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Old October 7 2012, 08:42 PM   #22
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

This isn't just about Trek or Roddenberry. How many shows are there on network or basic cable TV right now that have members of the clergy as main characters? Very few, I'd imagine. There are some in recurring roles, like Rev. Lovejoy on The Simpsons or the nuns on Pushing Daisies, and there's the occasional character who abandoned a religious career for their current job, like Dr. Chase on House, but active clergy members in starring roles, not so much. Shows that have been centered on clergy, like The Book of Daniel and Soul Man, have tended to be short-lived, unless they weren't primarily featured in their religious roles, as in The Father Dowling Mysteries. There's the occasional Father Mulcahy or Rev Bem or Shepherd Book, the occasional successful sitcom like Amen, but they're not common. You're probably most likely to see a member of a religious order as a main character if he's a Shaolin monk who knows kung fu.

As a rule, TV networks and studios -- and the advertisers who buy airtime on them -- are reluctant to deal much with religion, for fear of sparking controversy. The producers of Deep Space Nine pushed to feature Bajoran religion as a major element of the series, but Paramount resisted, finding even stories about an imaginary, alien religion to be a potential hot potato.

Of course, sometimes you get a show that's more daring, like Moore's Galactica, which dealt heavily with religion and divinity. But Trek tends to be rather more mainstream, a major cash cow for its studio, and that would create a resistance to embracing religious themes that has nothing to do with Roddenberry's beliefs and more to do with advertisers' fear of controversy.
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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