If You Created a Cheap Star Trek Knockoff...

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by uniderth, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. uniderth

    uniderth Commodore Commodore

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    You are hired by a Chinese company to create an off brand Star Trek what would it be like? The goal is to get as close to Star Trek as possible without crossing the line. It doesn't have to make sense or be good, just get as close as possible so that an unwitting purchaser might buy yours instead of the real thing.

    To start off I'd name it STAR TEK or probably something nonsensical like STAP 'I'REK.

    The characters would have generic names like "The Captain" and "The Engineer". The uniforms would be a variety of colors not just "yellow", blue, and red. You'd see pink, green, brown, etc. Kind of like that Turkish fan film.

    The ship might be harder to do, but I'd put two rockets with flames where the warp engines are. I'd make the saucer look like a UFO and probably attach the rockets to that directly. That's all of thought of for now.

    How would you make your cheap knockoff Star Trek?
     
  2. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Seth MacFarlane did it, it's called The Orville.

    When the Axanar fan film debacle happened and fan-film guidelines issued, the sequel to Star Trek: Renegades filed off the serial numbers to become just Renegades: Tuvok became Kovok, Pavel Chekov became "The Admiral", Romulans became Rigillians, Uhura became Jennison, Section 31 became Sector 6 etc. The ships and uniforms all changed design too.

    Here's episode one, with Trekness intact:

    Here's the first half of episode two, with serial numbers filed off:
     
  3. Cutie McWhiskers

    Cutie McWhiskers Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Seth also brought in a bunch of writers and producers from TNG, so it's not quite the same thing as a result.
     
  4. Vger23

    Vger23 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    [​IMG]
     
  5. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Wait a minute: Are you saying that if a fan film doesn't refer to itself as "Star Trek," changes the names of the obvious Trek actors, and still uses similar-but-not-quite-the-same production assets based on Trek shows, they can get out of the fan-film guidelines?

    On a side note, I like their ship designs.
     
  6. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    They were kind of screwed since the guidelines came down on day 2 of filming. Check out the opening scene: Kovok has Snapchat-filter-style round ears CG'd over the pointy Vulcan ones the scene was shot with, and the Starfleet insignia were painted out, names were dubbed over. I imagine if they were given warning greater changes would have been made to make things a little less blatantly Trek.
     
  7. Rahul

    Rahul Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I would "galaxy quest"/"the orville" it. Put waaay too much effort into it, and try to capture the spirit (at least what I think is the spirit) instead of the lore. Have an exploration ship, colorful uniforms, lean more into robots & rayguns, keep the obvious Trek elements (holograms & beaming) away, but do other stuff like "warrior race" and "planets of the week".

    Then hide the budget by doing silly cheap stuff - use lametta and obvious paper sets to stand in as alien worlds, and have the main character fistfight another guy in a rubber suit instead of having expensive, vfx-laden phaser fights. But play it completely straight from a character point of view - essentially present the whole thing more like a stage-play, with wide-shots of guys in supply uniforms, instead of modern drama with close-ups. Then do commentary on modern issue, and try to think of new Twilight-Zone/Outer-limits plots to fill the episodes. Do a spaceship-battle only once per season, and keep most of it as dialogue and sparks on the bridge.

    Also - watch Farscape, and steal a lot of production tricks from there.
     
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  8. Imaus

    Imaus Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Oooh, so that's what happened to them!
     
  9. trekshark

    trekshark Commander Red Shirt

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    I was going to say Orville, but I like Orville enough to basically consider it Trek. I thought it was better Trek than discovery season 1
     
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  10. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Admiral Admiral

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    Space Patrol.

    Brightly colored uniforms.

    Ray gun weapons.
     
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  11. at Quark's

    at Quark's Commodore Commodore

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    If it's produced by a Chinese company, there's a realistic chance it would have to be in Mandarin. Unless of course it was explicitly targeted at the English speaking world.

    I probably would try to come as close as possible without infringing copyrights, including a slip of the tongue every now and then.

    "You d*mned Volkors with your philosophy of equinamity! We have to DO something! Engage war... I mean, transdimensional drive!"

    Seriously though, I have no idea, not sure just how close you could get before you actually would 'cross the line' .
     
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  12. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I actually had my own obvious Star Trek knock-off that I wrote stories about when I was a kid. It was about an organization called Stargazing, which were essentially Starfleet. The crew wore gray uniforms which were basically the TWOK onward era monster maroons, only gray, with a chest insignia consisting of a triangle, circle and rectangle all overlapping. The ship Goddard (after the TNG shuttlecraft Playmates made a toy of) was basically the Enterprise D on the exterior, with the bridge based on Voyager's. My main characters were the senior staff, of course, but the only ones I really focused on were the Captain, who I named Edward Terrell, and the alien tactical officer, named Lukay from a race antagonistic towards Stargazing called the 4-Arms, which were aggressively militaristic, had purple skin and four arms. Lukay, in case anyone's wondering was an outcast who felt the need to break his people's tradition of joining the 4-Arm Military and instead joined Stargazing. Strangely enough, Stargazing had no other aliens serving in it. Other characters I later introduced were an Admiral who spent an inordinate amount of time with the Goddard despite being the head of Stargazing, and was basically a proxy character for myself, and a transporter operator, who although seemed human was later revealed to be a sleeper agent for beings from another dimension, similar to Species 8472.

    After doing various knock-off Star Trek planet of the week type stories with these guys, as well as time travel, alternate realities and even had them encounter a Borg knock-off known as the Veetor, I eventually went with all out war between Stargazing and the 4-Arms in which for some reason my helmsman character for some reason suddenly becomes a Marine. At first, Stargazing was totally getting their asses kicked, to the point that even the Goddard was destroyed. Its destruction resulted in the death of the above mentioned transporter operator who was a sleeper agent for Species 8472-lite. As a result of this, Species 8472-lite becomes pissed off with the 4-Arms, and as the 4-Arms descend upon Earth for a last stand, 8472-lite allies with Stargazing and completely defeating the 4-Arms once and for all.

    In my grown up years I've tried to take the idea and develop it into something less obviously Star Trek with another name, but it never seems to work.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
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  13. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'd hopefully change it enough that it worked as its own original thing. The inspiration can still be evident, but it should be more than just Star Trek with the serial numbers filed off. Astro City is probably the closest example as to what I'm thinking of. Kurt Busiek plays with a lot of superhero tropes, and many of the inspirations for the characters are obvious, but he always puts a significant amount of original thought into it, as well, so the stories can work even if you've never heard of the thing that it might've initially started as.

    I'm actually working on a project like that right now with various pulp heroes. Getting the rights to actually cross all of them over would be a complex legal wrangle, so I decided it made more sense to just create my own versions of the characters I wanted to use and tailor them to fit my stories. It's fun to see how similar but different I can make them. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020
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  14. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Back when I read slush at Tor, we would occasionally get submissions that were obviously STAR TREK novels with the serial numbers filed off. I still remember the one that began with the "Klargon" battle cruisers activating their "stealthing" devices. :)

    And then there was the thinly-disguised Janeway/Seven of NIne slash novel that barely changed the names . . . .
     
  15. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    :guffaw::guffaw::guffaw:

    Heck, sometimes you even see that sort of thing in officially licensed works. Remember John Ford's passing mention of the Klingon television show Battlecruiser Vengeance in The Final Reflection?

    Marvel Comics has featured a whole bunch of Superman expys over the years, from Wundarr the Aquarian to Gladiator of the Imperial Guard to a couple different versions of Hyperion of the Squadron Supreme. Steve Englehart co-created the Batman-esque The Shroud for Marvel a couple of years before he got to write the real Batman for DC Comics. DC had the Avengers stand-ins the Champions of Angor around the same time that Roy Thomas introduced the evil Justice League The Squadron Supreme at Marvel. They can come in handy when you want to do things that would never be allowed with the original characters.

    A lot of these characters were just intended as one-time in-jokes, but comic books never let anything go. You never know when yesterday's throwaway character becomes part of tomorrow's billion dollar franchise. :)
    ...So does this mean that you're NOT green-lighting my Janway/36 of D series proposal? :)
     
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  16. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I know that Christopher has talked a bit in the Lit Forum about how some of the ideas he originally developed as Star Trek stories have been modified for his original fiction (and possibly the reverse, too. I forget).

    Some of David Gerrold's original ideas for what he wanted to do with TNG ended up going into his Star Wolf original novel series. That's a good example of a property that has some similarities with Star Trek, but goes in many directions that ST wouldn't.

    And heck, you can see the TOS influence all over J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5, from some of the character dynamics, to the freelance writers he used, to even the name of the security chief. Of course, JMS also peppered in influences from other areas to B5, like Jungian psychology and The Lord of the Rings, which also made the resulting B5 series a lot more than a Trek knockoff. And he made a point of doing stories you'd never see on Trek, like the first season B5 story where all the station's dockworkers went on strike.
     
  17. Danja

    Danja Captain Captain

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    And it bombed on Fox (it's now going to Hulu).
     
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  18. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Oh, we all cannibalize our rejects. I turned a rejected VOYAGER pitch into a FARSCAPE story, and later turned a rejected FIREFLY outline into a TERMINATOR novel. (Changing Seven of Nine into Aeryn Sun was surprisingly easy.)

    Waste not, want not! :)
     
  19. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, sure. I didn't mean to suggest that that habit was unique to Christopher. He was just the first example that sprung to mind because he's talked about it a fair amount.
     
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  20. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Admiral Admiral

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    I am now more intrigued by this Farscape story.