Bryan Fuller is Showrunner on New Trek Series

Discussion in 'Future of Trek' started by SilentBen, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. dragunzng

    dragunzng Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Definitely looking forward to what Fuller has in store, he was on my list of ideal showrunners, but I never really thought he'd get a shot at Trek. Can't wait till we start getting casting news and shots of the sets being built. I'm typically a spoiler-phobe, but this is the first time I've been able to witness the birth of a Trek series right from its inception.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That makes me feel old. ;) I remember back in '86 and '87, when David Gerrold had a monthly column in Starlog talking about the development and casting and production of The Next Generation -- and then my surprise when he abruptly announced that he was leaving the show and there'd be no more columns. At the time, I think he explained that it was because he was pursuing the opportunity to develop a series of his own. It was years before I learned the real reasons for that unexpected departure. Let's hope there's less behind-the-scenes turbulence this time.
     
  3. mos6507

    mos6507 Commodore Commodore

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    There have been so many discussions here about what a continuation of prime-trek could or could not be that I would personally like to see it be prime-trek.

    The overarching assumption that people make when they evaluate whether to bring back prime trek is that it will be like all the shows that came before. And yet they ignore the fact that any attempt to dip back into prime-trek would be different in one very big way. NO RICK BERMAN.

    So I'd like to see what prime-trek would be like without any influence from Rick Berman. I don't see any fundamental problems with prime-trek continuity that would hamstring a new trek, and any attempt to reboot would probably just wind up being an aesthetic reskin anyway, and hold onto or retread most of what's already in place.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't know about that. There are a lot of fundamental concepts in Trek that are very dated, and a reboot would be an opportunity to discard them while keeping the essential character and thematic elements. For instance, it's no longer plausible to contend that there were Eugenics Wars and interplanetary sleeper ships in the 1990s. And we're only 40 years from when World War III is supposed to happen, which will be within the lifetimes of the new audience members that this new show would attract. A reboot would be a good opportunity to rework the fundamental background and history of the Trek universe in a more plausible way -- say, ditch the 23rd century as the setting, say that warp drive wasn't invented until maybe the 33rd or 53rd century. Or even the 123rd century. Maybe all those humanoid aliens are the descendants of human colonists who settled the stars in sublight sleeper ships millennia earlier.

    You could also create a future based in more plausible futurism by today's standards, say, one where nanotech and genetic engineering are everyday parts of life. I've often thought that all those episodes with characters undergoing rapid bodily transformations (e.g. "The Deadly Years" or "Genesis") would make more sense if every character's body were pervaded with nanites that could transform them on the cellular level. That could also explain how you could rapidly knit a bone or regrow skin just by shining a light beam on the area -- maybe the beam is providing power to the nanites.

    When the original series was made, Roddenberry drew on the science fiction literature of the day, hiring noted SF writers to contribute to the show. It took ideas that were well-known in prose fiction and popularized them to a mass audience for the first time. But prose SF has advanced massively in the past 50 years, and Star Trek has fallen way, way behind it conceptually, because it's still held back by it's '60s pulp roots. A reboot would be a great chance to bring ST back to the conceptual cutting edge, to once again bring new ideas to the awareness of a mass audience.

    Although I don't know if that will actually happen. The last science fiction property that Bryan Fuller tried to bring to the screen was High Moon, which was loosely based on a young-adult SF novel published in 1969. (And which was awful, though Fuller didn't write it himself.)
     
  5. theREVENGEofKAHN

    theREVENGEofKAHN Lieutenant Premium Member

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    Best argument I've seen for a reboot yet. I'd still prefer they didn't but you make some valid points.
     
  6. mos6507

    mos6507 Commodore Commodore

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    Solution: You simply stop mentioning the eugenics wars or interplanetary sleeper ships anymore. I know some uber-fans don't like the idea of brushing canon quietly under the rug, but it might be the path of least resistance.

    That's where I think it no longer becomes Trek. Trek isn't just about plausible futurism. It's also deliberately anachronistic. Horatio Hornblower mixed with Gulliver's travels. It's just that the anachronism stands out more now than it did in the 1960s.

    The anti-tech bias of The Ultimate Computer, for instance, seems a little out-of-place considering that today there is a mad dash to build self-driving cars.

    How large a crew would really be necessary for a starship if all systems were fully automated? The closest we got to that outside of the M5 was the rigging that Scotty did in Trek III, which didn't last long when they took damage. Conceptually speaking, though, you could probably get by with a crew 1/10th the size or fewer and there would be no need for helm/nav, etc... Basically an assisted A.I.

    But then if you do that you lose the old-world nautical flavor of having the captain barking orders.

    How entertaining would it be to have the captain just kind of sit there with a brain-computer interface or something?

    It's bad enough that when you go walking down the street most people are staring and tapping at screens rather than interacting with each other. Drama is about characters interacting. It has to be more analog. It's the nature of the medium.


    In which case the best approach would be to create a new IP without the Star Trek name that is intended to embody all of the most contemporary SF concepts. I don't think the vessel of Trek is able to hold all of this and still have the flavor of anything people would perceive as Trek. It can hold some, but not all.
     
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  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But that's just one example. And they're only going to multiply over time -- the Bell Riots, the Ares IV, WWIII, First Contact. A new Trek series needs to think about the new generation of viewers that it will bring into the fold, viewers who will still be around when 2063 comes along. It's been half a century now. It's time for a change. It's fine for something like Doctor Who to gloss past continuity under the rug (like all the alien invasions of the late '60s and '70s, or '80s depending on which UNIT dating you use), because that show has never had a very cohesive continuity, and because the modern show has actually canonized the premise that time is constantly being rewritten. But I don't believe that would be the right approach for Star Trek.

    Besides, where is the value in "the path of least resistance?" Star Trek didn't endure for 50 years because it was cautious and tentative. It did because it was bold and innovative and forward-looking and risk-taking. A worthy successor should be just as daring and forward-looking, not just one more tired exercise in nostalgia.


    Exactly. Too many of the franchise's conventions and story tropes are decades out of date. The more futuristic everyday life becomes, the more irrelevant the '60s-rooted version of the Trek universe will become. Pandering to the conservatism of pre-existing fans who don't want things to change would be self-defeating. A new Star Trek needs to feel relevant to Millennials and whoever comes next.


    A smaller crew might not be a bad thing. Think about it -- usually the same 7-9 people do everything anyway. The Enterprise supposedly has hundreds of scientists on board, but we never see them go on a landing party. It's contrived and awkward. A TV series needs to focus on a finite core cast for budgetary and dramatic reasons, and that makes more sense when that core cast is the entire crew, or nearly so, as in something like Firefly or Andromeda or Dark Matters.


    That's far too reductive a way of approaching it. There are many different factors that go into a series. The continuity and worldbuilding details are just one facet. The characters are another. The themes and philosophies are yet another. So is the style of storytelling and presentation. It's possible to change one of these aspects and keep the others, and thereby create something that's true to the essence of the original in one way, yet totally fresh in another. Look at Sherlock or Elementary. I've certainly heard people say "Well, that's not Sherlock Holmes at all, they should've just created a new character and changed the name," but that's rubbish. Both modern versions of the character are undoubtedly Sherlock Holmes, but they allow exploring a different way for him to be Sherlock Holmes, as filtered through a different context.

    A lot of creativity is about taking different, often contrasting elements and combining them. Think of, say, doing a cover of a classic rock song in a more modern style. It would be pointless to say, "Well, that's wrong, they should just have written a totally new song with no connection to the original." That's silly, because the whole point of the exercise is to explore a new way of presenting the same lyrics, to create a new variation on the same foundation. Or think of cooking. Would it make any sense to say that any given ingredient should only be used in a single recipe? That if you like chicken alfredo, it would be wrong to try chicken cacciatore and you should substitute another meat instead? That would be nonsense. It's still chicken even when you prepare it in a radically different way. It's still "Strawberry Fields" if you perform it as a rap song. And Star Trek would still be Star Trek if it were told in a more modern science-fiction idiom.
     
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  8. thumbtack

    thumbtack Commodore Commodore

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    Fuller staying on American Gods would seem to indicate Star Trek is also just 10-12 episodes a season, allowing him to do both.
     
  9. captainkirk

    captainkirk Commodore Commodore

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    Something I've often thought about is having a series where the captain isn't the main character and instead we follow a Stargate-type group who are the primary landing team. If it were a complete reboot going back to the TOS characters then Kirk would be Col. Shepard, Spock would be McKay, and so on. In my mind anyway it would work.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    David Gerrold proposed something like that in 1973 in The World of Star Trek, when he was talking about ST's flaws and suggesting ways to improve it. He found it implausible that the captain and command crew always led the landing parties, so he proposed introducing a set of recurring characters called the "contact team," who would take the lead on away missions. A vestige of this showed up in TNG (which Gerrold co-developed), with Riker leading the away teams while Picard stayed aboard (at least until Patrick Stewart got antsy and wanted more action).
     
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  11. hux

    hux Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd love a show that follows different groups. People on the ship, politicians back on Earth, maybe section 31, an enemy group etc. Something with tons of layers and threads that all have their own stories but also connect to each other.
     
  12. Terok Nor

    Terok Nor Commodore Commodore

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    Since the door has already been opened for parallel universes the simple explanation to all the historical continuity issues such as the Eugenics Wars is to state that the "Prime" Star Trek universe is not our universe. I highly doubt humanity will become a Utopia in 300 years so it's far fetched that TOS, TNG, DS9, etc. could be set in the future our reality anyway.

    I hope it's Prime but if it's not I hope it's not the JJVerse. Just not a fan of that incarnation of Trek and don't really want a series set in it. Save it for the movies.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's not about "explanations." Continuities and universes are just aspects of the setting for works of fiction. And inventing a new continuity, reworking the elements of an existing story into a new form, is a way of being creative and finding new possibilities in the premise. Often it's a way of taking an old, dated story and making it relevant to a new audience. That's what I'm talking about here. The point is that the ideas that the original universe is based on are relics of the mindset of the 1960s. Science fiction in prose has come a long way since then, introduced a wealth of new ideas that could inform a new SFTV series in the same way that the ideas of 1950s and 1960s prose SF informed the original series. But Trek's ability to take advantage of those newer ideas is limited as long as it continues to pretend to be the same reality conceived in the 1960s. The problem with too much SF in film and TV is that it doesn't draw on the literature, just rehashes the same old tropes from earlier screen works, which barely scratch the surface compared to what's in prose. TOS was so influential in its day because it did take those ideas from the SF of its day and bring them to a mass audience for the first time. A new Trek universe would be an opportunity to do the same thing today that TOS did then -- not in the sense of being slavishly consistent with its surface details, but in the more important sense of being true to its spirit of innovation and genre literacy, creating something that moves SFTV forward rather than just being an exercise in nostalgia.

    Lots of people are fans of TOS or TNG or DS9 but not fans of VGR or ENT -- or fans of The Wrath of Khan but not fans of The Final Frontier, say. Lots of people dislike the first two seasons of TNG but love the later seasons of it. So it seems premature to write off a whole universe based on just two installments of it. As I've said before, a TV series set in the Abramsverse couldn't help but be different in tone from the movies -- it would have more time to flesh out its concepts, characters, and ideas, and it would have less money for action and spectacle. So an Abramsverse series would be an opportunity to add more substance and depth to the universe, to complement the movies' approach to it and make the whole thing work better. It would give the Abramsverse a chance to mature.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
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  14. Terok Nor

    Terok Nor Commodore Commodore

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    No matter what new premises they come up with will be just as dated as TOS in 50 years. I'd rather have all the shows and the first 10 movies under the same umbrella continuity along with the new series. Hell, even the JJ movies are part of that continuity in the same way the Mirror Universe is. I'm not a fan of reboots. I am a fan of what Marvel has managed to do with its tv shows and movies. All part of the same continuity but very different to each other.

    I don't endorse the rush to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Trek can still move forward with new ideas without jettisoning 50 years of continuity. Whatever advances that have happened in society and science since the 1960's can easily be worked into a modern show.
     
  15. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

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    I'm sorry, but I don't want to see a show set in this universe-I want one set in the current movie continuity. This is just pandering to fans who can't take the new one and now want to see the old one come back (and after spending so much time hurtling vitriol at the latter two shows in the previous continuity.) Who the fuck needs to see this show but butthurt older fans hateful of the new movies?
     
  16. Terok Nor

    Terok Nor Commodore Commodore

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    Conveniently forgetting that TOS, TNG and DS9 were all fantastic. Even Voyager had its moments. The only true dud was Enterprise.

    I don't know of any other fanbase that would happily see all previously established continuity dropped. Dr Who fans were happy to have the old and new shows link up, Star Wars fans were happy to have a continuation rather than a reboot (they hated the prequels), Dallas fans were annoyed that the new series was too different to the original and turned off in their droves. There's something to be said for sticking to your roots. Familiarity is important. On the flipside it obviously breeds contempt in some circles.

    Happily I'm still fond of Star Trek and would welcome a return to the Roddenberry/Berman created universe. Bryan Fuller being in charge rather than Berman and Braga is a good thing. Those two should have stepped away a lot sooner to give the franchise a chance to refresh itself. They were running on empty by the time Enterprise came about.

    I have no affinity for an alternate universe that has no bearing on the other shows and movies. The universe with all the history and characters I love is still out there. It's the only one that matters to me. The only thing I feel when I watch the JJVerse is "what's the point?". None of it matters to anything that came before and it isn't good enough to make me want to delve further into it. It's perfect for a movie series. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am and we're done. I have nothing against the JJVerse being the movie series but I don't care about it enough to watch it as a tv series. A full reboot with no ties to the other shows or the JJVerse would be preferable to me. At least then everything will "matter" rather than being a pointless alternate version of events.
     
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  17. dahj

    dahj Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I wouldn't draw any conclusions from that just yet.
     
  18. Hela

    Hela Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I thought American Gods was a limited series?
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Sure, but that's a problem for 50 years from now. The creators of a TV series in 2016 have to think about the audience from 2016, not the audience from 1966 or 1987 or 2066. Every work of science fiction will become outdated eventually, but you still ideally want to give your audience at least a few decades to feel that it's plausible and not dated.

    Well, I'm sorry, but the makers of a multigajillion-dollar entertainment franchise are not going to base their decisions on the tastes of a single person. They have to consider their entire target audience and make the choice that would be best for keeping the franchise popular and viable as it moves into the future. And that does not mean pandering to the conservative tastes of fans of the older incarnations of the franchise. It's certainly possible to satisfy the nostalgia of old-guard fans while also rebooting a continuity -- as with the Marvel and DC screen universes and all the loving continuity nods they integrate -- but it's still necessary to focus first and foremost on bringing in a whole new audience, since the old audience is inevitably dwindling and will die out eventually. So you're entitled to your preferences, but that doesn't mean it's reasonable to expect you'll get what you want.


    And it's a false postulate that the old continuity would be "jettisoned." As I said, plenty of reboots incorporate a wealth of ideas from earlier versions of the continuity, but rework and recontextualize them. It's a chance to keep the best parts of the continuity while casting aside the failed or unfortunate or embarrassing parts. And let's face it, Star Trek has plenty of those.


    Actually a lot of Enterprise holds up very well. A lot of fans have been rediscovering it and finding new merits in it. When I was hired to write post-finale Enterprise novels, I rewatched the series twice, and I found that it worked much better when I moved beyond my initial "Oh, that's not what I expected/how I would've done it" reaction and just took it for what it was. Certainly it had its weak points -- the whole second season meandered and lost its way, the treatment of sexuality tended to be sophomoric, and let's not even mention the finale -- but a lot of it was worthwhile and it added meaningfully to the continuity, really fleshing out races like the Vulcans and Andorians more richly than ever before.

    There are tons of fanbases that are used to having multiple different continuities -- DC and Marvel fans, Sherlock Holmes fans, Godzilla fans, Transformers fans, Ninja Turtles fans, James Bond fans, Dracula and Frankenstein fans, etc. That's actually the norm, not the exception. Some fandoms embrace and celebrate their "multiverses."

    I've always loved Star Trek's intricate continuity -- anyone who's read my books can tell that. But that's exactly why I'd like to see a whole new Star Trek continuity added to the mix. It wouldn't erase what came before. All the old shows and movies would still be there, and we'd still be doing books and comics to expand on them. But it would give us a whole new continuity to explore from the ground up alongside the old one. It would be more continuity, a continuity that could start from scratch and grow as we watched and add new ideas and reimagine old ideas in exciting new ways. Maybe it's different for younger fans who came to Star Trek when it was already much more fully formed, but I've watched the ST universe expand and grow and evolve over the decades, experienced it not as some fixed whole but as a dynamic thing being made up as it went. And it would be exciting to see that process start over again, in a way that was completely unfettered and unpredictable. It's because I love the old continuity that I want to see a new continuity alongside it. So I just can't accept the notion that it's some kind of zero-sum conflict between the two. Star Trek is supposed to be about exploring strange new worlds, after all. The new doesn't invalidate or threaten the old, it enriches and complements it.


    Sure, and I like that sort of thing too. But the alternative can also be fun. I don't understand this bizarre notion that fans have to choose one or the other. That's self-defeating and narrow-minded, like saying you're allowed to like either cake or pie but can't have both. I enjoy the creative potential of building and evolving a pre-existing continuity, and I also enjoy the creative potential of starting fresh with a new take on a continuity. Both can be exciting and rewarding. And we've already had half a century of Star Trek exploring a single large continuity (though sometimes only in the most nominal sense and requiring a huge amount of squinting to pretend that two radically different interpretations fit together at all). We've done that already, quite extensively and fulfillingly. So now I'd be interested to see the alternative. Let's have both. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

    There was no "Berman and Braga" in the sense you mean until Enterprise. Berman was the executive producer of the whole franchise, and various showrunners worked under him. Braga was the most junior member of the TNG staff in its final season or two, then gradually rose through the ranks on Voyager to become showrunner in its fifth and sixth seasons, working under Berman in the same capacity that Jeri Taylor had before him and Ira Behr did over on DS9. As a writer, Braga worked with various partners including Ron Moore on TNG and Joe Menosky on VGR, while Berman focused on the business and logistical side and made very little writing contribution. Then, Berman tapped Braga to co-create Enterprise with him, and on that show only, they became joint showrunners, with Berman as Braga's regular writing partner for the first time. (Which, I feel, is probably why the writing on ENT was generally weaker than on the other shows. Berman was a better executive than a writer.) And Berman produced the TNG movies solo. Braga co-wrote the first two with Ron Moore and had zero involvement with the last two. By the same token, Braga never made any contribution to DS9. On that show, it was "Berman and Behr" who were in charge, at least nominally, although Berman tended to leave Behr to his own devices because he was more focused on VGR and the movies. (And it was Berman and Michael Piller for the middle 3 years of TNG and the early years of DS9 and VGR, then Berman and Taylor in late TNG and early-to-middle VGR, etc.)

    In this case, though, Alex Kurtzman is essentially the "Berman" in the equation, the production-company head that the showrunner reports to. Although Kurtzman will probably be less hands-on than Berman, because he has four other shows to executive-produce, a Mummy movie to direct, and a Universal Monsters cinematic universe to develop. (It's also an imperfect analogy because Kurtzman is a writer who became a production executive, while Berman was a production executive who occasionally wrote.)
     
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  20. Serveaux

    Serveaux Mediocre Old White Man Premium Member

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    They'd be fairly foolish to try turning out twenty-odd episodes of this series a season.
     
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