Did TNG's Early Scope Shrink?

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

  1. Infern0

    Infern0 Captain Captain

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    To be honest, the idea of a ship far away from earth exploring uncharted space, well we got that in Enterprise didn't we?
     
  2. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It wasn't uncharted for the audience.
     
  3. Workbee

    Workbee Commander Red Shirt

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    I have heard this as well, however I have to wonder, once it became apparent that the network restrictions made Voyager's premise unworkable in any meaningful sense, why not retool it into something more like TNG. At the end of Season 1, they could have found a stable wormhole / transwarp drive / pick your own plot device, which brings them home. Season 2 they are sent back out by Starfleet via the same means to conduct further exploration. Same show and all you lose are the marooned far from home and limited resource elements that were frequently glossed over in the show anyway.

    The one downside I could see is that this altered premise would allow writers to incorporate more elements and state of affairs of the rest of the Federation, which may have constrained the writers of DS9. DS9 among other things, had the advantage of pretty much having the entire sandbox to themselves once TNG went of the air. Since Voyager was away in the Delta Quadrant and (for a good while) out of contact, nothing the writers did on that show would really impact DS9.
     
  4. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Tangent, but still related to the OP, I've always felt TNG would have worked as a revolving door "Law & Order" style show. Just rotate in new cast members as older ones want to depart. Promote Riker to Captain. Give Data his own ship. Promote LaForge. Transfer Worf. The drama becomes more about the mission, which TNG kind of already had going for it.

    I'm not saying that the cast members are completely interchangeable, but I could really see this format working for TNG. Rather than spinoffs, your show is your spinoff. You reinvent it with new main characters. Obviously, this also wouldn't prevent DS9 or VGR from happening. Look at how many "Law & Order"s there are. :rommie:
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Maybe it's because once they defined it as a "quest" show, it was subject to the usual television logic that if the quest is fulfilled, the show is over. "Will they ever get home?" was the hook to grab the audience, but UPN didn't want to deal too much with the ramifications of that question.

    I don't know, though. The creators' original intention, according to their interviews at the time, was never to have the quest for home be the dominant element of the show; their desire was to get back to the flavor of TOS where the ship and crew were completely on their own without a Starfleet Command to call for backup, and stranding them on the other side of the galaxy was just supposed to be the means to that end. They intended to move away from the "oh, how do we get home?" stuff before long and have the crew embrace the wonders of the Delta Quadrant. Yet for some reason, it wasn't until season 3 that they really committed to making that transition; after "False Profits" near the start of season 3, we didn't see another quest-for-home story for nearly the remainder of the year. But then they did "Scorpion," in which Janeway made an insane deal with the devil in order to get closer to home, and that solidified the quest for home as the single overriding priority of the ship's mission and the series' premise. From that point on, it could never be about anything but the quest for home. So for whatever reason, the producers changed their minds, or had it changed for them, about what the focus of the show should be.


    That's probably a major part of it. Since DS9 was syndicated and VGR on a network, there might've been a desire to minimize crossover elements. Recall how Buffy and Angel crossed over heavily when they were on the same network, but when Buffy switched networks, the crossovers mostly ceased.


    I think they considered it once or twice. And yeah, it could've worked -- and would've made a lot more sense than having the same crew stay together on the same ship for a decade or three.
     
  6. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^ There is quite a fluidic feeling to the way the cast changes happen in the early days of TNG. First Tasha Yar's death sees Worf take her place, then Bev Crusher is unceremoniously moved off somewhere and replaced by Pulaski. So there was always a kind of feeling that they could turn the cast upside down at any moment and just kept moving forward. BOBW also had a potential 'departure' for Captain Picard that felt so organic that many people to this day still conjecture about how well it could have gone as a swansong for Patrick Stewart.
     
  7. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    I think it would have been a disaster as Jonathan Frakes didn't have the acting skills to carry the series.
     
  8. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You know whenever I hear someone describe TOS as "the ship and crew were completely on their own without a Starfleet Command to call for backup" I honestly have to wonder if that person or persons has ever watched TOS, because that was not really the case.

    In fact they frequently running into other Starfleet vessels and stations. And if they weren't doing that they were visiting federation member planets and colonies, or had dealings with federation officials.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Frequently, yes, but not constantly. There were other episodes that were predicated on the ship being isolated, having to wait weeks even for a response from Starfleet Command, so that Kirk had to be the one making decisions that could make the difference between war and peace. "Balance of Terror" is a prime example. The point isn't that TOS was always like that -- the point is that it could be like that, could tell that kind of story in a way that TNG rarely could.
     
  10. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    I heard that they considered bringing Voyager home and just having the show set in Federation space like TNG. But if they did that, what would have happened to the Maquis? Would a quick pardon have been plausible?
     
  11. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    They thought the whole starship out on his own in unknown space was so interesting they used it for Voyager. Too bad they really didn't do anything with the premise, and it became a warmed over TNG.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Now we're going in circles. As I already said, it was pressure from UPN that forced them to make it "a warmed over TNG," because more TNG was what UPN wanted. It was the flagship show of the whole network, the foundation of the whole UPN experiment, and so the network execs wanted it to be safe and reliable and not do anything too daring or risky. (Note, by the way, that UPN itself did not last long after it cancelled Enterprise. The network really couldn't survive without Trek anchoring it.)
     
  13. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, lets blame it all on UPN. The writers had nothing to do with VOY's mostly mediocre writing.;)

    There was a time when Gene Roddenberry did TOS which aired on a network, and was able to make it good and memorable. He found a way to work around censors to bring out the better episodes.

    Michael Piller had to work around some of Roddenberry's silly mandates to make TNG a better series.

    The VOY writers just shrugged and went along with whatever UPN demanded.


    The network idea was a failed idea from the start, depending on a franchise that they themselves didn't want to take risks with. Not taking risks mean it stops being interesting.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Few things are ever so simplistic as to have only one cause, which is why looking for someone to "blame" tends to get in the way of true understanding. There's no denying that the network's wishes were a major limiting factor on both VGR and ENT. If the show didn't retain the best writers, that may well be because the network's restrictions were too frustrating for them. We know that Ron Moore bailed after two episodes because he couldn't deal with the limiting creative climate. We've also heard recently that UPN's demands radically altered what ENT's creators wanted it to be (they basically wanted the whole first season to be like the episode "First Flight," building up gradually to the launch of NX-01, and they didn't want transporters or a Temporal Cold War), so it doesn't seem unlikely that VGR would've been subject to similar restrictions.


    But he was also severely restricted by the network in a lot of ways. He pushed the envelope as far as he could, but NBC pushed back. TOS had a lot of formula of its own, like the obligatory fistfights in every episode.

    The proper comparison here is to syndicated shows like TNG and DS9. DS9 was able to push the envelope and be daring and experimental, while VGR was constrained to formula. And that's at least partly because the syndicated shows had fewer bosses to answer to.


    You have no basis for assuming that, since we've never really gotten a detailed behind-the-scenes look at the making of the show (except for Stephen Edward Poe's A Vision of the Future: Star Trek: Voyager, which only covered the first season or two). Indeed, maybe the reason we haven't is because the producers were fighting the network and/or the studio fiercely and it just would make things look too bad if the battles were publicized. We just don't know.


    So... now you're accepting my premise when before you were rejecting it? I'm confused.
     
  15. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    Moore himself has stated the many problems with the VOY producers and writers. The two groups didn't work well at all together. But he never mentions UPN once in this article.

    http://www.lcarscom.net/rdm1000118.htm


    I don't think that would have worked. It would have been different, but taking an ENTIRE season just to get into space? Not very exciting.


    Stop acting like first run syndication is the best thing ever. There are a ton of forgotten terrible first run syndication shows, and shows like "Earth Final Conflict" and "Andromeda" which completely collapsed in terms of good writing after their first seasons.


    Where is your evidence of this?

    We DO know that several actors were dissatisfied without how the writers handled their characters. Robert Beltran and Garrett Wang disliked how they characters were developed, the writers retaliated by giving Chakotay less and less to work with every season. This doesn't seem like people that cared about their show.


    I'm saying both the VOY writers and UPN are to blame. You seem to be saying the VOY writers were victims of a big bad network.
     
  16. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well that would have been a defining move for the show, for good or ill. Voyager already gets enough rap as TNG-lite as is and this could have only enforced it. On the other side of the coin, if Voyager got back around season 3 or 4 it would've dropped in right during the middle of the Dominion War, which could've been interesting both in that and establishing the post war setting.

    To your point though about the Maquis, they'd probably get pardoned. Heck, they had just fought a bloody two year war with millions of deaths that Cardassia instigated so a guerrilla group that operated against them would likely be seen with more sympathy in hindsight. Too bad Voyager had no epilogue whatsoever, so we don't get anything beyond "they're home."
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That depends. Imagine something like HBO's From the Earth to the Moon miniseries, say, but with warp drive. Plus the social and historical dynamics of humanity dealing with the Vulcans' paternalism, explored more fully by showing us what life on Earth was like. There was a lot of potential there. And one can't fault the creators for being willing to take a risk.


    I'm doing nothing of the sort. I'm simply pointing out a relative difference between two specific pairs of shows, not asserting some absolutist, universal claim. I don't believe in reducing everything to black and white, to opposing extremes. That is not the way the universe works. Most questions are far more nuanced and multifaceted than that. So please stop trying to make this into a fight. I have no desire for that. I'm just trying to explore the facets of the question.


    Yes, because the particular studio that produced them meddled relentlessly in their productions and thus undermined the writing. But again, there are no simple absolutes here; it's a case-by-case thing. In the case of Tribune Entertainment, all their shows suffered from extreme studio meddling. But in the case of Paramount Television, at least where TNG and DS9 were concerned, they meddled less in the production than UPN did. Key word: less. No absolutes, no black-and-white extremes -- a relative difference. You're correct that it would be absurd to say that syndication as a whole is always better than network, which is why that's absolutely not what I'm saying. I'm merely discussing the particular case of the four modern Star Trek shows. Nothing I say is intended to be a blanket generalization beyond those four cases.


    Please read my statement again. I did not assert it as a statement of fact. On the contrary, I offered it as a hypothetical alternative possibility in order to underline that we do not actually know the facts. Any assumptions we make are purely speculative. I'm not saying I'm right or you're wrong -- I'm saying we do not know. And in the absence of hard evidence, the decent thing to do is to give people the benefit of the doubt, to presume them innocent.


    On the contrary -- didn't I explicitly say in my last post, "Few things are ever so simplistic as to have only one cause?" You're completely misreading my intentions, evidently because you want to interpret this conversation as a fight between extreme positions. But that's not the conversation I'm trying to have.

    Perhaps we should just drop it. This is supposed to be a thread about TNG, and I fear we've dragged it off course.
     
  18. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Absolutely. Also the TOS crew didn't have 'direct' communication with Starfleet command, and on several occasions part of the drama is that it could take days for Kirk's communiques to get to them and a further few days for a response to make its way back to the Enterprise, in which time Kirk still needs to deal with the problem at hand. So there was a degree of isolation there, where the crew had more autonomy than TNG (where communication with Starfleet was often only a case of opening a direct channel). I think Voyager was a deliberate attempt to go back to this template, to make it so the crew had to solve problems for themselves rather than ask for advice and follow orders.

    I don't think they wanted to deal with it. ;)
     
  19. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    A show about a ship being is more isolated doesn't necessarily make it better.

    TNG wasn't trying to be TOS. They were set during two different eras of the Federation.

    In TOS, space was still quite unexplored and they were alone very often.

    In TNG, the Federation has grown in considerable size and it had become more about keeping the peace. The tensions between the Federation and the Klingon Empire had lessen after they had become allies. That alliance pretty much kept the Romulans in check. The Federation was enjoying a period of harmony that it had not known for decades.

    There were of course exceptions, like the two Borg incursions into Federation territory, and dealing with the aftermath of the first Cardassian war.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    For some reason, it seemed that whenever they were out of direct contact with Starfleet, the response time was always three weeks. Well, not constantly, but a figure of three weeks or more was specifically cited in "Return to Tomorrow," "The Enterprise Incident," and even TAS: "The Time Trap."


    Well, yes, that's the whole point -- that TNG wasn't like TOS because it was in a more civilized era. That's why the producers of the later shows wanted to do something that was more like TOS again -- first with VGR, isolating the ship on the other end of the galaxy, then with ENT, going back to the beginning where Archer's crew were completely on their own with no possibility of calling in backup. They wanted to recapture the frontier flavor that they felt TNG had lost. (Although, as discussed, this ran up against UPN's desire to make the shows as TNG-like as possible.)

    And here we come back around to the initial topic of the thread, because TNG itself was originally meant to be way out on the uncharted frontier and rarely returning to explored space, but that idea was abandoned almost as soon as the pilot was over, and it instead ended up being defined by its portrait of a tamed, settled civilization where the frontier had once been.