Star Trek - The Original Series, Vol. 23, Episodes 45 & 46: A Private Little War/ The Gamesters of Triskelion
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"A Private Little War," Ep. 45 - Kirk and company beam down to a primitive planet visited by Kirk 13 years ago. But some of the once-peaceful natives now have sophisticated weapons, courtesy of the Klingons. "The Gamesters of Triskelion," Ep. 46 - Kirk, Uhura and Chekov are enslaved on the planet Triskelion. There they are trained in the art of combat so that their unseen masters, the "Providers," can make wagers on the outcome.
- Special Added Bonus - Original Broadcast Preview Trailers
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The Search For Spock is my second favorite. The Journey Home is my favorite. If we keep going the way we are headed, the only way to see a whale may indeed be to go back in time.
There is a little weakness in the plot as to why a Klingon would risk war with the federation to go after the so-called "weapon" of genesis, and it starts out a little slow, but otherwise, it's a marvelous Star Trek movie.
I like the way this movie adds to the lore around Vulcan mysticism. It presents Kirk without Spock, which is kinda of like ying without yang. But it is the tension of the division of the inseparable duo separated that adds to the movie's tension. This made a marvelous Saturday afternoon.
THEATRICAL RELEASE: June 1, 1984.
BUDGET ESTIMATE: $17 million.
USA BOX OFFICE: $76 million. WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE: $87 million.
THE PLOT: Kirk and Co. disobey Federation orders by stealing the Enterprise from space dock (!!) and heading for the forbidden Genesis Planet (created in the previous film) to retrieve Spock's body and clash with Commander Kruge, a Klingon bent on claiming the secrets of the Genesis Project for his own destructive purposes.
COMMENT: For a 1984 film I admit that the Genesis Planet sets aren't the greatest, but they get the job done. Besides, if you're used to watching the TV episodes they're fantastic. Star Trek was never about outstanding special effects anyway (with the exception of the unique and brilliant "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"); no, Star Trek is about people, their joy of living and their grand spirit of adventure and exploration.
GREAT LINE: Witnessing the emblazed ship go down on the apocalyptic horizon of the Genesis Plane, Kirk asks: "My God, Bones, what have I done?" McCoy responds: "What you HAD to do, Jim, what you ALWAYS do -- turn death into a fighting chance to live."
QUESTION: Just how far does the Saavik (Robin Curtis) go in helping the teenage Spock get through his first Vulcan "pon farr" on the Genesis Planet? The film itself doesn't concretely answer, it simply shows Saavik holding Spock's hand and comforting him. However, since early drafts of "Star Trek IV" featured Saavik remaining on Vulcan because she was pregnant with Spock's child, we can assume that Saavik went ALL THE WAY in helping young Spock (!). Okay, so now the question is: Did she do this out of a sense of Vulcan duty or simply to get her jollies with a young Vulcan stud?
Speaking of Robin Curtis, she plays Saavik much more Vulcan-like (i.e. better) than Kirstie Alley in "The Wrath of Khan" (I never bought Alley as a Vulcan). In truth, Curtis in nothing less than exceptional in this film.
COMMENT: Although early in the story Sarek describes Spock's 'katra' as his "living spirit" and later Kirk refers to it as his "soul," it's clear in the the film that the katra does not refer to spirit or soul in the traditional sense, i.e. one's non-physical life-essence. We know this because, while McCoy possesses Spock's katra, the Vulan's actual consciousness or life-essence is simultaneously within his rapidly-aging regenerating body on the Genesis Planet. Hence, the katra could be accurately described as an incorporeal file of a Vulcan's knowledge and life, which is why Sarek described it as "everything (Spock) knew, everything he was."
FYI: I never bought Merritt Butrick as Kirk's son, David, but he's serviceable. He died of AIDS in 1989 at the young age of 29.
ANALYSIS: "The Search for Spock" is a great Star Trek picture embellished by the welcome return of Trek's quirky brand of humor. The story expertly meshes comedic touches with dead-serious tragedy. It's also thoroughly enjoyable and compelling to see Kirk & crew in the wry and unexpected role of Starfleet rebels, risking everything to honor their fallen comrade. Another highlight is the return of Klingons as major villains, with upgraded make-up no less.
The only problem with this Trek installment is revealed in the title -- there's no Spock, at least as we know him, but the film does a fabulous job of instilling a sense of the Vulcan's lingering presence. The story climaxes with the powerful image of Spock's mates warmly gathering together. This scene is worth the wait where a simple raised eyebrow fills the viewer with incredible warmth and joy (not to mention the shedding of a few tears).
Also, I gotta hand it to the creators for coming up with an inspired and (seemingly) credible way of resurrecting Spock; the Genesis Project was, by happenstance, the perfect catalyst.
FINAL WORD: "Star Trek III" is inexplicably condemned by fundamentalist trekkers as a failure or, at best, mediocre.