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Deep Space Nine What We Left Behind, we will always have here.

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Old June 19 2014, 02:26 PM   #46
Christopher
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

^I don't know what the Paramount execs may have been thinking, but the creators of DS9 originally intended to set the series at an outpost on the surface of Bajor, not on a space station. The only reason they decided on a space station was because the regular location shooting in a planet-based series would've been too expensive compared to a mostly studio-bound production.

It's ridiculous how people use "both shows are on space stations!" as "proof" of imitation. There are dozens of shows set in courtrooms, in classrooms, in hospitals, in offices, etc. There are countless shows set in New York City or Los Angeles or San Francisco. But nobody accuses them of copying each other based solely on their location. It's just that there haven't been that many shows set on space stations, so it stands out more in people's minds. But it's just a setting. If you want a space show, there are really only three possible settings: a ship, an alien planet, or a space station. And TNG itself was the juggernaut as far as ship-based SF at the time was concerned, so of course any rival or contemporary show, even from the same studio, would try to do something different, and there are only a couple of other options. So the fact that two contemporaries of TNG both happened to be on space stations isn't evidence of imitation, just of convergent evolution.
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Old June 19 2014, 02:35 PM   #47
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

RandyS wrote: View Post
USS Firefly wrote: View Post
Don't forget that Deep Space 1 and 2 were sabotaged during construction, and Deep Space 8 disappeared 24 hours after going online...
Wow really?
In what episode was that?
"Deep Space Squared", of course.
Can't wait to re-watch it when it's out on Blu-ray!
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Old June 19 2014, 02:37 PM   #48
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

convergent evolution
Yeah, I absolutely see that point. However, the legal gray area is really that both shows debuted at almost the same time, and there is documented proof that JMS had pitched Babylon 5 to Paramount, who turned it down, prior to taking it elsewhere. Now, it's entirely possible that DS9 was already in an early stage of development when JMS knocked on the door with his idea. But the merest possibility that somebody at Paramount, not necessarily Berman or Piller I hasten to add but possibly somebody higher up the ladder, took some notes on the B5 pitch and then happened to leak a few very similar ideas down the line independently of the Trek production team themselves... *that's* the reason why the question of the uncanny similarities comes up from time to time.
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Old June 19 2014, 02:46 PM   #49
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

Christopher wrote: View Post
^I don't know what the Paramount execs may have been thinking, but the creators of DS9 originally intended to set the series at an outpost on the surface of Bajor, not on a space station. The only reason they decided on a space station was because the regular location shooting in a planet-based series would've been too expensive compared to a mostly studio-bound production.

It's ridiculous how people use "both shows are on space stations!" as "proof" of imitation. There are dozens of shows set in courtrooms, in classrooms, in hospitals, in offices, etc. There are countless shows set in New York City or Los Angeles or San Francisco. But nobody accuses them of copying each other based solely on their location. It's just that there haven't been that many shows set on space stations, so it stands out more in people's minds. But it's just a setting. If you want a space show, there are really only three possible settings: a ship, an alien planet, or a space station. And TNG itself was the juggernaut as far as ship-based SF at the time was concerned, so of course any rival or contemporary show, even from the same studio, would try to do something different, and there are only a couple of other options. So the fact that two contemporaries of TNG both happened to be on space stations isn't evidence of imitation, just of convergent evolution.
Agreed. The logical fallacy that DS9 "copied" Babylon 5 is just the result of fandom's small-minded thinking and even the even smaller world fandom lives in.
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Old June 19 2014, 03:27 PM   #50
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

Lance wrote: View Post
... *that's* the reason why the question of the uncanny similarities comes up from time to time.
See my comments in the last paragraph of post 27. There is nothing "uncanny" about similarities between different works of fiction, because similarities happen all the time and are all but impossible to avoid. "Uncanny" means mysterious or inexplicable, but unintentional similiarities between different works of fiction in the same genre are everyday, routine occurrences, and are easily explained because those creators are working within a finite conceptual framework shaped by similar influences and employing the same conceptual vocabulary and syntax. It only seems "uncanny" if you narrow your focus exclusively to the two things you're comparing and ignore the broader cultural context that shaped them both. Everything seems mysterious and inexplicable if you don't bother to look for the root causes.
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Old June 19 2014, 04:01 PM   #51
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

^I'm told that the uncanny number of coincidences between the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy is too great to be an accident. Why, did you ever notice that both names have seven letters?

Bad Thoughts wrote: View Post
T'Girl wrote: View Post
Why did Starfleet rename it "Deep Space Nine?"

Perhaps a better question is: why didn't the Bajorans rename it?
The Bajorans met with Starfleet and said, "Look, guys, it's all yours to administer. We've just got a few rules for you.
1) Don't let that Ferengi out of your sight.
2) Don't let that Cardassian out of your sight.
3) Don't let that Changeling out of your sight.
4) Rename the place anything you want, but don't keep calling it Terok Nor!

"Oh, and 5) If you mention yarmok sauce or self-sealing stembolts in our presence just one time, THE DEAL IS OFF."

RandyS wrote: View Post
USS Firefly wrote: View Post
Don't forget that Deep Space 1 and 2 were sabotaged during construction, and Deep Space 8 disappeared 24 hours after going online...
Wow really?
In what episode was that?
"Deep Space Squared", of course.
And they elaborated on it in "Dominion War Without End".
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Old June 19 2014, 04:11 PM   #52
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

... there is documented proof that JMS had pitched Babylon 5 to Paramount, who turned it down, prior to taking it elsewhere.
I believe the story is more complicated. WB and Paramount had initially intended to join together to make a fifth network. Part of the top level discussion seemed to have been about merging two properties, JMS' and a new Trek series. I'll bet information went both ways as execs tried to make the two properties look compatible.
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Old June 19 2014, 06:11 PM   #53
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

Yup -- Babylon 5 was in development, proveably, over twenty-five years ago; and Straczynski shopped the series format and sample scripts all over Hollywood, specifically including Paramount, in 1987, 1988, and 1989.

Later, when the Paramount brass put Piller and Berman to work on creating DS9, they appear to have been handed what amounts to a copy of the B5 series format, with the serial numbers filed off. The similarities between DS9 *at the outset*, and B5's *original* series format, are beyond the pale of coincidence, right down to the descriptions of cast and characters.

(Note that, for example, in JMS's first version of B5, the Minbari were to be changelings. This appears to have been written out to avoid even more similarities between B5 and DS9.)

The people at Paramount busted their collective tails getting the DS9 pilot movie shot, on somewhere between three and four times as much budget as Warners had allocated for B5. They also spent huge quantities of "speed" money getting it edited and put together to air, and going into series production immediately.

This is why Babylon 5 *appears* to have shown up later, even though it was conceived, written, and mostly shot, earlier. Note also that WB and the PTEN network decided to hold back B5 until the following spring (of 1994), so they would have two series ready to go at the same time, on their first "network night," Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Paramount representatives were wandering around the U.S. bad-mouthing Babylon 5 as "derivative" and a "rip-off," and in at least two cases that people have been able to document, telling TV station-managers that B5 concept had been "stolen" from DS9.

Straczynski is officially on record as saying that he does not believe Piller and Berman have behaved in any way but ethically. He makes no charges, and has referred to the situation only obliquely.

Of course, he HAS pointed out that tying two entire production crews up in litigation would've made no money for anyone but the lawyers, and would've gotten NO material onto the screen; and there is such a thing as "professional courtesy."
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Old June 19 2014, 06:45 PM   #54
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

Leto_II wrote: View Post
Later, when the Paramount brass put Piller and Berman to work on creating DS9, they appear to have been handed what amounts to a copy of the B5 series format, with the serial numbers filed off. The similarities between DS9 *at the outset*, and B5's *original* series format, are beyond the pale of coincidence, right down to the descriptions of cast and characters.
That's bull. Every time I see someone citing this "evidence," it's based on cherrypicking the few similarities and ignoring the many differences.

As I already told you, DS9 at the outset was going to be a planet-based series. And as I already told you, similarities between different creative works in the same genre happen by accident all the time. As a layperson you may toss around reckless phrases like "beyond the pale of coincidence," but unless you've actually worked as a writer and tried to sell your work and discovered how many, many times you get your ideas rejected because someone else is already doing them, you have no idea what's beyond the pale of coincidence. I once submitted a spec script to TNG and saw them air an episode based on a very similar idea ten days later. This is a constant fact of life for writers.


(Note that, for example, in JMS's first version of B5, the Minbari were to be changelings. This appears to have been written out to avoid even more similarities between B5 and DS9.)
Again, you're ignoring the larger context these shows were part of. Terminator 2: Judgment Day came out in 1991. Its morphing effects were revolutionary and took the genre world by storm. Everyone wanted to imitate them, so of course multiple subsequent works had shapeshifters in them. This is why accusations like this are so ignorant. If two contemporary works resemble each other, it's probably because they're both imitating something else. And in this case it's obvious what the something else was.


The people at Paramount busted their collective tails getting the DS9 pilot movie shot, on somewhere between three and four times as much budget as Warners had allocated for B5.
So? What's suspicious about that? TNG was a high-budget production because of the prestige of the Star Trek franchise at the time, so naturally DS9 followed suit. Both shows were well above the normal budget levels for the other SFTV shows of the era, while B5 was more typically budgeted for a first-run syndicated series.


They also spent huge quantities of "speed" money getting it edited and put together to air, and going into series production immediately.
They went into production swiftly because Star Trek was already a known, successful commodity with a proven production team already in place. Therefore it wasn't necessary to go through the kind of preliminaries that an entirely new show would need. And because TNG was making them so much money, they were naturally eager to get a spinoff out so they could make even more money.

Think about it. TNG was already a huge success, a prestige show that garnered Paramount a ton of money and critical respect and had basically created the entire market for first-run syndicated dramas. B5 was an untested, experimental commodity whose profit potential was unknown. Which one of these was more likely to be at the forefront of the Paramount executives' thoughts as they made their decisions about DS9?
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Old June 19 2014, 08:41 PM   #55
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Leto_II wrote: View Post
Later, when the Paramount brass put Piller and Berman to work on creating DS9, they appear to have been handed what amounts to a copy of the B5 series format, with the serial numbers filed off. The similarities between DS9 *at the outset*, and B5's *original* series format, are beyond the pale of coincidence, right down to the descriptions of cast and characters.
That's bull. Every time I see someone citing this "evidence," it's based on cherrypicking the few similarities and ignoring the many differences.

As I already told you, DS9 at the outset was going to be a planet-based series. And as I already told you, similarities between different creative works in the same genre happen by accident all the time. As a layperson you may toss around reckless phrases like "beyond the pale of coincidence," but unless you've actually worked as a writer and tried to sell your work and discovered how many, many times you get your ideas rejected because someone else is already doing them, you have no idea what's beyond the pale of coincidence. I once submitted a spec script to TNG and saw them air an episode based on a very similar idea ten days later. This is a constant fact of life for writers.
"Reckless"? Hardly.

No one is disputing that certain elements shared between DS9 and B5 were anything less than obvious thematic/setting-derived components that any space-based SF series likely would've utilized in Hollywood at that point in time, due to the premise. I'm a fairly well-educated guy who knows how the industry works, and how the studio pitch and development process operates, and how sometimes certain ideas/concepts can suddenly emerge onto the scene simultaneously and independently of one another.

I refer here to the J. Michael Straczynski Babylon 5 script books published over the past several years; in particular the first and final volumes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 15), which lay out a number of character and plot-elements that are simply far too similar to be coincidental, and which may or may not have been "co-opted" by Paramount years later when directing the initial DS9 series format (beyond very superficial similarities such as the space-station setting, jumpgates/wormholes, etc.).

As recounted by Jane Killick in the Babylon 5 series guide book Signs and Portents, "The people behind Star Trek didn't believe it could be done, and sat on the idea [Babylon 5] for nine months."

But it is actually JMS himself who felt that something screwy was happening behind the studio scenes:

J. Michael Straczynski wrote:
In 1989, the bible, treatment, screenplay and artwork for Babylon 5 was brought to Paramount. This is documented. It was reviewed, in depth, by many of the development people there, meetings were taken, and at one point, it looked as if we might have a deal. Very abruptly, this prospect evaporated, with Paramount passing on the grounds that it then had an SF series that had just gone on, and it would conflict.

What a development person at a studio does, incidentally, is to work with writers and producers involved in studio projects. The development person guides the writers and producers in ways that the development person thinks that the project should go.
http://www.jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-20154

J. Michael Straczynski wrote:
To step back a second, the reality is that this sort of thing happens in Hollywood all the time. When "The Abyss" was being produced, several other films with identical concepts were rushed forward (remember Deepstar 7 or 9 or whatever that was?).

Consequently, one of the things you most protect are the details of your project. You don't want a possible competitor to know what you're doing. Unfortunately, right there in the files at Paramount was every last detail about how we were going to do B5, the station, the stories, everything.

Now, I'm sure that the Paramount execs said, "No, no...we won't look at it, we won't open the drawer, we'll remain pure and virginal and even though we're trying to beat Warners in creating a new network, even though they're threatening to break our monopoly on space/future shows, we won't open that file drawer, no sir."

They could not possibly have said, "Okay, open the file drawer. Let's take a peek at what they're going to do. We won't copy it, exactly, but knowing what they're doing will allow us to co-opt a little of their franchise, enough to cut them off at the knees in the marketplace. We won't tell Berman or Pillar [sic] about this, because they would never go along with it, but we'll just *guide* them here and there. We give notes all the time in development, who's to know where they came from?"

And just to be clear, so the sarcasm doesn't get in the way: I have never, *ever* felt, or believed, or thought, that Berman or Pillar EVER saw or knew about the B5 information. Had anyone suggested anything of a less than straightforward nature, they would have refused; of that I have no doubt. No sarcasm, that's what I think.

jms
http://www.jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-15652

J. Michael Straczynski wrote:
When was B5 announced? Check the trades. November 21st, several articles appeared with the info. When was DS9 developed? That, too, is a matter of both record and other information. Was B5 brought to Paramount? Yes, it was, and I have the correspondence to prove it. Were some of the development people at Paramount who read the B5 screenplay and saw the series treatment and bible also involved in the DS9 development? It seems that this is indeed the case. That's not unsubstantiated "bs," as you say, and I really don't care what you think on that subject. All of that is a matter of record.

Were Pillar [sic] and Berman aware of B5 at any time? No. Of that I am also confident. The only question in my mind is to what degree did the development people steer them? One scenario is that they did not steer them at ALL...but knowing of B5, and knowing how swell it would be if they could co-opt B5, if Pillar and Berman came up with a space station on their own, they would likely say nothing, even though they might be viewed as being under a moral obligation to say something. Another scenario is that they gave direction to the creative folks without telling them the origin of that direction.

There are several ways of dealing with this. One is to launch a major suit with full powers of discovery. The result is that DS9 gets tied up for months, maybe even years in litigation, and maybe the show doesn't go forward. It also means hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by Warners and me and others pursuing this...not to mention the sense of ill will that will fly back and forth.
http://www.jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-21322

Paramount had gotten a pitch on Babylon 5 (which included the series bible and plot synopses of the first season), turned it down, and did nothing until after B5 was announced, at which point they announced a new Trek show that they had never even mentioned before.

Paramount's motivation was to freeze out Warner Brothers, thinking that a series set on a space station would succeed on the Star Trek name and keep B5 off the air (and it almost did). They wanted to soak up time-slots for their shows and deny them to Warner Brothers (this was back when local affiliate syndication was still huge).

Yes, it's true that any two particular works do not exist in a vacuum, and that there are common storytelling/genre elements that both are likely to draw upon (in this case, an interstellar space station, various competing political powers, etc.) without directly impinging upon one another. It's common sense to expect parallel development to a certain extent within Hollywood, given various simultaneous cultural influences, and so forth, which guide projects like these.

But when one reads through Straczynski's pitch-notes, the conceptual and storyline similarities present at the start of both shows are numerous; far too many in number for the usual trend of coincidental, parallel industry-development to account for.


Christopher wrote: View Post
Leto_II wrote: View Post
(Note that, for example, in JMS's first version of B5, the Minbari were to be changelings. This appears to have been written out to avoid even more similarities between B5 and DS9.)
Again, you're ignoring the larger context these shows were part of. Terminator 2: Judgment Day came out in 1991. Its morphing effects were revolutionary and took the genre world by storm. Everyone wanted to imitate them, so of course multiple subsequent works had shapeshifters in them. This is why accusations like this are so ignorant. If two contemporary works resemble each other, it's probably because they're both imitating something else. And in this case it's obvious what the something else was.
Not back in 1986. Which is when the "changeling" element first appears in JMS's original notes.

Much later, in 1992, agreed -- Paramount and everybody else were eager to jump on the T2 morph-technology bandwagon, but it's to Joe's original notes that I'm referring, here.
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Old June 19 2014, 09:05 PM   #56
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

The Prophets and the Pahwraith also opened up other story arcs, which may not have been in the original planning.

And, I think Quark's popularity wasn't anticipated, either.

Then, too, Garak came along.
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Old June 19 2014, 09:22 PM   #57
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

Leto_II wrote: View Post

Blah blah blah
The part of you that is staying in this argument is very much missing the part of us making the point.
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Old June 19 2014, 09:25 PM   #58
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

And what point is that?
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Old June 19 2014, 09:28 PM   #59
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

Incidentally, if believing that DS9 copied in any way from B5 is a result of "small-minded thinking," then I guess Straczynski himself (a longtime industry veteran) must've been suffering under the exact same delusion.
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Old June 19 2014, 10:11 PM   #60
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Re: Was there a seven year plan?

Leto_II wrote: View Post
I refer here to the J. Michael Straczynski Babylon 5 script books published over the past several years; in particular the first and final volumes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 15), which lay out a number of character and plot-elements that are simply far too similar to be coincidental, and which may or may not have been "co-opted" by Paramount years later when directing the initial DS9 series format (beyond very superficial similarities such as the space-station setting, jumpgates/wormholes, etc.).
You've asserted this twice without any specifics. None of your extensive quotes of JMS actually mention what any of these plot elements are. You seem to think that just telling me what JMS felt will somehow prove your case, but that's not how evidence works. If you're going to make claims, back them up with facts. Not anecdotes or hearsay or emotional rhetoric.


Paramount had gotten a pitch on Babylon 5 (which included the series bible and plot synopses of the first season), turned it down, and did nothing until after B5 was announced, at which point they announced a new Trek show that they had never even mentioned before.

Paramount's motivation was to freeze out Warner Brothers, thinking that a series set on a space station would succeed on the Star Trek name and keep B5 off the air (and it almost did). They wanted to soak up time-slots for their shows and deny them to Warner Brothers (this was back when local affiliate syndication was still huge).
I'm not opposed to the idea that the studio executives may have been willing to play politics in that way. What I object to is the idea that Michael Piller and Rick Berman merely copied JMS's ideas. I believe they came up with their own ideas for their own reasons, and maybe Paramount embraced or encouraged those ideas that happened to fit into their desires to shut out B5.

After all, as I said, parallel ideas are created all the time. That means that if a network or studio does want to copy something, they don't really have to come up with something new -- they can just latch onto something that a creator came up with independently in good faith. For instance, Donald Bellisario's Tales of the Gold Monkey was accused of being a Raiders of the Lost Ark imitation, but in fact Bellisario pitched it to ABC before Raiders came out, and it languished in development hell until Raiders was a hit and ABC was eager to grab its coattails.


But when one reads through Straczynski's pitch-notes, the conceptual and storyline similarities present at the start of both shows are numerous; far too many in number for the usual trend of coincidental, parallel industry-development to account for.
If that's true, then you should be able to cite specifics instead of just spouting the same unsupported generalizations over and over.


Not back in 1986. Which is when the "changeling" element first appears in JMS's original notes.
Please stop using the word "changeling." It's prejudicial. What you mean is "shapeshifter." The use of "changeling" as a synonym for that is unique to DS9, while shapeshifters have been a concept in science fiction going back generations and in mythology and folklore going back millennia. So by anachronistically applying the term "changeling" when you mean "shapeshifter," you're deliberately trying to prejudice listeners to believe there was direct imitation, and I find that a dishonest rhetorical tactic.

I mean, come on -- it's hard to find a science fiction series that doesn't have shapeshifters in it. The original Star Trek (which was a clear influence on Babylon 5 in a number of ways) had multiple shapeshifters, including the Salt Vampire, the Kelvans, the Antosians/Garth of Izar, and the Vendorians in the animated series, plus the Chameloids in the sixth movie and the allasomorphs and the coalescent organism in TNG, the Silver Blood in VGR, etc. Doctor Who featured occasional shapeshifters such as the Rutans, the Axons, and arguably the Doctor and his fellow Time Lords. The Twilight Zone featured a shapeshifter in "The Four of Us Are Dying." And of course comic books have had shapeshifting characters going back to the Silver Age, like Clayface and Mystique. Shapeshifters are a dime a dozen in sci-fi.

And if you're going to riposte that both B5 and DS9 differed from those others in having shapeshifters as regular cast members rather than guest stars, let me direct your attention to the 1976-77 season of Space: 1999, which co-starred Catherine Schell as Maya, a Psychon who could shapeshift into any living being. So having a shapeshifter as a regular was nothing new.

So it's not the tiniest bit suspicious that two different SF shows would both have shapeshifters in them -- unless you create the illusion it's suspicious by dishonestly using one show's term for its own specific race of shapeshifters. Which makes about as much sense as calling the Narn "Klingons."

Like I keep saying, if you ignore everything but the two series you're fixated on, of course you won't consider the possibility that they're both drawing on earlier influences. Context. Deal with it.



Leto_II wrote: View Post
Incidentally, if believing that DS9 copied in any way from B5 is a result of "small-minded thinking," then I guess Straczynski himself (a longtime industry veteran) must've been suffering under the exact same delusion.
Even industry veterans can have hang-ups and blind spots. Look at Gene Roddenberry's belief that he was always in conflict with network executives who were out to undermine and sabotage him. Personal beliefs are not evidence of anything except what those persons believe.

And as I've said, I'm open to the possibility that Paramount may have had some less-than-salutary designs here (though I'm not convinced of it), but I don't believe that Berman and Piller themselves were plagiarists. I've read enough about the development of DS9 to be convinced that they came up with its ideas independently.
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