Thursday, January 30, 2014

alternate universe

Here's a bit of Wikipedia trivia about "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country." After the dismal failure of "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" (directed by William Shatner), paramount was scrounging for ideas that would be worthy of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Trek franchise, and Walter Koenig, who played Chekov in the original cast, offered the following story idea for the sixth movie:

Actor Walter Koenig approached [Paramount chief Frank] Mancuso with a new script outline codenamed "In Flanders Fields"; in it, the Romulans join the Federation and go to war with the Klingons. The Enterprise crew, except Spock, are forced to retire for not meeting fitness tests. When Spock and his new crew are captured by a monstrous worm-like race of aliens (which Koenig described as "things that the monsters in Aliens evolved from"), the old crew must rescue them. In the end, all of the characters except McCoy and Spock die.

Crazy stuff. How different would the Trek universe have been if things had ended Koenig's way? Ultimately, Koenig's bleak scenario was put aside, and an idea from Leonard Nimoy (Spock) won the day. Nimoy asked, "What if the Wall comes down in outer space?"—mirroring the 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall. The rest is history. "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" premiered in 1991, the year I graduated from college, and two years after Berlin.

The resulting film had its heart in the right place, and since Nicholas Meyer directed the movie and had a hand in writing the script (see my remarks on Meyer's role in the Trek franchise here), I generally liked it. Still, ST6 had gaping holes in its plot, not to mention some tropes that didn't pass sci-fi muster (a tricorder shaped like a metal detector and used like a vacuum cleaner? Vulcan mind-rape? come on, guys). It wasn't a perfect swan song (I'm especially unhappy with how Uhura was portrayed as incompetent in Klingon, and how McCoy claimed to know nothing of Klingon anatomy), but it served its sentimental purpose.

Still, it's hard not to think about Koenig's dark alternative story.


1 comment:

Elisson said...

I once had a lengthy conversation with Laurence Luckinbill, the guy who played Sybok in Star Trek V, during which I was diplomatic enough not to tell him how much the movie sucked.