Robert Comsol wrote:
The thing that really irritates me is that ever since I joined Trek BBS I've noticed your attitude claiming that the producers didn't really know what they were doing (quite an arrogant claim at the expense of the fine people who gave us Star Trek, IMHO) and that we'd be entitled to rewrite Star Trek history and/or technology the way we'd see fit.
That's because you're completely misunderstanding what I mean by those comments. You're assuming that creator intent is an absolute gospel, that what ends up on screen is exactly, 100 percent what the creators wanted. That's misunderstanding the creative process. I'm a creator myself, and I'm trying to help you understand the way the process actually works. Of course I'm not saying that they didn't know what they were doing, because then I'd be saying that I
don't know what I'm doing. What I'm saying is that what they were doing is not what you assume it was.
The creation of a work of fiction is a messy business. It involves a lot of experimentation, trial and error. It relies on the ability to test ideas, refine them on the go, and discard the ones that don't work. And it's even more complicated in something like series television. First off, the creators have to balance their differing ideas with one another; they have to deal with network instructions and censorship; they have to make creative compromises due to the budgetary and logistical limitations of television production; and they have to work on a tight schedule and get the product out by a certain date even if they're not fully satisfied with it. This is true even of the most gifted and capable creators, so it's not a reflection on their talent or ability. It's just the nature of the process.
There's a saying: "Art is never finished, only abandoned." Few creators are ever perfectly satisfied with the final published or released version of their work. There are always things you wish you could've done better, and as time passes you think of new ideas and go "Oh, I wish I'd done it that way instead," or you notice mistakes that slipped through the editing process, or you just get more skilled with experience and look back with regret on your earlier, less sophisticated work. This is why so many creators go back and revise their earlier work given the opportunity, or retcon or ignore elements of it in later works. Being unwilling to question your own work is death to a creator. When creators get so full of themselves that they assume they can do no wrong, you get stuff like George Lucas's cinematic output of the past decade or so. It's only by questioning and second-guessing our ideas that we can separate the good ideas from the bad ones and improve our skills.
So while some fans may feel that every last tiny detail in the final work is absolute truth and perfection and must be strictly adhered to -- and that any departure from that attitude is an affront against the work and its creators -- the creators themselves would never feel that way. To the fans, the work only exists in one form, so that's what they assume is its true and only form. But to the creators, that form is just the endpoint of a long and messy process of experimentation and change, and often it's not the endpoint they wanted, just the one they had to settle for because of deadlines and lack of money. But that doesn't mean they didn't know what they were doing; on the contrary, it's impressive when TV producers can achieve anything really worthwhile and memorable given what a restrictive mess the production process usually is.