A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterization

Discussion in 'Future of Trek' started by The Overlord, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    Hell, Kim had more time on screen than Sulu ever did on TOS: he even got to schtupp some gals! Sulu never got that at all.;)
     
  2. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    You're a man after my own heart.
     
  3. Tribble puncher

    Tribble puncher Captain Captain

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    THIS^
     
  4. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    Yeah.. if that's what the franchise will be reduced to.. let it die with dignity I say. :p

    Seriously though, why pay for writers, actors and sets when you can get get a bunch of college students, liquor them up and set them all after a five figure prize and you get all the fake drama, sex and boobs you want. So much cheaper. :p
     
  5. CaptainStoner

    CaptainStoner Knuckle-dragging TNZ Denizen Admiral

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    The model is the same in all Trek series. A Captain and crew, in space, having adventures and representin' freedom and the Federation Way(tm). Thats what a new show ought to be. I agree the characters need to be strong archetypes to explore these strange new worlds through.

    What I do take from DS9 is a really nice synthesis of episodic and serial episodes.
     
  6. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    This. Nothing against character shows like DS9 but they automatically become a bit soapy. While TOS is far from being my favourite show it worked although four main characters had virtually nothing to say or do.
     
  7. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    You can have good plots and good characterization. I just think of having characters like Travis Mayweather or Harry Kim who add nothing to the show is not a good idea in today's TV market.

    In most good TV shows nowadays, they don't have main characters who are so poorly characterized that they add nothing to the show. Saying that Sulu didn't get much to do back in the 60s doesn't matter, because its not the 60s anymore, a Star Trek Show will have to compete with in today's TV landscape, not one from the 60s.

    I also think DS9 had stronger plots then Voyager or Enterprise. But even DS9 was 90s show rather then being ahead of its time, it was of its time, unlike Voyager which was a 80s show in the 90s. A new Star Trek show will have to be more like today's best TV shows, rather then trying to be a show from the 60s or 80s.
     
  8. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    You mistake competition for doing the same generic or popular shit that everybody else does. Trek has always been an idea-, not a character-driven franchise and it certainly shouldn't become one just because it is in right now.
    While Travis was played by a bad actor and hence did not get any Travis episode anymore after Fortunate Son and Horizon (vice versa with DeKelley and Picardo, once it was seen that they portray their characters well they got more spotlight) I fail to see your problem with Harry Kim. He was perhaps not the most interesting character but you can't have an entire crew full of eccentrics. If you are on a normal ship like the VOY you are bound to have normal people like Janeway, Tuvok and Kim aboard. DS9 featured so many interesting characters because they were in the middle of nowhere with many non-Starfleet characters.
     
  9. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    If the guy playing Travis was no good, shouldn't have not hired him in the first place?

    I fail to see how nothing characters like Travis and Harry Kim will make a show less generic.

    The problem with Harry Kim is that he is dull, there have been normal characters who can still have character development and interesting focus episodes, Harry Kim has no character development, he is the green Ensign from start to finish. He had one good character focus episode and that involved a future version of himself.

    You can remove Harry Kim from the show and it wouldn't really effect the show. There is a huge difference between normal and dull as dish water.

    Ideas are important, but you need interesting characters to drive the plots. Robert Beltran was given so little to actually do as Chakotay, that he started to phone in his performances, that is not the sign of a well written TV show. You need to avoid that kind of thing for a new Star Trek show, learn from mistakes from past shows to develop something interesting for today's market, not the market of the 60s or the 80s.
     
  10. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    Judging actor performances is of course fairly subjective but in my eyes Beltran was the worst actor on the show. He was wooden and seemed very unmotivated to me. Like Montgomery in ENT (who was kind of the opposite with his annoying uber-enthusiasm) he got his ordinary amount of character-focused episodes but later he got less and less spotlight. He played himself "out" of the show while actors like Picardo played themselves in the foreground.
    You rarely know beforehand whether an actor will shine in his role. Think about Bujold, without doubt a brilliant actress. But it was the wrong role for her and they realized it before they started the show. Sometimes you only realize it while the show is running and then throwing an actor out is a fairly extreme step while giving his character less spotlight is more moderate.

    I agree that you need interesting characters but VOY was a John Doe show. The idea was not to show a new Klingon, a Spcok 2.0 and a Chekov-like greenhorn but to show ordinary people on an ordinary ship thrown into extraordinary circumstances. Not everybody on the ship can be an eccentric EMH or Paris.
    And an interesting character can still fail. If you don't watch ENT and just read the character sketches Mayweather, the guy who is born in space, who spent most of his life on a cargo ship and unlike all the Starfleet folks knows some of what will be out there, is the most interesting one.

    You can get a variety of interesting characters on a Trek show but then you have to go down the "static setting with serialization" path of DS9. People on a cargo ship or a colony or whatever are bound to be more colourful than disciplined Starfleet officers.
     
  11. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    I've seen Anthony Montgomery be far more dynamic and charismatic in other roles and he was totally under-utilized in ENT, even in the one episode I can remember where he was front and center.
    That's it in a nutshell.
     
  12. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    But perhaps Robert Beltran would have better if they gave him better material to work with. I'm pretty sure Beltran did good work in other shows, people seemed to like him well enough in "Big Love".

    Chakotay was this ex terrorist leader and the writers mainly just settled him with Native American stereotypes and cliches. I am more interested in him being an ex terrorist leader, but the writers just wanted to write as a Native American stereotype instead.

    That is what I am talking about with focusing on characterization, its hard to present interesting plots when your characters are written as tried old cliches.

    Again I think you are confusing normal with dull as dish water.

    Riker was one of the most normal people on the Enterprise, but he was a good character overall and he got some good focus episodes. Best of Both Worlds was very much a Riker focused episode and he got a few other good focus episodes.

    Was Riker the most dynamic character on TNG? No, but he was still important, I can't imagine TNG with Riker, I can easily imagine Voyager without Harry Kim.

    Riker even had a character arc of sorts, going from a brass impulsive, risk taking officer to more seasoned steady officer.

    Harry Kim never got such a arc, he was the green Ensign from start to finish. At one point the writers were thinking of killing him off, but only spared him after Garrett Wang was named one of the most beautiful people in the world back in 1997, that is how unimportant the character is.

    Not very character has to be some uber eccentric person to be interesting, but having one dimensional cliches and one note characters doesn't create normal people, it creates bad characters.

    Harry Kim never got that bad ass moment where he did something amazing and was promoted to Lt. that is an obvious way to give him a character arc and they never did it and he stayed the same one note character from start to finish. What was the point of that character when they did almost nothing with him. They could have had random gold shirts do his tasks and it wouldn't have affected the story at all.
     
  13. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    You can't blame the writers for everything. Beltran and Montgomery got their episodes in which they could shine and Fortunate Son and horizon were great ... accept for Montgomery's performance. I don't wanna blame them, sometimes good actors don't match a role.
    Beltran on the other hand never brought any interest to it. You could see how bored he was during playing and he later frankly admitted that he hated the show. Which is fine with me, it is after all just a job. But if you don't work hard you have no right to whine about not getting better scripts or more spotlight.
     
  14. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    In the case of "Fortunate Son," it really was the case of the writing or perhaps even the directing. You can say that Montgomery was miscast as Mayweather, but the character really had been gutted of anything really interesting perhaps even before "Broken Bow" was filmed and what was left wasn't much for Montgomery to work with (a good character has to first be a character, IMO).

    I've seen Montgomery in episodes of Single Ladies and NCIS, and the difference was like night and day compared to ENT, but then the characters he was playing were far more interesting and had more of a presence than Mayweather ever did.
     
  15. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    I can blame the writers for not writing characters in an interesting way. Yes, sometimes a great actor can make a dull character more interesting, but its easier the actor to make the character come alive if the character is written well.

    Beltran and Montgomery have done well in other roles, so maybe if their characters were better written they would have turned in better performances.

    Really the cast of characters in Voyager and Ent are not as interesting to me as the cast of characters from TOS, TNG and DS9.

    If they make a new Star Trek show, they should have a plan or a purpose for every character, rather then just throwing characters in the show and hope everything works out. Having nothing characters like they have in the past would not work in today's TV market.
     
  16. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    In what way did Chakotay and Mayweather not have a purpose? They weren't just totally bland character like Kim or Tuvok, they were quite flavoured (a rebel and a cargo dude born in space!) but the actors couldn't make the roles come alive. And when somebody doesn't give a shit like Beltran and whines about how ridiculous the only show he will ever be remembered for is I have the audacity to point out that such an attitude is the main reason for the failure of this character.

    These actors were no George Takeis, never getting a chance to shine until they actually get something to do in the end (TUC). They had their chances (the two Mayweather shows Fortunate Son and Horizon were fairly well written) and blew them.
     
  17. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    If it's about the characters, what do you need a spaceship for? It is a simple truth that people are what they are becauee of their environment and act the way they do because they are carrying out social roles suitable to it. Science fiction as such rather conflicts with realistic characterization.

    If it's about characters having bad ass moments and vividly presenting themselves and changing in a satisfying way? If it's about heroes suitable for vicarious fantasy? Then there have to be victims, sidekicks, admirers, satellites, characters who do the unpleasant stuff.

    The best example is the much abused Harry Kim. Kim was a token Asian mainly. But insofar as he was a character he existed first to service the Tom Paris character. In The Caretaker, Non Sequitur and The Chute his role was to be saved/redeemed by Tom Paris. And the rest of his function was to do the unpleasant stuff, like wanting to go home or being otherwise flawed, as in Favorite Son or Nightingale. The Kims have to be written so that there can be episodes or scenes that aren't about badassery.
     
  18. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    Their bland because those aspects you mentioned are hardly brought up.

    Chakotay was supposed to be a rebel, but the writers didn't want him to undermined Janeway, so he was written as a one dimensional Native stereotype instead and Mayweather being born in space is hardly brought up after the first season.

    You can't set up interesting things about characters and then ignore them and expect people to like it.

    I never said its all about characterization, but characterization is an important part of fiction. Really Harry Kim whining and acting like a pathetic child is not the way to have character the audience is invested in, it seems like you could have given his roles in stories to random Gold Shirts and you wouldn't miss anything, a random Gold Shirt can whine about not being home just as well as well as Harry can.

    If Harry Kim never had that character were he does something amazing and gets promoted and deals with having new responsibilities, then what's the point of the character? Nightingale showed that he is a just a pathetic mamma's boy who is upset because he is not as special as mom said he was and screws everything up. Why should I care about a character who never seems grow or learn from his experiences?
    He never goes anywhere as a character. He is the green ensign, start to finish.

    And really victims, sidekicks, admirers, satellites, characters who do the unpleasant stuff, should be guest stars or reoccurring characters, not part of the main cast. Harry Kim might have worked as a reoccurring character, rather then someone who shows up every episode.

    Plot and setting are important, but you can't just ignore characterization, flat characters have dragged down the last two star Trek shows.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  19. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    Ah, finally we get to the core of the issue, the usual VOY and ENT bashing.

    How come you don't complain about TOS then, the show in which only three our of seven major characters were actually in the spotlight? Sure, Chekov and Scotty sometimes got more than just one line but then it was mainly for the sake of comedy: the drunken Scotsman and the funny Russian kid.

    ENT also had seven main characters and all of them but one worked. We had the troika like in TOS, the seconday characters were a very interesting alien doctor plus a totally non-bland tactical officer and among the two minor characters one sucked and one was OK.
    So in terms of characters the show is better than TOS. But TOS still worked because it was first and above all about ideas. The best episodes would have worked with any character; its brilliancy was not that precisely James T. Kirk fell in love with Edith Keeler.
     
  20. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    Re: A New Star Trek Show Will Need a Stronger Focus on Characterizatio

    Not really. Mayweather was an empty shell before those episodes and they did nothing for his character in the end. He really wasn't a character, anyway, but more of a glorified extra, truth be told. TOS did far more with Sulu and Chekov in comparison. Mayweather was more interesting when he was originally conceived as "Lieutenant Joe Mayweather" during the early development of the series, but essentially all of his character attributes were transferred to T'Pol, leaving him only as that guy driving the ship that rarely says more than "aye, sir" in most episodes.