Hello and welcome to Truth OR Myth, a Star Trek web series that looks at the Truth, or canon, information to dispel any myths that have surfaced on any given topic. In today’s episode, we’re taking a look at Star Trek: Nemesis in an effort to better understand their place in MY Star Trek History.
Star Trek: Nemesis was supposed to be the TNG movie to revitalise the franchise… To boldly take the Next Generation crew outside of their well-established box. But unfortunately, like most well-intentioned plans, it completely backfired and spelt what appeared to be the end of the Star Trek franchise for good. But what are my thoughts on Star Trek: Nemesis, well stay tuned and find out!
Star Trek: Insurrection wasn’t a failure, but it wasn’t exactly a success either. Most fans that had watched that movie gave it a resounding average rating, citing it as feeling like an average TNG episode, rather than even feeling like a movie.
And with viewership and ratings dwindling on both Star Trek: Voyager and their newest series Star Trek: Enterprise, the powers that be wanted a Movie to ensure the future of the TNG movies as a moneymaker… Basically they needed proof that Star Trek was still a viable franchise for them.
They wanted something completely different, new and exciting to attract the youngsters while holding on to the fan base through using the TNG crew. To this end, they hired on John Logan. Logan was an ardent Star Trek fan who would write the screenplay for Star Trek: Nemesis, sharing the story credit with Rick Berman and Brent Spiner.
Stuart Baird would be hired on to direct the film. LeVar Burton and Marina Sirtis have both criticized Baird for not being knowledgeable about the Star Trek universe at all. Stating that Baird had not even watched a single episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Sirtis said that TNG was about the relationships of the crew, and Baird didn’t take that into account at all. And Burton remarked on how, during the first six weeks of shooting Nemesis, Baird kept calling him “Laverne” and kept referring to his character Geordi LaForge as an alien.
Production designer Herman Zimmerman described Baird as “a really good editor,” and before they began shooting Nemesis Baird was very charming. But as soon as cameras started rolling Zimmerman says Baird became impossible to work with as nothing satisfied him. Baird would time and time again defend himself by saying, “I wanted to make a film that stands alone and doesn’t rest on all the past history. I know the fans take Star Trek seriously. And I, in turn, took it very seriously as well… I gave them two hours of entertainment, with as much bang for your buck, and thrills, spills, emotion, and humour that I could squeeze into them. That was my task, it certainly wasn’t to get too precious about it.”
I think that defence in itself shows how Baird truly didn’t understand Star Trek or it’s fans, proving Sirtis, Burton and Zimmerman correct about him… Star Trek is an adventure series, but not just that. Star Trek is an intelligent Adventure Series, that comments on current events in our world using clever SciFi storytelling as it’s vehicle. Nemesis didn’t do that.
First, the story is probably the weakest of any Star Trek films to date. In order to make excitement for its audience, the story is all over the place, with such glaring plot holes and inconsistencies, that you could fly a Galaxy Class starship right through them. Brent Spiner for his part was getting older. And he had realized that playing a non-ageing android would become more and more of a problem going forward. And so he wanted his character to die in this movie. And while I understand Spiner’s Position, as we all know the more he played Data, the more they would begin to comment on how Brent himself was ageing, the way Data’s death played out on screen, didn’t honour the beloved character in the way it should have.
Instead of being an Epic end to Epic character, Data’s death felt more shoehorned in, with the Movies ending furthering this feeling by having B4, Data’s brand new bother suddenly appear to be the re-birth of Data… Basically Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock wrapped into the last 10 minutes of this movie. It felt very unbalanced.
The movie had a LOT of elements that could have been great. The idea of Picard ageing, having to deal with his younger evil clone. B4, the android that was basically Data when he was first brought online. Riker and Troi finally tieing the knot and preparing to head off on their own adventures leaving the Enterprise for Riker to command the U.S.S. Titan. All great ideas, but they simply didn’t come together into what they should have.
Instead of a thought-provoking story, that could make us, the audience consider the implications of ageing and moving on to new horizons, dealing with who we were versus who we had become and celebrating the TNG crew and all the missions we had joined them on, we got Picard driving a dune buggy and cliche villain that almost rivals Khan from Star Trek: Into Darkness in its ridiculousness.
Anyone who’s watched this channel over the years knows I’m a starship lover, and that the Sovereign Class is my all-time favourite Starship design and id be remiss if I didn’t say that I absolutely loved the Battle between the Enterprise and the Scimitar, cause I really did. It was great to finally see the Enterprise Fight in all its glory and see exactly what that starship could do!
But again, when you step back and consider that battle, you quickly realise that the story behind it was also very very weak. Questions like, how did the Remans build this massively overpowered starship without the Romulan Senate knowing about it? How did they overcome the firing while cloaked problem that the entire Romulan Star Empire couldn’t solve? Why did Shinzon decide to fire at the bridge when he needed Picard so badly? And the most important question, where did that endless pit at the bottom of the Enterprise that Riker throws the Viceroy down come from?
Shinzon is a badly written character really. His motivation in the movie is to live and destroy the Federation, presumably to outdo Picard, the shadow winning over the light. Yet the entire movie he stumbles around seemingly uninterested in actually achieving his own goals. It’s bizarre. I mean he fakes wanting peace talks to lure the Enterprise to Romulus. He then invites basically the entire command crew for the most dramatic reveal ever made. He then has a lovely dinner with Picard, where he could have easily abducted him there, but instead send him back to the Enterprise and mind rapes Troi.
Then FINALLY he takes Picard… Beaming him off the ship while Picard is in a group that would notice the shimmer effect. Meaning the Enterprise would go to alert status and try to retrieve Picard almost immediately. But of course, Shinzon has a plan, he’ll use the cloaking device so the Enterprise can’t do anything about it. Then he decided to talk to Picard again, then goes off again to wait for whatever preparations need to be done. Shouldn’t all the prep work already be done? Of course, if it was, then Picard would be dead and Data pretending to be B4 couldn’t have saved Picard.
Getting back to the Enterprise on a stolen Scorpion fighter, the Flagship speeds towards an assembled fleet, while Shinzon simply stays behind watching the Enterprise go… The reason? Apparently the Enterprise has set course through the Basin Rift, an area of space where communications won’t work for whatever reason, meaning the Enterprise can’t call for help.
How about knocking the Enterprise out of warp right outside of Romulus? And then Jamming communications? I mean even if Picard could send off a distress call, it would be a while before that fleet got the transmission and was able to intercept. And even the assembled Star Fleet doesn’t make much sense… I mean aren’t they themselves monitoring the Enterprises Progress? Shouldn’t they have seen it disappear into the Basin Rift and then be able to calculate exactly when it should re-emerge? And when it didn’t, wouldn’t someone say Uhm, something most be wrong, let’s go! I mean the Scimitar has an ultimate doomsday device on it that Starfleet can’t possibly allow to exist…
See endless problems, and this is just a quick breakdown of a small amount of the movie. What Baird and Logan failed to understand was the intelligence of the Star Trek fandom, as I said before. Star Trek was never made or designed to be a simple thoughtless adventure. It had been building on itself since the mid-1960s, setting criteria for what Star Trek needed to be and how it approached adventure.
I get the idea of wanting to bring in new fans and revitalizing the franchise to keep it going and making money, but alienating the existing fan base was not the way to do it. Say what you will about Star Trek: 2009, but it did basically achieve its goal. It brought the majority of the original fan base to theatres while creating and encouraging an entirely new generation of Star Trek fans to come into the fold. And Id even says that Star Trek: 2009’s story wasn’t the strongest either… But Nemesis simply felt like a slap in the face to its fans while at the same time not bringing a large chunk of new fans into the family.
Once word started getting around about how bad this movie truly was, most fans just gave up on Star Trek, opting to throw in their DVD sets and live past adventures, rather than be disappointed with a new adventure that would taint their feelings on what came before. It was a sad end to a series and a crew that had to lead the way for fandom for such a long time. And as fans, we all settled into the idea that Star Trek: The Next Generation was over and that perhaps even Star Trek itself was at an end. Of course, neither was meant to be…
So what do I think about Star Trek: Nemesis? It was an okay movie, but a terrible Star Trek film. When I decide to watch it, I always skip to the end battle, simply mindlessly revelling in what the Enterprise-E can do. For me, it was an easily forgotten mistake, a seeming end to an era, that thanks the prophets didn’t become the end of TNG’s story…
Thank you for watching today’s episode of Truth or Myth, what did you think of Star Trek: Nemesis? What would you have changed or done differently?
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