Friday, April 5, 2013

Thank you, Ron Moore...

for saying what Matt and I have been saying for years, but far more diplomatically and without screaming.

Truth be told, his point about Star Trek being better suited to a TV show than a movie and the movies ultimately being more action heavy and focused on one character apply to even the good TOS and TNG movies, including the one RDM wrote, but still. Matt makes a similar argument in his post about why Star Trek is better than Star Wars (sorry, Andrew), but it applies here as well. I do miss the weekly morality play/character exploration you get in the TV show. I like that he cites Data's Day and Lower Decks, as those are episodes we loved, but just would never be the movie version of a franchise.

So, yes, do more Star Trek on TV. I know television shows starting or getting new life directly to Netflix seems to be in the experimental stages, and the costs of an hour long sci-fi drama might kick it out of that realm, but I can't think of a better way to hit your target audience without the stress and pressure of a television network.

Also, while I'm wishing upon a star, hire Matt and me to write it. We would be awesome at it. Just saying.


  1. I kind of fear Trek returning to TV.

    I think it is likely that the people who really care about it (such as Berman, Coto, RDM) have long since moved on to other projects or into retirement, and that the people who would be tapped by CBS/Paramount to do it would have no connection to or inclination to contact those people. I feel like it would be redone in the image of the movies, probably by the same hack assholes who churn out dross like Hawaii Five Oh, Lost, and other Abrams crap-o-ramas. They'd probably want to do a reboot of TOS, because creativity is not the strong suit of the current "stewards" of the franchise (scare quotes are a necessity there). They'd have to recast it because 50% of the movie actors are probably too big, but they'd probably try to do so in such a way as to hit the Smallville/Green Arrow/Vampire Diaries CW demographic. It would lack the effects budgets that would draw simpletons to the show, and it would lack the idea content that draws people like us, so it would fizzle out and fail within a few seasons, probably killing the franchise for good.

    So, not a rosy scenario if you ask me. But maybe I should be optimistic. Maybe they could get actual good writers and show runners, and the thing wouldn't be a steaming pile of crap. What should it be, then?

    I would be very resistant to a TOS reboot, or any type of prequel. Enterprise showed us the inherent dangers of such a project - you hem yourselves in as far as stories go, and it's extremely difficult to do anything but piss off stalwart fans and bore new ones (season 4 notwithstanding).

    So it seems to me Trek would have to advance into the future beyond TNG/DS9/VOY. But would I want just another show about a ship, revisiting the same sorts of stock villains? I'm sure I'd watch it, but I don't know if I'd be *moved* by it.

    TNG was amazing in part because its creators consciously set out to expand the universe, to get back to the "final frontier" aspects of the concept. And VOY and DS9, for whatever their faults, also pushed the boundaries of the format and the universe. Enterprise was problematic precisely because it couldn't possibly do anything new in such a way as to please a good swathe of the viewership, and doing prequel stuff is really hard (it took 4 seasons to get to anything worthwhile in this vein).

    I think maybe a concept that could be interesting is a long term exploration mission, a generational ship going to the next galaxy. Maybe it's 100 years after current continuity. The ship could be populated by all of the former adversarial races of the Milky Way. There could still be simmering tensions, but there would also be a shared ethos, a desire to make it work. Thus, the show could be a metaphor for the sort of multicultural democratic experiment that marks the "western" world today. I'd have to give more thought to externally-generated conflicts, since this would be an intergalactic mission, but I'm sure something compelling could be cooked up.

  2. I would watch a show about the 29th century time ships that they made so many allusions to. They wouldn't always have to be making time jumps, of course, space goes on forever, and there'd still be new frontiers to explore, so it could be a combination of the two.

    But maybe that's the Whovian in me.

    For what it's worth, I'd watch it if you guys wrote Trek.

  3. Just for the sake of fun, how would you treat ongoing story arcs and character arcs in your Star Trek series? Would it be to the extent that Voyager did them? Would they be almost non-existent like TOS, having each episode stand on its own? Or really pronounced story arcs like in Enterprise or the end of DS9? Also if you had ongoing story arcs, do you have anything in mind of what they might be?

  4. Well, there's just so many options. I think we would at the least need a 50-60 year jumpo into the future. We would need to have the canon accessible, but not in a binding way. The books try to portray a post-war Federation, but between the Borg and the 'Typhon Pact," things don't go too well. I was not a fan of much of the Borg stuff in the recent novels and with one or two exceptions, the Typhon Pact novels are not actually "good."

    I think there's a lot of room from a narrative standpoint. You could focus on a group of people or do several mini-arcs focusing on different areas of the Federation. I would prefer an exploration based show. Whatever else you think of the Abrams stuff, there isn't a lot of boldly going places. I would enjoy a balance of arc versus standalone. There should be enough in each episode to snag a casual viewer, but things could certainly fit into a larger picture over time, if only obliquely.

    For me though, I would most want the focus on a group of interesting, well-drawn characters and their interactions. I think TNG is so enduring in the love it gets because the group dynamic is the most intense, and it gives the viewer an anchor for wherever else you want to take the story.

  5. I still need to give it some thought when it comes to overarching plot. But I know for sure that if I were in charge of a Trek TV franchise, I'd want to truly return it to pushing the boundaries of sci-fi. So the characters would reflect the changes to humanity that technology has wrought.

    For instance:

    1. Artificial intelligence on the scale of a "Schizoid Man" scenario - can people place themselves into machines? Id so, what is lost and what is gained?

    2. Becoming cyborgs. Just as we are today, we should really push characters into biomodification (a la the Bynars). Perhaps a Borg truce storyline could come into play here. When is someone no longer human? What's the boundary? Who gets the mods and who doesn't? What would be valid reasons for eschewing them?

    3. Effective immortality. Not just of the 130 year variety, but basic immortality barring accidental death. How does this change society? Who made the cutoff, who didn't? (possible tie in to item 1).

    Many of the ideas I'd want to explore are things broached in previous shows and then not returned to. So there is a lot of room for continuity building/honoring.

  6. 4. A religious revival that springs up in relation to the above technological phenomena. How does a secular humanist society deal with a resurgence of religious faith? Can it be disproven, and should it? No BS "proven" religions like the Bajorans. Pure faith, serving the emotional and intellectual needs of a changing humanity.

    5. Immortality leads to a return of scarcity. Instead of the economics of unlimited plenty, people want land, art, beauty, which is scarce given a ballooning population. Perhaps this drives colonization outward. Surely the Ferengi could play some part here.

  7. You really could do a lot with that theme

  8. Well, that's just one guy spit balling over one evening. Which makes the fact that four guys with millions of dollars and years of lead time came up with THAT all the more egregious.

    IMHO, Trek is at its best when it uses Sci Fi and its setting to illuminate the human condition. It's just not really suited to dumb action spectacles. There are so many better backdrops for unsophisticated, fun action stories.

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  9. I want to make it known right now that if there is a new show, there better be one gay character of at least "recurring" status. That shit got old well before Enterprise whiffed on it.

    Especially if we jump the show even farther in the future, I would really like a conscious attempt to portray day to day life as well as large sci-fi issues. Some of my favorite moments in all of Star Trek are the O'Briens being a married couple.

    You know what could be fun? A space ship that's not part of Starfleet. Maybe it couldn't anchor a whole series, but I think it would be an interesting focus to see how civilian space travel operates or how people who haven't trained to be the best of the best respond to these situations.

    1. oops. The comment responding to Matthew was actually meant to be a reply to you Kevin. I don't know why I put it in the wrong place. I think I might be stupid

    2. I'm curious about what you thought of the idea of Mayweather's character in Enterprise (perhaps setting aside how they actually carried it out). It seems like they at least made an attempt to show life outside of starfleet in that time period.

      I like the day-to-day life idea, although one aspect I never really liked was the relationships in Star Trek. I know basically everyone will disagree with me on this, but I didn't get into any of the relationships in Star Trek, and I even thought it was unbecoming that there were almost no married couples. My favorite relationship in Star Trek might even be Tuvok and his wife T'Pel, because the only aspect you saw of it was his loyalty. I liked the O'Briens, but they sure did bicker a lot. If I had a series I would have most people already be married, and I wouldn't plan on any blossoming relationships. If two characters seemed to click I would work from there. If I had a series I would also announce from the beginning that one or more of the main characters were gay, but I wouldn't reveal who was gay until maybe the 2nd season, just to demonstrate how sexuality isn't an issue in that place and time. Call me a prude but I probably wouldn't have people even discussing sexual related things for the most part

    3. Keep in mind you'd be having a gay main character entirely because it's pc to do so, or because you want to do so, and not because it resembles actual demographics. The percentage of the population that is in fact gay, and self-describes as gay for a significant portion of their adult lives is quite small--under 5%.

  10. I hate to say this but the basic problem with Star Trek in this arena is that it always plays like it's written by men who don't actually have relationships. It's either just straight up titillation or some unrealistic portrayal of the mechanics of a long tern relationship. It's kind of why I liked the O'Briens so much. Married people argue, like all the time. It was respectful and all that, but I liked that problems did not have easy solutions, and you have to work to take everyone's needs and feelings into account.

    It might be interesting to explore what LTRs are like in this setting. Without any economic or social pressures "pushing" people to get or stay married, what would marriage look like? I think a mature and empathic writer could do a lot with that.

  11. As you guys know, there is a new Trek series planned to come out (and i think it will be on Netflix) and I am on the fence about it. On the one hand I am happy to see it back as a series and especially to see seasoned Trek writers and producers, and thus people who actually do KNOW and UNDERSTAND Star Trek be on board. But on the other hand I am also worried about just how stupid TV has become and whether this new Star Trek will be like TNG, VOY, DS9 and even ENT or more like the dumbed down throw up rides by Abrams and Lin and their awful team of incompetent writers who are Star Wars fans at best and know jack shit about Trek other than the usual platitudes and stereotypes.

    I mean we live in a world where people think the writing in The Walking Dead is good. Or that having "what major character can we kill off this time for shock value" has become a thing (Game of Thrones etc). And i dont want that to happen to a new Trek series. Will it be a smart show or a dumb one appealing to the attention span of the Jersey Shore generation? Will it be all about tits and ass and stupid shit like the crappy reboots by Abrams and Lin or will it be more philosophical where they explore, as Moore said, science fiction ideas, sociological ideas and moral ideas?

    After the bust that have been the movie reboots, I am just a bit worried that it may be a repeat of that mindless, stupid garbage they have been putting out since 2009 with the first abomination.

    And I hate that becasue it ruins the franchise. I honestly dont even consider that garbage to be Trek. To me it is just a franchise rebooted and a script ordered by the marketing department for revenue. Nothing more and nothing less. The reboots care about Trek in as much as they can bank on the name to draw in people. They arent actually Star Trek. Only the names and terminology are Trek, everything else may as well be a Michael Bay movie.

    Someone in the comments on the article you linked to said that more people, especially non Trek fans, have been drawn into the franchise and that may not be a good thing. And I agree. I know i will sound cynical but I never put much faith in the opinion of the majority. If everyone is for it, it likely crap cause most people are morons.

    The fact that the garbage reboots by Abrams and co appeal to so many people, especially those who have not even watched any of the Trek shows and are more into Transfomers and Avengers and all that, is not a testament to the greatness of these reboots. If anything, it is indictment on them and just how low Trek has sunk and how much it had to be dumbed down that to appeal to the average audience of the Jersey shore generation.

    As the person said in the comment, JJ is making Star Trek appeal to a broader audience by playing up the action and letting some of the things that made Star Trek special get lost along the way."


    I really want people who know and understand Trek to be on board. Rick Berman has been an asset to the franchise. he's been there since day 1 (TNG) and he knew Roddenberry and I think it is him, more than anyone, who made Trek what it is. If he had been in charge, I would be so happy but he is out of the franchise and while it is a relief to see other seasoned writers, I think we will have to see just how much of Trek really was Berman and how much all the others.