Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) (part 6 of 13)

Meanwhile, Klaa is getting word that the Lemonprise has also been dispatched to Nimbus III, and he knows this means an encounter with Jim Kirk. What, does the whole Klingon Empire follow the Starfleet command postings in Starship Weekly or something? (Actually, according to The Hunt for Red October, we always know who all the enemy commanders are, complete with thumbnail psych profiles, so I guess this would be true for the Federation and Klingons as well.) He gets a hard-on at the thought of fighting Kirk, and his first officer, Klingon Bodybuilder Chick, also gets a hard-on about it, setting us up for the movie’s big final fight. Only, when we get to it (note from the future!) all this build-up will be summarily dispensed with. So yes, folks, they are wasting time.

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Back on the Enterprise now, Kirk tries to record a captain’s log, but the notebook-sized recording device keeps failing with lots of ridiculous “sproing” noises. A huge rectangle on the pad lights up with “SYSTEM FAILURE”, and when the light goes out, it’s clear that this text is not a pixel display—the words “SYSTEM FAILURE” are actually printed on the panel surface. This gigantic indicator’s sole purpose is to light up with the message “SYSTEM FAILURE”. So if you’re thinking it’s just the Lemonprise that’s been badly made, think again—Starfleet can’t even make functioning data pads anymore.

Look at how dumb this is. First of all, “SYSTEM FAILURE” is about as useful a message as “CHECK ENGINE”, and second of all, this thing must be built to fail if a tenth of the interface is given over to a permanent error message indicator. Yikes, looking at this movie, I wouldn’t risk riding a bicycle from the 23rd century, let alone a starship.

Caption contributed by scootermark

“Man, these new Kindles really suck!”

Kirk just gives up and moves on, handing the defective device back to a hapless yeoman with big, piled-up conical hair (who’s played by Shatner’s daughter Melanie—which, given that Kirk has been known to fondle a yeoman or two, is just plain creepy). So presumably, Starfleet will just have to do without any logs of whatever happens on this mission. Hey, maybe that’s why Roddenberry said it was all apocryphal—there’s no proof any of this ever happened!

Uhura downloads a data transmission from Starfleet, which includes Facebook profiles on the hostages (FYI: Korrd’s tactics were required reading at the Academy, but now he’s “fallen out of favor”) and a video of Romulan Star Search Chick announcing the kidnappers’ demands. But I dunno why Not-Connery had her do this, because he butts in halfway through to essentially assure everyone that he’s really serious about all this hostage stuff.

Oh, and for some reason, this is being filmed from (I think) atop the Paradise City gates, with Romulan Star Search Chick and the other hostages on the front steps of the cantina all the way across a plaza. And when Not-Connery butts in, he has to walk briskly across the plaza, yapping the whole way, in order to get a weird, from-above close-up. Yes, it’s very important when attempting to strong-arm three powerful star-empires at once to make sure to film yourself from a great height, so that you look like you’re about a foot and a half tall.

Caption contributed by scootermark

”You will feel the wrath of Lilliput!”

Not-Connery’s appearance on the tape does have a purpose, in that it gives Spock a chance to recognize him. But for some reason, he won’t tell Kirk straight out who the guy is. Instead, Spock goes and hides in some forward lounge somewhere, where there’s a huge ship’s wheel positioned in front of a picture window looking out on space. How nautical!

Kirk and McCoy follow him in, but Spock continues to be evasive, saying only that Not-Connery looks like someone Spock knew in his youth on Vulcan. That guy was brilliant and gifted but a “revolutionary”, seeking forbidden knowledge and embracing the “animal passions” of the past as the better route to self-knowledge. And so he was banished. Wait, the kidnapper is Roman Polanski?

Caption contributed by Albert

”It’s true, this is how the Enterprise is actually steered. There’s also a hamster wheel down in Engineering.”

Now they’ve arrived at Nimbus III, but the transporters still suck, so Kirk figures he has to get the hostages out “the old-fashioned way”. Which, if I remember correctly, involves waiting a year and then electing Ronald Reagan president. So there’s hostage-rescue contrivance number one: no transporters. Otherwise, this movie would have been over already. (I can dream, can’t I?)

Then a time limit instantly develops, in the form of the arrival of Klaa’s ship, which will be in range to start firing on the Lemonprise in just under an hour and a quarter. And there we have contrivance number two. See how the script just writes itself? I’ve heard of plot ideas being written on napkins, but entire screenplays are another story.

Kirk taps Spock, Sulu and Uhura for his away team and hurries off the bridge. Or perhaps he’s trying to escape the movie, considering he’s in such a rush he doesn’t even bother to hand over the conn to anyone else.

Soon, a toy shuttlecraft is sailing off toward an over-tinted planet. Inside, Starfleet Marines are established for pretty much the first time in Trek history, and they’re busy checking their weapons, racking their slides, and trying to act butch. I don’t know who these guys are, and not a single one of them gets a line, or even a close-up, so let’s just join our director in immediately forgetting they exist, shall we?

Kirk and Spock decide to land in the wastelands a fair distance from Paradise City, so that they can have another campfire marshmelon roast/sing-along—I mean, to evade detection by Not-Connery.

Meanwhile, the Lemonprise hails Not-Connery to distract him. Not-Connery watches on his screen as the big captain’s chair swivels around for a Pointless Reveal of “Captain” Pavel Chekov. Yeah, in your dreams, Pavel. “Captain” Chekov informs Not-Connery that he is in “wiolation” of treaty and must surrender the hostages or “suffer the consequences.” Since Chekov here is about as intimidating as Ed Speleers in his underwear, Not-Connery is understandably amused.

Caption contributed by scootermark

While waiting for a starship to show up, Not-Connery kills some time watching old Babylon 5 reruns.

Cut to Kirk’s shuttle landing in the dark… somewhere… and then cut back to Chekov, who’s still intent on wasting everybody’s time. Chekov attempts to frighten Not-Connery, not by threatening him with the Federation’s mighty wrath or anything, but by saying that angry Klingons are also on their way, and they’re going to kick his ass. Yeah, that’s the way to intimidate people—when some other guy who actually is menacing gets here, you’ll really be sorry!

Not-Connery replies that, in that case, he’s glad he has a Federation starship to protect them. Heh. Clearly, Not-Connery hasn’t kept up with his subscription to Starship Weekly, and doesn’t realize that Starfleet is making its ships out of papier-mâché these days.

Not-Connery wants Chekov and his “first officer” to beam down, but Chekov, still stalling, says he needs “assurances”. Awww, in that case: It’s okay, Pavel, everything’s going to be all right.

Kirk and Spock are using Binoculars of the Future! to check out Paradise City, which Spock reckons is 1.2 hours away on foot. Kirk barks that they don’t have 1.2 hours. Um, hello, Kirk? It was your idea to land this far away, so stop bitching. Then they spot a nearby lookout encampment. And how exactly did these lookouts not notice the big, loud shuttlecraft landing, I wonder?

Regardless, the encampment has a whole lot of available horses ready for stealing. But… how to distract the dopes in the camp?

How, indeed. The story about how the following scene got into the movie goes something like this:

Harve Bennett: We need to figure out a way to distract the guards so Kirk can steal the horses.
William Shatner: Yeah, something provocative, something sexy.
Screenwriter David Loughery: [sarcastically] Well, we could always have Nichelle do an “exotic” dance, and lure the bad guys away to stare at her “hot” body…
William Shatner: Perfect!
Harve Bennett: Problem solved! Hey, Bill, let’s go knock back a martini or six. [they leave]
Screenwriter David Loughery: Guys, I was kidding!—Guys? Guys? Oh God, what have I done?

Watch the DVD bonus feature where Loughery talks about how they came up with the idea. I’m almost 100% positive this is exactly how the conversation went.

One of Not-Connery’s dopes is taking a drink when suddenly he hears a lofty singing voice. He looks up and there, silhouetted against one of Nimbus III’s moons, is a female figure doing a fan dance. All of the morons now look up mesmerized, like they’ve never seen a wooo-man before. They gather together in a group and start moving toward the dancing figure, muttering to each other things like “What’s that?” “Damn!” “Is she naked?” Soon they’re clambering up the dune, and, I swear to God, they’re literally calling out “Woman! Woooman!!

So I gather from this that… what, exactly? Nimbus III was colonized entirely by desperate, lonely, brain-damaged straight guys? Huh, so it turns out the Federation didn’t spam the whole galaxy, after all—just Not a great plan, if you ask me. You’d think that forgetting to include women would kind of defeat the purpose of founding a colony.

Clearly something else is going on here. Maybe the whole idea was to lure all the squirrel-molesters and pigeon-fanciers and other social deviants of the galaxy to one isolated planet and trap them there forever. No wonder this place is called the “Planet of Galactic Peace”—everyone else gets to enjoy peace by getting rid of these losers.

As the morons crawl up the slope of the dune on their hands and knees [?], we get close-ups of Uhura’s beefy legs from the front and from behind and, as near as I can tell, that’s actually Nichelle Nichols dancing.

And this is another one of the big problems with the movie as a whole: Everyone’s old enough to qualify for Medicare, and yet they’re still running around and getting naked and rolling around in the dirt like they’re the same age as when they made the original series. Nichelle Nichols certainly looks good for her age here, but I think most Trek fans would prefer these characters presented in a slightly more dignified way.

However, that’s not Nichelle singing—supposedly Nichols was furious she’d been overdubbed. That darn Marni Nixon! She can’t leave anything alone. (Actually, the song being performed here, “The Moon’s a Window to Heaven”, was redubbed by a jazz combo called Hiroshima.)

Uhura’s not really dancing though, in the sense that she’s just lifting up one foot and wriggling it toward the morons, then doing the same with the other foot. But the morons, never having seen a wooo-man before, don’t know the difference, and are delighted. That is, until the rest of the Enterprise gang pops over the edge of the dune and points phasers at them, at which point they all pull comical “OMG we’re so busted” faces. Meanwhile, Uhura suddenly starts channeling Eartha Kitt.

Uheartha: Hello, boys! I’ve always wanted to play to a captive audience!

Ladies and gentlemen, Leticia Van Allen in space!

Caption contributed by scootermark

”Kuzco is dead, right? Tell me Kuzco’s dead. I need to hear these words.”

Mark "Scooter" Wilson

Mark is a history guy, a graphics guy, a guy for whom wryly cynical assessments of popular culture are the scallion cream cheese on the toasted everything bagel of life. He spends his time teaching modern history at Brooklyn College, pondering the ancient Romans at the CUNY Graduate Center, and conjuring maps and illustrations for ungrateful bankers at various Manhattan monoliths. Readers are welcome to guess at reasons why he's nicknamed Scooter, with the proviso that all such submissions are guaranteed to be rather more interesting than the truth. Mark lives in the Midwood section of Brooklyn with a happy-go-lucky, flop-eared dog named Chiyo who is probably, at this very moment, waiting patiently for her walkies.

Multi-Part Article: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

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