Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

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

  1. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The highest degree I can find for GR is an AA degree in Police Science from Los Angeles City College.
     
  2. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My rankings would be:

    • The Cage - 4 stars
    • Mudd's Women - 2 stars
    • Charlie X - 3 stars
    • The Menagerie - 2 stars
    • Return of the Archons - 2 stars
    • Bread and Circuses - 2 stars.
    • A Private, Little War - 3 stars
    • The Omega Glory - 2 stars
    • Assignment: Earth - 1 star
    • The Savage Curtain - 3 stars
    • Turnabout Intruder - 2 stars
     
  3. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    And I would rate them:

    The Cage - 4 stars
    Mudd's Women - 1 star
    Charlie X - 3 stars
    The Menagerie - 2 stars
    Return of the Archons - 3 stars
    Bread and Circuses - 2 stars
    A Private, Little War - 2 stars
    The Omega Glory - 1 star
    Assignment: Earth - 1 star
    The Savage Curtain - 2 stars
    Turnabout Intruder - 2 stars

    Roddenberry just wasn't the show's best originator of ideas.
     
  4. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Sorry to punch in here, but:

    Meaningless. I almost hate to be the one to point it out, but having multiple degrees doesn't make one any more or less competent. I know university professors who should, quite frankly, just be put to sleep. Just to save humanity from their idiotic fanaticism.

    But that's just me.

    Now, back to the show. ;)
     
  5. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    I agree. I'm a physician. The stupidest person I've ever met is also a physician and was one of my colleagues for three years. Extra letters next to one's name are just that, letters.

    --Sran
     
  6. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    This is especially true when it comes to writing fiction. In all the years I worked as an editor, I never bought a novel because the author had the right academic credentials. A degree doesn't make anybody a good writer.

    (To be fair, academic credentials are sometimes relevant where non-fiction is concerned.)
     
  7. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    That's not surprising, though. If someone's writing a text on US History, one would hope he has a background in history, political science, or some other related field.

    --Sran
     
  8. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Yep.
     
  9. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Exactly. Just like it helps to be a lawyer if you're writing a legal thriller . . . but it's not mandatory as long as you do your homework and can fake it well. :)
     
  10. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    I've always respected authors who ask various professionals to act as consultants on their stories if there's something they want to write about that's outside of their area of expertise. Or even with works of fiction, asking other people familiar with their characters if saying certain lines makes sense. I've never met Jeff Combs, but if I were writing a story with Shran in it, I might try asking him if my depiction of Shran made sense to him in terms of how he played the character.

    --Sran
     
  11. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Roddenberry was a pretty good writer, maybe not to everyone's tastes, sometimes not even mine, but what he turned out was well executed. I think his biggest flaw was in the producing area where he tended to micromanage everything, and stifle the creativity of the people around him.
     
  12. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    And it's often surprising how eager experts can be to help. When I wrote my first CSI book, I sent out an email to a real-life forensic sculptor asking if I could pick her brain. Not only did she reply, but we ended up spending over a hour on phone while she patiently explained that my "brilliant" twist made no sense whatsoever . . . . )

    Likewise, Kevin Grevioux (who plays Raze in the UNDERWORLD movies) let me grill him on what he imagined his character's backstory to be.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
  13. Isolinear

    Isolinear Commander Red Shirt

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    If you read "Captain's Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages", it seems every writer hated the guy in the TMP / early-TNG era. He rewrote everyone's stuff.
     
  14. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^
    The infamous Roddenberry box, yes.
     
  15. CaptPapa

    CaptPapa Commander Red Shirt

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    I really do not know . . .
    Here's an ignorant question; how sure can we be about writing credits? It seems to me that the actual credits can differ greatly from the official credits for writing - screenplays or teleplays is what I'm referring to. The City On The Edge Of Forever is an obvious example.
    Also, was Gene Roddenberry's work ever 'touched-up' by others, such as Dorothy Fontana? These kind of questions muddy my opinion of his writing ability - I just don't know enough about it. He might have been great, good, fair, or poor; it kind of depends on how much was his, and how much was not. And even when a credit is his alone, there have been rumors about a ghost writer, The Motion Picture novelization as an example. I just don't know . . .
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    On many shows, the executive producer is the one who does the final draft on all the scripts, usually without credit. However, we do know that the final draft of "City on the Edge" was Fontana's, after Roddenberry had taken several passes at it. So it must've varied case by case.


    Completely false, long-discredited rumors. The claim was that Alan Dean Foster had ghostwritten the TMP novelization, and this came about for two reasons: One, confusion with the Star Wars novelization from two years earlier, which Foster had ghostwritten under George Lucas's name; and two, an overseas translation (French, I think) that mistakenly lopped off the latter 2/3 of the writing credits (screen story by Alan Dean Foster, screenplay by Harold Livingston, novelization by Gene Roddenberry) and thus gave the impression that Foster was the author of the novel.

    But to anyone who's at all familiar with Foster's style, it's obvious that he didn't write the TMP novel. That novel's prose style is awkward, clumsy, just as you'd expect from the debut novel of a screenwriter who'd never worked in prose before. It has stylistic traits that resemble screenwriting practice, like using italics heavily to emphasize actions and descriptions (just as important stage directions are often underlined in scripts). And it reflects Roddenberry's well-known preoccupations (futurism and sex).
     
  17. CaptPapa

    CaptPapa Commander Red Shirt

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    I really do not know . . .
    ^ Thanks for the info on the novelization; it has been many years since I read it and the old brain cells don't retain what they used to.
    But the info on The City On The Edge Of Forever script, is something I didn't know . . . or didn't remember. But it illustrates my point about me not being sure who has really written what. Oh well, we all have our bears to cross. ;)
     
  18. jaime

    jaime Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I kinda liked award-winning opening to TMP extract. Reminds me of some ott swimwear in an issue of the TNG comic threading particularly sexualized...just there. Though yeah, having read 'captains logs' and unauthorised trek etc....and listened to shatner read the memories books (the audio book versions have an energy to them you wouldn't believe) I think roddenberry was....very odd by the time the 70s happened. Did a little too much LDS in the sixties. However, the Alexandria from that script returns in generations doesn't she? Anywhere that script exists online? I'd love to stick it in a folder with Michael pillers book on writing insurrection, which highlighted just how much we have to thank Patrick Stewart for ahem...contributing to those last two films.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, the woman in Generations was named Antonia.
     
  20. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    Just located my copy of the 1980 French edition (J'ai Lu, 1980, seems to be the first French edition), and the relevant page reads...

    GENE RODDENBERRY (at top of page, followed by big gap)

    star trek

    un roman tire du scenario de Harold Livingston
    sur une idee de Alan Dean Foster

    traduit de l'americain par Herbert Drai

    (roughly: a novel taken from the screenplay by Harold Linvingston based on an idea by Alan Dean Foster, translated from the American edition by Herbert Drai).

    Can't see how that could be the origin of the ghost-written myth, unless someone who didn't speak French had just guessed at the meaning and latched onto the lack of any separate mention for Roddenberry at the bottom. Could be a later edition, or another language, of course.
     

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