26 Years Later: Star Trek V Beams Into Theaters
The Final Frontier is widely regarded as the least successful TOS feature. Despite a genuinely daring and thought-provoking premise -- searching for God -- the general perception was, is and will likely forever be that the film just doesn't work. Too much around the central premise doesn't play as intended. Nothing operational on the Enterprise? Scotty bumping into things? "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" sung around a campfire? Cringe-worthy lines like "On the contrary, gravity is the foremost thing on my mind" or "Please, captain, not in front of the Klingons," didn't help, nor did lackluster visual effects.
Here are some questions to ponder, lines to remember and factoids to absorb...
-- First, was the search for God too big an idea for even Star Trek to tackle?
What did YOU think of the infamous campfire scene?
Everyone on the planet knows this, but just in case: first choice to play Sybok was... Sean Connery. The reference to Sha Ka Ree is a tip of the cap to the actor.
Laurence Luckinbill, who did play Sybok, was the son-in-law of Lucille Ball. It was Ball and her company, Desilu, that first green-lit The Original Series. Speaking to StarTrek.com in 2012, Luckinbill said that he and Ball never discussed Trek as a common denominator betwen them (beyond, of course, Lucie Arnaz, Ball's daughter and Luckinbill's wife). "She said… zero," he told us. "She did not talk about the past. She did not discuss her business, when she was the head of the studio. This was not necessarily just with me. She was done with that, so she didn’t want to talk about that stuff. It was not refusal; it was just not interested."
Star Trek V, in our estimation, was almost redeemed by two memorable Kirk lines, "Excuse me. Excuse me... but what does God need with a starship?" and "Who am I? Don't you know? Aren't you... God?
Runner up: McCoy referring to Spock: "God, I liked him better before he died."
Another good one, from Sybok: "I don't control minds. I free them."
The Final Frontier and Star Trek: The Next Generation filmed next door to each another on the Paramount Pictures lot at one point during production.
George Murdock, who co-starred as God, went on to play Admiral Hanson in the TNG two-parter, "The Best of Both Worlds." The actor died in 2012 at the age of 81.
Charles Cooper, who played Klingon General Korrd, later appeared on TNG as Klingon Chancellor K'mpec in "Sins of the Father" and "Reunion." He passed away at the age of 87 in 2013.
The Final Frontier grossed a strong $17 million its opening weekend, but tallied only $52 million during its entire theatrical run.