star trek V apology

The key to loving Star Trek it to accept that roughly 30-40% of the entire franchise is, quite simply, not good. You roll with the weak seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation to get to the good stuff. You endure season three of the original series because season one was so good. You grit your teeth through the bad movies because Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a legit masterpiece. Heck, this is probably the healthy approach to all fandoms. It allows you to really appreciate the good stuff.

When Star Trek convention-goers gathered in 2013 to rank the films from best to worst, Star Trek Into Darkness rightfully ranked in the bottom spot…and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier rightfully fell right under it. The fifth Star Trek movie starring the original crew, directed by William Shatner himself, is a bad movie, a cringeworthy exercise in how to sabotage everything that makes the original series dynamic work. And now, Shatner has apologized for it. Sort of. Kind of. Not really.

The “apology” comes as part of an Entertainment Weekly feature where actors promote a new project while they say their sorries for a previous debacle. It’s cute and fun and it allows for some entertaining self-deprecation. In this case, Shatner (alongside Henry Winkler) is promoting the new reality show Better Late Than Never. But then you get to his “Sorry About That” for for Star Trek V, which is as perfect a non-apology as you will ever see:

I got the chance to direct a several-million-dollar movie, Star Trek V, and I did not get the help I needed in allocating my budget, so when it came to shooting the ending — needing a good villain and lots of computer graphics — I had run out of money. Sorry about that. I had to use footage that I had already shot — and spit on it a lot. I wanted to give [the audience] earth-breaking granite monsters spewing rocks and fire. Instead, I had a few pebbles in my hand that I threw at the camera.

Ah, you’ve got to love an apology where the opening line blames other people! Look, I adore William Shatner. He’s a hero and a half, a massively entertaining actor who has been making me happy for as long as I’ve been consciously watching movies and television. But Star Trek V is a Bad movie with a capital “B” long before the ill-fated rock monster climax. Like this early sequence, where the Kirk/Spock/Bones triumvirate is reduced to corny, embarrassing slapstick:

More than anything else, Star Trek V is a work of profound ego. While Leonard Nimoy was mostly invisible behind the camera on Star Trek III: The Search For Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Shatner can’t help but make himself the Star Of The Show in every scene of his movie. There isn’t a single scene where Kirk isn’t completely right! The rest of the crew are barely themselves, bumping their heads on low passages and instantly falling for the old “ancient alien claims it’s actually God” trick. Only Kirk – powerful, brilliant, macho Kirk! – knows what to do in any given situation!

Anyway, someone notify me when William Shatner gets around to saying sorry for Spock’s rocket boots or Uhura distracting an army of bad guys by fan dancing. Love ya, Mr. Shatner. Don’t block me on Twitter.

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