Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday Spotlight: Star Trek V

People find my website when searching on all sorts of terms. One term that recently brought a nice person to my site was "Sybok" (I know it was a nice person, because he went on to send me a couple of emails). Sybok is the name of Spock's half-brother in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and he's a character I'm rather fond of: the laughing Vulcan. If you've read my books, such as Calculating God, you know I'm fascinated by the science vs. religion debate, and Sybok nicely symbolizes that.

Also, back in 2000, I got to work with William Shatner for a few days. He was lined up to be executive producer of a computer-animated TV series I created for Nelvana, a Canadian animation house (a damn good series called Exodus: Mars, that, sadly, never got made); Bill and I went around to various networks in Hollywood, pitching the series together. I found him to be highly creative, highly intelligent, highly pleasant, and highly professional -- and, of course, he was the director of Star Trek V.

And so, for today's Monday Spotlight, highlighting one of the 500+ documents on my website at, I offer up this little essay from 1991 on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.


At May 22, 2006 2:38 AM , Blogger Scott said...

What I like about STAR TREK V is that it feels like a stand-alone episode of the original series. Nothing new is beginning, nothing familiar is ending -- it's just one more adventure of the ENTERPRISE. It deals with philosophical themes in an intriguing way. It allows us to see the real bond that exists between Kirk, Spock and McCoy, the love and the loneliness they feel.

Yes, it's got structural wonkiness, sure, and effects problems, yes, but so what? It didn't offer the humor and humanity and accessibility of the fourth film, so people dissed it, but I think it's vastly underrated.

(Oh, and I was disappointed that in GENERATIONS Kirk died with Picard at his side, when every true TREK V fan knows that this violates Kirk's fundamental belief about the eventual terms of his own demise: that he would die alone.)

At May 22, 2006 9:07 AM , Blogger Lou_Sytsma said...

Interesting thoughts on Shatner and Nimoy's directing abilities. I find Nimoy's direction on III schizephrenic and stilted. The scenes with the regulars are fine but the others suffer - especially the Genesis sequences with Saavik and David.

As for Shatner's effort, his turn at the helm seemed hampered more by behind the scenes activity that ended up crippling the picture.

We do learn alot about the characters in V and besides the Spock/Sybok material you have related, I found the McCoy father/son scene very insightful. It did a lot to explain what drove Bones to become the man he was.

At May 22, 2006 4:40 PM , Blogger E.Jim Shannon said...

I liked the part in the movie where Spock says something like "life is not a dream" when they were singing "row-row-row your boat" fade out at the end. I think this movie brought home to the mainstream audience that science fiction is more then just space ships, technology and robots. It’s first and foremost in my opinion at least about people. I think the audiance caught on as well.


At May 22, 2006 5:14 PM , Blogger Bonnie Jean said...

I also am rather fond of STAR TREK V, though I haven't watched it for a few years. I'll have to dig out my VHS copy and see it soon.

There was an interesting book written by Lisabeth Shatner, _Captain's Log: William Shatner's Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V_, about her father's experiences making the film. I remember it provided interesting insight into how the film developed and about how William Shatner dealt with criticism. Again, I haven't read the book for many years, but will try to track it down. [You can look it up on Amazon to see its cover.]

One of the highlights of seeing STAR TREK V was hearing the theme to STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION blaring out of the theatre speakers over the opening credits--I had no idea that ST:TNG used music composed for earlier films (I think; maybe for the first one?). It was absolutely fabulous!
-Bonnie Jean

At May 22, 2006 10:32 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hi, Scott. Great point about STAR TREK V being like an episode. Lou, yes, the McCoy stuff is first-rate, too. Jim: exactly! Science fiction is about people. Bonnie Jean, thanks for reminding me about Lisabeth Shatner's book; I read it years ago, but had forgotten it.


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