Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: The Making of the Classic Film is sure to satisfy the needs of the many fans, especially those who consider it the best of the franchise regardless of which crew is helming the Enterprise. I am unabashedly in that camp.
The Making of… starts with Herve Bennett, producer of The Mod Squad and The Six Million Dollar Man, meeting with Paramount executives, which unbeknownst to him was about the direction of the Star Trek franchise because The Motion Picture wasn’t as great a success as they had hoped. A sequel was desired but the powers that be wanted a smoother production, particularly one that didn’t go over budget. Bennett agreed to the offer and began to immerse himself in the series because while he had watched “an occasional rerun…, I’d never seen the original series as it ran.” While screening “faded 16 millimeter prints in the back projection rooms of Paramount,” he decided he would produce a sequel to the first season episode “Space Seed,” which featured the villain Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban).
The authors reveal details from early drafts of Wrath of Khan‘s story and script with characters and plot points that would have been intriguing to see. In addition to Bennett, other new additions to the Trek family get a chapter focus, such as director Nicholas Meyer, a variety of actors including Kirstie Alley (Saavik), and the Ceti Alpha eels. Extended family members Julie Nimoy and Anita Montalban-Smith offer fond remebrances of their respective fathers.
“Starfleet Personnel Files” is a feature throughout the book that spotlights different crew members. The most notable is Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry who had been demoted to executive consultant. Readers can see some of Gene’s suggestions to the script, which were “sometimes followed,” such as pointing out “Kirk would never abandon Khan on such a hostile world,” so an explanation was given for Ceti Alpha V’s harsh conditions.
The book concludes with the reaction to the film and different ancillary products. If there was any doubt how well the film was received, Meyer announced last year he was creating the scripted audio podcast Star Trek: Khan: Ceti Alpha V.
The stories told in the text alone would be enough to recommend Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: The Making of the Classic Film but the numerous pre-production sketches and production photos make it a must own for fans.