News from the frontier, 7/15/2007 (Sowards, TMP Commentary)

Jack B. Sowards, 1929-2007
Jack B. Sowards, who co-wrote Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, died July 8 in California. He was 78. Sowards also wrote an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Where Silence Has Lease.” More recently, he taught screenwriting for UCLA’s graduate program.

Sowards once lamented the lack of a face-to-face confrontation between Khan and Kirk in the filmed version of Star Trek II:

“Kirk and Khan may not have met in the film, but they did in my script. You bet your ass. In my script, Khan was more of a mystic than Attila the Hun. I invested Khan with certain powers. He could make you see things which didn’t actually exist. It was a battle of wills, which Kirk ultimately wins when Khan realizes he cannot control his mind. Nobody wins the fight and it ends up as a fight in space with the ships. But they do have this confrontation. It was a 12-page fight that they simply took out and threw away. The fight would have required a lot of special effects, because it was really a mind attack by Khan on Kirk and Kirk’s being able to resist it. He would take it to different places. They would be on a shore somewhere, fighting with whips. They would be in a stone room of a castle. When you got into the whole thing, it was a very expensive process, so I can understand their dropping it. But not the face-to-face confrontation (itself). I could never understand that.”

2007 marks the 25th anniversary of Star Trek II.

RiffTrax without the riffs
The official Star Trek site has made a new commentary track for Star Trek: The Motion Picture-The Director’s Edition available for free download. The commentary is an audio-only file to be played at the same time as the DVD.

The 2007 commentary track features Daren R. Dochterman, David C. Fein, and Michael Matessino, all of whom worked on the upgrades for The Director’s Edition. This is the first time startrek.com has made a new commentary track available for download.

The 2001 DVD included commentary from Robert Wise, Stephen Collins, Douglas Trumbull, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Dykstra.