What Kinds of Characters?

Discussion in 'Future of Trek' started by David.Blue, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm fairly easy in terms of the setup of any future Star Trek. As long as there's potential and not some gigantic trap or doesn't sound like an absolute copy of something else, I'm willing to give almost anything a try.

    Frankly I'm more interested in characters.

    To give an example, the Kirk/Spock/Bones trinity in TOS. Here you have a very young, very talented commanding officer with virtually two sides of any possible argument embodied in two older senior officers aboard the same ship. One utterly logical, calm, Apollonian. The other moody, emotional, fairly Dionysian in his own way. One is Kirk's expert, the other his heart. The exact same dynamic can be seen in Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Buffy/Willow/Xander and in the works of J.K.Rowling with Harry/Hermione/Ron.

    Now take a look at the Viper pilots in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. Frankly, they're a mess emotionally and never seem to end their squabbles, their arguments, etc. Yet they have a shared history, a shared purpose and a mutual discipline when it comes to their job.

    Here's an idea that pops in my mind:

    We've known since "Balance of Terror" that the Stiles (or maybe Styles) family seems to have a long history in Starfleet. One notes that it seems the Kirk and Paris and even the Sulu families likewise seem multi-generational veterans. Now suppose we imagine the scion of such a clan. Call her Gloria Styles. She's grown up expecting to command her own ship someday, to seek out new life and new civilizations, etc. Graduated top of her class at the Academy. Grew up around Admirals, has steadily seen promotion. Sees the entire universe through the lens of Starfleet Officers, the best of the best in her eyes. Now put her next to Raoul Dixon--someone from a barely viable colony who joined Starfleet at the lowest level just to get a job. Proved to be good! Hard-working and hard-playing, someone unsentimental and thinks outside the box. Was court martialed for something, got off on a technicality. Then won a field promotion! He's irreverent, has a wicked sense of humor, is a natural born trickster and an excellent liar.

    Now put those two right next to each other on some assignment. :techman:

    What kinds of characters would you like to see?
     
  2. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd prefer to see someone new, or the spotlight on a minor character. The story of Kirk and Spock has been told and is now being retold. Something new and original would be nice. Styles wasn't exactly the most sympathetic character, but the story of a descendant living in the shadow of Spacedock Styles' disgrace and overcoming that might be interesting.
     
  3. SolitaryJustice

    SolitaryJustice Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I REALLY like the idea of a Captain Jack Harkness in Star Trek. Someone bold, takes stands, makes the really tough calls that piss the crew off, but will do anything for them, and they all KNOW he's the boss, and they all trust him, but nobody really KNOWS anything about who he is, where he came from, etc. Openly gay, very cool, especially if it's on a small crew.
     
  4. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    Captain Jack Harkness isn't just gay, or bisexual or trisexual. He is omnisexual, even flirting pretty strongly with Chan'tho (who was cute as blue insectoids go, but still...)

    Not that I'm objecting! He's a great character!

    So was Chan'tho for that matter...
     
  5. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Aliens. Lots of aliens.

    It's about time we saw Starfleet as it should be, with a much more diverse crew, where humans make up only a small percentage--I'd say no more than three in the main cast. It would allow for looking at situations and problems from very different perspectives, rather than just applying human morals and ideals to them with the belief that they are right.

    It would also be able to bring some visually interest characters to the screen, as well as unique backgrounds and story ideas (bland human characters such as Kim and Mayweather did nothing but tick a 'diversity' box which has already been done many times in Trek).

    For example, an unjoined Trill woman as Captain, a Vulcan male Counsellor, an Andorian zhen at the Conn, plus a couple of totally new aliens in the mix as well as Science Officer and Chief Engineer. The humans could then fill the XO, Operations and Security roles, with maybe a human/alien hybrid as the Doctor.

    Whatever the line up they have to be interesting, with their own stories and drives--not just single sentence descriptions (Kim started off as the inexperienced, in-over-his-head rookie, but that can only go on for a year or two before he needed something more to define him).
     
  6. SolitaryJustice

    SolitaryJustice Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Dude! Chan Chan'tho was a great character tho! I loved Captain Jack Harkness. Dude would f**k anything. He was badass. I just recently saw the episode with the real Captain Jack Harkness, where they were in the old theater, and he kissed the dude before he left... broke my heart. Star Trek has has grown from young, white male to old, bald male, black man, female Captain, it's time for a gay captain (omnisexual works, too). Jump on the civil rights fight of OUR generation.
     
  7. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    • I'd like to see a captain with a slightly eccentric quirk--perhaps a tendency to wear a somewhat non-regulation uniform or something--as well as possess an inclination to not always say the most politically correct things.
    • A sexy, but older female first officer with a good sense of humor and a tendency to say what people (as in the television audience) are really thinking at times.
    • A dirty old man as the chief medical officer, although his reputation is far more of a joke (started by the first officer) than anything real.
    • An alien science officer from a new species, but reminiscent of either Data or a young Spock.
    • A gruff noncom chief of security who doesn't talk very much, but lets his actions speak very loudly instead.
    • A dashing young male lieutenant who's a couple of years too young for his rank and a bit of an asshole(he doesn't play well with others).
    • Young female alien ensign from a race that only developed warp drive and joined the Federation a decade ago. Inexperienced as hell, but excited to be the first of her people to travel this far into space. We'll see a lot of things through her eyes, including some hard lessons to be learned.
     
  8. SolitaryJustice

    SolitaryJustice Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Here's my issue. I like what you're saying here, but this falls into a Trek norm of "a captain, a first officer, a chief medical officer, a science officer, a security chief, and a young and innocent lieutenant..." I would love to see a crew with these characters, but not necessarily in their "assigned positions". It's got too much of the formula that drove people away. Think about it.... Every show had it's Data/Spock/Tuvok/T'pol, it's Scotty/Trip/O'Brien, it's Doctor/Bashir/McCoy... every reincarnation was new characters limited by the same position. Bashir, for example, could only be so much because he was a doctor. They pushed his envelope, but in the end, he was the doctor. I'd like to see something a little more fringe where the doctor maybe isn't a good guy, where the dirty old doctor was maybe once a cooker of some drug that we don't know about yet, or maybe he rolled with some thugs who needed patched up from time to time but he's really a cook or a pilot who just happens to practice medicine, and not well at that....
     
  9. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You want the heroes to deal drugs in Star Trek..?
     
  10. SolitaryJustice

    SolitaryJustice Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Not anymore, but I want the heroes to have pasts that are more than just your friendly "Public Service Announcement" that your typical Star Trek takes. I want heroes with flaws. One of the things I loved about Sisko's character was that he had flaws, he was a single dad, he conspired to murder a Romulan Senator: flaws. I want characters that have real problems that an audience can relate to.
     
  11. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    You've got me completely wrong here, because I'm listing more than their positions, but basic aspects of their personalities. I'm also trying to be brief and not write full page dissertations on each character.
    You've got to understand that each Trek show is going to be someone's first. So yes, there are going to be certain familiar character types, but we find that in every story. Every character is a particular type, be it a starship captain or a mobster. What makes a character unique is the way the character is written, how it's portrayed by an actor, and what happens to it during the course of the series.

    And quite frankly, I totally hate to see any Trek characters (much less mine) go down the routes you suggest. If I want to see that, I can just look at the evening news, so no, I'll never be behind that (there are plenty of other shows where you can see that kind of stuff).
     
  12. SolitaryJustice

    SolitaryJustice Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Well, maybe, for fans like you, you can just watch reruns of what you're familiar with. That way, you can have your cookie-cutter characters without having to defend your dissertation, and you can have everyone be happy-go-lucky with no flaws so that the Trek that pushes the envelope IN RESPONSE to the evening news, that can be for everyone else. You can stay in your kind and gentle world of what's happened. It's okay. I know that seeing people with flaws that they overcome, while realistic, is very hard to watch because it solicits an emotion other than Disney-channel or PBS-style happiness...
     
  13. Kemaiku

    Kemaiku Admiral Admiral

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    Good ones. Not the cardboard cutouts we got from 1987-2005.
     
  14. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    That's total crap from start to finish. That's just your own view of things, which quite frankly isn't true as we see all kinds of characters struggle with the problems in their respective worlds (which in Trek, can literally be the survival of entire actual worlds).

    But fine, if you don't like Trek nobody is forcing you to watch.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
  15. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    Methinks SolitaryJustice makes a good point that one way to bring out interesting characters is to shake up expectations.

    For example, C.E.Evans gave a very brief list of the senior positions aboard a ship. I'd suggest giving each of his characters a name, then randomly (as in use a dice roll) to assign their position aboard ship. If the "A dashing young male lieutenant who's a couple of years too young for his rank and a bit of an asshole(he doesn't play well with others)" with the First Officer or Chief Medical Officer the story just takes a more interesting turn! Way more interesting!

    Let the "sexy, but older female first officer with a good sense of humor and a tendency to say what people (as in the television audience) are really thinking at times" be Captain! Or Chief of Security!

    Here's a thought experiment to further illustrate what I mean: Take the Chief Medical officers from each show--Bones, Crusher, Bashir, The Doctor, Phlox. Cast them as the bridge crew of a starship. Not one gets to be the ship's doctor. We'll give that job to Seven of Nine maybe. Or Kirk. Think outside the box.

    Who's the Captain? Science Officer? Chief Engineer, Helm, Operations? Folks may disagree but if you obey the rules--draw ONLY upon those five characters--the result will prove fascinating. Certainly you end up with a bridge crew that feels fresh, story possibilities opening up in all kinds of ways.
     
  16. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    This! :cool:
     
  17. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    I'm of the opinion that a Trek show should have a group of regulars, who generally appear in the majority of episodes, but also should have reoccurring characters that pop up when a story demands it. With those supporting characters mixed in the regular characters, you can do quite a lot.

    But I've said this before in many other threads like this one, that characters should be allowed to come and go when necessary, including the captain. But at least you can start off with an initial group of regulars and work from that.
    I intentionally didn't give any of my characters a name nor an ethnicity other than human or alien for brevity's sake (I'm not writing an actual fanfic here, just some basic character ideas--further details to be filled in later).
     
  18. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    Understood! I was suggesting names for the purposes of the thought exercise of shifting up their positions aboard ship.

    Another trick I've found--combining two not-quite-working character ideas together to create a much more interesting whole. To give a notion what I mean--Geordi LaForge remains a total cypher to me. Even after years of watching him on television and movies he almost never came across as a real person. I had a similar problem with Tasha Yar, and can hardly blame Ms. Crosby for bailing on such a pale shadow of a character. Yet her backstory, what we knew of it, seemed really cool!

    Suppose their two concepts were merged. Call the new character Georgia Yar--exile from a failed colony that dissolved into social chaos. Suddenly we have a sense of why she left what must have been her home. Blindness. One can imagine things got so bad the elderly, weak and disabled began to be seen as legitimate targets. Cutting off all ties to her family, this blind girl manages to join a group of refugees one step ahead of the Culling Mobs. She arrives in the Federation, a strange new world that gives her a VISOR and then finds a home in Starfleet where her bone-deep survival skills and habitual paranoia fit in with Security. Not an easy-going type at all, but does enjoy the android Data's company, not least because she understands his total lack of secret agendas as well as the feeling that around him she's the one most human. She even finds herself joining him in the holodeck, exploring human literature to become slightly more socialized.

    Voila! Frankly I prefer her to either character we actually got. But your mileage may vary. Offered as a possible way to make two characters who don't quite click into one really interesting one. Note: One translator of Cyrano de Bergerac did something similar with the roles of the Captain and LeBret. It is not an uncommon thing to do in productions of that play.
     
  19. SolitaryJustice

    SolitaryJustice Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I'd love to see a Tholian or a Gorn or something of that nature. Bring it back to Old School but make it New School. Just for kicks.
     
  20. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If the next Captain isn't gay then definitely the next First Officer, but since it is well past the point of a gay character being something new on a TV series then the fact the he is should never be mentioned in press releases, etc, but rather to have it revealed either in his first 'romance episode' or have him with a partner at the start of the series. Make him just a normal character who happens to like men, rather than trying to sensationalise it.

    I agree characters should have flaws, but believable ones. A doctor who used to cook drugs but saw the error of their ways and managed to hide it from the Academy entrance board seems pretty far-fetched. Trek characters are supposed to be optimistic outlooks for us, but that doesn't mean some can't have some rough edges.

    Also how is being a single dad a flaw?