I read that the next Star Trek franchise film was going to come out in 2012, and it made me wonder: will they, like a good many sequels coming out these days, set it essentially "the next day" after the events of the last one concluded (like the most recent two James Bond films, and the Crank movies).

An interesting thing occurred in this respect with the series of Star Trek movies that ran during the 1980s. As a background, the first Star Trek film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, hit theaters on December 7, 1979. Well, fine.

The next film to follow, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan come out on June 4, 1982, but was set at some unspecified point in time following the first (though definitely some years later, adjudged by the completely different uniforms and the characters commentary on their own aging). But the next film, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, bowing on June 1, 1984, was set pretty much immediately after the events of the second film -- not more than a few months, in any event, as it began with the Enterprise limping home from the damage received on its "training mission." And again, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home opened in November 26, 1986, but was set mere months at most after the events of the previous film. Finally, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier came out on June 9, 1989, but was also set not more than months after the culmination of the previous entry.

Contrarily, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which opened on December 6, 1991, was set at some indefinite future point following the fifth film, but clearly marked another passage of years -- an interim in which, for example, Mr. Spock had ceased to be a Starfleet officer and had instead adopted the mantle of ambassador, as had his father before him. But, to sum up, the screen time passing between the second and fifth films was perhaps one year in the life of the intrepid Enterprise crew, while the real passage of time for the actors was over seven years -- seven noticeable years (most apparent, perhaps, in the physique of Mr. Scott, who took on a substantial, ahem, undercarriage in that time).

Naturally, this might be chalked up to the fact that that was one hell of a year in the life of the fictional characters -- including one of whom experienced his own death and resurrection. But the ultimate end of the investigation is this: where movies run up the sequels, and run their stories together in time in a way not in reflection of the real passage of time required for the realities of production and marketing and just plain breathing room of their films, then eventually, inevitably, burdens will be brought on in explaining why those characters experience (in-universe) such rapid aging. But perhaps, at least, Star Trek might offer a science fiction explanation in the nature of some form of cosmic particle phlebotinum.


It has been pointed out to me that the opposite phenomena seems to be in effect in the original television series. Episodes were broadcast week to week, but the passage of time across the series would seem to have enveloped at least several weeks, if not several months, between adventures. And so, the crew ought to have aged by several more years than the three for which the series was aired -- a common phenomenon, as well, amongst dramatic television series encompassed of episodic adventures.

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