Was there a seven year plan?

Discussion in 'Deep Space Nine' started by MikeS, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    I think the most problematic part of JMS' story is that is paints Piller and Berman as rank amateurs, incapable of writing stories (or hiring a cadre of writers), designing characters, or tapping into the broad legacy of sci-fi literature. Furthermore, it seems to be clouded by JMS own need to present himself as the sole "author"/creator of B5, as if there wasn't plenty of interference from Warner Brothers.
     
  2. Dick_Valentine

    Dick_Valentine Commander Red Shirt

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    I think JMS lost a lot of credibility on his ranting when, just after What You Leave Behind aired, he was quoted in SFX saying how it was a copy of his final episode "...and I heard the station got blown up. Although I confess, I haven't seen it"

    I think someone deliberately fed him misinformation about how similar WYLB was to Sleeping in Light and he ran with it without checking.

    I love B5 but the more you hear from JMS ranting about how it's constantly him against the networks/moneymen/actors/other writers/other sci-fi shows the less credible all these stories become.
    He must've been burnt early on in his career and has seemingly never, ever got over it.
    Hell, if he'd been slightly more of a game player we might have had a sequel series/more lost tales by now, but the dude is far too much of a perfectionist.
     
  3. Leto_II

    Leto_II Commander Red Shirt

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    Except that my entire point has consistently been only that the suspicion exists -- not the certainty, but the suspicion -- that Paramount co-opted several conceptual elements from JMS's Babylon 5 notes during the DS9 development process. I know how evidence works. And I never once claimed to possess any such evidence.

    It's entirely likely that Straczynski was coming to his belief from a position of at least some industry-based insight in these matters, but as he himself points out, exerting legal powers of discovery would have harmed both sides and benefited no one in the end.

    And in the absence of absolute, smoking-gun physical evidence, all one has to support one's side in a very theoretical discussion such as this is material such as screenplays, design documents, story notes, etc...and also the very words of the creator himself, who reinforces this point of suspicion.

    Nowhere did I ever once claim to possess some infallible, damning document circulated among Paramount's staff crowing that B5 had been ripped off, only that through a careful reading of the available documentation (the script books, et al) can one arrive at an independent conclusion that just also happens to coincide with Straczynski's own.

    Now, why haven't I posted citations from these sources?

    You see, I ordinarily would have cited the script books directly, chapter-and-verse, page-and-paragraph, except we very recently moved, and they're currently still packed away in unopened moving-company boxes somewhere in our new house; I would have to devote a decent part of a day to this particular task.

    (I also own several drafts of "The Gathering" pilot script, two of which not even Straczynski has ever legally released to the public; three versions of JMS's 1987-88 pitch-documents -- only one of which was ever offered through the B5 Fan Club store; the original, early series bible, prior to PTEN and several significant storyline-alterations; facsimiles of internal memoranda from pitch meetings at CBS, Warner Bros., and Chris-Craft; and several other major "genesis" documents from that era, most acquired through various means via personal contacts in the industry, all of which are currently boxed up. I know a tad whereof I speak, here, concerning the show's internal development history.)


    Read my posts again -- I never once said that Berman and Piller ever deliberately "copied" JMS's ideas; to use the word "copy" implies malicious intent. I merely reposted Straczynski's own assertions that Piller and Berman might have been...mislead...by certain development-personnel in the studio into mandated use of various Straczynski-generated elements in the DS9 television series, without being informed as to their true origins. And, as we've seen, even Joe himself vouched for their intellectual honesty.


    Hold on just a second, there, Christopher.

    First off, respectfully, you really need to watch Babylon 5 again -- it appears that your memory is a tad off, here. In "The Gathering," the Minbari assassin uses a "changeling net" to infiltrate the station and attempts to kill Ambassador Kosh and wreak havoc by altering his physical appearance on several occasions.

    Furthermore, Straczynski himself actually utilizes the term "changeling" when describing the Minbari species in several of the studio pitch-documents, interchangeably with "shape-shifter." (As an unrelated side-note, it's apparently a term that JMS as a writer is quite fond of, titling his debut feature script "The Changeling" -- later retitled simply "Changeling" from "The Strange Case of Christine Collins," first described in his 1996 revised screenwriting book.)

    So, no...no "dishonest rhetoric" here; I'm simply citing Straczynski's own work, both onscreen and on the printed page. When the shape-shifter aspect of the Minbari species was dropped, he retained the term for the technology used by the assassin in the series pilot. Don't get me wrong -- I'm a fan of your work, and I gladly buy your books, but I must admit to feeling slightly poleaxed a few minutes ago when I read your post accusing me of intellectual dishonesty on this specific point, when it's all right up there on the screen.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2014
  4. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Debuting at or near the same time means nothing

    Mission to Mars came out in 2000
    The Red Planet came out in 2000

    Armageddon came out in 2000
    Deep Impact came out in 2000
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, I've heard JMS say some blatantly false things about Trek before. My father (who was a big B5 fan) once relayed to me a statement JMS had made about how the human characters in TNG and its spinoffs were genetically engineered to be more peaceful and emotionally balanced. Which, to anyone who's seen "Doctor Bashir, I Presume," is completely laughable.


    Uhh, yes, you claimed exactly that in the paragraph quoted just above. "I refer here to the J. Michael Straczynski Babylon 5 script books published over the past several years; in particular the first and final volumes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 15), which lay out a number of character and plot-elements that are simply far too similar to be coincidental." If you're referring to the script books, if you're trying to cite them as evidence, then it's only fair to ask you to quote the script books.


    It would've been nice if you'd said so in the first place. And don't expect me to take your word for it just because it would be inconvenient for you to provide evidence.


    Okay. But just posting someone's beliefs is hearsay, not evidence. If all this is based only on what JMS believes, then all it proves is what JMS believes. And as mentioned above, he's on record as believing some things about Trek that are categorically false. I think JMS is a lot like Gene Roddenberry -- inspired in a lot of ways, admirable in a lot of his beliefs, but also pretty full of himself and not above twisting the facts to suit his worldview.


    Okay, I'll concede that -- but, again, this would've gone much more smoothly if you'd just said that in the first place. You can't expect me to trust a charge that's just asserted without supporting detail.

    And yes, I'll concede that two separate works of fiction both misused the word "changeling" to mean a shapeshifter rather than a supernatural impostor. But it's an understandable mistake given the presence of the word "change" in it. So I still don't think it constitutes undeniable evidence of imitation, since it's the sort of thing that could happen by coincidence. Sure, it would be a rather big coincidence, but when you're accusing people of wrongdoing, then the burden of proof is on the accuser; the presumption of innocence must always apply. So if there's a reasonable alternative theory that allows for it to be coincidental, that theory must be favored, as a matter of basic fairness.

    Indeed, maybe the reason they both misused "changeling" that way is because they were both imitating some other recent work that did the same. Like I said, that's usually the way it happens. EDIT: Ahh, and I've found two uses of "Changeling" for a shapeshifter predating both B5 and DS9, both in comics. There was a shapeshifting mutant named Changeling in the X-Men comics in 1967 (he was revealed to have impersonated Professor Xavier after Xavier had apparently died), and the Teen Titans' shapeshifting character Beast Boy changed his name to Changeling beginning in 1980. So that probably explains it -- the use of "changeling" to mean "shapeshifter" was already part of pop culture by the time B5 and DS9 came along. (I also found a reference to Dungeons & Dragons having a shapeshifting race called Changelings, but the earliest cited reference I can find for that is a 2004 manual. The Star Wars prequel trilogy also used the term, apparently, but it was most likely influenced by DS9's usage.)

    It's also worth noting that Odo wasn't referred to as a "changeling" until "Vortex." The series bible refers to him only as a "shape shifter." The term "changeling" was used only once in the first season, then reused in the second season's "Shadowplay," and didn't become the standard term for Odo's species until the third season. So it would be a mistake to refer to it as something that was part of DS9 from the beginning.

    And again, the point still applies that shapeshifters are a dime a dozen in sci-fi, so two simultaneous works both using them is hardly suspicious in and of itself.


    Absolutely right. This is another thing laypeople don't get about the creative process. It takes time to create a work of fiction, particularly a movie or TV show. The makers of two different works of fiction that are in production at the same time wouldn't necessarily be aware of each other's work. As I said, most creators actively try to avoid similarity to other works, because similarity usually equals rejection. The reason it's so common for near-contemporaneous works to resemble each other is because their creators are usually unaware of each other and thus unable to avoid the similarity. Which is the exact opposite of what laypeople tend to assume.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2014
  6. Leto_II

    Leto_II Commander Red Shirt

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    Fair enough points, Christopher, especially regarding the primary source materials -- I honestly don't know when we're going to be 100% unpacked and settled in (many of the moving boxes are unmarked, and take up several rooms, plus the attic and garage), and it's making locating other things I'm going to need for teaching in the fall rather difficult at the moment, too; so I can't realistically and ethically expect to have others take me fully at face value, without proper citations.

    I do see where you're coming from, here, and harbor no hard feelings over it -- you're entirely correct on that point; hopefully you can better understand where I'm coming from, too, considering the unwieldy, awkward at-home circumstances.
     
  7. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And contradicted his previous character development.

    I don't think DS9 copied B5. Perhaps it was strongly influenced in some cases, perhaps they were just both logical progressions of the way TNG left the genre. But I found out tomorrow that DS9 was a sinister ploy to plagiarize Babylon 5 from the outset, I still wouldn't care, because DS9 is by far the better written show. Jimi Hendrix played Bob Dylan's song and made it better. Aretha Franklin played Otis Redding's song and made it better. Every blues influenced rock band in the last century has played Stop Breaking Down in their own particular special way. It doesn't matter if you have superior execution.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, it would matter if those musicians had appropriated those songs and claimed them as their own rather than giving proper credit and compensation to their originators, because that's stealing. But in over two decades, I have yet to hear a credible argument that that's what happened with B5 and DS9.
     
  9. Dennis

    Dennis The Man Premium Member

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    No, DS9 was not copied from B5; that's utter horseshit, and it really annoyed and insulted some of the folks who worked on DS9. BTW, the producer of B5 had every opportunity to know exactly where DS9 came from, since someone close to him worked on Trek during that time.
     
  10. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    That's great for you, but it has nothing to do with the point you're trying to make and makes it sound like you're trying to somehow give yourself additional credibility.

    But that's just the opinion of someone who is not a fairly well-educated guy, so I guess my opinions are less important than yours.
     
  11. Leto_II

    Leto_II Commander Red Shirt

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    "Fairly well-educated" enough to understand how the television/film industry operates, is what I was saying, there; to clarify. There's absolutely nothing in that trifle of an offhand remark for anyone here to take so personally and get offended by.
     
  12. Tulin

    Tulin Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Hah - You beat me to it!!!
     
  13. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    No, JMS is totally right. I mean, if it weren't for him, nobody would have EVER came up with the idea to have a space opera, only on a space station instead of a ship. And nobody had ever made a television show where one episode influenced the next before Babylon 5, that was the first time it had even been considered in the history of television. :rolleyes:

    I mean, it's not like these very base concepts were the natural and obvious progression of the genre following TNG or anything.

    And Babylon 5 itself is such an obvious ripoff of Alf. I mean, they both have aliens!

    *sigh* Well, at least DS9 didn't steal Babylon 5's idea to have cartoonish characterization.
     
  14. intrinsical

    intrinsical Commodore Commodore

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    I am making a small series of missions using Star Trek Online's foundry editor. I have only released 2 missions and am working on the 3rd of what I plan to be a 6-7 mission series. And already things have changed so much either due to early minor tweaks trickling down into huge chasms, limitations of STO's foundry editor (tv production would have different limitations such as cost overruns, practicality of certain shots or effects) and sudden brilliant flashes happening while writing that overrode original plans.

    So I think the only plans made for DS9 were:
    1) Introduce 3-4 Dominion member species early on as set pieces. Ultimately the writers only used the Founders and Jem'Hadar prominently with Vortas largely reduced to the background save for one character, dropping the Karemma and Dosi.
    2) Have rumors of "The Dominion" in seasons 2-3
    3) Have a full blown war with the Dominion by season 4
    4) Have the Federation on the loosing side of the war over season 5 & 6
    5) Resolve the war before the series ends
     
  15. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    The Dominion War undoubtedly would have ended earlier, but when Michael Dorn came aboard and All Things Klingon suddenly became important, it pushed back their plans for the Dominion.
     

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