What If TNG Had a Rotating Cast

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Emperor Norton, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Captain Captain

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    Throughout TNG, the show had characters come and go, but the main cast remained the same. What if the show had been more dynamic, and cast members and their characters had come and gone in a much more drastic way? Whenever an actor got bored, no longer worked, or their salaries became too high, a new character and actor would replace them. Something more in the Dr Who style. An actor leaves, their character is replaced, and the show keeps going into infinity to the point where it becomes an entirely different cast several times over?

    This is not unprecedented in the history of the show or other Star Trek series, but it would take things to a different level. Denise Crosby was unfulfilled as Tasha Yar, so she left, and her position was replaced by Worf. Maurice Hurley, when he ran into disagreement with the cast, threatened to blow up the Enterprise-D and everyone on it, and build the next season around the tragedy and building a whole new Enterprise and crew. I think if it were a gradual thing, it would be feasible. If it were a total replacement, fans would riot. But if one character were replaced, and then a few years later another one, I think it would be a possibility. And it would address issues like actor salaries or characters getting stale and writers having nothing more to say with them. TNG could continue on forever like that. It could even transition to a different Enterprise or an entirely different setting, since this is one of only two Star Trek series not tied by a name to any one ship.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
  2. Shikarnov

    Shikarnov Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Setting aside real world matters like actor salaries, I think such a setup would work better in-universe as well. If the ship had been sent out, alone, on a long mission of exploration, it would make sense to see the same people in the same posts year after year.

    But given how the Enterprise was consistently kept close to home (possibly due to a mission change following the events leading up to and in Conspiracy convincing the brass that Starfleet's best are needed nearby), it seems implausible that crew wouldn't be rotated rather frequently as promotions and reassignments become available. Even moreso after Wolf 359 with 40 ships worth of postings suddenly open. Riker's complacency is at least given some air time, but the rest of the crew must either have zero ambition or nobody wants to hire them. In either case, it's hardly what you'd expect from the best of the best that are supposed to be on the Enterprise.

    All that said -- and I do like the idea of rotating crews/casts -- I don't think it would have worked long-term. What made TNG start to go stale by the end of its run was lack of creativity. I'll grant that, with only a few exceptions, the latter seasons of TNG are difficult to watch. Even Patrick Stewart's performances began to lack energy and interest.

    But swapping actors wouldn't solve the problem of increasingly bad scripting. And only really great scripting could keep a show like TNG going on forever.
     
  3. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Captain Captain

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    But a lack of creativity was also based on having trouble finding anything to say with a character, or with the writers themselves having interest in a character. New characters would lead to invigoration. It also opens the show to taking shifts in tone and storytelling. And certainly the writing staff could change as time progresses, with a groove found of what works. It's all rather Whovian, and that series has lasted more or less for 50 years.
     
  4. STR

    STR Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Naturally, any talk of why TNG was the way it was has touch on the fact it was built for syndication. There was no network to map out season long arcs. There wasn't even a guarantee the episodes would be aired in the order intended. All of this, combined with TV trends in general at the time, meant self-contained episodes. It also meant a steady cast. You don't want audiences spending the first 5 minutes wondering out loud "what happened to the guy with the beard?"

    TV isn't like that anymore. It's serialized, not episodic, and characters are commonly built up for half a season or more before being disposed of to further the plot. It's Game of Thrones. GoT would not have worked in the late 80's, just as Trek eventually flopped when it tried to bring the 80's formula into the 2000's.
     
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  5. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The chemistry amongst this particular cast - TNG - was such that "rotating" makes absolutely no sense to me. This series is a stellar role call of the brightest stars in Hollywood. Unlike TOS, TNG has a cast that respects and appreciates eachother and their contributions ... and they've been good friends for many decades, because Gene Roddenberry brought them all together, under one roof for the best damn STAR TREK ever made. That's the brilliance of GR, he recognised where he went wrong the first time around - hammy actors with big egos who didn't get along - and made TNG one big, happy family. Lwaxana Troi was his only misstep. Had she been plunged into the heart of a burning sun, or the gaping maw of a voracious black hole., alone, in a shuttle accident ... it would've been glorious!
     
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  6. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Neil The Hippy Premium Member

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  7. velour

    velour Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    It was too bad that TNG didn't regularly rotate their cast. The situation with Riker was a glaring case of a character who wore out his storyline.

    From the get-go, Riker made it known that he wanted a ship of his own to command. He showed himself to be an ambitious young officer. Yet, he never moved on, through 7 seasons and 4 movies; Riker was the perpetual number one. How pathetic. The Riker character lost credibility in my eyes.

    If the Riker storyline was allowed to logically run its course, then that would mean that the character should have left at a reasonable point in the series.

    Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead demonstrate that a series can change the cast on a regular basis and still be very entertaining and compelling.
     
  8. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A rotating cast can either be a hit, or it can be a dud. Also, how it's done can be a factor. If after seven years you change your entire cast, that will likely only be viable once, which is why spinoffs are made. But if you change certain characters season by season, then it's not so glaring.
     
  9. Lynx

    Lynx Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That wouldn't have been a good idea.

    When you watch a series you like, you get an affection to the characters, at leas most of them. To constantly change the main cast would only be annoying.

    There are some series I've watched where a main character I like is removed for some reason. In most cases I've continued to watch the series because I have ha such an affection for the remaining characters that it has been worth to continue watching. If there's a constant change of characters, then most of the viewers will lose interest.

    The strenght with TNG was its greeat main characters and the interaction between them. To have an ever-changin set of main characters would have ruined that.
     
  10. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Captain Captain

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    I think if done gradually, it is a viable option. And if the new cast members work in the chemistry, if their characters are developed and made interesting and integrated with the crew and show, it is a viable option. We had characters come and go on TNG: Tasha Yar, Ensign Ro, etc. We also saw this on DS9 and VOY. Frankly, I think DS9 could have continued comfortably based on that, but that is another discussion. This would be a progression of that. And I think it could work.
     
  11. malchya

    malchya Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    My biggest issue with all incarnations of Trek is the amount of time the characters spent in grade. Riker was the XO for fifteen years! That just doesn't make sense to me. Modern military forces have a tradition of "up or out" that I believe would carry over to StarFleet. We should have seen the characters be promoted and reassigned. I would have loved the veracity this would have given the environment. And the introduction of fresh blood would have opened the doors creatively far more than trying to shoehorn such well documented characters into new situations.
     
  12. Shamrock Holmes

    Shamrock Holmes Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm in two minds about the 'rotating cast' thing. I think it would make sense to keep Picard, Worf and Data because while I didn't like all the storylines revolving around the three of them, they are a big part of the TNG story and I think that the show would lose a lot without them.

    On the other hand, I think that the XO, CMO, Chief Engineer and Security Chief roles could have changed through the years.

    As far as Deanna Troi... :shrug:I think the question of the point of even having that character at all has been done to death over the years.

    I'd also prefer that the bridge stations be manned mostly by recurring characters at most (with 2-3 per important station) rather than main characters, and therefore specifically rotate (and either be replaced outright or moved to another role after time).
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  13. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Captain Captain

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    I could see the need to keep those three on regardless of anything else. But I could see room for shifting their role. First Officer Worf would be interesting. He had evolved a lot from being so head strong and "blow everything up first" that he was early in the series. I think Data would be too dispassionate for the role, and too perfect. Of course, that would deprive DS9 of an essential character. And while we're at it, why not make Picard a Commodore or something? It got to the point of ridiculous that he was never promoted. I think Kirk's statement in "Generations" was one of the worst things that was ever said, because it is not Picard. Let them promote him. Let them move him. He can make a difference wherever he is, even if the Enterprise is a special thing. All good things come to an end. Heck, in our imaginary indefinite end TNG, assuming those three characters would be the last to go, it could be a major finale that Picard is finally leaving to become Ambassador. And that isn't to say everyone would be gone forever. They could be recurring guest characters.
     
  14. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Captain Captain

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    Two things: Indefinite end TNG means no VOY, or at least not as it became. It was a fill-in for the void left by TNG, and one that faced problems in writing and concept execution that never really were resolved. On the other hand, if there were a VOY, with DS9 ending, then it could become the free-to-develop spin off and explore the concept of a lost, desperate ship thoroughly rather than trying to become the perfect vanilla starship show.
     
  15. Shamrock Holmes

    Shamrock Holmes Commander Red Shirt

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    I think I'd probably rather have LaForge as First Officer rather than Worf. I'd also rather have Data as Science Officer and not in the primary chain of command (though like Crusher it might be logical to have him as qualified to take command if needed).
     
  16. Lynx

    Lynx Vice Admiral Admiral

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    One reason that I can't stand the current books is that too many of the good characters from the series are gone.
     
  17. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The characters and their continuing and to some degree developing relationships was a big part of what made the show good. There was already some rotation (the doctor changes, Wesley leaving and O'Brien and Ro and Barclay appearing recurringly) and that was probably enough. A theme of the show was that the characters were very qualified and efficient in their work and also enjoyed their work and crewmates so a lot leaving often would be inconsistent.

    I think the only characters that really stagnated were La Forge and Troi and that was due to the writers not being very interested in them (and nonetheless some of their better episodes came in the later years) and it's questionable and a big risk that a new engineer or counselor or First Officer character would be more better or even more interesting for the writers.
     
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  18. Sakonna

    Sakonna Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    To me, the character that suffered from not being rotated out was Riker, but that's because they started playing around with that whole "an ambitious first officer really should have moved on to this own command by now" thing too early. IIRC, it's in season 2 when that starts to come up?
     
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  19. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    If TNG had a rotating cast, I think they'd get dizzy.
     
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  20. Shamrock Holmes

    Shamrock Holmes Commander Red Shirt

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    Season 1.

    He was revealed in Arsenal of Freedom to have previously turned down command of the light cruiser USS Drake in favour of the XO billet on the Enterprise and was later offered command of the Aries, the Melbourne and the Titan (which he finally accepted).

    Personally, I think the 'BoBW trilogy' should have been either Patrick Stewart or Jonathan Frakes' last appearance as a series' regular. Either with Picard being lost to the Borg or taking up the civilian post on the 'Atlantis Project' he was offered in Family (and Riker becomes CO of Enterprise) or Picard survives and Riker either dies on the Melbourne or moves on to a new command.