Do you think there should have been more stories focused on the families and civilians on the ship?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Skipper, Feb 19, 2024.

  1. at Quark's

    at Quark's Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Which makes me wonder what kind of civilians 'get' to live on the Enterprise-D. It's obvious that immediate family members (children, partner) of personnel qualify.

    But others? Can they just apply and be accepted when their function is in demand (such as Mott the barber) or is the admission procedure more involved? Do they need to satisfy certain (stringent) criteria (of which being a professional in a required field is just for starters) or could anyone who feels like it ask and be admitted?
     
  2. Shamrock Holmes

    Shamrock Holmes Commodore Commodore

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    I would assume that they would need to fulfill some necessary or at least desirable function (given the "wiggle room" in terms of capacity there's likely several levels) for extended stays, though just being a Federation citizen or even a "non-hostile" is probably sufficient for short trips if you happen to be going the same way the starship is, particularly if you have a connection onboard.
     
  3. Quantum21

    Quantum21 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I have mixed feelings.

    If they were on board yes.

    I like the idea Justman had of carrying families aboard for a long tour of duty, an analogy to the Western pioneers or sea-faring explorers in the US, but in practice, it is alarming at times.

    What happened was in order to tell stories they stopped a lot, and even returned to Earth occasionally.

    The idea was deep space, "beyond the outer rim". Few connections to other outposts and such. It became somewhat less lonely and detached and felt more comfortable. So what we see on screen is something that rings less true.

    A shame
     
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  4. Laura Cynthia Chambers

    Laura Cynthia Chambers Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Returning to Earth as a whole ship vs returning one person via shuttles or passenger lines - the latter is better, but would take too long. If transwarp beaming is employed, but mostly on people and only in emergencies, you can keep the feeling of distance. A military member can be home fairly quickly if authorized to go, these days, due to planes and the finite size of the Earth, shrunk by travel, so there's not as much of an analog in today's world as there once was.
     
  5. drt

    drt Commodore Commodore

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    Well, originally the 1701-D was intended to be the fastest, most ass-kickingly powerful thing ever built, sent out on a twenty-year mission beyond the Federation, so it was supposed to be an acceptable risk. If things got hairy, they were either to leave the saucer somewhere safe before venturing in or run away and drop it off, which is why they included that functionality (which they used four times over the 1701-D's lifetime).

    Unfortunately, in the planning stages, nobody took into account how saucer sep'ing pretty much kills the pacing of an episode, so they never did it, even though there were numerous episodes where it would have made sense. They probably should have just forgone the family thing entirely and simply had Wesley (whom I bet was the main reason Roddenberry wanted children on board) just be an engineering whiz-kid Academy midshipman.
     
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  6. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It is interesting to consider how the show and ship might have been different from the outset if they'd designed things based on what it ended up being versus what they originally intended for it to be.

    Would they have ever come up with (routine) saucer separation if they hadn't conceived of the saucer as a lifeboat for the civilians?

    Would they have put civilians on the ship at all if they'd known that the ship was ultimately never going to be that far from Federation space?
     
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  7. Skipper

    Skipper Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes, in the end it was as if the cops brought their families on patrol or the soldiers brought their relatives and children to the battlefield. It makes no sense, it's dangerous and it's a distraction.
     
  8. Laura Cynthia Chambers

    Laura Cynthia Chambers Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If families could be dropped off at/beamed to checkpoint stations so they're never too far away from a ship that makes the rounds of well-known worlds, perhaps. So akin to moving your family to the nearest military base to your current long-term mission, not deploying them into action with you.
     
  9. Skipper

    Skipper Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Imagine being a little kid while the Enterprise is attacking the Borg. What parent in their right mind would allow such a thing.?
     
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  10. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Parents in the Federation were people don't mourn in the future.
     
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  11. drt

    drt Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, it sort of goes both ways, I think if they'd stayed with the original premise, TNG probably would have been more like the first/second season, with more of the "space is weird" episodes and fewer of the "Team Federation Space Police" ones, but presumably the show's writing would have still improved as the characters became better established.

    If they knew where they were going to and up, I think you're correct, they would have dropped the civilians/families on board (as they obviously did with every post-TNG show) and the saucer separation would have only been a one-time only thing if there was an imminent disaster (just like it was from Season 4 to GEN).
     
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  12. Skipper

    Skipper Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Jokes aside, those who are part of Star Fleet know what they're getting into. He also imagines their spouses and partners. They know the risk they may face and make a conscious choice.

    But a child? What kind of consent can they give? They risk their lives and don't know why? I think even today in real life if you raise a child in a quiet part of the United States and then tell your partner "I want to take him to the front in Ukraine with me while I fight the Russians", well, I think they would be able to block the departure of the minor by the authorities.
     
  13. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, reasonably, a parent is expected to give consent (at least to a certain age depending on jurisdiction). So, while I think the authorities could certainly intervene, there is also a measure of autonomy that parents have. So, if they elect to take their child in to that situation on the Enterprise D, with exploration and scientific endeavors, and some dangers, then they get that choice vs. separated from parents.
     
  14. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think having children on starships is an irresponsible decision. A bad Starfleet policy (which seems to have been taken out by the time TNG ended) and just reckless on the part of the parent. And frankly, a rather selfish decision, too.

    "I'm going to miss my kid so much while I'm on board the Enterprise. Wait... I can bring my kid along? I can knowingly put my child in constant danger and very possibly get killed by countless attacks by Romulans, Borg, and unknown aliens, or the myriad of random spatial anomalies that exist, or even by some shipboard accident that can irradiate the crew, turn everyone into devolved versions of creatures from the distant past, get various diseases at any time, or just a simple warp core breach that blows up the ship and kill us all? Or I can get killed, leaving my child to be taken care of by the crew until they can drop my kid off at the nearest starbase? But... I will feel less lonely because I'll have my child with me on board. Sign us up immediately!"
     
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  15. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I still think that there's a point where it becomes kinder to bring children along on long-term deep space missions than to leave them in the care of...whomever...while their parents are gone for several years.

    Hell, I have a cousin whose parents owned and ran a restaurant, so he was in the care of other people on a regular basis for long periods of time, and since they lived above the restaurant during those periods of time he had to stay upstairs, and I think it created psychological distance between him and his parents and may not have done him any favors. When we'd visit while I was a child I found it hard to wrap my own head around the idea that the grown-ups were all going to go downstairs but we had to stay upstairs...though I always chafed at concepts such as kids' tables.

    I guess I'm essentially repeating myself here, but while TNG as presented makes it seem irresponsible for parents to bring their children along on missions because the parents won't be away for that long, I can also understand parents not wanting to miss out on extended portions of their children's lives, and if TNG had stuck to the original premise of being away from Federation space for a long period of time then I think it would have been almost incomprehensible to tell parents that they couldn't bring their children along.

    I also think that given what we see in the 23rd and 24th centuries, being on a planet isn't necessarily a great deal safer than being on a starship.
     
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  16. PoorSailorsAirline

    PoorSailorsAirline Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Replace "Enterprise" with "Saratoga" and the answer is literally Ben Sisko. :angel:

    I've always disliked the idea of families (particularly children) on Starfleet property for daily or special ops. Captain Picard Day would unfortunately be suspended, which I'm sure would devastate Jean-Luc. Supposing Peter Preston was an Engineering cadet (in theory?) on the 1701 Enterprise as Scotty's nephew, why couldn't Wesley similarly be on the 1701-D as Crusher's boy wonder nephew? Related as family, sure, but not parent-child.

    Families make the most sense to me on DS9 and Voyager. Well, not initially on Voyager, but 75 years is a loooong dry spell, so... But on the Enterprise et al. and as a rule, not as an exception? Total madness.

    If anything, I think they missed a potentially good story. The Borg nearly turned Earth into a giant recharge alcove and blew up half of Starfleet at Wolf 359 on the way.... It seems to me that was the chance to have an episode focussing on the conflicts when all the civilian families essentially get evicted off front-line ships. Imagine the turmoil when the personal, practical, and political all come together in forcing civilians out of their homes--even if that home is a heavily armed cruiser patrolling enemy borders--and how that affects the ship's crew? This would probably fit in best right after BoBW, perhaps even as a different way to write the Family follow-up episode.

    After promising this charming exploratory village-in-space lifestyle, the cold, hard reality sets in: officers and their families have some tough choices to make. Stay or go? Accept the risk or say it's not worth it? Agree with Starfleet's newfound caution or feel betrayed and embittered? When the family you thought would be there for the entire mission are now colonists or chilling on a starbase, would you even want to stay onboard yourself?

    Having Keiko, Molly, Yoshi, Jake, Nog, Alexander, Joseph Sisko, Quark & Rom, etc. etc. etc. all made sense and added so much to DS9. For TNG, they could have written the vast majority of family-centric episodes with a guest star of the week.

    Space is dangerous, the ships go exploring but let's not forget the shooting parts, and Starfleet is not a rebrand of Royal Caribbean cruise lines. There. God I feel old and cranky now. :rommie:
     
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  17. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

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    While I agree a planet is not totally safe, it's FAR safer than a starship. Especially the core worlds like Earth and Vulcan.

    How many times did, say, Earth get attacked in the TNG to VOY 24th century era, which is about 14-15 years? Three times... twice by the Borg and once by the Breen.

    How often does a ship come under attack? If we go by these shows, three times a month. Minimum.

    Never mind all the spatial anomalies that a ship runs into on a regular basis.

    Considering money doesn't exist in that time (not going to start THAT argument, but no one seems to need to work have a roof over their heads in the Federation, unlike today), parents really have no excuse to bring their children along to their dangerous jobs. If they don't want to miss out on their kids' growing years, they don't need to sign up for duty on a starship.
     
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  18. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^So you're saying that even if the original premise had been upheld and the E-D had been on deep space assignment for a decade or so, you would still oppose having families on the ship in those circumstances?

    Just making sure I understand where you're coming from.
     
  19. Skipper

    Skipper Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The strange thing is that in the first season, which is the closest to the original vision of "traveling village exploring unknown space", the Enterprise is in mortal danger a lot of the time! And in one episode the children are even kidnapped!

    I'm wondering if this "family in space" thing wasn't very well thought out...
     
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  20. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I would say that if someone has a shipboard, out on the fringes of space, duty, they should be prohibited from that duty if they have children.