Guilty Pleasures: Steve Hockensmith

You want a guilty pleasure? I’ll give you a guilty pleasure. I’ll give you a pleasure so guilty you could blackmail me with it. A pleasure so guilty it ought to get the electric chair.

If you know me and have any respect for me, prepare yourself. Your image of me as a sane, moderately well adjusted man of reasonable intelligence is about to be shattered forever. The next time you see me, you’ll either burst out laughing or turn around and run.

My friends…I like Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

It’s the one directed by William Shatner.

It’s the one where Capt. Kirk supposedly meets God.

It’s the one where Capt. Kirk throws a triple-breasted catwoman onto a bumper pool table full of water.

It’s the one where Capt. Kirk gets lit on bourbon and makes fart jokes.

It’s the one where Capt. Kirk tries to hug Mr. Spock, only for his Vulcan friend to tell him, “Not in front of the Klingons.”

It’s the one where Mr. Spock eats marshmallows and sings “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

It’s the one where Scotty knocks himself out because he forgot where the Enterprise’s sewage pipes are.

It’s the one where Uhura seduces a band of nomadic nogoodniks by doing a nude fan dance.

It’s the one where Sulu and Chekov sexually harass a she-Klingon with Buns of Steel.

It’s the one where the special effects look like test footage so bad even Babylon 5 wouldn’t use it.

In short: It’s the one that’s indefensible. So I won’t try to defend it. All I can do is explain myself.

I am a Star Trek fan. Obviously. Of the 542 people on the planet who have watched and enjoyed Star Trek V, 541 of them are Trekkies/Trekkers/Trekunauts/whatever. The 542nd was Kim Jong-il, and we all know that guy was a couple diliuthm crystals short of a fully operational matter/anti-matter intermix.

Though I hopped off the Trek fan bus 10 minutes into Voyager and didn’t get back on until the J.J. Abrams revamp, it’s still very, very easy to push my nostalgia button. So a Trek movie would have to be pretty damned crappy to give me no pleasure whatsoever. And while Star Trek V does its best to live down to that, it does have genuine virtues.

It’s a mess, but at least it’s an energetic mess.

It has a beautiful, majestic Jerry Goldsmith score.

It has an interesting villain (a cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Vulcan played with wild-eyed gusto by Laurence Luckinbill) who thinks he’s doing the right thing and never twirls his mustache. (You just have to ignore the stuff about him being Spock’s half brother.)

It invokes Star Trek’s original mission statement in that it’s actually about a bold quest for knowledge and not just FX aliens blowing stuff up.

It doesn’t really have Capt. Kirk meeting God. He meets a powerful alien something-or-other that’s manipulating people’s notions of God. Why do critics always get that wrong? It’s spelled out pretty clearly in the film. Not God. Fake God. Real-strength-is-in-ourselves humanist message. It’s all right there on the screen, people. Geez.

And last but not least, it’s got Capt. Kirk getting lit on bourbon and making fart jokes. Come on — like that could really be a bad thing! Kind of makes you want to see the movie, doesn’t it?

Steve Hockensmith is the author of several guilty pleasure novels, including the New York Times bestseller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls and the Edgar Award finalist Holmes on the Range. He blogs (when he feels like it) at You can also follow him on Twitter.