Did TNG's Early Scope Shrink?

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Workbee, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. Workbee

    Workbee Commander Red Shirt

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    TNG was in many ways similar to TOS in that both featured adventures that occurred during the Enterprises travels throughout our own galaxy. But looking back at the early series, as well as developments in the franchise shortly before TNG, make me wonder if originally the creators had something else in mind: Traveling and visiting other galaxies.

    Not long before TNG premiered, the concept of Transwarp Drive was introduced TSFS. In the thread Scaling the Excelsior Filming Model, some ideas of what Transwarp did were discussed. And while TNG was conceived and developed by a completely separate team than the TWOK-TUC movies, TNG has shown it was willing to cherry pick ideas, props, models, effects, etc. from the TOS movies.

    The fact that the set the series roughly 80 years after the movies, indicates there was expectation that the technology would be better. What ultimately happened was mixed -- certainly effects were better than TOS, things like the holodeck and the sophistication of the computers and communicators seemed more advanced than TOS. However, once again only a portion of the galaxy has been explored, and warp speed, while always working as fast as the plot needs it to, appears in some cases to be even slower than depictions in TOS.

    This makes me wonder if there were plans and ideas to take a giant leap ahead of TOS and actually travel to other galaxies (which, in early 60's may not have been all that well known as our observational data was much more limited.

    Consider:

    This enterprise
    • Is designated as a Galaxy class starship.
    • In EoF, Picard indicates that beyond Deneb IV lies the "great unexplored mass of the Galaxy"
    • Only a few episodes later, the Traveler inadvertently throws the Enterprise across several galaxies.

    This may all just be coincidence, but it seems like the writers were testing the waters a bit and left a doorway should they decide to pursue that direction more. It would be very easy to have an episode where the Enterprise was retrofited with a new drive incorporating the Traveler's formulas/theories/whatevers and could now travel between galaxies easily.

    To go to another galaxy, where things were so different, and then turn away and spend the rest of the series in our galaxy, seems a little disappointing.

    Production wise, I can see where it would be challenging to commit to having the Enterprise out in truly unexplored space for long term, when there was so many opportunities to use familiar elements like Klingons, Starfleet, Romulans, all of which became storytelling centers within their first season.

    I would have loved them attempt a series that visited other galaxies. By the late 80s was known that our galaxy, though nonvenomous, was still just a very tiny dot in the whole universe.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think so. The episode Where No One Has Gone Before stated only eleven percent of the Milky Way galaxy had been explored. It would seem odd for Starfleet to use resources to explore other galaxies when they were nowhere close to having completely explored their own. In my opinion.
     
  3. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    It's called a Galaxy-class ship because it's intended to explore a galaxy, not multiple galaxies. If you wanted to build a ship to explore multiple galaxies, you'd have to name it Local Group-class or Universe-class!
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The scope did shrink, but not in the way you suggest. The intent of the show's developers was that the E-D would be off exploring unknown space, far from the Federation and far from the old familiar Trek races, since Roddenberry wanted to make a new start (he had to be convinced to include a Klingon). The reason the ship had families aboard was because it was meant to spend as much as 15 years away from a familiar port, and few would be willing to commit that much of their lives away from their families, so the ship had to be a full, self-sustaining community, almost a mobile space habitat, rather than just a workplace. The show started at "Farpoint," the most distant Federation port in the galaxy, and the ship was supposed to just keep going farther out from there, literally going where no human had gone before.

    But that quickly changed, since in the very second episode they were already coming to the aid of a Starfleet vessel in distress, and in the third they were on a medical relief mission to a Federation colony, and in the fourth (in production order) they were hosting Deanna's family and husband-to-be and hanging around a Federation protectorate, and in the fifth they were visited by Starfleet engineers for an upgrade. So the premise of going out into the unknown and staying there, the type of mission that the ship was specifically designed for, was largely forgotten immediately following the pilot. And it only got worse as the series continued and the focus shifted more and more toward interstellar politics and relief or rescue mission to Federation worlds and visits by or to the crew's families.

    But no, they weren't planning to leave the galaxy, not with so much of our own left to explore. It wouldn't have made any real difference to the storytelling anyway whether a remote alien empire was in another galaxy or just a different quadrant of our own.

    Besides, the reason "Where No One Has Gone Before" involved the ship leaving the galaxy is because it was loosely based on Diane Duane's 1983 TOS novel The Wounded Sky, in which Kirk's Enterprise tested a revolutionary new stardrive that sent them into ever deeper intergalactic space but damaged the fabric of reality, eventually creating a rift to another universe. So it didn't reflect any master plan on the part of TNG's producers; it reflected the plot of a novel written years before TNG was conceived.


    Vonda N. McIntyre would dispute your reasoning. In her 1982 Wrath of Khan novelization, she posited the existence of a new type of starship called the Galaxy class, which was designed for intergalactic travel.
     
  5. Workbee

    Workbee Commander Red Shirt

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    Oh wow, that's right! I remember reading that book years ago, but I never saw the connection until just now. But you are right, it is the same basic story.
     
  6. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There's no evidence that such an intention existed. Early promotion for TNG emphasized that technology hadn't advanced so much as attitudes/social conditions. The transwarp thing was just name-dropped in III to make the Excelsior seem like the next big leap forward. Fans invested a lot into the concept at the time, but it was never explained in the movies and was ignored in TNG, leaving offscreen sources to speculate that transwarp had been a failure.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Right. Roddenberry didn't much care for a lot of what the Harve Bennett-produced movies did, so he wouldn't have wanted to draw on any of their concepts.
     
  8. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

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    I remember that quite well from that novel. Sulu was due to get one of the new Galaxy class ships in that novel as I recall.
     
  9. Leto_II

    Leto_II Commander Red Shirt

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    From what I recall, Sulu was always still slated to take command of the new USS Excelsior after the return of the cadet-training mission (per the Wrath of Khan novelization), but it was only mentioned that his old friend and former shipmate (Capt. Mandala Flynn) had been given command of one of the Galaxy-class starships on a mission to the Andromeda Galaxy.

    (How times change...)
     
  10. Leto_II

    Leto_II Commander Red Shirt

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    It's also strange that Deneb IV ("Cygnus IV," in earlier script-drafts) would represent the ultimate, unknown edge of UFP-explored space, since the Deneb system was mentioned practically every other episode in TOS. Maybe back in Kirk's era, Starfleet avoided sending any expeditions beyond it, and simply worked in the other direction instead?
     
  11. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Oh . . . I thought maybe this was going to be another technical thread about aspect ratios or something. :)
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Although it works out nicely, because we now know that Deneb is much, much farther away than we used to think it was; of all the real named stars mentioned in Trek, it's probably the most distant (even more so than it was known to be when "Farpoint" was written).

    Luckily "Deneb" is a word found in several stars' names. Star Trek Star Charts assumes that the Deneb mentioned in TOS is actually Deneb Kaitos (aka Diphda or Beta Ceti), a much nearer star.

    Anyway, it's not all that surprising that they used the star name in contradictory ways. TOS had done that before. How many conflicting references to Rigel were there over the course of the series, not to mention subsequent series? Roddenberry liked using familiar star names whether it made sense or not.
     
  13. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

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    Yes, you are correct. When you mentioned Mandala Flynn it triggered the whole memory for me as I really liked that character.
     
  14. Leto_II

    Leto_II Commander Red Shirt

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    But what about Sulu's mustache??
     
  15. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    I think a TNG show SOLELY about exploring uncharted space would have been boring. Very glad they mixed it up in terms of storylines. :)
     
  16. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

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    I agree.

    And Leto II, as I recall Kirk told Sulu it was nice and told him a story about when he tried to grow a beard and it came in red. :lol:
     
  17. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And when TPTB came up with a series premise that involved a ship that's entire voyage was through uncharted space, it wound up playing like TNG lite anyway.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which wasn't the fault of the format. It was because Voyager was on a network rather than syndicated -- indeed, it was the flagship show of the new UPN network -- and the network execs imposed a lot of limits on both it and Enterprise. The creators of both shows wanted them to be different, to take full advantage of the potential of their settings, but UPN wanted another TNG, so they forced both shows to be in that vein. If VGR and ENT had been syndicated like TNG and DS9 were, they probably would've both been much more interesting.
     
  19. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If wishes were horses....

    And speaking of DS9, even that show played like TNG with runabouts for its first couple of seasons. Between that and VGR, Trek firmly established onscreen that exploring the farthest reaches of the Galaxy wasn't very different from exploring within a commercial break of Earth. POTW's inhabited by forehead aliens abounded.
     
  20. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The way you describe it, it could have been like Deep Space Nine regarding character interactions and development.
     

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