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Old December 16 2008, 03:42 AM   #1
msbae
Commodore
 
Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

There's been enough debate about premises for new shows around here, in my far-less-than-humble opinion. Therefore, I'll just stick to posting my ideas for a starship crew in the Post-Dominion War era. So far, only the ship and captain has a name. The idea here is to find a premise that works for the characters here, instead of finding characters to interact with the premise like one would normally do.

For those that absolutely have to have some kind of idea for the show, let's just call this a cross between a ever-so-slightly darker TNG and Alias.

The Ship -

USS Invicta
Galaxy Class
Registry - NCC-75607 (Registry is subject to change)

Captain Marcus Mortillaro
  • Human/Vulcan Hybrid, 45 Earth-years old
  • Served with Starfleet Intelligence for 20 years
  • Switched over to command after the Dominion War and was assigned the USS Invicta. Rumor has it that he blackmailed Starfleet’s Commander-in-Chief, having evidence that he cheated on his wife years ago.
  • He values the Sicilian side of his heritage as much as the Vulcan side.
  • He is outwardly logical (and somewhat cold) yet, still has all the emotions of his Human side.
  • Keeps his emotions from public view, regarding emotional displays to be a ‘sign of weakness.’
  • Mortillaro doesn’t have a conflict between his Human and Vulcan sides like Mr. Spock.
  • He shows some genuine empathy and compassion to some members of his crew for various reasons, usually known only to him. Examples include the Chief Engineer, who is one of his fellow Sicilians.
  • His true personality is almost totally unknown to anyone in the crew, including the ship’s counselor.
  • He had long ago created an ‘alternate persona’ to use when interacting with fellow officers, subordinates and the shady types a spy often deals with in espionage missions.
  • The best way to describe his ‘public persona’ is to say he has:
1.) The command style of Captain Kirk (as in ‘shoot first, ask questions later’)

2.) The logic of Mr. Spock, complete with encyclopedic knowledge and incredible powers of deduction

3.) The espionage talents of James Bond 007

4.) The shrewdness and viciousness of Michael Corleone

5.) The gruffness and laconic tendencies of ‘The Man with No Name’ from Sergio Leone’s ‘Dollars Trilogy
  • Many members of the crew are openly afraid of him, mostly because of his mysteriousness.
  • He secretly finds the crew’s fear of him to be a never-ending source of amusement.
  • No one with any kind of sense would ever cross this man.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

That ought to be enough for the first post. I have ideas for the other members of the senior staff as well. Stay tuned.
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Old December 16 2008, 03:55 AM   #2
msbae
Commodore
 
Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

Executive Officer

  • Human male in his Mid-30’s.
  • An efficient but, overly bureaucratic officer. Very uptight, often seeming ‘uncomfortable in his own skin.’
  • He wants his own command but, wonders if his lack of people skills will prevent this from occurring one day.

(Sorry I don't have more on him but, Riker didn't have much of a character in TNG S1, either. Feel free to offer suggestions that fit with the pre-established character traits.)

Science Officer/Ops Manager

  • An Un-joined Trill Woman in her Late 20’s
  • She has extensive knowledge of Mathematics and Physics
  • Overtly curious; often much more so than what is normally expected from Scientists
  • Very attractive (and libidinous) brunette with a voluptuous figure
  • Tends to flirt and pursue relationships with both sexes
  • This character is not a Slut. She's just 'sexually liberated.' She is also quite responsible with her 'bedroom antics.' While she flirts with almost anyone, she actually sleeps with very few.
  • Always in a chipper mood
  • Her chipper mood annoys the overly cynical Doctor to no end. He often berates her for her ‘sexual deviancy.’ She responds ‘by killing him with kindness’ and joking that he’ll just have to ‘fix her mistakes later.’ She may be needling him a little by making a sly reference to an abortion, which the doctor would find morally abhorrent.
CMO

  • A Middle-aged Human in his 50’s
  • He’s a ‘Lapsed Catholic’
  • He had extensive experience in the Dominion War as a field medic for MASH units and CMO on a hospital ship.
  • He’s become rather cynical because of his war experiences, which shook his faith to the core. He often wonders if there’s really a God or not. He sometimes suspects that God might be dead.
  • He often berates the Science Officer/Ops Manager for her ‘sexual deviancy’; telling her that she’ll ‘Get sick’ or ‘Get herself into trouble.’
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Getting interesting yet, folks?

- msbae
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Old December 16 2008, 04:01 AM   #3
msbae
Commodore
 
Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

Ship’s Counselor

  • A Young Betazoid woman in her 20’s.
  • Recently graduated from Starfleet Academy.
  • Finds the Captain and CMO’s unique psychology fascinating for different reasons.
  • The Captain fascinates her because of the lack of conflict between his Human and Vulcan sides, not to mention his 'alternate persona.'
  • The CMO fascinates her because of how his faith was shattered by his war experiences.
  • The Science Officer/Ops Manager has flirted with her on occasion, leaving the Counselor feeling flattered but, a little confused. The Counselor considers herself to be straight and wonders if ‘she’s been inadvertently giving off the wrong signals.’

Chief Engineer

  • A Human Male of about 27 years
  • Mostly Sicilian heritage, like the Captain’s Human side
  • Much more than just the stereotypical ‘miracle worker’ most Starfleet Captains expect from their Engineers
  • Has a deep, almost mystical knowledge of Computers, Electronics, Engines, and Machines in General
  • One of the only members of the crew the Chief Engineer has really befriended is the Captain, whom he often calls ‘Boss.’ This is an inside joke between the two of them, making fun of the perception that all Sicilians know something about Organized Crime.
  • Has an introverted nature, which makes socialization very difficult for him.
  • He has a romantic interest in the Science Officer. This interest is based more on her curiosity and science knowledge than her beauty and libidinous tendencies.
  • He also finds the Navigator to be sweet and endearing because of her vulnerable tendencies but, the Navigator barely notices him. The Counselor thinks she awoke some paternal feelings in him that he didn’t previously know he had.
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Old December 16 2008, 04:05 AM   #4
msbae
Commodore
 
Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

Here's the last two...

Navigator

  • A young Human Female, fresh out of the academy.
  • She has self-confidence issues.
  • She often thinks she was assigned to the Invicta ‘only because Starfleet was desperate for starship personnel to replace those who were killed in the war.’
  • What she doesn’t know is that Captain Mortillaro deliberately picked her to be his Navigator. Despite her lack of self-confidence, she displays a natural gift for Starship navigation. She also graduated in the top 10% of her class. Picking her was, in the Captain’s estimation, ‘quite logical.’
  • She’s totally unaware of the crush the Engineer has on her.

Tactical Officer/Security Chief

  • A mysterious young Human Female of approximately 25 years.
  • Little is known about her except that she’s deeply spiritual; subscribing to the Judeo-Christian tradition. When asked why she’s so spiritual by the Doctor, she replies ‘because there are no atheists in foxholes.’
  • She was recruited for this post aboard Invicta from Starfleet Intelligence by the Captain. How they know each other is a bit of a mystery.
  • Rumor has it that they worked together in Starfleet Intelligence during the Dominion War.
  • She and the Captain may (or may not) have been intimate together.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thoughts, Opinions, Questions, Comments, Outrageous Objections and/or Death Threats are both welcome and expected.
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Old December 16 2008, 04:25 AM   #5
DonIago
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Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

I lack the energy for a full analysis, but I will say that "Rumor has it that he blackmailed Starfleet’s Commander-in-Chief, having evidence that he cheated on his wife years ago." in particular sounds like a questionable choice. Whle Trek certainly has its dark sides, a character achieving rank via blackmail (maybe I'm reading into it since you didn't say what exactly the blackmail involved) strikes me as being highly unsympathetic. And in the course of the series, were this information to become public knowledge I suspect morale among the crew would plummet quickly.
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Old December 16 2008, 07:23 AM   #6
JNG
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Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

I'm imagining how one could possibly work all this rumor into a script without anvils attached. It's certainly beyond my gifts.
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Old December 16 2008, 08:11 AM   #7
msbae
Commodore
 
Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

DonIago wrote: View Post
I lack the energy for a full analysis, but I will say that "Rumor has it that he blackmailed Starfleet’s Commander-in-Chief, having evidence that he cheated on his wife years ago." in particular sounds like a questionable choice. Whle Trek certainly has its dark sides, a character achieving rank via blackmail (maybe I'm reading into it since you didn't say what exactly the blackmail involved) strikes me as being highly unsympathetic. And in the course of the series, were this information to become public knowledge I suspect morale among the crew would plummet quickly.
It would never be public knowledge. I like to think Mortillaro guaranteed himself a command via Blackmail, rather than getting his rank. All the dangerous crap he did for the Federation in the war would probably be enough to get him promoted to Admiral if he wanted it...

Also, what if the Admiral in question was Edward Jellico? Not many Trekkies would have sympathy for him.

I'm imagining how one could possibly work all this rumor into a script without anvils attached. It's certainly beyond my gifts.
I'm pretty sure most of it would just be mentioned in character dialogue. What's with this talk about Anvils?
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Old December 16 2008, 05:03 PM   #8
Shawnster
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Location: Clinton, OH
Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

I do like the direction you're heading. You have too many humans for my personal taste, though. I think we're far enough along with F/X that we can see more aliens in the crew. In my fantasy crew I created a few years (um, about the time of Generations) I had 3 Humans, Andorian, Deltan, Betazoid and a Tellerite. The Deltan and Betazoid are human looking enough to require minimal make-up. ENT showed us we can now do Andorians on a regular basis and I'm sure the Tellarite wouldn't be too difficult.

Some of your ideas seem to be contrary to the current philosophy/thinking of what life will be like in the 24th/25th century.

The "lapsed Catholic" sounds 1) too 20th Century and 2) is becoming quite the cliche. 1: Trek hasn't acknowledged any of Earth's religions in a long time. The general trend with the majority of SciFi fans and Trek seems to be humans will "outgrow" their religions by the 24th (or 25th now) century. 2: Every show seems to have lapsed Catholics and most of them have had their faith shattered by war or violence of some kind. While I don't completely oppose such a character (I liked it in Mal on Firefly) it's just getting to be run-of-the-mill. Same principle also applies to the "atheist in a foxhole" idea. I like it but it doesn't work with everything else we've seen in Star Trek to this point. Might work better in a B-5 setting.

How many STDs will have been cured or easily treated by the 24th/25th century? The doctor constantly commenting the science officer will "catch something" smacks of 20th/21st century culture. This is Star Trek - everything is cured but the common cold. Sexual morals have consistently been portrayed as being more "loose" than they are now (well, not much).
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Old December 16 2008, 06:15 PM   #9
DonIago
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Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

msbae wrote: View Post
DonIago wrote: View Post
I lack the energy for a full analysis, but I will say that "Rumor has it that he blackmailed Starfleet’s Commander-in-Chief, having evidence that he cheated on his wife years ago." in particular sounds like a questionable choice. Whle Trek certainly has its dark sides, a character achieving rank via blackmail (maybe I'm reading into it since you didn't say what exactly the blackmail involved) strikes me as being highly unsympathetic. And in the course of the series, were this information to become public knowledge I suspect morale among the crew would plummet quickly.
It would never be public knowledge. I like to think Mortillaro guaranteed himself a command via Blackmail, rather than getting his rank. All the dangerous crap he did for the Federation in the war would probably be enough to get him promoted to Admiral if he wanted it...

Also, what if the Admiral in question was Edward Jellico? Not many Trekkies would have sympathy for him.
If it would never become public knowledge, why make it a character point to begin with?

Also, blackmailing within a military hierarchy just isn't a good thing, no matter how unlikeable the admiral in question is. I imagine if I found out my CO had achieved his rank through blackmail I'd ultimately be unable to serve under them. How can you respect a commander who didn't earn their rank? And it doesn't matter what else he might have done...the point is he got his rank through immoral actions rather than because his superiors saw fit to promote him. Frankly, given that he resorted to blackmail to get his rank, I'd think his superiors were right to question his worthiness.

Brief segue- Jellico may have been unlikeable, but I didn't see anything that would make me sympathize with someone deciding to blackmail him for their own personal gain. Yeah, he was an ass...but he also seemed to get the job done, and never did anything to suggest he wasn't worthy of being a Starfleet captain.

Your proposed CO reminds me of Captain Ransom...except that Ransom was at least thinking of _survival_ for himself and his crew when he crossed the line. Sounds like your CO was largely just thinking of himself.
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Old December 16 2008, 08:35 PM   #10
Shawnster
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Location: Clinton, OH
Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

msbae wrote: View Post
The idea here is to find a premise that works for the characters here, instead of finding characters to interact with the premise like one would normally do.
I really, really think this is a great rule that all writers should follow. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes.

I'm sitting here looking at some deck plans for Voyager. I was looking at the shuttlebay and the workpod/other equipment drawn on the deck plan. Now, these are things we never saw. In fact, what we got from Voyager revealed to us that the shuttlebay was way too small. It's as if they customized Voyager to fit the show/stories instead of looking at the Voyager model first and thinking "what can I get from this?"

Had the writers looked at the ingredients first I think we would have had a much more believable show that didn't insult us fans. Instead of pulling shuttles out of their a... umm... hats and thus insulting our intelligence (ah well, who cares about cannon and continuity anyway?) the writers should have sat down at the beginning and looked at Voyager and thought "OK, we've got 2 shuttles, this, that, etc.... "

This is a great idea you have here. Start with the ingredients first.
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Old December 16 2008, 08:42 PM   #11
Admiral2
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Location: Langley
Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

Unasked, I offer my opinion:

I could start with my gut reactions to your character sketches - which are numerous and mostly negative - but for now I'll just go with my overall thought, which is all you've done is prove beyond a reasonable doubt why you need to start with an overall premise, because doing so will guide you in creating characters. Without that guidance, what you're proposing here is Star Trek: The Days of La Femme Nikita's Lives While Serving Under The Godfather, which would be hopelessly unwatchable.

And why do you find it necessary to "forget the premise" anyway? This isn't the first time I've seen this sentiment posted here, and I'm at a loss to understand it. Good or bad, you cannot create any kind of series without some kind of fixed idea of what the dang thing is about. (Yes, I know Seinfeld is supposed to be a show about nothing, but news flash, that still makes it a show about something!)
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Old December 16 2008, 10:21 PM   #12
msbae
Commodore
 
Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

Shawnster wrote: View Post
I do like the direction you're heading. You have too many humans for my personal taste, though. I think we're far enough along with F/X that we can see more aliens in the crew.
Just because I theoretically could have lots of aliens doesn't necessarily mean I should. Making the Captain half alien, the counselor betazoid and my science officer a trill is enough for me.

Shawnster wrote: View Post
Some of your ideas seem to be contrary to the current philosophy/thinking of what life will be like in the 24th/25th century.

The "lapsed Catholic" sounds 1) too 20th Century and 2) is becoming quite the cliche. 1: Trek hasn't acknowledged any of Earth's religions in a long time. The general trend with the majority of SciFi fans and Trek seems to be humans will "outgrow" their religions by the 24th (or 25th now) century. 2: Every show seems to have lapsed Catholics and most of them have had their faith shattered by war or violence of some kind. While I don't completely oppose such a character (I liked it in Mal on Firefly) it's just getting to be run-of-the-mill. Same principle also applies to the "atheist in a foxhole" idea. I like it but it doesn't work with everything else we've seen in Star Trek to this point. Might work better in a B-5 setting.
A lot of Enlightenment thinkers thought Religion would be dead by now. I'm not quite that naive. People will always have a need to believe in something and I doubt Catholicism is going to die anytime soon. Just because Roddenberry steered away from religion to avoid controversy doesn't mean it won't exist anymore. I'm not opposed to making the doctor something a little less conservative, like a Methodist. He might even have a conversion to a really open-minded type of church like Unitarian Universalism. That could be interesting...

Shawnster wrote: View Post
How many STDs will have been cured or easily treated by the 24th/25th century? The doctor constantly commenting the science officer will "catch something" smacks of 20th/21st century culture. This is Star Trek - everything is cured but the common cold. Sexual morals have consistently been portrayed as being more "loose" than they are now (well, not much).
Well, maybe the doctor just doesn't want to have to waste the time giving her a new round of shots every week. I think of the Science Officer as being more of a flirt with a sex buddy or two among the crew in different departments. That's fairly Libertine but, not exactly slutty...

DonIago wrote: View Post
If it would never become public knowledge, why make it a character point to begin with?

Also, blackmailing within a military hierarchy just isn't a good thing, no matter how unlikeable the admiral in question is. I imagine if I found out my CO had achieved his rank through blackmail I'd ultimately be unable to serve under them. How can you respect a commander who didn't earn their rank? And it doesn't matter what else he might have done...the point is he got his rank through immoral actions rather than because his superiors saw fit to promote him. Frankly, given that he resorted to blackmail to get his rank, I'd think his superiors were right to question his worthiness.

Brief segue- Jellico may have been unlikeable, but I didn't see anything that would make me sympathize with someone deciding to blackmail him for their own personal gain. Yeah, he was an ass...but he also seemed to get the job done, and never did anything to suggest he wasn't worthy of being a Starfleet captain.

Your proposed CO reminds me of Captain Ransom...except that Ransom was at least thinking of _survival_ for himself and his crew when he crossed the line. Sounds like your CO was largely just thinking of himself.
Didn't I already say he guaranteed his position with the Blackmail? I didn't even say why he would be willing to take such drastic measures. I might even just make that one of the many nonsensical rumors about him floating among the crew. Nothing is set in stone here.

Shawnster wrote: View Post
msbae wrote: View Post
The idea here is to find a premise that works for the characters here, instead of finding characters to interact with the premise like one would normally do.
I really, really think this is a great rule that all writers should follow. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes.

I'm sitting here looking at some deck plans for Voyager. I was looking at the shuttlebay and the workpod/other equipment drawn on the deck plan. Now, these are things we never saw. In fact, what we got from Voyager revealed to us that the shuttlebay was way too small. It's as if they customized Voyager to fit the show/stories instead of looking at the Voyager model first and thinking "what can I get from this?"

Had the writers looked at the ingredients first I think we would have had a much more believable show that didn't insult us fans. Instead of pulling shuttles out of their a... umm... hats and thus insulting our intelligence (ah well, who cares about cannon and continuity anyway?) the writers should have sat down at the beginning and looked at Voyager and thought "OK, we've got 2 shuttles, this, that, etc.... "

This is a great idea you have here. Start with the ingredients first.
That's the way I always start with any story idea because all stories are character-driven. Even 'Man vs. Nature' and 'Man vs. Society' stories still focus on the Man.
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Old December 16 2008, 10:23 PM   #13
msbae
Commodore
 
Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

Admiral2 wrote: View Post
And why do you find it necessary to "forget the premise" anyway? This isn't the first time I've seen this sentiment posted here, and I'm at a loss to understand it.
Every time I come in to this part of the forum, everyone totally forgets the characters and focuses on the ship or the galactic political situation. I've had enough of that stuff. I do have an idea for a premise. I just need to write it down first.
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Old December 16 2008, 11:09 PM   #14
DonIago
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Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

msbae wrote: View Post
Didn't I already say he guaranteed his position with the Blackmail? I didn't even say why he would be willing to take such drastic measures. I might even just make that one of the many nonsensical rumors about him floating among the crew. Nothing is set in stone here.
How do you "guarantee" your position in the military while in any way being able to maintain that you deserve to have it? Or, in fact, that you deserved to have it in the first place given that you were willing to take the steps to "guarantee" your position in the first place?

Okay, maybe it is a nonsensical rumor...but it was my understanding that you were looking for a critique here, and we can't critique something that may or may not be true about a character. I'd like to know whether you intend for it to be true and how much of the rumor/truth will be exposed to the other characters. Because if the answer is "none", for instance, then it seems to be a needless element to throw in.
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Old December 17 2008, 03:54 PM   #15
Shawnster
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Re: Forget about the premise for a minute and think of the crew...

msbae wrote: View Post
Admiral2 wrote: View Post
And why do you find it necessary to "forget the premise" anyway? This isn't the first time I've seen this sentiment posted here, and I'm at a loss to understand it.
Every time I come in to this part of the forum, everyone totally forgets the characters and focuses on the ship or the galactic political situation. I've had enough of that stuff. I do have an idea for a premise. I just need to write it down first.
I see Admiral2's (he? she?) point. Concept and character sketches go hand-in-hand.

What seems to work best is someone (you) sitting down with your overall story/series concept. What 5-year, 6-year or 7-year overall story are you trying to tell? What is the series arc? After you establish that you can sit down and think of your characters. What are they like? What are their motivations? How would/will they react in this situation? Then you lay down your season arcs, episode arcs, etc...

I think that's where we're at in story telling now. Trek missed the boat but other series (BSG, B-5) picked up on that. The target audience have moved beyond episodic shows that can be shown in any order and have no lasting impact.

Yet we're also jaded by writers who continue to pull stuff out of the air instead of thinking things through first. We can't necessarily think of every detail of the final season before the season one premier but we can at least have a formula, a bible, a guide for writers to go by. Look at these characters and their backstories. What makes them tick? What moves them? How would they react to this or that?

Instead of giving us bi-polar Janeway give us consistent characters we can identify with and believe in.
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