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Old November 9 2011, 08:44 PM   #21
jayrath
Fleet Captain
 
Location: West Hollywood, Calif., USA
Re: Gene Roddenberry's weird rules

No. Just, no. There were lots of TOS-era rules, too. They boil down to ... good writing. Which isn't to say they weren't violated from time to time, particularly in TNG and afterward.

My three favorites, from TMOST:

Don't explain everything. Just do it. Roddenberry pointed out that cops on detective shows didn't explain how the firing pin struck the end of a shell, causing the bullet to leave the barrel. Similarly, you don't need the captain to draw a phaser and describe how it works before using it. Or the transporter. Or the engines. GR shared an example of a TOS script that contained many pages about how the ship was to change direction. He deleted it all and inserted, "reverse course." TOS is largely, blessedly technobabble-free, as a result -- even though, of all the series, it was the most scientifically vetted.

Stay in character: A contemporary U.S. aircraft carrier faces certain destruction. Does the captain reach for and hug his or her first officer in the final minutes? No. Nor should our crew go bananas when faced even with death. They are professionals who are well aware of duty. Would we believe a fleet-wide conspiracy in the U.S. Navy? A mutiny on a battleship? (We still had some, then.) No? Then, Starfleet will never suffer those dramatic cliches.

And following on from above -- believability -- the captain shouldn't have to ask for everything. For example, readouts on the ship just entering our sector should be given immediately to the captain. He (or she) shouldn't have to weigh down dialogue asking for its configuration, mass, bearing, shield status, etc. This information should be shared as soon as the specialists develop it, just as it would on a real naval vessel.

There are many more examples and, again, there are many exceptions - but not when Trek is at its best. I recommend "The Making of Star Trek" to anyone interested in TOS's most important aspect: its writing. And, of course, the role of a writer-producer.
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