From a TNG article in sci-fi magazine SFX about a year ago, Moore elaborates about his early assignments on the series:
Ronald D. Moore wrote:
Michael Piller asked me to write him a memo about who the Klingons were and who the Romulans were, because he was still trying to get his feet underneath him, and I was a fan of the Star Trek universe and knew all this. So I had to sit down early on and just tell him who the Klingons were and who the Romulans were. In that memo I said that the Klingons were in my view a cross between Vikings and samurai, or at least the pop cultural idea of Vikings and samurai. They were partiers and bikers and bigger-than-life-heroes. Yet there was this very finely tuned sense of honor and ritual, and honor meant every thing to them.
I think this is the true genesis of the 'modern Klingon'. In so interpreting them that way, Moore effectively gives birth to everything that we now perceive to be true about Star Trek's most well known enemies.
For the sake of comparison, here's what the prevailing 1960s attitude was of Klingons, as taken from Stephen Whitfield's The Making of Star Trek
The Making of Star Trek
The Making of Star Trek wrote:
the Klingons are less admirable characters [than the Romulans]. Their only rule in life is that rules are made to be broken by shrewdness, deceit, or power. Cruelty is something admirable; honor is a dispicable trait.
, by contrast, opines of the Romulans:
The Making of Star Trek wrote:
Romulans are highly militaristic, aggressive by nature, ruthless in warfare and do not take captives. [...] It is hard to hate Romulans completely as they often show enormous courage. Although members of a warrior society in which the strong alone survive, they live their beliefs with great integrity.
This is all bourne out with what we see of them on-screen in The Original Series. Klingons are repeatedly willing to create conflict where ever they go, despite the alleged Organian Pace Treaty with the Federation. They are also duplicitous. They'll say one thing then do the opposite. Romulans, on the other hand, are often shown as honorable opponents. The Romulan captain seen in 'Balance of Terror' is ruled by his own sense of integrity, and shows great pride and a distinct code of honor. The same can be said of the female captain in 'The Enterprise Incident'. She offers Kirk and Spock the chance to explain themselves, but treats them with dignity and respect (even as they outwardly treat her with none).
By the TNG, these traits seemed to have been flipped. The Romulans were traitorous even among their own, highly secretive, and often played other species for their own benefits. As Lieutenant Worf repeatedly tells us, "Romulans are WITHOUT HONOR
". The Klingons in TNG are effectively ruled by ancient codes and ethics that they were duty-bound to uphold (even if, again, behind closed doors they often don't, cf. the Duras saga).
What do you guys think? Do you reckon the TNG writers room misunderstood these races as they were portrayed in TOS? Was Moore pehaps wrong to have swapped their attributes? Or do you think it was maybe a good
thing, to show these races in a different light than TOS portrayed them?