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All About TREK!!!

Star Trek. Is there another Trek? Don't answer that.

First off, there's a weird story on SF Crowsnest, supposedly with insider info about the new series in the works. My initial impression? Well, I hope it's going to be reworked a bit. Okay, a lot. The way I envision it, I'm not sure I'd care for it at all. Of course, there's a big difference between leaked concepts and a finished show. If someone wants to send me the pilot script I'd be really happy... Anyway, check it out and see what you think.

http://207.201.173.29//sfnews/newse1199.htm

Next up, we have a fine article from the folks at Salon. Definitely a good read. I don't really have a lot to say about it except that I think all of the junk that's going on around this franchise is a real shame...but it wouldn't be the entertainment business if it wasn't full of crap, right?

http://www.salon.com/ent/feature/1999/10/29/trek/index.html

Okay, soon we will be onto my last bit of info, from a source that I've finally confirmed to be kosher. What can I say, I'm a little wary of anonymity. Sorry for the delay, Mr. Source! Anyway, before this last bit, let me just chime in with my own opinions on the franchise.

I think it's lost its edge, and the characters aren't strong enough anymore. In the original series, you had a show that revolved around a core of two or three strong characters...Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. All the time. The other characters were great, but the show wasn't about them. No offense to the other fine actors (or characters), that's just the way it was. There was a strong relationship between the three, and they were just plain interesting people. To me, as it is with a lot of people, it's all about the captains. Kirk was interesting because he was, for lack of a better word, hard-core. Way out of line, screw the prime directive, and have sex with EVERYONE. Yeah, the guy had nuts. Big ones. He got the job done, with style. Over-the-top acting never hurt either. IT'S SCI-FI for crying out loud. It made stuff exciting. Ditto on the wacky music. That music kicked MUCH ass, up and down and all over the place. The show had freaking STYLE.

I don't want to go on for too long here, so here's my super-quick opinion of the more recent shows. I liked the Next Generation okay, and enjoyed it a lot at times, but I always felt it was too sterile, that the ship looked like a hotel, and that the captain was too good of a captain...too inclined to go by the book. Just the way I feel.

Deep Space Nine got off to a similarly slow start, but by the end of the show, it had become my favorite of the modern series. Why? Avery Brooks has always kicked a lot of ass, and he always will. It's just a truth of the universe. DS9 was the only one of the three modern series that really ever tried to put a lot of focus on a main character...and on his development. Also, the relationship with another excellent actor, Cirroc Lofton, aka the Sisko Kid, was really REALLY freaking well done. One of the best bits of father-son writing and acting I've seen in a good long while (especially that wacky time-travel episode that follows Jake into old age trying to save his good 'ol dad...priceless!).

Okay, finally, there's Voyager. I don't see enough focus on the command leadership, I mean, there are a good number of episodes where Janeway is a side-note in the script. I want to know, who is this show about? It's just not quite right to me. I want character development! AAAHHH!!!! Okay, the truth is, I just want different characters.

Oh, one final note before the political mess, BEFORE YOU FLAME ME, PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THIS IS JUST A TV SHOW, AND YOU SHOULDN'T LET YOUR OPINIONS (OR MINE) OF A TV SHOW CHANGE YOUR DAY OR PISS YOU OFF, EVEN IF YOU ARE DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN THE PRODUCTION OF SAID SHOW. IT'S JUST OPINION, OK?

That being said, here's the last bit of Trek fun for the day.

"Dear El Cosmico:

I've been following events inside the besieged Star Trek franchise for quite some time now, and thought you'd be interested to know the latest developments regarding Voyager, Series 5, and the rather nasty politics going on inside the Paramount Lot. All of these findings have been confirmed by multiple sources, some of them quite highly placed. I'm sorry I can't reveal my identity, but doing so would unfortunately put my sources at risk.

First, a little background. As you probably know, the Trek franchise has been hurting for some time. Deep Space Nine ended its financially successful seven year run in June, the struggling Voyager's ratings continues to sink in the ratings despite being the only Trek series on the air, and the most recent feature film, Insurrection, was neither a commercial success nor a fan favorite.

Meanwhile, the media which once fawned over Trek now rarely covers it except to run stories about the franchise's sad decline. Recent stories in Entertainment Weekly (on how to fix Trek) and Salon magazine (asking who killed the franchise) were supposedly quite galling to the powers that be at Paramount.

And behind the scenes, the Paramount lot was the site of a very nasty battle this summer in which Ron Moore, the popular and acclaimed scribe for Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, was brought over to help the struggling Voyager only to be forced out after a month by his former best friend and writing partner, Brannon Braga. Moore had been promised a role in developing the next Trek series by main honcho Rick Berman, and walked after finding out he'd been frozen out of the development process by Berman and his protege Braga (who's earned the nickname "Mini-Rick" for his slavish devotion to his mentor and boss.)

To plug the hole suddenly created in Voyager's writing and production staff, Braga brought back Ken Biller, a veteran staffer who'd walked at the end of the previous season after complaining that Moore had been promoted over him.

Fast forward to the present. Early this week, two of my sources (neither of which know the other) called to tell me the latest: Rick Berman and Brannon Braga had just pitched Paramount their concept for Series 5, the new, unnamed Trek series set to begin in Fall 2000 or January 2001. The concept was evidentally a Trek prequel set around the time of the Federation's birth. And Paramount turned them down cold.

What's more, another source revealed that this was the SECOND series 5 idea which Paramount turned down. The first, pitched about six weeks ago, was described as "an X-Files meets Star Trek" pastiche, probably involving time travel. So, with two of their series ideas turned down, Paramount honchos beginning to publicly speculate on a change of direction in the franchise, a moribund feature franchise and anemic surviving series, Berman and Braga are beginning to feel quite under siege and insecure in their positions.

And they should. For one, Berman's contract with Paramount is based not on a particular number of years but on the number of ideas he brings them which they use-- no ideas used, no contract. And for his part, Braga's position as show runner for Voyager runs out at the end of this season. As part of his return, Biller negotiated into his contract that he'd become Voyager show runner at the beginning of season seven. So if there's no series 5 for Braga to step over two come this summer, he's out of a job. This might explain recent reports that he's begun to isolate and undermine Biller in the same way he did to Moore before squeezing him out.

So is this the prelude to the venerable 33 year Trek franchise finally winding down, or perhaps a wholesale leadership change by Paramount? It's too early to tell, but the next few months at the Paramount building promise to be verrrry interesting."

Post yer comments, you bastards!:)

Hasta "GET A LIFE!!!",

-El Cosmico

email:elcosmico@austin.rr.com

Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 9, 1999, 12:20 a.m. CST

    Posts out of order

    by Sith Lord Jesus

    Hmmmm, the Talkback is all funked up again.

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 12:43 a.m. CST

    On second thought...

    by Giga-Nerd

    I agree... that Star Trek needs a little rest. I like the Mini-Series Idea. But for people who MUST have Star Trek: Watch the secret 5th ST show. It takes place in the near future, in a parallel universe where all the characters from Star Trek don't exist, but aliens called Taelons do :)

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 4:06 a.m. CST

    Karma Don't Fail Me Now!

    by Anton_Sirius

    Berman and Braga... on the way out? You mean I can watch Trek again without becoming physically ill? Goddess is teasing me- no way such a glorious day will come to pass. And hey, Giga-Nerd: I'd watch that show in a heartbeat, even if it does smack a bit of Crusade. Anything that removes First Contact from the canon would be A-OK with me. And hey, DS9 wasn't all that bad for being a blatant corporate rip-off of B5, right?

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 6:02 a.m. CST

    The Way Forward

    by George Kaplan

    ...Maybe to go back - but not necessarily to re-tread old terrain. Personally I think the idea of a proto-Fedration idea is excellent. The Novel ST: Federation is one of the best Star TRek stories I've ever come across - because it blends a totally fresh perspective with established stories/chracters. Continuity is important to Trek - remember the whole "Adventure Continues..." motif? In any case, what matters in the end are good writing and good acting/character development. End of story. It's clear from discussion such as these that nobody is ever going to agree on a new context for Series 5, but there are some essentials which most people would like to see. Writing & characterisation (George Lucas take note!!!) - Trek always scored when you had, at least one or the other and you often had it in TOS & TNG and sometimes in DS9. Less said about Voyager the better, but you know - I always watch it when I get the chance. Somehow I get the feeling that anyone biased toward the general Star Trek concept is hooked anyway - we're not really part of the shrinking demographic. Last point by way of illustration - There is no dynamism in Voyager. The same character dilemmas are constantly re-hashed - I mean, will B'elanna ever learn to control her pesky Klingon temper and reconcile her respective birthrights? Better example of idiotic and insulting characterisation: Janeway is soooo sanctimonious (as somebody already pointed out) - she always pursues a blatantly ridiculous strategy and, dammit if it doesn't always work out rosy for her and make Chakotay look like a complete idiot. What is that all about? If it's supposed to recall the "Kirk" factor it misses by a mile. What I loved about Picard in particular (apart from Patrick Stewart's terrific characterisation) was the way things sometimes went against him despite his rigorousness (and frequently, his stubbornness)and we were left with Jean Luc staring out of his ready-room window in a major sulk. I mean, the man had so many sides to him - Janeway is a card-board cut-out. No more card-board cut-outs, please, and we just might begin to get back into the 'spirit' of Star Trek. (Like the de-frosted Enterprise idea too, by the way - NCC 1701 rules!)

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 6:43 a.m. CST

    re: my 2 cents

    by picka55

    "Chakotay (a former leader of a TERRORIST/resistance cell)has lost ALL his balls & has become Jneway's puppet" Uh, Kent, shouldn't that read "lost *both* his balls?" Or do you know something we don't? Sorry, attempts at serious discussion of Voyager make me a little silly. I repeat: it's a dying franchise; we should let it pass.

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 6:53 a.m. CST

    Jimmer Negamanee: right on, right on!

    by Dave_F

    Jimmer, you are right on target man - retro Trek is 100% the way to go. The Trek franchise has done nothing but go down hill since the original series ended. Acting is bland, characters are unmemorable, and the music is utterly fucking unhummable. To restore the melodramatic sci-fi brilliance that the original series had, I think you've got to return to the roots and showcase the original Enterprise under the command of Pike...or is it April? I forget. ****** One of the reasons I've come to hate Next Generation and all that came after it is that they seemed to so consciously distance themselves from the original series' creations. As the good Jimmer noted, they've never once showcased the cool aliens that Kirk and company encountered (even though modern special effects could do such cool stuff with the likes of the Tholians). What a slap in the face! A retro show could showcase 'em from the fascinating standpoint of uneasy first contacts. Imagine the first encounter with Klingons (no head ridges or code of honor bullshit!), or for fun, the first encounter with Tellarites, the pig-faced aliens (could be genuinely funny, like "A Piece of the Action" or "The Trouble with Tribbles")! Imagine an Enterprise where not everything is 100% tested, where travelling at warp speeds is perilous in and of itself, and where photon and phaser technology is in its infancy. The hook of the series: an exploration of the early history of the Trek universe, as seen through the eyes of an untried, but heroic crew, guiding the first Enterprise through a trial by fire. Oh damn, that'd be so cool if they could pull it off. I saw the almighty Wrath of Khan for the umpteenth time the other day, and was reminded how great Trek can be, even in these troubled modern times...

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 8:14 a.m. CST

    New ST series (kinda long)

    by Nitflegal

    What is interesting is that the letter about what is going on at Paramount that is printed above was also sent in, verbatim, to trekweb.com over the weekend. There, it was dismissed as not tracking with other sources that they had, so who knows if this is real or not? Regardless, considering that Berman has been completely dismissive of TOS, does anyone really want to let him get his hooks into a pre-history for that show? The prequel idea is my favorite of the possible new series, but only if it true to the original series as well as the following ones. Considering the rather dismissive attitude that the franchise drivers have for anything further back than the current series these days, I fear it would be a mess. They had no problem contradicting fundamental portions of the Star Trek mythos from the original series (i.e., Cochrane's exploits or the third world war) even when it was reinforced by more recent series (remember the trial from "Farpoint"?). Plus, their flagship series is generally poor. Does anyone think that, without the babe quotient, Voyager would be getting even the falling ratings that it has now? I say give it a rest, perhaps filling the void with the occasional telefilm/miniseries, say one with Sulu, one from the birth of the Federation, one from a Romulan view, etc. Then, when we're all hungry for it again, get some GOOD people and give us a great series.

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 9:02 a.m. CST

    Leonard Mc Coy

    by Discus

    A moment of silence on his passing........

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 9:21 a.m. CST

    RE: Why I am sick of TOS

    by PhineasB

    You refer to these characters as "old"? So's Stewart. Want to throw him off a bridge, too? "Fat"? So Frakes, unless you're blind...want him thrown off a bridge? "Monotone"?...Most of the Berman Trek characters would be thrown off bridges by your standards. Repeating adjectives like "tired" is not making a case, young man. So, you're sick of hearing it, eh? The fact that you're hearing it so often and so loudly should tell something to you, as well as telling something to Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, and Sherry Lansing. Well, when they do it right, then you won't have to hear it anymore, will you? It's not "re-hashing" to remember your roots. Remember that TOS had an anthology format, and that's what kept the ideas fresh. Not re-working the same gaseous anomoly plots over-and-over again. A circle's Nature's most prevalent and perfect shape. If one travels it long enough, one always arrives right back where they started. Trek returning to its roots is the only thing that's going to save what's left of the Franchise. Under Mr. Berman's reign, TOS and related adjuncts are ruthlessly ignored at best, satirized at worse, and when the opportunity presents itself, he and his cronies backpedal, siphoning off certain portions of TOS to enhance whatever failings his creations evanesce. After that, TOS is locked away again in the Corporate Attic until it's needed again to shore up his foundering spinoffs. No more, I say. Show TOS the proper respect it deserves (i.e., 35th Anniversary), or stop ripping it off, and let those others stand or fall based upon their own merits, or his "creative genius" or rank stupidity. He's sponged off TOS long enough whenever it suited him. Time to pay the piper. Walk the walk, talk the talk, or let him hit the road already.

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Star Trek sucks!

    by thedoctorx

    JMS from B5 was way better than anything star trek has ever done. I used to love star trek but now its just politically correct bordom!!!!!!

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Some random thoughts...

    by BubbleheadPrime

    ...Just opinionating here, so nobody take this too seriously. I personally would like to see, as several previous posters have said, a TOTALLY NEW and INVENTIVE direction for ST. Not cutting the cord entirely, so to speak, between the previous incarnations and the new idea, but lengthening it out enough, in terms of timeline and general thematic content, to be able to take us on a totally new adventure. Same picture, maybe, but a different and oblique angle. I'm sure no one will take this idea seriously, but here goes: Several generations from Voyager, the Federation has united most of the galaxy under its sovereign peace. A *TOTALLY NEW* enemy, one whose origin and purpose is not known, and who there can be little dialogue with, shows up and a brutal war is fought. In a final, "scorched-earth" confrontation, the Klingons or some other exceptionally proud race detonate a device at the galaxy's core that will soon destroy it -- explode suns, create a hypersingularity, something like that, that makes the evacuation of the galaxy the only option for the surviving races -- old favorites, along with new (and hopefully not bipedal) creations. >>CONTINUED...

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 12:56 p.m. CST

    Some random thoughts...

    by BubbleheadPrime

    ...Just opinionating here, so nobody take this too seriously. I personally would like to see, as several previous posters have said, a TOTALLY NEW and INVENTIVE direction for ST. Not cutting the cord entirely, so to speak, between the previous incarnations and the new idea, but lengthening it out enough, in terms of timeline and general thematic content, to be able to take us on a totally new adventure. Same picture, maybe, but a different and oblique angle. I'm sure no one will take this idea seriously, but here goes: Several generations from Voyager, the Federation has united most of the galaxy under its sovereign peace. A *TOTALLY NEW* enemy, one whose origin and purpose is not known, and who there can be little dialogue with, shows up and a brutal war is fought. In a final, "scorched-earth" confrontation, the Klingons or some other exceptionally proud race detonate a device at the galaxy's core that will soon destroy it -- explode suns, create a hypersingularity, something like that, that makes the evacuation of the galaxy the only option for the surviving races -- old favorites, along with new (and hopefully not bipedal) creations. Some new technology -- slipstream, maybe -- allows the survivors to travel to a *NEW* galaxy, where they will try to carve out a niche among its previous inhabitants. There, they not only have to deal with old infighting and rivalries, but also attempt to establish good relations with their new neighbors, who are already there of course and not entirely happy to see them. Kind of like Israel in its first decade, only without the homogeous population. Refugees who have the tendency to compete with and despise each other, forced into close quarters and cooperation by a threat which is greater than all of them. Well, that's all I had to say... Whattaya think?

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 1:19 p.m. CST

    re-Save Trek from Trekkies

    by thedoctorx

    Never suggested that JMS do any Star Trek. Just saying that B5 was better. Never said it was BIGGER or LONGER or MORE VIEWERS or BETTER STATIONS. Just said B5 was fuckin better than the shitty Star Trek that is on now. Better stories, better special effects, and more action packed. Star trek is WEAK Sci-Fi now, everybody knows it. They need to save it from the writers that put me to sleep with these stories!!!!

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 1:58 p.m. CST

    how to fix Star Trek

    by funkywhiteboy

    The question? How to make Trek a commercially viable series again. Answer? Trek Porn starring 7 of 9. That's what the fans of Voyager want, right? 7 naked? (Those aren't her boobs, guys) Here is my point. This is the status of the show. It has what little ratings it has now because of Jeri Ryan's looks. AND THAT'S IT! Pretty sad state of affairs. The real answer to my first question is simple. NEW BLOOD. Get Rick Berman the fuck off of the show and AWAY FROM THE FRANCHISE!!!! He has had his shot and has screwed it up REAL GOOD. Boot him and Braga the hell out of there. They are both uncreative hacks. Moore was the only recent Trek big wig with any talent and because Braga and Berman felt threatened by his creativity, he is now gone. Who is the big loser here? The Trek fans.

  • Nov. 9, 1999, 6:52 p.m. CST

    Writing will save Trek...nothing else...

    by wfrey

    When I was a tender lad of 6, my bedtime coincided with the time that Star Trek (TOS) reruns started on my local station. For a full year I was intriuged by this amazing looking show, until I hit the big 7, and my bedtime was raised up by an hour. I drank in TOS like there was no tommorow. I've seen every episode of Trek since umpteen zillion times, and you know what? They all stand up, 22 years later. Contrast that with TNG, where "Inner Light" and maybe a couple of others are worth remembering. And the less said about the other two series, the better. What made the original Trek so memorable is (IMHO) twofold; how boldy innovative it was for the time it was made, and the fact it relied on Sci Fi authors. Contrast that to the more recent series, which define the term "franchise" to a "T". There isn't anything innovative about the new shows, and the writing is hackwork, pure and simple. Can you imagine how good Trek could be if they had today's Sci fi authors writing episodes? Neal Stephenson, Bruce Sterling, Greag Bear; the mind boggles at what kind of amazing, specualtive visions we'd be privilidged to witness. Instead, we get the same old same old from tired whores more interested in thier next coke score than in anything approaching craft. Fire Braga, fire Berman, and hire someone with a singular vision and a willingness to take risks.