Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in TNG?

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Lance, Jun 18, 2013.

  1. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    From a TNG article in sci-fi magazine SFX about a year ago, Moore elaborates about his early assignments on the series:

    I think this is the true genesis of the 'modern Klingon'. In so interpreting them that way, Moore effectively gives birth to everything that we now perceive to be true about Star Trek's most well known enemies. :klingon:

    For the sake of comparison, here's what the prevailing 1960s attitude was of Klingons, as taken from Stephen Whitfield's The Making of Star Trek:

    The Making of Star Trek, by contrast, opines of the Romulans:

    This is all bourne out with what we see of them on-screen in The Original Series. Klingons are repeatedly willing to create conflict where ever they go, despite the alleged Organian Pace Treaty with the Federation. They are also duplicitous. They'll say one thing then do the opposite. Romulans, on the other hand, are often shown as honorable opponents. The Romulan captain seen in 'Balance of Terror' is ruled by his own sense of integrity, and shows great pride and a distinct code of honor. The same can be said of the female captain in 'The Enterprise Incident'. She offers Kirk and Spock the chance to explain themselves, but treats them with dignity and respect (even as they outwardly treat her with none).

    By the TNG, these traits seemed to have been flipped. The Romulans were traitorous even among their own, highly secretive, and often played other species for their own benefits. As Lieutenant Worf repeatedly tells us, "Romulans are WITHOUT HONOR". The Klingons in TNG are effectively ruled by ancient codes and ethics that they were duty-bound to uphold (even if, again, behind closed doors they often don't, cf. the Duras saga).

    What do you guys think? Do you reckon the TNG writers room misunderstood these races as they were portrayed in TOS? Was Moore pehaps wrong to have swapped their attributes? Or do you think it was maybe a good thing, to show these races in a different light than TOS portrayed them?
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013
  2. LobsterAfternoon

    LobsterAfternoon Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    I don't think it's so much a misunderstanding as an opinion/evolution.
     
  3. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    Also, it kind of shot the Romulans in the foot when they made Cardassians since they're that way too.

    So Romulans have no real culture that's unique.
     
  4. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    ^ It's funny you should say that Charles, I was only thinking the other day about how the production team originally thought the Ferengi were going to be "the new Klingons"... on some level I actually think maybe the Cardassians were more like an update of the TOS Klingons than any other adversary. Black hat villains who took great pleasure in simply 'being' the Big Bad. And they served that function exceptionally well in both DS9 and in their sporadic TNG appearances. :)
     
  5. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    "Well the Ferengi failed, we need a culture that can actually talk like they're possessed of an IQ above 100. What shall we base their culture on since capitalism failed?"

    "Nazis?"

    "Sounds good."
     
  6. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    The Klingons in Star Trek are unpleasant because most Klingons stories are about making peace. Making peace with nice people is easy. Whereas, most Romulan stories are about the humanity of our wartime enemies. That requires a more rounded portrait.

    If Moore didn't get this, he was rather obtuse. Also, if he didn't understand that the passage of time or a broader sampling of alien characters permitted variations, he was rather obtuse. He seems to be thinking that being of a species means there is a certain character, a kind of supernatural essence, expressed in all members. That is a deeply reactionary idea. Combined with Trek's tendency to treat species as a metaphor for race, it shades into downright bigoted.
     
  7. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    I disagree in the fact they're a metaphor for nations and a different culture. They also serve as serial drama villains versus characters.
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    I have no idea where this "Romulans are honorable" thing comes from. In all their TOS appearances, they were deceitful, backstabbing, cowardly murderers who performed sneak attacks from under a cloak of invisibility and failed to listen to reason!

    After the nameless Romulan commander in "Balance of Terror" admires Kirk as an opponent, he tries to blow him out of the sky with a hidden IED. After the Klingon commander who readily identifies himself to Kirk in "Errand of Mercy" admires Kirk as an opponent, he pardons him from immediate execution, and subsequently challenges him to a hand-to-hand fight!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    Great topic! It's hard to know if the writers misunderstood the races as TOS depicted them. Any civilization can change significantly over a period of nearly one hundred years, so any changes in the behavior of either race could easily be explained by the passage of time and whatever events affected them in the interim.

    As one who tends to prefer the Romulans as they appeared in TOS, I don't necessarily mind their transformation prior to TNG. Both TV series are written from the perspective of humanity. It's not surprising that the Klingons would be cast in a more favorable light, especially with Worf serving on the Enterprise. Had Roddenberry decided to use a Romulan character, it's possible no changes would have happened.

    At any rate, the Romulans' duplicitous nature gives me that much more of an appreciation for the members of their society who don't behave that way, just as the Klingons' insistence on honor and integrity causes me to look down on those who don't practice what they preach. The problems caused by the Duras family represent Klingon culture at its worst, but I wonder whose behavior I find more objectionable: Duras for blaming Worf's family for his father's crime, or the High Council for allowing it in the first place.

    --Sran
     
  10. Khan Harrison

    Khan Harrison Ensign

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    Peter David wrote a small bit in one of New Fronteir novels that somwehere between TOS and TNG the Klingons and Romulans swapped places, the races switched honor for treachery with each other.
     
  11. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    I think the idea that Klingons were so obsessed with the warrior culture became such a basic outline for their culture that it's impossible not to wonder how they could develop technology that the Federation as a whole couldn't develop without the aid of the Romulans. There's nothing with having a Klingon wanting to be a warrior with honor, but I do so miss the TOS Klingons who had a variety of personalities while still undoubtably being Klingons. Like General Chang from TUC on how he values literature and meeting foes who can be his equals.

    As for the Romulans, well. I just wish the number one treatment of them didn't solely rely on them acting like complete, close minded jerks.
     
  12. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    Completely disagree with this. Both Romulans and Cardassians tend to be arrogant and xenophobic, but that's where the similarities end, IMO. The Cardassians have a much more casual brutality about them than the Romulans, whereas the Romulans tend to be much more secretive and suspicious, even when it comes to dealing with their own people.

    --Sran
     
  13. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    When Ron Moore wrote the memo, I don't think he had written any Klingon episodes yet. Heart of Glory, A Matter of Honor and other episodes with minor Klingon details had already been written in seasons one and two before he joined the show.

    The memo was likely based on those details.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    You're right that the Klingons and Romulans had pretty much undergone a reversal by the TNG era, but it doesn't make sense to blame Ron Moore for that, since he came along after it had already happened. It began with The Search for Spock, in which the villains were originally written as Romulans -- flying Birds of Prey with cloaking devices and talking about honor -- but then got switched to Klingons without the script being substantially rewritten at all. That was the beginning of the association with Klingons and honor.

    Later, when TNG came along, Roddenberry initially resisted reusing any TOS races, but his co-developers convinced him (IIRC) that he should include a friendly Klingon among the crew in order to show that the Organians' prediction that humans and Klingons would one day make peace had come true. So Worf was conceived, and episodes like "Heart of Glory" and "A Matter of Honor" would flesh out the idea of a Klingon culture that was admirable because of its commitment to honor. By the time Ron Moore joined the staff in season 3, that redefinition of Klingon culture was well-established.

    As for the Romulans, "Heart of Glory" established in passing that Romulans had killed Worf's parents, and the rest seems to have grown out of that -- it led to the writers giving Worf a grudge against Romulans, and since he and his people had come to be defined as valuing honor above all, it followed that he would consider the people he hated to be without honor. As for the treachery the TNG Romulans did, in fact, show, that may be partly influenced by Worf's opinion of them, or it may have simply been because, with the Klingons friendly and the Ferengi a bust, the Romulans fell into the role of the series' primary villains and thus had to be evil enough to fit. But again, this was already established by the time Ron Moore came along. He didn't create it.
     
  15. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    Backstabbing in what way, exactly? They had no peace treaty with the Federation. Only a tentative armistice signed at the end of the Earth-Romulan War kept both sides from engaging in further conflict. It's hard to know the motives of the Romulan crew in "Balace of Terror," but their Commander was an honorable man who genuinely cared for his crew and learned to respect Kirk during the incident.

    Different methods for different societies. The Romulan Commander had no choice but to destroy the Enterprise before Kirk destroyed his vessel. Recall that he attempted to return to the Neutral Zone without a confrontation but was forced to fight once he realized that Kirk could track his movements.

    I do, too. I blame this on poor writing and a lack of effort put into developing Romulan characters. Tomalak was as one-dimensional a personality as I've ever seen, always threatening to destroy the Enterprise and wage war against the Federation. His colleagues in the Empire weren't much better, save for select individuals like Jarok, Cretak, or Donatra.

    --Sran
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    The Romulans aboard the "BoT" warship seemed to consider each other worse enemies than the Federation... The Commander had to demote one of his officers in rank for maverick action, and was warned thereafter that this would come back to bite him because the officer had powerful friends; this speaks of a fundamentally corrupt society where legal rights mean nothing and behind-the-scenes power is everything.

    He was duty-bound, but that's about the extent of it. If we count all sorts of thieves' honor, everybody is honorable - but in terms of the usual human western honor rules, the Commander just schemed, played dirty tricks, and did what he was told; his concern for his crew amounted to him blowing them all up in the end.

    Agreed on that - but I don't object to portraying the Romulans as an oppressive, unimaginative, totalitarian society where standing out is a capital crime...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    Fair enough, though I don't find the Klingon system of promotion-by-assassination much better.

    I don't see that he schemed or played tricks at all. His decision to demote the officer for insubordination was appropriate, as was his decision to turn and fight once he realized Enterprise was following him. As to your last statement, why are you assuming his decision to blow up the ship was made out of a lack for compassion for the crew? Is it fair to assume that Romulans would share our value system? How do you know that his crew would want to be taken prisoner on an enemy ship?[/QUOTE]

    --Sran
     
  18. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    We've seen a number of departures from TOS to TNG. There is a lot that is dissimilar. The fact that Klingons and Romulans are depicted differently comes as no surprise. Is it glaringly so? I'm not so sure with the Romulans, as we get only 2 episodes of them in TOS. They are highly militant and almost like Roman soldiers in terms of strict military code. But yes, a son of a Senator will carry weight more than a son of a pauper. That's true even in the real modern world we live in.

    As for the Klingons, they were shaped more savagely in TNG than in TOS. In TOS they are indeed very much like the Romulans in TNG.

    Anyway, comparing the two seems rather fruitless, given the very nature of the two series. We got what we got. ;)
     
  19. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    I think it was wrong. For the original series to establish the Romulans as being the sneaky, technologically advanced species of Star Trek and all of a sudden give that uniqueness to the Klingons really robbed the Romulans from having any kind of real significance to Star Trek as a whole. Whenever the story called for a cloaking device or adversaries that could who could become our allies, it usually always boiled down to Klingons.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Did Ron Moore get the Klingons / Romulans the wrong way round in T

    "Balance of Terror" established the notion that the traditions of honor that the Commander and Centurion valued were considered out of date in the Empire and had given way to a younger, more self-serving generation. So there's canonical support for the idea of Romulan culture changing and moving away from its traditions of honor. So that transition never really bothered me.

    Really, it shouldn't be surprising at all if a culture's values change from one century to the next. An American from 100 years ago wouldn't have recognized modern American values: a black president, women in positions of authority, gay marriage starting to be legalized, America as a global power rather than tending to its own affairs, etc. What would be implausible is if a culture were exactly the same in the 24th century as it had been in the 23rd or 22nd.
     

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