Re: Nicholas Meyer's Interpretation of Star Trek
I would say the point that matters is that while TMP didn't tank it also didn't set a course that TPTB, many critics, and many other people felt the sequels should follow. I suspect if the sequel had been more thematically identical to TMP it might have doomed the franchise, though of course I can only speak in hypothetical terms.
It was the best of Trek, it was the worst of Trek...
"If I lean over, I leave myself open to wedgies, wet willies, or even the dreaded Rear Admiral!"