My colleague Jackie Taylor has allowed me to publish her clever piece about Star Trek, which originally appeared in The Astrological Journal. This is the third tranche. To read the first part about Star Trek's (rather inauspicious) beginnings, click here, and the second about Leonard Nimoy, the show's soul, click here.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a box office success, despite its universally acknowledged failure to capture the zest and excitement of the original series. Money talks, and Paramount were determined to make another Star Trek film.
Leonard Nimoy, who had endured a boring and frustrating time on the set of the first film, had already determined that that was definitely the end of his Star Trek career, and was even less happy about returning than he had been for the first film. The Paramount execs knew they had a fight on their hands. They wanted to continue the Star Trek franchise, and they knew they couldn’t continue without Spock.
Neptune moved round to within one degree of opposition to the Moon of both Nimoy and Star Trek; Neptune, the planet of sacrifice. The subject of the sacrifice would be – Spock. At the same time, Star Trek’s Solar Arc Directed Mercury, the thinking, intellectual aspect of the show, in other words, Spock, was at the critical degree of 29.
“How would you like a great death scene?” said Harve Bennet, the producer, to Nimoy; and a broad smile spread itself across Nimoy’s face.
Paramount were ready to sacrifice the most popular character in the franchise to boost their ratings just one more time. Nimoy was ready to sacrifice his alter ego for the sake of the rest of his career and his life. The script was written in just 12 days and filming of Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan went ahead, despite the news of the planned death being leaked to the fans and inevitable outrage ensuing.
The trouble was, by the time the death scene was due to be filmed, Nimoy had realised that he had changed his mind. Filming the second Star Trek film had been everything that the first one had not, and he had deep regrets. As the death scene itself was filmed, the entire crew, other than the director Nic Mayer, for whom this was just another job of work, were in tears, and filming had to pause while one of the camera men changed his contact lenses! When a draft of the film was previewed to sample theatre audiences, those audiences left in stunned and distressed silence.
There was no doubt; some way had to be found to resurrect the Vulcan, and so it was done, to the deep disapproval of the director, who had shot the scene with every intention that Spock should die and stay dead. An extra scene was filmed, in which Spock was seen placing his “soul” into someone else for safe keeping, and the way was clear to bring on Star Trek III. Nimoy had them over a barrel. As his own progressed New Moon began, he announced that he would play Spock in the next film as long as he could also direct, and a new career in directing began for him, culminating in having two top 10 films simultaneously, Star Trek: The Voyage Home, and Three Men and a Baby.
Star Trek’s first movie had been shot on its Jupiter return. So was its last one shot a few months after a Jupiter return, when Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country began filming in April 1991, in time for the 25th anniversary of Star Trek’s first episode. After this, the original Star Trek bowed out and left the way clear for the various spin-offs, the most successful being Star Trek The Next Generation. The spin-offs themselves, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, tailed, grew tired.
The ‘Trekkies’ did not.
As Star Trek’s Uranus moved into exact opposition to itself in March 2008, filming was concluded on the latest Star Trek film, the reboot as it came to be known. On its Uranus opposition it shook off the old cast and the old writers and revived itself in a new incarnation. JJ Abrams directed a new group of young actors playing the original crew of the Starship Enterprise, set before the days of the five year mission of the 1960s; a prequel to the original series. Only one person remained from the original cast. Leonard Nimoy, the soul of Star Trek, was asked to give script approval before they even began filming, and he was given a cameo role, in which he gracefully and movingly (and, at age 77, probably thankfully) handed over the baton to the new cast. The film beat all previous Star Trek films at the box office, including the most successful to date, The Voyage Home.
The human adventure continues!
Live long an prosper, Jackie – and thank you.