May 28, 2021
How Nicholas Meyer’s other time-travel caper inspired The Voyage Home
When Nicholas Meyer was called in to write a new script for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, just weeks before pre-production was due to begin, he must have been struck with a bad case of déjà vu. Leonard Nimoy explained that the story outline he would be working from involved the crew of the Enterprise traveling back to present-day San Francisco for a nice fish-out-of-water comedy. Just a few years earlier, Meyer had made his own directorial debut with Time After Time, a film he had written based on a friend's unfinished novel. In this story, 19th-century novelist H.G. Wells travels back to present-day San Francisco with equally amusing results.
Time After Time had married nice comedy with a distinctly nasty streak, since Wells's burgeoning romance with an emancipated 20th-century woman was threatened by another time-traveler, Jack the Ripper. But tonal differences aside, the films would prove to have a lot in common, and Meyer's script for Star Trek IV (he wrote the "historical" sections, while Harve Bennett provided the 23rd-century wraparound) recycled—and in some cases upcycled—specific moments, and even specific jokes, from his earlier movie.
In this episode of Primitive Culture, host Duncan Barrett is joined by Tony Black for a side-by-side look at these two films. Did Meyer's "second draft" of the time-travel romp succeed in eliminating the flaws of his debut? What does it mean for Spock and Kirk to be mapped onto the roles of Wells and the Ripper respectively? And does our enjoyment of the one film affect how we experience the other?
Tony Black (Editor) Duncan Barrett (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer)