00:00:00 – 00:15:00
Hear the sound of the bosun’s pipes as you exit the turbolift and step onto the bridge of the 15-Minute Federation.
We welcome you to a new project under the 15-Minute proprietary banner. This one will encompass all of the Star Trek movies, from those featuring the cast of the original series, through the next generation, and finally including the so-called Kelvin Timeline of the J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot movies. As with our 15-Minute Force project, we plan to dissect, synopsize, review, make wisecracks about and annotate each movie, fifteen minutes at a time. This kind of measured examination of popular cinema was inspired by the STAR WARS MINUTE podcast created and hosted by Alex Robinson and Pete The Retailer. Only, Alex and Pete do this one minute at a time. We are, obviously, fans of the podcast and recommend it to you if it sounds like something you would enjoy.
Chances are, if you wouldn’t enjoy that, this isn’t for you either. This is a full-on nerd-obsessive vanity project, meant for the enjoyment of likeminded individuals.
Since a review of Star Trek: The Motion Picture appeared in this blog only a year or so ago, we nearly decided to skip this movie. But, Captain James Claudius Firewater is a bit of an obsessive compulsive (or, a “completist,” as he likes to say) and thinks this project would feel forever incomplete if this one was left out.
So, we’re doing it. And the bullpen is now called the bridge, and we all have ranks and stations, and we no longer go through doors but enter and exit turbolifts . . . as you might imagine, it can be exhausting. As usual, you can expect a healthy dose of sarcasm due to a steady childhood diet of MAD and National Lampoon magazines, but you should know that it comes from a place of love.
The crew of the 15-Minute Federation loves Star Trek. We would have to.
Without any further ado, the first fifteen minutes of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
This movie came out in 1979, only two years after the release of Star Wars, and it probably suffered in the comparison. This movie was slower-paced and less action-filled than the movie that would one day become known as A New Hope, but it was a good continuation (mostly) of the classic series we all grew up on. Our hypothesis is that it was Trekkies like us who helped make Star Wars the runaway success it became, which, in turn, inspired movie producers to develop other science-fiction properties, such as Star Trek. The tide raises all boats. We all win.
Without this movie, and its sequels, we wouldn’t have Star Trek: The Next Generation, or any of the series that followed. For that alone, this movie is to be celebrated and respected.
The screenplay of this movie is credited to Gene Roddenberry & Harold Livingstone, while the story credit goes to Alan Dean Foster & Gene Roddenberry. We have no doubt that Roddenberry felt like he deserved this credit. Period anecdotes from the original series cast some doubt on this, however. Roddenberry apparently liked to—er hem!—appropriate credit that was at times undue. Even Dorothy Fontana has said as much. But, the Great Bird of the Galaxy is dead, and we’re not here to discredit him. He was even credited as the writer of the novelization, I believe, but George Lucas did that trick as well.
Our illustrious captain, who says he’s won the Christopher Pike Medal of Valor four times, read the novelization and believes it was actually written by Alan Dean Foster, who, again, only gets story credit. Let’s see. Alan Dean Foster is actually a novelist and has written other novels. This was Roddenberry’s only novel, we think. Hmm . . .
As the movie begins, we un-fade from black, with the Jerry Goldsmith musical score playing in the background. Even though we should know better, we can’t help but think of this as the theme music for Star Trek: The Next Generation; but, no, it was played here first. Following the old Paramount logo, the credits roll by, white letters on the black background, and the actual story doesn’t get started until the 3:26 mark.
That’s when we get to see three Klingon battle cruisers facing off against a streaky blue cloud. The battle cruisers should look green, but they don’t.
When the scene shifts to a cruiser bridge, the Klingon head ridges make their first on-screen appearance. The Klingons in TOS didn’t sport the ridges, you’ll remember. These Klingons also seem to be experiencing the same male pattern baldness.
The special effects showing this immense blue cloud are nice, but we still think they resemble those old Seeing Eye posters and books. Do you remember those? You had to cross your eyes and relax your ocular muscles in order to see hidden 3-D effects in computerized pictures. Like a sailboat or a dolphin or something. The pictures themselves looked similar to this great cosmic cloud effect.
In addition to forehead ridges, this film also marks the first time that the Klingon language is heard spoken. What you may not have known is that the language itself, as it is heard in the film, was co-created by James Doohan, Chief Engineer Scotty himself. Marc Okrand, the author of The Klingon Dictionary later created an entire Klingon language based on this rudimentary beginning.
Incidentally, the Klingon captain speaking Scotty’s made-up language is none other that Mark Lenard, who is better known as Sarek, Spock’s father.
The Klingons fire torpedoes at the cosmic cloud and they just disappear. The Klingon captain orders a retreat.
Federation listening post Epsilon IX picks up the distress signal from the Klingons. The special effects on the station don’t hold up that well. The monitors and viewscreens have what appear to be early video game effects. The crew of the station watches on in horror as the great Seeing Eye cloud zaps each of the Klingon heavy carriers out of existence.
Epsilon IX has determined that this killer cloud in on a direct heading for Earth.
We switch scenes to the planet Vulcan, which has moons in the establishing shot, even though Spock once said it had none. Spock has let his hippie hair grow and appears to be praying when we first see him. He goes before a trio of Vulcans, who are about to bestow upon him a symbol of total logic. Spock stops the female Vulcan from putting the necklace around his neck. She mind melds with him and discovers that a consciousness is calling to him from out in space. Spock has not achieved Kolinahr.
The female master determines that Spock will not achieve his goal with them. His answer lies elsewhere. She tells him to live long and prosper, of course.
And, with this, the first chapter of our new project comes to a close. We have only scratched the surface of Act One. Our film antagonist, the mysterious cosmic cloud, has been introduced, and the first of our original series cast members, Mr. Spock, is re-introduced as well. We still have a lot of old cast members to go, not to mention the new ones. It’s safe to assume that the consciousness calling out to Spock is the big cloud that’s approaching Earth and wiping out everything in its path along the way.
Until next time . . . It’s Not Too Late for You to Petition for Membership in the 15-Minute Federation . . .Live Long and Prosper.