For my final post commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of “Star Trek” this month, here are twenty-one of my favorite scenes from the six films featuring the original show’s cast (often identified as “TOS,” 1979-1991) and the three films featuring the “alternate” original-series cast (aka “AOS,” 2009-present).
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979): Disco Bones. I don’t believe there has ever been a satisfactory explanation (other than the time when the film was made, of course) as to why Bones (Dr. McCoy) has a beard and is wearing disco-friendly attire when he first appears in TMP. Whatever the reason, DeForest Kelley somehow managed not to look nearly as ridiculous as he might have.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979): Spock’s Arrival. I’m not sure if I have ever loved a Vulcan outfit more than the one Spock wore when he returned to the Enterprise after many years of being away from active duty. (The iciness in Spock’s demeanor is due to a long time spent on his home planet, purging himself of emotions.)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979): This Simple Feeling. Anyone who has watched this scene and not felt even a slight bit emotional clearly does not love Kirk or Spock nearly enough. Kudos to Nimoy and Shatner for carrying the scene so beautifully.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982): KHAAAAAN. Ah, yes, Captain Kirk’s infamous scream.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982): Best Friends Forever. Tears, tears and more tears.
Star Trek III: The Search of Spock (1984): Stealing Their Own Ship. The crew works together to steal the Enterprise away from their own space station and embark on a mission back to the Genesis planet (from Star Trek II, where Spock’s “dead” body was left) and then onward to Vulcan, where Spock’s soul can be rejuvenated. The best part of this scene: Uhura finally contributes more than just being a glorified receptionist.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984): McCoy’s Greatest Moment. If I had to pick a single scene from either the original TV show or any of the original cast’s movies that had DeForest Kelley’s finest acting as Dr. McCoy, it would be the first scene from this clip. As the Enterprise brings Spock to Vulcan to rejoin the body with the mind (currently encased for safekeeping inside McCoy’s head – it all has to do with the events from the end of Wrath of Khan), McCoy displays true tenderness. Below the veneer of frustration, the good doctor really does care for his comrade. I hope that Leonard Nimoy was proud of his work as a director here.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986): Taking Care of Business. Leonard Nimoy continued his top-notch track record as a director with Star Trek IV. Clad in an 80s headband and stuck on a bus with Captain Kirk (they time-traveled back to 1986… don’t ask), Spock knows exactly how to take care of a punk fool. This scene also takes pains to note that Kirk is well-acquainted with classic literature. Good times.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986): Not the Hell Your Whales. There are too many terrific things happening in this video to properly explain them all. This, my friends, is my favorite “Star Trek” movie by a mile.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986): Hello, Computer. Scotty, the dear old sweetheart of the Enterprise, displays his A+ knowledge of archaic technology.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986): Star Trek via the Keystone Kops. The gang must work together to break Chekov out of a 20th century hospital. Fun times abound.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989): Camping Fun. Never forget the “Star Trek” movie that William Shatner co-wrote and directed. Mountain climbing (gloriously explained and remixed here)… jet-powered boots… “marsh melons”… McCoy’s last line in the second video. All so superb.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989): Adorable Things. Apparently it was Shatner’s prerogative to make sure that Kirk/Spock really was a part of the canon.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991): The Final Farewell. I can’t imagine a better ending for our beloved Enterprise crew, right down to Captain Kirk’s ongoing sense of wonder and joy at exploring the universe (the Peter Pan quote “…and straight on ’til morning”) and the extra special touch during the last minute.
Star Trek (2009): First Meeting. I like how the first of the reboots sets up Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock’s (Zachary Quinto) first – and rather negative – encounter at Starfleet. Bonus: Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, doing the role justice.
Star Trek (2009): Chekov at His Best. I know everyone loved Anton Yelchin’s interpretation of Ensign Pavel Chekov, and this is one of the character’s nicest showcases.
Star Trek (2009): Spock Meets Spock. In the first film of the rebooted series, the undeniable high point was getting to see Leonard Nimoy reprise his role as our beloved Spock. Obviously that’s kind of strange, but somehow – because I still don’t totally understand the time-space mechanics of this – Zachary Quinto’s Spock is able to coexist in the same universe as the elder “Spock Prime.”
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013): Respecting the Chair. The newest entries in the “Star Trek” franchise continue the tradition of employing excellent character actors; Bruce Greenwood, as Captain Christopher Pike, is no exception. (If you’ve been watching TV this year, you may have seen Greenwood play Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti on FX’s “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.”)
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013): Wrath of Khan Redux. I have a lot of problems with this film from the rebooted series – not the least of which is the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch, of all people, as the character Khan Noonien Singh – but I did love the homage to the famous ending from Star Trek II. In this case, there is a twist: it is Kirk who absorbs a potentially fatal amount of radiation and Spock who reacts so emotionally to the impending loss of his friend.
Star Trek Beyond (2016): Survival. I love the way the AOS “Star Trek” movies depict Spock’s and McCoy’s contentious bond. This scene is yet another enjoyable example.
Star Trek Beyond (2016): Meeting Jaylah. One of the benefits of Simon Pegg co-writing Beyond’s screenplay is that he was able to incorporate a new, strong woman (or, more accurately, female alien) character, Jaylah (played by Sofia Boutella). She is a warrior who also has a sensitive side and she delivers some of the film’s best (and occasionally funniest) lines. Moving forward in this series, I hope that Jaylah returns and that she and Uhura continue to be multifaceted characters.