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Future of Trek Discussion of future Trek projects.

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Old April 28 2013, 04:03 PM   #1
LancerKind
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Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

(Spoiler Free) The Trek movie franchise was in trouble. JJ Abrahms has made it a commercial success but at the cost of the Trek vision of social utopia.

While I loved the 2009 movie, it was a departure from the Roddenberry vision. (Why Trekkies hated the 2009 movie)

I predict Into Darkness will be similar: Successful, but more of a Star Wars than a Star Trek. I think everyone agrees with this but the discussion is about the *degree* of departure. So dyed in the wool trekkie Hal Dace and I came up with a Trek Purity Test to measure the departure (Into Darkness, Spectacle or Spectacular?).

Check out the Purity Test. If you've seen the movie, Vote on how you think Into Darkness did.

Comment on the Purity Test if you think it's fair or lacking. Shouldn't future movies or TV do well on this test? Wouldn't it be better if Trek was treated like the Tolkien films where the franchise is re-invigorated by telling really great Star Trek stories? Isn't it an easy cheat to tell the "3rd act" where the utopia falls rather than tell adventure and stories about how the Roddenberry utopia struggles with adversity? Aren't we throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

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Old April 28 2013, 04:18 PM   #2
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

I think talk of the "Roddenberry vision" and "purity tests" are far more harmful to the franchise than Abrams turning Trek into an action genre.
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Old April 28 2013, 04:49 PM   #3
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

It is not a departure from the "Roddenberry vision" (whatever the hell that is).

It has Kirk, Spock, McCoy, et al, on the Starship Enterprise having adventures in space.

It has Klingons, Romulans, Vulcans and Orions, etc.

Sulu is at the helm, Chekov is at navigation, Uhura's at communications, and Scotty is nursin' his bairns.

I fail to see how any of that is a departure from "Roddenberry's vision". I mean, Roddenberry's not here to steal 50% of everyone elses profits, but that doesn't count...
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Old April 28 2013, 05:04 PM   #4
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

I think that's the problem, it is too "pure" aka continuity obsessed. All the iconic ingredients are in it (and I guess that the next movie will also be as fanwankish as ST09) but the final result is soulless. There is a reason ST09 feels a bit like Galaxy Quest or like one of those TOS homage episodes, it is no real reboot but actually as continuity-obsessed as Trek has never been before without caring one iota about the stuff that really matters (the last movie, a mild copy of TWOK, totally missed the lesson about revenge).
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Old April 28 2013, 05:07 PM   #5
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

Define "Roddenberry's Trek." The only portions of the Trek franchise that Roddenberry was directly in charge of were the pilots and first two seasons of TOS, ST:TMP, and the first couple of seasons of TNG. He had some executive input into TOS's third season, TAS, and the third through fifth seasons of TNG. He was an "executive consultant" on the second through sixth movies, but that was pretty much a courtesy and he had no creative control over them. And he was dead by the time the TNG movies, DS9, VGR, and ENT came along. The vast majority of Star Trek at this point reflects the "vision" of people other than Roddenberry.

And every time a new incarnation of Trek comes along, there are people who denounce it as fundamentally incompatible with what came before and demand it be ignored. Today they say that about Abrams, and they conveniently forget that it was being said a decade ago about Enterprise, and a quarter-century ago about TNG, and thirty-odd years ago about the movies, and forty years ago about TAS, and before that about the third season of TOS. But whenever the next new incarnation of Trek comes along, the narrow-minded exclusionists transfer all their hatred to it and hold up everything that came before as the "true" Trek that needs to be defended, ignoring that all those earlier Trek productions incorporate many different "visions" that were once denounced but eventually became more or less accepted as part of the whole.
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Old April 28 2013, 05:19 PM   #6
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

Berman has always truthful to the basic parameters that Roddenberry set up. So the majority of Trek simply is Roddenberryian. If I am correct only the TOS movies, DS9 and ST09 are the exception ... which of course doesn't imply that they are antithetical to Roddenberry's basics. Roddenberry hated Meyer but totally missed that underneath the dark and military exterior Meyer's stuff has been pretty much in line with his basic ideas.
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Old April 28 2013, 05:30 PM   #7
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

It could be argued that Roddenberry's vision in its purest form is "The Cage", as it was the original Trek he wanted before changes were demanded of it.

Personally I'd love to see the cool, calm and collected Number One make a come back.

Admittedly, I'm not a huge Nu-Trek fan, but Trek has always had a lot of action in it (look at the likes of TWOK or the Dominion War on DS9) so the new films being focused more on that doesn't bother me.
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Old April 28 2013, 05:33 PM   #8
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

Which Roddenberry? The TOS-Roddenberry or the TNG-Roddenberry. Judging by the product, they were two very different guys.
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Old April 28 2013, 05:46 PM   #9
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

R. Star wrote: View Post
I think talk of the "Roddenberry vision" and "purity tests" are far more harmful to the franchise than Abrams turning Trek into an action genre.
Come on, is this what fandom is getting to? Yeesh people, it's just a damn TV show.

Mysterion wrote: View Post
Which Roddenberry? The TOS-Roddenberry or the TNG-Roddenberry. Judging by the product, they were two very different guys.
"Did movie make metric shit loads of money?" Yes. The Roddenberry vision lives on!
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Old April 28 2013, 07:27 PM   #10
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

horatio83 wrote: View Post
Berman has always truthful to the basic parameters that Roddenberry set up. So the majority of Trek simply is Roddenberryian.
No one was more a supporter of Roddenberry's "vision" than Berman--he basically went around with a "What would Gene do?" card during his tenure, IMO. Some could even say that he may have taken it too far at times...
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Old April 28 2013, 07:55 PM   #11
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

Yep, DS9 was less under his control and ignored some Roddenberry dogmas for the better. But I don't view it as something totally different, Sisko did let Garak kill a Romulan senator but he said no to S31.
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Old April 28 2013, 09:32 PM   #12
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

The Roddenberry vision goes beyond "did Spock etc act like the historical character." I'm now realizing the Trek Purity Test is character heavy, but those transgressions are easy to evaluate.
What makes Roddenberry's vision unique beyond other fiction was something heavily discussed in Why Trekkies hated the 2009 movie. The short answer is this: Roddenberry didn't want the future to be another damn dystopia. He felt progress means progress of not only technology but that of social progress too. (This is why there's no caveman fiction genre about them developing nukes to wipe out a neighboring tribe: it's not believable. It's impossible to develop only science without social maturity.)

This is a very big idea! JJ Abrams is doing a "fall from utopia" which honestly is a lot easier to write as there's conflict everywhere. So if you're lazy, you just turn the Trek universe around 180degrees and you can churn out tons of conflict where writing about a utopia with few problems, your going to work a lot harder to find a good conflict.
(Like all the pseudo-historical war movies set in ancient China. It's easy to write because there's upheaval happening everywhere.)

This is what made Roddenberry's Trek unique and these new films are now very well done action films, AKA cheats. :-) And I'll of course watch and enjoy them and hope that it'll score a 6 of 11 because if it can't do ANYTHING that made Trek unique, then we're just going to be watching another Space Opera like Star Wars.
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Old April 28 2013, 09:34 PM   #13
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
horatio83 wrote: View Post
Berman has always truthful to the basic parameters that Roddenberry set up. So the majority of Trek simply is Roddenberryian.
No one was more a supporter of Roddenberry's "vision" than Berman--he basically went around with a "What would Gene do?" card during his tenure, IMO. Some could even say that he may have taken it too far at times...
I catch crap for this often enough, but: I think we owe Berman a thank you for keeping the franchise alive. If it wasn't for him, I honestly believe TNG would have died aroudn Season 2 or 3 and stunted Trek for years after with its failure.

LancerKind wrote: View Post
The Roddenberry vision goes beyond "did Spock etc act like the historical character." I'm now realizing the Trek Purity Test is character heavy but that's easy to evaluate.
What makes Roddenberry's vision unique beyond other fiction was something heavily discussed in Why Trekkies hated the 2009 movie. The short answer is this: Roddenberry didn't want the future to be another damn dystopia. He felt progress means progress of not only technology but that of social progress too. (This is why there's no Caveman fiction about them developing nukes to wipe out a neighboring tribe: it's impossible to do without some social maturity too.)

This is a very big idea! JJ Abrams is doing a "fall from utopia" which honestly is a lot easier to write as there's conflict everywhere. So if you're lazy, you just turn that around 180degrees and you can churn out tons of conflict where writing about a utopia with few problems, your going to work a lot harder to find a good conflict.
(Like all the pseudo-historical war movies set in ancient China. It's easy to write because there's upheaval happening everywhere.)

This is what made Roddenberry's Trek unique and these new films are now very well done action films, AKA cheats. :-) And I'll of course watch and enjoy them and hope that it'll score a 6 of 11 because if it can't do ANYTHING that made Trek unique, then we're just going to be watching another Space Opera (Star Wars).
So do you write off DS9? We didn't see a lot of it on screen, but the Dominon War fucked up the Federation and Starfleet something awful. Then Section 31 tried to wipe out the Founders with biological weapon. On average they more or less did the fall from utopia storyline in DS9.

The whole Utopian Vision thing is more a construct of TNG Era Roddenberry than anything that was laid as a groundwork in TOS.
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Old April 28 2013, 10:21 PM   #14
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

LancerKind wrote: View Post
What makes Roddenberry's vision unique beyond other fiction was something heavily discussed in Why Trekkies hated the 2009 movie.
A title which is a blatant lie. As a Trekkie who liked the movie, I deeply resent it when people who didn't like it claim that their personal opinion represents the consensus of all fandom. It's cowardly and dishonest to hide behind that pretense rather than just saying "This is my own personal view," and it's dismissive and insulting to those of us who have our own diverse opinions.


The short answer is this: Roddenberry didn't want the future to be another damn dystopia. He felt progress means progress of not only technology but that of social progress too. ...

This is a very big idea! JJ Abrams is doing a "fall from utopia" which honestly is a lot easier to write as there's conflict everywhere.
This is total BS. First of all, "Roddenberry's Trek," TOS, featured entire planets with populations of billions wiped out ("The Changeling"), human political leaders committing genocide ("The Conscience of the King," arguably "Patterns of Force"), Starfleet officers committing crimes out of corruption and vengeance ("Court-martial," "The Omega Glory") or expressing open bigotry ("Balance of Terror"), human miners nearly exterminating an entire alien race out of xenophobia and ignorance ("The Devil in the Dark"), and so on. There was plenty of darkness and violence and conflict there. Of course there was conflict everywhere -- stories are about conflict. There's no story if nothing bad happens. Roddenberry understood that when he made TOS, before he bought into his own reputation as a philosopher and visionary and forgot how to be a good writer. TOS was not a utopian vision. True, it showed a future where humanity had survived the nuclear era and overcome racism, both of which seemed remarkably utopian by 1960s standards, but it was still a future populated by fallible human beings and profound dangers.

And that leads into the second point, which is that it's completely wrong to define the word "dystopia" as "a story where bad stuff happens." The word specifically refers to a society whose own policies, mistakes, or corruption are directly responsible for the bad stuff that happens. 1984, Soylent Green, Brazil, The Matrix -- these are dystopias, worlds where the populace suffers due to society's policies or as a consequence of society's disastrous mistakes. But something like, say, The War of the Worlds or When Worlds Collide or Independence Day is not a dystopia, because it isn't the government or the society that's responsible for the problems, but an external threat.

Conversely, a utopian future isn't one where nothing bad ever happens -- it's one where the society is better, where its policies are just and enlightened and provide plenty and happiness for all. But utopian societies can be threatened or suffer calamity, and that's where the story comes from.
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Old April 28 2013, 10:32 PM   #15
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

Good post. You basically admit in the end that TOS is an utopia despite having denied it earlier and I agree. I think if utopia is a better world without cynicism and with the desire to become even better we can apply the term onto Trek.
When Kodos is killing half the population on Tarsus IV it is not normal and it doesn't make people despair but actually inspires one young kid to become a Starfleet captain and fight against this stuff from occurring. Doesn't mean it won't happen again but it doesn't mean that it ever becomes normal in this fictional world either.
And this old trick from "The Devil In the Dark" which you mentioned, showing people messing seriously up but changing before it is too late, and which is also used in TUC and FC is IMO paradigmatic of Trek's approach to utopia. It is in the literal sense a non-existing place, something which you never reach but constantly strive for even and especially when you messed up.
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