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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies I-X

Star Trek Movies I-X Discuss the first ten big screen outings in this forum!

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Old June 3 2014, 08:44 PM   #1
dswynne1
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"Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

I was wonder why Kirk earned the rank of "Admiral" instead of "Commodore" in time for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I remember that in two episodes ("The Doomsday Machine" and "The Ultimate Computer"), there were two starship commanders that had the rank of "Commodore". I assume that part of the reason for Shatner returning for the role of Kirk as an Admiral, was:

a) IRL, the US Navy did away with the rank of Commodore, and thus TMP followed suit.

b) There would not have been that emotional impact of Kirk regaining his command for the V'Ger Mission, had he already had the Enterprise (i.e. the reveal of the refit Enterprise).

c) And if Kirk was already in command of the Enterprise, there would not have been that sharp contrast between him and Decker, especially with Decker pointing out the fact that Kirk may be experienced, but he was also "rusty".

Also, I want to imagine what would have been like had Decker and Ilia survived the V'ger Encounter, and if there could have been a trilogy of films that could have been made before TWOK happened, starting with TMP. Could we, as the audience, seen the transition from the pajama uniforms to the maroon red uniforms? Could we have seen a younger Saavik, introduced early on? And what about Sulu, who, somehow, managed to have a daughter named Demora? Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part, especially in hindsight, but there have been so many missed opportunities in how the movies within the franchise rolled out. Outside of the "Genesis Saga", I have to admit that the film franchise has been rolled out haphazardly, and without a plan that could create a cohesive series.

I mean, couldn't they have Paramount released a new film every 18 months at least, or just film a trilogy back to back, and then release them one a year?

But going back to the point of this thread, was there a reason why Kirk was made an Admiral, and not a Commodore, so that he could have kept the Enterprise?
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Old June 3 2014, 09:07 PM   #2
C.E. Evans
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

People can be appointed to admiral rank. They don't all have to be commodores first, IMO.
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Old June 3 2014, 10:08 PM   #3
The Wormhole
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

dswynne1 wrote: View Post

a) IRL, the US Navy did away with the rank of Commodore, and thus TMP followed suit.
Not quite. The US Navy eliminated Commodore in the 1980s, and TMP does mention Commodore Probert in the Epsilon IX comm chatter.

Could we, as the audience, seen the transition from the pajama uniforms to the maroon red uniforms?
The gray jumpsuits would have been gone by the second movie regardless of when it came out or what it was about. According to George Takei, the jumpsuits were so uncomfortable none of the cast agreed to do TWOK without the promise of new uniforms.

Could we have seen a younger Saavik, introduced early on? And what about Sulu, who, somehow, managed to have a daughter named Demora? Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part, especially in hindsight, but there have been so many missed opportunities in how the movies within the franchise rolled out. Outside of the "Genesis Saga", I have to admit that the film franchise has been rolled out haphazardly, and without a plan that could create a cohesive series.

I mean, couldn't they have Paramount released a new film every 18 months at least, or just film a trilogy back to back, and then release them one a year?
The TOS movie series is just fine the way it is and its release schedule is the norm for movies, with typically two to three years between each movie. And besides, back-to-back trilogies were not done in the 1980s. Or indeed, at all before LOTR.

But going back to the point of this thread, was there a reason why Kirk was made an Admiral, and not a Commodore, so that he could have kept the Enterprise?
What difference would it have made if he were a Commodore? Commodore is still a flag rank, and therefore he would not be in command of the Enterprise, Decker still would. We'd still have the same old song and dance of Kirk meeting with Admiral Nogura to have himself voluntarily demoted to captain so he could take command of the Enterprise. Really, what difference does it make in the grand scheme of things if he started the movie off as a Commodore instead of an Admiral? Aside from Commodore being a more realistic rank for him to have two years after his five year mission ended, none at all.
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Old June 3 2014, 10:11 PM   #4
Armored Saint
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

There was also the rank "Fleet Captain". With the movies, they really dropped this kind of ranks to insist on the gap between the Captains, who are in the action, and the Admirals, who are in their office in Starfleet command.
dswynne1 wrote: View Post
Also, I want to imagine what would have been like had Decker and Ilia survived the V'ger Encounter, and if there could have been a trilogy of films that could have been made before TWOK happened, starting with TMP. Could we, as the audience, seen the transition from the pajama uniforms to the maroon red uniforms? Could we have seen a younger Saavik, introduced early on? And what about Sulu, who, somehow, managed to have a daughter named Demora? Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part, especially in hindsight, but there have been so many missed opportunities in how the movies within the franchise rolled out. Outside of the "Genesis Saga", I have to admit that the film franchise has been rolled out haphazardly, and without a plan that could create a cohesive series.

I mean, couldn't they have Paramount released a new film every 18 months at least, or just film a trilogy back to back, and then release them one a year?
Your suggestions are anachronistic. Example: Demora Sulu is a 90's creation by TNG writers and she was initially supposed to be Chekov's daughter.
The uniforms redesign is part of TWOK creating process. The production wanted to change the uniforms as improvement from TMP and Nick Meyer wanted a militaristic look.

I think you would have preferred to have Phase II instead of the movies.
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Old June 3 2014, 10:19 PM   #5
The Wormhole
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

Armored Saint wrote: View Post
Example: Demora Sulu is a 90's creation by TNG writers and she was initially supposed to be Chekov's daughter.
How would that have worked? Was this in the original version where it was Spock and McCoy accompanying Kirk on the Enterprise B? Why didn't they stick with it anyway? Even with Chekov being there in the final product, there's no real reason they couldn't reveal he had a daughter.
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Old June 3 2014, 10:43 PM   #6
J.T.B.
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

dswynne1 wrote: View Post
I was wonder why Kirk earned the rank of "Admiral" instead of "Commodore" in time for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I remember that in two episodes ("The Doomsday Machine" and "The Ultimate Computer"), there were two starship commanders that had the rank of "Commodore". I assume that part of the reason for Shatner returning for the role of Kirk as an Admiral, was:

a) IRL, the US Navy did away with the rank of Commodore, and thus TMP followed suit.
The US Navy didn't have the rank of commodore while TOS was being produced, either, so I'm not sure that's the reason.

In the book about the making of "Phase 2" there was a memo that basically said the production team had forgotten about the rank of commodore from TOS; Kirk may have been an admiral in TMP for simply that reason.

In-universe, there's no reason to assume Kirk hadn't held the rank of commodore for a time after TOS, before being promoted to rear admiral, which was his intended rank in TMP according to a costuming memo in The Making of Star Trek the Motion Picture.
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Old June 3 2014, 10:59 PM   #7
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

dswynne1 wrote: View Post
I mean, couldn't they have Paramount released a new film every 18 months at least, or just film a trilogy back to back, and then release them one a year?
Sequels and spinoffs weren't all over the place in 1979 like they are now. The only ones I remember then were the James Bond series, Planet of the Apes, and Jaws, which I don't think had done Jaws 3 yet. Empire Strikes Back hadn't shown up yet either. Finding a pattern of releasing films that would be profitable (always the bottom line) hadn't been perfected yet.
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Old June 3 2014, 11:27 PM   #8
SiddFinch1
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

Commodore Kirk while Shatner does commercials for the Commodore 64 computer..cool

seeing Commodore kirk in command of the enterprise on a regular basis...awesome
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Old June 4 2014, 01:22 AM   #9
Armored Saint
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

Melakon wrote: View Post
dswynne1 wrote: View Post
I mean, couldn't they have Paramount released a new film every 18 months at least, or just film a trilogy back to back, and then release them one a year?
Sequels and spinoffs weren't all over the place in 1979 like they are now. The only ones I remember then were the James Bond series, Planet of the Apes, and Jaws, which I don't think had done Jaws 3 yet. Empire Strikes Back hadn't shown up yet either. Finding a pattern of releasing films that would be profitable (always the bottom line) hadn't been perfected yet.
Nimoy already said Star Trek was responsible for the sequel phenomenon in Hollywood. It's not totally false, but it's not only ST (ex: Rocky).

Even James Bond movies before the reboot weren't tied 'em up together.

By the way, films are a touchy medium for dense story arcs. I don't think TWOK would have been that succesfull if the story had absolutely needed a sequel. The "remember" thing was safer.
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Old June 4 2014, 01:23 AM   #10
Sran
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

dswynne1 wrote: View Post
I was wonder why Kirk earned the rank of "Admiral" instead of "Commodore" in time for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The decision to promote Kirk was made to show the passage of time. At TMP's outset, we're reintroduced to the characters and quickly discover that a lot has changed since the five-year mission.
  • Kirk no longer commands the Enterprise but has achieved a much more lofty position as Chief of Starfleet Operations: Will Decker has replaced him as Enterprise captain, a move we eventually learn was suggested by Kirk himself.
  • Both Spock and McCoy have left Starfleet and returned to their respective homes.
  • Kirk's remaining bridge crew members have each been promoted, and the Enterprise herself has undergone a significant refit.
The film takes on the feel of a reunion, albeit a somewhat awkward and forced reunion, something that would not have been possible had Kirk remained in command of the ship during its refit. Additionally, remember that TMP was originally supposed to be the pilot for Phrase II, which would have featured Kirk in more of an advisory role to Decker, initially commanding the ship before leaving for the admiralty full time. This idea was scrapped once the concept was used for a single film.


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Old June 4 2014, 07:44 AM   #11
Lance
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

dswynne1 wrote: View Post
I was wonder why Kirk earned the rank of "Admiral" instead of "Commodore" in time for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I remember that in two episodes "The Doomsday Machine" and "The Ultimate Computer"), there were two starship commanders that had the rank of "Commodore".
Well, it was discussed during pre-production on the aborted series Phase II (whose pilot episode ultimately became the script for 'The Motion Picture'). The general gist was that the production team were unsure of how to believably sell the idea of Kirk being demoted from Admiral to Captain (for the purposes of a new television series of co-current adventures), so the idea of bumping him up to Commodore was discussed as a means of avoiding the issue, as like you say Commodores had already been effectively shown as starship COs back in TOS. I guess in terms of a one-off movie though they figured it just didn't matter much.

I mean, couldn't they have Paramount released a new film every 18 months at least, or just film a trilogy back to back, and then release them one a year?
While it wasn't uncommon for studios to set up this kind of long form production such as with the James Bond series, things like shooting multiple sequels back-to-back wasn't always the done thing back then like it is today. Movies like Superman/Superman II were certainly produced this way (although production was frozen partway through shooting II when they ran out of money and had to release number one to continue), as were for example the second and third Back To The Future movies, but it didn't really become a 'Hollywood standard' until the Lord of the Rings movies in 2001/2002/2003 made the idea seem highly economical. Of course, the flip-side of this is that you need to have a property that can be sold to a studio as being worth the investment. Even the modern Star Trek movies could be shot this way but aren't, because it would be very risky to commit to three movies and having all of them shot back-to-back if you release the first one and it bombs. That's two whole movies that you've already invested big $$$ in and suddenly have next to no chance of a return on.

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Old June 4 2014, 07:59 AM   #12
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

Conversely that's two more movies that give you a chance to recoup more of your investment.
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Old June 4 2014, 08:10 AM   #13
Lance
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

MacLeod wrote: View Post
Conversely that's two more movies that give you a chance to recoup more of your investment.
Well yes, in theory it's a fair point. But can you imagine if (for example) you bought up the rights to make a movie based a big ticket franchise, and you invested in three movies to all be shot together, then you released the first one theatrically and it was such a bomb that it tainted even the possibility of the follow-ups being successful at the box office? The rest of the film (already paid for and shot) is now just an elaborate dust catcher. The only recourse you'd have left would be to release them direct-to-video and hope that they at least make some of their money back, if not eventually actually become profitable. Which might happen, as it would cost less to get the product out there, but it would take longer to get those profit margins back into black. And movie companies can fold before that happens.

It's more about that risk factor. I'm not sure that in 1979 even Star Trek was any less of a risk, despite it obviously having a proven fanbase through the 79 original episodes. Paramount was confident they could make money off the back of a perceived 'sci-fi boom in cinema', but would they have enough faith in the property to say "Star Trek is so big, we'll put our money on the table to shoot two movies together"?

Obviously LOTR was a big enough property (or Peter Jackson a good enough salesman) that the studio was convinced as to it as being worth the investment in three movies. But I would argue there are really very few franchises where that kind of forward risk will reap a reward in the long term. Which is why many of those which have gone this route, like the Back To The Future movie sequels, have only done so because Part 1 was shot and released seperately and proved to already be profitable enough that the risk of shooting the remaining two together was negligable.
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Old June 4 2014, 08:33 AM   #14
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

I wouldn't be surprised if the studio executives in 78/79 weren't considering an ongoing series of movies, as they may have been thinking that "science fiction" movies were just a passing fad.

And my assumption is that with the LOTR movies, while the principal photography was completed, they probably held off spending money on the special effects (which i'd assume were a sizable portion of the budget) until they knew they had a hit.
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Old June 4 2014, 10:29 AM   #15
Lance
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Re: "Commodore Kirk" in TMP?

drt wrote: View Post
And my assumption is that with the LOTR movies, while the principal photography was completed, they probably held off spending money on the special effects (which i'd assume were a sizable portion of the budget) until they knew they had a hit.
^ I suspect you're right, Gollum changed designs between the end of the first movie and the beginning of the second one for example.

But still, two movies worth of principal photography footage sitting around unusable would have been a big gamble to take if The Fellowship of the Ring had turned out to be a flop. I suspect they weighed up all the pros and cons and came to an informed decision that the property had the potential to at least break even. Or like I say, maybe Peter Jackson was just *that* good at talking people around to his way of thinking.

I doubt anyone would've had that much faith in Star Trek. Even when the TOS movies did 'break out' into sort of success, there was a track record of failure (the famous 'curse') which would've tempered any decision to plan ahead further than making one movie at a time.
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