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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

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

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Old October 24 2013, 05:56 AM   #1
LMFAOschwarz
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Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

I didn't understand it then, and I don't understand it now: Why did the powers-that-be just give up so quickly on the Ferengi in season one? "Oh, they're to silly to be taken seriously as a credible threat."

To me, that could have been, even if unintended, a useful story tool, to create an unexpected threat from those who seem relatively harmless. The crew might have been "disarmed" by the Ferengi, thinking that the stories they'd heard about them were exaggerations. It could have been interesting, to see Picard, Riker, etc. fall prey to the sometimes-human tendency of self-deception. Then...wham! Heck, they kind of did that with the goofy Pakleds, after all.

I'm not implying they made a huge mistake with them or anything, I just don't understand giving up without even trying. I'd noticed back then that the name 'Ferengi' had even made its way into the 'everyman vernacular', much as the Klingon name had done before...so why waste that? Throwing in the towel on them so soon would be, to me, like changing the name of a product once it became familiar to everyone!

Any thoughts?
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Old October 24 2013, 06:29 AM   #2
Pavonis
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

It's hard to take a bunch of bald, hunch-backed trolls as serious enemies. The Cardassians became a much better adversary for the Federation. Are they good guys? Are they bad guys? They were both at different times! And they were always serious.

If the Ferengi were going to be retained, I'd say the cannibalistic aspect hinted at in "EaF" should've been kept as a serious element of their culture. If they're going to be creepy and ugly, at least make something about them scary!
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Old October 24 2013, 06:37 AM   #3
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

After the disaster that was The Last Outpost, I found Bok in The Battle pretty threatening. Though you could tell right away they were already trying to undo the damage of the previous episode by making them less harsh. They went a full season before seeing more in Peak Performance. There they were foolish, yet threatening.

The setup in TLO is really hard to shake. For one thing, they were played by short actors, who hunched, and acted like street hustlers, (to say nothing of their monkey mannerisms).

Contrast that with DS9's first impression of the Jem'Hadar, who kamikaze'd a Galaxy Class starship. Or even Q, who first appeared as a space barrier and then a god. First impressions are everything.
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Old October 24 2013, 09:27 PM   #4
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

Pavonis wrote: View Post
If the Ferengi were going to be retained, I'd say the cannibalistic aspect hinted at in "EaF" should've been kept as a serious element of their culture. If they're going to be creepy and ugly, at least make something about them scary!
Yeah, that's kind of what I was thinking, not the kind of foes who conquer worlds and always-wanted-to-meet-Kirk-in-battle types. Something a little different, something scary or abhorrent, not outright menacing.
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Old October 24 2013, 09:54 PM   #5
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

I think the lasso whips are gnarley.
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Old October 24 2013, 10:06 PM   #6
Trekker4747
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

After there chuckle-inducing presentation in TLO I don't think anyone was ever going to take them seriously as a threat.
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Old October 24 2013, 11:54 PM   #7
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

The Ferengi eventually morph'ed into a truly interest race, as villains they weren't really well thought out.

Presented differently, they probably could have been intimidating foes for Picard and company.

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Old October 25 2013, 12:44 AM   #8
JirinPanthosa
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

Honestly, if they were going to make Ferengi major villains they needed to do it more like Cousin Gala in DS9. The TNG writers made these laissez-faire capitalist villains but had a ridiculous cartoonish understanding of capitalism. They had Ferengi deceiving for the sake of deceiving even when clearly not in their profit interest.

If they had the Ferengi out bribing politicians, stealing technology to sell it to the Federation enemies, even out throwing their corn seeds off trucks and then suing the farmers of the fields they drift into, that would have made them more interesting villains.
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Old October 25 2013, 12:47 AM   #9
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

LMFAOschwarz wrote: View Post
Yeah, that's kind of what I was thinking, not the kind of foes who conquer worlds and always-wanted-to-meet-Kirk-in-battle types. Something a little different, something scary or abhorrent, not outright menacing.
When I last rewatched the first season I got the feeling that they may have been trying to pose the Ferengi as a kind of parody of the Federation, or at least, a political group of comparable strength but opposing morals on many grounds. For example, in (I think) The Last Outpost there's talk of how the Ferengi are offended that the Federation's non-interference directive makes them destroy perfectly good trading opportunities; or how the Federation's insistence on gender equality makes them degrade women by putting them in clothes and such. (The latter's almost as silly as the former is respectable, but it's at least a motive that isn't mostly just Roddenberry waiting for the invention of DeviantArt.)

If they were going for that --- and the first season I think they were trying for a lot of subtle concepts they weren't really able to pull off, eg, the original conception of Data as being as human as possible without being human, the sort of thing you could build a great philosophy course around --- then I'm sorry they weren't able to pull it off. A Federation rival power that could be as smart and generally respectable as the Federation but different from it, would have expanded the scope of the Trek universe in ways it really hasn't properly had.
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Old October 25 2013, 01:32 AM   #10
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

I don't think they 'gave up' on them, so much as they were one of Gene Roddenberry's pet projects, and as we all know he took a back seat after season two and Berman and Piller didn't think much of them as potential foes. As others have said, both "The Battle" and "Peak Performance" do a reasonable job of portraying the Ferengi as threatening.

Certainly by "Rascals", the very idea of Ferengi as being a dangerous invading force was considered to be ridiculous.
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Old October 25 2013, 01:59 AM   #11
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

In some respects, I think the original goal with the Ferengi was to do what FASA did for the Orions - have a culture that opposes a lot of the morals and values of our Federation heroes, and nonetheless gets away with it because they can call it "trading" or "business" and attract a lot of support from groups or races that might actually prefer them as potential allies over the Feds. The Federation banned Orion slavery in areas where it directly controlled or did business, but outside the borders there was little it could do. The Orions had enough economic advantages that on one occasion during the Four Years War (Feds vs Klingons), they were able to force both sides to refrain from hampering their "free trade" by threatening to withhold cargo that both factions considered too valuable to lose. FASA's proposed TNG era would have been a significant change since they intended the Klingons to join the Federation, and they were the Orions' biggest ally on many occasions before.
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Old October 25 2013, 03:10 AM   #12
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
Honestly, if they were going to make Ferengi major villains they needed to do it more like Cousin Gala in DS9. The TNG writers made these laissez-faire capitalist villains but had a ridiculous cartoonish understanding of capitalism. They had Ferengi deceiving for the sake of deceiving even when clearly not in their profit interest.

If they had the Ferengi out bribing politicians, stealing technology to sell it to the Federation enemies, even out throwing their corn seeds off trucks and then suing the farmers of the fields they drift into, that would have made them more interesting villains.
If they wanted to make them interesting villains maybe having them scream in agony over the sound of thunder wasn't a good way to make us fear them.
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Old October 25 2013, 03:20 AM   #13
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

Wow, you guys have some great ideas here! Why weren't you writing the show?!

There's a whole lot more to Capitalism than just generic "greed", and that would have been great to explore! Heck, they could have just written off the Ferengi from The Last Outpost as being sort of Kruge-type renegades. One would hardly judge the Federation based on just the behavior of Captain Ron Tracy!
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Old October 25 2013, 03:21 AM   #14
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

Pavonis wrote: View Post
It's hard to take a bunch of bald, hunch-backed trolls as serious enemies.
What does bald and hunch-backed have to do with anything? Do they need hair and straight spines to be taken seriously? Do you not take Picard seriously because he's bald?

As to the larger topic, it's obvious they gave up on them as the big enemy in season one when they decided to pull the Romulans out of mothballs to replace them.

They definitely shot themselves in the foot with the portrayal of the Ferengi. I thought it was cool that they tried to give them alien ways of moving, but the choice made was too bouncy and cartoonish, coupled with some really silly, not thought out things like their love of gold...just replicate a ton of it and send them on their way.
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Old October 25 2013, 03:31 AM   #15
LMFAOschwarz
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Re: Throwing the Ferengi out with the bath water?

Maurice wrote: View Post
What does bald and hunch-backed have to do with anything? Do they need hair and straight spines to be taken seriously? Do you not take Picard seriously because he's bald?
He's got a point there!

Also this reminds me of something I'd forgotten: I've never tasted gold, does it have a particular taste? Does it taste different than, say, aluminum?
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