What If..Roddenberry had Full Creative Control

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Wally, Jul 23, 2022.

  1. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It does seem pretty much survival-Justman and Fontana (and Gerrold and Milkis) left than Hurley's relationship with Gene deteriorated and he left, then Berman reasonably got credit for working with the others so far and then hiring and working with Piller and previous and new writers.

    I can see Roddenberry liking that Berman also didn't want the new show to be a carbon copy of and/or just starstruck idolizing of the original show and I think, like Piller, he was pretty respectful of and positive to Gene's vision of the future, a lot more so than Hurley or later on Behr and Moore.
     
  2. Salinga

    Salinga Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The misunderstanding here is that Roddenberry was a purist and with him in full control he would only do "pure" Trek. Roddenberry knew the Hollywood system, the type of people ("the suits") he had to deal with. He knew he had to appear bold and grand to be able to force the necessary compromise inside this system get his vision for the show done as much as possible. Because his concept was and still is unique within the Hollywood system and thus almost not "sellable" to the execs. It is still a wonder that TNG was done the way it was done, as the show goes against anything typical Hollywood. And he also knew he needs to work together with other people and find the best for the job (and that these people are confident & intelligent and you have to stand your ground to find the right compromise in the end to get your vision done). Roddenberry knew he had to set the bar high to in the end get a compromise that does not hurt the artistic vision he had in mind.

    I believe, that Trek with TOS, TNG up until ENT were true to Roddenberry's vision and he would have been fine with them in the end. Simply because the guy knew the Hollywood system. I see some of the extreme sounding statements from Roddenberry as part of the deal-making process.

    Roddenberry supported Berman (and Piller), because both knew on the intellectual level the value of having Star Trek as a canvas to tell stories about the human condition today in an allegorical way projected into the future. The both knew the value of the so called "Roddenberry Box", defined in the TOS and TNG writers bibles (Piller in his book "Fade In": "The new approach respected Roddenberryʼs rules and by doing so, became a more complex story. He gave his blessing. And I began to learn how Roddenberryʼs Box forced us as writers to come up with new and interesting ways to tell stories instead of falling back into easier, familiar devices.").

    He supported Berman as show runner, because pre Trek he was a well traveled documentarian, who knew the world and its problems very well: "Starting a career as an independent film producer, director, and writer, he made documentaries and industrial films. Among his clients were the United Nations and the United States Information Agency. By 1977, he had traveled to over 90 countries making films for these organizations." (Wiki). Berman is a well educated guy, who knows the world inside out (personally), that Star Trek reflects upon critically through allegory.

    He supported Piller as head writer, because pre Trek, Piller was a successful journalist, which educated him about the real world, and later censor, which brought him into contact with all kind of information a network broadcasts, and as such, like Berman, knew the real world and its problems inside out: " Piller started out in television working as an Emmy Award-winning journalist for CBS News in New York, WBTV in Charlotte, North Carolina, and WBBM-TV in Chicago, Illinois. However, he then moved to Los Angeles, California and the entertainment side of television in the late 1970s, working as a censor and then a programming executive for CBS. While at the network, he became director of dramas based on fact and program practices." (Wiki).

    We got Star Trek true to Roddenberry's vision until 2005 because of Berman and the phenomenon that was TNG because of Piller. Not because both went against Roddenberry, but because both supported Roddenberry's vision for Star Trek as they both knew its value: To teach a common audience through allegorical story telling in a science fiction setting about morals and ethics. Both knew about the problems of the world through their work prior to Star Trek. Both knew the Hollywood system and how to navigate it to create a show that is an entertainment action-adventure show on its surface, but an educational show about morals and ethics underneath.

    Roddenberry's optimism was simply grounded on the fact that he knew were mankind was coming from centuries ago and how it developed culturally up until today. He simply extrapolated that cultural evolution into the future (there is a reason why there was a WW3 in Trek's timeline, because events like WW2 showed that often mankind has to look right into the real abyss to get its shit together and try to do better - see post-WW2 United Nations, European Union or Declaration of Human Rights).

    If people don't share this optimism, it is not because it cannot be real, it is simply because they lack the imagination to see something beyond what they already know from today (and the discrediting attacks are spawned from the personal interest to not have this lack of imagination be transparent to themselves and others).

    In the context of Star Trek, the picture of Utopia on earth was necessary for the allegorical story telling: By having human beings not representing our culture today (in speech and behavior), the writers could project these issues only into alien worlds and cultures (or human settlements on other planets), so that also our problems today could not be depicted in a contemporary way, but had to be put into an alien setting, not using any of our terms (avoiding any contemporary social or political "buzzwords" that would trigger an immediate response in a viewer). So writers for a Trek scripts were forced to always find a new angle, a new perspective on a contemporary issue handled in their story, because they could not use human beings and aliens for a contemporary depiction of this issue (be it a progressive or conservative issue). In that regard, Star Trek shared a core aspect of fantasy worlds like "Lord Of The Rings", as in these also not a single character shares traits with a contemporary individual from today, and a story about a contemporary issue has to always find a new angle, a new perspective by using "alien" characters and cultures.

    That's why taking the Utopia aspect away from Star Trek, you leave the 100% allegorical story telling, as human beings can become contemporary now, and as result the Trek story does not provide a new angle, a new perspective, but just repeats what already exists today. Berman and Piller knew of that value and thus protected that aspect as much as possible within the Hollywood system, which hates allegorical story telling (and quite frankly: A lot of viewers hate allegorical story telling too).

    Producers hate allegory, because they don't immediately understand the story and what it stands for and if the audience can relate to it and (literally) buy it. Writers hate allegory, because they have to invent new character traits, speech and cultures, instead of just repeating what they personally know or have read in other stories or seen on TV or in movies and cash the paycheck. Viewers hate allegory, because they cannot immediately identify with a character, understand immediately if a story supports their personal social/political viewpoint, or even immediately understand a story and "switch off" their brain to just relax intellectually and let the story wash over them.

    So if you want allegory in a Hollywood product, you need "assholes" like Roddenberry, Berman or Piller. Simply because they have to "stand their ground" to get it done. Roddenberry had the name and the brand, Berman and Piller had the knowledge and understanding. All three knew of the value of Roddenberry's artistic vision, of the real world outside of Hollywood, and of the Hollywood system itself.

    I think, the Star Trek Roddenberry wanted, is the Star Trek we got under the helm of Berman and Piller, because the compromises, that the Hollywood system demands, were always counted in.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2022
  3. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't know about homophobic, just risk-averse in general, or misogynistic, it seems he did objectify the actresses as well as the female characters and yet he also welcomed and promoted female writers and producers, by Voyager treated Jeri Taylor as equal creator and showrunner.

    I think someone who was just interested in commercial success would have had young handsome white male as lead captain for every show, he was eager to have that with Enterprise (and I think he even did think that would make the show more popular) but I think it's harsh and unfair that he saw the franchise as just for profit and not other deeper ambitions, or that the fans wouldn't have lost interest and abandoned a lot sooner if someone else had been making new, cheaper products.
     
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  4. Unionized Elf

    Unionized Elf Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    While the one story which does portray Berman as homophobic has been confirmed to be false, it does seem he had some sort of issue against having gay people on Star Trek, as by the time Enterprise was on the air, there were plenty of mainstream network shows on the air that had homosexuals in main and even leading roles, meaning there was no risk involved. And indeed, by the second season there was a campaign to have a gay character on Enterprise, which many of the cast openly supported. Yet, nothing.
     
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  5. Trekker09

    Trekker09 Captain Captain

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    @Salinga wrote --there is a reason why there was a WW3 in Trek's timeline, because events like WW2 showed that often mankind has to look right into the real abyss to get its act together and try to do better...

    I appreciate the thoughtful reply. So it was Roddenberry's concept that WW3 devastation was the reason humanity re-invented itself. Then in First Contact, was it Berman's idea for the Vulcans' arrival being the real cause of future peace? I guess he worked with Braga and Moore to write the story for that film.
     
  6. Unionized Elf

    Unionized Elf Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Though Berman does share a story credit for First Contact, the idea that first contact with the Vulcans is what begins the road to the Federation was entirely from Braga and Moore, as it was their idea to center the movie around what they describe as "the Star Trek universe's Nativity." Indeed, Berman wanted the movie to be about the Borg travelling back in time to medieval times for some reason.

    The idea that WWIII's devastation is what causes humanity to reinvent itself also comes from First Contact, as that's the first time any kind of significant detail about WWIII is given. Prior to that, references to a third world war were just sprinkled here and there to add a flavor of futurism to things. "It's the future, so let's reference a third world war, because Future." There were various implications throughout that Colonel Green was WWIII, and that Q's courtroom in Farpoint and AGT was from the immediate aftermath of WWIII, which they place in 2079, which according to FC should be sixteen years after humanity began cleaning up its act.
     
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  7. Kor

    Kor Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not sure if Roddenberry got that specific about WW3 being the specific catalyst for humanity trying to better itself. Lots of this stuff was left kind of vague over the years. The only specific mention by name of Earth's last world war prior to ST:First Contact that comes to mind is Spock's line in "Space Seed" about the 1990s being "the era of your last so-called World War," which was apparently meant to be the same thing as the "Eugenics Wars" before later Trek productions "clarified" things.

    The court in TNG's Encounter at Farpoint was from a time of "post-atomic horror." In hindsight we can say that was connected to WWIII although it was not explicitly stated as such. According to Q, concepts of "united earth" from earlier in the century had been abolished. If we figure in First Contact's dating of WWIII to the 2050s, that would mean that humanity had been making progress as a "united Earth" in the 2030s, but then things went awry and this massive war broke out in the 2050s, and humanity struggled for quite a while after that, since they were still wallowing in savagery in the 2070s. And somewhere along the way there was Colonel Green's "genocidal war" described in The Savage Curtain, which wasn't named but was understood to have happened in the early 21st century, 2000s to 2020s at the latest? .....That is, before ENT retconned his activities to the aftermath of WWIII, which FC had placed in the 2050s. If achieving warp flight and meeting the Vulcans in 2063 is what united humans and "ushered in a new era for humanity," then it was apparently a very rocky road if warlordism and these brutal courts were still happening in 2079.

    Kor
     
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  8. Trekker09

    Trekker09 Captain Captain

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    Supposedly WW3 ended in 2053, but references do seem vague, and some make it seem an extension of the earlier Eugenics wars in the 1990's.
    One impression I got about Roddenberry’s creative concepts, was that he believed technology would save humanity. So he’d probably have approved of Zefram Cochrane’s warp drive flight exemplifying that, in First Contact. Actually he probably would like the arrival of the Vulcans getting credit as the impetus for humanity’s radical progress, rather than the aftermath of devastating war. I had assumed that encounter was GR's idea...interesting that it was Braga and Moore.
     
  9. Iamnotspock

    Iamnotspock Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    According to Leonard Nimoy, GR hated the Chariots of the Gods? idea of ancient aliens building the pyramids etc., rather than them being the product of human ingenuity, and according to Nichelle Nichols (RIP) in Beyond Uhura:

    "Some people view Gene as a man with a wild futuristic utopian fantasy, but that’s too simple. Star Trek did not promise that people would magically become inherently “better,” but that they would progress, always reaching for their highest potential and noblest goals, even if it took centuries of taking two steps forward and one step back. Ideally, humankind would be guided in its quest by reason and justice."

    So, I'm not sure how he'd have felt about humanity's radical progress being kick started by the aliens landing. The devastating WWIII idea, on the other hand, came from TOS S1 ("Space Seed"), under Roddenberry.
     
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  10. Kor

    Kor Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not sure if it was ever mentioned by Roddenberry, but I seem to remember that before FC, fandom had this idea that humans had first officially met Vulcans "out there" among the stars, on equal footing as spacefaring civilizations.

    Kor
     
  11. hofner

    hofner Commodore Commodore

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    i have no idea if this is true but could it be the reason ENT didn't have a gay character is that Star Trek was/is considered to be for younger audiences like teenagers?

    Ever since ST II, I've felt that Star Trek has been aimed at a younger audience. Wesley Crusher seemed to me to be a big tipoff as to what the target audience was.

    Robert
     
  12. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Commodore Premium Member

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    Were there straight characters -- even ones who had relationships, and even *GASP* kissed? Yes, yes there were. Treating LGBTQ+ characters as if they were somehow dirtier than straight folks is the very essence of homophobia.

    Straights macking on each other is 100% kid-friendly, but even allowing queer people to exist is, somehow, x-rated? Only to the homophobes.
     
  13. hofner

    hofner Commodore Commodore

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    I sure as hell an not one of them but yeah, even or especially today plenty of people are homophobes and puritans. Hell, just the other day, I read in the news about some state legislator who wants to make contraceptives illegal again. Talk about de-evolution.

    Robert
     
  14. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Commodore Premium Member

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    My point is, if THAT was the reason there were no non-cis-het folks on ENTERPRISE, then it's exactly the same as saying the reason was homophobia. Which, of course, IS the reason.

    I don't understand why you bring up contraceptives, because that's mostly a cis-het thing, but the same sex-phobic politicians trying to ban contraception are also going to come after Lawrence and Obergefell and, once Thomas is out of the picture, no doubt Loving and Brown. So yeah, take all that into consideration when you next have an opportunity to vote (assuming you are in the USA.)
     
  15. Unionized Elf

    Unionized Elf Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The thing to remember about Roddenberry is that he did very little actual worldbuilding or idea developing in the Star Trek universe. Even in TOS all he really brought to the table was the idea that it was about the adventures of a spaceship in the future. It was the other writers that took that idea and developed that and created all the various details. Hell, the Federation itself actually comes from Gene Coon, and was further developed by DC Fontana.
    I never got the impression that Star Trek was intended to be aimed at a teenage audience, but even if we entertain that idea, than the claim that's why there were no gay characters still falls apart, as there were teenage dramas in the 90s and early 2000s which had gay characters.
     
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  16. MAGolding

    MAGolding Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "Enounter at Farpoint" showed the courtroom as part of "The Post Atomic Horror" in 2079. Thus it could have been in a devasted world decades after the Third World War, which First Contact said was about 2053. Although First Contact also said that Earth begcan to recover from the Third World War after first contact with Vulcans in 2063.

    "Encounter at Farpoint" also mentioned United Earth, and Q said that 2079 was after all United Earth nonsense had been abolished (at least temporarily). Sio possibly the Vulcan example encouraged the United Earth movement after 2063, and reaction against United Earth defeated it and created the era of the Post Atomic Horror by 2079, which was later defeated by a resurgent United Earth movement sometime after 2079.

    Or possibly the use of nuclear weapons in World War Three about 2053 caused the abolition of everthing nuclear including nuclear power plants, which led to the collapse of civilization and the Post Atomic (energy) Horror by 2079.

    I also note it is my conviction that the best way to explain numeroous chronological inconsistencies in is to assume that different characters gave years numbers for event using different clalendar eras. A calendar era is a date that years are counted from. Dozens of calendar eras have been used used on Earth and many still are.

    So, for example, if Character A says that Event C happened in 2025, and Character B says that event D happened in 2075, we can't be certain that they used the same calender era. Thus we cant't be certain that Event D was a50 years after Event C, and can't even be certain that Event D was after Event C instead of being before it.

    If memory serves me right, only about half a dozen dates were specified by Star Trek characters as beeing AD or BC in all of Star Trek. And considering how contradictory many dates seem to be, we should be free to interpret all dates given without specified calendar eras as being dates in unspecified calendar eras, an try find various combinations of calendar eras that make sense.

    For example, I think that the Eugenics Wars of about 1995-96 in the "Space Seed" calendar were the same event as the Third World War in about 2053 in First Contact.

    Some people may reject this, being horrified by the uncertainty resulting from assuming that dates are not all given using the Anno Domini calendar era, but instead use an unknown number of unspecified calendar eras. There are countless thousands of possible arrangments of dates in various productions and how can anyone know whether they have found the best one or whether the best chronology is still to be worked out?

    I remember a political commentator some decades ago whose humorous motto was someting "Often wrong, never uncertain". And I say that chronologists who cling to the assumption that all dates are given using the Anno Domini calendar era, would rather feel certainty at the risk of being wrong. I prefer the motto: "Always uncertain, always with a chance of being correct".

    QUOTE="Trekker09, post: 14239059, member: 17262"]Supposedly WW3 ended in 2053, but references do seem vague, and some make it seem an extension of the earlier Eugenics wars in the 1990's.
    One impression I got about Roddenberry’s creative concepts, was that he believed technology would save humanity. So he’d probably have approved of Zefram Cochrane’s warp drive flight exemplifying that, in First Contact. Actually he probably would like the arrival of the Vulcans getting credit as the impetus for humanity’s radical progress, rather than the aftermath of devastating war. I had assumed that encounter was GR's idea...interesting that it was Braga and Moore.[/QUOTE]

    As I explain agove, I think that the Third World War of 2053was not an extension of the Eurenics Wars of the 1990s, but he same conflict dated differently using different dating systems.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2022
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  17. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I just transcribed a Roddenberry interview from the mid-70s for Fact Trek where he speculates about what might give rise to a Star Trek future. We still have to finish annotating it; probably ready in a couple of weeks or so.
     
  18. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Pretty doubtful that that idea came from Roddenberry, as he passed away in October of 1991, during TNG's 5th season, and First Contact came out in 1996.
    In an episode written by Gene Coon (when he was TOS's showrunner) and Carey Wilber.
    This bears repeating. He had the "parallel worlds" concept that would let Star Trek recycle sets, props, and costumes from other productions, and the vague concept of the Prime Directive, but the rest of Roddenberry's initial Star Trek format was pretty vague.
     
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  19. Trekker09

    Trekker09 Captain Captain

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    It does seem that GR just appropriated ideas that Coon, Fontana and others developed. The first book on Trek I read was Yvonne Fern’s The Last Conversation, a very idealistic portrait of GR, full of his quotes about mankind evolving, reaching maturity, valuing diversity, etc. This was when I met Majel in 1994, and she was [understandably] praising his views about a utopian future which has become associated with him.

    I knew GR died years before First Contact was written but thought he might have spoken about or had notes on the basic concept earlier.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2022
  20. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Tremendously unlikely. It's not like Star Trek writers follow a secret grand outline GR laid out in 1966 or whatever. They write it project by project, episode by episode, and make this stuff up as they go. There isn't time to do it any other way.
     
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