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Topic: The Myths of STAR TREK Post ReplyPost New Topic
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John Byrne
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Posted: 17 February 2017 at 12:58pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I fully credit TOS for jump starting my interest in Science. Ironically, tho, it has been that interest that has slowly peeled away the veneer of TREK and left it with little in the way of scientific legs to stand on.

STAR TREK was, and remains, a very Earth-bound series. Roddenberry pitched WAGON TRAIN to the stars, and the series didn't move far from that. The adventures are framed as ocean going ships visiting strange lands -- a necessity of bugetary restrictions, not lack of imagination. Truly bizarre alien worlds and life were beyond reach. And one of the first threads to unravel as I immersed myself in scientific reading was that extraterrestrials would look ANYTHING like us.

Other threads followed. The propulsion system. The transporter. The shirt-sleeve environments. Spock!

Of course, TOS is itself an immersive experience. One must jump voluntarily into the deep end. And having done so, one can look forward to a whole lt of fun!

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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 17 February 2017 at 1:46pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

I got this from Memory Alpha, re: why extraterrestrials look similar to humans:

The ancient humanoids were one of the oldest sentient species to evolve in the Milky Way Galaxy, on an unknown ancient planet. They flourished some 4.5 billion years ago and explored the galaxy, but found no other lifeforms like themselves.

Believing that the life span of a single species was finite, the ancient humanoids seeded the primordial environments of many planets with a DNA code that would direct the evolution of life on that planet towards a form similar to their own. At least Earth, Indri VIII, Loren III, Ruah IV, and Vilmor II were directly seeded by the ancient race. Other species that likely originated from seeded primordial seas included Klingons, Romulans/Vulcans, and Cardassians. Some of the fragments of DNA also contained parts of a computer program designed to display a holographic message from an ancient humanoid explaining her race and their actions. It was hoped that their descendant species would come together in the spirit of cooperation in order to assemble the program.

A very clever way to explain why - due to budgetary restrictions - we are looking at human actors with face prosthetics.  
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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 17 February 2017 at 2:32pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Yeah, that bit was on a TNG episode.

"The Chase."


Edited by Brian Rhodes on 17 February 2017 at 2:33pm
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John Byrne
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Posted: 17 February 2017 at 2:46pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

As explanations go, it's not particularly "clever," leaving us as it does with the question of how all these alien races can be so similar, biologically, billions of years later, even if "seeded from the same stock. Considerable hands-on manipulation would be needed, but we are asked to believe the aliens (Engineers? Eep!) dumped their loads and moved on.

Like almost all such after-the-fact tweaking the problems raised are often more complex than the "problem" allegedly being fixed. That particularly nonsensical episode you mention, for instance, where fragments are needed of human, Klingon and Romulan DNA --- but nobody thinks to check Vulcan DNA, which would be older than the Romulan variety.

In the end, it all belongs in the same box with warp field generators and Heisenberg compensators.

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Marten van Wier
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Posted: 17 February 2017 at 3:20pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I think some people want to look to much into Star Trek and its relation to reality.

You should probably see it as part idealism and encouraging interest in the pursuit of knowledge and truth, and part space adventures and excitement, making you forget about your troubles and the problems in the world as you are taken on adventures you would normally not experience for forty minutes or the span of a book/comic/game.

Episodes like The Chase put Star Trek forever in a fictional realm of its own. It's main purpose seem to be to give itself more "foundation" though if it really works that well is the question, but no way does it make the series more "real".


Edited by Marten van Wier on 17 February 2017 at 3:21pm
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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 17 February 2017 at 3:37pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I looked at the info on "The Chase", apparently the premise was inspired by a plot device found in Carl Sagan's novel Contact (there, the clues to the nature of the universe are discovered in a long calculation of Pi).

They should've consulted an evolutionary biologist on that one. 4.5 billion is too far out, they should've made it 4.5 million instead. I still give them a credit for trying to explain from within the fictional universe itself why we are (mostly) looking at humanoids (from the real-world perspective, we know exactly why!). 

I have never seen truly satisfying representation of extraterrestrial life in science fiction, now that I  think of it. This is why I really like the plot of Battlestar Galactica - humans versus (human-made-gone-rogue) AI in space. Willing suspension of disbelief works far better there.    

 
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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 17 February 2017 at 4:51pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

p.s.

Should we even mention the issues with the planets in Star Trek (same gravity, breathable atmosphere, and so on).    
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Warren Scott
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Posted: 22 February 2017 at 7:02pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Aside from the obvious budgetary issue of presenting aliens who look much different from us, I think having them be similar to humans in appearance served another purpose. I once heard Roddenberry preferred that no alien costume cover an actor's eyes because they are a means of expressing one's self. I don't know if that's true, but I see the reasoning behind it.
The series showed us a lot of aliens with cultures different from ours. Not being able to relate to them physically might have been a barrier to relating to them as people. For example, I could never relate to the Gorn.
But it always bothered me that they always seemed to beam down to a planet without even having to put on a coat (except for "The Cage," I think).
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John Byrne
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Posted: 23 February 2017 at 1:09am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Should we even mention the issues with the planets in Star Trek (same gravity, breathable atmosphere, and so on).    

That's what's meant by "shirtsleeve."

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 23 February 2017 at 2:26am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

At the end of the day, if comes down to the limits of television production, and the understanding of what makes for exciting storytelling.

Roddenberry and company did try to explain away certain contrivances. For example, in the Writers' Guide, it was said that the Enterprise was only assigned to investigate Earth-type planets (so as to avoid all of those nagging questions about atmosphere, gravity, etc.).


A truly realistic STAR TREK would A) Be ridiculously expensive, due to the constant need for spacesuits and special equipment, inhospitable worlds, depictions of microgravity, non-humanoid alien life, etc,; B) Probably rather slow and boring! 

At the end of the day, contrivances like the Transporter and humanoid aliens for our heroes to interact and do battle with are what give TREK a lot of of its excitement and fun. You either buy the conceits, or you don't.
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 23 February 2017 at 4:44am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

It goes back to the people who complained that they should see more stories about food shortages in BG or REBELS. Well, yes, maybe we should. But we would get mightily bored very fast.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 23 February 2017 at 8:13am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

One of the few things that REALLY bugged me about VOYAGER was their constant use of the holodeck. Here was a ship with extremely limited resources, we're told, yet this recreational toy, which must have been a huge drain on those resources, seemed to get as much use as on any other starship!

(Roddenberry is supposed to have said that he wanted to have a holodeck on TOS but could not afford it. Just as well, if true. I used to think of the holodeck as very much like those fantasy episodes of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, where the castaways were put into different environments for an episode.)

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Steven McCauley
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Posted: 23 February 2017 at 8:39am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

JB, Voyager technobabbled about the Holodeck being on a different energy reactor that was incompatible with the rest of the ship.

There was an early holodeck on the Star Trek Animated Series but just called the Recreation Room.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 23 February 2017 at 9:52am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Voyager technobabbled about the Holodeck being on a different energy reactor that was incompatible with the rest of the ship.

A reactor with infinite fuel?

No real way around the fact that Voyager, like any starship, is/was a "closed system," with all resources having to be imported from outside. Recycling only goes so far!

(Let's just be grateful no bright boy decided that the replicators suffered from "fading" and eventually the food started to taste like poop!)

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Steve De Young
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Posted: 23 February 2017 at 10:01am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Here was a ship with extremely limited resources, we're told, yet this recreational toy, which must have been a huge drain on those resources, seemed to get as much use as on any other starship!
--------------------------------------------
The whole concept behind keeping Neelix (the Jar Jar of Star Trek) around on the ship to cook everything was that they were on 'replicator rations'.  My understanding is that the holodeck essentially works on the same technologyas replicators and transporters in generating solid objects, so it really makes no sense.
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 23 February 2017 at 10:05am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Of course, TOS is itself an immersive experience. One must jump voluntarily into the deep end. And having done so, one can look forward to a whole lt of fun!
------------------------------------
When the silly nitpicking starts, I generally want to remind people that its fiction.  No one is claiming that these are true stories.  You haven't just found the flaw in an elaborately crafted lie.  You're just pointing out that the show is fiction, which is exactly what it always claimed to be in the first place.
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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 23 February 2017 at 2:00pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Greg Kirkman: 

A truly realistic STAR TREK would A) Be ridiculously expensive, due to the constant need for spacesuits and special equipment, inhospitable worlds, depictions of microgravity, non-humanoid alien life, etc.; B) Probably rather slow and boring

...and C) extremely deadly, given the harsh realities of space
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Warren Scott
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Posted: 25 February 2017 at 11:07am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

I lost interest in "Voyager" because it seemed the writers forgot pretty quickly that the crew was supposed to be lost in space and the Maquis were rebels who didn't see eye to eye with the crew.
In an article printed before the show premiered, the creators spoke of the series being similar to the original in "exploring new life, new civilizations" but it seemed like it fell back on the Kazons (who I found a less distinctive version of the Klingons)and the Borg.
I liked the cast and I think the show had a lot of potential, though.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 25 February 2017 at 8:38pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

The division with the Maquis which was so key to the producers' pitch for the show was essentially resolved on Day One of Voyager's time in the Delta Quadrant when Janeway told all the uppity murdering farmers to shut up, put on a Starfleet uniform, and mind their manners. For there to have been continuing insurrection among her crew would have reflected badly upon Janeway, and Jeri Taylor and the others would not abide such a thing.

The Kazons were Klingons whose spray cans of hair mousse had turned against them.

And the holodeck was crucial to the show, because A.) the writers were all the same bunch of deadheads from the other shows and could not NOT write about holodecks and B.) it was one of the only way the deadheads could think of ways to "humanize" Janeway. "See? She likes romance novels! Cute, huh? Aaaannnd, um, DaVinci! She like DaVinci! See, she's smart enough to regularly hold conversations with DaVinci!" No, the computer is smart enough to give her a version of DaVinci she can talk to. That's not the same thing...


Edited by Brian Hague on 25 February 2017 at 8:39pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 25 February 2017 at 10:52pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Realistically, Voyager should have resembled the "Year of Hell" version, by the time the series ended--badly scarred and patched-up. But, no, the ship remained clean and perfect in all of those beauty flyby stock shots. For seven years.
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Aleksandar Petrovic
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Posted: 26 February 2017 at 1:12am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

I always felt that Voyager could've been a spectacular miniseries, a story told in 12 hours. I think that the format is underutilized in science fiction in general, which is a shame because it brings with it a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end (and all of it way before the first scene is ever filmed, which also means tight writing throughout).
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 26 February 2017 at 1:38pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

I like the mini-series idea, Aleksandar. That would have been a more interesting way to go. Unfortunately, Voyager then would not have remained on the air long enough for them to introduce Seven of Nine, which was the most Star Trek-like thing the show ever did. When viewer interest drops, bring in a shapely woman in tinfoil...

Greg, I like that observation on the ship. Even the Enterprise put in for routine maintenance and repairs. Voyager had no such resources and yet was pristine forever. The reason for this I suspect, aside from simply being the easiest path to take, was that Janeway being a "female driver" going about with a busted taillight and dents in the fender was a joke the producers wanted to avoid. Janeway's ship is therefore perfect, like Janeway herself. 

What was the problem Roddenberry imposed upon ST:TNG all those years ago...? The one everyone was glad to get past once he was gone...? Oh, yeah, right. Perfect people. I knew Voyager was in trouble when they originally wanted Robert Duncan MacNeill to play Locarno, the corrupt cadet from the Wesley Crusher at Starfleet Academy episode, "The First Duty," but then rewrote the part as a new character because Locarno was "not redeemable." Do we want interesting characters and real bad guys on this show or are those just too hard to write? See also: Chakotay, the happiest, mildest, most huggable terrorist ever.


Edited by Brian Hague on 26 February 2017 at 1:40pm
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Brandon Scott Berthelot
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Posted: 26 February 2017 at 1:55pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I had read that they chnged the character from Locarno
to a new one because they would have had to pay the
writer of "The First Duty" royalties if they used his
character.

Could have been just one of the reasons though.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 February 2017 at 2:22pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Yeah, I was under the impression that Locarno became Paris for the same reason T'Pau became T'Pol: to save money.

Even Paris started out with a rougher edge, and then quickly mellowed out, though. Another huggable terrorist.

Also, I could see a massive ship like the Enterprise-D being more self-sustaining than Voyager in the same situation. Voyager was way smaller, and had just over 1/10 of the crew compliment of 1701-D. The fact that she made it back to the Alpha quadrant in pristine condition and with more than a skeleton crew just goes to show that VOYAGER, like ENTERPRISE, was a frustrating example of badly-missed storytelling opportunities.

I'm also amazed that they didn't go so far as to upgrade the uniforms to the FIRST CONTACT/late-DS9 versions, after communication was established with the Federation. Aside from the use of the older uniforms, and the lip-service paid to its being stranded, the ship might as well have just been hanging out in the Alpha quadrant for the entire run. The whole "lost in deep space" bit was woefully underused, storywise. How would that situation actually effect the ship and crew (especially the combined Starfleet-Maquis crew of the original conception), in terms of resources, morale, interpersonal conflict, etc.? 

What a waste.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 26 February 2017 at 2:23pm
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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 26 February 2017 at 3:22pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

 I knew Voyager was in trouble when they originally wanted Robert Duncan MacNeill to play Locarno, the corrupt cadet from the Wesley Crusher at Starfleet Academy episode, "The First Duty," but then rewrote the part as a new character because Locarno was "not redeemable."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Was Locarno "corrupt" and "not redeemable" written about someplace? I ask because I never felt that way about the character. He seemed to me to be a kid who made a mistake and was trying to cover it up. His taking the blame at the end of the episode in order to spare the others. Doesn't strike me as not redeemable.

I was disappointed that he was renamed Paris. I found him to be an interesting character in the beginning. Before they declawed the character.
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