Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by MakeshiftPython, Jun 2, 2014.
I remember that, and remember thinking the same thing... we might have gotten a better thought-out plot had there been more time between the two. But with both TOS and TNG actors scattering to the winds, TPTB opted to move quickly.
Star Trek was BIG in 1994.
Really big, in fact.
The end of TNG was being made a Big Deal of in the press, and there was genuine buzz and enthusiasm for the oncoming Voyager.
I would argue that Star Trek in fact has never had as much broad mainstream appeal as it did in 1994, either before or since.
The powers that be (hallelujah!) basically had two options:
1) Strike while the iron is hot with a big screen Next Generation movie, so they could segue this massive audience seamlessly (they hoped!) from TV show to movie.
2) Cool their heels for a bit, and rebuild momentum/excitement in a TNG feature a couple years down the track, hoping that the massive publicity that followed TNG's finale can be reignited (maybe with a "All Your Favorite Next Generation Characters Are Back Together Again!" publicity drive).
Whatever we may think might have been the best decision, ultimately the studio decided not to take any chances, and threw their support behind making the transition to movies as quickly as possible.
Who knows if strategy #2 could have worked? It might have been better, giving the cast and crew some time to breathe, and the audiences enough time to start missing them. Or it could have backfired completely, and seen the TNG features crash and burn even quicker than they ultimately did.
It's a hard one to call.
Well, do you care more about the quality of your product, or do you just care about making a lot of money from your product?
If it were me, I would have made an 8th season of TNG instead of a contrived Picard/Kirk meetup movie. The season would have focused on the characters going their separate ways. Picard would have retired and married Crusher, Riker would have gotten command of the Enterprise and married Troi, Data would have gotten command of his own ship and taken Geordi along as first officer, and Worf would have gone back to the Klingon homeworld to deal with his family situation.
But of course I care about the quality of my product and am not burdened with worrying about a bottom line.
Well, I think we know which way The Suits At Paramount were going on that one. Follow the money any time.
We know that we would do things differently, because we care about Star Trek on a level other than it just being 'the property' mentioned in signed contracts.
On the other hand, the suits clearly recognized that the original ending of Generations "as shot" was fucked up and would piss a lot of people off, and so they put real money down so the team could go all the way back out to Vegas to reshoot it. So clearly, sometimes emotional considerations do before money.
Thing is, First Contact was essentially promoted as a "TNG reunion" anyway, and did well as a result. So Option #2 could have worked just fine.
^ I agree, of course it's easy to say in hindsight that it would always have been fine. But when faced with a hard decision at the time, I can't really damn the Paramount Suits for wanting to take the safe option. Even if the end result was dramatically less pleasing.
IMO the problems with Generations extend considerably beyond it's simply being made/released so close to the TNG finale (although plot inconsistencies certainly could've been easily avoided if they'd had more time to nut out the issues in multiple draft scripts). The real problem is the story being a checklist job written by a committee. No good was ever gonna come from that...
... a problem which, again, First Contact was able to avoid.
Only if Roddy Piper played Kirk and Keith David played Picard.
Totally agreed. I think Star Trek came close in 2009 to reaching the mainstream, but fell short for a variety of reasons. (The big one, in my opinion, was Paramount's unwillingness to commit fully to the film as the way forward in the franchise.)
If Paramount hadn't launched UPN in 1995, that's probably what would have happened. The TNG cast was under contract for an eighth season (they signed two year extensions after season seven), and without Voyager there would have been no reason not to do that season, ending in 1995. That would put the first TNG film in theaters in 1996 at the earliest.
The question is what Paramount would have done theatrically in 1994. Would they have done another original cast film?
I'm digging the They Live! reference there...
I think maybe part of it had to do with squeezing one last appearance out of the TOS actors while they could still pass for their roles. Shatner's credibility in a fist-fight was really getting strained at that point.
Whether one is concerned with the bottom line or not, the above would've simply been atrocious. None of the TNG actors outside out Stewart and Spiner were strong enough to carry their own long-term story arcs.
If I were to have carried TNG on, on the small screen, I would've said goodbye to everyone but Stewart, Spiner and the Enterprise-D (which would've gotten a big screen facelift). Brought on younger actors as new character and then phased out Stewart and Spiner.
With new hot, young actors (That could actually act. Sorry Dorn, Burton, Sirtis, McFadden, Frakes.), then after season eight you take TNG to the big screen.
I don't agree. Replacing 3/4 of your cast with younger actors right before ending the series just so those newbies would act better in a feature film? What on earth would be the point of that? So TNG fans would be going to see a movie with none of the characters they'd been following for seven years, replaced by people who would most likely not have anything to do in the film anyway (if Frakes, Sirtis, McFadden, Burton and Dorn's diminishing roles in the four films were any indication.) It was never about how good or bad the five other principles could act; it was about everyone else being overshadowed by Stewart and Spiner.
Also, actors being "hot" and "young" doesn't always mean that they're gonna be better.
I just think there was nothing about the TNG cast that got general ticket buyers excited. I don't think there was anything about the TNG cast that said "big budget, action adventure". The only mileage they got on the big screen was with two gimmick films. First, Kirk then the time traveling Borg.
They seemed old and worn out before they ever made it to the big screen. TNG desperately needed an infusion of youth. Whether that meant nipping at the edges or doing a wholesale cast change is up for debate.
EDIT: Love the avatar!
I agree to a point: I don't think the TNG cast was ever meant for feature films, and certainly not action-adventure. The only reason why Generations was even made was for the "two generations meet" schtick, which in retrospect wasn't anywhere near as dazzling as it was advertised as being. I also understand your "infusion of youth" idea, but that was far better accomplished with younger actors helming previous character roles (Star Trek '09), than by just dropping the TNG cast for a whole new crew of completely different younger characters that we would only get a year to know before being cast in successive feature films.
The thing is, the TNG cast was the only thing they had to work with, so that's what they used (the casts of DS9 and VOY never at all considered for films). But I don't think anyone, the cast themselves included, were going under the assumption that all the TNG films would end up being vehicles for Stewart and Spiner. That happened because those two got creative control.
Thanks. I even fart interestingly.
Overall, I think they should have made the ballsy move and created a movie-only cast. With actual movie people making the films. A cast of up and comers that they could have killed off as they pleased to create actual drama without causing an uproar in fandom.
I think my biggest criticism of the Berman years was the fact that they didn't evolve along with the rest of the TV and movie industry. They just kept doing the same things over and over.
While I don't tend to agree with your idea as a whole, I do agree with this statement.
The fundamental problems were thus:
-+- The TNG crew were conceived for television in a very particular format, one which was atypical of TOS (something which got TNG criticism for many years until people came around to accepting them for what they are). TNG were an ensemble where TOS was more of a star driven vehicle. The TNG stories were by nature ponderous narratives where the crew tackled a dilemma with tact and diplomacy whereas the TOS crew were always part of a more dangerous 'action movie' universe where a tactical advantage would sometimes be important, and fight scenes were frequent. Basically, trying to fit TNG into the existing Star Trek Movie Format(tm) was like trying to fit a square shaped peg into a round shaped hole. This is why Picard going whoop-ass on enemies gets a short shrift from the fandom, because it's completely out-of-character for Picard's television persona and we all knew it. The TNG crew just aren't action heroes, the strengths of the ensemble lay elsewhere. They were perfect for television, but a bad fit for the movies.
-+- Paramount had two branches of Star Trek going at the same time, but working independently from each other. They had the features, under the capable stewardship both in front of and behind the cameras by basically the same dedicated 'movie people' for fifteen years. They also had television Trek, which was handled by an entirely different team. "Generations" marked the point where both branches were brought together under a single banner, and the television people got control of the feature franchise. Two television shows and a biannual movie, all of them produced by the same guys. Rick Berman once wisely said that he cautioned Paramount Suits about "going to the well too often" on Star Trek, and this is what he was talking about. After the highs of 1994, the broader mainstream audience, who had *totally* been on board following TNG's finale, suffered franchise fatigue and they deserted Trek in all forms.
In short: ultimately moving the TNG crew to movies was ill-conceived idea in the first place, one which was made on the foundations of TNG being popular and Paramount wanting to continue the feature films despite wanting the TOS cast to be pensioned off. It was a perfect storm of good decisions that turned out to be bad decisions in the years that followed.
Disposable-cast Trek WOULD be something new.
I'm not necessarily pitching a "disposable cast" but characters you can move on from when their story is done.
Riker is the absolute best example of what was wrong with the Berman-era and the "franchise" thinking that had set in. His character arc was done with "The Best of Both Worlds", but they wouldn't move on from the character fearing upsetting the formula. So instead of a young man driven to be a starship captain, he ended up being Picard's administrative assistant for the last four seasons of the series. The character had lost the only thing that made him interesting within the context of the show.
Frakes simply had no business being on the show after "The Best of Both Worlds".
See, and even though 1st season I thought Frakes (along with Sirtis) was simply an amateur who had no place on a series, I saw development there as an actor, to the point that when the writing picked up (the klingon mess hall in MATTER OF HONOR and the last scene in LEGACY come to mind) the character really improved. I really really wished Picard had been killed off in BOBW, because I really would have liked the dynamic of not having this imperial imperious in the chair.
As far as a disposable cast goes, I think I'd've been more interesting in losing the starship and following some old characters along with new ones on other ships and assignments. The 24th century always seemed a lot more interesting to me when it wasn't set on a starship.
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