How many alien starfleet captians exist in tREK?

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Yevetha, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. JamesRKirk

    JamesRKirk Lieutenant

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    But, he's right when it comes to the medical problems. And it's a medical show. That's where he has to be right. If he misdiagnoed every paitent every week he'd hardly be looked at as this amazing doctor who happens to be an awful human being. He'd be looked at as a malpractice suit waiting to happen.

    I'm saying that whn you come down to the big questions on the show the stars of the show are the ones in the right.

    How long would Trek last of Kirk wasn't right all the time? "Whoops, started a planetary civil war. Sulu, get us out of here as low key as you can"

    And I don't recall any Trek show where the stars were considered anywhere near totally screwed-up, dysfunctional and unlikeable. DS9 comes the closest but that lasted about 1/2 a season. Voyager could have had some characters like that but it got smoothed over even faster.

    Trek people are supposed to be better than we are so the flaws have to be transfered to the guest stars, usually aliens of some sort. It's not better or worse than any other way it's just the way that they did it.

    And really Christopher, I can't imagine you enjoying Star Trek if the characteres were anything like House, Tony Soprano or anyone from Deadwood.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Ever see "A Private Little War"? It was deliberately left open to debate whether Kirk had done the right thing.

    And I've seen plenty of TV episodes where the characters turned out to be wrong in the end, where they make tragic mistakes or lose cases or the like. Lots of CSI and Law & Order episodes end tragically with the cops failing to catch a killer in time or failing to prevent a suicide or whatever. Lots of L&O episodes have the lawyers lose a case and see the bad guy walk free, or win the case but discover it came at a terrible cost. Darkness and ambiguity are all the rage these days.


    That wasn't the issue. The issue was your claim that American television as a whole doesn't allow fallible heroes, which only demonstrates that you must not watch much American television.
     
  3. JamesRKirk

    JamesRKirk Lieutenant

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    For the most part, network TV and Cable are two different beasts. Imagine how different Star Trek would be if it were on Showtime. And even on network TV it's very much the exception that the stars of the show are wrong. When they do screw up it's very much a "whoa" moment. Flawed heroes are much more plentaful on cable shows simply because they have more targeted and, usually, more mature audiences.

    Look at Cheers for an example. We're told right from the get-go that Sam is a recovering alcoholic. Did he drink ever episode? Did he ever? Would it have been as powerful to see him tempted if we saw him sneaking a beer all the time? We saw other people fall off the wagon and Sam help them out but we didn't see Sam sneaking out back with a bottle every week or so.

    Star Trek characters are the good guys, simple as that. You can write the occasional episode where they make questionable decisions but it wouldn't work every week. You'd turn ST into nuBSG. Would you want Sisko to act like he did in In The Pale Moonlight every week? Or was it more poweful because it was the exception rather than the rule?
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actually it's quite common on TV shows with alcoholic characters to have them fall off the wagon, and yes, it did happen with Sam Malone at the end of the second season and the beginning of the third (and the six months of story time that elapsed in the interim). In fact, that was the storyline that introduced Frasier Crane, who helped Sam get his life back together again in part 2 of the third-season opener.

    Other examples of network TV characters who fall off the wagon include Lennie Briscoe on Law and Order (whose drunkenness actually gets a regular cast member killed), Jack's father on Lost (who dies from it), Sipowicz on NYPD Blue, and Mac on JAG -- and if you throw in syndication, there's Garibaldi from Babylon 5.

    Again, that's not what we're talking about now. You made a claim about American network television as a whole, not just one show. And that claim doesn't hold up to analysis.
     
  5. JamesRKirk

    JamesRKirk Lieutenant

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    How many of those characters stay off the wagon and stay on the show? It's an exception, not a rule.

    How often is House wrong in a diagnosis?

    How often did Columbo arrest the wrong person?

    How many cases did Perry Mason lose?

    In the vast majority of cases, the stars of the show are usually right and the guests/visitors/aliens are wrong. It would be like having someone other than Kirk (or rarely Spock or McCoy) solve the big problem. Should the Doomsday machine have ended with Decker defeating the DM with the shuttlecraft? Should Vanderberg have discovered the secret of the Horta instead of Kirk & Spock?

    These people are the stars of the show, they have to be the ones solving the problems, winning the fights and showing their opponents why they're wrong. It's the nature of most TV, especially network/family friendly TV.
     
  6. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    That depends on which STAR TREK series you're watching.

    It wasn't the case with TOS; not at all. In TOS, the conceit was that SOCIETY had advanced, not that people had. People's natures were the same, but the society in which they lived was more enlightened and therefore encouraged the better angels of their natures. Bigotry, for instance, still existed -- Stiles in "Balance of Terror" was very prejudiced and even transferred his bigotry to Spock once he learned of the Vulcans' and Romulans' common ancestry. But the SOCIETY in which he lived was structured to fight that sort of thing.

    In TNG, yes, early TNG had the conceit that Humans had somehow "evolved" and were superior to modern man. That's also when the writing was shittiest, and when the characters were at their most hypocritical and unlikeable. Early TNG characters were just self-righteous assholes who were blind to their own flaws even as they pontificated on how much more "evolved" they were.

    DS9 was specifically written to subvert that idea of a more "evolved" Humanity. The first episode was about a man who was in a state of emotional paralysis because of his mother's death, who needed aliens' help to get over it. Most of the series dealt with imperfect characters doing imperfect things -- even though DS9 reaffirmed the idea that the Federation was structured fundamentally differently than modern societies.

    VOY returned to that early TNG idea of a more evolved Humanity. It was also the shittiest TV series, with mostly flat, two-dmensional characters that no one really cared about.

    ENT returned to the idea of flawed characters. Its early episodes were its most successful; as the characters became flatter, the series declined in popularity... until Season Four, when it combined the optimism of the original series with the flawed characterizations of DS9 and TOS.

    And most recently, ST09 has presented us with an optimistic vision of the future populated by people who are nonetheless quite flawed. Since they weren't being asked to watch a show about saints with psychologically unrealistic characterizations, the audiences actually LIKED this movie.

    Bottom line:

    The idea that people in STAR TREK are supposed to be "better" than us is not intrinsic to the franchise, and when it has tried to present characters who were "better" than us, that's when the writing has been at its worst and the characters at their most hypocritical and unlikable.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I never said it was a rule. I merely refuted your false claim that it never happens.

    On basic cable, there's Nate Ford of Leverage; I've seen most of that show's first three seasons now, and he's spent only half a season sober.


    Typically 4-5 times an episode before some random comment or event triggers an epiphany about the right answer. Although occasionally the writers allow someone other than House to get the epiphany. And there have been episodes where they've failed to save the patient, or where they've crossed moral lines with devastating consequences.


    Invalid examples, because we're talking about current US television. Once you've set the goalposts in a certain place, you don't get to move them. And it's illegitimate to claim that present-day TV conventions are indistinguishable from those of the '60s or '70s; those are two very different conversations.

    However, to answer your questions just as exercises in trivia, there were a few times, mostly in the revival movies, when a killer fooled Columbo for most of an episode before he finally figured it out, for instance Columbo Cries Wolf, Murder in Malibu, and A Trace of Murder. And there was "Last Salute to the Commodore" in the original series, where the person Columbo (and the audience) suspected of the crime got murdered halfway through, turning it into a standard mystery instead of the usual inverted mystery.

    As for Perry Mason, there was one episode that began with Perry losing a case, but he then discovered new evidence and was able to expose the real killer and exonerate his client.
     
  8. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    JamesRKirk has done nothing BUT move his goalposts, again and again and again, since he falsely declared that American TV doesn't allow for characters who are in the wrong.
     
  9. JamesRKirk

    JamesRKirk Lieutenant

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    No, I say that in comparison to most of the character it's very rare for the stars of the show to be in the wrong.

    And Perry Mason (57-68, 73-74 & 85-93) and Columbo (68-78 & 89-03) were both contemparies of TOS as well as later Trek.

    Yes, fooled Columbo for most of an episode before he finally figured it out.

    And Perry Mason then discovered new evidence and was able to expose the real killer and exonerate his client.

    So neither Perry Mason or Columbo screwed up and lost a case on a regular basis but you're saying that's evidence that it happens all the time? I'm saying that it's rare. Very rare.

    At the end of Trek episodes, how often are we left to wonder if the stars are in the right? How often are we sure that they're in the wrong? And how often are they the heroes and on the side of "right"?
     
  10. JB2005

    JB2005 Commodore Commodore

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    Tuvix, Damage, In the Pale Moonlight, Endgame are four examples off the top of my head of episodes of Trek where we're left wondering if our heroes have done the right thing...

    But these episodes have their resonance because of their comparative rarity. If most of the time the characters win and are the good guys, it makes us stop and think when the time comes when they aren't.

    Columbo - the whole point is watching the infallible detective get his man. The whole point is that we always know Columbo will catch the guy, and the drama comes from how he does it...
     
  11. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Yes. And American television has since evolved to become a much more sophisticated medium than it was in the 1960s or even the 1980s.

    There is no reason that modern Star Trek, both onscreen and off, can't evolve to be more sophisticated, too.
     
  12. JamesRKirk

    JamesRKirk Lieutenant

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    Note, that's exactly what I'm saying. It's the rarity of our heroes being, if not on the wrong side then staddling the dividing line. The vast majority of the time the're riding off into the sunset, full in the knowledge that they've done the right thing.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And that is untrue. Usually these days it seems the main character is required to be the most screwed-up one of all.


    Again, you seem to be forgetting that the point we're refuting is your claim about the content of modern television. It's not about Star Trek at this point. We left that behind several posts ago.

    You've been on this board less than a day now and all you've done is complain, condemn, and dismiss at great length. Is your sole purpose here to be negative?
     
  14. JamesRKirk

    JamesRKirk Lieutenant

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    Exactly, there's no reason it can't. So why hasn't it? Why didn't it with Voyager and Enterprise? The movies get a pass because they're a different beast, 2 hours every few years. TV has the ability to grow on a weekly and yearly basis but Voyager and Enterprise pretty much put the characters back where they were before. How much different are Janeway, Paris, Kim than when they started? Chakotay switched sides in the pilot and settled in pretty quickly. Torres was pretty much a hothead throughout. The Doctor arguably chaged the most and yet he's still pretty much the same crabby doc as he was in Caretaker.
     
  15. JB2005

    JB2005 Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, otherwise when they weren't would lack the punch...it would just be samey...

    They're out "Heroes" they're supposed to be the good guys, supposed to be the ones who ride off into the sunset knowing they've done the right thing. Star Trek is an optimistic view of the future, but sometimes that optimism can't survive what's presented and so they have to consider the alternative.

    Take Torchwood: Children of Earth vs Doctor Who: The Parting of the Ways (anyone who hasn't seen it, look away now)

    In Doctor Who - most of the time - the Doctor will find the better solution, the one which won't harm the innocents.

    In Parting of the Ways, the Omega-Mega wave was going to fry the brains of all the humans in order to stop the Daleks and there was nothing to be done to stop it, but then Rose manages to find another option.

    In Children of Earth, the Omega-Mega wave was going to fry the brains of Jack's grandson in order to stop the 456 and there was nothing to be done to stop it. And Jack had to fry his grandson's brain.

    CoE had a hell of a bigger emotional kick than Parting of the Ways did at that point, because it was the bad outcome when normally we expect the last minute ass-pull...
     
  16. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Well, this is the Trek Lit forum, and I'm happy to report that modern Trek novels are much more sophisticated than onscreen Trek was in the 60s and 80s. Just pick up a copy of Destiny, or Reap the Whirlwind, or The Sorrows of Empire, or Articles of the Federation, or Cast No Shadow, or The Never-Ending Sacrifice, or Day of the Vipers, or Hollow Men, or McCoy: Provenance of Shadows, or The Art of the Impossible, or Serpents Among the Ruins, or A Time to Kill/A Time to Heal, or Wildfire, or...

    Because the people who made those shows were creatively burnt out and allowed themselves to become creatively trapped by the conventions of daytime syndicated television in the 1980s and a constant fear of violating "Gene's vision."

    But why are you complaining about two TV shows that have been off the air for eleven and seven years, respectively? These are OLD shows now. They're not current Trek.
     
  17. JB2005

    JB2005 Commodore Commodore

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    He wouldn't like Destiny...Destiny ends with our heroes having done the "right" thing...
     
  18. JamesRKirk

    JamesRKirk Lieutenant

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    I'd prefer to be the one that would state what I would like or not like. I actually did enjoy Destiny for the most part. I wasn't thrilled that the crews were basically bystanders to the defeat of the Borg. In the end it came down to a guest star, Captain Hernandez, talking the Caeliar into cleaning up their own mess. The ending was a little too much "hands off" for my liking but the set up and execution of the vast majority of the story as well as the aftermath was excellent. I hope we see more of the aftermath of it but it appears that the focus has shifted to the Typhon Pact.

    The TP is also excellent thus far. I'm looking forward to seeing how Sisko & Bashir got to where they were when we caught up with them after the jump. Not as interested in the Kira storyline but, to me, the Bajoran religious stories are somewhat boring. The "Prophets" aren't gods any more than the Q are and I wish more of Bajor would come to realize that.

    I guess 10,000 years of living in a semi theocracy takes a little time to get over.
     
  19. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    It's fair to be disappointed that the Enterprise, Titan, and Aventine crews weren't written to play a more active role in the defeat of the Borg -- though I think that the idea that sometimes we have to accept that we are powerless and that events are beyond our control was one of the central themes of the trilogy -- but I really have to take issue with calling Hernandez a "guest star." She's not. She's the central character of the trilogy. Star Trek: Destiny is her life story, more than it is anything else.

    Well, what is a god, anyway? What traits distinguish godhood from other statuses, and in what way do the Prophets lack such traits? Or Q, for that matter?
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    A god is a concept which provides a culture with a focus of belief, aspiration, and ethical thought, and which influences the actions and choices of those who embrace the concept. This is the case whether or not the concept maps onto an objectively real entity or phenomenon.