Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by Captain Clark Terrell, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Harriman's scene is not a cameo, walk-on part, where having an awkward actor in an ill-fitting uniform was necessary to make an immediate connection in audience's mind that he was inferior in Kirk's presence.

    But the director's using this made-for-T.V. mentality by
    casting the Harriman character thus, perhaps he was just disinterested in the assignment of GENERATIONS, or maybe he's just not that good. But Harriman didn't have to look like a spaz and act like a nervous nelly to showcase Kirk's ability to lead in an emergency situation. It's just this lazy, get-it-in-the-can quick and dirty mindset at work, here.

    And again, Harriman's a Captain, assigned STARFLEET's Flagship. Had he been more Decker-like, in casting and portrayal, and had the director been worthy of the project, the writing, such as it was, would've held up so much better. All this underscores, really, how a writer can be made to look good or bad, regardless of what's in the script. What's on the page isn't necessarily always on the stage.
     
  2. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    My impression of the launch, rightly or wrongly, is that it only intended to be the 'official' launch, a kind of publicity stunt on the part of Starfleet command. Hence why Jim, Pavel and Scotty are wheeled out, and all those reporters are on board, etc. Harriman even says at one point that they're only intending to make a quick trip out and back. Evidently the "real" launch of the ship is on Tuesday (when it's supposed to be getting all this extra staff and equipment).

    I do think Harriman handles himself poorly in a crisis, but the Enterprise-B launch in GENs is clearly not a ship that is service-ready by any measure.
     
  3. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Clearly the launched shown in GEN was for publicity, and Kirk knew that of course, but that doesn't change my opinion of what Kirk regardless saw as the captain's responsibility. Kirk probably thought that more priority should have been given to getting the ship ready and less to organizing pomp.
     
  4. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    As anyone in his position would. Starships aren't toys to be shown off whenever they're put into service. It's baffling (speaking from an in-universe perspective) that the Federation would have allowed a group of journalists aboard a ship, even for a seemingly routine launch.

    --Sran
     
  5. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I do think there is an explanation given for that. One of the questions that the reporters ask Kirk gives the game away:

    Starfleet clearly understands that Kirk and his crew have come to be seen as living legends. And that, even though they were not the first crew of the Starship Enterprise, their exploits have apparently become so entwined with the name of ship, and the ship in itself has become a part of that legend. So, they're very aware, from a PR perspective, that they need to manage the transition to this new crew being the 'faces' of their most famous Starship instead of Kirk and co. The faux "launch" seen in GENS is whole constructed for this purpose. It's clearly been engineered by PR types purely for the benefit of the media, which of course means the exercise goes terribly wrong given James T. Kirk dies on the voyage. I'd have liked to have seen the media frenzy when they got home!

    Obviously the Enterprise-B's true launch as a fully operational ship on regular duties would have been scheduled for 'next Tuesday', but given what happens to her in the Nexus I wouldn't be surprised if her launch was put back while repairs were made. All in all, Starfleet ended up with the opposite of what they wanted: they wanted to create a smooth clean image for the launch of this new Starship Enterprise crew, and what they ended up with was a PR disaster on all counts. :lol:
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    If key components weren't even scheduled to arrive until "next Tuesday," then the proper launch of the ship would have to be well after that, though, since it would take time to install and test them.
     
  7. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^ Indeed, Christopher. Even more evidence that what we saw in GENS was clearly not the 'real' launch of the Ent-B; but was, rather, a kind of pre-launch "publicity drive" for the benefit of spinning the PR and shilling the new crew to the media. ;) 1701-B clearly isn't even fully assembled yet. It's in just about good enough condition for a "run around the block", but when the Nexus situation comes up both the ship and her new crew are completely unprepared for it.

    Compare this, for arguments sake, to the launch of the refit in TMP, where the clear inference is that the ship (despite being untested) is in a mostly duty-ready condition. A few hiccups with the systems are ironed out as they go, but the ship is effectively launched in response to V'ger, and then seemingly goes into regular service immediately after the V'ger crisis is over.

    Now the 1701-A in TFF is another kettle of fish again. There's no Earthly reason at all why they had to send that ship. Sure, Kirk and crew were assigned to Enterprise, and Admiral Bennett clearly wanted their unique experience, but given the fact that 1701-A is clearly not ready for service in that movie, it would have been more logical to assign them to another ship for the duration of the mission. :vulcan:
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Although in both TMP and GEN, it makes no sense that there's only one ship available that close to Earth, the capital of the whole darn Federation.
     
  9. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You're mistaken. 1701-A in The Final Frontier is fundamentally ready for service. It's embarrassing to have glitches in the turbolift doors or the ship's log recorder, but none of those are essential systems. The only mission-critical system that wasn't working was the transporters, and those were touch-and-go, with a considerable chance that they'd be working by the time they were needed. And since there were acceptable alternate methods of doing the rescue that transporters might be used for, even those weren't properly mission-critical, just, darned convenient.

    (Hm. Had the Enterprise had working transporters, then how would the hostage rescue on Nimbus III have shaken out? Specifically, how would what's-his-name have taken over the ship after all?)
     
  10. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Agreed. The in-universe explanation from David R. George's Crucible series is that Admiral Nogura ignored Kirk's advice to delay the deep-space missions of several vessels because the latter was concerned about Romulan and Klingon incursions into Federation space. When V'Ger showed up a few weeks later, Nogura conceded that had he listened to Kirk, more ships could have intercepted V'Ger before the Enterprise would have been needed, this avoiding the transporter and wormhole accidents that plagued the start of the mission.

    --Sran
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^In Ex Machina, I mentioned that Starfleet was depleted due to all the ship losses in TOS and a few of the novels (and Vanguard later added a couple more to the list), and had been slow in building replacements.
     
  12. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    I remember reading that. Was Starfleet slow because of the number of ships lost or because they were debating about using some of the new ship design concepts to construct additional vessels, provided Enterprise performed well post-refit?

    --Sran
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^I think my idea at the time was simply that Starfleet had grown complacent about the need for core defense.
     
  14. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Okay, you looked it up. Now apply that in the context of the discussion without having to drag in TURNABOUT INTRUDER or other extreme moments.
     
  15. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A lot of this was actually addressed in earlier drafts of TMP, but was lost in the rewrites.

    The Phase II television version of the script ('In Thy Image') has got explanations for most of TMP's plot holes, but the movie version cut out a lot of the exposition scenes contained in the TV version. Among them was an extensive scene where Kirk is briefed by Admiral Nogura, where it is specified that the fleet is close to Earth but is just slightly too far away to arrive in time (V'ger is going to get to them in 8.6 days, but the nearest other heavy cruiser is nine days away). There IS also one other ship close enough to intercept V'Ger, the USS Aswan, but Kirk says she's a "light cruiser" with "less than half" the weapons and defence systems of the Klingons that V'Ger has already licked. The Enterprise is the only ship available with the technology to maybe take on the intruder, which is why she gets pressed into service (and Kirk, against his better judgement in this draft, accepts command of her and rushes to try and pull together a crew with enough experience to take out as quickly as possible).
     
  16. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Hindsight is 20/20, but I'd much rather have watched this scene than the endless shots of V'Ger's interior and crew reactions. It could easily have been re-written to depict Kirk's arguing that he'd be a better choice for commanding the mission than Decker.

    --Sran
     
  17. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    To be fair TMP does tend to condense the same information into a few scenes, but it does it in much broader strokes than the earlier drafts. As such we get completely the wrong impression from Kirk's line about Enterprise being the only ship in range. The Phase II version cleverly addressed this plot point, while still keeping the fleet far enough away that it was the Enterprise which was being forced to respond.

    Of course there are other changes made during the rewrites that were for the better. IMO making Decker the presumptive-Enterprise Captain was excellent change because it opened up the possibilities of more conflict between him and Kirk and made him a more fully fleshed-out character. IIRC in the Phase II draft he's not even an Enterprise crewmember but is actually an Executive Officer on Earth awaiting assignment to his first command elsewhere (the USS Boston), who Kirk shanghais into becoming the Enterprise XO due to him happening to be both qualified and available. The final version, eliminating the Boston and just making Decker the Enterprise captain-in-waiting, is much cleaner.

    (I like the way the Phase II version gives us just a little insight into exactly what Kirk's job is in the Admiralty. His duties seem to involve the actual planning behind the deployment of officers, and he's instinctively able to tell Nogura which officers are assigned to which ships when asked. It's a nice little glimpse into the proceedural aspects of Starfleet Command which were likewise lost in the subsequent rewrites.)
     
  18. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Also 20/20 hindsight, this line from TMP:

    could have been rewritten as:

    Related, but on a side note, I've never been happy with the Enterprise surviving the first digitizing torpedo fired against it, anyway. The original version at that point had Sulu say:
    Removing that line actually makes things worse. The problem of even the new screens being implausibly strong against something like V'Ger should have been fixed "on the page", by structuring the scene so that Spock discovers V'Ger's attempts at communication and sends the response before the first torpedo hit. We'd already seen V'Ger attack the Klingons and Epsilon IX, and so had the crew. The danger was perfectly clear at that point.
     
  19. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    I agree with this. After all, it only makes sense that Enterprise would have a new captain with Kirk tied to the admiralty, and who better than a young officer who's not all that different from Kirk when he took command of the Enterprise before the five-year mission? That Kirk would regain the ship at Decker's expense creates all kinds of story possibilities.

    One thing I'd have enjoyed seeing more of is an element that Christopher includes in Ex Machina- how the rest of the crew reacts to Kirk pushing Decker aside. Most of the Enterprise crew was hand-picked by Decker and expected to serve under him. But all of that changed when Kirk returned and Decker left with V'Ger. Only Ensign Zaand stood up for his captain in the actual film.

    I like this, too. It's hinted at in TMP when Kirk asks about Sonak's appointment to Enterprise and manages to get McCoy drafted back into service. But both of these things could have been accomplished by Kirk as captain of the Enterprise, so it would have been interesting to learn more about what he was doing for more than two years while the ship was being refitted.

    --Sran
     
  20. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Also cut were a few lines just before that while the Enterprise is waiting for the impact from the energy pulse. Kirk asks Spock if the screens will protect the ship, to which Spock replies that any calculations to determine this would be impossible.

    --Sran