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Old February 21 2013, 01:09 AM   #20
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Re: Was moving 'The Next Generation' over to movies a bad decision?

Lance wrote: View Post
Now, I should start by pointing out that I know from a business perspective it certainly wasn't a bad idea. The buzz around Star Trek in 1994 was huge, and the franchise was (arguably) at it's pop culture zenith. From a dollars and cents point-of-view, shifting the TNG cast to the big screen was a no brainer.

However, with the benefit of hindsight... I suppose as long as they were profitable (the bottom line) then there was no harm in it. By most accounts Generations, First Contact and Insurrection were all achievers. Nemesis didn't do so well at the box office (so by most measures that one was a failure), but has probably long since broke even on DVD and rebroadcast deals.

But is it really? Certainly, it took the TOS crew coming back (albeit with different actors in the roles) to revitalise the franchise as a movie series after Nemesis nearly killed it stone dead. One can't help but wonder if the movies should always have been about Kirk, Spock, and the rest. Harve Bennett famously had a plan inthe early 1990s to circumvent the aging original cast while still keeping the classic original characters on the big screen, but the time just wasn't right for such beloved characters and institutions to be recast in such a way. We wouldn't blink an eye-lid at it now, of course, but the potential uproar in fandom at the idea back then was enough to scare Paramount executives away from Bennett's plan.

From the viewpoint of a fan of TNG, we've also got the factor of the TNG series ending on the perfect note, and the four films effectively undoing the good will that All Good Things... was built on. If TNG had ended with that episode and then disappeared into reruns, I think it'd be more fondly remembered than it is by the general public. We as fans still give it the thumbsup, but there's a perception, rightly or wrongly, that a string of moderate films followed by one that bombed horribly at the box office effectively (and retrospectively) taints TNG forevermore. After those movies, TNG didn't have nearly as much integrity as it did on tv.

There's another factor, too. Between 1987 and 1991, there were two Star Trek production teams. The Movie Guys (Bennett, Ralph Winter, et al) who supervised movies based around the 23rd century and the original series characters; and The TV Guys (Berman, Piller, et al) who were focused on TNG Trek within the realm of television. Now, it had been proven that Star Trek could co-exist with itself this way, with one team working on movies and another on tv. But in 1994 with the elevation of the TNG cast to the big screen, the two dovetailed. Rick Berman was now chief of 'the Star Trek brand' in general, both movies and on television. One man can not supervised three television productions plus a series of bi-annual movies without spreading himself a little thin, and I think this is exactly what happened. Berman was over-stretched, and the overall quality of Star Trek took a dip as a result. Certainly I am of the belief that one of the reasons the 2009 movie was so strong was because all energies were focused towards it. There is no television Trek to suckle away from interest in the movies. It's like the early 1980s all over again, when TOS was hugely profitable on movie screens because it was alone and the only ticket in town for fans of Star Trek.

I'm in two minds. I love TNG, I love that cast. I just don't think they were adaptable for the big screen. TNG was cut from a different cloth to TOS, and in order to tell TNG movies they had to essentially sacrifice a great deal of what made tv TNG so unique within and of itself.
Very interesting topic and a well-organized post.

That said, I think it was a mistake for the production team that did the series in 1994, became screenwriters and executive producers of a movie. Gene Roddenberry ran into this problem in 1978 when he adapted a Phase II script for his new television show into a full-length feature film. Since we are setting aside the fact that Star Trek was successful commercially in that film, creatively it is was as a stinker, despite a strong director and all the money and resources that Star Trek didn't have in 1966. Harve Bennett was brought in to write Star Trek II, and watched all the episodes, looked over the bible on the show, and came up with an iconic movie that is considered the best of the Trek films to date.

Next Generation could have done the same thing. I think the show, creatively, was at its lowest point in 1994. It's apex was 1988-1991. I don't believe that it was as easy as they thought to do two shows at the same time. There may have been some burnout. And it would've been nice if Berman had the muscle to tell the execs where to get off sometimes. He has talked very openly about how the creative team had demands placed on them by the studio and it led to a watered-down product, namely Star Trek: Generations. The Temporal Cold War in Enterprise was another situation where the studio stuck their heads in creatively.

Deep Space Nine hit its stride as the movies were failing to do anything creatively at the box office. I think the fans were saturated by Trek in the 1990s. It has made it hard to penetrate the universe as a new fan because of the successful run of 3 series and 4 movies in that time frame. So it's important to realize that the brand was over-extended and I think it did lead to some less than stellar performances for the movies. Even though the movies all made their money back, press at the time was horrific, both in evaluating the commercial success and the critics judging the movies. Nemesis actually had the most favorable reviews of the TNG movies, and it was not widely watched. The day of Trek was just over.

Star Trek (2009) successful because it was fun and because it was like nothing seen from Trek in a very long time in terms of visuals and pace. The brand was off the air for 4 years and I think that caused the fans to want more Trek after they had fear it would be gone. It caused me to re-sample the universe, personally, and I am stronger fan of the series than I ever was in the 1990s or 2000s.
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Last edited by HaventGotALife; February 21 2013 at 01:37 AM.
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