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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 December 21 2013, 02:35 AM   #1
Lance
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What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

It's an accusation, not unjustifiable, that was thrown at the first couple seasons of Next Gen. Certainly it sometimes felt like maybe the production team, assembled of people who'd worked on television predominantly throughout the sixties, hadn't quite got the hang of it being "twenty years later".

Certainly the 'accepted wisdom' is that TNG started to beat it's own drum in the second and third seasons, and particularly in the case of the third season it was when it started to really sizzle.

Just for fun, I wondered if we could list all the times we think TNG went too far, in being too much like TOS in the early seasons? The times when you were, like, "Can't they just get some new ideas?".

Here's what I've got:



Encounter At Farpoint: The Farpoint station idea is sort of novel, but the Q subplot is ripped directly from TOS (and the character himself might as well be Trelane).

The Naked Now: is a remake of sorts of "The Naked Time". It presents itself more as a sequel though.

Code Of Honor: The final 'battle to the death', for better or worse, has defintie shades of "Amok Time".

Lonely Among Us: The plot is mostly original, but the delegates stuff as presented is vaguely similar to the setup of "Journey To Babel". Dorothy Fontana wrote both episodes.

Hide & Q: Arguably comes across as even more like "The Squire of Gothos" than did Encounter At Farpoint. Riker being given God-like powers and becoming an arrogant dick as a result of that plays a lot like Gary Mitchell in TOS's "Where No Man Has Gone Before".

The Big Goodbye: Contentious I know, but the setting can't help but to have shades of "A Piece of the Action" to it. The broad comic overtones to Beverley's interactions with the cops etc could have been written straight into that earlier episode without breaking a sweat.

Datalore: Again, contentious. 'Evil twin' plots aren't unique to Trek, but it still invites comparisons to "The Enemy Within".

Too Short A Season: An interesting one this. Kind of a deconstruction of a generic TOS plot ('what happens when you go back to that planet of the week a few decades later, and find out your decisions back then have screwed everything?'). What we're told of the back story sounds a little like "A Private Little War".

Home Soil: It's "Devil in the Dark" all over again.

The Neutral Zone: Again it's only using a similar situation (cryogenic freezing), but it elicits comparisons with "Space Seed" for that reason only.



I actually think season two managed to be mostly wholely original (the writers having kinda figured out TNG's individual identity by that point), but I will mention that in Unnatural Selection, the 'aging disease' and in particular Pulaski being affected by it seems to be inspired by "The Deadly Years".

Are there any I've missed?
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Old December 21 2013, 06:36 AM   #2
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

The whole idea of the red, yellow and blue divisional uniform colors, starships with red glowy caps on the front of the engines, and Worf's TOS Klingon sash all coming back into vogue after 100 years.

Of course, this was all deliberate on Roddenberry's part, as he wanted to pretend that the movies never existed and that TNG was just a logical extension of TOS.
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Old December 21 2013, 07:32 AM   #3
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

I remember thinking at the time that Datalore (or something similar to it) pretty much had to be made early. It's such an obvious plot, and I guess maybe they wanted to "get it on paper" before someone else later came along and did something maybe really goofy with the idea.

But overall, I'm not sure where to divide the similarities between the two shows. A friend of mine who watched the show when it was first on used to make observations, like saying the alien portal in Contagion reminded him of the Guardian of Forever, or that The Arsenal of freedom planet reminded him of The Apple. Those ideas hadn't even crossed my mind.
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Old December 21 2013, 10:08 AM   #4
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

I always cite "The Measure of a Man" as the moment TNG truly found its identity, but in that very episode there's still nods to the TOS episode "Court Martial", IIRC, Melinda Snodgrass cited that in the commentary. Like when the service record is being stated, someone wants it cut short while the other wants it fully stated. Then there's that thing between Picard and Louvois mirroring Kirk and Shaw.
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Old December 21 2013, 10:55 AM   #5
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

I got the TOS feel every single time they went down to a planet and used that all-one-color-sky-backdrop routine. There's just something about having the horizon visible ten feet away and a wall of color behind that.
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Old December 21 2013, 10:58 AM   #6
Lance
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

MakeshiftPython wrote: View Post
I always cite "The Measure of a Man" as the moment TNG truly found its identity, but in that very episode there's still nods to the TOS episode "Court Martial", IIRC, Melinda Snodgrass cited that in the commentary. Like when the service record is being stated, someone wants it cut short while the other wants it fully stated. Then there's that thing between Picard and Louvois mirroring Kirk and Shaw.
Oh yeah, I forgot to cite it above, but it was rewatching the extended "Measure of a Man" again recently which actually inspired me to start this thread. I haven't listened to the commentary yet, but it struck me how many beats in the episode reminded me of "Court Martial", including the extended discussion between Picard and Louvis in the bar.
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Old December 21 2013, 03:24 PM   #7
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

If I may be so bold (wouldn't dare to suggest this in the TOS forum)...I think the difference with "Measure" is that it may be the first time that TNG aped a specific TOS episode and actually improved upon it.
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Old December 21 2013, 05:00 PM   #8
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

Tosk wrote: View Post
I got the TOS feel every single time they went down to a planet and used that all-one-color-sky-backdrop routine. There's just something about having the horizon visible ten feet away and a wall of color behind that.
I know what you mean... Never so terribly obvious than in Hide & Q, and Skin of Evil
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Old December 21 2013, 05:21 PM   #9
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

Lance wrote: View Post


Encounter At Farpoint: The Farpoint station idea is sort of novel, but the Q subplot is ripped directly from TOS (and the character himself might as well be Trelane).
I think Q in this episode had more in common with the various "godlike aliens" who sit in judgement of Kirk and Co/humanity in various episodes than he does Trelane. Later he would become more Trelane like.
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Old December 21 2013, 06:04 PM   #10
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

I think he was a mashup of all of the above from the get-go. The Trelane aspect was definitely there in "Farpoint".
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Old December 21 2013, 06:33 PM   #11
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

How many TOS episodes borrowed plotlines or story elements from earlier literature, movie and tv productions?
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Old December 21 2013, 11:08 PM   #12
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

Dukhat wrote: View Post
Of course, this was all deliberate on Roddenberry's part, as he wanted to pretend that the movies never existed and that TNG was just a logical extension of TOS.
Yes, exactly. I had a sense that whole first season, hard to describe. It was supposed to be a century after TOS, but in many ways felt like a step back from the movies.

Yes, a logical extension of TOS to be sure, but then the movies felt out of place. The movies were a step forward from TOS, and even seemed a step forward from TNG. But TNG was supposed to be beyond the movies, but really felt more akin to TOS.

It was a bit confusing that first year. An extension of TOS in style and theme, moreso than an extension of the films at that point.
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Old December 22 2013, 07:31 PM   #13
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

Lance wrote: View Post
I actually think season two managed to be mostly wholely original (the writers having kinda figured out TNG's individual identity by that point), but I will mention that in Unnatural Selection, the 'aging disease' and in particular Pulaski being affected by it seems to be inspired by "The Deadly Years".

Are there any I've missed?
You could draw comparisons between TNG's The Schizoid Man and TOS's Return to Tomorrow and Turnabout Intruder.

Mojochi wrote: View Post
Tosk wrote: View Post
I got the TOS feel every single time they went down to a planet and used that all-one-color-sky-backdrop routine. There's just something about having the horizon visible ten feet away and a wall of color behind that.
I know what you mean... Never so terribly obvious than in Hide & Q, and Skin of Evil
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Old December 23 2013, 08:57 AM   #14
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

Lance wrote: View Post
Home Soil: It's "Devil in the Dark" all over again.

The Neutral Zone: Again it's only using a similar situation (cryogenic freezing), but it elicits comparisons with "Space Seed" for that reason only.

Are there any I've missed?

I couldn't NOT think of Devil in the Dark all through Home Soil, of course.

The derelict sleeper ship of The Neutral Zone did strike a familiar chord, but what I found more interesting was the re-introduction of the Romulans, trying to recapture their mystery. Funny that it was once again an Enterprise that encountered them after "decades" of no contact. Yet another unexplored period of time of disassociation similar of that alluded to after the Romulan War.

I'd add the set-up of The Last Outpost as being undeniably lifted from Arena. Our heroes' face off on the planet was not quite as involuntary as Kirk's, but the ships losing power inexplicably, and ultimately being judged by a 'superior race' and humans getting a pass due to our ethics and ability to grow and mature were nearly identical.

Also the area of blackness encountered in Where Silence Has Lease bore striking similarity to The Immunity Syndrome.
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Old December 23 2013, 09:05 AM   #15
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Re: What were the times when you thought early TNG was aping TOS?

I recently watched Lonely Among Us, and rolled my eyes at some of the Roddenberry-isms in the episode. First, Riker being perplexed at the concept of war between two peoples, having once read about it in Earth history (oh pleeeeeeeeeeease!). Second, that humanity no longer "enslaves" animals for meat (uh huh). But the most eye-rolling moment was when Riker and Picard were figuring out that there was a saboteur on-board, and that they immediately exclude any of the crew, since that's something those advanced humans would never do.
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