What Kinds of Characters?

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

  1. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    It's not canon, but the Star Trek: Star Charts book simply has the moonless Vulcan locked in a close pirouette with a large sister planet (T'Khut) that does have a moon, with both being clearly visible from Vulcan on a clear afternoon.

    It puts forth the idea that not all star systems are as neatly arranged as Sol, with planets and moons sometimes circling themselves (around a common center) as they orbit their suns.
     
  2. Cmdr.Druss

    Cmdr.Druss Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Isn't the concept of a character who is born with parents from two different planets, and is an outcast from both races because of this heritage, a bit cliche?
     
  3. Cmdr.Druss

    Cmdr.Druss Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Unless this character is in a relationship from the start do you not risk having 'the gay episode'? Where we discover, however well done, that the character is gay.
     
  4. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    Can be, without a doubt. All depends upon the execution. God (and the Devil) is in the details. I was trying to describe someone pretty specific, dealing with issues that (for example) the character of Spock didn't really. He thought of himself as Vulcan, and reconciling what he considered his "Human" half with that. My hypothetical character faces a different challenge, not least in that she cannot "pass" for either Andorian or Vulcan.

    To give an example of what I mean--both B'Elanna Torres and K'eylahr had the exact same heritage in the exact same universe at pretty much the same time. But they remained two completely different characters, with fundamentally individual stories despite their similarities--such as falling in love with a man of a parent's race and having a child by that person. Yet each was unique, and quite distinct from Spock or Commander Sela (to mention yet another half-breed, who also totally identified with just one side of her heritage).
     
  5. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Wait a minute, how many times over the course of Star Trek have we had a episode that makes it crystal clear that this or that character is straight?

    I've said this before, unless you come right out and make it clear to the audience that a character is in fact gay, they basically aren't gay. I'm not saying it has to be a sex scene, but it is going to be necessary to spell it out at some point (with actions or dialog), and the sooner the better.

    We shouldn't find out two or three seasons after the character is first introduced that "oh, by the way they're gay."

    We found out in less than a hour in the TNG pilot that Riker and Troi had a previous affair. Only a few minutes into the DS9 pilot we knew that Sisko's late spouse was female and it had been a heterosexual marriage.

    First scene of the next series pilot, one of the main male characters exits his quarters into a busy corridor, he turn back towards the doorway where his male partner is now standing, they exchange a brief passionate kiss, the character then walks up the corridor.

    Really all that hard?

    :)
     
  6. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That works for me. It establishes him as a gay character (whether in a relationship or just a fling) without needing to sensationalise it or make a major plot element out of it--its just the way things are such as how Picard is bald.

    What I'm opposed to is the notion that when a new Trek series is about to come out and the studio is releasing titbits of information to whet our appetite, they use a characters sexuality as their main identifiable quality (such as how Janeway was the first female captain was such a big thing, rather than the fact she was a scientific expert commanding one of the most advanced ships in the fleet). That's what really worries me, as in Trek it doesn't matter who they make out with, but why they are on the ship to begin with.
     
  7. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    I agree.
     
  8. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'd like to see TOS-Era adventure -- now that the notion has been opened up by the "reboot," a good thing whatever one thinks of the BadRobot films -- that doesn't tiptoe timidly around in the shadow of Jim Kirk, but explores the adventures of another Constitution-class ship of the era on its own terms... and has a roster of characters conceived for that purpose.

    I like aliens but I'm not especially fond of the idea of significantly upping the alien quotient: we still have a ways to go with exploring human characters in this setting as it is. I would like to see:

    :: A Captain with some depth, but whose character draws on heroic archetype as successfully as Kirk's did. Kirk was a (very iconic) Horatio Hornblower analogue; for a different but equally vivid archetypal grounding I'd look toward an Arthurian-knight-born-out-of-his-time idea (a widower who doesn't seduce his way out of trouble, a man of sternly-held honour who tries not to resort to deception and treats even enemies with grace, equally capable as a soldier and a diplomat and with a strongly-implied spiritual side to his character [but not crude religiosity]).

    :: A Science Officer who is not "the logical one," but represents the exuberant, intuitive, humorous, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants side of science that's about joy in discovery. It would be nice to have a straightforward human in this role for once, frankly, given the extent to which Starfleet is powered by human science... but I also quite love the idea of a Deltan science officer with a silk-hiding-steel kind of character vibe.

    :: A Helm Officer as a Lt. Commander and Second Officer, since it makes zero sense to keep calling the Chief Engineer away from the vital systems to perform this role. I would love for it to be a character that was everything Sulu should have been and was never allowed to be: a forceful personality, a frequent major player in command decisions and saving the bacon of more senior command, a joyful swashbuckler and an openly gay man or woman (gender doesn't really matter).

    :: (A fondness for Firefly creeping in here, but there were at least plans to include Ship's Chapels on the Enterprise) A Ship's Chaplain in the "counsellor" role, which will probably sound a touch nuts but does make a certain amount of sense as a) a signal of religion's having made its peace with science and progress, b) sects of human faith integrating the knowledge of discplines like psychiatry and learning to speak to each other and to secular people with maturity and goodwill, and c) a making-explicit of the implicit religious and hieratic imagery in which the series is positively drenched. The conscience of the ship and the guy (or gal) who talks the Cap down if he loses perspective. It would be fun to make them a tough-as-nails former prizefighter type (or whatever is the closest analogue the 23rd century has to prizefighters), and also the ship's historian (to provide a reason for them to be on away missions).

    :: An avuncular, fatherly CMO played by Morgan Freeman. (Okay, jokes, but someone who captures that kind of centered, seasoned, mildly-amused, utterly calm and confident energy.)

    :: An amusingly cantankerous and frighteningly competent Tellarite engineer. It's always bugged me that the Tellarites get no love.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
  9. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    There's a fan film series called Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, which has some nice special effects, clever plot ideas, and acting rather like community theater (the whole range of that). One of their regular characters is Henglaar, a Tellarite Doctor. Just FYI. :)
     
  10. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks David! Glad to see someone agrees with me!
     
  11. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    This feels a bit odd to me, simply because Horatio Hornblower is a man utterly certain he is ugly and weak, one who holds himself in rigid self-control, feels awkward around women and is rather easily manipulated by them. Does that sound like James T. Kirk?

    Kirk seems a swashbuckler, more Peter Blood than Hornblower, with a few dashes of James Bond added to the mix.

    I quite like your notion of an Arthurian knight archetype, but maybe more specific? Which knight? For example, there's Perzival--whose late father was a knight and whose mother tried desperately to keep him from following that path. A man whose natural talents were extreme, but who at first obeyed the rules rigorously. Had to learn to obey the reason for the rules, rather than the rules themselves. Hence he was the knight who achieved the Grail. In the best version he did this through absolute loyalty to the woman he loved, thus earning a second chance from God.
     
  12. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, he was an analogue, not a replica. :) Part of the point of Hornblower was always supposed to be that he was far harder on himself than anyone else, and drove himself so hard because of negative self-perception that there was a wide gulf between his self-image and his public image. Perhaps I should have said "conceived as" though because I think you're quite right, where they ended up was:

    That does sound right!

    Though I'm not sure I would want to nail down a parallel quite specifically to single knight, a lot of those elements would feel right at home and would enrich the background of such a character. I think the sense of grace and courtesy I'm associating with him probably comes from Gawain, who was also noted for his compassion.
     
  13. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    Tis intended as a starting point, nothing more.
     
  14. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And 'tis a good one! :)
     
  15. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    You also touched on an idea I really like--spirituality, as opposed to superstition.

    Although DS9 is a favorite, the lack of any real insight into Bajorans always bothered me. My own belief is that once they established religion as central to Bajoran culture, the producers didn't know where to go with that idea. Or were perhaps afraid to explore it. To this day I wonder what Bajoran religious beliefs actually are? Do they worship the Prophets? What to they imagine the Prophets to be like? Now compare another show aired about the same time--Babylon 5. Central to their story were the Minbari, a profoundly religious people. Yet we quickly learned a great deal about Minbari beliefs as well as their practices.

    Me, I'd like any new Trek to include a whole new alien race we can get to know. And it would be lovely to actually explore their beliefs and world view the way we eventually got to know the Cardassians. Which probably means having one of this species as a regular or recurring character (like Garak).
     
  16. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, I think they were a little gun-shy about really getting into Bajoran spirituality, which was a shame. (It was interesting, B5 during its run really outlined a lot of the territories that Trek had gotten afraid to go into or to treat seriously. They did a particularly good job of balancing story arcs and episodic adventure in a way that you could recognize characters from one season to the next, despite their changes, without it deteriorating into soap opera. I really had the sense that DS9 was following rather than leading them in a lot of that.)

    I would love to see a Trek "antagonist" species that isn't an avatar of dictatorship or totalitarianism, a repository of "primitive warrior race" cliches or some other characteristic making them the Federation's simple inferior. My personally favoured idea is a space-based anarchist species modeled somewhat -- if less "idealistically" -- off of Banks' Culture setting.

    Refining my crew idea above: the Deltan officer as CMO, the Science Officer as a human, the Helm / Second Officer as a swashbuckling lesbian, the Tellarite Engineer modelled on Brian Blessed. That might work...
     
  17. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    You and I seem to be on the same page. :techman:
     
  18. Herkimer Jitty

    Herkimer Jitty Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A delusional incompetent captain.

    A spit-and-polish by-the-book officer with a stiff upper lip.

    A wisecracking cynic with complete disdain for the utopian ideals of his society.

    A fierce alien warrior whose ideals of honor include theft, cowardice, and betrayal.

    And a prototype android with a psychotic patriotic devotion to the Federation.

    Aboard a ship so laughably out of date that it's a miracle her crew are still alive.
     
  19. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Always nice when that happens!
     
  20. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    I think BigJake offered the seed of a really interesting idea. Let us imagine an alien race. Call them Thetans. Suppose Theta Prime has lots of dilithium as well as other valuable resources. Maybe they were even lucky enough to have more than one Class M planet in their home system! Anyway, they're rich. On par with the Federation in terms of technology.

    Within the last several decades, one faction of the dominant religion among Thetans has won control of government, a faction akin to the Pharisees of Ancient Palestine or the Fundamentalists of modern day Iran. Very strict interpretation of rules, little or no tolerance for other points of view.

    One result is a fair number of refugees, dissidents. Another is a certain number of Missionaries out there "spreading the word."

    So our new Star Trek has one or more Thetans among her crew, a means of exploring some interesting issues and story ideas. One is to genuinely explore what Thetan beliefs might be. Another to see many in Starfleet react in a quietly prejudiced manner towards Thetan beliefs (as was touched on ever so slightly in DS9). Especially if the Thetan Government ends up a thorn in the side of the Federation, and/or Thetan extremists have committed crimes. One idea in particular that interests me is exploring why someone would emotionally welcome, even eagerly hope to summon, the End Of The Universe. An independent colony of Thetan Dissidents might be an ally or even member of the Federation.

    Out of such we might insert some genuinely compelling stories! As long as we avoid certain cliches like: (1) Making the Thetan religion a misinterpretation of some advanced alien race's contact with them (2) Simply regard their religion as nothing more than primitive superstition (3) Rely first and foremost on stereotypes of our time in portraying the Thetans.

    To be sure, characters might do all these. But the creators should not. I can see a lot of possibilities there. Makes me wish I had the wherewithal to do a fanmade series!