"Star Trek: The Motion Picture" or _____?

The oft-referred to claim TMP was a remake of TOS' "The Changeling" has never been entirely accurate, since that episode had the advantage of audiences caring about the threat to the crew from Nomad.
Well, it wasn't a shot for shot remake, but the core plot was the same (not forgetting that TMP/Phase 2 was an update of an unused Genesis II script). Earth probe is launched, comes back evolved and is looking for its creator - intending to destroy Earth in the end. There's even a duplicate scene where the communication from the returning probe is too fast to be received. That's what people are referring to.

The main problem with TMP goes back to its inception and discussions of what the movie should be about. Every single BTS book about it shows that it never once approached it from a character standpoint. Every idea and treatment had to be some "event" or giant mind-bending SF concept that got the crew back together. They finally had to mumble some "Spock has a crisis" thing to Nimoy to get him interested. Kirk's arc is vague and show him to have lost his self awareness ("and I intend to keep her?"). And the strongest relationships are among two new characters nobody was waiting on line to see.

And maybe this another reason why I have less investment in TVH. Not just because of the comedy focus (which is a big minus for me) but because there's no strong character core. It's about whales and saving the Earth. Even Star Trek V was about people, even if the execution was flawed. This is why I feel the strongest scene in TMP is the "Spock weeps" moment cut from the theatrical. It's a solid character moment that ties up Spock's arc.

Star Trek (for me) always works best when the stakes for galaxy are low but the characters are high.

Having said all that, I love TMP dearly. It just doesn't feel much like what I watch Star Trek for, but I still consider it in the top 3 of my favorite Trek films. I love the story, the visuals and sense of discovery and the fact that it's mature and dead serious.
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I think Spock has a decent character arc in TVH. His line about rescuing Chekov not being the logical thing to do but being the human thing to do is wonderful, and continues ideas first raised in TWOK and deconstructed in TSFS.