Canon: How many times is enough?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Tallguy, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. Tallguy

    Tallguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Canon: How many times is enough?

    I'm putting this in General even though it is the imminent release of Discovery that inspired it.

    TL;DNR: I'm not sure 'canon' matters beyond the broad strokes. Federation ships seek out new life and new civilizations. Vulcans have pointy ears and are logical. Phasers, torpedoes, shields. Whether Starfleet is a military or no, they still do patrols, explore, get into occasional space fights. There's a navy-like rank structure. People are generally good, kind, and helpful. The Klingon Empire is a rival government. But the "other" may not be the enemy you think at first. Admirals and ambassadors are stupid if not dangerous. (We can loses that last bit, if that's OK.) Transporters. Holodecks if you must.

    If I like the ideas / stories that Disco does I'll like it. If I don't it won't be because "IT'S NOT CANON." There will most likely be SOMETHING in 50 years of Trek that backs it up. I like the set design from TOS and find it charming and "home". Any show that tries to evoke that feeling will engender good will from me. But it isn't mandatory.

    That's the short version. Here's the long:

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    With Disco looming on the horizon (not The Horizon, that's a different ship) I'm seeing people getting in a tizzy (including Yours Truly) over proclamations of what follows or violates 'canon'.

    I started to realize that there are some things that fans cling to as The Word of Gene that may have been mentioned in passing in a single episode and maybe one that is not well regarded at that.

    I'm a TOS guy. So I have a stubborn streak that when someone holds something up from the TNG/DS9/VOY era or, Great Bird help us, ENT I can get dismissive. As Chekov might say about a non-Russian discovery (not The Discovery, that's a different ship) "Other fellow got it wrong."

    Vulcan has no moon. Mentioned once. Well, so was "Vulcan was conquered." Nobody cites that one. And we saw a Vulcan moon in both Yesteryear AND Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It's also a charming plot point in several books. (NOT CANON! UNCLEAN!)

    Does Star Trek have money? Yep. I can point to several places in TOS and TNG. But wait! In Star Trek: The Voyage Home they talk about NOT having money! Does that one reference later reinforced by later TNG examples override TOS?

    Here's one that's going to be super relevant: Woman can't command starships. Mentioned as part of the plot in a terrible (TERRIBLE) episode. And we've since seen LOTS of women captains in Starfleet. (First seen in the same movie that gave us "No money" as it happens.)

    Romulans didn't have warp drive: Ehhhhh. Might not mean what we think it means. And even if it did it can't possibly make sense. We can do away with that one, yeah? BUT:

    No one knew what Romulans looked like: The same episode tells us that humans and their allies had never seen a Romulan before this episode. Never mentioned again (because they never needed to) but ENT decided to jump through hoops over this one. I have the sneaking suspicion that Disco will too.

    James R. Kirk: Stop. Just please stop.

    Maybe I'm getting to be like Spock in The Undiscovered Country. "Canon is the beginning of wisdom. Not the end."
     
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  2. 1001001

    1001001 Pull Up a Groove and Get Fabulous! Moderator

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    Oh, joy....
     
  3. Balok's Decoy

    Balok's Decoy Commodore Commodore

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    A Trekkie came to Gene Roddenberry and asked, "Has a show canon or not?" Roddenberry answered, "Mu."
     
  4. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Spock said (iirc) that his father's people were spared alcohol, then McCoy said something about that being the reason they were conquered.

    Spock later said Vulcan had never been conquered.

    If you take Spock comment about "my father's people" to be a smaller group that all of Vulcan in general, then both statements can be true.
    Neither Kirk himself, nor his official record have his middle initial as a "R." The R came solely from Mitchell, for whatever reason.

    Most of the canon contraditions through the series can be reasonable worked out, not all, but most.
     
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  5. psCargile

    psCargile Captain Captain

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    Disco. Gonna have to break out the Bee Gees on Spotify, now.
     
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  6. BillJ

    BillJ Canon Warrior Premium Member

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    Star Trek canon needs to be shot out of a cannon, into the Sun.
     
  7. Nightdiamond

    Nightdiamond Commodore Commodore

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    Well, supposedly, even though it's a science fiction/drama, we're talking about a "real" society as opposed to a parody or satire. They have to stick some type of "realism" to be taken seriously to a certain extent.

    So if they say humans no longer use money in the 23rd and 24th century , and then show people using money (without an explanation) it makes their reality look weird and unstable.

    Just like a cartoon where something happens in one episode and is quickly forgotten in the next.


    Like-- Trills cant use the transporter or it will kill the symbiont. In Ds9, Trills use the transporter all the time without any damaging effects. And that is besides their major appearance change. No explanation.

    Or another one is where Scotty said Kirk was alive in "Relics" but in the movie Generations he both saw and thought Kirk was killed when part of the ship they were on was destroyed.




    Then again I do sometimes like when a scene is so good, they HAVE to use it even if messes with canon or common sense lol.
     
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  8. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    Trek continuity should have been kept loose and flexible, like the James Bond movies or the X-Men film franchise.

    Kor
     
  9. Balok's Decoy

    Balok's Decoy Commodore Commodore

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    Canon should be like the little bit of grated cheese you sprinkle on your pasta. Just a little something extra when it feels right and complements the meal. It's not the goddamn tortellini.
     
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  10. Mattadd

    Mattadd Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Internal consistency is absolutely essential to any kind of world-building. That's what makes fantasy worlds work, you contradicting established lore makes the world less believable. The problem is Trek contradicts itself A LOT. As pointed out above a lot of it can be rationalized if you're twisting yourself into mental contortions to figure it out, but a lot can't be. TOS has so many contradictions to the rest of the franchise it should almost all be disregarded as Canon where it disagrees with other Canon. And sometimes that's what happens e.g. Spock quotes 37 million dead from WWIII, which is revised to 600 million in TNG and 600 million is repeated in Voyager.
     
  11. Spot261

    Spot261 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yup, if it's a choice between rigidly adhering to every detail of established canon and being able to tell a good story, it's the story every time
     
  12. Mattadd

    Mattadd Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    There's no reason to have to make the choice. They've actually done a fantastic job creating a universe where you can tell great stories within established canon. Which is why it's so unfortunate when they start disregarding it. By the time DS9 started though they became much better at following established lore, DS9/VOY/ENT has refreshingly few canon violations between each other, and they were still able to tell great stories, and the consistency made the shows better, not worse.
     
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  13. Balok's Decoy

    Balok's Decoy Commodore Commodore

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    Maybe we're not all talking about the same kinds of canon violations and what would be too much. Because I think that is extremely variable, depending on who you ask.

    Like, if there were a show or an episode that said Kirk was never captain of the Enterprise, that would be a canon violation that would probably bother me, unless they had a good reason for it. But when people get bent out of shape about how uniforms look or how ships look or technology, what-have-you, being offensive "canon violations," that's the kind of thing that shouldn't matter. So, there's a spectrum here. And I don't think there are any writers who want to flush meaningful, important canon down the toilet. But if you want to tell your story in the TOS era but not make it look like a retro-futurism 1960s tv show, eh, the "canonical" imagery of the TOS era should be discarded for your purposes in that show.
     
  14. Mattadd

    Mattadd Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    That I can get behind. I don't really care if it's aesthetics (mostly), that I can chalk up to better production values, the need to keep legions of creative Bolian tailors employed, whatever.
     
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  15. B.J.

    B.J. Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Maybe you can raid Commander Lewis' files.
     
  16. Ralphis

    Ralphis Captain Captain

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    I need to get a shirt with that quote.

    I think I probably write the same thing every time this comes up. But my feelings are that, while there should be, at least, marginal respect paid towards what has come before - both narrative and aesthetically - we shouldn't expect 100% adherence to canon. You can't expect CBS to finance a show where the sets, uniforms, and story telling match what was the norm in the 60's. At the end of the day, good story telling is what will keep the franchise alive.
     
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  17. Tallguy

    Tallguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Or the reverse (which is what happened).

    1) It bugs the daylights out of me when people say that TOS got something wrong because of what was done later. That makes no sense.
    2) TNG / DS9 / VOY / ENT are reasonably consistent with each other probably because they had a large amount of the same people working on them.

    By that logic if the team behind Discovery makes enough Star Trek to where it outnumbers TNG-ENT then we can say that THOSE should be disregarded because they contradict so much of what came after.

    Genius.
     
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  18. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Dis
     
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  19. Mattadd

    Mattadd Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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  20. Mattadd

    Mattadd Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm ok with that logic. 25 seasons vs. 3 seasons isn't much of a contest. If Discovery were to make 200 seasons (the equivalent ratio) then clearly that canon would supersede TNG-ENT canon.