TOS questions

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by los2188, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. gottacook

    gottacook Captain Captain

    Apr 27, 2005
    The decision to make Worf a bridge officer may have made this swap desirable. If it hadn't been done, would you have preferred a Romulan senior officer with Worf's traits? Maybe so, but viewers of the old series had certainly seen more episodes with Klingons than with Romulans (indeed, Romulans are featured in only two episodes, "Balance of Terror" and "The Enterprise Incident," plus a few lines in "The Deadly Years"). The idea of a Klingon who had to be something more than "scheming and warlike" fit well with the Federation-Empire rapprochement that made Worf's service in Starfleet possible.
  2. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Walrus Premium Member

    Nov 4, 2001
    Sitting on a cornflake.
    BOT established a couple of Romulans were honorable, but also implied they were out of step with the rest of Romulan society.
    This is after all a society that uses the sneak attack as a primary tactic. To quote Spock:

    I doubt much complexity was ever present in the two times we actually saw Romulans on TOS.
  3. dayxday1000

    dayxday1000 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Sep 1, 2005
    @gottacook and santakang. Both good points that I hadn't considered. I just didn't care for the growling and howling aspect of the Klingons that TNG introduced.
  4. JimZipCode

    JimZipCode Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 13, 2010
    Back on the Onion AV Club, when they did their series of TOS reviews (by Zack Handlen), someone posted in the comments (those comment threads were outstanding) something along the lines of: "Imagine it's 1968, and you've just participated in an awesome letter-writing campaign – and you have saved your favorite TV show! Star Trek returns for its 3rd season: and you are one of the reasons why! Flushed with triumph, you sit down to watch the season premier. And you get: Spock's Brain."

    That sense of confused disappointment is exactly what TNG delivered. Star Trek returns to TV in a weekly series! Flushed with anticipation, I sit down with a bunch of my friends to watch the series premier. And we get: Encounter at Farpoint. WTF? Instead of the crackling energy of a diverse bridge crew featuring sharp dialogue like from Corbomite Maneuver, we get a bunch of New Age stiffs sitting around a Ramada Inn lobby. At every point where they had to make a decision about which way to take a telling detail that could have been awesome, they went in exactly the opposite direction. They denatured it of story.

    • The Kirk-Spock-McCoy triad occasionally featured sharp criticism. How to treat that element, in creating the new series? I guess GR felt that in "the future", we will have outgrown interpersonal conflict. So all the regular crew were bland and agreed with each other all the time. It felt very California. This was both obviously wrong, and telling of the kind of mistakes the TNG creators would make. When you are designing a storytelling vehicle, like say a TV series premise, you have to design-in places where drama can be found. TOS did not get a ton of mileage out of interpersonal dynamics within/between the crew, but it got some, mostly in early s1. Corbomite is the most obvious example: Bailey, and Kirk vs McCoy because of Bailey, and then lots of sidebars, including Kirk vs Spock when Spock fails to find a viable recommendation, and Scotty bantering with Spock to cheer up the junior officers. But other episodes contain examples, like Balance of Terror (Stiles vs Spock), Dagger of the Mind (Kirk vs Helen Noel), and Conscience of the King (Kirk vs Riley). And stretch a point a little, Enterprise crew can find themselves at odds with honest blue collar Federation people, like the miners in Mudd's Women and the miners in Devil in the Dark. The TNG creators essentially closed the door on this type of conflict, and therefore on this element of story.
    • They had a decision to make about what to do with the place that in TOS was occupied by Spock. Spock is so utterly sui generis, the absence of someone "like" him would leave a big hole that fans would notice. So they took what they felt were the features that made him identifiable, and they split those into three parts and farmed them out among the rest of the bridge cast. Stoic alien = Worf. Technocrat with a reporessed human impulse = Data. Scattershot telepath = Troi. Seriously they schematically split up the "Spock" character, and farmed him out, and in the process snuffed out everything that was awesome about him.
    • Klingons! For anyone who was a fan of The Final Reflection by John M Ford, TNG's handling of Klingons was an especially bitter disappointment. They had an opportunity to incorporate Ford's stuff, and they threw it aside. I can understand them ruining Spock, because they had to fiddle with the Spock-shaped hole in Trek. But why did they have to go out of their way to ruin Klingons too??
    • Data. I winced when I saw him: he was a cliche from the first second he appeared. I felt I already knew all the storylines that would involve him: he wanted to be human, he would get to experience humanity but it would be taken away, he would be altered but then restored; and worse, they would use him to solve all of their technical problems. The most ghastly storykilling use of Data was in an episode where we learned that, decades earlier, Capt Picard had invented an utterly unstoppable, devastating maneuver in ship-to-ship battles. No counter has ever been found! Then at the climax, as that maneuver is about to be used against the Enterprise, Riker shouts "Data! Devise a counter to the Picard Maneuver!" And he does! In an instant all human achievement and formidability is washed away. So stupid of the writers/producers.
    • Q. I don't understand why it is not obvious to TNG fans what a storykilling device Q is. TNG fans have countered to me that Q was not so different from Trelane, Charlie Evans, Sargon, Appolo, etc etc. But Q was utterly different, in one hugely important way. In TOS, the god-like character from the (2nd) pilot died in the pilot, killed by Kirk. Trelane was taken away by his parents, Charlie was taken away by the Thasians, Sargon & Appolo vanished, etc. The godlike presences did not linger. In TNG, Q announces that humans have piqued his interest, and he will be keeping an eye on them. Instantly every other storyline in TNG is reduced in importance. The only important story is what Q will decide to do. His existence diminishes everything else. Quite stupid.
    Right from the start they crippled themselves. Seriously the only thing that was at all an improvement in TNG over TOS, was the special effects. Everything else was terrible.

    The rest of season one, or rather that portion of it I could stand to watch, just drew out the crushing heartbreak of it all. And I've been angry at TNG for 25 years.

    I mentioned the comment threads on the Onion AV Club. Several posters there tried to convince me that there were some good TNG episodes; that in fact the show DID suck in its first season, but finally found its stride in season 3, and became good. I eventually let myself be swayed, and did finally see a good TNG episode: First Contact, from s4. That one was pretty impressive. Since then I've seen & enjoyed Best of Both Worlds, Cause and Effect, maybe a couple other good ones. So my black Sicilian vendetta against TNG has eased a bit. I've seen some good episodes and have a short list of other good ones to look for.

    The very best episodes of TNG, from what I've read and seen, have to write around the mistakes they made in setting up the show. Either they get Picard away from the rest of the crew, since basically the rest of the crew is a bunch of duds (Inner Light, Darmok, Chain of Command); or they eschew the "cerebral" stuff by going wall-to-wall action (Best of Both Worlds); or they acknowledge and partially correct their terrible handling of Tasha Yar (Yesterday's Enterprise); or they go all-in to perfectly execute a gimmick (Cause and Effect). No great episode of TNG uses the normal TNG premise; they have to sidestep it to make any kind of greatness possible. That's not the case with TOS. Because TOS was set up correctly, they can tell strong stories within the normal storytelling premise. Maybe the very greatest TOS episodes are departures: City and Amok Time. But many very strong episodes evolve quite naturally from the premise: most of s1, for example.

    If the first two seasons of TOS had been as bad as the first two seasons of TNG, there would never have been a third season – and there would never have been a TNG. TNG coasted on the good will created by two decades of TOS. The people working on the show finally got their act together and became good, and that is to their credit; but it sure took them long enough, and they owe a huge debt.

    Bad TOS was silly, but energetic and promising. Bad TNG was heartbreaking and pompous and inert.
  5. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 29, 2012
    You left out: (and I'm not counting the random DC Fontana or such)...TOS used real Sci-Fi writers. TNG used TV writers.

    And you are so right about being flushed with anticipation, and we get "Imzadi!...I feeeeeel great pain!", "Get this child off my bridge!"...those ugly one piece costumes...

    And just the utter arrogance so many characters had....ugh...
  6. A beaker full of death

    A beaker full of death Vice Admiral Admiral

    Mar 23, 2002
    That's simply not true.
    Braga never wrote anything at all before TNG.
    Berman only ever wrote accounting reports.
  7. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 20, 2009
    I know some fans love them, but I never cared for the unitard-jumpsuit look.
  8. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    I said out, dammit!
  9. gottacook

    gottacook Captain Captain

    Apr 27, 2005
    I seem to recall that in the first season of the original series alone, there were at least two intelligences that would be continuing to keep an eye on humanity: the Metrons from "Arena" ("You are still half savage, but there is hope; we will contact you when we are ready") and the Organians from "Errand of Mercy." Of course they weren't as funny and engaging as John de Lancie's Q.

    Once they had been admitted in the original series, the existence of such intelligences couldn't just be ignored. (Perhaps the Organians should have been part of TNG?) Writing Q as a super-Trelane with no restraints, whatever his effect on future episodes, was about the only way to go, if you consider that self-restraining types and parentally restrained types had already been done.
  10. JimZipCode

    JimZipCode Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 13, 2010
    If the Metrons will contact us when they are ready, then they are going away for a while – could be centuries before that "readiness" is achieved. That episode's ending does not write them into the ongoing series.

    I would have said "smarmy and annoying", but toe-may-toe/toe-mah-toe.

    Could have and should have been completely ignored.

    Actually, the idea I had in the early 80s for a Trek series was that the Organians were completing their evolution and moving on to "the next sphere" or whatever– and Pax Organia was breaking down. With the Organians disappearing, the power to enforce the "no fighting" edict was fading, and flare-ups were starting along the Klingon border. Would there be war, or would the Federation find a way to live with the Klingons? Were the Klingons even one political entity, or would we find (a la The Final Reflection) that there were multiple factions? I envisioned recurring Klingons, some as enemies and some as uncertain allies.

    Then TNG came along and everything was ruined....