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Is canon that important, or just something to argue about?

switcherdawna

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Report this Jan. 13 2011, 9:51 am

from   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_(Star_Trek)


...Gene Roddenberry was something of a revisionist when it came to canon. People who worked with Roddenberry remember that he used to handle canon not on a series-by-series basis nor an episode-by-episode basis, but point by point. If he changed his mind on something, or if a fact in one episode contradicted what he considered to be a more important fact in another episode, he had no problem declaring that specific point non-canon.



See, people can easily catch us, and say "well, wait a minute, in 'Balance of Terror', they knew that the Romulans had a cloaking device, and then in 'The Enterprise Incident', they don't know anything about cloaking devices, but they're gonna steal this one because it's obviously just been developed, so how the hell do you explain that?" We can't. There are some things we just can't explain, especially when it comes from the third season. So, yes, third season is canon up to the point of contradiction, or where it's just so bad... you know, we kind of cringe when people ask us, "well, what happened in 'Plato's Stepchildren', and 'And the Children Shall Lead', and 'Spock's Brain', and so on — it's like, please, he wasn't even producing it at that point. But, generally, [canon is] the original series, not really the animated, the first movie to a certain extent, the rest of the films in certain aspects but not in all... I know that it's very difficult to understand. It literally is point by point. I sometimes do not know how he's going to answer a question when I go into his office, I really do not always know, and — and I know it better probably than anybody, what it is that Gene likes and doesn't like.[3]— Richard Arnold, 1991




Another thing that makes canon a little confusing. Gene R. himself had a habit of decanonizing things. He didn't like the way the animated series turned out, so he proclaimed that it was not canon. He also didn't like a lot of the movies. So he didn't much consider them canon either. And – okay, I'm really going to scare you with this one – after he got TNG going, he... well... he sort of decided that some of The Original Series wasn't canon either. I had a discussion with him once, where I cited a couple things that were very clearly canon in The Original Series, and he told me he didn't think that way anymore, and that he now thought of TNG as canon wherever there was conflict between the two. He admitted it was revisionist thinking, but so be it.[4]— Paula Block, 2005


UNTRugby

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Report this Jan. 13 2011, 10:30 am

i think cannon is important in respect to the feeling that people want things to make sense. If the ship is called enterprise in season one it should be it that in all of them. The real question is where do you draw the line on whats an acceptable cannon change and whats completely ridiculous?

Matthias Russell

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Report this Jan. 13 2011, 10:52 am

Excellent thread topic!

To me, the importance of canon is in maintaining continuity. It is all fiction with the sole value of entertaining and inspiring but contradictions are annoying. It is easier to follow and get hooked on stories when you know things won't change later.

Consider star wars, for the longest time, they had creative controls in place so the movies, books, and comics all agreed and flowed seamlessly. Because of this, fans could (and most did) read the books. There was less controversy among fans because everyone had a solid history to follow, without fiction within fiction and they could all be unified in one train of events.

Star trek books never fit in with screen material which was frustrating since you'd like a book and as month later, the show or another book says it never happened. This led to me and others giving up on the books. The new books are great because they all agree and flow one to the other because of having a single editor which makes it easier to follow and stick with. However, a new show can choose to disagree which means I just wasted a lot of time and money, which is frustrating.

switcherdawna

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Report this Jan. 13 2011, 12:56 pm

I'm sure there are thousands of stories written about Trek characters... heck, when I was a teenager, I wrote and interesting one about Data... he creates a holographic perfect Data, what he would like to be... but finds inappropriate behaviours all the time and ends up deleting programs that made it 'human.' TOS had a five year mission. Did Roddenbury ever figure in the beginning Trek would be as cultuarlly big as it is now? I really doubt it. You've got Brannon Braga, Ira Behr, Harve Bennett, Rick Berman, not to mention JJ Abrams... dozens of people produced and directed episodes and movies here, even Levar Burton and Jonathan Frakes. Do we expect them all to consult a master catalogue to justify a story to make sure it doesn't contradict some trivial point? The first time I saw ST2:WOK, and Khan confronts Chekov, I knew there was something wrong. Chekov wasn't in the episode "Space Seed", it was in the first season, and Walter Koenig hadn't been signed on to play Chekov yet. Did it make me upset - no, it was a quirky thing about the story I could share with other Trekkers and Trekkies. Did it make me less likely to consider where Star Trek was going - no, the point was very minimal. We're talking fiction here - and the more they play it out, it's more likely one writer is going to contradict what another writer is going to put in their story. Star Wars was very different... one writer did the basic stories, and to my knowledge on production company headed by the same person monitored everything. When one series overlapped another, it was always interesting to see it. McCoy, Spock and Scotty were all guests on ST:TNG. One thing I found interesting was Data explaining to Spock his efforts to be MORE human compared to Spock's efforts to be more Vulcan - and less 'human'. Maybe in a sense that made them both human after all, in their striving to be something they weren't.


I just hope we can have a long thread here on interesting things that happened, and perhaps even just chuckle a little at some inconsistency.

Tureaz'47

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Report this Jan. 13 2011, 1:04 pm

Fans seem to argue about it. It doesn't interest me. A canon to me is a concise book that is closed to much interpretation. I don't think that you can do that with ST. There are too many variables.

It's strange, being a catalyst for things that move outside.

Camorite

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Report this Jan. 13 2011, 3:00 pm

It has pretty much been accepted by the bulk of the fanbase that trek canon consists of anything that is seen onscreen, including the movies and the 5 TV series (TAS is still up in the air as far as canon). However i do think that some of the reading material such as Tech manuals, chronalogies, and the STE (Star Trek Encyclopedia)should be considered canon, as they were writen by the people that know trek the best.


IMO, what trek could do is to appoint one or two people (The Okuda's for example) two dictate trek canon and give anything that will be considered canon some sort of stamp of apporval so that we know, aside from the onscreen stuff, what is canon and what is not.


"What i Hate more then anything else is someone that thinks that they know everything. That must mean that I really hate myself", "Freedom is the right of all setient beings!" (Optimus Prime: Transformers), "That's on small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!" Neil Armstrong 8-5-30 to 8-25-12

toranaprem

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Report this Jan. 13 2011, 3:11 pm

Quote: Camorite @ Jan. 13 2011, 3:00 pm

>It has pretty much been accepted by the bulk of the fanbase that trek canon consists of anything that is seen onscreen, including the movies and the 5 TV series (TAS is still up in the air as far as canon). However i do think that some of the reading material such as Tech manuals, chronalogies, and the STE (Star Trek Encyclopedia)should be considered canon, as they were writen by the people that know trek the best. IMO, what trek needs to do is to appoint one or two people (The Okuda's for example) two dictate trek canon and give anything that will be considered canon some sort of stamp of apporval so that we know, aside from the onscreen stuff, what is canon and what is not.
I hope that never happens. I love that Star Trek is this wild, crazy, ephemeral, contradictory mess of varying interpretations. I think George Lucas was patently wrong to try and make everything ever conform to his vision. It stunted the Star Wars universe and made it unbearably boring.


The best thing about Star Trek is if some idiot does something stupid and/or contradictory, I usually have the option of arguing it away, or ignoring the stupidity entirely.


Besides, at this point with so many of the books directly contradicting each other, whoever wanted to establish what was canon and what wasn't, would literally be some autocrat pushing their preferred interpretations on the rest of us. It'd be a form of censorship at this point, even worse than when the powers that be tightened up their manuscript requirements in the late '80s.


"What will they find when I am ripped apart? 'I love you, captain' written on my heart."

Camorite

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Report this Jan. 13 2011, 3:22 pm

Quote: Camorite @ Jan. 13 2011, 3:00 pm

>IMO, what trek needs to do is to appoint one or two people (The Okuda's for example) two dictate trek canon and give anything that will be considered canon some sort of stamp of apporval so that we know, aside from the onscreen stuff, what is canon and what is not.
Oops, what i ment to say was "What they could do" instead of "What they need to do". I will be editing it on my other post.


"What i Hate more then anything else is someone that thinks that they know everything. That must mean that I really hate myself", "Freedom is the right of all setient beings!" (Optimus Prime: Transformers), "That's on small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!" Neil Armstrong 8-5-30 to 8-25-12

tribblenator999

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Report this Jan. 13 2011, 3:30 pm

canon is needed to maintain fluidity and consistency of a franchise based story so that it doesn't jump all over the place. However it's not the bible and can be modified if necessary to help with future storylines to better blend in.

"take us out"...

Vger23

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Report this Jan. 13 2011, 7:02 pm

Canon is important to maintaining continuity in a long-running franchise. It creates a feeling of realism and depth.

That said, canon is a tool for storytelling, not a burden. The moment it becomes a burden, it should be secondary. If it somes down between storytelling and adhering to canon, storytelling should win every time.

I AM KEE-ROCK!!

konarciq

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Report this Jan. 14 2011, 3:12 am

If there weren´t any inconsistencies in canon, what would we have to talk about? Of course it´s nice having an ongoing guideline, but I merely raise my eyebrows when I encounter something inconsistent. Usually no big deal. As long as the major facts are in place, I don´t mind that much about diverging on the details.


If there is nothing wrong with me, then maybe there´s something wrong with the universe? -Dr. Crusher

Matthias Russell

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Report this Jan. 14 2011, 4:39 am

I think it is ridiculous to argue things like stardates or the trills changing their appearance, but there does need to be a flow and agreement in the major elements.

I also believe the intend and notes of producers is canon if they are governing guidelines for the series. The tech manuals, for example, are used by writers and written by okuda so they should be canonized since they are officially used references. There was also apparently binders of notes and guides writers used to maintain continuity but never actually were used in full on screen which should be equally respected.

Hawklord

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Report this Jan. 14 2011, 4:46 am

Canon schmanon!

rocketscientist

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Report this Jan. 14 2011, 8:48 am

Interestingly, Ronald Moore, who was instrumental in first really making serialized story telling work in ST and thus helping canon, later considered it a burden by the time he was on DS9.

I'm ok with canon. I think it can be really cool and I don't see many ways that it limits stories. It's obvious, though, that mistakes are going to be made. Contradictions are going to occur and there have been a lot of them in the franchise's history (all of ENT imo). So I don't think it's healthy to get too stuck on the whole canon thing. An example is the contingent of fans who are all bent out of shape about ST XI and hate it because the Enterprise doesn't look exactly like the Enterprise in TOS or the fans that demanded an in canon explanation (eventually given in ENT, I believe) for why the Klingons from TMP on had ridges and the ones in TOS don't. The reason they didn't have ridges in TOS was because they couldn't afford it. I didn't need any other explanation as a kid, I knew that already. It's weird that other fans just can't understand that.

KHAAAAAAANNNNNN!!!!!

Camorite

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Report this Jan. 14 2011, 10:52 am

the fans that demanded an in canon explanation (eventually given in ENT, I believe) for why the Klingons from TMP on had ridges and the ones in TOS don't. The reason they didn't have ridges in TOS was because they couldn't afford it. I didn't need any other explanation as a kid, I knew that already. It's weird that other fans just can't understand that.


Personally i am with you on this one, GR pitched Star Trek as a cost effective series. This of course means that in the end they didn't have the budget that they had for the other 4 trek series, and therefore couldn't do expensive makeup jobs for the actors. This is as much a part of trek canon as anything that was done onscreen, but there are just some fans that refuse to accept that as a reason.


"What i Hate more then anything else is someone that thinks that they know everything. That must mean that I really hate myself", "Freedom is the right of all setient beings!" (Optimus Prime: Transformers), "That's on small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!" Neil Armstrong 8-5-30 to 8-25-12

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