I spent much of 1983 and early 1984 eagerly anticipating the release of the third Star Trek film. I have many diary entries capturing the latest intelligence gathered from the local newspaper, television and magazines. Included below are a sampling of these entries.
17June1983: "Today I caught half of a program on Star Trek 3 (tentatively titled Search For Spock). Leonard Nimoy is the director of the new film which has new equipment and what looked to be a few more Federation vessels. Nimoy has not yet decided if he will actually appear in the film itself. The show will be repeated Monday (perhaps tomorrow too) so I'll have more complete information then. Also today I saw Kirstie Alley in an interview on the Alan Thicke show. She said she "hopes" to be in Star Trek III. I hope so too."
6August1983: "I was reading through the entertainment section of the Citizen today when I came across the big "headline" of the section and, somewhat surprisingly, it concerned the upcoming movie Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. It stated the shooting would begin "in a few weeks" and the whole cast is returning -- Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, Chekov, Sulu and Uhura. It did not say if Nimoy would appear on-screen but he will be a major part of the film since, as I already knew, he is directing the 3rd ST film. Also in the film is Mark Lenard, possibly as Spock's father though I can't be sure. Also appearing is an 85 year-old woman (Dame Judith Anderson is her name) who, Nimoy says, is a crucial part of the film. Harve Bennett is also involved, again, in the production. Nothing was said about Saavik or Drs. Marcus. I hope they have at least small parts in the film."
12August1983: "Today I saw William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy on Global 12 o'clock news. Apparently they were interviewed by David Hartman from Good Morning America and this was a small excerpt. They also had a bit of footage from Spock's death scene (??) in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. ST III: The Search For Spock begins production on Monday August 14!! Both Shatner and Nimoy said little about Spock's situation although they did mention it would be a waste of time if they searched and found nothing. Tongues-in-cheek they announced they would have to think something up over the weekend."
25August1983: "I just heard the end of a report about some sort of accident on the Star Trek III set, perhaps a fire. I believe William Shatner said that 30 seconds more and the set would have been destroyed. Which set, number of injuries, severity of damages and the possibility of delay in production are all unknowns. I hope to hear more (good, hopefully) news tomorrow."
26August1983: "The accident I mentioned yesterday was in fact a calamity -- demolishing 2.5 hectares of the Paramount Pictures studio in Hollywood was destroyed by fire. It demolished old "New York street" sets and Sound Stage 15, where an expensive Vulcan set was just finished being built, had one wall partially burnt before the fire was finally put under control. William Shatner was at the scene and helped douse the flame with fire. He said that "we came within about 30 seconds of losing the set." Fortunately there are supposed to be no delays in shooting which was set to begin in a few weeks. Shatner was practicing his lines when the accident occurred. The fact of the Vulcan set means that probably Mark Lenard will be appearing as Spock's father."
22September1983: "Hey, I just realized today was probably spent filming a scene from the new Star Trek film, The Search For Spock. It makes me feel positively giddy!!"
7October1983: "Today I also bought The Best of Trek #6 which has lots of fascinating articles on Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and the 3rd film, now shooting, The Search For Spock. I also bought the November Starlog from which I learned that...Merritt Butrick is returning for Star Trek 3, though no word as yet on Kirstie Alley as Saavik."
17October1983: "Today a little four-line article caught my eye in The Citizen. It stated that Christopher Lloyd who played the burnt-out drug zany Reverend Jim on Taxi is to play a "key role" in The Search For Spock."
7November1983: "Today I purchased the December Starlog and it had some very important news concerning Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. 1) Kirstie Alley has been dropped entirely from the movie (quite a heavy loss) because of contract disputes but Saavik will continue on in the person of Robin Curtis who looks quite a bit like Alley and from the picture shown, could make a fairly good Vulcan/Romulan. I hope she brings as much authority to the role as Kirstie. 2) The release date after changing from Christmas '83 to Summer '84 to Christmas '84 has now settled to June 8, 1984 which suits me just fine -- it's the last Friday of the school year and second last day of school. I'll try my best to make it to the theatre on that day, if not, the new. 3) Production began on August 15, which means they've almost finished 3 months of work, the approximate time it took to do Star Trek II."
26November1983: "Today Kirstie Alley was on Love Boat so I made an unusual effort to watch the show. It wasn't too hard with her on board."
9February1984: "Today I picked up the March '84 issue of Starlog, the one I've been waiting for now for about a month. Inside there is a 4-page article on Star Trek 3 - The Search For Spock. Though the author has been sure not to give away much of the plot, the pictures help somewhat in giving one a general idea to what the picture is about. From what I've seen so far the picture looks very good. There is a leather-look to the new uniforms which is unlike any other ST uniform but which seems cozy and believable. However, the uniforms and duty jackets of ST II are apparently still in use as well. Perhaps the leather jackets are to be used only on what looks, from the picture, to be a wet, forested area which might be the planet formed in ST II on which Spock is found. The shot may be a publicity photo, I'm not sure, but Kirk and company definitely seem perturbed about something! Sarek seems to be featured quite prominently in the film since he has, at least, scenes on Vulcan and in Kirk's San Francisco quarters. Kirk has a smart-looking royal blue suit in one of the photos as well, and Sarek looks suitably Vulcan in his robes. Saavik, now played by Robin Curtis, looks pretty fierce, though perhaps , again, it is not advisable to judge from one picture. I get the feeling that the Enterprise itself won't be used as much as it was in ST II but that the crew will spend more time in exotic locales from San Fran to Vulcan tot he Genesis Planet. In any case, I can say I am very excited by the project, to say the least! I can hardly wait for June 1. Also, there seemed to have been no major hitches in the shooting schedule. The film began shooting on August 15, 1983 and finished before the projected target in late October."
10March1984: "Oh boy am I ever excited!!!!!!!!!! Yesterday I went out and bought the April 1984 issue of Starlog magazine. Apparently David Gerrold had the extremely great privilege of being the only non-technical personnel to see the very first cut of Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. The film had not yet been edited, did not have any music with it, did not have any fade-outs or any such things, and had very few special effects shots, mostly just black & white lab experiments. Even so Gerrold "loved it and had a wonderful time." From a professional writer like Gerrold that's saying an awful lot. He claimed the best part of the film was found in its dealings with character -- each of the supporting cast shows why he or she belongs on the best ship in Starfleet. Especially good were scenes with Uhura & Sulu. Gerrold goes on to say that on the basis of the few special FX shots present ST III will be the best-looking ST film yet. There are shots of several other Federation starships & also some very evil-looking Klingon cruisers. Gerrold winds up by saying that he feels the film will be "terrific" when all the parts now missing are filled in. So far, so good. The next few paragraphs, however, leave me with a fig feeling of anxiety. Gerrold says that he feels some Star Trek fans will be more upset by some things which happen in the picture than they were by Spock's death at the end of Star Trek II. I can hardly even imagine something which would upset fans more. It would have to be in either the handling of the return of Spock (or perhaps even the absence of his return!), the death of Admiral Kirk (!!!!), the death of the entire cast of the destruction of the entire galaxy! What else could upset the fans of Star Trek more than the death of their favourite Vulcan? Gerrold further states that there is a very bold move made in this film which will set the tone for further adventures in the Star Trek universe. Gerrold specifically states that the picture DEMANDS a sequel and that Star Trek IV will have to start EXACTLY where this film leaves off. This movie will give ST fans something to argue about throughout the summer of 1984. All of the above in one movie! Wow! I can hardly wait! But it's still over 2 1/2 months away. Urgh. Anyway, next issue there will be an article on Klingon warlord Kruge, the lead baddie in ST III. I'll probably learn a bit more about the picture then. The Klingons, by the way, look as if they've changed once again. Now it looks like they have a plate welded to their forehead with less prominent ribbing on top. Their battle-ware also looks somewhat changed. Talking about attire, I should mention that the spiffy wine-coloured uniforms of ST II, along with the duty jackets of that movie, return in Star Trek III. Besides these, the crew has also adopted a nice set of leather clothing which is different than anything before but which I think looks rather sharp. Sarek has a few terrific looking robes which look distinctly Vulcan. All in all, the movie looks really great so far. I only hope that the big surprise David Gerrold talks of fits nicely into the film and doesn't outrage too many people like the death of Spock did two years ago. With Leonard Nimoy & Harve Bennett at the helm I think I & others around the world can rest assured that Star Trek III will hold excitement, humour, awe, horror, pride and surprise in a tastefully delightful combination."
13April1984: "Yesterday I bought...the most recent issue of Starlog, May. It feature Christopher Lloyd as Battle Commander Krudge [sic], the lead Klingon in ST III: The Search For Spock. Basically I like the new Klingon look (the Starlog cover looks particularly menacing) although it looks somewhat like a flat armor plate has been riveted into their heads from some angles. The Klingon commander, I believe, also has aboard his ship a very sick looking "dog". Hmm?! A rather shocking rumour has arisen concerning this third Star Trek picture -- it concerns the destruction of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Last month, David Gerrold wrote saying that something in ST III will anger fans perhaps even more than the death of Spock in ST II. Item 2 -- a letter from a fan lamenting the possibility of the destruction of the Enterprise. Item 3 -- Ken Ralston, designer of model spacecraft, states in Starlog that he dislikes the design of the Enterprise and that a new model will appear in ST III that is his best, design-wise, yet. Although I would really miss the familiar environ of the good ship, I think an exciting and well done destruction could add to the suspense and excitement of the ST series. Also, it makes allowance for new growth, the design of a new bridge, sickbay, etc. But it is still all conjecture, really."
9May1984: "Only 2 weeks until the opening of Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, and only a week and a half after that Star Trek III hits the theatrical screen. I'm hoping that the reports of its quality are not exaggerated and that the movie will garner favourable reviews and marvelous box office receipts so there will be a continuing string on ST films."
14May1984: "Last Friday I bought the June issue of Starlog, containing a four page article on Mr. Saavik (played in ST III by Robin Curtis). Included were a couple of new stills from the newest Star Trek adventure, to be released in only two and a half weeks. Apparently Saavik & Marcus are on the U.S.S. Grissom, captained by one Esteban. In fact, I believe it is these two who first land on Genesis to search for Spock. In one photo, Saavik & Marcus stand over Spock's coffin on the Genesis planet. Also on the planet, Marcus and Saavik are shown scanning the area with their tricorders for life forms. Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait! I wonder how Kirk, McCoy, and the crew of the Enterprise fit into the search. And where do the Klingons fit in? No doubt they will be interested in acquiring the Genesis weapon? Indiana Jones' adventure comes out next week. I'll probably see it too, though possibly not on the very first day. For Star Trek III I'll try my best to be there very early. I might take Friday afternoon off."
18May1984: "I...bought the August issue of DC's Star Trek comic book, dealing in large part with Saavik's story of her early life. Also, the issue serves as a lead-in to next month's adaption of Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, due out in early June. The movie itself is due out in exactly two weeks. I saw my first live action footage of the film today -- a scene on the bridge where Mr. Chekov announces "strange energy readings" in Mr. Spock's quarters. From what I have learned in the past little while I suspect that Spock may not be in his physical form but perhaps may take shape in some other form. It all sounds very exciting. Also in the comic is reference to the term KATRA -- I suspect it may play a major role in the film."
25May1984: "Today I...saw some more video clips from Star Trek III: The Search For Spock; they looked very good. One clip was from the scene where Klingon Commander Kruge (who looks better in live-action then he does in still photos) confronts Kirk in the midst of smoke and high winds on a desolate region of a planet. Also shown was the scene where Chekov, Sulu and Scotty declare that they will follow Kirk & McCoy on their mission. The mission in point is, I believe, the actual search for Spock's body on Genesis though I can't be sure. A rather disquieting note was Leonard Nimoy's statement that part of the advertising for ST III says that this will be the Enterprise's last mission. Nimoy states that he knows not why they have said this, which indicates the Enterprise may not be destroyed. The other alternatives are that ST III will be the last Star Trek movie or that Paramount is trying to spark some sort of controversy over the movie before its release (now less than a week away). I hope the latter is the actual reason, though the Enterprise does take a bit of a beating in one of the clips I saw from a new-fangled Klingon war vessel. I guess I'll just have to wait and see."
26May1984: "Today I had my first ever look at the new newspaper add for Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. It is dramatic, exciting, mystical and highly effective. Featured is a shot of Mr. Spock's face, a battle between a Klingon cruiser and the Enterprise and at the bottom Admiral Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Lt. Saavik, Scotty and, I think, Sulu. The 2 top bills are William Shatner and DeForest Kelley, co-starring James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Merritt Butrick and Christopher Lloyd. It starts, of course, Friday June 1st at the Rideau Centre cinemas. I'm not sure if the movie will be presented in 70mm 6-track Dolby stereo as was Star Trek II. That would be icing on the cake."
28May1984: "Today I bought the June 2-8 issue of TV Guide which, of course, contains an article on Star Trek III. Not much new, though, besides several good pictures and the mention of snowstorms, fires, and earthquakes as some of the special effects which had to be handled by Industrial Light & Magic. One of my friends in class won a double pass to the preview of the film to be held Thursday night at the Rideau Centre. I'll probably go to the first showing Friday which will be either in the morning or the afternoon I hope. That way, I'll be able to miss a bit of school too. I'd be too excited to think otherwise! Only 3 1/2 days left!!!"
29May1984: "Two and a half days left. Star Trek merchandise should be arriving in full force quite soon. I've got almost $25 saved up so far which should last for a little while. I've got to pay for the movie, the comic book, the novel, the soundtrack, and the movie magazine."
30May1984: "The first showing of Star Trek III is at 1:30 Friday afternoon so I should see the movie in about 40 hours from now. I finally saw the commercial for the film today. Though it isn't long it does show Kirk escaping with the Enterprise over the protest of Federation officials, a Klingon vessel firing its phasers as it appears out of nowhere and a Constitution class ship, perhaps the Enterprise, that is streaking through space with only part of its main saucer intact. It looked something like this. [I sketched a rough picture.] I hope it isn't the Enterprise."
31May1984 (!!...): "My last night without seeing ST III. I saw the 1st review of the movie today, given by Leonard Maltin on Entertainment Tonight. He like it very much, calling it absorbing and satisfying science fiction. "
And there you have it -- just shy of a year's worth of anticipation for the film. Although I looked forward to each of the remaining original crew films, I never did repeat the level of excitement documented here. The closest I've come since is probably my anticipation for the 2009 Star Trek sprequel, which I closely followed on the Internet for close to 3 years. But that is a story from another time...