Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

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

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I've only seen a clip of one Roddenberry-penned HG,WT episode, but I felt it was pretty smart and well-written. The TMP novelization? Interesting, but awkward. It's recognizably the work of a screenwriter who's never done prose before. It's imaginative in its futurism, but reflects Roddenberry's sexual preoccupations.

    Genesis II also has some interesting ideas, but in many ways it's an awkward pilot conceptually and would've been hard to sustain as a series. The future society PAX is a little too forbidding and hard to like, despite its noble ideals. The biggest problem is the portrayal of Ted Cassidy's character Isaiah as a "White Comanche," wearing brownface and talking and acting like a stereotypical TV-Indian savage.

    Planet Earth is a better pilot in a lot of ways, but it was co-written by Juanita Bartlett, and she manages to temper a lot of GR's excesses, so that the plot of Dylan Hunt using his masculinity to win over the head of a female-dominated society turns out more humorous and mutually respectful than the masculine fantasy it could've been.

    The Questor Tapes is also rather good, but it was co-written by GR and Gene L. Coon, and Coon was a very good writer.
     
  2. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2013
    Location:
    The Captain's Table
    But whatever you do, don't mention The Questor Tapes to Nimoy. I hear he's still bitter about being dropped from the lead role.

    --Sran
     
  3. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Location:
    a sonic shower
    To be fair, I don't think the word "sexism" was even coined until 1970. Probably in response to something Roddenberry did.

    The Robert Foxworth role, or the Mike Farrell role?
     
  4. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2013
    Location:
    The Captain's Table
    Foxworth. Nimoy was supposed to get the role- and actually did have it for a while- until it was decided that Foxworth was a better fit. Nimoy called Roddenberry and screamed at him over the phone.

    --Sran
     
  5. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Location:
    a sonic shower
    Foxworth was convincing as an unfinished android. I think they made the right choice.
     
  6. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    I'm not sure Roddenberry was even that great when it came to ideas. I think his real talent was surrounding himself talented people.
    Well, that's probably because when Roddenberry tried to speak his mind Nick Meyer told him to go jump off a cliff.
     
  7. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2008
    Location:
    Planet Carcazed
    Nimoy would have been better in the Mike Farrell role. It would have given him a chance to show his acting chops as a human instead of an alien or an android. Just sayin'.

    Can't remember though, was Questor before or after Nimoy's stint on Mission: Impossible?
     
  8. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2013
    Location:
    The Captain's Table
    To be fair, Roddenberry threw a fit about Meyer's original plan of making Saavik the traitor because he didn't like the idea of such a popular character betraying her shipmates. Meyer told him, "Well, I'm the one who created the Saavik character, so I can use her however I want. If you have a problem with it, then maybe you should give back all the money you made off the films I was involved with. Then I'll care what you think."

    --Sran
     
  9. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Location:
    Georgia, United States
    This is the way I feel about it. I'm just glad all those talented people were around. ;)
     
  10. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2001
    Location:
    Land of Enchantment
    Foxworth is a better actor than Nimoy.

    *Hides*


    I've heard this before and always found it a bit contemptuous on Meyer's part. I agree that it was probably the right thing to do and the she was his character and he could do what he wanted with her, but the whole "give back the money" bit, aside from being douchey, is asinine and presumptuous.

    For one thing, had it not been for Star Trek, Meyer would still be a hack nobody. And, frankly, outside of Trekdom, he is a hack nobody.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Nimoy was on M:I from 1969-71, the two years immediately following ST. The Questor Tapes was aired in January 1974.



    Well, that's neither true nor fair. Before TWOK he was known for his best-selling Sherlock Holmes novel The Seven Per Cent Solution (whose film adaptation he wrote the screenplay for) and its sequel The West End Horror, and for directing the successful 1979 film Time After Time. He also wrote the 1975 TV movie The Night That Panicked America (a dramatization of the Orson Welles War of the Worlds broadcast) and directed the influential 1983 TV movie The Day After, both of which got him Emmy nominations. The Day After was the highest-rated made-for-TV movie in history up to that point (at least) and helped influence a lot of people's attitudes toward nuclear war. And Meyer was offered the job immediately after he finished production on TWOK, and thus before it was released, so it's doubtful that he got the job because of TWOK.

    So if Meyer had never done Trek, he'd still be famous for his Holmes work, Time After Time, and The Day After if nothing else, and he'd still be the recipient of multiple Emmy nominations and an Oscar nomination. Indeed, "outside of Trekdom," I'm sure he's already more famous for those thing than he is for TWOK and TUC. Trek is a pretty minor part of his career, all told.
     
  12. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    Pretty sure the feedback/letters page in STARLOG summed up the view of the JFK story. Remember something very much like, "If Spock phasers JFK, that will end my ever viewing STAR TREK again." 100% unfavorable. The 1985 TWILIGHT ZONE ep that dealt with this idea was clunky in a lot of ways, but worked (due in no small part to Andy Robinson somehow making JFK credible without really having the handsome aspect), but that was an anthology show, a one-off.
     
  13. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    Anybody who can write CONFESSIONS OF HOMING PIGEON is no goddamn hack.

    If you're gonna jump his shit, do it for that sellout job he did rewriting the end of FATAL ATTRACTION.

    I don't think QUESTOR really represents GR consistently. I think most of the good stuff is Coon; I'd bet anything that John Vernon's character says is pretty much all Coon.

    Richard Colla gave an interview discussing QUESTOR and Nimoy's exit. I don't think it is STARLOG, but it might be; I keep thinking it was ENTERPRISE INCIDENTS.

    Now the 'seduce the rich old lady spy' bit, that's GR. In fact I remember that INSIDE STAR TREK album where he explains how he wanted to have the robot seduce Dana Wynter, but of course TPTB would not permit it.
     
  14. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    The Day After makes him a bit more than a "hack nobody."

    He never was an A-list director, but he's had and continues to have a successful screenwriting career.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    And this thread has inspired me to put Time After Time in my DVD queue. It's been ages since I saw it all the way through. And it's Malcolm McDowell vs. David Warner -- who can resist? (Interesting that both of them went on to be very mean to Captain Picard...)
     
  16. Timby

    Timby LIKE LIGHTNIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING Administrator

    Joined:
    May 28, 2001
    The latter part of this is accurate. The former is not. Bennett and Meyer worked very closely in putting together the script for The Voyage Home -- there was a draft put together by Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes, and it was tossed out (which is when Meyer got involved -- and then they went to WGA arbitration, similar to what happened with the credits for The Undiscovered Country).

    The script for The Voyage Home was not a mash-up, but rather a result of Meyer and Bennett collaborating. There is definitely a tonal difference between the acts, but it's not like they were acting independently of one another.

    Don't believe all the bullshit in the Shatner books.
     
  17. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2001
    Location:
    Hotel Transylvania
    Lets remember how bad the first two seasons of TNG were when Gene was the showrunner, he was still doing the show like it was stuck in the 60s! ;)
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Right. A lot of collaborations entail the writers each taking a different subplot or portion of the story as an agreed-upon division of labor -- then rewriting each other's scenes to give it consistency.


    Except with a lot less censorship.

    And actually Roddenberry was only the showrunner in season 1. It was Maurice Hurley in season 2.
     
  19. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2001
    Location:
    Land of Enchantment
    Nonsense.

    Of all those you mentioned, the only thing of any worth is Holmes book and even that is barely a blip on the radar. Cracking the NYT best sellers is a lot like landing on the Billboard Top 10: unless you get to number one or get there a more than once, everyone is going to completely forget about you within a couple of years. And all of his Holmes books (I think he wrote three?) have faded into obscurity. I wouldn't be surprised if Christopher Bennett was more widely recognized as a fiction writer than Nick Meyer, these days.

    The TV films are meaningless as are the accompanying Emmys. Unless you win, no one cares. And even had he won, they're still TV movies.

    Calling Time After Time a "success" is a gross over-exaggeration. It made 13M. For comparison's sake, that same year, TMP took home nearly that much in one week. Outside of science fiction circles, hardly anyone has heard of it let alone seen it. That's not to say it isn't a good film. Personally, I think it's better than Khan. But let's not make it out to be something it isn't.

    On the other hand, TWOK (for better or worse) has managed to carve out its own little slice of pop culture pie. I'm sure this has more to do with the associated memes than the film itself, but it's still worthy a modest amount of recognition. Therefore, I have no doubt inquiring minds are redirected to his IMDB page via TWOK than they are Time After Time.

    Furthermore, if asked at random, most people aren't going to recognize his name. Those that do (at least those who can spell it :lol: ), are most likely going to remember him as: "The guy who directed that Star Trek movie."

    Even the two most successful films he's ever been involved with are hardly associated with him. His work on Prince of Egypt was dubious at best--I was never clear as to what he did, exactly. And he co-wrote (One of four, I believe.) Sommersby, which I didn't even know about until fairly recently. Everything else he's done has stayed completely beneath the beam.

    50 years from now, his "legacy" (for lack of a better term) is going to be The Wrath of Khan. That was evident by 1991, which brings us back to my initial point.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^People can be poorly remembered without being "hacks." A hack is someone who lacks talent, and while I don't care for Meyer's interpretation of Star Trek, I would never accuse him of being untalented. In fact, I rather like most of his non-Trek work that I've seen.

    As for "just TV movies," I have to wonder if you're old enough to remember The Day After. That was more than just a TV movie. At the time, it was intensely controversial and provocative. For many people, it was the first time they'd been exposed to the horrific details of what a nuclear holocaust and its aftermath would be like. It was all over the news for weeks, our teachers talked to us about it in school... it was the television event of the decade, at the very least. Heck, my father didn't even want me to watch it, because he thought my 17-year-old mind would be too emotionally fragile to handle the horrors. I had to reason with him extensively to convince him to let me watch. Turns out it didn't shock me much at all because I'd already read books like Hiroshima and The Fate of the Earth and Cosmos and knew the dangers and consequences of nuclear war already. But for a lot of the nation, it was stunning and revelatory. No TV movie in history has been less "just a TV movie" than that one.

    So if people remember Meyer more for TWOK today, that's only because nuclear war now seems like an obsolete issue. Also it was a harrowing and uncompromising film, not exactly something one would want to seek out for repeat viewings. But by all rights, if history remembers Meyer for any single film, it absolutely should be The Day After.
     

Share This Page