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The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old February 1 2013, 09:41 AM   #1
HansentheSwede
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Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

Somebody brought this up or an aspect of this in another thread and now it kind of bugs me. When the Enterprise takes on the borg, romulans and other baddies, they're hauling a large contingent of family with them. Doesn't that seem like they're putting a lot of innocent people at risk? Starfleet is never safe business and while I get that family near military can help morale, it seems I would operate better if I knew that my family was safe as opposed to under the same threat as me. It just doesn't seem realistic that the enterprise would have family onboard regardless of what century it is. The saucer separation made more sense but obviously really slowed down episodes. Still how can the flagship of the Federation and be sent on these important missions with so many civilians on board that are put at risk?
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Old February 1 2013, 09:45 AM   #2
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

The Enterprise was suppose to go exploring the very edges of space which was hinted at in Encounter at Farpoint episode, but the writers kind of dropped that idea in later episodes sadly. The whole families on the ship began to become a little silly after that when the ship kept going up against Romulans, Cardassians, and Borg.
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Old February 1 2013, 09:54 AM   #3
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

The only excuse I could think of is extended time out in space of a decade or so. It seems that the crew still got time off and shore leave... maybe the ship would have more of a rotation of crew if the families stayed home? Still doesn't justify having your kids a few decks down when you're about to plunge into some dangerous rift in space.
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Old February 1 2013, 01:07 PM   #4
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

I think the initial premise of the series was one of exploration in an era where most conflict had been resolved, peace with the Klingons and all that.

I think it's akin to that era in the early nineties, just following the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Cold War, where like idiots, I and many people thought that we'd finally passed all that stupidity.

Then Yugoslavia fell apart, and then Rwanda, and then all the Al Qaeda nonsense and we realised that nothing had changed. I think TNG was basking in that sort of peaceful euphoria in its early seasons, and it made sense to develop a ship as a community rather than a military hierarchy. It would have also allowed potentially for more soap opera storylines should the writers have wished to focus on non-Starfleet members of the crew.

Obviously that's not how the show developed, but it's only after the retcon of a recent war with the Cardassians that the family starship idea started looking ill-considered.
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Old February 1 2013, 02:15 PM   #5
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

HansentheSwede wrote: View Post
Doesn't that seem like they're putting a lot of innocent people at risk?
But they would be doing the exact some thing by "leaving them behind." The 24th century is a dangerous place, Planets are attacked, civilian populations are wiped out. The long war with the Cardassians (pre-Dominon war) iirc cost millions of lives, it's doubtful all of those deaths were solely from starships. During the Dominion war San Fransisco was attacked by the Breen, if say one percent of the people in San Fransisco were casualties, how many attacks on starships (where again one percent of the people were casualties) would it take to equal the attack on San Fransisco? A thousand? Ten thousand?

People prefer to have their families close, even if you're talking about "just" a TOS era five year mission, that a ridiculous amount of time to be separated from your family, where maybe you visit them on leave every other year, if that.
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Old February 1 2013, 03:19 PM   #6
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

T'Girl wrote: View Post
HansentheSwede wrote: View Post
Doesn't that seem like they're putting a lot of innocent people at risk?
But they would be doing the exact some thing by "leaving them behind." The 24th century is a dangerous place, Planets are attacked, civilian populations are wiped out. The long war with the Cardassians (pre-Dominon war) iirc cost millions of lives, it's doubtful all of those deaths were solely from starships. During the Dominion war San Fransisco was attacked by the Breen, if say one percent of the people in San Fransisco were casualties, how many attacks on starships (where again one percent of the people were casualties) would it take to equal the attack on San Fransisco? A thousand? Ten thousand?

People prefer to have their families close, even if you're talking about "just" a TOS era five year mission, that a ridiculous amount of time to be separated from your family, where maybe you visit them on leave every other year, if that.
I see what you are saying but life on a starship by mission would be to seek contact as well as provide defense as well as answering distress calls...etc. Living on Earth would make your only real threat a planetary attack. I mean there is technically no such thing as a "safe haven" in the 24th century but on a startship you would constantly be heading torwards potential danger instead of just becoming a victim of random violence.
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Old February 1 2013, 03:57 PM   #7
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

HansentheSwede wrote: View Post
The only excuse I could think of is extended time out in space of a decade or so.
Right. The original intention of TNG's creators, which unfortunately got lost due to the revolving door of producers, was that the Enterprise-D was a deep-space research vessel designed to go as much as 15 years without returning to a home port. It wasn't supposed to be doing diplomatic milk runs to Federation members and neighbors like it ended up doing for most of the series, but instead was supposed to be far beyond the fringes of known space, years' travel from home -- somewhat similar to Voyager's situation, really, except on purpose.

So think about it. How many volunteers would you get for such a mission if everyone had to leave their families behind, or defer starting families, for 15 years or more? That's a huge chunk of a person's entire life. It's not something very many people would be willing to give up. And for those who did, going a decade and a half without family life could be extremely stressful and harmful to crew morale and cohesion. The only way such an extended deep-space mission could really be feasible is if the ship isn't just a ship, but a whole community, a small, self-sustaining city in space.

Also, keep in mind another thing that later producers forgot: this was meant to be a research vessel, not a military one, so its crew included a large complement of civilian scientists. It wasn't just Starfleet personnel and their families, not as originally intended. I like to think of it as a university village in space. It was supposed to be primarily a research vessel -- with enough Starfleet presence and weaponry to defend it if it became necessary, but never intended to go into combat except as an absolute last resort. Maybe you could find enough military personnel willing to commit to giving up 15 years of their lives, but you'd be harder-pressed to get civilian scientists to join such a mission.

And then there's the other abandoned element, the ability to separate the saucer and leave it behind with the civilians aboard while the Starfleet personnel went into battle in the engineering hull.

So the problem wasn't with the idea of families on the ship. That idea was very well thought out in terms of the creators' original intentions. The problem was with the way the later producers screwed things up by ignoring those original intentions and turning the E-D from a ship exploring strange new worlds to a ship that spent most of its time hanging around known space and going on diplomatic or political missions -- and bringing the saucer along into combat because the only miniature they had that could separate was too cumbersome to use regularly. And forgetting the civilian presence altogether except for Keiko.

I often think that the creators' original intention might've been better served if they'd had two (or more) ships all along -- a large civilian research vessel commanded by Captain Picard and its Starfleet escort (of one or more ships) commanded by Captain Riker. Not only would you have a clearer separation between the civilian and military functions, but you could've had more interesting tension between the scientists and defenders and their differing approaches to crisis situations. At the very least, Deanna should've been a civilian, to better represent that facet of the ship's intended complement.
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Old February 1 2013, 04:03 PM   #8
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

HansentheSwede wrote: View Post
Somebody brought this up or an aspect of this in another thread and now it kind of bugs me. When the Enterprise takes on the borg, romulans and other baddies, they're hauling a large contingent of family with them. Doesn't that seem like they're putting a lot of innocent people at risk? Starfleet is never safe business and while I get that family near military can help morale, it seems I would operate better if I knew that my family was safe as opposed to under the same threat as me. It just doesn't seem realistic that the enterprise would have family onboard regardless of what century it is. The saucer separation made more sense but obviously really slowed down episodes. Still how can the flagship of the Federation and be sent on these important missions with so many civilians on board that are put at risk?
The was no real danger for the families....



...unless it would have been in the spript and then they could have made the saucer seperation.
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Old February 1 2013, 05:04 PM   #9
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

Don't current overseas military bases sometimes have personnel's families in on-base or nearby housing? Jeri Ryan was an "army brat" born in Germany. Starfleet's thinking seems to parallel this.
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Old February 1 2013, 07:39 PM   #10
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

Of course, having civilians travel with soldiers, and indeed go to the battlefields with them, was the norm until very recently.

What changed? For one thing, lives grew longer and people apparently began fearing death more. But that's not a decisive factor: even in the modern times, civilians practice war tourism, deliberately seeking battle where they have no means of defending themselves, simply because that's exciting.

More importantly, armies no longer needed civilians. After millennia of misery, there finally existed means of bringing food and water to the front lines. Troops could be rotated, whorehouses could be safely placed dozens of kilometers away from the battle sites, and even families left overseas could be visited. Wars became longer, too: instead of the lads fighting until the harvest season and then going home (possibly to continue in the spring), armies were maintained for several years in a row. Means coincided with necessity, and suddenly there emerged a homefront. Until it went away and war came back to the middle of civilian life, with air power and then with ICBMs.

The Trek future, no matter its exact specs or the pseudohistory that led to those specs, would be a post-homefront future, possibly many times over. It would include awareness of the futility of homefronts, if not at that specific point in history, then in history in general. Staying home when a family member takes risks might simply no longer be considered particularly worthwhile, all things considered.

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Old February 1 2013, 08:49 PM   #11
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

I am just wondering how much thought should be put into commands then. I think Picard makes a very strong effort to lookout for the large crew contingent that he has, but there were several times the crew risked everything. The mental picture that keeps popping up is school kids in class while a battle with the Borg is going on outside their window.
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Old February 1 2013, 09:00 PM   #12
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

HansentheSwede wrote: View Post
Somebody brought this up or an aspect of this in another thread and now it kind of bugs me. When the Enterprise takes on the borg, romulans and other baddies, they're hauling a large contingent of family with them. Doesn't that seem like they're putting a lot of innocent people at risk? Starfleet is never safe business and while I get that family near military can help morale, it seems I would operate better if I knew that my family was safe as opposed to under the same threat as me. It just doesn't seem realistic that the enterprise would have family onboard regardless of what century it is. The saucer separation made more sense but obviously really slowed down episodes. Still how can the flagship of the Federation and be sent on these important missions with so many civilians on board that are put at risk?
Children on board a military vessel -- dumbest idea ever.
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Old February 1 2013, 09:47 PM   #13
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

JiNX-01 wrote: View Post
Children on board a military vessel -- dumbest idea ever.
But that's exactly the point -- it wasn't intended to be a military vessel. Certainly not a combat vessel, anyway. It was meant to be a research vessel capable of defending itself in emergencies. At the time he created TNG, Roddenberry had really embraced the role of a visionary philosopher, and had rather pacifist leanings, or at least a lower opinion of military force than he'd had in the '60s. So he wanted TNG to be a show about explorers and scientists, not soldiers. According to the original writers' bible , Starfleet's philosophy at the time was "Any military operation is automatically a failure," because the policy was to find peaceful solutions to any problem that arose. The whole reason Roddenberry wanted civilians and families aboard the ship was to underline that it was not a combat vessel in any way.

Again, though, later producers lost sight of this original intention and depicted the ship in a way that was completely at odds with what Roddenberry and his original creative team had intended. They even introduced the enormous continuity error of the Cardassian war, claiming in "The Wounded" that the war had ended something like two years into TNG's run, even though the first couple of seasons portrayed a Starfleet that was emphatically a peacetime institution. ("Conspiracy"'s final log entry has Picard talking about the taking of life as if it's something he's never had to resort to before, and in "Peak Performance" he objects to the war games because, as he explicitly states, he doesn't consider Starfleet to be a military organization. Which is technically a misuse of the word "military," because Starfleet obviously has the structure and organization of a military, but what he meant was that he didn't consider it a combat organization.)
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Old February 1 2013, 09:58 PM   #14
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

I suspect the growing use of military force was the writers' attempts to introduce dramatic conflict, since everyone on the ship were all supposed to be good buddies without arguing amongst themselves.
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Old February 1 2013, 09:58 PM   #15
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Re: Is it smart to have families on the Enterprise-D?

Hmh? Basically a good 1/3 of the plots of TNG Season One dealt with space combat between Starfleet and varying opponents - either onscreen battles, or the looming threat thereof, or then historical fights. Romulans had not been heard of for seventy years, yet in two episodes they were prime suspects in space violence. And there were wars left and right that did not directly concern our heroes but did concern Starfleet nevertheless - the war on Mordan IV, the Erselrope wars...

Clearly, Picard from the very start commanded a ship of war, and considered weapons or at least shields a key ingredient in conducting diplomacy and protecting the Federation. If a long mission of exploration was written out of the equation, it wasn't in search of conflict plots. It was probably simply because a long mission would have called for some sort of dramatic continuity, and the format of the show didn't cater for that.

Of course, in retrospect it's easy to argue that Starfleet in-universe cut short the intended mission of exploration right after the pilot episode because they found it wise to listen to threats from a plenipotent entity...

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