More than any other version, the Original Cast films were MY Star Trek. Sure, I’d watched the show since childhood, but the movies were new when I was in my prime geek teen age years.
The first time I tried to introduce my daughter to them she was much younger. She came in and out of The Motion Picture only because she liked “the bald girl.” I tried to convince her that the other ones were better but she refused to pay any attention, or even come in the room, for Wrath of Khan until she was forced to at lunch time. Of course, she sat down right at the start of the “bug in the ear” scene and vowed never to watch Trek again.
Fortunately, once she aged a bit, and became a big fan as we watched the original series on blu ray, her interest in seeing the movies returned.
However, there was a gap of over a year after finishing the show before we started the films. Star Wars and Harry Potter figured fairly significantly in this gap, but it turned out to be a very good thing for the first installment.
The Motion Picture
My daughter watched this movie attentively all the way through. She did joke the reason for her focus was, “I just wanted to see how boring it could get.” In spite of that statement, she was clearly very involved in the film.
I think it had to do with the time between watching the original series and starting the movies. This also could explain why the film was such a success when it first came out. There really isn’t much to the movie. As many have said before me, it is only a combination of two episodes. (“The Changeling” and “The Immunity Syndrome”) Sure, there are some shiny effects and a few bad ideas which would be resurrected for The Next Generation (reunited interspecies romance on the bridge, space pajamas, etc.) but not a lot of meat to it.
However, she did have strong reactions to what was going on. She got very excited when each crew member showed up, and was visibly worried and agitated when it looked like one was missing or wasn’t going to join.
What makes the movie attention grabbing is getting to see the old gang get back together on the Enterprise. Therefore having a big hunk of time between seeing the Original Series and The Motion Picture is the only way the latter works.
In other words:
You can’t miss them until they go away.
Wrath of Khan
Very quickly into this first of the three film story arc, my daughter agreed that it was far more exciting than the previous entry. Though, she was upset that it started, once again, with the wrong person in the Captain’s chair and demanded to know why Kirk was still called “Admiral”.
Luckily, her age and experience with watching the original series left her with a less unpleasant response to the “Ceti Eel” scene that had turned her off of Star Trek previously. Ensign (now Commander) Chekov lived up to his reason for being included in the show, as he became a favorite of this particular young girl.
One thing my daughter likes about Chekov is how he screams, causing her joy at that bit of loud emoting to overwhelm the grossness of the events. However, Khan’s battered and bloody face later in the movie elicited a prolonged, “EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW” from her and a desire to focus her attention elsewhere.
We reached the climax of the film and I was waiting to see her reaction. It was somewhat less emotional than my first time viewing Wrath of Khan.
At first she was sure he would be OK, learning from the series that only the redshirts, and not the main characters, get knocked off. Upon his collapse she immediately looked at me and said:
“When are they going to fix him?”
I figured that response came from an over exposure to comic book stories in our home, and answered simply and calmly with:
“He’s dead. You can’t fix dead.”
Then I waited nearby to comfort my soon to be saddened child…
And kept waiting as she pointed out:
“No, I saw him in the new movie, and his picture’s on the big stack of other old movies we’re going to watch after this one…When are they going to fix him?”
So much for the importance of dramatic moments.
The Search for Spock
Before we even got the DVD in the player, she started:
“See…his face is on the cover, and it’s called ‘The Search for SPOCK’, so when’s he coming back?”
She half watched the movie, sort of laughing at various gags, but mostly demanding to know when a certain Vulcan scientist of our acquaintance was returning. With his existence somewhat missing explanation, she barely registered David’s death.
(Although I will continue to point out Shatner’s, “You Klingon bastards, you killed my son,” scene in defense of the man’s overly abused acting abilities. He has an unusual style, but isn’t the over the top parody most people use portraying him. Check out one of his own books for first handy advice on imitating his style entertainingly.)
She was very excited to see more bumpy headed Klingons, and why shouldn’t she be? There’s a great deal of enjoyment to be had watching Reverend Jim and Dan Fielding tooling around the galaxy in an excessively cool ship design.
At this point, an event happened that had very little effect on me the first time I saw this movie, because of being overwhelmed with relief that The Search for Spock did, indeed, look to be successful. Knowing full well throughout the story arc that this was the case, and having not been traumatized by his death, my daughter viewed the event slightly differently.
The Enterprise exploded, and she lost her freakin’ mind!
“It blew up?
IT BLEW UP?
OH MY GOD THEY BLEW UP THE ENTERPRISE!!!!
HOW ARE THEY GOING TO GET HOME!?
Why did they blow it up?
OH NO, IT REALLY BLEW UP!”
She watched the final negotiations and fight scene in turmoil, calming down when our heroes commandeered the Bird of Prey and brought Spock and McCoy to Vulcan for the mental marbles transfer.
The Voyage Home
She found the end of this trilogy of films very enjoyable and laugh filled. She was also caught up enough in the story to yell, “OH NO!” when Gillian returned to find the whales had already been released.
It is a comment on how much Doctor Who we watch in our household that she was completely unquestioning, and in fact unfazed at all, by the time travel portion of the story. She simply accepted it as a tool available to them.
When Kirk was (finally, in her estimation) made Captain again, she let out a:
And of course she cheered out loud for the reveal of the Enterprise A, a scene - even with the release of all the recent blockbuster superhero movies - still holds the record for the loudest, most enthusiastic, most audience uniting cheer I have ever been a part of in an opening night movie premier.
Tune in whenever we finish a couple years of Happy Days, the new seasons of Doctor Who, Dancing With the Stars, Face Off and (if I have any say…which I don’t) the extended versions of Lord of the Rings for the follow up to this post chronicling the remaining two movies, and some later appearances of the Original Crew.
We finshed, click here to continue!
We finshed, click here to continue!