Thursday, April 26, 2012

Paying it forward: Television Edition

It's no secret that Star Trek in general and TNG in particular was great, and almost unique, in its nurturing of young talent. They took scripts from fans (Hello, Relics. So glad you're here), taught young writers (Even with season 4, RDM's BSG is still better than most dreck on the air), and let actors cut their directing teeth (Robert Duncan MacNeil and Jonathan Frakes being the obvious apex of that policy). This article over at io9 expounds on a fuller list of people who went to "Star Trek grad school" as the article puts it.

I think they really hit the nail on the head by pointing out that Star Trek teaches you to make good television without cutting narrative corners. It's nice to know Matt and I aren't the only ones to think that. More than anything about Star Trek 2009 and what little I've heard of the forthcoming film, it's the lack of that that really kills me. I've said before in many reviews, I can love an action story as long as the same care for character and plot are brought to it. We'll get more into this in the DS9 reviews, but I appreciate a shift in tone, if only to keep the narrative limber and fresh. But even for DS9's most ardent detractors who feel it strayed too far from either the utopian vision or science fiction stories of previous incarnations, I don't think anyone could argue the show was lazy and half-assed. The show might have been possessed of too much ass at times, but wouldn't you rather watch the genuine, complicated occasional failure of someone who cares about the story they're telling?

I'm relaying the article not only to spread the love for a group of people who have brought a great deal of joy to my life, but to also acknowledge one more time that it's not just the whiz-bang or the CGI that made Star Trek so interesting to me, even as a child. In fact, those are probably lowest on the list of why I love this show. As evidenced by the people who have come out of the franchise, it's safe to say that everyone behind the camera was working their asses off as much as the ones in front of it. If nothing else, that so many people in so many areas of creating a show have gone on to such careers really shows that the craft at work on the show. Nothing was glossed over or taken for granted. Every part of the show was important, and the finished work shows it. 

Lastly, this article makes me wistful, as it reminds me that Star Trek was pretty much the only one doing it, and not even they are anymore. I love the idea that the show would take a chance on an unproven writer or be the spring board for people into other things. It really drives home that the Federation mantra espoused on the show was not lip service. These people seem to care about their work and their profession and seem to feel some obligation to pass on their skills, not hoard them. Like we've said before, one of our favorite parts of the show was watching these skilled, genuinely nice people work together, and if the Alumni Association from "Star Trek grad school" is any indication, that was happening as much on the set of the Enterprise as much as the bridge of the Enterprise.

So're welcome...people who watch television that is not Star Trek.

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