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Star Trek: Failed Enterprise

By Haasim Mahanaim in Media
Mon May 09, 2005 at 06:54:51 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Six years ago during a daytime talk show interview with Patrick Stewart, Regis Philbin said: "I never really understood Star Trek. What are they doing up there?" To which Stewart replied, "boldly going where no one has gone before." The audience cheered, but the question remains unanswered to this day and none of the-powers-that-be are asking this question.

On May 15th 2005 an aimless trek through the stars comes to an end—falling just a year short of the original incarnation's 40th anniversary. I am speaking of Star Trek: Enterprise; the show premiered sans-prefix due to the unhip and uncool connotations of those two words, only to then later be added to attract loyal fangeeks in an effort bolster flagging ratings—that is after premiering with 13 million viewers that eroded to around 2 million within a year. But why?

Enterprise producer Rick Berman claims that there is no longer an audience for television science-fiction. Which is a load of crap since there was clearly a lot of interest in the show that contributed those 13 million people who tuned in for the premiere on the often shunned UPN network. Modern sci-fi, including Enterprise, more resembles soft porn with pyrotechnic displays; Enterprise lead, Jolene Blalock cited similar concerns in an article with the New York Times where she protested that "the audience isn't stupid." And her under-utilized cast mate, John Billingsly shared similar thoughts with Dreamwatch Magazine:

"I always hated having to be in the silly gunfights. I always thought that the gunfights, ship to ship photon torpedo fights, et al, were dreary and dull. Personally, I would have liked to force the writers and producers to write at least 10 episodes in a row that didn't include any gunfire: not just because I'm a pacifistic lefty, but because they are a snooze and a bore most (if not all) of the time."

During most of first season, we saw Captain Archer and Co. haphazardly stumble upon one alien world after another with no real agenda or objective except for the rescue missions that invariable would arise after someone got captured by some alien-of-the-week. I find it interesting how the word franchise is often used to describe Star Trek; it conjures up images of fast food—bland, barely palletable and often consumed due to a lack of options.

Sci-Fi Now and Then

Science fiction film and television typically does not aspire to be intelligent, instead there's an entirely different mentality for sci-fi unlike any other genre. With science fiction there seems to be a campiness that is always present, permission to be goofy and immature. On any given scifi show: one week there can be a war story, the next week a comedy, the next week a boobfest and so on. In one respect this is a strength; in another respect, it's a detriment to serious, adult storytelling. Normal rules and expectations don't apply because they're flying a spaceship, so anything goes.

When Star Trek appeared on NBC way back in 1966, series creator Gene Roddenberry wanted to portray a hopeful vision of the future and he recruited hard sci-fi authors to help him with this task. Star Trek is infamous for it's cheesy set designs, rainbow colours, rubber suit aliens and—shall we say—William Shatner's overly actorly performances. It's also famous for promoting messages of peace and tolerance through allegory and metaphor during a time when such ideas were bold and uncommon on the television landscape.

Four spin-offs and ten movies later, a once enduring franchise has it's longevity in question. But the fate of Star Trek isn't too promising for that very reason, it's a franchise, a cash cow to exploited. Without the stewardship of deceased Star Trek visionary Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek is lost in space, and every reincarnation of the series only exists for the sake of making a buck instead of realizing a dream.

Rodenberry's Vision and his Legacy

But that isn't to say Roddenberry's vision wasn't flawed. In the original series, Kirk, Spock and McCoy would quarrel amongst themselves, which was part of the wonderful dynamic that endured for decades of stories. Characters were passionate, intense, flawed and very human while struggling with the ideals we in the present would some day like to reach. But when Roddenberry tackled 24th century humanity for The Next Generation, he famously instructed his writers to portray humans as being even more evolved and enlightened than Kirk's era, which meant humans don't have conflict amongst themselves, they're self-righteous and they all listen to classical music. Miraculously, this formula worked, for a while. Yet, the conventions of good storytelling would warn that this formula was a really bad idea, though good intentioned, and would limit opportunities for compelling drama and it did.

The bastard child of Star Trek, Deep Space Nine, attempted to rectify this dramatic handicap by embracing flawed characters who don't always get along or do the right thing. DS9 was a show filled with lots of shades of gray and those shades became darker as the show progressed. Unlike his televised predecessors, Benjamin Sisko was a captain who would reluctantly lie, cheat, steal and even kill for the greater good. Whereas Picard would rather make some grand self-righteous speech before he'd let go of his dogmatic code of behavior. Deep Space Nine divided fans and rightly so, the show was quite dry for the first few years and only picked up momentum after they stopped trying to emulate their predecessors. But even as the storylines became more and more compelling, some fans cried bloody murder for the complete disregard of Roddenberry's sacred rules. Many argued that Roddenberry would not have approved of DS9. Detractors were also vexed by the notion that the crew doesn't go anywhere, because they are assigned to a space station. "Star Trek is about flying around in a spaceship," they say but I disagree. Being forced to have to universe come to DS9 created all kinds of possibilities for storytelling and once the show got its footing, these possibilities were exploited. And yet fans continued to complain. They didn't like the idea of seeing something they perceived as anti-trek.

Creatively Bankrupt

Producer, Brannon Braga once said, that he didn't want to make another show about another crew, on some new ship called Intrepid or something. And yet such comments are exactly what prompt such anger from the fan base, because this is exactly what Enterprise turned out to be. Surely one can't be this clueless and content with themself. Surely he must be giving the finger to fans, as they say. Or maybe he just meant that he didn't like the name "Intrepid."

Though, who can blame him? Trekkers want something that's different and edgy, yet the same and unchanged, filled with technobabble, tedious star ship battle sequences, people falling off of chairs that obviously require seat belts, magic shields that require power to be constantly transferred from main power to auxiliary power while falling precariously close to zero percent only to then rise up again.

When will they finally get seat belts for the chairs and batteries that work for the shields, asked an annoyed Roger Ebert after suffering through the tenth film, Star Trek: Nemesis.

I once saw a "Star Trek Movie Treatment" template created by an annoyed fan to illustrate a point:

____ has a doomsday device that he will use to conquer or endanger ____ and it's up to Picard and his crew to stop him. The movie ends with a climatic final fight where the captain kills ____ and then blows up the machine.

Go ahead and try this at home, the results are surprisingly humorous, though saddening.

Critics have discussed at length, ways of "reimagining" Star Trek, but if they were to do that, why bother calling it Star Trek? Just so we can see a Klingon every now and then, this time on a ship called Intrepid?

With nearly four decades worth of fictional history I'm left wondering, what was the point? And why did I care so much in the first place? Even the universe (the real one, not the metaphorical one) will stop expanding one day. Maybe it's time to let this star finally die (I'm speaking metaphorically again) after being kept alive in a vegetative state for so very long. It's just sad now that it's time to pull the plug, I don't even recognize the thing I once loved.


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Display: Sort:
Star Trek: Failed Enterprise | 156 comments (139 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
Voyager (1.58 / 12) (#1)
by trane on Mon May 09, 2005 at 12:12:47 AM EST

was the best.

You must be on crack. (3.00 / 3) (#50)
by catastrophe on Mon May 09, 2005 at 09:11:40 PM EST


[ Parent ]
I think the first few were (2.00 / 4) (#62)
by jongleur on Tue May 10, 2005 at 01:57:05 AM EST

They were very 'brainy' somehow.

Also, I noticed when watching Voyager how paternal TNG was; Picard was the boss; the atmosphere was drenched in his bossness. The culture of Voyager was much freer. Whatsername did her job of course but didn't saturate the atmosphere with her personality and dominance. Between the two ships I'd rather have been on Voyager.
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]

But... (2.00 / 3) (#84)
by JahToasted on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:51:02 AM EST

Isn't that how the captain of a ship (either a spaceship or watership) supposed to be? He's supposed to be the boss, because if it isn't clearly defined who the boss is, then people start questioning, instead of just doing.
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
Janeway made herself felt all right (1.66 / 3) (#87)
by jongleur on Tue May 10, 2005 at 01:04:07 PM EST

but without saturating the place with her personality - it felt more modern, a flattened hierarchy or something.

I wonder if that's what all women bosses would feel like - if so, I like.
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]

I've had woman bosses (2.33 / 3) (#96)
by JahToasted on Tue May 10, 2005 at 05:47:45 PM EST

and unfortunately, no they aren't all like that, though some are.

I don't know I guess I see captains on military ships and figure that that thats the way it should be in the future. I guess thats what I like about BSG, the crew are all have a mixture of awe and fear of "the old man". I guess it just goes back to the old sailing days, when they were out of touch with their country for months at a time, and the Captain was God to the crew.

Anyway, I guess since we have no way of knowing how things should be way into the future, I guess it just comes down to personal preference.
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]

actually... (none / 0) (#99)
by etherdeath on Tue May 10, 2005 at 09:42:04 PM EST

Voyager isn't that bad... i used to dislike voyager, thinking it was terrible after watching the first few episodes... but recently, I've download the first season of TNG and Voyager.. Voyager is way better.  It's pretty funny to watch the first season of TNG... the writing style was completely different.. I think they were trying to make the crew sound really intelligent or something, phrasing sentences in really odd ways... but it eventually died down and the show got pretty normal by the end of the series.

Enterprise had a few good episodes.. I enjoyed a lot of the 2-3 parters this season.. but the prior seasons really sucked.  Still, they were better than a lot of other sci-fi around.. Andromeda and Star Gate.. it's just that tv sci-fi was that bad all around.

What I find odd is how the Enterprise cast is actually less ethnically diverse than the original, and I think all of the other series.

[ Parent ]

Did you notice that there are no (1.50 / 6) (#2)
by Sesquipundalian on Mon May 09, 2005 at 12:23:57 AM EST

"in-jokes" in the Enterprise episodes? In all of the other series like Deep Space Nine, TNG and TOS, the stories were full of political "in-jokes" and social commentary about new science and new politics.

Episodes of Enterprise are more like lobotomized episodes of He-Man (without the product promotion).

People don't like Enterprise because it is just science fiction, with none of the allegorical stuff that makes you giggle during the action scenes.

Maybe if the neo-cons weren't hell-bent on dumbing everyone down to the Christian-agrarian level, a dilithium fearing fan could get a little political commentary with their Godless evolutionary propaganda. Sadly I think we're going to have to make due with Vin Diesel movies for the next little while.

Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
Sometimes there were (none / 1) (#12)
by kitten on Mon May 09, 2005 at 02:09:59 AM EST

But they were either so heavy-handed or way too subtle that it didn't work.

The whole Xindi story arc was fun, and I liked it, but the obvious comparision to 9/11 was too much for me. Bad guys come out of nowhere and blow up a lot of innocent people, and when we finally find out who it was and why they did it, it turns out to be a lame reason (time travellers told us to / our holy book told us to). Then we go kick some ass because goddammit, no one messes with us.

It worked but just barely. Kind of like that classic episode, I forget what it was called, but it was so painfully a Vietnam story that it wasn't even funny.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
And let's not forget the ... (none / 0) (#119)
by interrobanger on Wed May 11, 2005 at 04:19:51 PM EST

... aliens who were black AND white, on opposite sides of their bodies.

"You're white [or black] on the wrong side! For this you must die!"

That's some great TV.

God Hates Figs!
[ Parent ]
Andromeda is great (2.00 / 3) (#3)
by wre on Mon May 09, 2005 at 12:41:49 AM EST

At least they're consistently corny and half-serious this season.

Action v Drama (2.77 / 9) (#11)
by kitten on Mon May 09, 2005 at 02:04:17 AM EST

Writers often mistake action for drama. Action is fun for a little while but fails to hold any real interest beyond the amusement of watching things blow up in various spectacular ways. Drama will hold an audience for a long time and keep them coming back for more.

In action writing, you give the hero a goal (stop so-and-so from blowing up the world with his orbital death ray) and just throw obstacles in his path that he overcomes, usually by dint of superior firepower or gadgets. It's not exciting after the first few iterations, because we know the hero will prevail -- that's why he's the hero. The only reason we'd continue watching after the first commercial break is to see how our protaganists win, not if they will. This is the formula used by the old Mission: Impossible series, as well as, say, James Bond movies.

Drama writing is different. The hero doesn't always win, or maybe he wins but it's a bittersweet victory. We watch not for the visually stunning explosive climax, but to find out how the characters are changed, how their world is changed, and what new direction they'll have to take next.

I enjoy Bond movies, but Bond never changes. He kicks ass, takes names, gets the girl, and we watch because it's a fun romp, but there's no dramatic tension in it.

Compare this with what I consider one of the finest dramatic moments in television history, or at least sci-fi television: the assimilation of Picard by the Borg. At the age of 12 I remember fretting about this all summer long until the season premiere. The episode didn't just center around Good Guys Blowing Up Bad Guys, but the conflict of Riker's career path, the up-and-coming Commander Shelby, the way Picard agonized over an unwinnable situation. When he was assimilated we were stunned -- this shit just isn't supposed to happen, not to our hero. But the real drama came at the very end, with Riker's having to choose between trying to further his rescue efforts, or taking his one-shot chance at destroying the Borg, and Picard with them. The words "Mr Worf... fire," were chilling.

When they finally defeat the Borg, there are repercussions. Picard has been mentally raped. He needs time to recover. Starfleet no longer really trusts him when it comes to fighting the Borg, and this hurts him. We get a sense of all this little by little, in addition to the joy of watching some of the most evil heavies finally get their due.

Consider classic Trek as well. The episodes most fondly remembered are the ones that focused on dramatic tension and used technology only as a vehicle to move the story along. "City on the Edge of Forever", perhaps the greatest of the classic episodes, had a minimum of technobabble and was moving because of the personal conflict of Kirk. "Space Seed" featured a powerful, charismatic antagonist that was at once evil and relatable. "The Tholian Web" was a standard-issue rescue-mission style story that could have been boring, but the writers focused less on how to get Kirk back and more on how his best friends, and the rest of the crew, reacted both professionally and personally to the prospect that Kirk may be gone forever.

Enterprise began to fail when they failed to understand the distinction between dramatic writing and action writing. As you put it, it's easy to just drop enemies in Archer's path and let him find a way of blowing them up or talking his way out of the situation, but that isn't what we want to see as an audience. We want to see conflict and growth. We want to see the fledgling Starfleet feeling its roots out into the galaxy and trying to find a place. We want to see what prompted Earth to form an alliance with neighboring worlds. We want to see the resistance to that notion by the more conservative or xenophobic humans (and their alien counterparts). Instead we got a lot of Archer floating around killing Klingons. Fun, but not gripping.

To me the best moments of Enterprise came during the darkest moments, when Archer or another major character did something that didn't fit the mold of the all-American hero. When Archer would lose his temper and lash out, I was interested. When he, in desperation, was prepared to blow someone out of an airlock during an interrogation, I was disgusted, but compelled. The show needs more moments like this.

The latest episode is a good example of storytelling potential that just didn't materialize. A child of T'Pol and Tucker, a xenophobic and eloquent resistance leader, an old flame from the past for Mayweather. But the writers just aren't going far enough with the potentials -- Tucker gripes for a minute or two with the doctor about his confusion, and then lets it go instead of continuing to worry. The antagonist gets his chance to speak his side of things, and does so with some force, but he's still treated as just a crackpot who happens to be articulate -- we don't get the chance to agree with him against our will. When Mayweather's ex-girlfriend turns out to be a spy, he defends her briefly, but seems to quickly accept the situation rather than letting the audience feel his confusion and hurt. They all seem like characatures, not characters.

Trek is supposed to be a dramatic series, not an action show, and for that to work, the writers need to understand the fundamentals of drama.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
That is all american (none / 1) (#31)
by communistpoet on Mon May 09, 2005 at 02:11:25 PM EST

" When he, in desperation, was prepared to blow someone out of an airlock during an interrogation, I was disgusted, but compelled. The show needs more moments like this."

have you seen 24?

We must become better men to make a better world.
[ Parent ]

Yeah, but (2.66 / 3) (#33)
by kitten on Mon May 09, 2005 at 03:35:36 PM EST

I meant more the All-American in the view of the mythos. Of apple pie, mothers ironing on Saturday morning while wearing starched aprons and pearls, men who talk tough and swagger but are really the strong-silent type who are gentle and caring, but not too gentle and caring.

The all-American view of fighting for Truth, Justice, and The American Way, of casting out evildoers and yet doing no harm ourselves, of always being morally righteous and never having to be put in a truly compromising situation.

All-American like John Wayne and Superman with chiseled faces and hearts full of light.

Our heroes tell us about ourselves in that regard. We love Rocky because we identify with the underdog, and you see that every time some self-righteous American points out that we defeated the British empire. We love Rambo because he takes charge and blows up as much as he has to, to get the job done. We love John Wayne because he's a tough-talkin' cowboy who never lets his enemies get him down. We love Captain Kirk because he's like John Wayne but with laser guns and gives optimistic speeches about how great humans are.

Yes, it's all a myth, but it's what Americans truly believe their culture is like. It's reinforced through all the heroes of the 50s and 60s, all the sitcoms they've ever watched, all the Disney-cleansed happy versions of dark tales from Hans Christian Anderson they've taken their children to see.

And we as an audience, even when we know better, are not immune to it. Captain Archer gets desperate and does something morally questionable -- it may be for the greater good, but for the moment, what he's doing is wrong. And we know that in real life, this kind of thing happens. But as an audience steeped in the whitewashed hero-worship culture of America, we're appalled, and that's why it works so well.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
The new generation Kills people in self righteous (none / 1) (#39)
by communistpoet on Mon May 09, 2005 at 05:32:07 PM EST


We must become better men to make a better world.
[ Parent ]
On the other hand... (none / 0) (#148)
by Znork on Sun May 15, 2005 at 05:59:08 AM EST

"When he, in desperation, was prepared to blow someone out of an airlock during an interrogation, I was disgusted, but compelled."

That kinda permanently turned me off the series. Oooh, poor terrorist ridden Archer has to make the 'tough choices' for the 'best of everyone' and takes the easy way out. Delusions of self-grandeur and pathetic attempts to justify the unjustifiable. Wether it's Archer torturing prisoners, the Xindi blowing up earth or their alter egos in our reality, they all make the 'tough choices' for the 'best of everyone'.

Kinda makes me think that maybe Arthur Clarke was right with the idea put forth in some book that all members of armed services involved in conflict should be euthanesized at the end of the conflict as being too psychologically, morally and ethically damaged to ever become a part of a civilized society again.

[ Parent ]

Logistical problem (none / 1) (#153)
by Razitshakra on Thu May 19, 2005 at 11:17:20 AM EST

What should be done to the euthanizers? And by whom?

Lets ride / You and I / In the midnight ambulance
- The Northern Territories
[ Parent ]
star trek died (3.00 / 3) (#13)
by circletimessquare on Mon May 09, 2005 at 03:23:50 AM EST

when it became a soap opera (nobody really cares who is sleeping with who)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

g\with who\with whom (nt) (none / 0) (#23)
by LilDebbie on Mon May 09, 2005 at 12:02:12 PM EST

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
i never pegged you as the grammar nazi type nt (none / 1) (#29)
by circletimessquare on Mon May 09, 2005 at 02:00:02 PM EST

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps he's from planet Ekos. n/t (none / 1) (#63)
by cpt kangarooski on Tue May 10, 2005 at 02:09:47 AM EST

All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
s/with who/with whom/g YFI. n/t (none / 1) (#32)
by communistpoet on Mon May 09, 2005 at 02:20:39 PM EST

We must become better men to make a better world.
[ Parent ]
s/with who/with what/g (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by fcw on Tue May 10, 2005 at 09:20:33 AM EST

Fully functional, and all that.

[ Parent ]
for interesting stories (1.57 / 7) (#14)
by forgotten on Mon May 09, 2005 at 03:45:51 AM EST

i think that voyager is the most underrated star trek series. i avoided it for a while but after catching a few episodes here and there i started to quite enjoy it.

but star trek can hardly be called science fiction these days, especially not enterprise. being set on a spaceship is no longer sufficent.

probably the only interesting science fiction of recent years has been lexx.


lexx was kinda ruined for me (none / 1) (#24)
by LilDebbie on Mon May 09, 2005 at 12:03:58 PM EST

I watched it at this chick's house who was using it as a ploy to sleep with me. I liked the show, but I couldn't enjoy it for constant fear she was going to want to get it on afterwards.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Life is tough, isn't it. (2.75 / 4) (#40)
by kitten on Mon May 09, 2005 at 05:43:56 PM EST

mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
There are some places your wang should not go (none / 1) (#41)
by LilDebbie on Mon May 09, 2005 at 05:48:26 PM EST

She was one of them.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
yeh, i had a similar experience (2.00 / 3) (#47)
by forgotten on Mon May 09, 2005 at 08:24:40 PM EST

all through the show Xenia Seeberg was sending subliminal messages that she wanted to sleep with me.

it was most frustrating.


[ Parent ]

What is "Lexx"? (none / 1) (#55)
by morewhine on Mon May 09, 2005 at 11:03:37 PM EST

What is that?  A television series?  I've never heard of it.

[ Parent ]
download it now (none / 0) (#59)
by LilDebbie on Mon May 09, 2005 at 11:56:29 PM EST

it's awesome, even if some hoebag is trying to get all up ons.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
WHAT IS IT THOUGH? (none / 0) (#61)
by morewhine on Tue May 10, 2005 at 01:41:51 AM EST

Lexx, Lexxx, whatever.  I have no idea what it is.  Could you please give me a brief explanation.

[ Parent ]
a tv series (none / 0) (#68)
by forgotten on Tue May 10, 2005 at 06:13:03 AM EST

you can look it up on imdb but .. well, its different. the only thing i can think of that is kind of close in concept is red dwarf, but the humor and atmosphere is completely different.


[ Parent ]

You mean Lexxx that was some tricked shit ;) (none / 1) (#60)
by The Amazing Idiot on Tue May 10, 2005 at 12:00:15 AM EST

[ Parent ]
any chic who uses Sci-Fi s a ploy (none / 1) (#127)
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu May 12, 2005 at 09:19:13 AM EST

to sleep with a guy must be NASTY!!!!

it is one thing to enjoy Sci-Fi, but come on... if a chic was worth sleeping with, she would not need to have a carrot out there for a guy to enter her bed.

[ Parent ]

The truth is a lot simpler (1.84 / 13) (#16)
by Weyland Yutani on Mon May 09, 2005 at 06:20:52 AM EST

Star Trek fans are pedophiles. Hence they enjoyed the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine for child and teen characters like Wesley Crusher and Jake Sisko. They did not like Voyager and Enterprise because there weren't any kids to ogle, and they were repelled by the womanly curves of Jeri Ryan and Jolene Blalock.
Spinning my wheels on the launchpad, spitting I dunno and itch

false. (2.00 / 2) (#36)
by spooked on Mon May 09, 2005 at 04:29:32 PM EST

in voyager there were those 'borg kids and nelix's adopted(?) daughter.

as for the pedophilia, who knows? this is the internet. stranger things have happened.

[ Parent ]
This is mostly on target (2.22 / 9) (#26)
by IHCOYC on Mon May 09, 2005 at 12:22:39 PM EST

It seems to me that almost all semi-serious US science-fantasy movies and television have paranoid fantasies at their core. The X-Files is perhaps the canonical example on television, and The Matrix the canonical example in cinema. You will think of many, many others with some slight application.

The problem is, paranoid fantasies are absolute poison to Star Trek and its progeny. The original series was supposed to be an optimistic vision of an American enlightenment extended to the stars; a vision where alien species put their differences aside and united in a Federation of democratic equality for all. Towards the end of Roddenberry's life, even the Klingons were being portrayed as a culture with which some could sympathize, and there was movement to reforming the Romulans.

This was Gene Roddenberry's vision, but his vision has gone out of fashion here. No one expects enlightenment from Americans, or virtue from the U.S. congress. Contemporary science-fantasy instead expects governments to conspire to do horrible things; the heroes are those who confront their evil rulers and expose their dark secrets.

The franchise started going south with Deep Space Nine; the latter parts of the series and the interminable wars got so unwatchable I tuned them out myself. Voyager managed to travel from the Delta Quadrant back home while hardly encountering a friendly alien species or even semi-admirable culture. Enterprise began promisingly, but foundered with interminable season-long or longer story arcs about "temporal cold wars" --- i.e. classical paranoid fantasies --- and the "Xindi" threat --- i.e. space "terrorists." After they put these long story arcs behind them, the episodes began improving, but apparently not enough to save the series.

Contemporary America can't make Star Trek again, and can't cope with the premises that made the series admirable. We just can't handle optimism.
Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

Wow! Amazing! (1.60 / 5) (#30)
by evilmeow on Mon May 09, 2005 at 02:09:48 PM EST

There are actually people out there who can turn Star Trek legacy into an anti-american argument!
"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
He is spot on (none / 1) (#37)
by caridon20 on Mon May 09, 2005 at 04:33:22 PM EST

IHCOYC is correct in his description. All contemporary drama will show a microcosm of the time and mood of its creation.

look att television and film from the end of WWII to today and you will se the current political and sociological themes reflected in the filmmaking.

Dissent is NOT Treason Quis custodiet ipsos custodes
[ Parent ]

You're mostly there, (2.75 / 12) (#28)
by Kasreyn on Mon May 09, 2005 at 01:40:07 PM EST

and you're right about the Franchise being creatively bankrupt. Berman and especially Braga lack the courage and vision necessary to make Star Trek a compelling drama by examining current social issues.

For instance, both the original series and the Next Generation examined important political and moral issues of their day. Racism, warfare, biomedical ethics, and so forth. However, this has become more and more rare as Next Gen wore into the soap opera DS9, into the weekly creature-features Voyager and "Enterprise".

Perhaps the best example I can think of is the current public issue of gays and what rights they should have. It's commonly known that Braga shoots down every gay-related script that crosses his desk, despite the fact that using space opera as a vehicle to explore public issues was what Star Trek was originally *for*. Those currently at the helm of the good ship Trek simply do not have the courage of a Roddenberry or a Fontana.

I agree that the formula for Star Trek movies is saddening. The other thing Star Trek was always about was finding a nonviolent solution to problems, or at least exhausting such options before resorting to force. Think of Kirk refusing to kill the Gorn, or Spock defending the Horta. And now we have scenes like the one where Data grabs a phaser rifle and mugs for the camera "Let's lock and load." Which makes me wonder, when did this become Star Wars?

And speaking of history, I know I'm not alone in being pissed that all the complex and lovingly detailed ST universe history detailed in the Pocket Books novels and compendiums and encyclopediae were unceremoniously dumped on their ear for "Enterprise". It's not as if the series was good enough to merit discarding thirty years of established lore over the history of Star Trek. If Next Gen movies are turning into Star Wars, Enterprise's premier made me ask if its title was "Horny Vulcan Sorority Babes IV". Don't drop the soap around T'Pol, guys - yowza!

So let's just say good riddance to Enterprise, and with any luck Berman and Braga will quit making their lame shit and further pissing on the tattered remnants of Star Trek's sci-fi credibility.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
What ST Needs (2.00 / 4) (#34)
by omegadan on Mon May 09, 2005 at 03:43:39 PM EST

Good article. I have always thought what Star Trek needed, was what DS9 tried to do. An episodic format with *LONG* plot arcs, perhaps years long, perhaps the entier show long.

The DS9 war story arc was *gold*. I was glued to the TV when I was a kid when they came out -- and I still hold them in very high regard, having rewatched the entire DS9 last summer when I broke my leg and well shit, what can you do with a broken leg? :)

So thats what ST needs, interesting characters, long story arcs planned in advance. What ST has: 1 episode "modular" stories where the characters cant evolve because they have to be "the same" at the end of each episode.

Someday when I have more time, I have a master plan to produce the best star trek ever, I am going to re-edit DS9, but in a way thats unimaginable :)

Imagine a piece of software which gives you *FEED* the dvds, and it provides options like:

[Y/n] Quark Subplots?
[Y/n] Odo-Kira Love subplot?
[Y/n] Nog Starfleet Subplot?
[Y/n] Holodeck/Alternate Universe Episodes?
[Y/n] Time Travel Episodes?
[Y/n] Filler Episodes?
[Y/n] Julian/o'Brian friendship subplot?
[Y/n] Skip pointless moralizing episodes?
[Y/n] Dax's Past Hosts Episodes?
[Y/n] ...

Anyways, it goes on for pages and pages and re-edits a custom DS9 with only the stuff you want to see. Of course it will have pre-sets for the war based military stuff :)

Religion is a gateway psychosis. - Dave Foley

Sometimes the blatently obvious needs to be said (2.40 / 5) (#35)
by thelizman on Mon May 09, 2005 at 03:49:02 PM EST

You. Nail. Head. Bang.

Quite possibly trek needs to die. If it does die, even if only four a few years, it can be remembered fondly as a franchise (eck) which saved Sci-fi again and again from extinction. Unfortunately, Star Trek - at once lauded and lampooned as a fixture of popular culture and media - cannot compete with the current slate of sci-fi expansions. You now have the ultra-campy (Andromeda), the war-pr0n (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis), and the hybrid sci-fi action/drama (Battlestar Galactica). We had the Trek Wannabes (Babylon 5), the anti-trek (Farscape), and the enduring space opera of Star Wars and its multitude of potential spinoffs.

And someone said there's no market for Sci-fi?

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
What could have been... (3.00 / 4) (#42)
by Coryoth on Mon May 09, 2005 at 06:53:53 PM EST

I remember, prior to Enterprise coming out, before even the concept was announced, some discussions as to what the new Star Trek series could be about.  At least one idea caught my attention enough that I still remember it - I think the idea was spawned by the comparison of DS9 to Voyager and the benefits of breaking out of the standard Star Trek formula.

The series is set in the distant future where the Federation has been destroyed.  No one knows quite how or why the Federation collapsed - everything is disconnected and "subspace" communication is impossible. The only way is to talk to the scattered remnants of the Federation is to go there in person. Humanity has managed to peace together enough technology to be space faring again, and have a clear mission: to find out what happened.

There's plenty of room for interesting per episode plots as old connections are re-established, and the galaxy is rediscovered.  At the same time there's plenty of scope for a larger story arc as it is discovered what destroyed the Federation - and that it may be coming back.

Certainly such a series would be free of many of the constraints that Star Trek has boxed itself into.  It would also be much darker, and probably grittier than previous Trek series.

Sadly such a concept was not taken up.  Instead they boxed themselves even more completely by setting the series completely within a well defined period of Star Trek history.  In the meantime a dark and gritty sci-fi series vaguely similar to that proposed has already arrived: Battlestar Galactica.  Admittedly they are searching for "why" rather than "who and how" their society was destroyed.  Interestingly BSG has been hugely successful, while Enterprise has tanked.  Star Trek missed their opportunity to step outside and do something a little different, and now someone else (the guy responsible for some of the DS9 work interestingly enough) has done it without them.

Star Trek deserves whatever it gets at this point, they've made too many terrible decisions to not get buried.


not quite (none / 1) (#49)
by Derek Arnold on Mon May 09, 2005 at 08:56:00 PM EST

The series is set in the distant future where the Federation has been destroyed. No one knows quite how or why the Federation collapsed - everything is disconnected and "subspace" communication is impossible. The only way is to talk to the scattered remnants of the Federation is to go there in person.

This has been done. It's called Battlestar Galactica.

[ Parent ]

Um, yes, I know. (none / 0) (#51)
by Coryoth on Mon May 09, 2005 at 09:14:01 PM EST

Did you read my whole post?  I specifically said as much: BSG has taken an awfully similar premise and created something hugely successful.  Star Trek could have been doing that 4 years ago.  They didn't.  And that is why they fail.


[ Parent ]

Pfft. Actually, it was called 'Andromeda' (none / 0) (#80)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:07:02 AM EST

and it wasn't all that good.

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]
But mainly 'cause it was poorly written (1.50 / 2) (#94)
by HereticMessiah on Tue May 10, 2005 at 05:08:01 PM EST

Though as a concept it stood up just fine.

Disagree with me? Post a reply.
Think my post's poor or trolling? Rate me down.
[ Parent ]
andromeda (none / 1) (#52)
by starX on Mon May 09, 2005 at 09:55:04 PM EST

I think GR had this in mind in his outlines for what became Andromeda.  Anyone know more?

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust
[ Parent ]
What could have been... (none / 0) (#57)
by Kujo on Mon May 09, 2005 at 11:47:48 PM EST

Great idea. I would have loved to see this.  DS9 was  also my favourite Trek series.

[ Parent ]
Wow, too similar to.. (none / 1) (#58)
by The Amazing Idiot on Mon May 09, 2005 at 11:56:28 PM EST

The Hyperion Cantos.

In that set of 4 books, there's 2 distinct 'living' creatures. The humans, and the AI in which they made.

This AI has become tremendously intelligent and has made advanced strides of instantaneous teleportation, hyperspace communication, battle crusisers able to transverse space instantly, death rays which dissassembe the neurons of humans.

Of all these advances given by the AI to the humans,  they yet have to find other intelligent life. At the end of the 2'nd book, a message appears throught all of space, and at the same intensity: "Until you know what this channel of communication is for, we are taking the priviledges away until you gain resopnsibility. Good bye" At that point, some super-sentient beings literally disable hyperspace traversal and speach for the whole area of people.

Great set of scifi books, and it sounds terribly like this plot ;)

[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#65)
by cpt kangarooski on Tue May 10, 2005 at 02:39:00 AM EST

What you described was a concept that, having been rejected for Trek, became Andromeda.

However, what I would've liked to see for Enterprise was the use of modest amounts of the time travel that they introduced from the very beginning to allow the writers to ignore Trek continuity, and start fresh, earlier. Some basic elements might remain the same, but where they go with them could've been significantly different. It might even have resulted in the Federation not being formed, and thus conflicts between the main cast and the future Federation.

All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

other ideas (none / 0) (#82)
by Azmodan on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:21:24 AM EST

They first broke away from the original crew, then the Enterprise spaceship, than the alpha quadrant.  Let's go father, let's drop the need to be in space all the time.

They could have done a serie where a lot of the action is located on the planets we already know (betazed, trill homeworld, etc...).  They already have races that lots of fans love, they should have developed them and develop their cultures.

Another idea which might not be really popular but that would have liked.  They want to show us a serie in the past, fine !  Let's see it from a Klingon or Romulan point of view !  It would have been awesome to see why they were acting the way they were more than because they were the bad guys.

[ Parent ]

How about ... (none / 1) (#117)
by interrobanger on Wed May 11, 2005 at 04:13:57 PM EST

"Law & Order: Alien Victims Unit" ... ? Both L&O and ST:TOS have been milked past bloody to dry, so I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. You think I'm kidding, but if someone from NBC reads this there will be a pilot, watch and see.
God Hates Figs!
[ Parent ]
Star Trek: The Mini-series (3.00 / 3) (#43)
by adimovk5 on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:07:16 PM EST

Star Trek script writers should mine the many books written about the Star Trek universe. Successful books should be turned into mini-series. It would be a way of expanding the video universe. A character might be minor in one story but play a major role in another. Actors and writing teams could participate in a project or not.

Stories would have definite endings instead of running until they ran out of steam. It might increase the quality of story lines. With a potential fan base of over 13 million, there could be alot of money to be made.

Trek: From Where, to Where (2.81 / 11) (#44)
by localroger on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:12:23 PM EST

First of all, there was never anything that forward-looking about TOS; David Gerrold wrote that Roddenberry envisioned it as "Captain Hornblower in Space." Roddenberry later denied this, but it's right there in black and white in my old World of Star Trek and I have no reason to disbelieve Gerrold, while the Hornblower association got to be rather embarrassing at a certain point. But that's all NCC1701 ever was, an ocean-going ship in space. The voyage timescale, relative risk level, limited communication back home, and variety of civilizations encountered by Kirk and Co. parallels closely the kind of adventure you might have had on a 17th century sailing ship.

For its day Trek was something new and different. It is Trek and not 2001 or Silent Running or Forbidden Planet that we have to thank for the later run of SFnal movies, starting with Star Wars, that drove special effects technology places it had never gone before.

But Trek never was anything more than Hornblower in Space, even if the fans insisted on making it so. Hell, back in the 70's I was one of the ones who found Trek in syndication and longed for it to go on. But when it finally did, I found NextGen and its successors ponderous and unappealing.

The problem is that TOS had a sly tongue in cheek. While it wasn't overt that Kirk slept with anything approximately female, the idea was there. Every character was not only dramatically interesting, but also over the top in some funny or interesting way. NextGen was afraid to do that. The Fans had made such a serious study of the Trek universe that everything had to conform to the deadly ponderous serious Vision they had extrapolated.

By the time we get to the later movies and Voyager Trek has painted itself into multiple Dr. Who-like corners, as present reality encroaches on its fictional past and there are multiple nearly-omnipotent beings afoot and each season requires an even bigger badder threat to eclipse the big bad threat that was overcome the season before.

What I liked about Enterprise is that they shitcanned the canon and tried to go back to TOS's roots. The first season, which the Fans hated, was my favorite; they had things like the teaser to Unexpected where Archer is taking a shower and the gravity fails. The actors hammed it up and showed ordinary human failings. Best of all, we could see how once these tendences became assimilated but mellowed a bit it might lead to the Starfleet of TOS, with its many oft-criticized "flaws." There were many insider nods and winks toward TOS elements whose groundwork was being laid.

But the Fans spoke up, and the producers decided they had to get Ponderous on us and so we got the Xindi arc, which I kind of hated except for the episode where Archer loses his ability to form long-term memories and T'Pol becomes his caretaker as the human race is exterminated. Otherwise the levity was gone, and we had Bakula being all stern-jawed as we sailed through one ocean^wspace battle after another.

The last season has been much better, which makes it a shame it's going to be the last. I absolutely loved In a Mirror Darkly, which carried the Mirror, Mirror theme from the Imperial side of the mirror, right down to having an alternate opening credit with bombs dropping and an Imperial march instead of the scenes of exploration and pop music of the "real" episodes. Also, it was fun watching Bakula just plain not being able to do Evil (tm). As my wife said, it was fun just to watch the actors chew up the carpet. Every episode doesn't have to end with some version of 42.

The problem is that Enterprise needs the Fans to provide it with a base, but if it does what it does best the Fans hate it. And Enterprise was about the last original idea left for the franchise to explore. Further in the future has been tried and failed; the past has been tried and now failed. It's probably time to remember that it was all about sailing ships anyway and think of something a bit more state of the art.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer

innovative compared to TV of its time (none / 0) (#48)
by bcrowell on Mon May 09, 2005 at 08:36:52 PM EST

First of all, there was never anything that forward-looking about TOS; David Gerrold wrote that Roddenberry envisioned it as "Captain Hornblower in Space."
It was forward-looking compared to the TV of its era. It was a big deal that the crew was multiracial, and that Kirk and Uhura kissed (under telepathic control, of course :-). It was also very intellectual compared to even the best TV of that era -- the studio actually rejected the original pilot as "too cerebral."

However, it was always scifi, not SF, and the recent shows are not even particularly good compared to a lot of the other TV and movie scifi that's out now. My wife and I watched TNG, and then DS9, for years, and it was the only TV we watched. But at this point it just seems like a form of masturbation. I'd rather read a good SF book.

The Assayer - book reviews for the free-information renaissance
[ Parent ]

hoggle (2.00 / 3) (#73)
by samu on Tue May 10, 2005 at 08:33:56 AM EST

However, it was always scifi, not SF

You just broke my internal logic parser. Please send funds for repair.

[ Parent ]

Pedantic definitions (2.50 / 2) (#97)
by djp928 on Tue May 10, 2005 at 06:18:20 PM EST

Some people like to differentiate between "bad science fiction" and "good science fiction" (or, to be even more pedantic, "speculative fiction") by using the terms "sci-fi" and "SF" as if they were not synonymous, which of course confuses every other human being on the planet, since everyone else sees them as synonyms.

Bad science fiction is "Sci-fi" (sometimes pronounced "skiffy") and good science fiction is SF.

-- Dave

[ Parent ]

scifi vs SF (none / 1) (#100)
by bcrowell on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:30:59 PM EST

I think the distinction is useful, and I don't see it as a bad-versus-good distinction. I see it as sort of a continuum, running like this:
  • hard SF
  • soft SF
  • scifi
  • fantasy
As we go from the top to the bottom, we need to suspend our disbelief more and more. When I read a Harry Potter novel, I just have to say, "OK, I'm not going to think skeptically about flying on broomsticks." The scifi part of the spectrum includes, e.g., Star Trek, where characters of different species (species that evolved separately, on different planets) are able to have children together.

Another way of thinking about it is that scifi is to SF as smooth jazz is to real jazz. Kenny G makes the music he makes because he doesn't have the skills and knowledge to play bebop. Likewise, someone who never really grasped long division is going to have a hard time writing hard SF. But technical skill isn't exactly the same thing as quality. Sometimes when I hear a good punk rock song, it's obvious they only know three chords, but I also think it's a really good song.

The Assayer - book reviews for the free-information renaissance
[ Parent ]

Re: Pedantic definitions (none / 1) (#111)
by MyrdemInggala on Wed May 11, 2005 at 11:16:41 AM EST

I use the terms interchangeably, and in these parts we pronounce sci-fi "psi phi".  If I ever were to hear someone pronounce it "skiffy", I think my head might explode.  That's just not right.

I think the distinction is often not meaningful, since it relies on the degree of the reader's (or viewer's) familiarity with the details of a particular technology or field of scientific research.

I dislike most cyberpunk, because I am a computer programmer.  Lots of cyberpunk, especially from the eighties, makes me cringe in horror ("Wtf?! How the hell can you do something like that with a computer?  Magic?!").

I can easily imagine a particle physicist reading a sf book that I found to be plausible "hard sf", and cringing as he thinks "Wtf?!  How the hell can you do something like that with gluons?  Magic?!"

-- 22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head. -- Evil Overlord List
[ Parent ]

Goodbye; Come back when you are better. (2.66 / 3) (#45)
by tragek on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:37:37 PM EST

I think that, at least for the time being, the death of enterprise is a good thing. Trek has run it's course for now, and I think it's time for a sabbatical, until at least the death of Rick Berman.

While I disagree with Orson Scott Card, that Star Trek was plotless drivel stuck in the mold of the original series, I do think that he's right in saying that there's a crap load of better stuff out there, and it's time for star trek to die for a while, to let it reinvent itself. Perhaps, if we are lucky, in 10 years, Star trek will return, as the best Star Trek series ever, however, for now, I think Sci Fi fans should sate themselves upon the better sci-fi out there, Battle Star galactica being one of the best perhaps.

Alas, my favorite SciFi show was cancelled a while back, Firefly, however, on the silver screen she returns, Serenity. I shall miss the swearing in chinese until September.

Why Star Trek was successful (2.57 / 7) (#46)
by assman on Mon May 09, 2005 at 08:12:12 PM EST

I think the problem here is that no one appreciates the real reason star trek was successful. Star Trek orginally always had two elements: mystery and discovery. In the original Star Trek you were always presented with an alien society/creature whose nature was not understood. As the episode progressed you came to understand how the society or alien worked. Sometimes some lesson was also taught in the process. However the essential idea of star trek was exploring the unknown. This of course is obvious because the whole opening message of both the original show and Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG) made this very clear. This formula always worked well and it was used in ST:TNG in the beginning. Thus the show was never about wars, action, women, bickering between Kirk and crew or even contemporary social issues like racism. These things were mostly peripheral to the main point of the show which was all about discovery. After Roddenberry died the ST:TNG immediately drifted and became more about the personal issues of the crew. The aliens were no longer the subject of the story, they were instead just part of the setting for the drama that was taking place in the lives of the crew. Aliens became a plot device instead of being the main topic. A lot of the ST:TNG shows were about Dienna, Kirk, or somebody undergoing some weird issues due to some alien manipulating them. Many of the Voyager episodes are also like this. Thus aliens became a means of exploring the problems and issues of the crew instead of being the main issue of interest. This of course is a stupid idea because it reduces science fiction down to drama. What is the point of science fiction if it is just space drama. Why not just have drama but without the science. The only difference between space dramas and normal dramas is setting. Mystery/discovery a la star trek is not the only way of doing science fiction. You can also have more of a war based story like Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine, Star Wars etc with themes like good vs evil alien or good rebels vs empire. In this case you can also introduce philosophies and religious elements like Star Wars, Deep Space Nine or Andromeda. In this case science fiction is almost like a mythology or an elaborate world just like Lord of the Rings. I would say that most of the successful science fiction on right now is of this type involving some war with good vs evil or saving the universe e.g. Star Wars, Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5, Dune (Good and evil in this case are very complicated), Andromeda (not war in this case but still saving the universe), Star Gate: Atlantis and Original etc. I enjoy this kind of science fiction but I still think there is plenty room for the discovery type science fiction which is about exploring new worlds, different cultures and different ways of doing things. I believe that Star Trek could return to its roots. It just has to learn to stop worrying about the lives of the crew and worry more about aliens. The original star trek only worried about the life of one crew member and that was Spock. But that was mainly because he was a Vulcan and therefore an alien so his problems merited attention. Star Trek has become less about drama, action and more about discovery. Getting some good SF short story writers to come up with scripts might be a good idea. I think the reason Star Trek started worrying about the crew has to do with the inferiority complex of science fiction. Modern literature has become obsessed with character and development of the fully rounded characters as the only important thing in writing. Literature is considered today to be the exploration of the human condition e.g. the emotions, feeling etc of human beings. Everything else like plot, setting, ideas (political ideas, ideas about the future, society etc) are considered peripheral. Now this is one of the big criticisms of SF, its characters are two dimensional, they are not complete and fully rounded. The response of SF has been to produce crappy space dramas. But SF authors should stop listening to the larger literary community and understand that SF is not only about human beings. In fact in many cases it has nothing to do with humans. SF is about ideas. It is a medium for exploring ideas about culture, the universe, society, life etc. Its concerns are much larger and more important than simply the human condition. SF should think of themselves as being above the rest of the literary community because they do not limit themselves the way most writers do to soley human dramas. SF writers write about cultures, societies, technologies and their impacts, the nature of life, the nature of the universe, God etc. In short it is the literary community that aught to be looked down upon by SF writers because the literary community rights about things that are pedestrian, boring, uncreative, narrow and remarkably limited. It is the literary community that is absolutely ridiculous

K-Rist. (2.50 / 4) (#53)
by caine on Mon May 09, 2005 at 10:38:43 PM EST

Here's 20 bucks. Go buy some paragraphs.


[ Parent ]

Hey, it happens. (3.00 / 2) (#54)
by kitten on Mon May 09, 2005 at 10:56:54 PM EST

Probably he had it on HTML format and just didn't catch it until it was too late. Annoying, yes, and even more annoying to read, but let it go unless it becomes a habit.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
ST (none / 1) (#56)
by Kujo on Mon May 09, 2005 at 11:44:13 PM EST

I think in "In a Mirror, Darkly" showed the potential Enterprise would have had if they had followed a darker plot line. DS9 was by far my favourite ST series. It was the first ST series that I got from the beginning. BSG is easily the best Sci-Fi series on TV. The new series, Charlie Jade, is very good as well. It was definitely time for Enterprise to be cancelled. I don't want to them to develop another ST series unless they come up with something compelling. It would have be a darker series.

Star Trek : 90210 (3.00 / 5) (#64)
by nlscb on Tue May 10, 2005 at 02:15:14 AM EST

Weren't they going to have an ST series about a class going through Star Fleet Academy?

Like, OHMIGOD, Wesley, like, set off his phaser in the classrom.

Yeah, what a dork!

I think Wesley likes you.

Like no way!

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

Don't give them any ideas! (none / 1) (#140)
by Mason on Fri May 13, 2005 at 03:09:00 AM EST

Given the current penchant for network teen dramas, this seems actually pretty likely.

[ Parent ]
TNG (2.25 / 4) (#66)
by the77x42 on Tue May 10, 2005 at 03:19:08 AM EST

I watched a lot of The Next Generation as a kid. I never told anyone. My parents didn't even know; I watched it at my nana's. I didn't know why I watched it. Years later a few of my friends were over and we were going through the channels and TNG came on. There was a collective "sweet". Faces went red as we bit our tongues.

After a short time talking about why we liked the show, I think the general consensus was that there was just something about Picard. His leadership role carried over to the audience and I felt compelled to watch his show to look up to him. I was in my early teens and Picard was the father that I never had. When he was captured by the Borg I was hooked -- I needed to see my role model survive.

Now that I'm a lot older, watching the show is hard. I no longer am in awe at such a eutopian future because I'm more cynical. I no longer take Picard seriously after seeing Stewart in X-Men.

I wish I could go back, but I can't.

"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

The problem with Star Trek... (2.00 / 5) (#67)
by MyrdemInggala on Tue May 10, 2005 at 05:48:32 AM EST

...as a science fiction series is that the science part is crap.

I have enjoyed most of the Star Trek I've watched (since few of the series were screened in South Africa, it's less than I would have liked).  I particularly liked Deep Space Nine because of the characterisation, the more complex moral issues and the continuing story arcs - because as much as I love the "science" in science fiction, I sure as hell wasn't finding any of it in Star Trek.  I watched it for the space opera.

The inconsistencies and silliness of Star Trek science really irked me until I told myself "just pretend it's a comic book".  Because that's what Star Trek science is - comic book science.

Various advanced scientific developments exist in a vacuum, without affecting the world around them in the ways you would expect to see in the real world or in a "hard sf" universe (where often there is just one fictitious gimmick, and the fun lies in exploring just how that one gimmick can impact the entire world).

A concrete example off the top of my head?  Consider the transporter beam.  If I recall correctly, it works by disassembling you into your component molecules, and reassembling you from other particles somewhere else.  So at some point you presumably exist as data in the transporter's memory.  Why isn't this data copied?  It happens to Riker once during a freak accident, and is never mentioned again.

An obvious use for this technology would be to back people up, so that if they were killed they could be restored.  Yet this is never done, and no explanation is given for why it isn't done.

Of course, there's a long history of people "reprogramming the transporter beam" to do all sorts of bizarre things after the writers have painted themselves into a corner - and we never see any of these discoveries, or hear about their implications, again.

And then there's the utter implausibility of a society where almost any material can be created by matter synthesis having an economy which is ostensibly kind of like ours except in the future.

And then there are the bumpy-headed alien races who can all interbreed (yeah, I know about the retcon with the precursor race.  It's still silly).

These things are not the fault of the modern writers of Star Trek.  They have inherited the bad, cheesy science of the sixties because the producers of TNG chose to make a faithful sequel rather than a "reimagining".  I think that was possibly a mistake - the show may have ended up stronger if TNG had tried to preserve as much of the social backstory as possible while totally ditching the dodgy science.  It was partially done with the omission of the most stupid TOS races, but it didn't go far enough to make the show good sci-fi.

I watched the first season of Enterprise, and while I didn't think it was terrible, it wasn't good enough to make me really want to see more.  The format had reverted to the boring "bumpy-headed alien of the week", the issues presented were simplistic, the series was constrained by established historical precedent, the seasonal story arc involved time travel, which I hate, and I didn't find any of the characters particularly engaging.

So it wasn't very good space opera.  And that made it bad Star Trek, because the science was as bad as usual.

-- 22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head. -- Evil Overlord List

I agree with everything you say (none / 1) (#70)
by sydb on Tue May 10, 2005 at 07:48:43 AM EST

except for your continuation of the widespread miscategorisation of Star Trek as a space opera. An opera is a drama set to music, where most of the dialogue is sung. One of Star Trek's saving graces is that it is not an opera.

Same goes for Star Wars, and countless other space dramas.

Making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did - Linus Torvalds
[ Parent ]

Terminology nitpick! (2.25 / 4) (#75)
by MyrdemInggala on Tue May 10, 2005 at 09:24:18 AM EST

As far as I know, "space opera" has become an accepted term in the modern English language for "science fiction drama dealing with large-scale themes, with an emphasis on the social interaction of both individuals and cultures rather than the exploration of scientific ideas".  You know, like in an opera. :P ;)

It's not a very accurate term, but then neither is "science fiction" itself.  When I am Evil Overlord I shall rename the genre to "the entire span of fiction which deals with situations and settings outside modern reality and recorded history, including but not limited to fiction concerning hypothetical changes caused by the introduction of new technologies or social customs or alternative historical events, ostensibly based on the laws of physics as they are currently known, or reasonable extrapolations thereof, rather than fantastic phenomena which almost certainly do not exist in our universe, except for rare cases in which a writer knowingly postulates an impossible premise, but proceeds logically from that point onwards".

I think my minions will depose me. :(

-- 22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head. -- Evil Overlord List
[ Parent ]

Horse opera --> space opera (2.50 / 2) (#78)
by IHCOYC on Tue May 10, 2005 at 10:47:23 AM EST

My understanding is that "space opera" is a play on words stemming from the earlier "horse opera", your standard Western lawman versus outlaws movie, where the man on the white hat rides into town, bags the bad guys at a climactic shootout, and gets the girl. Not sure why it was called "opera," except perhaps as a joke, although there were an awful lot of singing cowboys in the 1950s.

"Space opera" implies that this same scenario has been transposed into outer space, with big shootemups in the stars, manly heroes, and despicable villains. It is a pretty good description of Star Wars and similar stuff.
Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

[ Parent ]

With Star Wars, it's much more direct. (none / 0) (#114)
by Kasreyn on Wed May 11, 2005 at 12:20:57 PM EST

Between Williams' breathtaking music and the bizarre aliens and costumes, I have a hard time convincing myself I'm not watching Siegfried.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Space opera =! opera (3.00 / 2) (#77)
by monkeymind on Tue May 10, 2005 at 10:11:20 AM EST

Try soap opera in space instead. Thanks for watching.

I believe in Karma. That means I can do bad things to people and assume the deserve it.
[ Parent ]

missed opportunity (none / 0) (#81)
by omegadan on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:17:36 AM EST

the series was constrained by established historical precedent

And that of course was the utter stupidity of it all. Everyone thought surely we would be exploring the begining of the klingon war, which could have been great. Fands wanted a long, tactical, diplomatic, INVOLVING, episodic war like DS9. The first episode seemed to *INDICATE* that would be the case -- with the klingons trying to sabotage the humans. Then -- nothing ... temporal cold war? (WTF).

Religion is a gateway psychosis. - Dave Foley
[ Parent ]

The problem with the Transporter... (2.00 / 3) (#88)
by Stanislav on Tue May 10, 2005 at 01:36:39 PM EST

A concrete example off the top of my head? Consider the transporter beam. If I recall correctly, it works by disassembling you into your component molecules, and reassembling you from other particles somewhere else. So at some point you presumably exist as data in the transporter's memory. Why isn't this data copied?

My problem with the transporter (and similar technologies, like the rings on Stargate SG-1 as well as the gate travel itself) is simply this: if your body is broken down to to its molecules.....you're dead. That's it. End of your consciousness. What gets reassembled on the other end is someone who is an identical copy of you and has all your memories, but is in reality a clone. Unless you somehow postulate that your soul or spirit or essence or whatever is transported with your molecules. As one who sees no evidence for the existence of a soul, I for one am not about to step onto that platform and let this week's Red Shirt beam me into oblivion.

[ Parent ]

Transporters (1.75 / 4) (#90)
by hummassa on Tue May 10, 2005 at 02:37:43 PM EST

Well, theoretically the quantum states of all of your particles are transmitted, entangled, someway, with them.

The case with Transporters (Stargates, Transport rings, Taelon Portals) and similar tech is still simple to explain compared to temporal doppelgangers. If you consider that your Self (I will avoid the religious term soul) is impregnated in the quantum states of your particles, then, when you transmit that data, voila... you have transmitted your Self. You have not died.

But this is where the things begin getting interesting. What happens if you duplicate that data, in a certain process, in Tom-Riker-fashion? What did you did? What happens if you send yourself some hours earlier in time, to warn yourself of an unfortunate happening? How many Selves can coexist?

I liked the Kirk-divided-by-two episode, but the Riker vs Riker episode makes me think, hard. What would I do if I discover a double of myself, with 8 years of different living? How would my father and my mother react? Is being not so successful as the one who got out reason enough to join the maquis?

This kind of make-me-think thing is what made my enjoy Trek for starters.

[ Parent ]

The transporter thing was covered in an ST novel. (none / 0) (#113)
by Kasreyn on Wed May 11, 2005 at 12:17:52 PM EST

Two, in fact. "The Price of the Phoenix" and its sequel, "The Fate of the Phoenix", both out of print IIRC, both by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath.

Basically, the plot is that the villain, Omne, has developed a transporter that can do just that - replicate people - and hatches a scheme to take over the galaxy. In particular, he did exactly what you mentioned, storing "backup" copies of people's transporter patterns. He also wore a dead-man's switch so that if he were killed (at least if he were killed in range of his replicator), the machinery would immediately replicate him, making him effectively immortal as long as the machine didn't give out.

Many will point out that the books are notorious Kirk/Spock heavy-breathers, and this is true. But they still raise some questions about ethics that are hard to ignore. You can't just go killing the duplicates, because there's no difference between the two. One has just as much right to go on living as the other. And how will those two deal with who gets to continue with their "normal" life and who has to make a new path?

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Hmm... (none / 0) (#130)
by MyrdemInggala on Thu May 12, 2005 at 12:10:47 PM EST

It's an interesting quandary.

I also don't believe in the existence of a soul, which is why I should be perfectly happy to be backed up in a database, or beamed to Australia, by this hypothetical technology - assuming that it could in fact correctly save and restore the state of my brain.  I am confident that the newly-reconstituted me would be as much me as the old me who got zapped into her component particles - there wouldn't be any magical bits missing from the new copy.

If there is no soul, then creating a new me from a backed-up copy would be indistinguishable from bringing the original me back to life - from the point of view of observers around me.  But what would I actually experience?  Logically, I think my consciousness would be extinguished, and a new consciousness, with all memories of the previous one, would come into being with the new me.

But is this any different to what happens when I lose consciousness under general anaesthetic?  Would I be able to tell the difference?  I find it faintly disturbing, but possibly there isn't anything to be disturbed about.

A lot of fun science-fictional concepts come into play when you consider the possibility of more than one copy of you existing at a time.  Since both of them would be equally you, your identity would exist simultaneously in two different people.  That would be really weird, and also a completely new state for a human being to be in.

A pretty cool (and surprisingly logical) look at this was the movie "Multiplicity" - although it was ostensibly about "cloning", the process explored in the movie isn't cloning at all - it is replication of a human being with all memories intact.

There was also a book about a perfect replicator, and how it leads to the complete collapse of civilisation within hours of being discovered (a few people get mailed the replicator, with instructions, and a second replicator so that they can replicate more replicators).  It can be used to replicate anything, including people.  It doesn't really go into detail about the weirdness of the "two copies at once" experience, though.

-- 22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head. -- Evil Overlord List
[ Parent ]

Pretty true (none / 1) (#139)
by Mason on Fri May 13, 2005 at 03:06:17 AM EST

Just imagine what would happen if the transporter didn't destroy the original once. I mean, the person would be standing there, told that the copy on another planet is the real version and that their existence is just a mistake, even though they have every reason to believe that they themselves are the original. A couple of the shows have dealt with this idea, but none have arrived at the proper conclusion, that effectively a person dies every time they step on the transporter pad. Our failure to accept the fundamental materialism of human consciousness just runs too deep for most people to understand this.

[ Parent ]
Re: 23rd century economy (2.00 / 3) (#101)
by Kasreyn on Wed May 11, 2005 at 12:09:45 AM EST

If you remember, in ST IV, Kirk and Co. are caught flat-footed by the use of currency, and have trouble adjusting to buying and selling, which suggests some sort of matter-synthesis communism in the future. Alternatively, in various ST novelizations, including the one for ST II iirc, currency is used to purchase goods, such as the antique book Spock bought (and had gift-wrapped) for Kirk's birthday.

Of course, you have to remember that from the late 60's to the late 80's, "communism" was a word that carried more bad magic than "fuck". I heard it was handed down from On High at Paramount that while the 23rd century would be allowed to be obviously liberal, the c-word must never be hinted at, never even be allowed to haunt the perimeters of the show. It was apparently very important to give the impression that the "U.S.S." blazoned on the hull was a descendant of "U.S.A.", not "U.S.S.R."

This censorship, of course, always hamstrung any attempt at representing the 23rd century's economy, so most scriptwriters simply avoided it. The "credits" notion has often been described as an electronic currency based on merit, but as far as I know there are no reliable (ie., canonical) sources of data on how it works.

I would personally imagine that synthesizers would do away with scarcity and thus capitalism, but this might not be true. For instance, synthesizers might require a special fuel to run, and therefore the fuel for the synthesizer would become the new scarce commodity. Also, it's been repeatedly stated that extremely delicate hi-tech machinery cannot be synthesized, nor can antimatter or dilithium crystals, so there are three more things which would retain scarcity.

Whether that's enough to justify a capitalist notion like "credits" is beyond me, though.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
23rd century economics (none / 1) (#107)
by hummassa on Wed May 11, 2005 at 08:17:54 AM EST

I always have envisioned that synthesizers bring a version of capitalism without scarcity. You know, one where everyone has their basic needs covered (even if antimatter and dilithium cannot be sythesized, antimatter production facilities and dilithium mining equipment can...) and then, you will get celebrity based on merits. It would be socially unacceptable to be a "bloodsucker", because everybody can have opportunity to study and improve... Imagine one type of capitalism where it costed $1000/year (credits, if you want) to maintain a person and the minimum wage/welfare aid is in the range of billions. Mmmmm consumer products...

[ Parent ]
I have an idea on why replicators are limited. (2.00 / 2) (#112)
by Kasreyn on Wed May 11, 2005 at 12:09:12 PM EST

Remember, there were many episodes when the Enterprise-D had suffered battle damage and the Feinberger Module was on the blink, preventing shields from being raised, or warp drive from being engaged, or whatever. There wouldn't have been much of a plot if Geordi could just replicate a new module. So from a story writing standpoint, replicators have to be limited. The question is, how to give it a scientific-sounding justification?

There are two explanations for this that I can think of. The first is that there are limits to the precision of replication, ie., it could synthesize a coat or a loaf of bread, but not a new warp core. The problem with this is, food is very complex chemically, and very finely detailed. If the replicator has a low-"resolution" detail, then not only would it be unable to make new warp cores, it would produce food that universally tasted like cardboard. Plus, we see actual phasers being replicated, at least in some of the books.

I have a different suggestion: patterns take up "memory" in the replicator the way computer programs take up memory today. Since a pattern would have to describe an entire object at the atomic level, it would have to be a very, very large data structure. Even the pattern for a cup of coffee at Ten Forward would probably be large; the pattern for a phaser rifle would probably be measured in terabytes. By this, we could hypothesize that the pattens for antimatter (which of course means, antimatter plus a magnetic containment bottle, since you can't just materialize antimatter), or the pattern for dilithium, or for warp cores, are simply too large for the limited memory of a shipboard replicator. So one could theorize a "master replicator" back at Earth cranking out dilithium and warp cores, but this might require a physical memory bank the size of a few starships. Certainly not beyond the scope of Federation funding.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Star trek nerd reply (none / 1) (#106)
by phraggle on Wed May 11, 2005 at 06:28:07 AM EST

An obvious use for this technology would be to back people up, so that if they were killed they could be restored. Yet this is never done, and no explanation is given for why it isn't done.
The technical manual explains this with the concepts of "molecular" and "quantum" level imaging: supposedly, it is possible to do this with the lower resolution molecular level imaging (this is what a replicator does), but the "quantum level" imaging needed to transport a human requires too much memory.

[ Parent ]
Good Sci-Fi Lives On In Firefly / Serenity (2.50 / 4) (#69)
by cybrpnk on Tue May 10, 2005 at 07:24:23 AM EST

Yep, Star Trek is a fallen star but I and many other Browncoat fans know what is going to replace it come September 30. Check out the Serenity movie trailer right now, and watch the DVD set of the "prequel" TV series Firefly while you're waiting. Mark my words, Firefly / Serenity is the next great sci-fi megafranchise that avoids the problems you so deftly note in your excellent article.

Hells yea. (none / 1) (#71)
by Mylakovich on Tue May 10, 2005 at 07:55:49 AM EST

Firefly was a fantastic show, everything was stylized and characterized. The director and cast have said that if the Serenity movie does well, they will make another, and keep making them as long as they break even.

[ Parent ]
Re: Good Sci-Fi Lives On In Firefly / Serenity (3.00 / 2) (#72)
by MyrdemInggala on Tue May 10, 2005 at 07:56:11 AM EST

I agree with you that Firefly is excellent, but I fear that the things which make it excellent will prevent it from ever becoming a megafranchise.

I don't think Firefly can attain the kind of mass following that makes a hugely successful tv series because a large percentage of the tv-watching audience simply doesn't like what it does.

When I read criticism of Firefly (by fans of the genre, even, and not arbitrary mainstream joes), the same things keep coming up.

  • Lots of people don't like that the episodes are tightly bound to a season-long story arc, because if they miss an episode or watch one episode in isolation they don't know what's going on.

  • They don't like that little time passes between the episodes, because when they watch an episode a week it feels like the character development is proceeding too slowly.

  • They decided that because of the general look and feel the series is just "cowboys in space", and therefore they do not like it.

  • They don't like that the main characters (and people on colony worlds) use primitive technology since more advanced tech exists; they don't see why everybody wouldn't just use lasers.  (This seems particularly stupid to me; I always wonder if these people know that in other places in the world some people don't have electricity and ride donkeys and bicycles.)

  • They think that the plot is too complicated and confusing.

    These are sometimes the same people who bitch about the state of scifi tv, and complain that nobody is making anything different.  Sigh.

    -- 22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head. -- Evil Overlord List
    [ Parent ]

  • Problems with Firefly overcome with Serenity (none / 1) (#93)
    by Snarkinator on Tue May 10, 2005 at 04:02:23 PM EST

    So complicated season-long story arcs just ain't your thing? Serenity is coming out in a few months and all indications are it's going to be a block-buster. Yes, there's most definitely going to be complex characters, but this movie won't span a season, just a couple of hours. If it's as big as we think it will be, there will be more...

    [ Parent ]
    One more problem (none / 1) (#98)
    by godix on Tue May 10, 2005 at 08:15:13 PM EST

    The genre is called SCIENCE fiction. Firefly has about the same claim to being good science fiction that Who Wants to be a Millionaire had. Neither one has anything at all to do with science, it just happens that one of them has some school boy fantasy about how cool it'd be to fly around in space zapping bad guys.

    - An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
    [ Parent ]
    Who cares about SCIENCE (3.00 / 2) (#108)
    by Arcadio on Wed May 11, 2005 at 10:41:07 AM EST

    The same is true of lots of SCIENCE fiction. Just because something takes place in space or in the future doesn't mean it has anything to do with science. But it gets labeled SCIENCE fiction anyway. What do Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, just about anything else on the SciFi channel, or even Star Trek have to do with science? They occasionally try to explain how their version of teleportation or FTL work?

    [ Parent ]
    My point exactly <nt> (none / 1) (#115)
    by godix on Wed May 11, 2005 at 02:59:21 PM EST

    - An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
    [ Parent ]
    Oh, come on. (2.33 / 3) (#110)
    by MyrdemInggala on Wed May 11, 2005 at 11:06:01 AM EST

    OK, so what do you think qualifies to be legitimately classified as "science fiction"?

    Does half of the "science fiction" written in the forties magically get reclassified now that we know that ftl travel and anti-gravity are almost certainly fantastic constructs?

    Does fiction set in the distant future not qualify as "science fiction" unless it directly deals with "scientific research"?

    What do you define as "science"?  Science is as meaningless a term as "stuff that is real".  There is plenty of fiction which explores hypothetical social change or alternative chains of historical cause and effect.  Is it lacking in "science" because it isn't about advances in physics or biology?

    The defining characteristic of science fiction is that the worlds which it portrays are constructed in a logical way from reasonably realistic premises (that is, in accordance with modern scientific knowledge).

    "Science fiction" may not be the best name for the genre, but it has become the most familiar and widely used term - and most people know what it's supposed to mean.

    -- 22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head. -- Evil Overlord List
    [ Parent ]

    Answer and question (2.00 / 2) (#118)
    by godix on Wed May 11, 2005 at 04:18:13 PM EST

    OK, so what do you think qualifies to be legitimately classified as "science fiction"?

    Fiction that is mostly based on known science with one or two twists to explore. Larry Nivens Smoke Ring for example is based in the honest to god scientific possability of a torus around a star. The space travel, life forms, etc are all based on science as best as the author could do. Is the story a college thesis in astronomy? Of course not. It is however based on them. Contrast that to Star Trek, Star Wars, Buck Rogers, etc. which are basically various forms of James Bond or Rambo in space.

    The defining characteristic of science fiction is that the worlds which it portrays are constructed in a logical way from reasonably realistic premises (that is, in accordance with modern scientific knowledge).

    How exactly does the magical teleportation device, the routine breaking of the speed of light, the assine degree of species crossbreeding (is there a Trek race that is NOT able to crossbreed with humans?), the regular total ignorance of basic science, or the god knows how many different beings with almost divine powers qualify as 'reasonably realistic premise' or 'constructed in a logical way'?

    - An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Answer and question (none / 1) (#125)
    by MyrdemInggala on Thu May 12, 2005 at 04:46:32 AM EST

    Fiction that is mostly based on known science with one or two twists to explore.

    I agree that this is the original, classical idea behind science fiction - postulate one or two premises that don't exist in the real world, and explore what repercussions they would have if they were real.  However, the term has come to be applied to a wider range of fiction than stories which fit exactly this mould - including fiction which is more focused on interactions between people, although they happen against the backdrop of a futuristic setting and involve some futuristic concepts.

    You seem to be arguing that the original meaning should be restored, but I don't think it's going to happen - or that there would be much point, since the current meaning is widely understood.

    How exactly does the magical teleportation device, the routine breaking of the speed of light, the assine degree of species crossbreeding (is there a Trek race that is NOT able to crossbreed with humans?), the regular total ignorance of basic science, or the god knows how many different beings with almost divine powers qualify as 'reasonably realistic premise' or 'constructed in a logical way'?

    Well, as I said in another comment somewhere around here, they don't.  I consider Star Trek science to be comic book science rather than science fiction science.  I do not, however, think that Star Trek should be disqualified from being classified as part of the science fiction genre, because when those ludicrous concepts were developed in the sixties they possibly seemed less ludicrous - and were an honest attempt at a plausible science fiction setting.

    (OK, some of those concepts were developed quite recently, and the writers don't have an excuse.)

    Your original comment referred to Firefly, though, which has a lot less dodgy science.  Apart from the anti-gravity, presumed ftl and lack of information about the size of the human-inhabited space and the distances between planets, I can't think of anything egregiously bad, scientifically, about the setting.

    Is your complaint that Firefly hasn't had enough stories centered around a particular scientific development and its implications?  I think there is at least one futuristic premise that Firefly explores in an intelligent way: how would colonisation of other planets really work, once you had so many of them that it became routine?

    Shows like Star Trek propose that parent worlds would provide their colonies with a level of tech equivalent to their own, together with the infrastructure and manpower required to maintain it.  Firefly proposes that it would be much cheaper, and thus more popular, to set up relatively primitive agrarian societies and not have to maintain them (and presumably trade complex devices from the parent world for food and ores produced on the colony planets).

    I think Firefly's premise is more realistic, as is its portrayal of the use of varying tech levels in general.

    -- 22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head. -- Evil Overlord List
    [ Parent ]

    Good post! (none / 0) (#133)
    by onemorechip on Fri May 13, 2005 at 12:12:44 AM EST

    I liked this part especially:

    Shows like Star Trek propose that parent worlds would provide their colonies with a level of tech equivalent to their own, together with the infrastructure and manpower required to maintain it. Firefly proposes that it would be much cheaper, and thus more popular, to set up relatively primitive agrarian societies and not have to maintain them (and presumably trade complex devices from the parent world for food and ores produced on the colony planets).

    We can't disqualify a story from the science fiction genre just because it doesn't deal with astrophysics or chemistry or quantum mechanics. Biology, anthropology, sociology, and psychology are sciences, too. Granted they haven't reached the advanced state that physics has, and I remember taking one semester of sociology and thinking what B.S. it was, but as long as sociologists follow the scientific method they are doing science, even if they are struggling at it.

    There are works that are widely labeled "science fiction" that would be categorized better as fantasy. Leading this group, in my mind, would be the Star Wars series. It really doesn't feel like it is posing a "what if" scenario (as in "What would the consequences be if this aspect of our world were changed"), so much as it says, "Here's a story set in some world I made up, and you don't need to bring much understanding of the world we live in to understand this story." Ironically, the best-loved episodes of Star Wars (4 and 5) fit the fantasy category more than the recent releases, which suffer from too much attempted social commentary.

    I would also say Star Trek fits the sci-fi category better than Star Wars, by my criterion, and when Trek does attempt social relevance I think it hits its target better than Star Wars does, and without being as heavy-handed.

    My wife and I used to make a point of watching Firefly during its brief but brilliant TV run. I'm looking forward to the movie.

    I did my essay on mushrooms. It's about cats.
    [ Parent ]

    I totally agree (none / 1) (#149)
    by Spork on Sun May 15, 2005 at 07:40:56 PM EST

    Great post. Let me add: Firefly is the only scifi exploring something which we must consider a realistic possibility - that there is no intelligent alien life in our galaxy. We have to figure out our own future. Interestingly, this is a possiblity that we haven't really begun to come to terms with in scifi.

    [ Parent ]
    Name another show where space is silent (none / 1) (#138)
    by Mason on Fri May 13, 2005 at 02:51:16 AM EST

    I rest my case.

    Firefly is more science-social than "auxiliary power to the forward shields!".  The technology of the show isn't delved into in a stringent way, but then the focus of the show is exploring the ways in which humans adapt to the effects of technology and history.

    And on that count it does have good insight.  Far better adherence to real science than most shows out there, and relatively little technobabble.  The only filmed scifi that is categorically better with science would be 2001 or Gattaca.

    [ Parent ]

    The problem with firefly (2.00 / 2) (#79)
    by omegadan on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:02:01 AM EST

    Is Joss Whedon, and his smug writing full of cute puns, cute attitudes and shit eating grins. The dialog between the crew is the kind of flirty nonsense Id expect a highschool kid to write.

    That being said I actually like the show... but joss sucks... admit it.

    Religion is a gateway psychosis. - Dave Foley
    [ Parent ]

    The Graet Thing About Joss... (none / 1) (#83)
    by cybrpnk on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:46:16 AM EST

    ...is that he ain't Brannon Braga or (shudder) Rick Berman. Besides, puns and flirty dialogue can be kinda fun....and fun is most definitely what's been missing the longest from Trek, and what is most certainly going to be on screen with Serenity. You think watchin' Sith is going to be fun?

    [ Parent ]
    I agree... (none / 1) (#85)
    by Haasim Mahanaim on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:52:49 AM EST

    The Canadian Geek http://www.thecanadiangeek.ca
    [ Parent ]
    What? (none / 1) (#89)
    by DavidTC on Tue May 10, 2005 at 02:27:34 PM EST

    Huh? The only people who flirt are Simon and Kaylee.

    Well, Wash and Zoe flirt, but they're married.

    The dialog in Firefly is completely different from Buffy and Angel. There's no puns at all, and Kaylee's the only person who acts even vaguely cute.

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]

    Joss's humor is great! (none / 1) (#91)
    by Snarkinator on Tue May 10, 2005 at 03:58:25 PM EST

    The man can rattle off a half-dozen funny things without ever thinking about it. There are a whole bunch of people out here, including me, that think the man is a comic genius. Are you maybe jealous a little?

    [ Parent ]
    Joss's humor is great! (none / 1) (#92)
    by Snarkinator on Tue May 10, 2005 at 03:59:16 PM EST

    The man can rattle off a half-dozen funny things without ever thinking about it. There are a whole bunch of people out here, including me, that think the man is a comic genius. Are you maybe jealous a little?

    [ Parent ]
    Boooooring! (2.00 / 2) (#116)
    by sudog on Wed May 11, 2005 at 04:04:03 PM EST

    I've seen five Firefly episodes now and it's goddamn boring!

    [ Parent ]
    I Am Stunned (none / 1) (#124)
    by cybrpnk on Wed May 11, 2005 at 11:07:58 PM EST

    I am really stunned you would find Firefly boring. I urge you to stick around thru Out of Gas and especially Ariel - these are when the series hit its stride. Just out of curiosity, whjat do you think of as sci-fi you DO enjoy?

    [ Parent ]
    But I can't wait til September 30... (none / 0) (#132)
    by onemorechip on Thu May 12, 2005 at 11:32:01 PM EST

    Serenity now!

    I did my essay on mushrooms. It's about cats.
    [ Parent ]

    I think most people over-analyse it.. (2.50 / 4) (#76)
    by tonyenkiducx on Tue May 10, 2005 at 09:39:20 AM EST

    I watched every series of star trek. I liked a lot of, was bored by some of it, and disgusted by the odd episode. But on the whole I really enjoy watching them. Enterprise sucked in the first series, but what TV show doesnt? I think people need to stop kicking star trek while it lies catching its breath on the floor, it's entertaining and enjoyable TV. If we complain about star trek then we will end up with a million reality-worlds-worst-onthewall-cop-drama shows 24/7, and then you WILL be asking for star trek back.

    Ohh and battle star galactica sucks badly, but its the first season, so stick with it because it has a lot of potential.

    This message has been broadcast directly into your brain while you were reading it

    I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
    The X-Files didn't suck (1.00 / 2) (#104)
    by pwhysall on Wed May 11, 2005 at 03:05:42 AM EST

    In fact, the right thing to do would have been to cancel it after the first two series, then we'd all sit around in bars going "Man, wasn't the X-Files really cool? I wish they'd made like 6 series of that!"
    K5 Editors
    I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
    [ Parent ]
    X-Files inherited it from Twin Peaks (none / 1) (#137)
    by Mason on Fri May 13, 2005 at 02:36:19 AM EST

    Along with a lot of other stuff.

    Shows that are based on a central, unfolding mystery will be awesome in their first season, but end up sucking when they're extended too far.

    [ Parent ]

    100% agree (1.33 / 3) (#86)
    by bankind on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:59:15 AM EST

    The wife and I watch loads of star trek, which has done wonders for her english (compared to say Deadwood, Curb your enthusiasm, or The Office), and the problem in the post TNG star trek is that base technology is rooted in the same current era faux-science. How many bad plots on the space-time continum, AI, and nanotechnology can really be written?

    I mean sure they could make some cyber punker shit, but it would all be too much billy idol for me. Then again most of YOU are way too much billy idol for me.

    I tried to buy one of those Neil Stephenson books, then I looked at the picture in the back, there was a welfare cosmonaut looking like he was on his way to clean the virtual space toilet. Who the hell can read that shit?

    I've heard that thing about "judging books," but as a general rule, I don't like fat people either. Filthy gluttons.

    "Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman

    Brilliant! (none / 0) (#95)
    by trav on Tue May 10, 2005 at 05:09:26 PM EST

    Just so we can see a Klingon every now and then, this time on a ship called Intrepid?

    A Star Trek series about a Klingon crew? Where do I sign up?

    Point? (2.00 / 3) (#102)
    by lampertmoore on Wed May 11, 2005 at 01:47:09 AM EST

    Why does ST have to have a 'point'? It's entertainment. Stop analysing and just enjoy!

    Power Transfer (2.50 / 4) (#103)
    by schwong on Wed May 11, 2005 at 02:58:36 AM EST

    ... magic shields that require power to be constantly transferred from main power to auxiliary power while falling precariously close to zero percent ...

    Everyone knows that when the shields are going down you transfer from auxiliary power. You can't transfer from main power! We're losing main power!

    What so many miss... (2.00 / 2) (#105)
    by stox on Wed May 11, 2005 at 03:18:38 AM EST

    is that the whole point of TOS was that there is so much more than we can imagine. TNG wandered around this topic, but brilliantly re-affirmed it in its final episode. It seems that all, who have followed, have forgotten this basic theme. Get a clue, Paramount, return to the roots.

    Why DS9 is the best (3.00 / 4) (#109)
    by psr on Wed May 11, 2005 at 10:47:31 AM EST

    I'm not sorry to see Enterprise die, I watched season one, and the start of season two and found it to be nothing but a source of constant disapointment. I think the biggest reason for this was the characterisation. While ST:TNG showed humans in an unrealistically positive light, ST:Ent showed them as stupid, and irritating. Archer is not the man I would send forth to go boldly where no man has gone before, he's simply not intelligent or diplomatic enough. Take for example season two, episode four, "Dead Stop". The crew get their ship repaired by a space station which has obviously been created by a race with technology far in advance of that of Star Fleet. What does Archer do? He destroys it. Stupid American Human. Enterprise is just a bunch of hicks in space, it can hardly be said to provide a roll model for children. I don't aspire to be like Archer in the way I might aspire to be like Picard or Sisko, I like to think I'm already better than him.

    (Of course the other thing that puts me off Enterprise is Trip Tucker's deeply annoying voice.)

    It seems to me that the problem with the classic Star Trek formula (like, as others have already pointed out, Hornblower and James Bond) is that the heros are infallable, at the end of every episode they have to win. I enjoyed ST:TNG, just as I enjoyed the Hornblower books, but they do begin to grate after a while. You simply can't stretch that formula very far; to keep it interesting you have to make your baddies badder in every episode, and once you get past a certain point you rely on deus ex machina to defeat them (ST:Voy). This, it seems to me, is why Star Trek is so often boring.

    Deep Space Nine got around this, because it had a set of really good characters, both heros and villians who grew over time, and who's relationships with each other grew more and more detailed. This, coupled with much longer story lines allowed stories where the Federation always win, but you actually care about how. From episode one you know that Sisko will come out well, and Gul Ducat will get his just deserts, but it took seven years for it to happen, and in that time you see both light and dark sides to both of these characters.

    Further more ST:DS9 added a greater level of depth to the star trek universe, for example the politics of the Federation, and the existance of Section 38. These stories added a lot more realism to Starfleet, you truly got the impression that it is a military organisation (albiet one that is a lot less geared towards fighting wars than our armed forces of today). When Starfleet wanted to take over earth, what we were watching was a military coup.

    Because Deep Space Nine sucked you in to this universe so much more than the other series, when the action scenes came, they were all the better for it. DS9 was able to have bigger and better space battles than any other series, because of the story arcs involving inter-racial wars.

    -- Feed the Noise back into the System.
    archer is over his head but... (none / 1) (#123)
    by massivefubar on Wed May 11, 2005 at 09:32:36 PM EST

    I think that is part of what makes the show great. I don't want to be preached to. I don't want to be educated. Guess what, I'm already a grown-up. Let the kiddies watch Teletubbies if they need a role model.

    I like Archer precisely because he's quite clearly a screwed-up guy who would have never been in the position he's in if not for the fact that his dad was Someone Important. This is the way the world works. Archer is just enough above his competency level that he can strive and often get it right -- and yet sometimes he misses and misses badly. There is a scene at the very end of the episode about the three-sexed race that shows his flaws clearly. He scolds Trip for causing the death of the nanny being he tried to help, and Trip accepts the chewing out...but the fact is Archer made the bad decision, Archer was wrong, and Trip was not wrong to reach out and teach the lady to read. Archer can yell and vent because he is the captain, and if he feels guilty, by damn, he can blame someone else.

    That is real.

    Picard etc. are not real.

    James Kirk getting it on with a lovely lady or two, that's real. Archer making a bad decision or two, that's real.

    And yet the show does it with such a light touch that it can glide right past you if you don't want to see the flaws in your perfect Captain fantasy.

    [ Parent ]

    DS9 (none / 1) (#150)
    by Nyarlathotep on Mon May 16, 2005 at 08:19:07 AM EST

    Nahh.. DS9 was just a B5 rip off.  Now B5 actually had a story!
    Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
    [ Parent ]
    Drama=shouting? (1.50 / 2) (#120)
    by gidds on Wed May 11, 2005 at 06:03:16 PM EST

    (Yes, I know, I'm late posting this. But hey, you're reading it :)

    Roddenberry... famously instructed his writers to portray humans as being even more evolved and enlightened than Kirk's era, which meant humans don't have conflict amongst themselves, they're self-righteous and they all listen to classical music. Miraculously, this formula worked, for a while. Yet, the conventions of good storytelling would warn that this formula was a really bad idea, though good intentioned, and would limit opportunities for compelling drama and it did.

    I read somewhere, during TNG's run, that what would date it wasn't anything people realised at the time, but the inclusion of a psychoanalyst (basically) on the Enterprise. Turned out to be a quite perceptive comment, I think.

    My prediction is that what will date some of the later series is precisely what the story is advocating here: drama. Or rather, people shouting at each other -- which is what people seem to think 'drama' means these days. Especially on US programmes; here in the UK, things don't seem quite so bad.

    My message for TV producers is this: you can have drama without shouting. You can have dramatic situations that don't call for people to argue with each other all the time. You can even have friction between characters without it breaking out into shouting all the time. And anyway, the best drama isn't about friction between characters -- it's about characters being put into difficult or dangerous situations, which they might handle in all sorts of ways. Argument (or as you call it in the US, fighting) is just wearing,

    The lack of internal conflict was one of the things I liked about TNG. You could concentrate on the unfolding story without continually being distracted by regular characters arguing. They had their own likes and dislikes, of course, but they generally worked as a team. Yes, the show was often a little too PC, and sometimes blatantly preachy, but I still enjoy it more than some of the more recent ones.


    narrative is death-don delillo (none / 0) (#122)
    by massivefubar on Wed May 11, 2005 at 09:21:35 PM EST

    Next Gen is boring precisely because there is no drama without conflict. If people do not argue, if people do not fight, if people do not contend, if people do not kill each other...hell, it may be the wonderful utopian future we are all working for...but it is not good drama. And it is not TV.

    I'm glad that there are a few neurotics aboard the Enterprise. Malcolm Reed is damn near to being a clinical depressive, so what, he's a good character. There were times when Captain Archer has come damn close to evil -- he came close to advocating torture in several episodes in his desperation to get the Xindi. And we all know Archer has his command in the first place because of his father's name. To me that is a lot more real than Picard and Wesley and all that idealism hoo-ha.

    I might prefer to live in the Next Gen future but I'd much rather watch Enterpise and TOS. They are people like me. The people in the P.C. universe next door are very lucky people but they're so far from my real life experience that they have nothing to say to me.

    It does fascinate me that Star Trek is one of the few franchises with significant periods of non-dramatic (I would say BORING) story arcs that has actually captured the public interest. The first Star Trek movie -- squirm inducing boring. Next Gen and many of the subsequent -- the same. If we could figure out how to hook people's attention without conflict, then we'd do a hell of a job educating people. Let alone sell TVs and movies. We do need to figure out how people got hooked on the Star Treks that lack drama and conflict. For many people, Next Gen is the real Star Trek!

    [ Parent ]

    It bears repeating (none / 1) (#146)
    by Legion303 on Sat May 14, 2005 at 09:11:10 AM EST

    "My message for TV producers is this: you can have drama without shouting."

    Thank you. It seems like most writers these days take nothing from writing courses but "conflict is compelling" without realizing what "conflict" entails.

    TNG had plenty of conflict. Unfortunately, most of it was concentrated in Picard and his desire to do what he thought was right vs. his duty to the Prime Directive. The rest of it was concentrated in Data's tiresome "I want to understand humans, but I'm a machine" schtick.

    [ Parent ]

    this is a great show w/ shitty scheduling (3.00 / 2) (#121)
    by massivefubar on Wed May 11, 2005 at 09:07:58 PM EST

    I'm an older model who watched TOS back in its day. Enterprise was a great show, and a great salute to the old-time Trek, with a lot of the old fun and humor, not just all the heavy ponderous crap that the Next Gen folks are into. But the show was not allowed to find an audience. Half the time the show is not on because of a basketball game, or the Thanksgiving/Christmas break, or I don't even know why it sometimes skips a week or three.

    How does a show get an audience when the audience can't get in the habit of watching the show?

    The wit and humor of the recent two-part take-off on "Mirror" is all you need to convince anyone that the franchise still has life in it. It's I, Claudius in outer space with a wink, a giggle, and plenty of bed-hopping, female catfighting, and a twist at the end. It's just pure fun. What more could you ask of TV?

    But if people don't know that the program is scheduled, after awhile, they give up and go on with their lives. I know I've missed episodes simply because I was not allowed to form the habit of watching or taping the show.

    There are people who love Science Fiction who actually have a sense of humor. But the very people who are fun-loving and love to laugh are the most disorganized. Give us a regular, predictable schedule. Enterprise was some of the best of what Trek could be, but too many people saw an episode or two and never gave it another chance.

    You must have missed the bad ones (none / 0) (#128)
    by Cro Magnon on Thu May 12, 2005 at 09:25:38 AM EST

    The first 3 seasons of Enterprise stunk! The 4th and last season is actually good, but it's too late.
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    Well, I didn't miss a single episode (none / 1) (#152)
    by MonkeyBoy668 on Tue May 17, 2005 at 05:57:26 AM EST

    Here's my breakdown:

    1st season - Ugh. Then again, all first season Treks have been ugh. Stilted dialog, stilted acting. So commonplace, it has to be due to studio micromanagement or similar managerial stupidity.
    2nd season - Better, plenty of watchable episodes, some quite good.
    3rd season - Loved it. That episodes ran together and told a near-continuous story from the start of the season until the end was great. Best attempt at this until the new Galactica, not even Babylon 5 was as thorough as Season 3. Each episode on its own was usually quite good.
    4th season - It's nice to watch long stories that can't be told in 40 minutes or less, and this season had plenty of them. Most of them were really interesting. That last 2-parter, aside from the oddball miracle weapon on Mars, was great.

    The problem with Enterprise is that the die-hard Trekkies can't wrap their head around the concept that the history they've spent their entire lives learning is wrong. So to them the history isn't wrong, the series is wrong, and so they refuse to watch. The most insane thing I've heard is that they felt the series should use 1960s era special effects & ship designs. Yeah. Listen, I like Trek, but I'm not that delusional.

    Personally, I'd like to see a series based in the Mirror universe. Star Trek 2 worked because of conflict, and Mirror is full of it (at least in TOS, DS9, & Enterprise - dunno about Voyager, I gave the first couple seasons a chance and it just went from bad to worse, confirmed by the later seasons I've stumbled upon late, late at night, long after Twilight Zone reruns are finished). It would be quite nice to kick TNG's enlightened claptrap to the curb once and for all.

    BTW, I loved DS9. Probably because they ripped off J. Michael Straczynski's proposal for the next Trek...

    [ Parent ]

    If Roddenberry had lived (1.50 / 2) (#126)
    by modmans2ndcoming on Thu May 12, 2005 at 08:59:50 AM EST

    DS9 would have been about the corruption and fall of the federation, Voyager would ever have existed, and Andrameda would have been about life after the federation... no large galactic empire to protect you, just flying through space to get the job done with all the bad guys ready to pounce on your lone ship.

    Socialistic, atheist dystopia (2.25 / 4) (#129)
    by sellison on Thu May 12, 2005 at 09:57:44 AM EST

    is what these 'trek' movies all represent. This was big in the 60s-70s, and into the 80s. But now people are more religious and less socialistic than we were, and we see that the future will be even more religious, more moral, and not socialistic at all.

    Trek's view of the future where there is no God and no money is a socialistic "paradise" that looks more and more like a dystopic mistake to modern Americans.

    What we need now is a good tale of Christians exploring the stars and bringing God's glory and truth to pagan aliens, not some socialistic drivel where the sexes are interchangable and religion if it is mentioned at all is seen as something primitive!

    "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush

    Religious skiffy trek (none / 1) (#134)
    by hymie on Fri May 13, 2005 at 12:27:05 AM EST

    Good idea. And James Blish even wrote for TOS!

    [ Parent ]
    I'm seeing something as primitive right now (none / 0) (#135)
    by Mason on Fri May 13, 2005 at 02:28:42 AM EST


    [ Parent ]
    Not necessary (none / 0) (#143)
    by Dyolf Knip on Fri May 13, 2005 at 03:40:35 PM EST

    All you need for that is a historical drama.  Then you can watch the glorious Christian crusaders on their quests to convert the unenlightened.  Just imagine how uplifting the episode of the conquest of Jerusalem would be, what with hymn-singing knights parading through streets ankle-deep in the blood of the heathen and pretty much everyone else in the city.  Why, we could even watch while they tear open the bodies of their fallen enemies looking for gold coins they might have swallowed, all to enrich the kingdom of heaven.  Yes sir, it would be a cinematic butchery truly worthy of the name 'Christian'.

    Or you could do one about about the conversion of the half million natives of Hispaniola to the word of god.  Granted, every last one of them ended up dying of disease, being murdered, or worked to death by the Conquistadors, but it was better for them that way.  Really!  Remember kids, being the victim of genocide is god's way of saying "You aren't worthy".

    But hey, let's do a christian sci-fi show.  Let's see, first season, the UCS Zealotry comes across planet Vulcan.  The primitive inhabitants take a gander at the Holy Book and decide it's a piece of mindless drivel.  Incensed by this sacrilege, our fearless crew righteously begins systematic nuclear bombardment of the planet surface, irradicating the entire species.  Those pagan Vulcans clearly had no place in the Divine Plan and so it was only doing god's will to wipe them out.  And the good news is that there's a newly uninhabited planet just ripe for colonization by christians.  Hooray!

    If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

    Dyolf Knip
    [ Parent ]

    Whatever wrongs the Christians did (none / 1) (#154)
    by sellison on Fri May 20, 2005 at 02:05:47 AM EST

    don't forget they brought a civilized way of life along with a chance at salvation to people whose lives were brutish and short.

    I'm sure you would not like to be living as an Aztec, waiting to be chosen for terminal heart surgery at the whim of their raving shamen!

    Whatever bad things Cortez did, God forgave him, while He will never forgive Montezuma.

    "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
    [ Parent ]

    LOL (none / 0) (#144)
    by idiot boy on Fri May 13, 2005 at 04:06:46 PM EST

    nearly totalitarian.

    Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself
    [ Parent ]
    Thought... (2.00 / 2) (#131)
    by ShaggyBofh on Thu May 12, 2005 at 03:41:57 PM EST

    How about starting a series that tells the story from the Klingon view?

    It would probably fail, but at least it would be  new.
    Just say NO to negativity.

    For the love of humanity (none / 0) (#141)
    by monkeymind on Fri May 13, 2005 at 04:28:53 AM EST

    no more god damned Klingons!!

    I believe in Karma. That means I can do bad things to people and assume the deserve it.
    [ Parent ]

    Pah! (none / 1) (#147)
    by The Real Lord Kano on Sat May 14, 2005 at 10:26:08 PM EST

    I would like to even see a movie told from a Klingon perspective. Worf, Kern, Gowron and Kahless; I would go see that in a heartbeat. LK

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Thought... (none / 1) (#156)
    by Democratus on Thu May 26, 2005 at 11:12:32 AM EST

    I heartily suggest reading The Final Reflection.

    [ Parent ]
    Yes Enterprise sucked ass (badly) (none / 0) (#136)
    by richarj on Fri May 13, 2005 at 02:35:45 AM EST

    I believe the problem lay not just in the entire alternate plot thing (Xindi/Temporal Cold War) but was evident in the many episodes in the first 2 seasons that were plain boring. As C. S. Lewis said "Science Fiction Is The Only Genuine Consciousness Expanding Drug", which prompts us to ask when we watch or read SF how expanding is this SF?

    With many of the SE (Startrek Enterprise) episodes, there seems to be little of the that consciousness expanding going on, we don't question why, how, what, if; because the story line never lets us. SE is also constrained by its relegation to the past. We know just like in Star Wars Episode III exactly what the future entails. So in writing how did they get from here to there (being the founding of the Federation and the Romulan War) they needed to write the story in such a way that that it is not boring history but instead a epic tale. Instead you see many of the stepping stones of history ignored or used as plot elements to other stories, when they should have been the story themselves. Then layered over the top of these events should have been the questions, of how, why, who, what if, with some direct relevance to our lives (The Xindi/Terrorist idea was not wrong just ill implemented, instead they should have used say the Klingons or Romulans, because by TOS we are at war with both races). These fundamental aspects of SE should have been nailed down before the first episode was written, because they were not SE wavers all other the place and finally when they do get it right, they cancel it.

    "if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
    But it won't ... (none / 1) (#142)
    by rpresser on Fri May 13, 2005 at 03:21:13 PM EST

    Even the universe (the real one, not the metaphorical one) will stop expanding one day.

    Current thinking says that the universe is expanding, and that the pace of expansion is accelerating. The expansion will never stop.
    "In terms of both hyperbolic overreaching and eventual wrongness, the Permanent [Republican] Majority has set a new, and truly difficult to beat, standard." --rusty

    actually... (none / 1) (#145)
    by Haasim Mahanaim on Fri May 13, 2005 at 06:08:04 PM EST

    and then the universe will contract into nothingness until another big bang... causing the universe to expand and then contact...forever and ever
    The Canadian Geek http://www.thecanadiangeek.ca
    [ Parent ]
    Wrong (none / 0) (#151)
    by rpresser on Mon May 16, 2005 at 03:08:37 PM EST

    Since 2001, it has been known that the universe is not closed, but very close to flat.. It will not recollapse. There is not enough mass in the universe to make it contract.

    The recent theory of dark energy says that the expansion itself is accelerating, making it even more impossible for it to contract.

    According to the best cosmological theories today, the universe will expand forever and ever. The overall temperature will fall towards absolute zero, without relief. The final destination of the universe is a cold, meaningless place, where there is nothing but dust and photons, near absolute zero.
    "In terms of both hyperbolic overreaching and eventual wrongness, the Permanent [Republican] Majority has set a new, and truly difficult to beat, standard." --rusty
    [ Parent ]

    kinda like marriage. (none / 1) (#155)
    by Cloud Cuckoo on Sun May 22, 2005 at 03:24:19 AM EST

    [ Parent ]
    Star Trek: Failed Enterprise | 156 comments (139 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
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