have looked like, dying to know if he had even the slightest hint of a story.

Just curious, given your thoughts on III, how do you feel Meyer would have done with a TNG film? Do you think he would have been able to do anything to redeem this era in your eyes?

That is a great question for Nick Meyer. I am a fan, but I don’t know the answer.

I think Nick Meyer would hate to play TNG since the frontier is pretty tame, humans are seen as perfect, all the aliens want to be human, conflict is shunned, etc. I don’t have the quotes but I recall him often speaking up against perfect characters as they are unrelatable (and BORING), and you can’t be Horatio Hornblower if you can phone home that you aren’t making the big calls single handidly.

This is the guy who put a No Smoking sign on the bridge to reinforce imperfection and people being people.

SO…. if I had to some how convince Meyer to play how to do it? Some options:

A) Do what Discovery did and make space hard and exciting again but lose the nonsensical spore drive. Federation collapses, dilithium doesn’t work. I bet that might get him to play. Black hole super nova cripples everything, Earth is now Ceti Alpha V. Can the Federation survive / rebuild?

B) Make humanity obsolete. Robo Picard / holograms / living Starships invented that live forever. Organics are now the alien trash of the galaxy. Of course since they can’t multiply themselves with holograms nor fly humans never really serve in Starfleet anymore. But the remaining humans still long to explore, to have a place in the Galaxy. But AI doesn’t really care for exploration just taking care of everything. Can these old organics find a place in a totally new universe?
I’d have a twist where it turns out the Borg unimind actually is the new Federation collective (and that robo-Picard was their objective the whole time).

C) Explorers escape a stagnant Federation/Starfleet. Have the problem with TNG be the story. Starfleet thinks they are so great they play holodeck all day. But some in the Federation long for more, live on the frontier want to see out and explore the galaxy. Maybe Starfleet thinks that explorers are now contaminating/polluting the the galaxy, Prime Directive in over drive. Colonization is seen as colonialism and banned. Mining for dilithium, banned. Think Federation devolves into the Firefly Alliance. Meanwhile on the frontier a new threat emerges, planning to collapse the Higgs field to jump universes or something. Can the outcasts save the day?

D) Take B and flip it, Starfleet/Federation thinks it is so great it throws out the Prime Directive and decides that it must “raise” all aliens to be utopian, bans differences, all must serve the collective. Federation as the Borg as hinted at in DS9. Those on the frontier want to do their own thing.

E) Our universe is irrelevant. Turns out that purposely collapsing the Higgs field is the key to exploring beyond our simulation as accidentally discovered / we don’t know anything. This is really hard though since it would all risk being too unrelatable.

Ironically you can combine all these ideas.

Dominion War had hardships? Have the Federation on the verge of losing (lost) requiring a end run hail Mary mission in the Gamma Quadrant??

I don’t know, it’s hard. There is a reason why 60s Roddenbery set the year of Star Trek as “sometime in the future, but not too much in the future” that it is all still relatable and we still have hardships, frontiers and much to learn.

Thanks for your detailed reply. You’ve clearly given it a lot of thought.

Some really cool and interesting ideas in there. Proper sci-fi territory! I note your point about relatability too.

I imagine Meyer would relish being able to create something from any one of those concepts.

I still like TNG though :)

All interesting ideas, Starting probably in the mid 1970s the Great Bird began to demonstrate his core belief in the perfection of humanity, initially espoused at the end of STTMP. Of course TNG took it to the next level. I do not recall the exact quote either, but it was something to the effect that Meyer believed that since humanity has not changed much since Shakespeares’ time, it would be unlikely to have found perfection by the 24th century, So in a real sense the two men had very opposite views. And as you correctly point out, the best of the movie series had an adventurous spirit whereas the TNG writers explored the human condition. Very clearly for some reason the Great Bird flipped his take on Trek very radically and in a short period of time in the 70s.

The ultimate example is compare The Omega Glory written by 60s Gene Roddenberry to TNG written by 90s Gene Roddenberry. Those guys really hated each other I think.
One Kirk beats the Kohms with the US Constitution and freedom. One makes the Klingons friends and the ultimate bad guys are supposed to be…. the Ferengi. Those free capitalist bad guys are supposed to be the new big baddies!! LOL I mean I just laugh thinking about it.
Nick Meyer I think is partially responsible in that by making awesome Trek movies that did TOS better than some TOS Roddenberry was mad and wanted all hints of Meyer gone (cool uniforms, militaristic ranks, etc).
TNG in my opinion was specially written to erase the TOS movies.
Take everything cool in the movies, the ships, the cool uniforms, phasers, imperfect humans, galactic crisises and erase it. Make the ships look like non functional hotels, make humanity perfect with nothing to learn from the Metrons/Q – why they will learn from us!!, etc.
(Supreme irony, 90s Gene dies, the Ferengi become popular on DS9 for comedy relief and the big baddie becomes the ultimate collectivist unimind!!
60s Roddenberry – 2
90s Roddenberry – 0 (-1 for his seasons of TNG, which sucked worse than technobabble that came after it, which in of itself was pretty bad in my opinion)

The Omega Glory is the best example but let us not forget Turnabout Intruder also came from the pen of the Great Bird. After TMP it probably didn’t help matters that Paramount sent (or tried to send) Mr Roddenberry on a cruise while Nick Meyer crafted WOK. The standoff between the two men at the end of production of TUC only seemed to showcase the animosity that was constant for the previous ten years. So in a real way it makes perfect sense that TNG was his answer to the TOS film series. Again at some point in the early 70s he began to see himself as more a visionary than a writer. Who can say why is anyone’s guess.

Nah, it’s simpler than that. The Great Bird in the 60s conceived of STAR TREK as an end run around all the great scripts that he wrote for HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL and THE LIEUTENANT that got shot down by the networks. By the time of TNG, he was determined he was going to use STAR TREK to the same effect; NOT to continue the legacy of this marvelous thing that evolved from that but resurrect PAX that got shot down when GENESIS II/PLANET EARTH pilots weren’t picked up, and likewise the android from THE QUESTOR TAPES. I’m on the fence that mysticism from his SPECTRE is responsible for it showing up in TNG but it fits the pattern.

You could very well be on to something! And it was no doubt made simpler still as a result of bringing legal firepower to run interference on Paramount.

Wow, I never thought of that one!!! Great theory!!!!

So the man writes three of the best Sherlock Holmes stories ever (and himself adapts the first into one of the best Sherlock Holmes films), we hear nothing in that area for about thirty years…and now he’s working on a third *new* one? O joyous day!

Meyer is to the Trek films what Cameron is to Terminator and Alien. Bring back Meyer for Trek XIV Paramount ..after the fiasco of Beyond you don’t want to risk marooning the film series for all eternity at the centre of a dead franchise.. buried alive.. buried alive…

Hyperbole much, do you?

Idk what that means

Meyer’s time with Star Trek is over! He hasn’t directed a feature film literally since TUC. If someone had a baby the day that movie came out, it would turn 30 years old this year. That’s a loooong time!

As opposed to everyone working on Trek now that has come out with some pretty unpopular drivel (exception Discovery and the comedy show)?
I’d take someone who made some popular movies vs unpopular shows.
I just saw a Fermilab lecture where the guy started out explaining antimatter and said used to be able to skip the basics of annihilation because people USED to watch Star Trek.

That has zero to do with my point. No one is interested in hiring Meyer to direct a Star Trek film or any film from what I can tell, right? Do you honestly believe he hasn’t directed a film in all this time is because he has been turning down projects for 30 years?

And the fact is Meyer’s films were low budget movies aimed at mostly Americans and Europeans. They were great for their time, but today’s Star Trek films, per Kelvin movies, are now huge octane tentpole releases for global audiences and trying to reach places like China. Star Trek Beyond was literally produced with a Chinese company to help sell better in that country. With that in mind, who do you think they are going to find for the next film? Someone with a pedigree of work who has proven to do that or the guy whose directed mostly low budget films from the 70s and 80s. Just stating basically reality.

Is Discovery considered popular? I really don’t know lol. Same for Lower Decks. Popular enough probably.

That Fermilab lecture sounds interesting though!

Here is the lecture. Antimatter and other deep mysteries – Public lecture by Dr. Gerald Gabrielse

Can’t put on the link but seek out on youtube “Antimatter and other deep mysteries – Public lecture by Dr. Gerald Gabrielse”. Fermilab guest lecture series.

You keep mentioning that in each of these Meyer threads and my reaction is always ‘so what if he hasn’t directed in decades’ like he wouldn’t know how to direct now? At all? He could probably get up to speed of what was required in new CGI/FX techniques etc in about 2 days. Having Meyer back to write/direct would be like Stanley Kubrick coming back to direct the 3rd Space Odyssey

I keep mentioning the fact no one has hired the guy or offered him a job in decades to direct. THAT’S what I’m mentioning. Don’t kill the messenger. I’m just pointing out basic reality.

It has nothing to do with if Meyer wants to direct. I’m sure he does lol. Its more about if someone wants to give him a job to direct and that seems to be a no, at least in the most recent time.

Exhibit A: He literally pitched a new movie to Paramount and he said no one ever called him back. So why do think that is? Clearly HE wants to direct right? So why is he not being given the chance to at least write a script instead of a Discovery writer doing it? Or people like Quinten Tarantino or Noah Hawley got?

I want to make this clear, because I don’t want to be seen as an “Meyer hater”, and I would personally have zero issues if he were to direct or at least write a future Trek film! I mean out of my top 4 Trek films, three of them are his. I’m a fan of his just just like everyone else here. But I don’t run a major movie studio. It’s not me you have to convince, clearly.

For decades, some of us have thought that the solution to any Trek problem is to just bring back directors, producers and writers from the glory days (Frakes, Fontana, Meyer, Gerrold, Roddenberry, Moore, etc.)

When that’s happened, it’s generally gone badly (or just produced mediocre results) more often than it’s gone well.

See: TNG first and second seasons, Insurrection, Discovery

Could Meyer make a great 2022 Trek movie that’s not just a fan film? I don’t think so, but we’ll likely never find out.

yes but every trek film meyer was involved with is a classic.

I guess its similar to when spielberg wanted to do a bond film in the late 70s or tarantino with casino royale with brosnan .or indeed his Trek movie. youd think the studio would jump at those chances but no..

but meyer being hired to write direct a new trek film would be such stuff as dreams are made on (imo)

The difference is that both Spielberg and Tarantino have been pretty successful making movies outside of Trek. And they have been at work pretty constantly. As pointed out by Tiger2, Meyer hasn’t directed anything in more than 2 decades. He is not a household name that any studio would dream to work with.

He only needs to take on the Harve Bennett role and find a new Director

Alien is superior in almost every conceivable way to Aliens and was directed by Ridley Scott. Terminator 1 is vastly superior to Terminator 2, i”ll give Jim credit for that. and Aliens as an actioner ain’t bad. Its just not Alien good.

I love that “Henry Vee” anecdote.

I have never understood why Scotty would take his nephew first to the bridge and not sickbay. Never made any sense to me.

he’s a engineer not a doctor !!!

Recall that when Spock beamed Kirk and company up from inside Regula his damage report to Kirk was that Khan’s attack had taken out sections of the turbolift system in various parts of the ship. This was why they were using the ladders instead of the lift when they exited the transporter room.

Scotty may have entered the turbolift with Peter thinking he could miracle work his way around any potential problems getting to sickbay, but ultimately failed because there was no viable route which is why the system dumped him on the bridge.

What I don’t like about this plausible explanation is regardless of how distraught Scotty could be over his nephew’s injuries, any engineer worth his salt knows that you avoid relying on/using elevators in a disaster. Internal site to site transport might have been risky but would have had a better shot at succeeding given his transporter expertise.

Then STAR TREK Vee comes along and we realize he could have used rocket boots or STAR TREK VI’s gravity boots!

My thought is that Scotty knew he was dead, no CMO could save him, and brought him up to the bridge to tell Kirk to ensure all gloves are off (if we have to self destruct to take out the Reliant for payback, do it because look at the dead kids).
That being said, this was just done for drama I presume which is why it comes off a bit uncomfortable.
The Nick Meyer scene (while I think he is the best) that bugs me – Uhura in TUC. She is supposed to be a linguistics expert. I loved the scene where Uhura gets them past the Klingon monitoring post, it is funny, but I would have got out of my way to point out that this is supposed to be some code constantly changing through ancient languages or something specifically designed to throw off translators and ensure comms experts can’t just speak Klingonese to get through. And it’s not that bad, I mean in the end she gets them through and I loved her having the spot lite.

Only he wasn’t dead though. He was very much alive and was even able to talk to Kirk before he did die. It was just done for emotion sake, but it never made any sense.

It doesn’t make sense why a crack engineer would try to use what is essentially an elevator in the middle of a disaster, but perhaps his estimation of his nephew’s medical condition made him desperate. He checked before he went in that there was a clear functional route to sickbay, but after he entered, on the way there, Khan took out that route.

But as I already noted, there were so many better alternatives established later in the sequels, not to mention the two series prior. They had antigrav gurneys and freight movers. Were none of those capable of drone flying Peter directly to sickbay no matter the obstacles? We have to suspend our disbelief that somehow Khan’s magical phaser pool shots prior took away all those better alternative options from Scotty as well.

I figured Scotty knew the radiation damage was too much, that he might not have been dead but that death was inevitable.

If it was radiation damage then he definitely shouldn’t have taken him to the bridge because he would contaminate everybody else.

Would have been Preston exposed to a high intensity but short half life radiation source. I think Scotty knew Preston was toast.

Maybe Scotty thought McCoy was on the bridge!!!

In a medical emergency, one doesn’t waste precious time guessing where the best Doctor in the house is, you take the patient to the nearest competent medical personal so that they can stabilize the patient; so that he can live long enough for the best Doctor(s) to get to him in time to do any good.

Was thinking about this… Scotty probably thought McCoy was on the bridge.
In fact when you think about it, it’s a surprise to me McCoy wasn’t on the bridge as he usually is in crises situations to advise Kirk.

Don’t be ridiculous. In a crisis, the CMO is not on the bridge twiddling his thumbs, he’s in sickbay, treating the numerous injured trying to save lives.

Reading that reminded me of a line McCoy has for Decker in the Blish novelization of DOOMSDAY MACHINE. After Decker asks if the doctor knows where his duty lies, McCoy snaps something like, ‘Sickbay – to get ready for all the casualties you’re about to send me.’ I absolutely love the ep (except that sleepy slow Spock Sulu bit about closing the hangar doors), but wish that line was in the ep.

Saavik’s reaction is pretty off there, too. It’s a gimmick moment, designed mainly to give Spock that moment that is running too long where he gets (in theory) a glimpse of what’s coming to him.

Why was saaviks reaction off? A burned corpse appearing on the bridge even spock reacts in his own way, let alone a young 20 something Vulcan (with possible Romulan heritage)

Interesting observation about it being a premonition to spocks fate, I never thought of that before

I think they hinted at emotions to set her up as half Romulans (she has tears at Spock’s funeral too). I believe this was all set up for Saavik as the *new* Spock but younger and having to deal with being a hybrid Romulan (Spock drama times two!).
Then they brought back Spock and that all seemed to go out the window. Shame.
I think they should have kept her as a major cast member and let her grow into a command position under the greats – Hortio Hornblower style.

I think nearly all of Alley’s reactions are off, and her line reading ‘prepare for warp speed’ sounds like a nervous teenage cheerleader or something, just terrible. It’s funny, cuz I really like Robin Curtis a lot, but she was totally hamstrung by Nimoy’s having her play straight Vulcan, which would sabotage any actor stuck with lines like ‘David is dead.’

The Spock premonition thing is actually discussed by Harve Bennett (it might be in the STAR TREK INTERVIEWS book or THE MAKING OF ST 2 book; either one of those or maybe an issue of ENTERPRISE INCIDENTS.) He says he took issue with it because Spock has never shown precognition before, and accused Meyer of going theatrical to make Spock seem like Queequeg in MOBY DICK (who likewise anticipates his demise.) Meyer has only addressed it obliquely, saying at one point that if they could have cut 12 frames from that long take of Nimoy closing his eyes after Scotty brings the kid up, it would have played a lot better.

Uh, we will have to have to agree to disagree on that.
You just write “Prepare for warp speed” and I can picture Saavik in the chair placing the console over her lap. This is a university grad being deployed on her first tour.
And “David is dead” with Robin Curtis.. worked for me. Most tragic scene in Trek?!?
That being said how I wish they had let Curtis be half Romulan/half Vulcan, I think with that angle they would have kept Saavik as one of the key bridge crew for IV, V and VI.
Spock closing his eyes I saw that as his half human side acknowledged as opposed to precognition. These were his “kids” / trainees. I see the eyes closed as him dealing with that knowledge/loss as opposed to anything to do with his own mortality.

It also ties in with the end of the movie, when Kirk quotes from the end of TALE OF TWO CITIES and says it was something Spock was trying to tell him on his birthday. That is a lot more specific, a character saying they are going to their death.

In Meyer’s defense, Queequeg had never demonstrated precognition before either!

I don’t think so. Spock closes his eyes in respect/acknowledgement of Scotty’s pain/Preston’s injuries.

The simplest explanation is that the damaged turbolift either brought them there or wouldn’t take them to sickbay.

Regardless, it made for a good scene.

But why would a crack engineer use what is essentially an elevator for emergency medical transportation in the middle of a disaster when he had so many other safer emergency alternatives?

I was thinking about this… we are all overthinking.
Scotty thought McCoy was on the bridge probably.

I have been seeing a lot of remarks making the rounds as Nick does interviews that he’s had his shot – submitted a film treatment, developed the Khan miniseries, and consulted on Discovery – and that every time TPTB have rejected his work, ipso facto, his work is substandard now. I see this comment here, reddit, you name it. Which is bizarre. The obvious conclusion to be made is that Kurtzman, Secret Hideout, and other powers, want more Star Wars-Trek, with copious and fast action sequences and a reliance on characters as caricatures/cliches. Meanwhile, based on his body of work, Nick has an approached more focused on what, in my humble opinion, Trek is actually all about.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a nice action sequence as much as the next fan, but I don’t want 90-120 minutes of basically flat out action runtime. Maybe I’m giving Meyer too much credit here, but I think a lot of other people aren’t giving him enough when you consider the theatrical bounty he gave us Trek fans. TVH has practically no action sequences short of the brief hospital chase and the slingshot around the sun – if you want to call them action sequences. TWOK certainly has a couple big battle set pieces – but his submarine framing is amazing and they truly resonated because the film had built to the finale. TUC is similar. Instead the focus is on the characters. Imagine pitching a Star Trek film today where the theme is aging and life’s mistakes (TWOK) or one generation realizing they are maybe stuck in a rut and it’s time for a younger generation to take up the mantle (TUC). I mean, even thinking about TVH and it’s non-villain antagonist, Kurtzman revealed a lot when he bragged about Discovery Season 4 maybe moving in that direction. “There have been many kinds of villains over the course of Star Trek. What happens when the villain is not actually any kind of living, breathing entity, but something else? How do you solve that problem?” Please Alex, could you make it any clearer you have a limited knowledge of Trek’s history and that you are a Star Wars guy? Because Trek has been doing that premise since the 60’s.

Maybe this feels like a rant out of left field but the Nick Meyer poo-pooing is rampant and, to this guy who first grew up with TNG and DS9 (and TOS reruns), totally disingenuous. I like elements of Discovery (the cast is amazing, some of the story lines are ok, but overall, it feels like its trying to be too many things while succeeding at very few of them) and Picard (the bits with Patrick were generally cool, I love that it ended without a direct Federation/Romulan battle, but the Romulan sibling baddies felt lifted from Game of Thrones in a bad way, and the plot being lifted directly from Mass Effect killed me a bit). It’s mind boggling to me that people can sit through modern JJ and Kurtzman Trek (shout out to Lower Decks though!) and say Nick Meyer is probably washed up and has no good ideas. It’s worth a shot at this point.

I do hold out hopes for SNW – sure, the producer credits leave a lot of concerns, but if they actually follow through with mostly episodic format and get a wide variety of writers, they clearly have a cast that could do something special.

I’d argue Nick Meyer does action sequences better too though. Meyer made starship combat exciting. The actions of the crew had consequences, it wasn’t just ships rushing at each other and then blowing up in 20 seconds as if they were jet fighters. This was Horatio Hornblower in space where the actions of the crew – damage control, strategy, firing arcs – actually impacted the outcome.
Action scenes are best when what the characters do impacts the outcome beyond numbers and simply shooting/fighting. Nimitz is the hero of Midway not because plans just rushed each other but because he had a whole strategy where his outnumbered fleet could compete.
In TWOK when the ship went to red alert, you felt for the crew grabbing phaser torches worried about being sucked out into space, sweat dripping down their head in preparation for battle.
The Enterprise was a starship that could take some damage with all the associated drama that comes with it.
It is sad that Into Darkness which tries to copy TWOK in some ways completely ignores how the Enterprise in TWOK lasted an hour in combat in TWOK, Balance of Terror style, only for combat in Into Darkness to resolve itself in 20 seconds. Where is the DRAMA in the action sequences?? Indeed all of TNG the Galaxy class sucked in combat where even a 150 year old Bird of Prey could detonate that warp core. I think the Enterprise-D warp core exploded more times than it actually held its own in combat thanks to non sensical no consequences time travel episodes. Even DS9, which I liked, the whole starship war was reduced to generic ships just flying at each other. There was no tactics nor strategy.
Honestly the “Nick Meyer” is old crowd, in my opinion comes off as simple invested in the status quo ironically. They don’t realize they are the old status quo and Nick Meyer in bringing back what worked from the past is “new”.

Agreed, I tried to touch on that a bit with regard to the submarine combat framing comment, but I should have expanded on it. The action sequences in TWOK are sublime, tense, and most importantly, I can tell what’s going on and it makes sense. Into Darkness always gave me weird dogfighting vibes (with Admiral Badguy’s big ship chasing down the Enterprise in a warpstream or something? whaaa?). These are capital ships and if they are doing anything besides ship-launched fighters then submarine combat makes the most sense (obviously Nick had a nebula to add to the no sensors “can’t see” mentality of submarine combat). But bottom line, it was more well done than anything in the modern Wars or Trek franchises, because it had meaningful weight and was filmed in a way you could really follow the combat in a logical manner. I could probably quibble to the slightest degree with how DS9 handled battles, because at least the Defiant was actually small enough to be maneuverable as depicted, but yes, otherwise it did feel like two huge fleets just flying into one another. The obvious reality is that capital ships would be off at a distance providing heavy fire and sending ship-launched fighters into combat. Now, Discover S2 finale tried to do this, but the problem there is simply one of canon. The Enterprise did not have ship launched fighters and the idea of scraping together the bevy of ships they did in a few hours was incredulous. Not to mention, again, the filming of it was mostly a quick pan, zoom shot cluster of a mess. If Discovery S3 or 4 had wanted to introduce 32nd century Federation capital ships with ship launched fighters (and pilots, ala the MACOs or something similar as a separate branch in Starfleet) I’d be open to it, if it was done well. Otherwise, your comments are all spot on. Especially the “old is new” reflection you make – the last two decades have been saturated with the super zoomed in, quick cut action sequences. I’m not sure when it first started, but I distinctly remember Sam Mendes Skyfall film (actually maybe it was Quantum of Solace) starting with a car chase where 90% of the shots are of the tires turning. Like, what? And you have no idea what is going on around it. (Kudos to Mendes for his tracking shot to open Spectre though, pretty cool). The latest Star Wars films suffer from this as well. Bombast, spectacle, but very little coherence for the audience. Yeah, I get it, I can “feel” the action, even though it’s really touch to appreciate it. Not for me. If Nick Meyer wants to bring back submarine or other style space combat, tied to a meaningful and oft philosophical story with good character beats, then by all means bring in the old. It would feel fresh next to all the sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero beat em up action we’ve been getting. Specific hate I want to cast is one the unnecessary focus on fisticuffs. At least Trek has an excuse, as an homage to the old TOS episodes (two handed overhead punch for the win, of course), but it’s tiresome. Every action sequence now has to include a highly choreographed fist fight that honestly looks like a dance even at full speed. At least TOS had fisticuffs that felt brutal and raw – there was very little choreographed in Kirk v Kahn in Space Seed. It was messy, blows didn’t land, shoves looked awkward, and the improvised Kahn Beating Rod (TM) is the stuff of dreams. IT felt like a real fight and not a dance. All of these things, Nick Meyer or someone else could bring (back) to the franchise and breathe new life into the genre. But TPTB have no interest, because that doesn’t sell the broadest number of tickets or P+ subs. And I get it, it’s a business, they have to make money. But, as TVH shows, you can make money while telling a slower paced, quality adventure tale, that also acts as a Trek-style morality play. If the only thing getting butts in seats is explosions, then please retire Trek again for a few decades (IMO) and make a new senseless franchise to blow everything up. No offense intended to those who are diehard Discovery or Picard fans – they aren’t terrible but they don’t bring the same things to the table that the older series did in terms of differentiating themselves from the rest of sci-fi around them. And that’s too bad, because as I said in my original post, the casts are amazing and there is a lot of fertile ground in both of those shows. I think it just takes a more talented writing crew (or… Read more »

Have to agree with you about the battle from TWOK. A fantastic prolonged sequence.

So wonderfully dramatic and tense. Claustrophobic even (if that makes sense). I’m almost afraid to blink when watching! The submarine-style combat is absolutely perfect for Star Trek’s starships. And, as you say, the consequences felt very real.

Loved the way it played out when I first saw it and still love it to this day. A definite testament to Meyer’s skills.

I’m too young to have seen it on the big screen, so can only imagine how great an experience it must have been for those who did.

Speaking as a definite TNG fan here; I might be overlooking something really obvious*, but the only ship-to-ship combat that I can recall coming anywhere even remotely close, in terms of prolonged tension, during that era was the battle between the ENT-E and Shinzon’s Scimitar in NEM (quite literally it’s final offering). And even that falls short of what TWOK achieved in my view.

*I’m excluding TBOBW as that was too one-sided to really class as a battle in the same sense, but was definitely full of tension in its own right.

The Kelvin films have been built on action, and have had plenty of entertaining sequences, but IMO have never come anywhere close to replicating the dramatic tension seen in TWOK.

I will add here, that if you take a look at anything JJ there literally is no sense of distance, no sense of “space” no sense of physical travel. What Trek should do, IMHO, is tell the writers to take a back seat when they have ship to ship combat and hire some military tech designers to map it out. At least use that as a start.

You are totally right thinking about it.
ST 2009 Spock sees Vulcan from Delta Vega.
SE:FA Star Wars the star killer destroys the new republic firing a beam at a planet in another star system light years away.. in seconds.
ID The enteprise has orders to fire torpedoes at the Klingon homeworld from… the neutral zone.
ID Kahn beams from Earth to Qo’nos
ID the Ent flies back from Qo’nos to be knocked out of warp and almost crashes into the Earth (ugh, just ugh).
DIS Ship can jump anywhere thanks to magic mushrooms
Some one needs a physics class or really REALLY doesn’t like the concept of life being about the journey versus the destination.

Yes. And in the theater you can literally feel that what you are watching is impossible. Even in that universe.

Lol Now I don’t get why Star Wars ships just don’t hyperspace kamakazi into each other all the time when not “dropping” bombs in space.

That’s a good point. You hear about military consultants on everything from films to books, so no reason why they couldn’t be utilised effectively for Star Trek too. After all, strip away the sci-fi setting and you essentially have a naval combat situation playing out.

I suppose it all comes down to whether there is any desire for a change in philosophy at Paramount…

The Kelvin films were very much targeted at mass-market appeal and so their action set pieces were closer to those of something like the ‘Fast & Furious’ movies. More about the ‘spectacle’ than anything else. You never really feel like anything is ever truly at stake, but you can still be entertained while watching.

If that’s the direction they plan to continue in, then a more tactical battle (like that of TWOK) probably won’t be on the menu. I, for one, would love to see it though.

I miss the days when Trek had military writers/designers involved. RAND/NORAD actually used to model command centres off the bridge where the Captain can turn and talk to everyone and see computer displays with information on every system.
Now in Discovery the Captain has to shout at everyone and can’t see anything because it is so far away and whole parts of the bridge are hard drives because that’s always important to see??
But it’s an improvement on TNG where the Captain can see the viewscreen and his shrink. If he looks over his shrink maybe he can make out hard drives covering 50% of the available display space. But you know, who needs information, it’s just a hotel!
Modelling after submarines was a great idea by Nick Meyer because submarines, space and information is at a premium, very similar to what you expect with spacecraft.
Plus I’m sorry but a turbolift door that the Captain can get shot in the back is just not visually attractive.

Adding in travel time doesn’t seem to fit with JJ Abrams’s sense of pacing.

I just love the important note about why we don’t know about what the probe actually wanted. I just had a long conversation about keeping a mystery in one of my scripts and used this as an example. Thank you, Anthony!

I love this line: “It is my opinion that artists lose all proprietary authority over their creations when they’re finished.”

He should tell this to George Lucas.

Lucas has had little say since 2015 after he expressed his opinion on TFA

An unforced error that one is. It wouldn’t be that hard to scan the originals and offer them to those who want them. In 4K, Digital, streaming, Blu Ray whatever. It has been so long though, does anybody really care anymore? Fans have wanted decent versions since the DVD era. Lucasfilm has let them down every single time to the point nobody even bothers asking anymore with petitions and the like.

I consider myself fairly liberal, but I don’t disagree with Meyer’s take on stuff like Seuss.

Anyway, good interview.

Seuss hasn’t been canceled. Dr. Seuss Enterprises chose to pull six out of 60 books.

And Fox made a big deal about a National Education Association press release for Read Across America Day/National Reading Month that didn’t mention Seuss’s birthday — but Clinton and W. Bush never mentioned Seuss (who died in 1991, 7 years before the first Read Across America Day) in their annual proclamations for the day, either.

Also: “happy slaves” weren’t removed from Gone With The Wind, nor was anything else. HBO Max pulled the film temporarily this summer, during the protests over the Floyd murder, but there are no plans to edit it, other than adding a note at the beginning about the historical inaccuracies.

There were concerns back when it was released in 1940.

Nobody is “getting rid of” Shakespeare either – because of Petruchio or anything else. The Taming of the Shrew is still published and performed.

There is nothing new about reconsidering film or music after awareness changes – decisions were made not to put racist WWII Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons on TV
decades ago,

Two things:

1) The Szymanowski link is broken.
2) Nicholas Meyer gets Star Trek. If you weren’t convinced before, this interview cinches that.

‘awaiting approval’ seems to be coming up for me alot

I find that means that you have something in your sentences that can be seen as controversial or spam. Sometimes it’s really hard to figure it out what’s causing it. Also no links allowed. If you can find out what the trigger is and remove it, the post will go up.

mustve been a link was trying to post, a tweet from rick berman responding to a fan q&a someone asking were meyer and ridley scott ever approached for TNG films as mentioned on imdb triva (NEM & FC) and he said no for scott yes for meyer but couldn’t recall which film and added he was a good friend who had had enough of trek by then

In Nick Meyer’s defence I think he knew TNG wasn’t his kind of Trek (no frontier, technobabble, call home to Starfleet, all the aliens want to be like us, we are all perfect with little to learn). I think after TNG a lot of people had enough of Trek.

thats true. the only aspect that may have interested Meyer mightve been the opportunity to work with Patrick Stewart and going full Shakespearean Trek, with an opening Sherlock holodeck scene, and obviously integrating a more hornblower militaristic Trek II approach to the Ent E (which they actually attempted to do abit in Nemesis anyway) but as you say all Trek was kind of done by the time of Nemesis.

it mightve been better to offer him Generations instead of offering it to Nimoy – the opportunity to rewrite the script so more timetravelly maybe to fully involve both casts (Yesterdays Enterprise meets Voyage Home/Time After Time), and making Shatner deliver a performance more inline with the sombre thoughtful elder TOS Kirk of II and VI as opposed to reprising the energetic jovial horseshow jumping ‘Captain Shatner’ from Trek V (with a death scene handled much better than what was, and with no irksome ‘remember’ magic way back this time), and to reteam with McDowell as a timetravelling pocketwatch yielding scientist (and i imagine hed have kept the HMS Enterprise holodeck scene :)

Only the incorporation of snoozefest TNG could have made the final adventure of Captain Kirk bland, forgettable and unremarkable.
Ironically should have been more ST: II TWOK Spock going out in a legendary way..
I feel for Patrick Stewart, put him in the movie era and you might have ended up with an exciting character (I think there is a reason why Picard always seemed to long for the Stargazer days).

Yes, something is up that it seems worse than normal.

Okay so I see one problem. You can’t put in the middle initial for a certain Captain James Kirk. LOL TOO LEGENDARY apparently. LOL

Yeah, I put up a post elsewhere here that dissapeared into moderation purgatory as well. Either that, or the admins have a real hard on for the Dropkick Murphys…..

The majority of my problem is when you put the middle initial for a certain legendary Captain. Took me forever to figure it out.

I wonder what the nannybot thinks the Tee represents?

LOL So it’s crazy but you can’t write the middle name either?!???? Try it, James…. middle name…. Kirk…. will get moderated!! Just too much legend with the associated flash back to the Klingon high court scene and the late great Christopher Plumber.
Thanks a lot Nick(y) Meyer!

Was thinking about the Scotty to the bridge with Preston scene… he probably thought McCoy was on the bridge (as he usually was in crisis situations in TOS to advise Kirk).

Thankfully McCoy wasn’t in the bathroom at the time…..

Exactly, in a medical emergency, you don’t waste time taking the patient on a game of WHERE’S WALDO! You take him to the nearest compentent medical personnel that, hopefully, can stabilize him so that he’ll live long enough in the triage for the best doctors in the house to treat him before he expires.

With all the wounded, the CMO takes time off from his sickbay duties trying to save lives, to advise Kirk on the bridge that Khan looks mad?!!

He isn’t the only Doctor on the Starship. In TOS McCoy was often on the bridge during a Red Alert that he can report to the Commanding officer.
Plus the ship was totally caught by surprise.

Re: He isn’t the only Doctor on the Starship.

A point I already pointed out which is why Scotty wouldn’t waste time and Peter’s precious waning life wandering the ship trying to guess where McCoy got “taken by surprise”when Peter’s life could be stabilized by the other Doctors on the ship that he knows are on duty in sickbay with all the tools to best treat him. What kind of ems medical treatment was he expecting to get for Peter from an off-duty surgeon on the bridge?

Even in TVH with Chekov wounded in an antiquated hospital, McCoy didn’t rush over to use whatever antiques he could find to stabilize him and retrieve him for emergency surgery in the ship’s sickbay. He let the “old” medics stabilize him while he retrieved his medical bag full of more than enough tools to perform the surgery and treat other illnesses Chekov was not likely to have? When have we ever seen McCoy off sickbay duty on the bridge with that medical bag so that Scotty would have some semblance of sensibly risking Peter’s ebbing life in the fashion you imagine when the odds are always better of finding a competent doctor among the many in sickbay versus a single doctor who may be on the bridge and might have a bag of adequate tools with him?

McCoy though is the best Doctor, and Scotty might have thought that sickbay was overloaded already.
Also perhaps the turbolift wouldn’t go to sickbay because it was already overloaded with requests.

Re: overloaded with requests

You are just citing yet another reason why, even in our present era, hospital personnel are trained NOT to use elevators in disasters which attack a building’s integrity or makes its stability problematical which Scotty should still be following even in his era.

I’m waiting to see how they handle the eventual 4k release of Star Trek VI. Will it be open matte or cropped like the theatrical release? It was chosen to be filmed in Super 35.

I’m also still waiting for Star Trek II which was finished years ago to be released. When will Paramount put out the film on 4K disc?

It seems strange that Paramount would spend money on the restoration but then not release it. Or is the 4k version available somewhere, just not on 4k disc? I can’t imagine that authoring a blu-ray is that expensive if you already have a good 4k master.
And it’s not like Paramount would hold it back until they can release a TOS movie box to avoid double-dipping its customers ;-)

It was released only as a Blu-Ray disc on physical media, but is available digitally in 4K. Wrath of Khan. They’ve never given a reason why the UHD disc was not made available. The 3 Kelvin films did after all get a release. I always assumed it was held back because they wanted to do the 40th of The Motion Picture first, but then a couple years went by and nothing happened.

Hey Nick Meyer, I bought your book. Any chance you will sign it?!?