A long-standing mystery, solved at last

Back in the day, there was a phenomenon known as “The Curse of the Odd-Numbered Star Trek Films”.

It was first noticed in the eighties for films starring Jim Kirk and his buddies and labelled so, because fan-opinion (and I concur in this) is that the odd-numbered films were… well, let’s charitably say not as good as the others.

Others would instead go for the words “rubbish” or “terrible” or “so bad I wanted to poke my own eyes out so I would never have to see any more of this”. John Montgomery has even helpfully analysed the IMDb scores, and it does seem to be a valid phenomenon.

So I got to wondering, what could possibly correlate?

Well, let’s look at the first six films.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture – not written by Nicholas Meyer
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan – uncredited rewrite by Nicholas Meyer
Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock – not written by Nicholas Meyer
Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home – co-written by Nicholas Meyer
Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier – not written by Nicholas Meyer
Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country – co-written by Nicholas Meyer

Whaddayaknow? It turns out that for all that time, by looking at the films that weren’t so good, we missed the fact that it wasn’t that the odd films were bad that was the important point – it was that the even ones were good.

And they were all written by Nicholas Meyer.

(Sadly, this analysis falls apart on looking at the Next Generation films. Ah well.)

Letters From America: A good day, on the whole.

originally posted 8th March 2004

Draft Zero of the Enterprise spec is finished.

It’s not a First Draft. It’s not at that level yet. What it has, is enough words to fill fifty pages in screenplay format.

Now that the final “Fade out.” has been typed, I’ve printed it out and read it end-to-end for the first time.

The first act is pretty good, in my humble opinion. Unfortunately the other three-quarters of the script sucks big-style. Genuine queue-up-to-avoid-it type writing.

I read the whole thing for the first time a couple of hours ago. When writing the Zeroth Draft I try to not go back at all if I can avoid it – the temptation is too high to spend your life re-working the bits you know are wrong instead of finishing the damn piece.

But now, reading it end-to-end for the first time, I had my Editor hat on. And the *structure* is mostly there. It’s just the words that need changing.

If I was a showrunner who received this script, I’d fire the original writer and pass it on to the person on my team that was good at dialogue to straighten the damn thing out.

Unfortunately, I’m on my own here.

But I can see where the problems are. Looking at it now as a final piece, I can see what the original author is trying to do in the script. Despite the fact that everyone wears their hearts on their shoulders and baldly states their point-of-view.

So what I’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks is taking the scenes apart and attempting to re-build them with real characters instead of the cardboard cutouts currently serving duty as place-holders.

Then maybe it’ll be worth showing to someone else.

But having said all that, finishing Draft Zero is worth celebrating. It’s a cut-off point, a waystation, a milestone.

So I treated myself. Since I moved into this apartment building, I’ve had my eye upon the big switch in the elevator marked “Emergency Stop”, and I’ve been saving it for just the proper occasion.

Worth the wait.