< Return to Latter-day Saint Characters in Movies

Latter-day Saint (Mormon) References
in the movie

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

"Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (1986)
Directed by Leonard Nimoy
Screenplay by Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer
Story by Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett
Based on the television series "Star Trek," created by Gene Roddenberry

Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Jane Wyatt, Catherine Hicks, Mark Lenard, Majel Barrett

MPAA Rating: PG
U.S. Box Office: $109,713,132
Production budget: $25,000,000

"Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" is the fourth feature film in the "Star Trek" movie franchise which continued the stories of the popular 1960s science fiction TV series. "Star Trek IV" is widely regarded by film critics as the best movie in the franchise, out of 10 movies released between 1979 and 2002.

Although the "Star Trek" series takes place in the 23rd Century, the majority of this fourth movie in the franchise actually takes place in a contemporary setting: San Francisco, California in the year 1986. It is worth noting that San Francisco was founded by Latter-day Saints (details below), although this has nothing to do with the Latter-day Saint references spoken by the characters in the middle of the film.

In what has become a famous and favorite line from the movie, Captain James T. Kirk (actor William Shatner, the main character) tells a 20th century zoologist that Spock (Leonard Nimoy) "did a little too much LDS" when he was at Berkeley in the 1960s. Captain Kirk was attempting to claim that Spock had used LSD, which damaged his brain: the cause of his erratic behavior. (LSD is an illegal drug used as a recreational narcotic.) Kirk's misuse of the word "LDS" (a common abbreviation for "Latter-day Saints," i.e., members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) displays his frequently inaccurate familiarity with this period of time. This line is typical of the abundant humor in the movie. These lines elicited enthusiastic laughter from audiences, particularly in Utah and other predominantly Latter-day Saint areas.

One place where this line likely drew a big laugh was Scottsdale, Arizona, which has a large Latter-day Saint population, and is close to Mesa, Arizona, a city founded by Latter-day Saints and the site of the oldest Latter-day Saint temple in Arizona. Actress Catherine Hicks, who plays Dr. Gillian Taylor opposite Kirk in this scene, was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona. After Captain Kirk claims that Spock did "a little too much LDS," Dr. Taylor realizes even more fully that Kirk and Spock are an unusual pair. She retorts, "LDS?" In the original script, she then asks if Kirk is dyslexic (because he mixed up the characters in this abbreviation). But that line is not in the release version of the film. Dr. Taylor is clearly familiar with Latter-day Saints and the use of "LDS" as an abbreviation for the Church. I do not know whether or not actress Catherine Hicks is a Latter-day Saint or a descendant of the Latter-day Saint pioneers who first settled the part of the country she comes from.

Captain Kirk says that Spock did a little "a little too much LDS" approximately 56 minutes after the start of the movie. Below is the actual dialogue from the movie:

[Captain James T. Kirk and Spock are in San Francisco, walking along along a sidewalk next to a beach, the Pacific Ocean to one side of them. They are just outside Marine World, park research and institute where they have located two humpback whales which they intend to take back to the 23rd Century in order to save the Earth. While at Marine World Spock dove into the whale tank. Dr. Gillian Taylor, the scientist primarily responsible for the whales, was angry at Spock for doing this. She saw him touching one of the whales. He was doing a mind meld with it, to communicate with it, but she has no comprehension of such Vulcan practices.

Dr. Gillian Taylor is driving away from Marine World when she sees Kirk and Spock walking. She is driving an old light blue pickup. She stops the car and looks at them. Captain Kirk sees her. Kirk and Spock are still far away enough from Dr. Gillian Taylor that they can speak to each other without being overheard.]

Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner): [To Spock.] There she is... from the Institute. If we play our cards right we may be able to find out when those whales are leaving.

Spock (Leonard Nimoy): How will playing cards help?

[Kirk looks at Spock, saying nothing. Kirk seems to be slightly dismayed, and slightly bemused, that Spock seems to have forgotten even very basic English idioms, after having "died" in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan."]

Dr. Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks): [Speaking loudly enough from her stopped pickup truck so that Kirk and Spock can hear her.] Well, if it isn't Robin Hood and Friar Tuck. Where're you fellas headin'?

Capt. Kirk (William Shatner): Back to San Francisco. [Kirk and Spock continue walking slowly.]

Dr. Gillian Taylor: You came all the way down here just to jump in and swim with the kiddies, huh?

Capt. Kirk (William Shatner): There's very little point in my trying to explain.

Dr. Gillian Taylor: Well, yeah, I'll buy that. What about him? [Indicating Spock.]

Capt. Kirk (William Shatner): Him? He's harmless! Back in the sixties he was part of the Free Speech movement at Berkeley. I think he did a little too much LDS.

[Kirk and Spock have now walked the rest of the way to Gillian's truck. Although Spock is right next to him, Kirk puts his hand to the side of his mouth and leans his head toward Gillian when he says that Spock "did a little too much LDS," as if to say this line only to her.]

Dr. Gillian Taylor: LDS? [Incredulously.]

Capt. Kirk (William Shatner): Mmm. [His sub-verbal utterance means "yes."]

Dr. Gillian Taylor: [Sizing Kirk and Spock up, she decides that they are certainly odd, but probably not dangerous. Furthermore, she wants to know what they were doing in her whale tank.] Come on, why don't you let me give you a lift. I have a notorious weakness for hard luck cases. That's why I work with whales.

Capt. Kirk (William Shatner): We don't want to be any trouble.

Dr. Gillian Taylor: You've already been that. Come on.

[Kirk and Spock get in the cab of the pickup.]

[NOTE: The dialogue shown here is a transcript from the film as it actually was released. Where there are discrepancies between our transcript and the optional English subtitles shown onscreen on the DVD, it is the transcript that is correct. Mistakes in the DVD subtitles are usually a result of presenting subtitles based on the shooting script rather than transcribing the audio track.]

A novelization of "Star Trek IV" was published at the time the movie was released: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, written by Vonda N. McIntyre (New York: Pocket Books, 1986). On page 109 in this book, the scene with Latter-day Saint references is described as follows:
"There's no point in my trying to explain what I was doing. You wouldn't believe me anyway."

"I'll buy that," Gillian said. She nodded toward Spock. "And what about what he was trying to do."

"He's harmless!" Kirk said. "He had a good reason--" He cut himself off. "Look, back in the sixties he was in Berkeley. The free speech movement and all that. I think . . . well, he did too much LDS."

"LDS? Are you dyslexic, on top of everything else?" She sighed.

Note how the lines are slightly different in the novel from the way they are heard in the feature film. These lines are different because the novel was written from the shooting script, not from the release version of the film. This is standard practice. Novelizations are normally written this way so that there is time for the novelization to be written, printed and distributed to stores to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.

* San Francisco, California was formed by Latter-day Saint settlers under the direction of Elder Sam Brannan, who arrived at the small port Yerba Buena on the sailng ship Brooklyn on July 31, 1846. The Latter-day Saints transformed the port of Yerba Buena into a city, the name of which was changed to San Francisco a few months later, in 1847. Latter-day Saints were the predominant group and the majority of the population, until the majority of them left in response to Pres. Brigham Young's request that they move to Utah. Many books are available about this pivotal period in California history. An excellent PBS documentary by Scott Tiffany details these events: Forgotten Voyage: The Mormon Sea Trek That Sparked the Gold Rush (2002).

Webpage created 5 December 2004.