The original plan for Countdown

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by King Daniel Beyond, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. ChristopherPike

    ChristopherPike Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Which just makes it worse still. Because being supervised by the new management, it would've played into the plot of the film, and could even be considered canon to a degree. That's not really looking out for the best interests of the old stuff.

    They're not about to destroy the Earth or kill any of the main cast in this film's universe, so why fire off a devastating parting shot which achieves that in the original? Frustration at Paramount not allowing full creative freedom with their own project perhaps? I never thought I'd happy with any decisions under Leslie Moonves' CBS control (especially since that jerk landed us in the situation we're in) but since this has effectively protected the possibility of someday continuing in the original universe (however unlikely that may seem right now).
     
  2. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Even if there is never any more live action 24th century Trek, I think none of us want the characters to "die" just because it's an easy shortcut to start over. We want them to go on adventuring, even if we can't see those adventures.

    Plus, I too am loving the novels so those are the real deal for me. :)
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, this is getting ridiculous. Trashing Abrams & co. for the decisions they did make is one thing, but trashing them for a preliminary idea they ultimately didn't use is just petty. Creations do not spring into being fully formed. It takes trial and error to work out the best approach, and lots of your favorite works of fiction probably had early drafts that would've disturbed or horrified you if they'd been made in that form. But they weren't. Because the creators thought about their ideas or talked them over with other people and had the flaws in the ideas pointed out to them. And there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you're too close to your ideas, you get caught up in following a creative thread, and you need someone else to look at it from the outside and show you that you've gone off track.

    So it's just ridiculous to see this as evidence that the filmmakers have some kind of hate for the franchise or the fans. No. That's just paranoid. It's just the storytellers doing what storytellers do -- trying out possibilities, seeing where they lead and whether they work, and if they don't work, moving on to something else. This is just how creativity happens, and that's just as true of the works you love the most as it is of the ones you dislike. People have to be allowed to have bad ideas without being damned for it, because that's part of the process of trial and error that ultimately leads to good ideas. It's not wrong that they had this idea, because it was just an idea. The final decision is all that matters, and they decided not to go that route.
     
  4. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It happened, we're talking about it. What's the big deal?
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The whole point is that it isn't a big deal, because it didn't happen. It was considered and rejected before it happened, just like countless other early-draft ideas that got replaced with better ones. What matters isn't that they had the idea, but that they realized it was the wrong idea.
     
  6. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, and like every other idea that we hear about we're dissecting the hell out of it like the Trek nerds we are. :)
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Nothing wrong with dissecting the idea. The problem is the assumption ChristopherPike is making about the underlying motives -- that it's somehow evidence that Abrams & co. have a bad or contemptuous attitude toward the franchise or its fans. That's just not fair or valid, and it's based on a misunderstanding of how the creative process works. I'm simply trying to explain more about that process, to point out that it's hardly unusual for a creator to have an idea that turns out to be a bad one and ends up being discarded. If they'd actually done this in the final film, then maybe ChristopherPike would have reason to feel it was an affront to the fanbase. But since they decided not to do it after all, there's nothing to be offended by. People should be judged for what they ultimately choose to do, not for what they considered but rejected along the way. Few of us instantly understand the best decision right off the bat; we have to consider various options and decide which one works best.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2013
  8. ChristopherPike

    ChristopherPike Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I have a misunderstanding of the creative process then do I? Hmmm... I'll put aside my suspicion that I'm being talked down to here. Because even an uneducated person can probably gather creating something is a process that goes through many stages, where ideas end up removed before a finished article is reached. Even something that makes it as far as a final filmed script, doesn't necessarily mean that's how it plays out onscreen, once the editing process begins. Nero and the Narada, apparently wandering around for over 20 years, when they filmed scenes in which he's imprisoned at Rura Penthe is rather obvious proof of that.
    ^ Assuming this STO developer speaks truthfully and isn't just creating positive spin, about why we should be grateful their game exists... something I'll concede might be the case -- taken at face value, it seems like Abrams & co would've had absolutely no problem going through with it, had a third party not objected.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2013
  9. ChristopherPike

    ChristopherPike Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Having listened to podcast just now... rather than simply rely on their words interpreted in a report, it plays into a whole discussion about whether the Countdown comics are regarded as canon. It falls into the usual fan way of mixing opinion with fact. The developer regards them as canon, given they lead into the film... and are now set in the past for STO. But I'd suggest since neither Countdown or STO are live-action drama, then they aren't.

    The whole problem is, that this discussion springs from talk about the destruction of Romulus and then snowballs from there, to include events in a comic... apparently without question simply because JJ Abrams' creative team are involved. Romulus being destroyed is now established in canon, because it happened onscreen and is attributed to the Prime universe from which both Spock and Nero came. Even if the Earth had also been destroyed and TNG characters killed in a comic, I wouldn't have been obliged to accept it as canon. And definitely not unreversable or capable of being totally disregarded by another tie-in product like books or comic or frankly whatever format needs them to exist in a future setting.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You're not. There's nothing shameful about not understanding a process you don't have direct experience with. I don't understand much about, say, auto repair or chemical engineering or stockbroking (is that a word?) or any number of things, so I could easily make incorrect assumptions about the significance of a given thing. And if someone who actually did that particular job tried to explain to me what its real significance (or lack of significance) was, I wouldn't feel talked down to, because I'd accept that they're the ones qualified to explain how it works. It doesn't make them better or smarter than me, just more familiar with that particular topic.


    I've listened to the relevant portion of the podcast now, and I don't think we can conclude that from what he said. He said that the game people complained about how the plan would scuttle the whole game, and then he said "So that got changed," but that "so" doesn't necessarily mean "as a direct result of our protests"; it could just be a conversational "so," in the sense of "then, subsequently" (as in "so then I said..."). In other words, they were worried, but then it got changed, so they didn't have to worry anymore.

    After all, this guy is an employee of a licensee. He doesn't have firsthand knowledge of Bad Robot's decision-making; he only knows what he hears about it from his go-between (John Van Citters, I assume) at CBS licensing. So we can't make any conclusions from this account about why Abrams, Kurtzman, and Orci changed their minds.

    Now, my own insights into the process are just as thirdhand as his, but here's what I know:

    • It was an earlier draft of the film script that had the more destructive version of 24th-century events. Later revisions toned it down. (And yes, it was going to be in the film, not just in Countdown. Countdown took its lead from the future events referenced in the film script, basically just fleshing them out and adding TNG characters to them.)
    • Kurtzman & Orci wrote the screenplay. As director, it would've been Abrams who was responsible for later revisions, particularly since the writers' strike limited the opportunities for the script to be revised during shooting.
    • Orci is a huge Trek fan. Kurtzman is a moderate fan.

    So the idea to totally trash the Prime universe most likely came, not from Abrams himself, but from K&O, who are fans of the franchise. And it was probably Abrams who changed it in favor of the less destructive approach. At least, that's how I've always assumed it happened (though, again, my interpretation is as subjective as the interviewee's). So I don't think it's likely that the idea was meant as some kind of "middle finger" to the franchise. I think, based on what I know about the original plan, that it was just meant to make the stakes for Spock Prime as high as they could possibly be. Maybe they just got so caught up in creating a big enough existential threat to drive events that they overlooked the fact that Spock Prime failed to avert that threat in his home timeline. And once that was pointed out to them, they changed it, or Abrams changed it. That happens sometimes. Sometimes you get so caught up in part of an idea that you don't see how it fits into the greater whole, or so preoccupied with the mechanics and details of an idea that you lose perspective on whether it's really a good idea. This is why writers have beta readers and editors and producers and the like to double-check their work.
     
  11. ChristopherPike

    ChristopherPike Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    My sincere thanks Christopher, for going to the trouble of such a long and extensive post.

     
  12. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    1. Do we know that it won't be around in a couple of years? Are we any more sure that the novels will still be around? And what's wrong with a TNG actor being engaged with the universe (I write, living in a city that just hosted the entire crew at Comicon)? We can be generous, I think, towards the game and the actor.

    2. Much probably depends on the art with which something is achieved. I've argued before that Sela was Spock's dark twin, a talented being of mixed human-Vulcanoid heritage who had to resolve issues around this parentage without her mother in a much more xenophobic society. Sela ultimately died because she couldn't resolve these issues, and did so ultimately because some of the nobler qualities of the Romulans came to prevail through Kamemor. Her death was actually a bit of a sad one, testament to the ability of a great writer like George to arouse sympathy for characters which had been portrayed as villains. Had he hadn't been so good in setting things up, I wonder if CBS might have had something different to say.
     
  13. Garrovick

    Garrovick Commander Red Shirt

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    ST09 is hardly the first movie to ever make changes from first-draft script to final finished film. I'll be the first to admit that I am not an expert on the creative process of filmmaking, but it seems to me that it's pretty unfair to trash JJ Abrams or anyone else for an idea that turned out not to work and was dropped from the movie.
     
  14. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Why is it unfair though? People are just annoyed that something so sweeping was even considered. No one is throwing rocks through his window, they're just voicing their opinions. I don't understand why that is such a big no-no.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    What I object to is the assumption that the idea was motivated by some kind of hostility toward Star Trek or its fans. I'm simply trying to explain that there's no reason to assume any such unsavory motive, and that if anything, the evidence suggests that the original idea most likely came from the members of the production team who are the biggest Trek fans. What's unfair is accusing people of negative intentions that they don't actually have, or suggesting negative things about other people based on false information or assumptions. (For instance, you're still saying "his" as if it were all about Abrams, when it was Kurtzman & Orci who wrote the script, and when there are five people -- Lindelof and Burk as well -- involved in all the decision-making.) It's fine to question the ideas, but if you start to make it about the people rather than the ideas -- especially if you do so without getting the facts straight first -- that's a whole other matter.
     
  16. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Star Trek Online is easily the biggest new development in Trek apart from the Abrams movie. Criticizing it as doomed to fail (based on what evidence?) and going after Denise Crosby for making the effort to be part of the effort just strikes me as being in poor taste. Again, are the novels really that much more popular, or more enduring?
     
  17. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Pocket's novel line has endured since December 1979.

    "Star Trek Online" is yet another licensed tie-in game, an evolution of similar of-their-time role playing games, such as "Star Fleet Battles" (only semi-licensed in the beginning), "Federation Commander", FASA, the various collectible card games, Interplay, Simon & Schuster Interactive, Last Unicorn Games, Decipher, etc. Each of those, and others, has peaked and fallen by the wayside, and a whole new version/interpretation conceived - and the gaming style reflecting the new status quo in the wider world - when a new company took over the gaming license or negotiated a new one.

    The novels have a proven longevity. The games have seemingly not. Now, "ST Online" might emerge differently, but the gamers will certainly be ready to move on to something else one day, as they have with previous ST games.
     
  18. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What a weird post, Therin. Why equate multiple different generations of books under many authors and many editors with ONE game? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that both Trek lit and Trek gaming have endured with a large array of multiple titles stretching back years?

    Wouldn't it be ridiculous to write "Now, Cold Equations might emerge differently, but the readers will certainly be ready to move on to other books one day, as they have with previous ST novels"?
     
  19. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    1. Didn't Simon & Schuster nearly encounter bankruptcy in 2008?

    2. Even if the current novel line does remain with a Pocket that enjoys unbroken continuity, the current novel continuity doesn't have to endure. The Powers That Be may decide that a return to the Richard Arnold era would make more sense. Or, perhaps more plausibly, they might decide that continuing to produce material set in a timeline that Trek isn't going to explore again will just confuse new Trek fans.

    Star Trek novels do have a long track record, yes, but the current continuity that people enjoy--a continuity that includes references from other novels, comics, RPGs, and computer games--has a shorter history. Counting on it to survive as an active form indefinitely isn't something I'm comfortable doing.

    More to my original point, I was replying to someone who seemed to think that Star Trek Online wasn't especially worthy Trek, and that Denise Crosby's participation in the project was somehow ridiculous. I don't think it's fair to argue either thing: given lines of Star Trek media can be fragile and, frankly, criticizing a Trek actor for being active in Trek media two and a half decades after her original character died is a bit off considering that, well, we're here enthusiastically consuming derivative material from that series and older ones, too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The entire global economy nearly collapsed in 2008. The effect that had on S&S was not greatly different from the effect it had on the rest of the publishing industry and no doubt quite a few other industries. And S&S is now recovering along with the rest of the publishing industry and the rest of the US economy. So I'm not sure what your point is here.


    That seems doubtful. Marvel & DC haven't stopped putting out comics and novels set in their comics continuities just because the movies are set in different continuities. The general public, and the marketing departments, don't worry as much about the niceties of continuity as the more dedicated fans do. The broader audience just wants to see the familiar characters, and the folks on the business end don't care what continuity something's in as long as it makes a profit.

    Don't get me wrong; you're right to say there's no guarantee that the current novel continuity will last indefinitely. But if it does end, I doubt it will be for those reasons. The most likely reason is the one that led to the end of the '80s novel continuity -- contradiction by new canon. But since new screen content is in an alternate reality, the odds of contradiction seem slim. Other than that, the only reason I can see why a wholesale change might be ordered is if the current continuity stops selling well.