Change is the only constant. Some people reject all change while others embrace all change. Both groups are idiots! Good changes are good. Bad changes are bad. But change is often necessary in some form.
Moving the Star Trek Universe to the next century allows them to play with new and fresh concepts, although if fan films have taught us anything it’s that new stories can be told with new crews but in the same universe. Granted, the first one I linked to is set in the future period, and the other two are variations of the same show, but I have surprisingly few examples in Saturday Night Showcase to show off. Tonight’s section of the story bible for season one of Star Trek: The Next Generation will be looking at what’s changes between the original and TNG, plus if space allows a summary of the crew. (There will be longer character profiles later in the bible.) Then we should be done with set-up. So let’s finish setting up already.
What Has Not Changed
This is actually a rather short section. The first paragraph, “The Same Band Of Brothers (and sisters too, of course) talks about how the show will have the same “band of brothers” feel (not the series but the term HBO named the series after obviously, but I had to dig through that and the original Shakespeare quote to get to the actual definition because I thought it was a military term) and how it was going to be an ensemble cast like the original. If anything TNG did the ensemble better. Even the credits for the original series (TOS being the fan shortening) were only interested in Kirk, Spock, and McCoy; everyone else was just the supporting cast. In TNG they all got into the opening credits and felt more like equals as characters. That’s what made Tasha Yar’s death hit better…if you discount HOW she died. Killed by a living oil slick and didn’t even have a part in saving the day.
The second paragraph is titled “The Same Action Adventure Formula” but it doesn’t really talk about that, instead boasting that they don’t have NBC’s censors hampering them, the advantage of syndicated TV back when it wasn’t just court and talk shows surrounded by infomercials. (And really most of the time, though there are exceptions, season one was low on the “action” part, but they did a lot more talking.)
As before, without neglecting entertainment values (unlike stories written today–SWT) we invite writers to consider premises involving challenges facing humanity today (the 1980’s and 90’s), particularly those which interest the writer personally.
Of course it would have to be filtered through Gene Roddenberry’s idea of a utopia at the time; money is done away with, people have no conflict with each other, death is just something that happened, and the ship’s therapist is at the Captain’s side along with the first officer even if she’s ranked lower than the robot.
The new Star Trek episodes will continue the tradition of vivid imagination, intelligence, and a sense of fun, while still assessing where we humans presently are, where we’re going, and what our existence is really about.
Depending on the skills of the writer and how poorly botched the script doctoring was. 🙂
The last paragraph actually makes a good segue between the similarities and differences between the two shows. Of course there’s the “D” added to the registration, but the bible also notes that it’s double the length of the Constitution class ship from the series and movies, and says that means it’s also eight times the size. I’m not sure how that math works but it’s late when I’m writing this so I’ll just assume it fits. It also says the new Enterprise has less of what it calls “battleship sterility” and the layout of the new ship is honestly my favorite of the Trek bridges. It’s a lot more relaxing for a supposedly non-military group (except when it totally is) and I’d rather sit on that bridge during a long mission than any of the other bridges in the franchise. I believe we’ll get more into the bridge later on.
So what’s changed?
Just the crew. That’s all that’s in this section. It’s a short overview of the new characters. More in-depth character profiles will come later but I’ll go over the summaries presented at this point in the book to compare later.
Picard is already a legend (so he’s on the right ship’s namesake), and referred to as “distinguished” (although occasionally comes off as smug and self-righteous in season one, or he can come off that way). The section also claims he has a father-son relationship with Riker, even though in season one they only just met. So already we’re seeing a change from what actually happened. As the series went on the case could better be made. Picard is supposed to be in his “youthful fifties” (I wonder what the life expectancy is for the average human who isn’t a security guard on an away mission or during an invasion?) while Riker is in his early thirties. One of Riker’s duties is of course listed as leader of away missions because in TNG the captain doesn’t foolishly toss himself into mortal danger unless he really has to, since he’s busy running the darn ship and not turning it over to his chief engineer. Except for that time he did in later seasons but it gave Geordi a chance to show off so it’s fine. However I’m a bit confused by the line “both planetary and other kinds”. Do you mean space stations or other ships or something? Because I’m not sure you needed to spell that out.
Starting off “other lead characters” is Data, the android supposedly made by “unknown aliens”. If memory serves he wasn’t completely aware of who built him but he knew he was created on a colony. Over time he would know a lot about his “dad”, Dr. Noonan Soong, but this makes it sound more cryptic than it turned out to be. I’m kind of curious to see what his full profile says. Counselor Troi is described as being “witty”, which certainly doesn’t jibe with how she was written. And her job is considered very important in the 24th century. I refer you to my earlier comment on the ship’s therapist. It also notes that her mother was Betazed, making her also half-human. An earlier draft of this bible made her all Betazed.
Also noted: Tasha Yar was more on a “failed” colony of renegades and other undesirables. Writers would add in that this included “rape gangs”. Yes, apparently entire gangs built around raping people. I wonder if Dr. Light is a member? (DC Universe, not Mega Man Multiverse.) She also “worships” Starfleet as the polar opposite of how she grew up. Had Denise Crosby not left during the first season maybe this would have changed or altered as post-Roddenberry TNG and DS9 wasn’t afraid to show the less than perfect aspects of Starfleet?
When I first saw Geordi’s profile I read “racially black” as “radically black”, which seemed really odd for Star Trek and totally not Geordi’s character. I don’t know if this was after the cast was chosen so I now I wonder if they specifically wanted a black character even though it never comes up on this show? It also notes that he’s blind but in this draft he’s supposed to have prosthetic eyes, which he would get in the movies but in the show he wore that banana clip visor.
And here’s something to boost the Captain Picard/Beverly Crusher shippers. According to this draft of the SEASON ONE BIBLE she is supposed to develop a strong attraction to him. However, this is after she has to forgive Picard over the death of her husband even though she knows it wasn’t his fault Mr. Crusher became the late Mr. Crusher. I’m guessing this is before Roddenbery’s vision of how death is perceived by Earthlings in the 24th Century. This by the way is never part of her character. She also seems to be at least platonically close with him in the first story, while in the second one she’s suddenly hot for him due to the mutated “naked time” virus. (“The Naked Now” is so poorly placed, but at least Data and Yar’s one-nighter was a plot point in a later story.)
Finally, there’s Wesley. Poor, poor Wesley. Awkward teenager and supergenius. The bible says he also understands physical sciences related to his engineering prowess but I never saw a lot of evidence of that. Also, this draft does mention plans to make him an acting ensign. So that was always his destiny. If only that came with people who knew how to write him.
Conspicuous by his absence is Lieutenant Worf, the lone Klingon (although the second ever if you count the DC comics and Ensign Konom) He was added very late before the first episode started production. Michael Dorn talked about it during that DS9 Q&A I posted for BW Panelling.
Next time on Star Trek: The Next Story Bible we’ll move on to the creating aspects of the book by starting on the scripting. What goes into making a good Star Trek script? And why did Voyager and Enterprise fail at it so often? It’s the secrets of writing episode one TNG on Star Trek: The Next Story Bible.