Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

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

  1. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    Hurley was the sole showrunner for season 2? Really? You learn something new everyday! :lol:
     
  2. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Totally agree with you about Meyer not fitting the 'hack' descrip, which is BS, but disagree rather strenuously about THE DAY AFTER. While it falls under the heading of 'nice try,' it was nowhere near as impressive as SPECIAL BULLETIN, a show NBC did around the same time that carried a helluva lot more impact.

    I think THE DAY AFTER had to deal with a lot more censorship problems than just about any TV programming I can recall, and that's just based on reading the old CINEFEX article ... also I think it suffered from losing its original director, Robert Butler (TOS' THE CAGE, HILL ST BLUES pilot) when he had to bow out and work on REMINGTON STEELE.

    Could also be that there were just too many good intentions, so the cast may have attracted more attention for starpower than performance (I remember being surprised and distracted by Lithgow and JoBeth Williams, with both of them very prominent from 1982 feature films, and thought the film would have worked better with less-recognizable character actors -- which is what SPECIAL BULLETIN did for the most part.)

    The thing I remember most about THE DAY AFTER broadcast was that the network ran a 45min feature afterward (I think that was because they lost all their usual advertising after the bomb dropped, so they had a lot of dead time left over) with political types discussing nuclear war.

    Pretty sure McNamera was there, not sure who else. But it was more upsetting than the movie for me, because its hard to compete with genuine political types when it comes to menace (that was a very frightening time -- I remember absolutely being convinced that civilization would not weather Reagan's occupancy of the big house, and in that sense was of the same mind as Meyer, that we could not possibly get out of the 20th century intact.)

    Back on topic: has anybody brought up PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW as an example of GR's writing talent? Pretty sure that is his only feature credit. Also, it'd be interesting to see if his talked-up take on a sexed-up TARZAN (pre-BoDerek) ever actually got written up, or if it was just vaporware.
     
  3. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    That TNG 'continuing mission' book is not without a few flaws, but it is pretty frank about a lot of what was going on & going wrong behind the scenes in early TNG. Worth a read, to be sure, and that's coming from somebody who wasn't even much of a fan of the show.
     
  4. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    All I know about Hurley is that he is notorious for introducing the Borg and harassing Gates McFadden till she got fired. Thankfully, McFadden was able to come back after Hurley left.

    How was Gene Roddenberry in terms of his treatment of women?
     
  5. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    "Hack" is not a synonym for untalented. It's neither implies as such, nor is it necessarily pejorative. "Hackneyed," however, is a word I'd use to describe the majority of his portfolio.

    I think Stephen King is a hack. I also think he's one talented SOB.

    A wonderful anecdote, but it still doesn't change the common perception of TV movies. While I would agree it isn't always fair--there are some TV movies I think are brilliant--the fact of the matter is they are almost never subject to re-airings. They are also rarely printed on distributable media. Even the good ones. The ones that are lucky enough to make it to video (It was one of the lucky ones.) are usually subject to the back of the store or, worse, the dollar bin. They simply don't the sustainable pop-culture permanence that features do. People forget about them and those who created them. This has nothing to do with political atmosphere or any other outside influence.

    But do you think people really pay attention to the writers and directors of this things the same way they do feature films? I don't know how it was then, but from what I can remember growing up the TV listings in the newspaper always had the directors for features, but never did for any TV Movies. I guess the paper figured it a waste of valuable space because people just didn't care enough.

    I haven't paid attention in years, but I'd bet it's often the same nowadays with DVR menus. People just don't care as much. This is probably because, with TV, directors are often perceived as less important than producers. And had he not been involved with one of the most successful films of the previous year, would most people even have noticed his name or would they have just glanced over it and moved on?

    Maybe is should be, and maybe it's unfair, but wishing for something doesn't make it so.
     
  6. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Your views on TV movies seem a little odd, but then again I guess you didn't see many of them first-run. In the 70s, the ABC TV movies of the week were programming you could count on to get at least two viewings of that first year, plus strip syndication on the afternoon movies locally well into the 80s and even the 90s.

    Regardless of what you may think of the quality, they were very easily re-viewable, and many of them on VHS as well (just about all of the David Janssen ones seemed to turn up on VHS, and the best of those, BIRDS OF PREY, is even on DVD.) I saw THE QUESTOR TAPES at least 7 or 8 times on TV, though admittedly I hadn't seen it in the last 20 years, till I ponied up for the DVD recently (money well spent, just for John Vernon's character and some funky little fx work at the end.)

    THE DAY AFTER has had much more of a shelf life than most MOW, and has been available on DVD for cheap for a very long while. I don't think that makes it a matter of luck though. I would be very happy if SPECIAL BULLETIN were remastered (or even rediscovered), but since it was originated on video, it probably has degenerated massively by now.

    As for your newest spin on the use of the word hack, I refer you back to the post that started all this back and forth and the words you surrounded 'hack' with, all loaded together to present a decidedly negative view of Meyer. Saying you find Stephen King a talented hack is just confusing the issue, not diffusing it, and certainly not shedding any useable light on it.
     
  7. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    hack
    noun
    1 a writer or journalist producing dull, unoriginal work : [as adj. ] a hack scriptwriter.
    • a person who does dull routine work.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't know about "sole." Roddenberry still had influence over the show at that point, and he and Hurley were reportedly close friends. But Hurley was the one running the writers' room on a day-to-day basis, I gather, which is presumably why season 2's writing was more solid and consistent than the mess of season 1, though not as good as it got when Michael Piller took over in season 3.


    Well, his only feature credit as a screenwriter, yes (he produced TMP). Unfortunately I've never seen that one. I recall it's notable as one of the first feature films to have nude scenes after the creation of the MPAA ratings system and the lifting of the previous blanket censorship on adult content. Not surprising that Roddenberry would've been involved in something like that.


    On another topic, look what I found while searching GR's credits on IMDb:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2461750/

    It's a failed 1962 TV pilot Roddenberry wrote, evidently a cop show called A.P.O. 923. The lead character is Captain Philip Pike, and the second lead is called Lt. Edward Jellicoe! No surprise that Roddenberry reused character names a lot, but he was dead by the time the character of Captain Edward Jellico was created for ST:TNG (by Frank Abatemarco and Ron Moore). Just coincidence, or did someone dredge up this bit of Roddenberry trivia and decide to pay an homage?
     
  9. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    He's not a hack like GR, he'd never do a JFK time travel story, oh wait....
     
  10. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Don't put words in my mouth. I never said that it was a mash-up, nor did I say they were acting independently. Good grief! Think before you post.

    I never said that I did. The reason I started this thread was to encourage discussion about some of the things Shatner stated or implied about how each movie was put together and what Roddenberry's involvement was. I don't know if what Shatner said is true or not. I just know that he said it. Why are you assuming I believe his bullshit? I can't even believe the bullshit response you posted.

    --Sran
     
  11. dub

    dub Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Sorry, I know this is off-topic, but speaking of Stephen King - have you seen "Under the Dome" on CBS? Some of the most contrived writing, ridiculous dialogue and worst acting I've seen on television. And yet, I want to know what happens in the end. :wtf: Perhaps I should put myself out of my misery and just buy the novel.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actually that is what you said. Your own words, verbatim, were:
    And that's what "mash-up" means in this case. That sentence, taken out of context, is misleading. What you went on to say is more correct:

    But that's not "two scripts put together." That's two authors dividing the labor on a single script. If you'd just left out that first sentence, you would've been fine.
     
  13. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    ^Fair enough. I'll admit to wording the post poorly.

    In any case, I don't appreciate people assuming that I believe everything Shatner wrote in his book. As I mentioned before, that's the exact reason I started this thread. I don't know if Shatner's words are believable because I wasn't there to watch the events he describes unfold. He was obviously there for each film. But given his own lack of popularity among the rest of the cast (excluding Nimoy), it's possible his perception of the events surrounding each film has been colored by his dislike for certain actors, producers, etc. I mean, he referred to Jimmy Doohan as the "largest mammal on Star Trek" before the whale props of George and Gracie were constructed.

    --Sran
     
  14. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Let's not discount TV-movies too much. I can think of plenty of TV-movies that are better remembered than a lot of now-forgotten feature films.

    Just in the last few weeks, pretty much every obituary and tribute to the late Karen Black mentioned her battle with the Zuni fetish doll in Trilogy of Terror. And need I mention The Night Stalker and a certain Carl Kolchak? Or Steven Spielberg's Duel?

    And that's just the genre stuff. Films like The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman or That Certain Summer or Go Ask Alice were all very big deals at the time--and are still remembered today.

    And, of course, there's the future classic that is Sharknado . . . :)
     
  15. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Knowing Shatner's sense of humor, that might have been a compliment. :lol:
     
  16. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, certainly. And now that feature film distribution is becoming more expensive and difficult, the distinction between "TV movies" and "feature films" is pretty blurred.

    And, when you consider international distribution, things become even fuzzier. Behind the Candelabra was a TV movie stateside; overseas, it had a theatrical release. The same thing happened to Spielberg's Duel in the '70s. (Except, in the former case, the movie originated as a feature; in the latter case, it originated as a TV movie.)
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Except TV movies as a genre seem to have become very rare in the US, except for some cable stuff like Lifetime movies and Syfy's weekly monster B-movies. You never see them on the networks anymore. Even 2-hour pilot episodes seem less common these days. I think the niche once occupied by TV movies has been displaced by direct-to-video.
     
  18. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, on the networks the TV movie is a dead form. On basic cable it's pretty limited to Lifetime (unsurprising, since TV movies have been targeted at adult women for decades) and SyFy (and a fair portion of the movies there are straight-to-DVD fare that the network licensed for broadcast).

    But on premium cable (especially HBO, but also Showtime -- not sure if Starz has gotten into the business yet) the TV movie is an important and growing part of programming.
     
  19. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Serious yin and yang with those TV movies of the 70s. You had A CASE OF RAPE, which was just incredible, and then you had IT COULDN'T HAPPEN TO A NICER GUY, with Paul Sorvino forced at gunpoint to have sex with Joanna Cameron (ISIS, for those old enough to remember that particularly sexy siren, who I think was also in GR's PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW and, going by his Merv Griffin show appearance back then, she was somebody Clint Eastwood was clearly enamored of. How I remember this stuff, I just don't know.)

    The most important thing I can say about TV MoW in the 70s (outside of 'keep an eye out for 'WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY'S BABY), wold be to declare I think PRAY FOR THE WILDCATS should be required viewing for everybody on the planet ... a video store up here actually used to have a copy on VHS that I'd dutifully re-rent every year, but some jerk stole it, so I'm jonesing for that great teamup of William Shatner and Andy Griffith and Marjoe Gortner and Robert Reed (to say nothing of Louise Sorel and Angie Dickinson), which is the cheesiest fun this side of ACTION JACKSON for me.
     
  20. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Or, as it usually called, "a collaboration."

    And that's not at all an unusual way to write something together. Just the other day, I was reading an interview with a two-man team of TV writers, who explained that, rather than write every scene together, they tend to split the plot between themselves and edit each other's scenes.

    Closer to home, I've collaborated on at least two novels that way. For example, when John Betancourt and I wrote a Deep Space Nine book together, we divided the plot and characters between us. He wrote all the Away Team scenes (with Kira and Bashir and Dax) and I wrote all the scenes on the space station (with Odo and Sisko and the rest). Then we tied everything up by writing the final chapter together.

    Sometimes it's just the most efficient and time-effective way to get a project done on time.
     

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