|Persis Khambatta (“Ilia”) in a screen
test for Star Trek: Phase II
Have you ever noticed how similar Star Trek The Motion Picture is to Star Trek The Next Generation? Consider…
Decker / Riker: A hotshot first officer, young, impatient, sometimes at odds with the captain. Used to have a relationship with Ilia / Troi.
Ilia / Troi: An alien who used to have a relationship with the first officer. Possessed of special powers dealing with emotions (sexual in nature for Ilia, empathic in the case of Troi).
Spock / Data: Highly logical, dealing with emotions with which he is either uncomfortable or inexperienced, and giving us the view of humanity from the outsider’s point of view.
Kirk / Picard: Very experienced captain who has the complete confidence of his crew.
Music: Perhaps the most direct comparison; the theme music is the same for both.
There’s actually a reason for these similarities. Back in the mid to late 1970’s, Paramount was considering doing a new television series called Star Trek Phase II. At the last minute, after the enormous success of Star Wars, the would-be series was transformed into Star Trek The Motion Picture. They built sets, made costumes, wrote scripts, casted actors, and wrote a series bible. When ST:TNG came around, they recycled many of these elements again for the new show.
More on that would-be series in just a bit…