Jeff Pearlman

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The Truth of Star Trek V

So tonight, in our quest to watch all the Star Trek films, the son and I wrapped Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

The movie was William Shatner’s directorial debut, and—save for about 30 percent of the experience—it’s a steaming pile of dog poop. Which isn’t to say that’s entirely Shatner’s fault. I mean … um … eh … yeah. It’s entirely Shatner’s fault. The plot sucks. The writing is even worse. The special effects are a dropoff from earlier renditions. What’s most striking (at least to me) is the jarring lack of self-awareness brought forth by Shatner.

At the time of the flick’s 1989 release, Captain Kirk (Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) were 58 and Bones McCoy (DeForest Kelley) was 69. Yet there they are—running, punching, jumping, sprinting to the ship, escaping explosions, seeking God and demanding answers. Fuck, I’m 47 and still recovering from a pulled groin that happened three weeks ago. It’s laughable.

But here’s my favorite thing about Star Trek V: Everyone involved knew it blew, but no one could admit such. Just check out some of the promotional appearances from the time. Like this gem. And this one. They’re all happy, smiling, loved working for Bill, awesome working with Bill, terrific movie …

It was all Hollywood nonsense. It the later years, members of the cast admitted Star Trek V sucked. Hell, in the Michael Seth Starr biography, “Shatner,” cast members spare no criticism. “It failed because of the story concept,” said Walter Koenig, who played Chekov. “I don’t think it was well thought out.”

“All we needed was a good script,” added James Doohan (aka Scotty). “Unfortunately, we didn’t have one in V.”

Shatner said he ran out of money, resulting in an ending that looked stupid and unrealistic.

The reviews were not great.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life