A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
“For the Love of Spock” is more than just catnip for Trekkies. It’s also an often painful examination of the rocky father/son relationship that existed between filmmaker Adam Nimoy and his famous father, Leonard. Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek,” Nimoy’s documentary originally planned to focus specifically on the show’s Vulcan character, Mr. Spock. When Leonard Nimoy died in 2015, his son widened the scope of his film to encompass his entire life and career. The result is a lively, often hilarious collection of talking heads that includes fans and actors from the original and current incarnations of “Star Trek,” plus footage of Leonard Nimoy in the numerous roles that were overshadowed by his most famous creation.
Much of the film is narrated by Leonard Nimoy, who immediately jumped at the chance to work with Adam for the first time since their collaboration on the remake of an old “Outer Limits” episode 10 years prior. Nimoy plays the same role in both versions, which the film juxtaposes to show not only the passage of time but also the equal amount of commitment put into both performances. It was one of many pre-Spock roles Nimoy played when he arrived in Hollywood from Boston. ““I must have looked like I just got off the boat from Transylvania,” he says of his arrival. Despite getting somewhat steady acting work (the clips of the actor as a young, strikingly handsome man are fascinating to behold), Nimoy supplemented his gigs with a wide array of jobs that highlighted his workaholic tendencies.
“He hustled his ass off in the '60s,” says Adam Nimoy with a tinge of wonder in his voice. “He could do anything,” “For the Love of Spock” cycles through a long list of people who mention the various jobs Leonard held. He serviced fish tanks, drove a cab, had vending machines, ran an ice cream parlor and managed an apartment building, among other things. But it was an appearance in a 1965 episode of “The Lieutenant” that got “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry’s attention. “He’d make a good alien,” Roddenberry said. It was a mild understatement, to be sure.
Trekkies can probably recite by heart many of the details this film provides about the show. When NBC considered Roddenberry’s original pilot too cerebral, he created a new version featuring a different lead actor, William Shatner. Had NBC completely gotten its way, Shatner would have been acting opposite a different alien; the network considered Spock too “satanic looking” and feared he’d offend the Bible Belt viewers. Those same viewers may have contributed to the truckloads of fan mail, and carloads of fans, that came to the Nimoy household after the show’s first few episodes. “People were stealing leaves and grass from our front yard,” Adam Nimoy recalls. And this was before the show’s 1969 cancellation and syndication deal created the type of cult status that made its first convention in 1972 a rousing success.