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Old June 24 2013, 08:33 AM   #106
Hober Mallow
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
Canon says "what is the official version of this story."
Not really.

I mean how many times has someone on this board asked which version of TMP is canon, the director's cut or the theatrical version? Or which version of the TOS special FX are canon, the original or the enhanced FX?

The answer is that all of them are canon.
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Old June 24 2013, 11:33 AM   #107
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

True. Besides, Ron Moore and Roddenberry and Paramount/CBS' vision are incompatible so it's all really about what you like.
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Old June 24 2013, 01:29 PM   #108
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

The point is that canon doesn't "say" anything. It's not a formal declaration or a category that someone has to make an effort to assign something to. As I keep saying, it's simply a description. It's a label we use to refer to the original core creation, the stuff made by the creator or owners of the series as distinct from tie-ins or pastiches made by other people. And that's only "the official version of the story" in the loosest sense, because even sole creators change their minds and retcon their past work from time to time. Canon is "what happened" in the broad sense, because naturally the core creators will tend to follow the lead of what they themselves have done in the past, but it's a mistake to think it's binding on the level of precise details, the kind of details that creators tweak and refine and retcon all the time.
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Old June 24 2013, 02:27 PM   #109
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Point taken.

Much appreciated.
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Old June 24 2013, 02:47 PM   #110
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

I think the issue is that canon has come to mean in some quarters "set in stone", failing to realise that much stuff has to be open to interpretation, due to the fact that during the show some things change depending on the writer or plot requirement.

In Balance of Terror for example Scotty says the Romulan Bird of Prey uses simple impulse. Yet, we all know that a sublight ship would take months if not years, simply to cross the Neutral Zone. Traveling from Romulus to the Federation outposts, going on a destructive rampage, then heading home again, would not be accomplished in the crew's lifetime. So, we have to accept that the ship traveled at warp, but could only fight at impulse speeds. TNG introduced the retcon of a quantum singularity powering Romulan ships, which means that effectively Scotty was right, he could not detect a Warp Reactor output.

If you go by a "set in stone" interpretation, then many inconsistencies just cannot be resolved. Canon should just be regarded as a general framework the stories hang on, and not that a single throw-away line of dialogue in Episode Two is exactly the same as conflicting dialogue in Episode Twenty-Two.

We can count ourselves fortunate that the makers of TOS attempted to at least be consistent, rather than just throwing episodes together with absolutely no regard to what had happened before.

Books cannot be ever included fully in the canon. If they did, the Klingons would never have appeared in the movies or later, as in Spock Must Die, the Organians restricted them to their home system and banned them from warp travel!

Although non-cannon aspects do sometimes sneak through the cracks, the voice chatter mentioning Franz Joseph ships in TMP and the FASA Orion Blockade Runner appearing on a library display in TNG being just a few examples.
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Old June 24 2013, 02:50 PM   #111
Charles Phipps
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Yeah, I suppose it's all down to Doylist (I.e this is a story written by authors) vs. Watsonian (this "happened" and everything should be made to fit) interpretations.

I mean, Trials and Tribulation is HILARIOUS but should, "We do not speak of it" have really become a story?

(They did well with that but I think people took it overboard)
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Old June 24 2013, 04:44 PM   #112
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

solariabsg25 wrote: View Post
I think the issue is that canon has come to mean in some quarters "set in stone", failing to realise that much stuff has to be open to interpretation, due to the fact that during the show some things change depending on the writer or plot requirement.
I may have said this already, but I realized a while back that this comes down to the difference between how fans and creators perceive a work of fiction: to the fans it arrives in a complete, singular form, but to the creator it's the result of a lengthy process of trial and error and revision and rejection and replacement, and it's usually not the perfect version the author wanted but just the best they could manage by the release date. So "set in stone" advocates tend to believe they're defending the creators' vision, but generally the creators would be the first ones to make changes if they had the opportunity.


In Balance of Terror for example Scotty says the Romulan Bird of Prey uses simple impulse. Yet, we all know that a sublight ship would take months if not years, simply to cross the Neutral Zone. Traveling from Romulus to the Federation outposts, going on a destructive rampage, then heading home again, would not be accomplished in the crew's lifetime. So, we have to accept that the ship traveled at warp, but could only fight at impulse speeds.
One problem with the "set in stone" philosophy is that creators, like other human beings, sometimes straight-up make mistakes. They put things in stories that they later come to realize were errors or bad ideas, and when they can't go back and fix them in the original work, they shouldn't be banned from retconning or ignoring the errors in later stories.

TNG introduced the retcon of a quantum singularity powering Romulan ships, which means that effectively Scotty was right, he could not detect a Warp Reactor output.
I doubt the one had anything to do with the other -- it's just that they had an episode whose sci-fi plot called for the Romulans having a singularity drive. A fan's highest priority may be worrying about some continuity error from 20 or 30 years ago, but a creator's highest priority is the story being worked on in the here and now.

Anyway, my preferred fix is that Scotty meant they used a simple form of impulse drive as opposed to the more complex form of impulse drive used by Starfleet; for instance, maybe their impulse engines were straight-up rockets without the mass-reduction fields that would enable Starfleet vessels to accelerate and change course more quickly, and thus they'd be less maneuverable.


We can count ourselves fortunate that the makers of TOS attempted to at least be consistent, rather than just throwing episodes together with absolutely no regard to what had happened before.
Right. The latter was the more common practice in '60s TV -- for instance, in Mission: Impossible, the main characters might show their faces on national or global TV in one episode, yet by the following week they'd be totally anonymous again and still able to go undercover. Or in one episode they'd bring down the head of "the Syndicate" and obtain information that would let them cripple organized crime, yet within a week or two the mob would be just as powerful and entrenched as ever. And when one character vanished and was replaced by a new one, it never got an explanation, and it was just assumed the new guy/gal had been there all along (with one exception in season 7, where the regular actress was on maternity leave and they wanted to make it clear she'd be returning).


Although non-cannon aspects do sometimes sneak through the cracks, the voice chatter mentioning Franz Joseph ships in TMP and the FASA Orion Blockade Runner appearing on a library display in TNG being just a few examples.
Of course. One of the pervasive myths about canon (largely resulting from the '89 Roddenberry memo and Richard Arnold's policies) is that it's somehow exclusionistic. Canon is just the core creation, and its creators are free to draw on whatever influences they choose. After all, they own the toybox that tie-in creators are borrowing toys from, and thus they own whatever toys the tie-ins add to the box, and can play with those new toys or ignore them as they prefer.


Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
Yeah, I suppose it's all down to Doylist (I.e this is a story written by authors) vs. Watsonian (this "happened" and everything should be made to fit) interpretations.
But wouldn't a Watsonian interpretation be that what we read was merely a fictionalized approximation of the actual events, with names and details changed to protect the innocent and specifics exaggerated or modified for dramatic license? Wasn't Holmes constantly complaining about how Watson embellished the facts of their cases to make them more melodramatic?
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Old June 24 2013, 08:44 PM   #113
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
Yeah, I suppose it's all down to Doylist (I.e this is a story written by authors) vs. Watsonian (this "happened" and everything should be made to fit) interpretations.

I mean, Trials and Tribulation is HILARIOUS but should, "We do not speak of it" have really become a story?

(They did well with that but I think people took it overboard)
True story: I once visited a mall bookstore that had a Sherlock Holmes novel filed under "W" for Watson . . ..
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Old June 24 2013, 11:07 PM   #114
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

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Also, I think people like to ascribe "semi-canonical" status to things where the on-screen creator was involved in some way. (Whether or not said writers said they were "canon.") For example: Jeri Taylor's Voyager books. Those were often declared "canon" by the fans back when they came out, even though, as I recall, they were contradicted by later episodes.
But that illustrates the mutable nature of canon. So long as Taylor was the showrunner for VGR, her books were effectively canonical, because she chose to treat them as such. But once she wasn't running the show anymore, her successors didn't feel bound by her books, so they lost what canon status they'd had.

I think what people miss is that "canonicity" isn't about some sort of hidden knowledge the creators have about the past, its about the constraints that the writers have to be held to in order to tell a story in the future. So even if something was in Bob Orci's head, or the Voyager series bible, at one point, that doesn't make it canon until it shows up on the screen. Because they might change their minds or have a better idea later on.
Except that the only writers bound by those constraints are tie-in writers, or staffers working for the showrunner. A lot of fans have this impression that canon is some higher law imposed by the studio or God or something that the creators of the show are required to follow. That's getting it backward. The canon is simply the creation itself. Whatever is created or supervised by the work's primary creator is defined as the canon. It's not a policy or a stricture, it's just a word that means "the stuff created by the primary creator." Conan Doyle's Holmes stories are canon while other writers' are not. The Buffy comics directly plotted and overseen by Joss Whedon are canon while the earlier comics by other authors are not. And so on. And in the context of series television, the primary creator is the showrunner.

Sure, the creators of an ongoing series have a certain responsibility to be aware of its history and keep it consistent, but that's not because they're "constrained by canon" -- it's because staying true to the continuity of the canon they're creating is generally a good idea if you want to maintain your audience's suspension of disbelief. But in a work or franchise where the responsibility for its creation passes from one hand to another, then the new creator will bring a different vision and interpretation to events and may create new canon that overwrites old canon. Or even a single creator may choose to overwrite their earlier work with new interpretations.
AS you say having continuity in an ongoing series be it Film, TV or a book series i.e Wheel of Time, is a generally a good idea. Does that mean you have to be tied to continuity no of course not, but which is better to simply ignore something that came before or acknowledge it and write your way out of it?
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Old June 25 2013, 12:53 AM   #115
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

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...but which is better to simply ignore something that came before or acknowledge it and write your way out of it?
As with everything else, there's no blanket answer to that. It depends on what works best for each story, or on how good a job you do with whatever option you choose. Sometimes rationalizing away an inconsistency can produce a very imaginative, worthwhile, and meaningful story; sometimes it just feels like an exercise in continuity porn and an unnecessary reminder of something better forgotten.
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Old June 25 2013, 03:55 AM   #116
Hober Mallow
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Are Trek fans overly obsessed with continuity compared with other genre fans? I tend to think so. When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of the TV version of Alien Nation. Some of you might remember that the show was cancelled in 1990 following a season-ending cliffhanger in which some of the characters had been poisoned by bacteria created by a group of human purists, headed by a woman named Darlene Bryant, for the purpose of eradicating the alien Newcomers.

Four years later, Fox decided to produce a TV movie resolving the cliffhanger. Unfortunately four years had passed and the characters all looked older, particularly Lauren Woodland, who played the lead alien's daughter Emily.

So changes had to be made. Emily's age was retconned and made into an important plot point. The year was retconned from 1996 to 1999. The entire final episode cliffhanger was essentially scrapped and encapsulated into a two minute opening scene in which only the most important details of the original story were retained. Furthermore, there were inexplicable differences. Darlene Bryant was now Phyllis Bryant. The bacteria was now a virus. Captain Bryon Grazer was now Captain Bryan Grazer. References were made to George's recent promotion which happened in the last series episode -- which the opening scene of the movie erased.

Had that happened to a Trek series, imagine the fallout, the screaming about alternate universes and canon. Among Alien Nation fans, I don't remember any issue at all. No one talked about continuity, canon, alternate universes, or anything like that.

Granted, that was a long time ago. I'm not really active in any fandom, other than making occasion posts here. Can anyone else comment on the similarities and differences between Trek fans and other fans when it comes to continuity?
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Old June 25 2013, 01:07 PM   #117
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Hober Mallow wrote: View Post
Among Alien Nation fans, I don't remember any issue at all. No one talked about continuity, canon, alternate universes, or anything like that.

Granted, that was a long time ago. I'm not really active in any fandom, other than making occasion posts here. Can anyone else comment on the similarities and differences between Trek fans and other fans when it comes to continuity?
It depends on whether you're closely connected to a largish group of fans. My Star Trek friends shared Star Trek rumours, retcons and bloopers, but when we noticed continuity problems in "V: The Series" (two different episodes introduced the alien crivits and the character of Kyle Bates, because one of the episodes was chosen not to be screened, and didn't get put back into a sequence until the VHS release), none of us cared. I'm sure if there were "V" clubs that there were members up in arms. But "V" and "Alien Nation" fandoms were miniscule compared to Trek.
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Old June 25 2013, 03:06 PM   #118
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Hober Mallow wrote: View Post
So changes had to be made. Emily's age was retconned and made into an important plot point. The year was retconned from 1996 to 1999.
I don't see that as a retcon of the universe as a whole, just as the passage of time. I assume that the series cliffhanger was rendered apocryphal and that in the revised continuity, three years passed before the Purist attack on the Franciscos.


Among Alien Nation fans, I don't remember any issue at all. No one talked about continuity, canon, alternate universes, or anything like that.
Personally, I never liked the finale episode. I felt it was too contrived, forcing all the characters into somewhat gratuitous crises at the same time. I suppose that's become fairly standard since, but it felt very forced and arbitrary to me at the time. So I was happy that the movie essentially erased the episode from continuity.

I hadn't noticed the other continuity glitches you mentioned between the series and the movies, but there's a huge one in the last movie, The Udara Legacy. That movie treats Newcomers in their 70s as being senior citizens, even though the series had established that Newcomers live considerably longer than humans and George already was in his 70s, or at least late 60s, and yet was equivalent to a human in his 30s.
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Old June 25 2013, 06:21 PM   #119
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Hober Mallow wrote: View Post
So changes had to be made. Emily's age was retconned and made into an important plot point. The year was retconned from 1996 to 1999.
I don't see that as a retcon of the universe as a whole, just as the passage of time. I assume that the series cliffhanger was rendered apocryphal and that in the revised continuity, three years passed before the Purist attack on the Franciscos.
No, the original series aired in 1989-1990 and was set in 1995-1996. The ship was said to have crashed five years before the pilot's 1995 date. The later movie ("Dark Horizon") was set in 1999 and the ship was said to have crashed five years earlier in 1994. Kenneth Johnson and co. just nudged the date forward to keep the show five years in the future, which I remember thinking at the time was perfectly reasonable. (They changed it again for the next movie, also set in 1999 but now seven years have passed since the crash, meaning the Newcomers arrived in 1992; Johnson stuck with this date for the remainder of the movie series.)

Among Alien Nation fans, I don't remember any issue at all. No one talked about continuity, canon, alternate universes, or anything like that.
Personally, I never liked the finale episode. I felt it was too contrived, forcing all the characters into somewhat gratuitous crises at the same time. I suppose that's become fairly standard since, but it felt very forced and arbitrary to me at the time. So I was happy that the movie essentially erased the episode from continuity.
Agreed. And I'm glad "Dark Horizon" didn't even bother to acknowledge the story of Buck and his teacher.

The year of Alien Nation's cliffhanger was also the year of TNG's Borg cliffhanger. I think all the season-ending cliffhangers that year just annoyed me.

I hadn't noticed the other continuity glitches you mentioned between the series and the movies, but there's a huge one in the last movie, The Udara Legacy. That movie treats Newcomers in their 70s as being senior citizens, even though the series had established that Newcomers live considerably longer than humans and George already was in his 70s, or at least late 60s, and yet was equivalent to a human in his 30s.
Yeah, that was really annoying. Johnson should have caught that one. Also, Aphossno in "Dark Horizon" claims to be Udara and George is impressed, telling Matt they're something akin to Samurai; in "The Udara Legacy" we find out George hates the Udara, and his reaction to finding out Susan is one is utter disgust.
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Old June 26 2013, 01:04 AM   #120
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Hober Mallow wrote: View Post
Some of you might remember that the show was cancelled in 1990 following a season-ending cliffhanger in which some of the characters had been poisoned by bacteria created by a group of human purists, headed by a woman named Darlene Bryant, for the purpose of eradicating the alien Newcomers.

Four years later, Fox decided to produce a TV movie resolving the cliffhanger. Unfortunately four years had passed and the characters all looked older, particularly Lauren Woodland, who played the lead alien's daughter Emily.
What did the fans make of the fact that two of the TV movie scripts were novelized over a year before the movies were produced? Both Dark Horizon (by K.W. Jeter) and Body and Soul (by Peter David) were novelized in 1993; the films were not aired until 1994 & 1995, respectively.
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