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Salon Writes on The Troubles with "Trek" 281

Posted by Hemos
from the the-end-of-an-era dept.
Splatta was the first to write with us with article currently running on Salon about the possible end of the Star Trek "idea". The story is well researched with commentary from Paramount, Leonard Nimoy and others about what's happened to the Star Trek story over the last several years and "the indignites of age". Is it the end of Trek? What do you think? Is the franchise dying?
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Salon Writes on The Troubles with "Trek"

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  • First, I rather like the Enterprise-E, it makes sense for the newest Enterprise to look different from the first one, there is a time span of something like 140 years (Kirk wasn't the Enterprise's first captain, I seem recall it was 20 years old by the time he got it). Second, you're talking about First Contact, not Insurrection.
  • Look at what's been going on meanwhile: Babylon 5, Earth: Final Conflict, Farscape, X-Files.

    Exactly. Audiences and TV sci-fi have become more sophisticated while Star Trek has not (sci-fi has also become more mainstream, which means there are some pretty pathetic sci-fi soaps around these days).

    I don't think Star Trek has degraded as much as it has simply stood still. After all, even Voyager has its moments, for example, the episode about the meta-matter(?) duplicate crew (where they realize that they are not the originals, and that when they die, nothing about them will be known or remembered) was excellent pathos, and was quite unique.

    But, for the most part, Star Trek has been surpassed by more intelligent, and logically consistent, sci-fi, such as the new Outer Limits, Babylon 5, Stargate, the first season of Earth: The Final Conflict, and so on.
  • Ehhh... that movie was a re-run that came before First Contact ... there is no way that chick could come back into existance, ever think about that ?
  • but _that's_ an idea...have it centre around a character that is similar to the traveler, or similar to Q or the like....have only one reoccuring character that goes around and get's involved in others lives

    Good job. You just described "Doctor Who." ;)
    (Doctors I liked, most to least: 4,7,3,5,2,8,1,6)

  • Note: I'm posting this a second time because my first post seems to have disappeared (actually, it looked like Slashdot was restarted after being hacked for a minute or so :).

    I think the actress, Jeri Ryan, is being given a bad rap. It's true that the producers are using her for sex appeal (and she does look good in those tight outfits), but I'd still like watching her character, 7 of 9, even if she was more conservatively dressed.

    Say what you like about Voyager, but 7 of 9 is a good character, with a unique point of view, a penchant for cut-theough-the-BS straight talk, and a dry sardonic wit. I like her. And, it's Jeri Ryan's acting, with her quizzical looks, aloof stances, and so on, that brings out 7 of 9's character.
  • As a franchise um they better they better keep
    Janeway the hellz with bonez all have to say about that episode is male domination ... if I remember
    the in the bonez edition they had some sister as
    the only woman in the flick (poor attempt @ killing 2 birds w/ one stone ) and was kwel and all that but Janeway most def kicks royal butz ... intermz of a strong female character ... Janeway um you would kick Napolean's @#$% so I would be all about Voyager movies ...
  • For a while it was a sort of cute "Tolkien wrote a trilogy, so good fantasy must come in threes" meme. Then it was Frank Herbert extending Dune through the arguably troublesome fourth and disastrous last two volumes.

    Sorry, but in my opinion, God Emperor of Dune was pretty much the beginning of the real story in the DUNE saga. It divided the timeline between Muad'Dib's Imperium, and repairing the damage created by Muad'Dib's Imperium.

    The whole series was about the damage that heros inevitably wreak on their society, the destruction that occurs when religion and government ride in the same cart, and what it really means to be human.

    I will refrain from commenting on the damage that Herbert's son and some "writer" called Kevin J. Anderson are themselves perpetrating on the Dune Chronicles. Oh, wait...too late.

    Other than that, you're pretty much dead-on. :)

  • Instead of appreciating the show for its entertainment value, trekkies would incessantly debate the minutiae of the show and whether this or that scientific aspect was legit. I thought: Who cares? If I want to deal with some legit science, I'll pick up a tome based on fact, not watch a fictional TV show. Just entertain me.

    I'm sorry, but that is exactly why I loved TNG so much, because they tried to delve into some of the more esoteric and inventive sides of science and astronomy (altho most of the time they resorted to "techno-babble"). I loved discussing the episodes with my friends and debating whether it was feasible for Geordi and Ensign Ro to be able to be intangible and walk through walls, yet at the same time not fall straight through the floor into space. But the science and the seriousness made it fascinating.

    Granted, its not as funny as Kirk slapping his face in exasperation as Spock misunderstands some comment, or Bones complain about his limitations as a physicians, but then TOS was different. It had a different focus, and relied less on technology and more on morality.

  • The author of this article needs to learn a BIT more about trek. Firts of all, Star trek, ESPECIALLY TOS, which this guy touts as being so perfect, was never "money in the bank". It was almost cancelled nearly every month of its 3 year life due to poor ratings. It did not gain wide popularity until it hit syndication. The same thing happened in the first few seasons of TNG. Secondly, this will not be the first time since 93 there was only one show on the air. for al least 6 months, DS9 was the only new trek you could watch, following the end of TNG. And i remember when TNG went off the air everyoe was also saying "this is the end". Sure, they may be running sort on ideas, but if i know old Rick B, hes got something interesting up his sleeve. As long as he can keep the suits up top convinced its worth the effort, Rick will try to keep Roddenberry's dream alive. ---Software si like sex... its better when its free-----
  • I have to say the after TNG (after gene rodenberry died) star trek's plots got really bad after rick burman took over. he should of left the writing to the writers.
  • I would say that Star Trek is dead as a format. There is a limit on how long you can do basically the same things over and over before it gets tedious and outright boring. I am sick and tired of the Enterprise/Enterprise/Voyager/whatever getting into a space-time anomaly and get rescued in the last minute by some clever technician or a character getting imprisoned on a hostile world, etc. etc.

    I still think that the Star Trek Universe would be a great foundation for any kind of story. It is just up to the script-writers to realize what they have got and to make something breathtaking out of it - half of the work is already there.

    A few years ago there were many rumors in the star trek newsgroups about a possible "Star Trek Klingon" series. I think that is a great idea, as long as it doesn't just give us another Enterprise or Voyager. The Klingon empire would certainly be an interesting place, and a less-than-utopian society. I think it would also be interesting to set it in a time when the Federation was still an Enemy.

  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Friday October 29, 1999 @09:15PM (#1576028) Homepage
    I used to be a trekkie. And I still love TOS; one of my favorite games is to channel surf and be able to name which random TOS episode is on, within five seocnds (I do this with the Simpsons too).

    But at about the time that DS9 came along, I just got sick of it. Nothing was happening. Nothing was changing. And of course, B5 came along and stole my heart. I had known that it would be great, when I first read of it in ~92 and JMS had said that they'd be showing the weirdness of the alien restroom.

    Basically, nothing is or has happened with Trek for some time. I think that the best thing that they could do would be to give it a rest for ten or twenty years and see what fresh ideas can come along later, or find some way to tear down all of the cruft and start over again.

    The idea in post #96 [slashdot.org] is a very good one. Although a lot would depend on writing, cast, etc. I'd be willing to give it a try, which is more than I can say for Voyager or the awful movies that have followed VI. (the reason II, III and IV were good was that they told a continuing story you dumbass writers!).

    The other good idea I've heard is to do a series based before TOS. This could be cool b/c the writers wouldn't really be able to, if they knew what was good for them, write particle du jour episodes. No holodecks. No civilians on the ship. No borg. No Q. No transporters at all. The old Klingons - maybe. That could be really good if they'd be willing to take chances. Killing characters if the story demands it is good, as Roy Fokker taught us. Taking dramatic turns with the show is good, if the story demands it, as B5 taught us. And take a lesson from TOS, and make some shows that have some relevancy to the current day, but without making them wimpy (eg the TNG drug ep).

    They won't do it though, which is why I doubt I'll ever see a good, new Trek show again. And everyone can suffer from this. Honestly, JMS was ripping off (consciously or not) Star Blazers/Yamato all over the place with the spin off and it wasn't at all appealing to me.

    Anyone have ideas for what could make Trek great again? Certainly it wouldn't involve any of the crap that's come out lately.

  • Truth be told... I never got terribly into the original series.. Oh, I've managed to see pretty much all of tehm, but for me the love started when i saw the first movie...

    And I've been at every trek movie on opening day ever since... For me, the voyage home shall always remain my favourite.. tongue in cheek that it is.. saving the whales, and Kirk and Spock wandering about San Fran.. very cute. :-)

    I also dug the TNG, and rabidly watched it from the 2nd season onward.. and I transferred my affection to DS9.. but It never "held" my interest.. Always on that dern space station...

    As far as Voyager goes.. I never have been able to get into it.. The charectors seem forgetable, and it just doesn't grab me anymore.

    Maybe we need to have the series killed off... Wait a few years (2002?) and have anoterh movie.. Slap Kirk, and Spock, and picard together, for something... Be it a last hurrah, or a transition to some new TV series (hint hint).

    Whatever happens.. I don't want Trek to die... I hope they keep doing movies until I have kids, and they can then watch it, and muse about the cheesy old "Tng" series... Yeah.. :-)

    ---
    I don't spell check... deal...
    ---
  • The cartoon was actually pretty good. They had some good writers, and could do things that they were unable to with live action b/c of the low fx budget. Could have been better, yes, but was not as bad as Voyager. ;)

    (Although when the ship got hit, they _did_ just rock the camera back and forth)
  • Not to be overly critical, but I think you missed a few points, foremost that it was meant to be humorous, secondly that the series established Riker as an extremely good pilot. Now, he could have sat down and pushed buttons like a good helmsman should, but he trusted his own judgement and tactile feedback. In fact, the original trek probably made use of key controls so that people wouldn't think it was just a big aircraft instead of a spacecraft. If there had always been a stick, no one would have batted an eye, but it wouldn't have been funny, which was the point.
  • by ralphclark (11346) on Saturday October 30, 1999 @01:25PM (#1576032) Journal
    Like you, Tarnar, I am a longstanding fan of both old and new Star Trek. But I think the author raised some salient points and you are therefore wrong to dismiss him out of hand as a 'bitter fan'.

    I agree he was a bit tough on Berman; I thought there were some really outstanding TNG episodes and I did come to care about the characters. I was very sad to see the series end. However, his assertions about Berman's attitude to TOS are certainly food for thought. It's very disapointing that Paramount would have brought him into the franchise in the first place if he had such a poor understanding of it (this is of course assuming that these assertions are true).

    Secondly, Paramount certainly did franchise the thing to death, which kind of "wore out" the magic to some extent. Worst of all was putting out two series at the same time. Why on earth would Paramount do that when it would inevitably make people cease to hunger for it?

    The studio never ever cared a bean about the possible significance of Trek beyond its profit potential, and they even mismanaged that in the end, sacrificing long-term appeal for the sake of increasing Trek revenue in the immediate short term.

    As an aside: perhaps as a consequence of this glut of Star Trek some networks started screwing with their schedules and it became more or less impossible to know exactly when the next episode was going to be broadcast. It just wasn't unique or special enough to take pride of place any more, with so much of it about, especially when you include reruns: even in the UK at one point there would be maybe half a dozen different episodes of various ST series broadcast in a single week. That's just plain overdoing it. But ultimately it's Paramount's fault for milking its cash cow too hard and too often.

    But there's nothin new about this. Parallels have already been drawn with the cheapening of the Star Wars franchise (Ewoks movies ferchrissake!!!).

    Video and film are the new narrative tradition, and are as important to our culture as oral storytelling and literature have been. Unfortunately you just can't trust Philistine money-fixated studio execs with such an important legacy. They are the reason why there is so much crap, and why the few good things that emerge despite them either meet an untimely end (the Dr Who TV series) or are perverted to satisfy mass market expectations (the Americanised Dr Who TV movie) or get milked to death like Star Trek.

    I just wanted to say one other thing: the only good idea for a new Trek series I ever heard was the Captain Sulu/USS Excelsior one. Pity they never suggested doing the same for Captain Scott. Look back at those TOS episodes; he was one outstanding bridge officer.

    But even so, the best thing to ensure the world doesn't get terminally sick of the whole thing would be to veto any new series for now and maybe even restrict syndication for a while too.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • And as an aside, our technology has advanced in Trekkish directions, too. We now (or will soon) have...
    • Handheld "communicators" with which we can reach out and touch anyone on the planet, or be thus reached. Heck, we have cellular phones not much bigger than a mini-box of matches now--way smaller than the original Old Series communicators, and approaching the "wearable badge" size of TNG.
    • Pneumatic hypodermic syringes.
    • Handheld textual display and computing devices with touch-sensitive screens, some of which can even tap into our data networks via wireless communication. (It is just so wickedly appropriate to be able to read Q-in-Law on a PADD-like device (my Palm IIIe), courtesy of Peanut Press [peanutpress.com])
    • Paperless books (q.v. Peanut Press [peanutpress.com])...will physical books soon become the rarity that they are in Picard's day?
    • Hand-held sensory devices (well, okay, they aren't actually here in widespread use in the consumer market yet, but I've heard of some such gadgets that are gradually getting there).
    I have to wonder whether at least some of these advances weren't due to kids getting inspired by Star Trek and saying, "I'm gonna invent that when I grow up."
  • I know what you mean. I stopped watching Trek during the first year of Voyager (more because it wasn't convenient than that I didn't like it anymore), and from what I've heard since then, I only regret it a little bit, and that for Deep Space Nine. Voyager, it seems, has started borrowing plots from bad fan parodies. I find this Voyager quote to be rather rather self-descriptive: "Get this cheese to sickbay!"
  • yeah...now that you mention it...





    "assimilate...assimilate"
  • The first season of Earth:Final Conflict was superb. It was basically Gene Roddenberry's vision of what would happen if a race of superior alien beings with ambiguous motives came to Earth and shared its knowledge. It was very intriguing, and the twists and turns of the stories, as well as the ambiguous intentions of both the aliens and the "resistance" fighters who defied them was enthralling. We identified with the main character of Boone who is a double agent for both the aliens and the resistance, and we discover, along with him, as the puzzle unravels and the picture becomes clearer, who the "real" bad guys are. The acting and writing was also top-notch, with Majel Barrett carrying on Roddenberry's vision in his stead.

    Unfortunately, all good things.... they changed producers after the first season and killed off the main character (Kevin Kilner was the best thing about the show). Now it is just another shoot-em-up, punch-em-up, Humans vs. Aliens show a la "V".

    Thats what happens when Marketing and Pointy-Haired-Bosses take over the reigns: "Yes yes! More kung-fu, lasers and breasts, and the aliens need to have lasers coming out of their breasts!"

    What a pity...

  • by uninerd (79304)
    the franchise is dying.
  • You claim that 50% of a theatre full of Star Trek fans wanted Kirk dead? Just think about that for a moment. Notwithstanding the obvious difference in the appearance of the ageing actor, this must be the most ludicrous claim I ever heard.

    Most people who enjoyed Kirk's earlier career (and Shatner's earlier performances) would surely have mourned the passing of a legend. What kind of person would so revile a one-time hero just because he's become middle-aged? Such an unpleasant attitude can only be described as nihilist.

    Trekkers represent perhaps the most forward looking of us, and they're mostly a relatively optimistic bunch. If this particular club has now given itself up to nihilism then we're surely completely f*cked as a society. Who else is there to believe in the future if not them?

    The only other possible explanation of such an extreme reaction is that most younger Trek fans are, though not wholly nihilist, at least contemptuous of people over some arbitrary age limit. I refuse to believe that the current generation of youngsters is that rotten.

    Rather than either of these, it seems much more credible that you made this claim up to bolster your own minority opinion.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • people only whined about TNG for a couple years at most. it got to be a good series after about two to three years. voyager, however, is on its 6th(?) year and still has the STUPIDEST writing and ideas for shows. i remember a poll or a news article a while back and all anyone did was bash voyager, paticularly its lame writing and show ideas and acting (i want to kill the person who casted captain janeway sometimes). i only watch it to fulfill my star trek watching addiction if you will, which i got from growing up with TNG.
  • Anyone who has seen voyager knows that the current Star Trek idea is over. Insurection sucked and so does voyager. They should've ran with that idea of doing a show about Captain Sulu and the U.S.S excelsior. The old series never went bad
  • the problem is they keep doing the same stuff....space ships, meeting human like aliens.......etc.........DS9 was a cool change of pace. I think they need to change the focus to something they havent done before. What i dont know......but thats why i am a computer jock and not a screen writer ;)
  • Simple. It was pitched to Paramount. By JMS. As Babylon 5.

    Now, obviously, they turned jms down. BUT, some bigwig decided that instead of a new scifi on a space station there should be a Trek on a space station. So, while jms was feverishly pitching his five year plan, Paramount went to constantly rip him off. Some evidence (partly from Starweek, the Toronto Star's TV guide thingy, partly from me):

    1. A space station.
    2. A portal that opens up so ships can go to far away places. On B5 it was a hyperspace portal, which works quite like ... wait for it ... the WORMHOLE!
    3. Both series got a ship the same week.
    4. B5 had a telepath named Lyta. DS9 had a Daboo girl named Leeta.
    5. Letter-number, letter-letter-number.
    6. Paramount started using the same CG company Babylonian productions was using.


    But why at the same time? Easy. Paramount had to beat jms to the punch, so B5, not DS9, looked like a cheap ripoff.

  • by Cebert (69916)
    Here we go with a thread of a few messages filled with memories of good things about Star Trek and an outpouring of non-stop "it sucks" messages from juveniles while they push their own debatably "better" choice.

    I think I'll safely ignore this entire thread -- we've seen it all a thousand times before.
  • Those stories, and many of the stories in the
    original series, turned on constant elements of human nature.


    Absolutely. My most favourite of all was the one where Picard, in just 25 minutes, lived a whole lifetime as an artisan in an alien society 10,000 years in the past.

    The moment when his late wife friend and late best friend reappeared and he remembered who he was - and his disorientation when he returned; the memory of a whole lifetime and a dearly-loved family receding like a dream upon waking.

    So beautifully understated, it was priceless (especially for an American show). Pass the tissues, please. Sniff.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • That was the second movie. But if I had to look at any of the Star Trek cast's tonsils, I think I'd prefer those of Nichelle Nichols. Yowza!
  • All good things come to an end. Is it really all that bad of a thing? Perhaps it is better to stop, rather than create the same old same old, or other dissapointing material.

  • Ever since TNG, it seems that the series has actually been written by a large but finite number of monkeys (An actual infinite number of monkeys would result in an infinitely large pile of monkey shit, and no one wants that.) The problem with using a statistically significant number of monkeys is that you don't the the quality of writing that an infinite number would yield, and you still get a hell of a lot of monkey shit.

    B5 was pretty good if you don't mind the sometimes trite dialog. I've been watching Farscape lately and have actually been digging it. The writers don't as obviously moralize at you, and they hardly ever seem to have to pull some plot device out of their ass at the last minute to resolve all the problems, something that the TNG writers were particularly fond of doing. Oh, yeah, and the aliens are much more believable. None of this "Bumps on the forehead makes someone an alien and everyone can interbreed." Rodenberry started that and he may have been a good writer but he obviously never took a High School biology class.

  • *sigh* I miss Bones.....

    As a franchise... They've covered just about everybase. I wouldn't mind seeing one or two more Next Generation movies. I really hope they don't start up any half-assed syndicated TV show though.

  • OK, it's kind of a splitting hairs issue, since if you like the old series anyway you probably like it (among other things) because it was cheesy. The characteristic soundtrack while Kirk fights the rubber monster to save the scantily-clad alien woman who's somewhere between a 60's kind of beautiful and "creepy", the Irwin-Allen-esque stage tumbling when the ship's hit, etc. For anyone who enjoys the old series, it's pretty much impervious to scrutiny.

    The old series had its high points, and its low points, as did the old-series movies... (In fact, I think Star Trek 2 and 6 are the only good ones of the bunch.) The series did some good stuff, being partly inspired on occasion by good sci-fi.. but it also had issues - budget, censorship/network influence, and Roddenberry's (I think it was Roddenberry's) supremely lame, sort of hippie-ish idea that understanding, time, and technology could lead to a future humanity with virtually no conflict except from alien influence. IMO this is where the old series really went sour.

    Star Trek is just (and has been for quite some time) massively overrated. It probably only stood out in the first place because there's virtually no decent-quality sci-fi on US television. And every stage of the Star Trek thing has had its good and bad points. Yeah, even Voyager's done some good stuff. I think all the series had a lemon of a first season (except original, which had a lemon of a last season)...

    Oh, and whoever wants to be a shithead and tell us all why we shouldn't waste time discussing this can just get on their knees and suck it. Like it or not, Star Trek is a major fixture of US culture, and it may be on its way out. I won't miss it.

    ---GEC
  • by Gromer (9058)

    I know it's far too late for a posting to get any attention, but I just feel like getting this off my chest. Congratulations for having the perseverance to get down to this post.

    This article is rather poorly-written, which is unfortunate, because it comes close to being very interesting. Fundamentally, the problem is that the author is unwilling to recognize the difference between his own opinion, and factual reporting. In the genuinely factual areas, this article is fascinating, but it is ruined by the author's tendency to liberally sprinkle his own opinions through it, presenting them as equally factual reporting.

    For starters, the author is obviously a trekkie. This already bodes ill- people form very strong opinions about things they care about, and often find it difficult to separate those opinions from fact. In this case, the author is obviously from the "Original Series was the high point" camp of Trek thought. This is not a problem, but his refusal to even acknowledge the validity of the other camps is, especially when he takes his opinion as the premise for his argument that Berman is responsible for the death of Trek.

    He even lets his perceptions distort the facts "Generations," FYI, did not debut "just weeks" after Paramount pulled TNG's plug. And Paramount's "screwy" DVD release schedule makes perfect sense when you consider that a DVD-quality print of Star Trek I is a *teeny* bit harder to get hold of than a corresponding print of, say, "Insurrection." His point about the lackluster quality of the discs is well taken, except that they haven't exactly given Berman's pet Next Generation films that star treatment either, suggestion that the problem is higher up than Berman.

    Personally, I see Trek as having come in 3 phases (he sees only two). These were the Original Series, the Next Generation, and the DS9/Voyager era. The latter is defined by UPN and Paramount's explicit desire to make the series into cash cows, with the resulting emphasis on cheap ratings tricks like action and soap-opera. To my mind, this is what killed Trek. The most recent 2 series, to be sure, show gleams of brilliance here and there, but the average quality has gone sharply downhill.

    The point is, there are a great many people like me, weaned on TNG, who regard it as a worthwhile entity in its own right. It may be somewhat different from the Original Series, but it has its own identity, which many of us would still regard as Trek.

    The factual parts of this article are fascinating- the inside look at the intra-Trek animostities between Nimoy and Berman, and the portrayal of the various sides in the battle for Trek's future, were very interesting. However, he severly dilutes his journalistic effectiveness by rejecting out of hand any possiblity of the validity of one side in that debate. As a result, this article becomes little more than an opinion piece whining about how much better things were in the old days.

    As one final comment, I agree with several other posters that the best hope for Trek is that it can be given a rest for a while, to find its center and restore some balance. In fact, this supposed "death" may be a blessing in disguise- if Trek is no longer a sacred cash cow for Paramount, it may be possible to take it in more worthwhile, less profit-motivated directions.

  • some people just have no sense of humour :-)
  • Set the show at the end of time, when all is known and everything
    can be set to exactly as you wish.

    What do people do when anything is possible? What would they really want?
    Would they want to be in a world completely at peace? Would they instead want
    to live in a fantasy of conflict, strife the unknown. All the people in the
    federation say they want to live in peace above all things; but, why then do
    they seek situations where violence and risk are guaranteed?

    Follow a group of people as they enter their own creations. See if
    they choose a peaceful universe or do they get bored and opt instead for a
    world of adventure with its collory of injustice and pain? See the all the
    consequences of their actions laid out before them. See if they choose some
    ignorance of the future in order to have excitement. See if they choose to
    come into their worlds believing it to be an end in itself, with no
    remembrance of how they used to live. How much foreknowledge will they really
    want? Do they end up wanting to live in a world similar to our own even though
    they could have everything.

    I'd like to see a knowledge singularity and what others would want in
    their wildest imaginings.
  • Maybe the problem with Trek at the moment is that its original mission is played out and old. Space has already been explored and how much more can you discover? Maybe instead of focusing a main plot on exploration aspect of the series, maybe screenwriters should try other approaches.. How about a Starfleet Academy series? Lots of personalities, races, conflicts within the community, threats from infiltrating aliens, occasional away missions for training, etc. Maybe the point is not to make a series about ever-exploring ships; how about focusing on static environments with dynamic plots (like DS9 or Babylon 5). Of course, opening the series to missions and exploration adds ideas.. I find the Voyager series pretty cool.. maybe only because I missed a few seasons and the reruns I see every night now is like a season premiere! However, I did find some of the episodes lacking in depth and good conclusions (Demon, The Phage).

    -----
    Linux user: if (nt == unstable) { switchTo.linux() }
  • As long as we're dreaming, I'd like to suggest that the next movie be based on Peter David's novel Q-in-Law [peanutpress.com]. They wanted to make this into a TNG episode, but there was too much red tape in the way or something; I don't know the whole story. With the two most memorable recurring guests in the franchise around, it would be an absolute blast.

    Too bad it'll never happen. Oh well. At least I have the book.
  • Prople will probably post a billion messages on this thread about Babylon 5... here's another one.

    IMO, this is one very positive edge B5 has always had over Star Trek. When the original B5 series started, it was started with a fixed scope (5 years). A single story, beginning, middle, end, Straczynski planned out what he wanted the series to be and did it. It's a pretty good idea - figure out what you want to do, do it, then (hopefully) go on to something different. Star Trek sometimes did this on a per-episode basis... but all the episodes of all the series have a lot in common, so potential for innovation is really pretty limited. I think it's gotten to the point where more Star Trek is just "more".

    BTW, Michael Dorn, TV's Lieutenant Work from TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation, gives a stunning performance as I. M. Weasel.

    ---GEC
  • by ralphclark (11346) on Saturday October 30, 1999 @03:37PM (#1576064) Journal
    Nonsense. How exactly would a human detect such racial and/or cultural differences among a completely alien society? Compared to the yaening gulf between us and them, such differences would likely be very subtle, perhaps invisible.

    And you claim cultural variety amongst Federation humans, yet they all speak American English - even O'Brien who is Irish (not Scottish as you claimed).

    I don't think there is any evidence that the aliens were being stereotyped any more than was necessary for the plot. After all, for storytelling reasons each species had to have some identifiable characteristic that made them different from humans and the same as each other. Later, once the species characteristics had been established, individual differences would be explored: Spock's human emotional side, Quark's occasional generosity, Odo's loneliness, Worf's sensitivity.

    Actually in the time-honoured manner of Hollywood, all these differences got over-exploited to the extent where each of these characters was in danger of becoming the exact opposite of what they were supposed to be. Spock and Data both became the most likely characters to have an emotional outburst; Worf the most likely to have a 'relationship' with someone (or to break up or get rejected and go off all hurt); Quark the most likely to sacrifice profit for some higher purpose. Personally I deplore this aspect of the show. Such relentless anthropomorphism simply undermined the strength of the alien characters making them less unique in the context of their colleagues, rather than adding dimension to them.

    As regards Roddenberry's putative racism: in the shows which were truly Roddenberry's (the original series) it was plainly stated in several episodes that though 23rd-century humans all lived and worked together, they each took pride in their own individual cultural and racial inheritance. Uhura in her African lineage, Sulu in his Japanese ancestry, Chekhov in his Russian origins (how could you have forgotten that - it was even a running joke!) In many ways the bridge crew of the original Enterprise was a shining example of the multicultural society to which all civilised nations today aspire.

    I think this pretty much disproves any notion that Roddenberry was racist.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • Two Words:
    Mulder. Scully.

    After all, they're both quitting the X-Files, so Paramount can just pay them obscene amounts of money and steal them! :-))

    --
  • Everything popular's done some merchandizing. B5 has pretty much the same lineup of shitty little toys, novelizations, comics, etc... It's not selling out by any measure. The potential is there, the people who have the opportunity are taking advantage of it.

    - The books are trash because they're written for people who aren't interested in reading a good book. They're supermarket impulse-buys, wanna-be bestsellers, etc. You get the same from most any book based on movies or TV. If you want to get moralistic, you could say that they're a full step up from trashy romance novels.
    - The same (sadly) goes for comics. American (US at least) comics are shit. Few exceptions.
    - IMO the lameness of the movies are as much a product of the times as anything. Not many (again, US) movies today go for any kind of quality. Maybe that's true of any decade..

    Oh, and B5 hasn't quite gone. I believe TnT still runs it at 7AM. In a perverse kind of way, this is actually better exposure than Voyager gets on UPN prime time. It's true that TnT cut Crusade tho - it turns out that they didn't have room in their lineup for another non-western, and the old "Wagon train to the stars" routine didn't cut it. :)

    ---GEC
  • Uh voyager is in it's sixth season. TNG & DS9 got good after the first 2.
    And voyager's writing is REALLY bad when it's bad - getting to the point of making the rest of trek make no sense because they do some stupid things. Look at threshold, or all of the Q episodes.
    Voyager ruins everything.
  • OK, I'm not a Microsoft fan, but pointless MS bashing really isn't that cool anymore. It's the same advice I give to people who are obsessively intimidated by Barney or the Teletubbies - get over it, move on, there are more important things to worry about.

    ---GEC
  • I don't think static character relationships are good. the problem isn't that the relationships are dynamic. The problem happens when the writers stop making the relationships dynamic. Then the plot becomes annoying.

    DS9 actually got better by the end.

    Contrast that to voyager. Here's an example dialog.

    Paris: Hey Harry (Kim), you plan on checking out those babes on rigel 4?
    Kim: (ignoring paris) I'm just going to relax on my shore leave.
    Belanna: Tom! I don't understand why you're just gabbing about babes like some silly adolescent when you were supposed to meet me in the mess hall.
    Tom: hey,pumpkin, it's just (lame excuse here)
    Tuvok on intercom: Ensign Kim, please report to the bridge.

    on bridge--
    Janeway: Mr. Tuvok informs me that you left a tricorder on the alien planet. that's a security violation and very close to violating the prime directive. You--
    Tuvok: captain, I would caution you on your course of action. I've observed you over the years, and I know what you're going to do. you plan on reprimanding kim and sending him to quarters.
    Janeway: One of these days, I'm going to surprise you Tuvok, but not today. Move it, Kim.

    Kim marches out, 7of9 walks in, sees kim and comments.
    7of9: you seem distressed, ensign.
    kim ignores her goes out.

    Chakote speaks to janeway in a hushed voice. Chakote:Don't you think you were a little hard on him?
    Janeway: He's an ensign. when he learns the ropes I can loosen them.
    (this of course ignores the fact that kim's been an ensign for 4 or more years)


    There. now you don't have to watch 80% of the voyager shows, since you have that formula.

    The problem with voyager is that they don't make the character relationships change unless there's some big deal, like paris and torres getting together.

  • I mean, how many times does the goddamn holodeck have to break before they decide that maybe, perhaps they should turn it off?


    How many times do cars have to crash before you stop driving?

    And holodecks are better, you can have sex in them :P
  • Okay, I'll preface this by saying that during the 3rd season, I saw a ST:TNG rerun at 10 PM. I started watching them daily. After a few weeks, I learned when the show was on, and started watching the new shows. I still watched the reruns until I had seen them all. I then remembered seeing an early ST:TNG epsiode with my father, but not really appreciating it... ST:IV is the first movie that I remember seeing in theaters (although I didn't remember the movie itself...), so I've subconsciously been destined to love Star Trek.

    I now love watching TOS reruns, terrific trash Sci-fi, which I love.

    Now, what made ST so cool was the story lines. When DS9 came out, I thought they show kicked ass. I loved the political intrigue and back dealing. Unfortunantly, the nature of the story was for Sisko to tackle the station and bring everything into line. This of course would mitigate the intrigue, and should have led to the end of the show. Instead the contrived war kicked in and I was turned off to the show.

    Voyager was stupid from the beginning. The characters simply didn't interest me, and after a few weeks, I stopped.

    The reason ST:TNG was so good, IMHO, is that it was a new show to stand on its own, with the advantages of being Trek. Because ST fans would watch it, the show could afford to spend a few episodes building up the characters without jumping into an action show. This is a tremendous advantage a new Trek show would get, they are guaranteed 4-6 weeks before needing to produce. For that reason, I think they Paramount should start Trek shows midseason with months of hype so that we all look foward to it, and they need to produce a handful of epsiodes before getting a long break to figure out how to bring the show into season 2.

    One area that I felt wasn't developed is the Federation as a real, livable, world. We've seen snippets of Star Fleet Command (ST:VI), and a scene of the council (ST:IV), but no attempts to really flesh out the universe.

    A Star Fleet Academy show would have the potential to do so. If you pick your characters right, you could show the Federation in a new light. Essentially, the way ST:TNG was about ideal humans, ST:SFA (can I be the first to coin the acryonym?) would be about "ideal college" kids. In an era when young people are under siege and society doesn't know what to do, Paramount could display idealist youngsters. Instead of stupid romance/dumb stuff (Star Trek: 90210 would be HORRIBLE), they could focus on people whose ambitions can put on the line and whose desires are noble. By showing this side of people, much could be accomplished. This would, in my opinion, be a Good Thing.

    There are not enough current events and dillemmas to run two shows. As a result, concentrating on one would allow solid storylines. Unfortunantly, Berman couldn't experiment even if he wanted to. Destroying Star Trek to the fans would hut financially for no reason, so as a large franchise, there is limited flexibility. A ST:SFA accademy would be low risk, but it could be solid.

    Shrug, I really liked Wesley Crusher. As a middle school student, an intelligent teenager getting an opportunity to excel was an inspiration to me. A SFA series would be like that on steroids.

    Just please, no Space Camp ripoffs of them launching into space to fight the Borg... :)
  • Some people have them implanted...like the ferengis. (Remember Little Green Men?)
  • Oh, come on. Terry Farrell was a centerfold girl I admit but Nana Visitor, though certainly presentable, is hardly a major babe in the conventional sense of the term. It just goes to show how girl-starved geeks will fixate on any visible female. If you ever worked in an IT department that was all guys and just one (reasonably attractive) girl then you'll know what I mean.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • by Paul Johnson (33553) on Saturday October 30, 1999 @02:05AM (#1576078) Homepage
    The problem for the Trek universe is that society has changed, often in ways that were influenced by Trek itself.

    When ST:TOS started it was possibly the most radical things on air. It had a half-breed alien first officer, a Russian helmsman and a black, female communications officer. At the time these were almost revolutionary. In the USA Martin Luther King was telling the KKK about his dream, and in the UK Enoch Powell was prophesying "rivers of blood". But Star Trek showed the world what King's dream looked like, and that image profoundly altered our society.

    Today we have Commander Benjamin Sisko. He has a son and a dead wife. Oh, and by the way, he's black and his best friend is a young alien woman who used to be an old man, and is in a relationship with a Klingon. So whats new?

    In many ways we owe this acceptance to Trek. But at the same time that acceptance is the death knell for Trek. We have learned what Trek had to teach us. Like all successful young revolutionaries, Trek has grown up and become part of the new Establishment.

    What Science Fiction needs is not more Trek, or even just better Trek, but something new. Something that challenges our assumptions, and especially our contradictions, in the way that Trek challenged those of the 60s and 70s. I don't know what that thing is going to look like, but I don't think it will look much like Trek.

    Paul.

  • moral trek?
    same-body-different-head trek?
    dynasty trek?
    flagrantly-flout-the-prime-directive-in-every-ep isode-in-the-name-of-what-is-right-and-jus t-(for-humans) trek?
    equality trek?
    PC trek?

    i used to love star trek, but as i grow older (im 26) i see through it more and more. in all the series the stories are nothing short of lame and the show owes more to exploring their personalirties that it does to exploring space.

    gimme B5 any day.
  • I see what you're saying but I think you're ignoring the fact that the epic/saga has been around as an art form for a long time. It's altogether a different sort of thing than a standalone novel. There are certain narrative benefits to long stories. Plenty of intelligent people read them in book form, and sa far as TV is concerned, Trekkers in general are supposed to be fairly intelligent aren't they?

    Having said that there is little doubt that book publishers are prone to the same sort of poor judgement as studio execs: "it sold before so it'll sell again". Just look at Larry Niven's sequel to Ringworld Engineers. Ugh.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • There was a lot of very thought-provoking stuff about politics and history in the last two instalments though. Prbblem is you need an IQ of about 250 to understand it all. I sometimes wonder about FH. I think he was somewhere on a different level.

    If he only knew Kevin Anderson was writing a sequel he'd surely be turning in his grave. That guy writes the most awful trash.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • by Sloppy (14984)

    It's too late. The Borg had some good potential (and the 1990 cliffhanger was great) but they got ruined in the "Hugh" episode. Kinder, gentler Borg? No thank you. TNG had a good thing going, and they threw it away.


    ---
  • Oh yesss...abso-fragging-lutely!

    Riker:

    "The Federation's finished...the Borg are
    everywhere.

    "We're NOT GOING BACK!"


    (Shudder)

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • "The concept of aliens on the other side of the galaxy all looking alike, speaking fluent English, and efficiently use anarchisms and idioms just doesn't stand up in my mind"

    Well for me, it's not so much that they do that in Voyager it's more of the fact that some of the episodes have gotten *REALLY* boring to be honest. Just tonight I was watching a rerun of Voyager. It was the one about Where Paris and Kim are playing in the holodeck as Capt. Proton, and the ship gets stuck in subspace and then some holodeck like aliens think the Capt. Proton people are real but the humans are fake. Which to me was really boring to watch because A)9999.9% of the episode was in Black and White, only the commericals were in color B) the whole Capt. Proton thing they show is compleatly boring. Then in the end it seems the episode was about nothing.

    I've been disapointed with the show in general lately. You can usually figure out what's going to happen at the end within the first 15 minutes of watching the episode these days. It's pretty boring. Although I still seem to watch them hoping to see a good one, which you do sometimes.

    So pretty much for Voyager it comes and goes. I never really had much of a problem watching ST:TNG though, I've probably seen each episode about 3 or 4 times, but only because a local TV station has been showing reruns of ST:TNG 5 days a week for about the last 2 years or so. They have a good time slot for it too because there's nothing else on TV.

    So lately espically with Voyager it seems to come and go, but I think they could do a ton more with it than what they're doing it seems the writters just aren't there or something. DS9 was ok, I didn't like it in the begging but I started getting into it in the last 3 seasons of the show.

    As for putting the show to rest, I think it would be weird not having a new episode of Star Trek on, seeing as the show has been on the air half my life. I've seen a new episode every week for pretty much half of my life. Which when you think about it is pretty impressive so maybe in the end it's best just to put it to rest for good? Who knows, either way I'll still watch the show as long as they don't get *REALLY* boring with it.

  • Come to think of it, I think there's still room for a series like the original Star Trek shows (speaking of TOS and TNG here).
    Intelligent stories that make people think.
    The only problem Star Trek is having right now is that the new shows are too different from the original ideas behind Trek (did any of the more recent DS9 episodes have a real message? If so, I just got too stupid to notice), and (definitely for me, probably for most of us) not as good.
    The problem is that they're doing a lot of stuff to "attract" more viewers - more special effects, bigger explosions, a Borg superficial people get interested in by just looking at her, not by knowing the character -- at the cost of the storylines. They may be attracting a new audience, but they're quickly losing people who liked the idea behind the older shows.

    The Free Film Project (http://www.freefilm.za.org/) is trying to do a "Original Star Trek'ish" film at the moment - let's see what that gets us (and let's participate... It's opensourced!)
  • Quite interesting point - it's probably part of the reason, but definitely not all of it.
    I, for one, still like watching the original Star Trek and TNG, as well as some (few) episodes of DS9 and Voyager. They're just not what TOS and TNG (I think both of them are pretty much timeless) used to be.
  • by Sloppy (14984)

    "We've spent the last week trying to give the Borg Cube breasts. The challenge has revitalized us! We've been staring at breasts for days now and we're *this* close to a breakthough."

    Now that is something I never thought anyone would want to do: rip off Battle Beyond The Stars.


    ---
  • Yes, of course. Did anyone know differently?
    Voyager was an attempt. and a bad one. an attempt at what I cant say, if you dont know from just the word "attempt" then well.. I cant help you.

    The problem with Star Trek is that it got too big to do any good anymore.
    it's like.. oh.. I dont know, star trek.

    It started out small, a Constitution Class vessel that had just breached the great barrier and through this had gained several crewmembers that were able to strangle people with power cables and such.
    That was great, simple, small. the edge of the galaxy! I mean imagine that- yhow can we do bigger?
    And then throughout the serii it got bigger.. and bigger, And eventually the entire galaxy was taken, and colonized, and such. And now we're getting time travel and transwarp and aliens that can do anything but like to pick on humans, and it's just too big.
    If you have a solar system it's ok, until you want to go bigger, then you do so, and now you have several. Maybe even a galaxy isnt too bad, as long as you play your cards right.
    But with Multiple Galaxys all of wich travel through time and can go wherever they want- it just loses it's point
    it's something that can no longer be televised.

    Everything has it's curve. Most are straight up then down, or just straight down. Star Trek has been choking us and beating us to death for far too long to be fun anymore.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch voyager.
  • I've always wondered why they couldn't an episode from the perspective of another race. Why not have a Series hosted by, or from the perspective of Q. Since he's Since he's all-knowing, He could just focus on any race, any where, and at any time. He could show how the romulan empire came to be. Or how 19th century earth nearly avoided a catastrophy thanks to the vulcans. Or what about an episode on some of the dirty things, that Section 31 has done that no one knows about. Has anyone thought about such an idea? If paramount is reading this, You have my permision to use these ideas.
  • by xdroop (4039) on Saturday October 30, 1999 @03:06AM (#1576092) Homepage Journal
    With all due respect to learned member, the idea is entirely without merit.

    The quick, off-the hip response to this suggestion is that what you propose is merely a cut down Outer Limits which uses Star Trek backgrounds. Outer Limits works (occasionally) due to the strength of the writing. It cannot survive on characters becase there are no consistant characters from week to week.

    The second response is one based on the tail of the first -- that the setting is irrelevant to the success or failure of a TV show (or movie). If you read the Salon article, you see that the author of the piece gets it: writing is what drives a TV show, and character is what keeps the audience coming back week after week.

    Character is driven by the actors, yes, but it is also driven by the writers. The writers have to get inside the heads of the characters, become them, know them better than they know themselves. This is why the first episode/half-season of a series always, always sucks. The first part of a series is to sell you on the premise. After that, after we've stopped gawking at all the pretty lights and toys and started accepting them as reasonable, we start to get more concerned with the characters and the story.

    Would B5 have been the same had Sheridan not been written so strongly? Or the stories?

    Having guest writers means there is no continuity, the writers are not around long enough to know the characters. There isn't a master plan, and things don't go anywhere. And if B5 did anything, they raised the bar in that long term series now should go somewhere. Just lurking about in space trading witty dialogue with the alien du jour just doesn't cut it any more. Audiences get bored, they need to want to know what happens next -- next scene, next segment, next week.

    Asside: was I the only one that noticed that ST:DSN started to have an arc (the Dominion) that drove the story almost immediately after it became aparrent that B5 had one?

    Without interesting or developing characters, there is simply no point unless the stories are strong enough to stand on their own. And Outer Limits has shown a few stinkers in their time.

    I'd like to apologize for the tone of this post, I didn't mean for it to come out this harshly. I just don't think this is such a great idea.
    --

  • Then there was Star Trek cartoon which went
    away (and is never mentioned, and I have never seen, must have been bad).


    Filmation did it - same outfit that did "Lassie's Rescue Rangers". Eeek!

    Actually the stories weren't really distinguishably different in tone from those of the "real" series and the voices were done by the original crew (mostly). But the animation and the music were absolutely shite.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday October 30, 1999 @04:07AM (#1576105)
    Not always - there were a few episodes of Star Trek that were really good - but those of course were written by people like Harlan Ellison and Ted Sturgeon.

    Outer Limits though was the clear quill. I love throwing 'Demon With a Glass Hand' on my LD player.

    I hope Harlan is working on something......
  • If you want to know why the creaking Star Trek universe has to be retired, the Star Trek Mega-Rant [demon.co.uk] makes it very clear indeed.
    --
  • The studio for the original series was Desilu, which was purchased by Paramount later.

    The interesting thing about that is that Paramount wasn't even interested in Star Trek or really any of Desilu's shows at the time. They just wanted their lot. So really, Paramounts "cash cow" is really quite unintentional on Paramount's part.


  • That's the most intelligent, well thought-out idea I've ever heard anybody say about Star Trek in a long time. Now if only you worked for Paramount... :)

    Something like that would even work as a set of specials, with 2 one-hour stories. Another idea would be to pair your idea with classic episodes from TOS, TNG, DS9 (but not voyager because it sucks too bad :) ... half hour short, one hour show, perhaps with commentary (ala the Sci-Fi Channel's Star Trek 2nd Edition) and then maybe even another half-hour short....

  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday October 30, 1999 @04:35AM (#1576112) Homepage Journal
    It's the writing, stupid (not you, Mr. Nebular, I'm addressing Mr. Berman).

    The reason that the franchise is in trouble is that they're taking too much water out of the well. The big problem with Voyager and Ds9 was that there just weren't enough stories in the current creative team to cover all the territory. Half of the last DS9 season was simply creative treading of water. Insurrection wasn't bad, it just didn't have a story that justified a full feature film treatment. If you just took the best stories between the two series during the course they ran together, you would have had a hell of a series.

    I expect the current season of Voyager to be a great improvement on the last, but I'm reasonably certain its time for some new writing blood.
  • by ajs (35943) <ajsNO@SPAMajs.com> on Saturday October 30, 1999 @04:43AM (#1576114) Homepage Journal
    TNG was uneven, and those who refuse to admit that should be made to watch the "planet of somewhat clad bodybuilders" episode from the first season until they cry "uncle". TNG had some great episodes. The first half of "The Best of Both Worlds" was some of the most exciting TV SF I've seen. The second half was a sorry excuse for the beginning of a season (make them go to sleep? This is a fearsome enemy?) But that's OK. Unevenness at least proved they were trying, aspiring to SOMETHING. Voyager is not... uneven. It's quite bland all the way through. Sigh. Sometimes I turn on the TV and find Voyager and hope too much. I watch what might be a good episode, and my roommate says "it's all going to be a dream, you know. They can't actually be allowed to change things in this series." He's always right, of course.

    TOS was campy and sometimes truely bad (e.g. "Spock's Brain"), but there were times that that show succeded at something that TV SF had never done before (in the US anyhow): it made people THINK. There was a hue and cry over the inter-racial kiss. They even tried to explore (a little poorly, I admit) the phenomenon of hippies, which was a very touchy subject at the time (unless you were just slapping them down outright). They touched on the subjects of hatred, slavery and compassion. And, in the end it was just a much better show than TNG could ever have been because the studio was convinced it would fail. With TNG they would never have been allowed to show an actual gay couple kissing (in fact even a man-turned-woman kissing the Dr. goodbye was changed to a kiss on the wrist), but given the political climate of the times, that would be the exact political equivalent of the Kirk/Uhura kiss. I am not saying that this political topic had to be explored, but the fact that it could not be was quite telling.

    Why couldn't TNG forge into unknown territory politically? Because the studio thought the show could be a success. It did not have TOS' luxury of assumed failure.

    Same with Babylon 5 / Crusade. Straczynski was left alone to do Babylon 5, and challenged the viewers to re-invent TV SF in their minds. When he went to do Crusade, he found that the industry had never changed. He was just under their radar screen the first time around.

    It's not really Rick Bremman or Gene Roddenbury or JMS or Majel Barrette-Roddenbury (pardon misspellings) who have caused any of this. They try to varying extents to make their shows great. But, Hollywood is a scary town and perceived profit is like chum in the water for sharks. The Ferrengi start to look like the good guys....
  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday October 30, 1999 @04:54AM (#1576119) Homepage Journal
    Well, to paraphrase Monty Python It's Not Dead Yet.

    The only unqualified success in the franchise has been TNG. The logical thing, then, is to determine what made TNG a success and do more of it.

    I think a lot of the reason TNG worked was Patrick Stewart. Partly his persona was big enough to fill the screen without overflowing into hamminess (or at least not on a regular basis), but I think he as an actor moved the writers in a particular direction. I think that the writers thought they were given, not some run-of-the-mill TV actor but by golly a classically trained RSC caliber thespian. As a result, they gave him a lot of overblown material that made him, well, sort of a geeky swashbuckler. In other words, the material was expansive, but the actor was restrained. This kind of reminds me of the way Gilbert and Sullivan must be played. No matter how wacky the line, the character must not be in on the joke.

    I think the result is that the character of Picard is a balance of reflection and action. In a way, I see TNG's metastory as a meditation on how the stories we are the story we tell ourselves; how words and ideas inform our actions. That's why, at the end of the otherwise mediocre "Generations", Picard's little homily about the nature of time made the movie for me. Because it speaks to the part of our souls that need stories, to help us make sense of our experience.

    I think the ensemble approach is a bad thing for Star Trek. There must be a single character who anchors the series, and while he or she doesn't have to be the focus of all the action, he should play a critical part in making sense of the actions of others. I think most of the best Picard moments in TNG are when he does this, when his words or ideas sway others.

    The Starfleet Academy show could be a bad thing or a wonderful thing. I think it would be wonderful if it focused not on an ensemble of young people, but the people who mentor them.
  • by WombatControl (74685) on Friday October 29, 1999 @04:48PM (#1576123)
    There are a lot of reasons why Trek is in the state that it's in, but the main ones are Rick Berman and Paramount itself. In some ways, the death of Trek started in its own popularity.

    Trek is a massive cash cow for Paramount, a major franchise for them. Because of this, they're far less likely to do anything that would cut off that revenue flow. Basically, they can't take risks whith the story, because that might cause people to stop buying Trek stuff, and take a few precious pennies away from Paramount.

    Rick Berman is equally afraid of losing that income, because it would mean him losing his job. Now, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps this is because higher-ups have tied his hands. He's not the kind of person who can revitalize the franchise.

    By far, the best thing to do is to end Voyager gracefully and end the Trek franchise for a while. Bring it back with new blood in a few years, and bring it back to the spirit of the original, episodes and characters that actually take chances and make the audience think. Then, maybe, Trek can get back to where it should be.
  • The article didn't seem to mention that the writers on the original show were people we consider luminaries of science fiction. OK, now my ignorance of science fiction is going to bite me, but I remember Harlan Ellison for sure. I was always pretty impressed with the episodes he wrote.

    What makes these writers good is that, when asked to blend scientific and technological speculation, they don't go into a tizzy about whether it's possible. They think back to writers like Aeschylus and Shakespeare, who wrote stories that were independent of the technology base. Those stories, and many of the stories in the original series, turned on constant elements of human nature.

    I think Star Trek, and most of TV and almost all movies these days, is cursed with unimaginative, unskilled writers. Very rarely, some good writing slips thru the cracks, and invariably the show is cancelled. There seems to be some bigger profit margin in bad writing. Or maybe the execs consider it too risky to expose the public to quality. I find the whole phenomenon a little mysterious; an apparent failure of the free market.

  • by n2kiq (106867) <kronenpj@@@netzero...net> on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:02PM (#1576132) Homepage
    The whole thing just needs to rest for a while (as was pointed out by one of the preceeding posts).

    I more or less grew up during the middle of The Original Series. I think I've still missed a few episodes but they were really tackling current events issues (not that I knew it then). Roddenberry really put himself out on a very long, and very thin branch to produce this series, and it paid off too. Although it's a little dated it's still good stuff.

    Next Generation was basically a knock-off, but after 15+ years it was a welcome one. There was a good infusion of neat(tm) ideas that worked pretty well.

    The differing perspective of DS9 was good, but no one wants to watch 3+ years (or so it seemed) of War. Terry Farrell must have thought so.

    Voyager was initially a neat idea, but except for being way-far-away, there's little really, really new.

    Earth Final Conflict (on a slightly different, but paternally related subject) is a decent series, although I haven't watched it as much as I would like. It's a (reasonably) new and neat idea.

    Paramount - Take a rest for a while and dream up something really different and unique, then be deliberate in choosing where it goes.

    Just a few $0.0275 (inflation)
  • by ajs (35943) <ajsNO@SPAMajs.com> on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:04PM (#1576139) Homepage Journal
    Star Trek was a wonderful phenomenon to watch. The original series could really stand on its own, even given the extreme level of schmaltz. The fan-base was an unheard of phenomenon for a TV show.

    But it's been a long, slow downhill slide. The movies were always uneven, but the recent offerings even make The Great Bird's self-indugent outing in ST:TMP look like art. Voyager episode quality can be measured in terms of how much of the plot can be said to have actually happened at the end of the episode, and no one on the set of any recent ST production (TV or movie) actually takes it seriously beyond their own task. It's just a business, now (this last from various sources at media cons and through the Net).

    Look at what's been going on meanwhile: Babylon 5, Earth: Final Conflict, Farscape, X-Files. Even Reboot has plots that Voyager could learn a few things from. I'm not saying that other shows are perfect. Babylon 5's "Grey 17 Is Missing" provoked creator J. Michael Straczynski to lament not being able to apologize to each and every fan individually. But these shows try to explore what can be done with TV science fiction. Star Trek is interested in finding a way to increase the franchise market-share, and not much else.

    I'm not actually trying to bash Star Trek, here. What I'm trying to say is that the good people involved in that show would be far better served trying to create something new and innovative. Those who desperately cling to the franchise because it's the only way to assure a market should be quietly taken out and shot. It's just more humane that way. After all, they shoot producers, don't they?

    Perhaps in 20 years, the fan base will rise again to provoke a new generation of studio execs to re-create the mythos again. Until then, even the hint that ST's days may be numbered is welcome news in these quarters... :-|
  • I used to watch the various Treks pretty avidly as a young child. I was in high school when Deep Space Nine came out, and I couldn't help but realize that there are some bizarre racist overtones in Roddenberry's shows.
    Basically, Earth is portrayed as a cornucopia of cultures and ideas. Humans are almost as diverse in Trek as they are in Real Life. Of course, the language barrier supposedly has been cured, and somehow all of the warring nations ceased to be different enough from one another that they felt the need to fight any more.
    But I can't help but notice that there is ONE klingon culture, and it's basically a mockery of feudal Japanese society. And the Ferrengi are all alike, with one culture (disturbingly resembling the portrayal of Jews in Nazi propaganda films (don't you dare call Godwin on me for this one--would that I could have left Nazis out of this)).
    People often come to me and cry "but they have black *and* white klingons!", to which I say "That's genetics, not culture!"
    So, while Miles O'Brien, the Scottish monkey-wrench, marries Keiko, the Nipponese botanist, all the klingons show up as a homogeneous chorus.
    I say good riddance. IT's time we got rid of the "diversity is ok for us, but they're all alike!" mentality.
    --
    I noticed
  • Start Trek the Next Generation was the last (and best IMO) Star Trek. Everything since then has been a pathetic degradation until the latest versions with have devolved into lame soap operas. It is really quite pathetic at this point.
  • by Masem (1171) on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:12PM (#1576152)
    I feel that Insurrection broke the odd-number trek film curse, though it certainly wasn't the greatest trek film. Half the problem was that the movie, in terms of it's expanse and the influence that the plot had on current and future Trek history, was not very large.. if anything, this movie would have made a better episode, or two part episode even. But transferring something that would have made a good episode to the big screen requires the incorporation of lots of special effects. While these aren't absent in Insurrection, they stand out too much (Data's invisibility at the beginning, the invisible ship, and the space battle). They all feel forced. Most everything else about the movie feels about right and is pretty close to the original Trek series (notice that Picard got the girl this time :-).

    Now, Voyager on the other hand, is suffering from being in prime time and thus forcing ratings. If you think 7 of 9 is there to build personality, think again :-). It's not that Voyager's episodes aren't necessarily bad (There's a few that really stand out as stinkburgers however), but in 9 out of 10 times, it's been done in the trek universe before. This is one of the reasons the Doctor is getting a lot of favored reviews.. he's the only character (or type of character) that really hasn't been developed in any other trek series, and many of the plots revolving around him are new. Many of the Seven of Nine plots are too Borg-intensive, as opposed to moving her away from Borg. But every other character on Voyager is bland, and I've yet seen any really good exploration of one particular character that hasn't been done before.

    I agree that what Paramount should do is hold off on another series.. put at least a year between Voyager and whatever this new one is called (and since there's no B5 to compete against, there's no rush here). Plan the new Trek movie to premiere the same year as this series comes out; if possible revolve the movie around the new series (Although I've heard the new movie will be strongly Klingon in nature.. yeeesh).

  • by Tarnar (20289) on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:13PM (#1576155) Homepage
    First, have any people commenting so far (before my post in terms of chronology) even READ this article? It seems to be a Witchhunt.

    Here we have a Trek fan, who is bitter about the divergence in the franchise (so many different series), who is looking to point a finger. He calls TNG and Voyager tripe on the first page (and is half right ;-) ). He goes on to be nostalgic, quoting Shatner again and again on the decline of the series. Talking about the old scripts being the best ones, the old actors being the best actors. He even says WHY this may be so, as nostalgia can cloud your vision. The 'good ol days' are always better. Then he ignores he ever said that.

    Then he starts pointing fingers. Squarely at Rick Berman. Now, this is bar-none disgusting. He blames him for all the bad series. He blames him for killing off Kirk in a 'dishonorable' way (I thought how he died was good, he saved 200 odd million people and got to come back to life like Spock). Rick Berman may have had his faults, but he put DS9 & TNG on the air. Plus movies. Finding one person to point a finger at is SO easy, and here we see it done.

    Then there's all the talk of marketing and franchising. Now he sounds like a bitter Star Wars fan, whining about George Lucas getting commercial and sick about the series.

    Maybe Star Trek is dying. I hope not, DS9 was an amazing series. TNG was a great one too. 'Generations' was not as bad as the author wanted it to be. It was a way to look back at both TNG and TOS (or at least Kirk's hairpiece). It's sad to see a fan get bitter and start pointing fingers when his favorite toy series falls apart.
  • merely a cut down Outer Limits which uses Star Trek backgrounds.

    Interesting. When someone refers to an anthology series as being "like" something, they usually go for The Twilight Zone.

    Yes, I'm proposing an anthology series based loosely on the Trek universe.

    setting is irrelevant to the success or failure of a TV show (or movie).

    Setting is not irrelevant for many reasons. The first, and least important, is that setting draws people into the show. If the writing overshadows this, then you are essentially right as far as the viewer is concerned. However, setting is also critical in a TV show because it determines how likely you will be to succede in making the show. The Twilight Zone worked because they just used whatever sets were lying around. They dressed them up a little and shot. Nowadays, a series really needs to have its own space, and that means that you have to have some kind of stable sets. I was suggesting a way to go half-way and have semi-stable sets. This is how you get a "differnet" setting each week, and avoid being tied to "The Ship" or "The Station", etc. This makes the series bible simpler and less restrictive, which is a hook for authors, which leads into...

    Your other comments can be summed up as "it's the writing, stupid!"

    I cannot agree more. This is why I was pointing out a way to get the Paramount writers out of the loop and open it up wide to any authors who want to do mass-market SF. Does it have to be a Starfleet/Federation story? Not really. The likelyhood that someone's going to be able to make the episode will probably be increased if you use the core characters, but there's no reason that a story that only has 1 or 2 characters needs to use the regulars.... This could be a chance for Paramount/Viacom to really pump some life back into the series. Of course, based on past performance, I doubt it would happen.

    The other way I could see it going is to have a fairly loose bible, and a dictator-like staff-editor/writer who does the Straczynski thing (e.g. weaving a "background" plot which stretches over several seasons by slightly modifying the contributed scripts). This would have less likelyhood of working for Paramount, because they have no one like JMS to do this with an iron hand, and yet crank out top-notch backplot. If they could get someone, then it could work. Breman (is that the right spelling) would just screw this up. If you got someone who was really brilliant, though, you could even have the episodes out of chronological order, and slowly put the pieces together in such a way that only someone who sees the entire series even knows it's happening.

    I think, though, that the only reason this worked so well in the first and second seasons of B5 was that viewers who didn't "get" the uber-plot were still grabbed by the individual stories. If you want to do that for Trek, you need to rip it out of the current "writing team" hands. Writing by commitee does not work, and ST is now a great example of the pitfalls.
  • by Temporal (96070) on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:22PM (#1576167) Journal

    In my opinion, TNG was the best TV series I've ever seen. No, I'm not a trekkie. I don't own a single piece of Star Trek merchandise, and I haven't seen an episode of Voyager since last season. But I understand it. Note that when I say "Star Trek" here, I am mainly refering to The Next Generation (and also Voyager and DS9), as I am not very familiar with the original series.

    Star Trek is not about science or technology. Those are just a medium for the real stuff that goes on. Star Trek is about the characters and moral issues. To enjoy the show, you have to watch it consistantly. You have to know the characters. Half (if not more) of the content of the show is just about the characters and how they are growing. Most people wouldn't understand why it is hillarious when Data says "oh shit!" It is, of course, because doing so contrasts so much with his normal character. (he says "oh shit!" shortly after first installing his new emotion chip) When you really get in to it, you find that Star Trek has better character development than almost every other series on TV today.

    The other important issue in Star Trek is the moral issues presented. One of the most interesting episodes of Voyager that I have seen involved a debate over whether or not it is right to use medical or other scientific data aquired through immoral means. Although I did not agree with the decision made by the Captain, I found myself talking about that episode for hours afterwards.

    If shows like this don't interest you, that doesn't make me think any less of you. Everyone has their own tastes. But lots of people come at Star Trek from the wrong direction, and then they think it sucks. Star Wars fans, in particular, can't seem to comprehend the idea of sci-fi without constant fight scenes and explosions. So, I guess what I want to say is, no, just because you don't get it doesn't mean it sucks.


    -------------
  • "I think the ensemble approach is a bad thing for Star Trek"

    On the contrary, I think the very essence of Star Trek was about the group. The original Star Trek was not about people flying around in a space ship. It was about a black woman communications officer, a Russian pilot (or whatever), a Japanese officer, etc. The whole idea was that they could illustrate, using the idea of a bunch of people forced to work together against a common enemy out in space, that we are all in the same boat, that we're all together and that we're all "special". They were all different reflections of humanity.

    Likewise TNG followed in those footsteps. We have a Klingon officer who represents the aggressiveness in us. We have Troy and Guinen, who represents the mystical in us. We have the analytical-yet-more-human-than-the-humans-themselv es Data. We have Giordi LaForge, an African American character who despite his blindness is the main engineer. We have Q, the omnipotent being who all the while is plagued by human foibles himself. Throw in an Earl Grey drinking Englishman, and a few other characters, and couple this all with very well written, intriguing, suspenseful, interesting plots and you have a great success. I don't think I ever got sick of TNG while it was on. I don't think I ever thought to myself "this is so contrived" like I do about the newer stupid "love-boat"/"soap-opera" Star Trek series out today (DS9, Voyager).

    BTW, I am not a trekkie...I just happen to appreciate good sci fi, and really hate when it goes to crap...
  • It's sad to see what's happened to Trek over the years. TOS was pretty good. I personally think Trek was at its peak during TNG, but I know I'm in a minority as far as that's concerned so I'll just shut up about it.

    DS9 was a good series in its own right. But it never felt quite right; it was tied in with the Trek universe quite well, but it didn't feel like Trek.

    Voyager... I'd like to like Voyager. A few of the episodes are actually very good. But it just doesn't work like TNG or TOS or even DS9 did. It's like Trek crossed with Lost in Space (not the movie; the original TV version).

    At least they cancelled that one atrocity they were thinking of doing; I can't remember the title but it sounded like it would turn out as Star Trek meets Saved by the Bell. A series based on Starfleet Academy could be a Good Thing, but I don't think the present team could pull it off.

    The Trek franchise isn't going to die out anytime soon. If you don't believe me, rent Trekkies and watch some people who are probably obsessed to an unhealthy degree. The question is whether it will continue for a long time or suffer a prolonged, agonizing death. Sadly, at the moment it seems like the latter. But I hope it turns around, either with Voyager or whatever next series (that idea with Sulu and the Excelsior was very cool; what happened to it?)
  • Ok, before everyone goes non linear on this "death of trek" idea, I'd like to propose an alternate explanation. Let's take the two most recent movies:
    • Insurrection - grossed 73 million
    • First Contact - grossed 95 million

    One possible hypothesis is the aforementioned "death of trek" theory, but here's an alternate one:


    First Contact made more money because it was a *much* *better* *movie*


    Stay with me folks, we're just getting started ... now how about the much
    lamented Voyager and it's less-than-stellar tv ratings? More evidence
    that the franchise is faultering? Possibly. Let's review, which of the
    following non-starter ideas/characters/incidents have occurred on Voyager?

    • Introduce little girl with horns on her head, ensure that she
      is on par with Wesley Crusher in terms of appeal, feature
      her prominently in a number of episodes.
    • Have the doctor and/or seven of nine sing, possibly even nursery rhymes in three out of four episodes starting a new season.
    • Produce threatening, captivatingly brilliantly conceived villians
      like the kazons (or was that the chili-con-kazons) and feature
      them for a season and a half.
    • Have Chakotay hop onto the shuttlecraft for some sort of pow wow
      with the 'great spirits' in order to sort out some bad
      delta quadrant mojo

    The answer? All of the above. I mean really folks, what do the folks at paramount expect? You put out garbage like that and then are surprised when people don't bother with it? And as far as the franchise dying goes - you could have made that statement just after the release of *every* *one* of the odd numbered movies and for every odd numbered movie (so far) there was an even numbered movie that mysteriously revitalized the dying franchise.


    It isn't hard Paramount, produce something worthwhile and we'll line your
    pockets - produce crap and you'll end up eating it.

  • by ajs (35943) <ajsNO@SPAMajs.com> on Friday October 29, 1999 @05:33PM (#1576187) Homepage Journal
    Star Trek is essentially dead. Voyager is stringing along just well
    enough to keep some minimal fan base from storming the studio with
    pitchforks and torches, but.....

    What if Paramount created a very loosely themed series with nothing
    but guest writers and a team of staff-editors? You could have a group
    of 5-10 "regulars". Kind of an anthology show, maybe even with
    1/2-hour shorts grouped 2 per episode. Don't give it a ship. We've
    already established that the ships look pretty similar inside, so
    there's no reason to tie the show down. Just build a bunch of sets
    that can be quickly dressed to be different ships.

    You could then tackle everything from the oft mentioned Star Fleet
    Academy (still an idea I would need proved to me) to exploration to
    simple character pieces to huge Starfleet-moving plots. Hell, at that
    point you might even get a few good SF writers to write an episode or
    two. Not so much share-cropper novels as mildly-constrained free-form
    SF.

    The best way to go would probably be to avoid setting any
    ground-rules. Just write up the core cast for the series bible and set
    the writers loose. If they write something that you would never have
    allowed, but it just works, go with it.

    This is really about all I can imagine that would save Star
    Trek. You'll notice that I've given no actual story ideas here. If
    someone's on the inside, please feel free to show this around, as
    there's nothing here that any real claim could be laid to.
  • Is Star Trek dead? I will have to answer "It depends."

    I have long been a Trekker. I grew up with The Next Generation (the best of the Trek series IMHO). I also know what makes Star Trek better than Prime Time.

    It's the story stupid! If there is a good plot and theme, that could make up for the worst of actors, the most hideous directing, and the cheeziest special effects.

    Star Trek did this. Gene Roddenberry was a God because of this. The Next Generetion did this. I can't count how many times both series have surprised me, gasp at the depth, and made me think. This is what Star Trek did well and this is what made it a success. It was (and still is) one of few shows that want you to think.

    Then came Deep Space Nine. DS9 had a great concept. It could have been great in the same way Star Trek 6 was great. In many ways the show was great. But somewhere along the lines, the story became unoriginal and cheap. But then they began a war, somewhat like Babylon 5, and it meant something. I was satisfied with the last few seasons of DS9 but I will submit that it lowered Star Trek to a point that it was like everything else.

    And Voyager. This is a sad show that tried, futily, to retake some of the energy from TNG. Voyager has had some great shows but what it lacks is excellent theme. Theme is key to all that is Trek. If a show doesn't mean anything, I don't want to watch it and I am sure there are others who agree with me. Voyager kept rehashing the same themes, whether original to Voyager ot stolen from TNG. These themes became stale. Then 7 of 9 came aboard and the ratings went up! Now instead of trying to revive Star Trek, all the producers needed to was keep the audience staring at Seven's breasts--just like everything else. So in this sense, Star Trek is dead. It should be hung and tortured for the monster it has become. But, there might still be hope.

    I will use a familiar cliche to Babylon Five watchers: This new series might be our last, best hope for Trek. I have read of some rumors about the new series parelleling the United States and Europe. The uninitialted may find nothing of interest here. But the more alert Trekkers will recognize this as another attempt at the thing Star Trek has done so well: making Star Trek relevent to a current day audience. Indeed, this is a common challenge for all science-fiction. But think! The recent controversy over the United States attacking Kosovo. Whichever side of the fence you take regarding this incident, there is plenty to say here about morality and human beings in general. How exciting it could be. Hopefully, as the article suggests, Rick Bermin will rethink Star Trek in this way. Come on Rick. Tell us something for us to ponder. Make us think. Blur the distinction between good and evil. And have our heros save the federation from its largest threat: itself.

    This new series holds all the cards. This could be the resurrection of Star Trek! It could also bury Star Trek forever.

    Live long and prosper, Star Trek.

    ***Beginning*of*Signiture***
    Linux? That's GNU/Linux [gnu.org] to you mister!
  • Really all it would take is some decent scripts. But this is exactly the problem, it just can't happen. Any time a sci-fi series goes mainstream because of popularity, or is designed for a "pop" audience, it is bound to be mediocre, IMHO. It's designed to make a lot of money, and therefore it has to reach the widest audience, which means it has to be a generic plot. I'm doing some extreme generalizing here, but hopefully you see what I mean. Movies like the matrix could have been so much more if they weren't limited by hollywood rules, and even the matrix was a bit out there by hollywood standards, I think.

    The franchise is NOT going to go away anytime soon. If it has even a 1% chance of making money, it will be around (witness most movie sequels). I did enjoy TNG the most, then DS9. Somehow Voyager just doesn't impress me. The plots from show to show get repetitive, with a lot of holes in the plot (big fight with the borg, the ship gets all f'ed up, then suddenly its all back together next week like nothing happened). The characters seem one-dimensional, and I'm simply not impressed by them. Bad acting maybe? I don't know. Maybe I just really like the ST:TNG cast for some reason.

    It's not like there is much else on TV right now thats any better than voyager anyway, however. Mediocre across the board (I'm really cynical if you didn't notice). What was the last series on TV or movie that you saw that was at all original? I'd be interested in what other /. readers have to say about this. I can't even think of a movie, maybe x-files on tv back when it was a newer show...

    It seems to me that the only originality in sci-fi these days is in books...most of the better sci-fi doesn't translate well to the screen, though. Of course that is true of any book in any genre, however. Maybe thats just because of Hollywood.
  • I disagree with the author's opinion that TNG sucked. It didn't. I liked TOS a bit better, but I thought TNG was nothing to be ashamed of. DS9 was a bit more cerberal than most would like, but I liked it as a change of pace. IMHO, I thought the show took a turn for the worse (debatable though?) when they added the Defiant to the station. I never really understood the whole Dominion thing. Voyager was cool the first year. It was a change of pace from DS9 and was action-centric (as DS9 was focused on the mind, Voyager is squarely focused on the body).

    I think that Voyager diverged greatly in the second season. It lost its way. Then, they added 7 of 9. While most of the viewers today, only watch it because of Jeri Ryan, I think it is a cheap publicity stunt. She adds nothing of value to the series. The Borg - been there, done that. (I am Locutus of Borg - WOW, was that a great cliffhanger!). I remember waiting for months on how the next TNG season would begin. It was fun. People on BBSes would be chatting back and forth arguing about how the next season would start. We were hardly disappointed by the TNG cliffhangers. Alas, DS9 and Voyager lacked that aura.

    The recent movies (after IV - the best bar none - okay, II was great as well) have all danced around the themes of ST. They do not have the magic that a single episode of TOS or TNG had. It was all about special effects not about plotline (as has been beaten to death by others here on /.).

    Berman and everyone else at Paramount needs to go ahead and devote a new movie (or series) that refocuses the franchise on plot and story with REAL characters with a twist of action every now and then to keep the audience awake(!). It is something that is sorely missing from the franchise right now. When they rediscover Roddenberry's formula (they will - someone will...), ST will be just as good as it ever was. If they have to take a hiatus in production of ST related shows or movies, so be it. It'll be the stronger for it in the long run.

    I can't wait until II and IV are on DVD (especially II). Too bad it will be a few years (bad Paramount, bad Paramount). Wonder if DVD will survive until then...

    Later,
    Justin
  • Hey, I'd even like to see your idea happen like the Hallmark Hall of Fame series. 4 times a year, produce and show and new 1 or 2 hour episode, anthology style. The stories don't have to be linked together either with crew or ship or timeline.

    They could even do a sort of mini-series, with maybe 8 or 10 episodes spread out a week at a time, and do that twice a year. That way they can get character development, and also give good treatment to various political happenings in the Klingon, Romulan and Federation universes.
  • You're right on the money here. One of the only shows around that wants you to think. Think deeply. They've lost that. Our entire society is losing it as well, for that matter.

    That's the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars. Star wars was always a special effects show, that focused more on the setting and the technology than the characters or reality. A fairy tail with a sort of binary good vs. evil. But we've all seen this many times now, and I think thats the reason star wars didn't do quite as well all these years later. So when Star Trek reduces itself to this level, it suffers badly, especially since that isn't what made it popular in the first place, or what it excels at.

    But does the average public even want a thinking show anymore? I hope so but I'm not so sure. NBC canned TNG while it was still a very strong show. Perhaps this was part of the reason, the dumbing down of our society? Or perhaps we watch dumb happy-feely shows like ally mcbeal because, well, thats all they give us.
  • by jrs (27486)
    They should focus on the borg more... its the federation's most deadly enemy. Movies/Shows, telling us how the borg came to be, etc... or has that alredy been done? Mix that in with a hostile Klingon's and it would be something great to see.
  • Anyone who would insist that the best of the lot was "Next Generation" (once called "a talk show in space" by Spin) or "Voyager" (the Gilligan's Island" of "Trek") has been sipping too much Romulan ale.
    Wwwwwhat? Okay, we all know that Voyager sucks, but everybody of my generation was born and raised on ST:TNG. I remember having debates with my middle school home room teacher about TNG character development. I've had friends who are still glued to the screen watching "All Good Things" for the nth time. Nonononono, how the heck could you possibly blame TNG for killing Trek? TNG SAVED Trek. It opened up the Trek universe to ... well, a new generation of viewers (baaad double entendre, baaaad) ... It's a well known fact that both Shatner and Nemoy have at one time or another denounced the fandom of Trek ("I'm Not Spock", "Get A Life") and this journalist chooses them for his major sources? Why not talk to some of the newer casts? Oh yeah, because you're biased and want to interject your nostalgia into your story. That's what we in the business call bad journalism. Oh yeah, am I the only one who wanted to cheer when Kirk died (both times) in Generations? =)
  • It wasn't your opinion I was commenting on. You're perfectly free to dislike Star Trek, I don't mind at all. What I was commenting on was your statement that anyone who likes "science fiction" has to hate Star Trek. I don't see any reason why you can't like both. After all, I do....
  • I'm not sure if our society has dumbed down so much as the television viewing audience might have dumbed down. I for one have stopped watching television. I tend to get my entertainment and information from the Web, with a dash of NPR and the local public radio carrier while I drive to and from work. If ever I do watch television, it's because I want to zone and get some popcorn for the brain. I'm more inclined to believe that people that are looking for challenging content find it elsewhere, not that there are fewer people in society seeking challenging topics.
  • Being 22, I wasn't even alive when it was taped.

    Kid, this was the old days. The original series wasn't taped. It was filmed.

    And to watch Star Trek way back then, we had to walk all the way into town, where the only TV in the county was, in the window of the hardware store. It was five miles, in the snow all the way up to our shoulders, uphill both ways!!! And if The Brady Bunch happened to be on instead of Star Trek, well dadgummit we just held our noses, stood there and watched the danged thing!! And we were THANKFUL for it!!!

  • TOS had some good ideas and storylines, but it was always hard to grasp completely with such low-quality acting/effects/scripts/Shatner to make it confusing. It seemed far more adventurous and fun without the strictness and protocol of the Federation that is far more evident in the later series.

    TNG, however, was my overall favorite. Unlike TOS, there actually was some character development. There was also more dealing the science/technology aspect of science fiction. It was the series I saw first, and probably the only one I really got into.

    At first, DS9 tried to bring a new concept of a slower-paced life, dealing more with things like politics and less with action, not that this was something most Trek fans were really interested in. I missed most of the earlier seasons myself. After awhile, DS9 brought in a war, as well the Defiant, to spice things up a bit. The new action element was perhaps interesting, but it was never really Trek. DS9 just didn't seem to have the same catch as the previous two series.

    Voyager seemed to be a good idea in the beginning. It was a way to get Star Trek away from the Federation, out where everying hasn't already been explored. It could've been more like TOS, with no annoying rules to restrict everything. Of course, that didn't quite happen. They just had to put Janeway in there and screw everyone over. Ratings drop; throw in Seven. Fuck the Trekkers, just make it like every other show so the general public will like it. There is so much that could have been done with Voyager that was never realized.

    Perhaps Trek isn't truly dead, but it's certainly not at its peak. Reviving Trek would either require some massive changes in Voyager, a fresh idea for a series that doesn't suck, a good true-to-Trek movie, or maybe just a rest for awhile. For some reason, I have a feeling that this is not going to happen. Oh well, that's the way our wonderful society works.

  • This was originally posted on the Ain't it Cool News [aint-it-cool-news.com] website back in August (1999), and you can find the original full story here [aint-it-cool-news.com].

    The interesting bit is this:

    "Interestingly enough, there was a surprising lack on consistency between the reports, save for info on one of the titles - Gene Roddenberry's PHOENIX RISING. All of the reports about this show said pretty much the same thing. Thus, the Phoenix Rising information should be considered rather reliable, although please be aware some changes will likely come down during the show's developmental process."

    ....

    "Gene Roddenberry's PHOENIX RISING. Phoenix Rising is being developed by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine alumni Robert Hewitt Wolfe.

    FLASH BACK: Remember Roddenberry's two series pilots from the '70s (Genesis II and Planet Earth)? Both featured a man called Dylan Hunt being frozen in (more or less) modern day, then revived on an Earth that has fallen to great savagery and barbarism. The point of the proposed series would have been for Hunt and his sidekicks to work towards reuniting and re-unifying mankind. Remember this concept for a moment, and the name Dylan Hunt.

    PRESENT DAY: Robert Hewitt Wolfe conceives of his "perfect" Star Trek series: a series set thousands of years in Star Trek's future. The galaxy is in turmoil, all of the governments to which Trek fans are accustomed have crumbled and imploded. The galaxy is a really screwed up place: Vulcans have renounced their logic and are now savage enemies of anyone who crosses them. Homeless Klingons roam space in violent packs of attack ships. The Federation is long gone - but it is an ideal not forgotten to those living in this untamed reality.

    A Federation Starship...an "Enterprise" from a bit further down the ship's lineage...is discovered drifting in space, its Captain (and maybe a few crew) are frozen in stasis. Ship and crew are revived, and are horrified by the galaxy to which they awaken. Using their Enterprise as an icon for the cohesion and strength that used to be (but is now lost), Enterprise and her rag-tag crew set out to restore the Federation to what it once was, and restore peace and balance to the galaxy.

    It is unclear if Wolfe ever formally approached Paramount with this Trek series concept. None the less, the basic idea for his series is finding its way into a new (non-Trek) "Roddenberry" series called Phoenix Rising.

    Take the Genesis II / Planet Earth scenarios mentioned above...throw them together with Wolfe's "ideal" Star Trek series...and you get Gene Roddenberry's PHOENIX RISING. PR is the tale of a spaceship and captain found drifting in deep space. They are revived into a galaxy that is all messed-up. They set about trying to restore peace and order to the way of things - by trying to re-unite the galaxy and resurrect the glorious old days of solidarity and (relative) peace. It's a tough job in a tough place, but somebody's gotta do it.

    Given this formula, one significant question sticks out: this "galaxy in decay" notion would have worked magnificently on Star Trek - as viewers would already have a general frame of reference for what Trek history looks like & feels like. Thus, we can understand what has actually been lost, and are able to visualize what our heroes are trying to resurrect.

    But Phoenix Rising does not have the benefit of dealing with such solid and established notions of what has come before, because its back history (on which the entire series is predicated) has never been seen or experienced by the audience. As such, one concern regarding Phoenix Rising is that our heroes will be struggling towards a "new order" / "golden age" which has no resonance or point of association to the viewer. Thus, the "goal" of the series might seem tenuous or abstract, unless the show (somehow) conceives of a brilliant & effective way to convey the coveted age of hope which our characters are striving to bring back - so we can associate with what their endgame really is.

    As far as I can tell, Hercules' Kevin Sorbo has expressed great interest in playing the revived captain in Phoenix Rising, although no final decisions have been made on this. I am told that Sorbo will either go for PR, or Gene Roddenberry's ANDROMEDA (see below).

    Phoenix Rising is currently being developed with an eye towards a Fall 2000 premiere."

    .....

    I would LOVE to see it a star trek series developed as mentioned above, but it looks like Paramount will find a way to mess with it again and screw it up...

    and I haven't seen anything as far as recent news on Phoenix Rising, since I am not really that heavy of a TV watcher, etc...

    but one can always hope, I suppose...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Uh oh.

    'Paramount announced a new series today, "Borg". A spin off from the Star trek universe, the show will center around watching Borg drones mill around their ship for 45 minutes, and then assimilate any new speices they come across. "Fans love space combat. Fans love the borg. They're easy to understand and we don't need writers, so we can cut that out of our overhead. Every episode will have a borg cube vaporise any defenses they come in contact with. And Lots of starships being destroyed is a garanteed ratings boost. We also give a nod to the original series, where the mission was to seek out new life and new civilizations. This is a great plot formuala. The viewer can watch as the drones become aquanted to new species. They will discover what makes them tick, their hopes and dreams and their uniqueness in the universe. This will be filed for future reference so that the drones can begin assimilating as soon as possible with brutal efficency. We've already done a pilot and the audiance response was...emotionally high."

    A previously employeed writer mentioned "We noticed that voyager recived much better ratings when the charactor 'Seven of Nine' was introduced. From now on all borg drones will be recruited from bikini contests and borg costumes will be reduced to cool looking tattoos and previously mentioned bikinis."

    Even the Computer Animation artists are excited: "We've spent the last week trying to give the Borg Cube breasts. The challenge has revitalized us! We've been staring at breasts for days now and we're *this* close to a breakthough."

    Young fans who don't remeber a time before new Trek episodes have breathed a collective sigh of relief.
    "It was awful, I actually had money IN THE BANK. There was nothing new out there for me to buy!" comments one fan.
    Another fan started making a comment in Klingon before being savagely beaten by a screaming Esperanto supporter.'

    Kirk out.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The studio for the original series was Desilu, which was purchased by Paramount later.
  • While reading in the Salon article about how the orignal series lasted only 3 seasons, as compared to the subsequent, modern shows which have logged vastly more episodes than the first, it occurred to me that the original series competed in a vastly tighter television market than did/does the newer shows. When the original show aired, there were only 3 major networks and there was no cable. Most folks were doing well to get good reception on three stations. Also, it was not uncommon for the T.V. stations you did get to "sign-off" at some point late at night (i.e. they were not necessarily 24-hour).

    The point is, there just weren't that many available time slots for shows like there are today. If a show today can't get a time slot on one of the major networks, it is frequently an option to look to an alternative outlet -- cable channels -- to still get the show on the air.

    So, in that sense, it seems to me it is a worthy achievment that the original series was able to occupy one of those limited time slots for 3 years. I wonder how long any of the other Trek shows would have lasted under the same circumstances. Or how long would the original have gone if cable had been available then?
  • In a way, The Original Series is a lot like this. There was no week to week continuity. There was no defined 'mission': Each week's episode was self-contained, and didn't depend on stuff in *any* other episode.

    And it was fun.

    That's what has been missing in TNG, DS9, and VOY. I can't watch Voyager, especially after they brought in T of A.

    So, my vote is for the anthology series, with maybe a small number of characters who show up more regularly than others.. This way, we could get a marines episode, an academy episode, a 'love story' episode, a Q episode, a 'where are they now' episode, etc..

    The studio excuse is that this would be horribly expensive. Well, TOS got by with some *very* clever people, and strong, passionate writing. Not bean counters, attempting to build a strategy that would turn a long-term profit, by studying 'market demographics', etc.

    And no more 'use the real-life person generated in the holodeck to remodulate the dilithum crystals with a pulsed-phased tachyon bean emitter module'.

Loan-department manager: "There isn't any fine print. At these interest rates, we don't need it."

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