Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)



Star Trek IV starts with our heroes on planet Vulcan, loading up to go home and face punishment from the Federation for their hijacking of the Enterprise and its subsequent destruction, as well as the sabotage of the Excelsior.  As they approach Earth, they find that a giant space probe is threatening to destroy the planet, emitting a signal that those on Earth are baffled how to respond to.  It is determined that the probe is sending messages in the language of humpback whales, which have been extinct for over 200 years.  With seemingly no obvious solution, Kirk and crew decide to time warp back to the late 20th Century to snatch a couple of humpbacks to bring back with them in the hopes of saving the Earth.  They discover two whales in captivity at a San Francisco Cetacean institute. Still, they have only a limited amount of time to figure out how to transport these whales in tons of seawater, in addition to needing to harvest enough nuclear energy to send their tapped out ship back to the future. Leonard Nimoy directs.


Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) | Leonard Nimoy



Star Trek III starts off with the weary Enterprise crew returning home after their near-death battle with Khan, and the actual death of Spock, whose body had been torpedoed to the Genesis world, which was a newly transformed planet, formerly without life.  While all involved are a bit worse for wear, the biggest effect on a crew member seems to be with Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), who is exhibiting strange behavior that suggests he may be cracking from the experience, babbling something about returning to Spock’s homeworld of Vulcan.  Spock’s father, Sarek (Mark Lenard), is convinced that Spock’s “essence” has somehow been transferred to another before his death through a mind-meld, which would explain McCoy’s behavior.  With an unknown life form recently found on the Genesis planet, Kirk (William Shatner) wants to visit and find out if Spock’s body is also reincarnated, but the instability of the area makes it off-limits to anyone but science officers.  Kirk and company must hijack their old ship, against orders, but soon finds that murderous Klingons have discovered news of the Genesis Project, and are willing to kill anyone in order to gain information on the process. Leonard Nimoy directs.


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) | Nicholas Meyer



With Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the series took a swing in the exact opposite direction from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, putting things on a raw emotional level. This is a sequel, not of the first film, but of an original “Star Trek” episode, “The Space Seed”, also starring Ricardo Montalban in the Khan role. Now, it is 15 years later, and Khan and his men are marooned on a desert planet which is slated as an experiment in the Federation’s Genesis project. This project is actually a bomb of sorts that can take any uninhabited planet and make it habitable for life as we know it, transforming it into a tropical paradise. Khan hijacks a small cruiser piloted by Chekhov (Walter Koenig) and the duel between Khan and Kirk (William Shatner), the man with whom he is filled with hatred, for control of the bomb and for sheer revenge. Nicholas Meyer directs.


Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) | Robert Wise



Fast approaching Earth is a cloudlike alien entity that has destroys all that approaches its nebulous form.  The not-quite-fully-refitted Enterprise is the closest vessel available in its approach toward Earth. Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) pushes his way to take over the mission over the man he picked for his successor as the captain, Willard Decker (Stephen Collins).  Kirk makes every attempt to reason with this living entity, who goes by the moniker, V’ger.  V’ger abducts the Enterprise’s navigator, Ilia (Persis Khambatta), who then returns in a mechanical form, giving voice to the entity.  The bad news: V’ger wants to rid the Earth of all the carbon-based life forms, effectively ending life as we know it for everyone on the planet unless Kirk and company can save the day. Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and Nichelle Nichols return to their iconic roles. Robert Wise directs.


Dragnet (1987) | Tom Mankiewicz



In this semi-spoof sequel to the classic TV show, “Dragnet”, Dan Aykroyd isn’t playing Jack Webb’s character, Joe Friday, in this film, but rather, his nephew, with the same name and personality.  He’s assigned a roguish new partner named Pep Streebeck (Tom Hanks) with which to fight crime with, though he’s of a new breed of a police officer, not really respecting the rule of law that Sergeant Friday does to his core. 

Their first case together sees them trying to crack a slew of recent murders in Los Angeles, ostensibly done by a mysterious cult known simply as P.A.G.A.N., (People Against Goodness and Normalcy) as the calling cars they leave behind at the scenes of their crimes suggest.  Signs begin to point in the direction of a smarmy TV evangelist named Rev. Jonathan Whirley (Christopher Plummer) and a smarmy smut merchant named Jerry Caesar (Dabney Coleman).  Friday and Streebeck rescue a sacrificial virgin, Connie Swail (Alexandra Paul), at one of the P.A.G.A.N. gatherings, and for the first time in his life, Sgt. Friday has found someone wholesome enough to consider as his girlfriend, though he has now become too involved to think clearly — or play things by the book when the heart is involved.


Get Smart, Again! (1989) | Gary Nelson



In this “Get Smart” sequel movie made for network television, KAOS makes a comeback in a world that hasn’t been terrorized by them since CONTROL took them down and put themselves out of the international terror business.  Recurring “Get Smart” actor Bernie Kopell returns as Maxwell Smart’s (Don Adams) main nemesis Conrad Siegreid, who leads the new KAOS after it has been bought out in a corporate takeover and is now encountering budget cuts requiring a quick influx of cash. Siegried launches his own plans for world domination with the formula to create a Weather-Control Machine, which gives them the power to adjust the climate anywhere in the world as they see fit, but willing to stop targeting places like the interior of the White House for a ransom of $250 billion to be paid within seven days. Barbara Feldon, Dick Gautier, Robert Karvelas, Harold Gould, King Moody, and Kenneth Mars also appear.


The Nude Bomb / The Return of Maxwell Smart (1980) | Clive Donner



Maxwell Smart (Don Adams), the dimwitted super-spy from the hit TV series from the 1960s, “Get Smart” returned in 1980 for a brand new, racier adventure.  Entitled The Nude Bomb, it has lost that title over the years in favor of the more TV-programming friendly The Return of Maxwell Smart.  The gist of the film is that an agent from the super-terrorist organization, KAOS, is threatening to rid the world of all clothing if demands aren’t met, using a bomb capable of destroying all forms of fabric.  It’s up to Agent 86 of PITS, Maxwell Smart, to put an end to these nefarious plans, although wherever he turns, trouble seems to follow.  He suspects there may be a double agent trying to put a wrench in the works, but who?

Andrea Howard, Dana Elcar, Vittorio Gassman, Norman Lloyd, Sylvia Kristel, Rhonda Fleming, Pamela Hensley, Bill Dana also appear in this film directed by Clive Donner.

Erratum Note: Writer/producer Alan Spencer reached out to me on Twitter to let me know that a comment I made about “all” Eugene Roche’s scenes being re-shot after his departure due to illness is not entirely accurate, as you can see him in a few long shots. He recommends the new Kino Lorber Blu-ray release of The Nude Bomb for a vast wealth of information on the making of the film.

Although I released this episode on 12/13/19, three days after the release of the Blu-ray on 12/10/19, I did the research on The Nude Bomb and recorded the episode approximately two weeks prior and did not have the Blu-ray’s supplemental material or Alan Spencer’s commentary to consult, so I do apologize for this discrepancy.

If you’re interested in the most definitive take on The Nude Bomb, please check out the Kino Lorber release: https://www.kinolorber.com/product/nude-bomb-aka-the-return-of-maxwell-smart-4k-uhd


The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988) | David Zucker



The comedy writing team of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker brought this first of a trilogy, based on their short-lived 1982 TV show “Police Squad”, of zany screwball comedies to Hollywood in 1988, offering plenty of sight gags, plays on words, pop culture sendups, and downright silly slapstick.  Leslie Nielsen returns to star as Lt. Frank Drebin, who seems to have a high success rate in closing his cases despite being an overconfident buffoon. His latest case involves trying to prevent the assassination of Queen Elizabeth II while on a visit to America. A hunch leads Drebin to look into wealthy philanthropist Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban), who Frank thinks is also a scam artist. Drebin ends up falling for Ludwig’s beautiful but klutzy assistant, Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley). George Kennedy and O.J. Simpson also appear.

 


Curse of the Pink Panther (1983) | Blake Edwards



Ted Wass stars as New York City police sergeant Clifton Sleigh, who ends up getting selected by an Interpol computer that is choosing the second-best sleuth in the world to use to find the missing best sleuth, Inspector Clouseau. Except Sleigh isn’t the best, as Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) deliberately sabotaged the computer to try to find the worst and assure the whereabouts of Clouseau remains a mystery.  Meanwhile, Clouseau is still alive in the care of health spa operator Countess Chandra (Joanna Lumley), who aims to change his looks through plastic surgery. Meanwhile, the criminal element of the French underworld tries to take out Sleigh before he can find success in bringing their nemesis back, Inspector Clouseau. Blake Edwards co-writes and directs this attempt to continue the Pink Panther series beyond the death of star Peter Sellers.


Trail of the Pink Panther (1982) | Blake Edwards



Trail of the Pink Panther is a film done nearly two years after the death of Pink Panther franchise star Peter Sellers, compiling the best clips and unused outtakes from prior films, along with new material to hang together a plot around the. That plot involves the theft of the infamous and priceless Pink Panther diamond from the fictional country of Lugash, and Chief Inspector Clouseau, at the request of the president of Lugash, is brought in yet again to investigate its whereabouts, against the wishes of Commissioner Dreyfus. In the course of the globe-hopping investigation, a plane carrying Clouseau goes down into the ocean, where it is presumed he might have finally met his fate. A television reporter is called forth to talk to those who knew Clouseau well, from co-workers to those he helped put away, as well as those who knew of his activities prior to joining the police, from his childhood upbringing to becoming a resistance fighter for France in World War II. Herbert Lom, Joanna Lumley, David Niven, and Robert Loggia also appear. Blake Edwards directs.


Who’s Harry Crumb? | Paul Flaherty



John Candy plays Harry Crumb, the bumbling son who never quite lived up to the reputation of his sleuthing father and grandfather in his family’s long-standing detective agency. Instead of running the company, he’s been relegated to being a lowly trainee as their Tulsa office. Ineptitude is just what the CEO of the company, Eliot Draisen (Jeffrey Jones), in Los Angeles wants from an investigator for reasons of his own. Draisen flies out Crumb to Los Angeles to crack the case involving the kidnapping and ransom of Jennifer Downing,  the beautiful heiress daughter of P.D. Downing (Barry Corbin) and his philandering new wife Helen (Annie Potts). Crumb begins to use his penchant for disguises to get to the bottom of things.


Fletch Lives (1989) | Michael Ritchie



Fletch (Chevy Chase) quits his job as an investigative reporter when he learns he has inherited his aunt’s expansive plantation estate in Louisiana called Belle Isle.  Unfortunately, he arrives to find that the property is completely run down through many years of lack of upkeep, though there are offers for the land from mysterious sources. When the executor of the will ends up dead in Fletch’s bed, he becomes the top suspect in the murder. He soon learns that the reason for foul play is likely because someone out there desperately wants Fletch off of the property, with the main suspect being a local television evangelist Jimmy Lee Farnsworth (R. Lee Ermey), who has plans for the land to expand his Bible-based theme park. Fletch decides to put his nose for sleuthing to good use to get to the bottom of who wants the land bad enough to be willing to kill for it, and why. Michael Ritchie returns to direct this sequel to 1985’s Fletch.


Fletch (1985) | Michael Ritchie



Chevy Chase plays a Los Angeles Times investigative reporter named Irwin M. Fletcher (he prefers to be called by his nickname, “Fletch”) under the pseudonym of Jane Doe. While working undercover trying to uncover the secret to a major beachside drug ring, Fletch is approached by a wealthy businessman named Alan Stanwyk (Tim Matheson) who thinks he is a transient and makes him an offer of $50,000 to kill him. The story is that he has bone cancer and doesn’t want to be around to enjoy the most painful aspects of the disease and wants his wife to get the insurance on it by getting killed. Sensing another scoop, Fletch agrees and soon learns that the two stories he is covering are almost one and the same. Michael Ritchie directs this silly but witty comedy.


Outrageous Fortune (1987) | Arthur Hiller



Shelley Long plays prissy longtime acting student Lauren Ames who has never gotten an actual gig, finally finding some hope when she makes her way into a prestigious drama class led by an all-time great international acting coach. Bette Midler co-stars as Sandy Brozinsky, a mouthy, earthy waitress who also suddenly finds herself in the same class without any of the talent or desire to be there. The two have a personality clash immediately that only gets worse once it is discovered that they are both in a relationship with the same dreamboat of a man, Michael Santers (Peter Coyote), who ends up faking his death for reasons the ladies have to put aside their petty differences to discover, mostly to make him choose between them. Their collaborative adventure sees them go on a cross-country trip only to find that there is so much more to Michael they never knew, something which gets them on the run from KGB agents and the CIA to hopefully come out alive, with the MacGuffin being a toxin that can destroy all vegetation within miles with just a few drops. Arthur Hiller directs from a Leslie Dixon script.


Real Men (1987) | Dennis Feldman



James Belushi stars as Nick Pirandello, a crude smart-ass that just so happens to be one of the country’s top CIA agents, who is ordered to recruit a mild-mannered suburban insurance salesman father, Bob Wilson (John Ritter), a lookalike for a recently iced agent, to join him on a secret mission that may have interplanetary implications that may result in the end of the world as we know it. But Bob is such a sweet-natured man, he needs a crash course in toughening up to the task, which Nick must do in order to achieve the mission’s success.  Meanwhile, Bob thinks Nick is off his rocker, particularly when he begins talking like the case involves aliens from outer space. Dennis Feldman writes and directs this zany off-the-wall buddy comedy.