Episode 54: The Human Adventure Continues: Star Trek The Motion Picture


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That's right listeners, it's time to go where no one has gone before -to the big screen, for the first voyage of the Enterprise in theaters! Today the Planet 8 crew is talking Star Trek: The Motion Picture!

The Motion Picture (or ST:TMP) has gained a bad reputation over the years, often derisively called 'The Motionless Picture,' but it actually was a hit at the box office, if not with the critics. Without ST:TMP, we wouldn't have gotten Wrath of Khan, or any of the films to follow, and perhaps no Next Generation and beyond. So whatever your opinion of the film -and we know opinions vary, because even within our Planet 8 crew, they do - one must acknowledge its role in keeping the franchise alive.

We'll discuss the troubled history of the production, how it swung back and forth between plans to be a new Star Trek TV series (Star Trek Phase II), a movie, a TV show, and a film again. By the time the studio decided to go with a theatrical film, they went into production in a rush, without a firm script, and with a set release date (December 7, 1979) which put the pressure on, especially with the complicated special effects that were required. They were lucky to have an experienced director in Robert Wise at the helm. They also kicked out the original effects group and brought in master effects artists Doug Trumbull and John Dykstra, who managed to finish the special effects just in time for the release.

Going to see Star Trek on the big screen was a real experience for all of us. There was, of course, huge anticipation. We hadn't seen our Enterprise crew in a new adventure in years! What would they look like? What would the story be like? Of course we had seen photos in magazines but to see them on the big screen would be a special thrill! For some though, the movie was not what they expected. After the excitement of Star Wars, ST:TMP might have seemed too slow, too talky. For others, it was too reminiscent of the Star Trek episode, The Changeling, where an ancient Earth space probe, modified by an alien probe, mistakes Kirk for its creator. But in some ways, ST:TMP is the Trek movie most like the original episodes. It may have been their attempt at Trek's '2001,' but it maintains Trek's hopeful concept for mankind's development as a species.

Regardless of one's thoughts about the plot of the film, the special effects are still beautiful to behold (and if you haven't seen the director's edition, run out now and get it!), and Jerry Goldsmith's score is perhaps the best Star Trek score of all. His main theme went on to become the theme of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it originated here, with this film, and it's absolutely beautiful to hear in conjunction with the visual of the streamlined Enterprise.

In any case, it's worth a revisit if you haven't seen it in a while. Check it out and let us know your thoughts!

For our Sensor Sweep this episode, to go with our theme, Karen shares a book that goes into great depth on ST:TMP: Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Preston Neal Jones. In this hefty tome, Jones has put together an oral history of the film, which includes interviews with the cast and crew of The Motion Picture. Honestly, anything you would ever want to know about how the movie was made is included in this book. You can find it from sellers on Amazon, and at the time of this writing, they now have an ebook version too.

We also want to give a plug to our first ever video-only episode on our YouTube channel! We decided to do a quick little video Sensor Sweep for you guys, sharing some of our collectibles, and a funny story about a near-miss the guys had with a collectible. So we hope you'll check it out at our YouTube channel. Let us know if you'd like to see more video episodes!

All right, that's it for this time around. But if you want to contact us, hailing frequencies are open!
Live long and prosper!

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