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Why the "Star Trek" Franchise Died

rocketscientist

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POSTS: 10054

Report this Jan. 30 2011, 2:42 pm

I'm reposting a text review that I originally got from Trekweb.com.  I do not have the original link or know who the author is, so if anyone does, I would appreciate you posting a link.  This is both a review of NEM, it was published when that film came out, and an essay of what went wrong with the franchise.  I totally agree with the author's analysis and other former luminaries of the franchise agree with him as well.  I think the author did an excellent job with this piece.  I find it to be extremely well written.  I'd be interested to hear others thoughts on it.


December 12, 2002 - "Star Trek is dead!"
So proclaim legions of fans who doubt the continued solvency of this thirty-six-year-old franchise. Such sentiments were even echoed by people attending Tuesday morning's Austin screening of Trek's newest theatrical installment, Nemesis.


As a lifelong Star Trek fan, I've had discussions about this very notion with friends, colleagues, and even people closely associated with the various permutations of Gene Roddenberry's long-lived juggernaut. Understandably, everybody has their own opinion on "the trouble with Trek," but all evaluations reflect one common theme: at best, the franchise is in serious trouble, perhaps catastrophic trouble. But what are these "troubles" exactly? And, how can they be undone?


Some say Star Trek should be put out to pasture, and that the series is suffering from over-exposure and burnout. This would be shameful: diminishing audiences and lackluster box office do not necessarily denote the oversaturation of a title, or disinterest in a franchise. The James Bond movies prove this out nicely: audiences may waffle over one style (or theme) of Bond movie, but when the formula is shaken-up in a subsequent film, crowds often turn out in droves. In short: that a franchise has chugged along for two or three decades ? in any permutation ? may be, more or less, irrelevant. At the end of the day, audiences want to be entertained. So, the question becomes: defining what entertains viewers, and figuring out how to give it to them what they want within parameters and guidelines already laid out in the franchise's history.


And this, for my money, is where Star Trek has recently failed: it has ignored quantifiably successful elements from previous feature films and television series, and failed to generate new material that is in any way compelling to either fans or laymen. On television, and in film, the franchise has repeatedly embraced modes of storytelling that are awkward and unfocused at best. It has relied upon "A" plots and "B" plots that often do not intersect (if you can't figure out a way to drive a story with just one through-line, then it's not a story that should be told at all), revelations that challenge (or utterly dismiss) previously established history or continuity, stories that regurgitate previous Star Trek adventures, and demonstrated a repeated ? indeed, pitiful ? unwillingness to take chances with its style, characters, or concept. In short: Star Trek is now content to be bland.


Anyone regularly tuning into Trek's most recent TV incarnations ? Voyager and Enterprise ? knows exactly what they are going to get, substantively and narratively. And there's rarely, if ever, any deviation. This "sameness" cuts across the board, and permeates nearly every technical element of the franchise as well: editorial sluggishness, photographic stagnancy, and musical repression run rampant. Recently, word has leaked about how such dastardly decisions have come about, and all fingers point to two individuals: franchise overlords Rick Berman and Brannon Braga.


Observant fans may have noticed an increasing stream of comments from Star Trek staff members regarding the behind-the-scenes machinations that drive Trek's creative policy. Composers have publicly commented on producer's insistence that episodic scores be "toned down" and restrained, which inherently diminishes viewer perception of the intend on-screen emotion (whether it be urgency, tension, romance, etc.) There is scuttlebutt that Jonathan Frakes ? director of the feature films First Contact and Insurrection ? was repeatedly ordered to restrain his visual style and camera movements during the production of those films.


Across the board, the franchise looks the same, sounds the same, and feels the same. Motionless, lackluster, uninspired, physically and emotionally colorless, texturally and conceptually tepid, and almost completely lacking in dramatic truth. And all of these shortcomings are being deliberately engineered by The Powers That Be, who insist that their vision is the proper vision, regardless of dwindling audiences and returns. People often point to the oft-overlooked Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the boldest and most palpable embodiment of what Star Trek ought to be. Not-so-surprisingly, DS9 is also the recent Trek product least impacted by Berman and Braga, as evidenced by recent public comments from other producers on the series.


All things being equal, it seems the trouble with Star Trek lies not in the nature of Trek itself, but with the people whose vision is guiding it, and their apparent inability comprehend the most basic tenets of narrative convention or compelling artistry. Star Trek is about "boldly" going "where no one has gone before". There is nothing bold about Star Trek anymore ? it has been artistically and stylistically neutered (it's a pretty sad state-of-affairs when the original television series ? filmed in the 1960s ? seems more stylistically refined (camera movements, shot compositions, score usage, etc.) than a considerably more high-tech and "enlightened" series made today). It has been beaten into a mushy, lifeless visage of a once daring and vital franchise.


Which brings us to Star Trek Nemesis ? the first feature film to shatter the age-old adage that "even numbered Trek movies are always good". The tenth theatrical Star Trek adventure, Nemesis is an important film in many ways ? mostly because its success or failure may determine a great deal about where the franchise heads from here.


In an effort to capitalize on the same success found when Paramount drafted producer Harve Bennett and director Nicholas Meyer ? both Trek virgins brought in to helm Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in the early 1980s ? legendary editor-turned-director Stuart Baird was brought-in to wrangle Nemesis. The theory was this: bring in some fresh blood, someone who can re-interpret Star Trek with a fresh perspective. It worked with Bennett and Meyer, maybe it will would work again with Baird...


But someone didn't think this through too carefully: Bennett and Meyer were very thorough, very thoughtful, and very contemplative about how they approached Star Trek. They did inject fresh sensibilities to the equation, but they also researched the original series very carefully when doing so. Bennett, for example, watched every original series episode before commencing work on The Wrath of Khan. In fact, as a Trek newbie, it was Bennett's idea to bring back Khan in the first place ? so obviously he got something out of his crash course. Stuart Baird did no such research: reports from the set indicate he repeatedly called LeVar Burton's Geordi LaForge character "an alien" (he is extremely human), and referred to Trek's signature "phasers" as "ray guns". This is like sending someone who knows nothing about money to represent a major corporation on the floor of the stock market, and nowhere is Baird's lack of familiarity with Star Trek: The Next Generation more evident than in how its characters are approached.


There's a moment in the film's conclusion in which two characters say goodbye to each other ? for all we know, this may well be the last time they see each other. There are no knowing expressions, no pauses of unspoken appreciation or understanding ? nothing. These people have been friends and associates for decades, yet the departure is cursory and uninvolving, like someone we've known forever is getting on a bus to ride across town. Nemesis is riddled with missed opportunities and dramatic insincerity. One has to wonder how things would have turned-out if Baird actually had context for the material he was directing ? if he'd cared enough to figure it out in the first place, or had been made to do so by the people in charge.



Nemesis is a big, sloppy, floundering mess. performances are generally tepid and uncertain ? the main TNG characters seem aloof and unclear about what they are doing, and their interaction with each other. Dallas Puett's editing is sluggish, filled with inexplicable lag time between cuts, lending every scene a muddy and ponderous quality ? an astounding deficit considering director Baird was once editor of films like Superman: The Movie, The Omen, and Lethal Weapons 1 and 2. Cinematography by legendary lensman Jeffrey Kimball is awkward and tacky, often opting for angles which place solid walls of blandness behind character's faces, when simply reversing the angle would have revealed a deeper, more textured background. Color schemes evoke Roger Corman's Battle Beyond the Stars, rather than a big-budget feature film. Jerry Goldsmith's electronic-heavy score overpowers the on-screen action, sometime to absurd results.


Visual effects by Digital Domain ? making their first foray into the Star Trek universe ? are consistently top-of-the-line, but what they represent is generally uninspired. No matter how well produced DD's work may be, it's difficult to be impressed by three ships on screen at one time, when the recent The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars movies have upped the ante by putting tens-of-thousands of fighting things in front of us in a single shot. Hope shines brightly when Patrick Stewart's Jean-Luc Picard hatches a diabolical plan to lure evil Shinzon (Tom Hardy) into Federation space, where a Starfleet armada is waiting to ambush the badguy. But such a glorious notion is never delivered: Enterprise never makes it to Federation space...never reaches the armada...and we're only given a slightly-larger-than-TV shootout between a meager three or four ships. A tantalizing hint at what could have been.


Which pretty much describes the whole movie: it's a bait-and-switch. Scriptwriter John Logan (Gladiator), who has repeatedly indicated he wrote Nemesis for the fans, has mistaken trivia for heart. To reference Captain Kirk, or make an aside regarding a previous Star Trek adventure, is not the same thing as understanding the soul of a concept. A self-professed Star Trek II fan, Logan would have been better advised to follow in Bennett and Meyer's footsteps...and comb the archives for unresolved Next Generation storylines...instead of cheaply mimicking Wrath of Khan's "opposing geniuses collide & big ships shoot" motif. In Nemesis, we should have seen things we have never seen before, or followed-up on stories still waiting to be resolved. We should not have been given pale imitations of someone else's ideas.


There is a perceptual/emotional blueprint in place here, but writing, performances, and direction do not follow through on the template that's presented. In Nemesis, there are no moments as sublimely truthful as Kirk's vulnerability showing through at unexpected instances in The Wrath of Khan or The Search for Spock for example, or even his chilling comment in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier referencing a foreknowledge that he will someday "die alone". No moments as primally satisfying as the Klingon torpedo flying through Enterprise's saucer section in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country ? a sequence which was, what, five or ten seconds long?


All of this isn't an effort to exalt the original series (or their movies) over The Next Generation ? this is an effort to illustrate a point. It's not that hard to figure out what makes Star Trek work. Episodic ratings and box office returns pretty much bare out the illustration: for the most part, Trek is best-received, most effective, and most noteworthy, when it takes chances. Risk taking is what propelled the original series towards legendary status ? would anyone have even noticed Star Trek if there hadn't been an element of controversy or edge about it ? if it hadn't served as a well-intentioned surrogate for a repressed societal voice that was waiting to be heard? If it hadn't made us think about issues like abortion, racism, and censorship? Would The Next Generation episode "The Best of Both Worlds" have become one of the most popular episodes ever if the series lead hadn't been kidnapped and turned into a Borg, and for one brief moment, made a supervillain? The answer to all these questions is: no.


Genre entries like Xena, Hercules, Farscape, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even the much-maligned Andromeda have repeatedly demonstrated that chances can be taken with a franchise, to positive and intriguing results. Berman and Braga assert they are merely following a re-definition of Star Trek, which was laid out before franchise progenitor Gene Roddenberry passed away. If this is so, one has to ask: is it honoring a dying man's legacy to remain so devoted to his vision that the legacy itself collapses under its own deadweight? Isn't it possible that Roddenberry's re-definition may not have been the proper definition? Is it doing a legacy justice to muffle its voice and stifle its vitality? Tantalizing...and compelling...questions.


Star Trek is not dead, but the ability of its shepherds to properly protect the flock may be irreparably compromised. Whether or not there are more Star Trek stories to tell is not an issue ? such potential is as vast as the universe itself. Whether or not the people in charge can tell such stores is a concern. This attrition has been happening for a long time, but only now is the full extent of Paramount's remiss complacency becoming evident. Give Star Trek its balls back. Take chances. Think out of the box. Put some color into the shows ? good God, who wants to look at murky gray tones every week? Add visual dynamic and kinetics. Pump-up the sound. Above all, let the characters be human, and unpredictable. Let them make mistakes, and compromise their ideals ? because Trek is about humans, and humans can be inconsistent. Let our characters not always do the right thing, and let us not always agree with them. Make it...well...real.


Let Star Trek be a youthful child, filled with energy, quirkiness, driven by a sense of experimentation, exploration, and wonder. Something needs to be done here ? bravely, and with extreme prejudice. I walked out of Star Trek Nemesis ? whose promotional tag line is "A generation's final journey begins" ? with the words of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country's Chancellor Gorkon echoing in my head: "Don't let it end this way." Not for The Next Generation, and not for the franchise in general.


Make it so...


 


 

Camorite

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POSTS: 5510

Report this Jan. 30 2011, 2:45 pm

trek is only dead when fans no longer care about it, as a whole of in any of its forms. the fact that they are planing yet another movie is proof of that.

"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

TX_TREKKER

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POSTS: 193

Report this Jan. 30 2011, 3:22 pm

Considering the essay was written in 2002 not much was happening with Star Trek at that time. Since then the new movie has come out with plans of 2 more in the works. That being said, I think when Gene Roddenberry passed away is when ST started to have some trouble. The franchise is basically in the hands of the executives now. That just means it is a money train. Gone will be the passion and vision Gene Roddenberry had. I think with the end of the STNG and DS9 era there hasn't been a good interest keeping series. I feel the last thing the franchise needs is another cheap flushed out in a hurry series. That would spell doom for the franchise. The next two movies had better be well thought out and original otherwise I think the franchise will go into hibernation.

___Lucifer___

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POSTS: 1142

Report this Jan. 30 2011, 3:54 pm

tl;dr

SDK

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Report this Jan. 31 2011, 4:10 am

If they put up a post-voyager, post-nemesis Series I'm sure it will gain some decent ratings. It will be the only outlet and continuity for Star Trek fans - both the avid ones and the closet ones.


Edit: if CBS actually gets good writers and put some sort of effort into it.

tribblenator999

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POSTS: 3818

Report this Jan. 31 2011, 8:32 am

trek didn't die. it was suffering from franchise fatigue since it was non stop from 1989-all the way to 2005. Also from 89-2005 it was handled by the same executive producer...RICK BERMAN and his two friends. Now i don't know if im mistaken here but a franchise that is that long run is usually handled by more than just one guy and 2 of his buddies. With each different series it should've been handled by a different executive producer.


"take us out"...

rocketscientist

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Report this Jan. 31 2011, 8:42 am

Maybe some clarification is in order. First, I never meant to say that "Star Trek" literally died, nor did the author here imply that. This was written just after NEM was released, so yes, it is old. After NEM and ENT, the franchise was indisputably weakend, some fans saying it was "dead." I just thought the writer analysis was right on the money with what went wrong with the franchise. I was interested in reading others comments wrt this review and essay.

KHAAAAAAANNNNNN!!!!!

Vger23

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Report this Jan. 31 2011, 9:45 am

I think a lot of people mistake your intention here, RS, based on the responses you've recieved thus far.

I read this word-for-word and I find the analysis of the state of Trek at the post-"First Contact" era through "Nemesis" to be as rightly aligned with my own thinking as possible! Many of the points the author makes are points I've repeatedly tried to articulate myself. I can't find much of anything I disagree with, except that I actually enjoyed Nemesis more than the author did.

That being said, I think the general theme that B&B were so busy
-playing it safe
-trying to live up to Gene's post-TOS sterile and perfect vision
-trying to please everyone

...that they lost sight of the simple things that made the successful Treks so entertaining. I'd agree with that wholeheartedly.

The other major premise explored here is that Star Trek is at its best when REAL RISKS are taken. Not the chintzy, half-hearted risks some hardcore fans are looking for, but REAL RISKS like the reboot / alternate reality 2009 vision of Trek presented.

As always, you bank on a risky premise, and you're going to divide the fanbase in some ways (as has certainly happened), BUT if you do it right, you'll retain just enough of the types of fans you can bank on, and you'll collect a lot of new fans along the way.

That's what Voyager, Enterprise, Insurrection and Nemesis all failed to do. They failed to take enough risks with characters and format to keep the majority of the fanbase challenged and interested, while at the same time actually bringing in new interested parties to continue to grow and strengthen the fan base.

Like it or not, that's exactly what JJ Abrams KNEW needed to happen, and they were successful with that undertaking. Now, it remains to be seen if they can do it again in 2012.

I think if a new series is to be made (god, could there be any more posts on THAT topic), this article should be required reading for anyone developing that show. A new Star Trek show needs to be a significant departure from the TNG-through-ENT formula, style, format, and tone. It needs to be as different and as challenging as TOS was to 1060's audiences. What many fans here are looking for is "more of the same," (based on what I've read) and they don't even know it. I mean, I hear people saying the same kind of stuff over and over again:

"We need to move into the 25th century with a new crew and new technology" (Just like TNG did)
"We need a Star Trek war series" (like DS9)
"We need a crossover series" (like countless Trek books and comics)
"We need a Star Trek series focused on intergalactic politics (again, like DS9)

Everyone seems to be missing the point. This has all been played-out before. None of that is substantive enough to base a series around. What Star Trek needs as we head into the new decade is:

1. Characters that have dramatic, emotional relationships that resonate and make the audicence care about what is happening
2. A sense of adventure and excitement, rather than pale technobabble that makes space travel seem like going to the supermarket for eggs
3. Story arcs that are focused on HUMAN BEINGS, not "perfect, flawless" people...and not on Aliens or androids. Star Trek at its best has occasional alien characters (Spock, Data, etc.) to act as a mirror for humanity, not because they're cool and fun for the fans.
4. Themes and styles that are challenging and controversial. Star Trek from the 1960's was very different and controversial for the times. It had color, passion, and drama...but most importantly it challenged (not preached to) our perceptions and raised interesting debates.

Any new Star Trek has to be as different as TNG was to TOS when it first came out if it is to be successful. I think the 2009 movie proved this. While it still had the core heart of Trek, it was a HUGE departure in almost every way from what had come before.

That's where Trek needs to keep pushing.

I AM KEE-ROCK!!

Camorite

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Report this Jan. 31 2011, 10:07 am

Quote: /view_profile/ @

>star trek is not dead seems stargate is tho lol.
don't say that either


"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

Ghostmojo

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POSTS: 1826

Report this Jan. 31 2011, 10:11 am

It's not dead - it's just caught up in a fixed transporter matrix like Scotty was ...

to boldy go where no man has gone before

Ghostmojo

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Report this Jan. 31 2011, 10:22 am

Quote: rocketscientist @ Jan. 30 2011, 2:42 pm

>I totally agree with the author's analysis and other former luminaries of the franchise agree with him as well. I think the author did an excellent job with this piece. I find it to be extremely well written. I'd be interested to hear others thoughts on it.


I absolutely agree with you except for one small comparison he makes. He compares the Trek franchise with the Bond movies. The two are not so comparable. Bond reemerges from time to time fresh and invigorated because it has a new actor playing James, and because it adapts to the times (like having a female M). But it's still the same lead character who is as much about style and panache as he is about action. Bond lost its way during Moonraker when it tried to be something it wasn't - Star Wars! - and suffered accordingly. It nearly died with Dalton in the 1980s. But Brosnan really recaptured the Bond style and his four films are great - with Craig also showing great promise (and adding more Connery grit).


The comparison does have some merit though - due to longevity - but would be more strictly applicable if Star Trek was renewed every decade with a new actor playing the 'other' James ... which is of course what has just happened; although our author could not have foreseen that.


But yes it is extremely well written and I haven't seen it before. And doesn't it just highlight exactly what so many of us have been saying on these boards for a while now? About the safe, pedestrian blandness? About the lack of chance or risk? About the moribund characters and lack of development?


I'm really glad you posted that because it just makes me feel better about my own criticisms - and those of my fellow-travellers - that we are on the right track. That author felt it instinctively, large sections of any audience would do too. And we certainly do. You really have to feel sorry for those members of cast and crew on the various series, who tried to push the thing harder, only to be told to restrain themselves.


Making Star Trek BE what it is supposed to be isn't rocket science is it? But I wish somebody would make it so ...


to boldy go where no man has gone before

Ghostmojo

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 1826

Report this Jan. 31 2011, 10:52 am

So impressed am I by the article, and its continuing relevance, I'm going to highlight the bits which I think I could have written myself, or could any of us who share this position:


____________________________________________________________________________________________________


 


Anyone regularly tuning into Trek's most recent TV incarnations Voyager and Enterprise knows exactly what they are going to get, substantively and narratively. And there's rarely, if ever, any deviation. This "sameness" cuts across the board, and permeates nearly every technical element of the franchise as well: editorial sluggishness, photographic stagnancy, and musical repression run rampant. Recently, word has leaked about how such dastardly decisions have come about, and all fingers point to two individuals: franchise overlords Rick Berman and Brannon Braga.




Observant fans may have noticed an increasing stream of comments from Star Trek staff members regarding the behind-the-scenes machinations that drive Trek's creative policy. Composers have publicly commented on producer's insistence that episodic scores be "toned down" and restrained, which inherently diminishes viewer perception of the intend on-screen emotion (whether it be urgency, tension, romance, etc.) There is scuttlebutt that Jonathan Frakes director of the feature films First Contact and Insurrection was repeatedly ordered to restrain his visual style and camera movements during the production of those films.




Across the board, the franchise looks the same, sounds the same, and feels the same. Motionless, lackluster, uninspired, physically and emotionally colorless, texturally and conceptually tepid, and almost completely lacking in dramatic truth. And all of these shortcomings are being deliberately engineered by The Powers That Be, who insist that their vision is the proper vision, regardless of dwindling audiences and returns. All things being equal, it seems the trouble with Star Trek lies not in the nature of Trek itself, but with the people whose vision is guiding it, and their apparent inability comprehend the most basic tenets of narrative convention or compelling artistry.




Star Trek is about "boldly" going "where no one has gone before". There is nothing bold about Star Trek anymore it has been artistically and stylistically neutered (it's a pretty sad state-of-affairs when the original television series filmed in the 1960s seems more stylistically refined (camera movements, shot compositions, score usage, etc.) than a considerably more high-tech and "enlightened" series made today). It has been beaten into a mushy, lifeless visage of a once daring and vital franchise. Star Trek is not dead, but the ability of its shepherds to properly protect the flock may be irreparably compromised. Whether or not there are more Star Trek stories to tell is not an issue, such potential is as vast as the universe itself.




Whether or not the people in charge can tell such stores is a concern. This attrition has been happening for a long time, but only now is the full extent of Paramount's remiss complacency becoming evident. Give Star Trek its balls back. Take chances. Think out of the box. Put some color into the shows good God, who wants to look at murky gray tones every week? Add visual dynamic and kinetics. Pump-up the sound. Above all, let the characters be human, and unpredictable. Let them make mistakes, and compromise their ideals because Trek is about humans, and humans can be inconsistent. Let our characters not always do the right thing, and let us not always agree with them.


____________________________________________________________________________________________________


 


At the risk of making myself very unpopular with some posters on these boards, but I guess Vger23 and rocketscientist will agree with me, I reckon Star Trek fans these days break down into two main groups.


There are those who were drawn to it mainly because of the stories and characters. Yes the sci-fi was important and gave it context - but it was not the driver. I think we fall into that group. We recognised the creative vitality and boldness of the enterprise (forgive all the puns).


Then there is a newer breed of fan who is possibly a bit more geekish and is less demanding in what they are going to put up with. I don't wish to sound patronising, but I read lots of stuff on these boards which has so little analytical substance to it, or displays such a lack of realistic critique I think some of them would be happy with anything as long as there was a starfleet insignia on it ...


to boldy go where no man has gone before

Vger23

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 6799

Report this Jan. 31 2011, 12:29 pm

Quote: Ghostmojo @ Jan. 31 2011, 10:52 am

So impressed am I by the article, and its continuing relevance, I'm going to highlight the bits which I think I could have written myself, or could any of us who share this position:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Anyone regularly tuning into Trek's most recent TV incarnations Voyager and Enterprise knows exactly what they are going to get, substantively and narratively. And there's rarely, if ever, any deviation. This "sameness" cuts across the board, and permeates nearly every technical element of the franchise as well: editorial sluggishness, photographic stagnancy, and musical repression run rampant. Recently, word has leaked about how such dastardly decisions have come about, and all fingers point to two individuals: franchise overlords Rick Berman and Brannon Braga.


Observant fans may have noticed an increasing stream of comments from Star Trek staff members regarding the behind-the-scenes machinations that drive Trek's creative policy. Composers have publicly commented on producer's insistence that episodic scores be "toned down" and restrained, which inherently diminishes viewer perception of the intend on-screen emotion (whether it be urgency, tension, romance, etc.) There is scuttlebutt that Jonathan Frakes director of the feature films First Contact and Insurrection was repeatedly ordered to restrain his visual style and camera movements during the production of those films.


Across the board, the franchise looks the same, sounds the same, and feels the same. Motionless, lackluster, uninspired, physically and emotionally colorless, texturally and conceptually tepid, and almost completely lacking in dramatic truth. And all of these shortcomings are being deliberately engineered by The Powers That Be, who insist that their vision is the proper vision, regardless of dwindling audiences and returns. All things being equal, it seems the trouble with Star Trek lies not in the nature of Trek itself, but with the people whose vision is guiding it, and their apparent inability comprehend the most basic tenets of narrative convention or compelling artistry.


Star Trek is about "boldly" going "where no one has gone before". There is nothing bold about Star Trek anymore it has been artistically and stylistically neutered (it's a pretty sad state-of-affairs when the original television series filmed in the 1960s seems more stylistically refined (camera movements, shot compositions, score usage, etc.) than a considerably more high-tech and "enlightened" series made today). It has been beaten into a mushy, lifeless visage of a once daring and vital franchise. Star Trek is not dead, but the ability of its shepherds to properly protect the flock may be irreparably compromised. Whether or not there are more Star Trek stories to tell is not an issue, such potential is as vast as the universe itself.


Whether or not the people in charge can tell such stores is a concern. This attrition has been happening for a long time, but only now is the full extent of Paramount's remiss complacency becoming evident. Give Star Trek its balls back. Take chances. Think out of the box. Put some color into the shows good God, who wants to look at murky gray tones every week? Add visual dynamic and kinetics. Pump-up the sound. Above all, let the characters be human, and unpredictable. Let them make mistakes, and compromise their ideals because Trek is about humans, and humans can be inconsistent. Let our characters not always do the right thing, and let us not always agree with them.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

At the risk of making myself very unpopular with some posters on these boards, but I guess Vger23 and rocketscientist will agree with me, I reckon Star Trek fans these days break down into two main groups.

There are those who were drawn to it mainly because of the stories and characters. Yes the sci-fi was important and gave it context - but it was not the driver. I think we fall into that group. We recognised the creative vitality and boldness of the enterprise (forgive all the puns).

Then there is a newer breed of fan who is possibly a bit more geekish and is less demanding in what they are going to put up with. I don't wish to sound patronising, but I read lots of stuff on these boards which has so little analytical substance to it, or displays such a lack of realistic critique I think some of them would be happy with anything as long as there was a starfleet insignia on it ...



I would agree with this, but I think you've missed a "third bucket" that is, in many ways, the most damaging element.

It is the other side of the spectrum from the "less demanding in what they are going to put up with." It's the type of fan who is seldom pleased with ANYTHING because they are so overly-invested in their own personal view of what makes "good Star Trek" and what "real Star Trek SHOULD be." They are so narrow-sighted and tied to that personal view that they are convinced that anything that doesn't meet is is "TEH SUCKZ" and "TEH WORST MOVEE EVAR!!!" They forget that Star Trek is, at its most fundamental, an entertaining adventure. They look at it like something that MUST conform to a certain set of rules and obligations, and generally grate against the boldness that this author is calling for.

I AM KEE-ROCK!!

Treknoir

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POSTS: 1784

Report this Jan. 31 2011, 12:49 pm

Quote: Vger23 @ Jan. 31 2011, 9:45 am

>"We need to move into the 25th century with a new crew and new technology" (Just like TNG did) "We need a Star Trek war series" (like DS9) "We need a crossover series" (like countless Trek books and comics) "We need a Star Trek series focused on intergalactic politics (again, like DS9) Everyone seems to be missing the point. This has all been played-out before. None of that is substantive enough to base a series around. What Star Trek needs as we head into the new decade is: 1. Characters that have dramatic, emotional relationships that resonate and make the audicence care about what is happening 2. A sense of adventure and excitement, rather than pale technobabble that makes space travel seem like going to the supermarket for eggs 3. Story arcs that are focused on HUMAN BEINGS, not "perfect, flawless" people...and not on Aliens or androids. Star Trek at its best has occasional alien characters (Spock, Data, etc.) to act as a mirror for humanity, not because they're cool and fun for the fans. 4. Themes and styles that are challenging and controversial. Star Trek from the 1960's was very different and controversial for the times. It had color, passion, and drama...but most importantly it challenged (not preached to) our perceptions and raised interesting debates. Any new Star Trek has to be as different as TNG was to TOS when it first came out if it is to be successful. I think the 2009 movie proved this. While it still had the core heart of Trek, it was a HUGE departure in almost every way from what had come before. That's where Trek needs to keep pushing.


I'm going to work off of your post because it is substantial. Hope you don't mind.


1) I think it would be a good idea to move further into the future, but with a different formula for storytelling.  CGI and other SFX are much better now. Plus, I would like to see how time changes the Federation and Starfleet. I wouldn't lose sleep over a 22-24 century based story if it is good and different from what has come before.


2) Characters that have dramatic, emotional relationships that resonate and make the audicence care about what is happening.


I agree. Relationships (not just love relationships, take that however you wish fans) in general on ST have followed a mostly soap opera mold. I think drama/action shows nowadays inject a little more realism (less campy and theatric maybe?) in their characters.


3) A sense of adventure and excitement, rather than pale technobabble that makes space travel seem like going to the supermarket for eggs.


I think a balanced approach would be best, otherwise you get into SW territory (which I also love by the way). After all, Starfleet is about exploration and science. The action is technically a bonus. I mean, there are star charts, encyclopedias, manuals, guides, etc. all based on fictional ST stories, characters, and ships. I think to move away from that would, again, take it too far out of ST territory.


4) Story arcs that are focused on HUMAN BEINGS, not "perfect, flawless" people...and not on Aliens or androids. Star Trek at its best has occasional alien characters (Spock, Data, etc.) to act as a mirror for humanity, not because they're cool and fun for the fans.


I disagree somewhat. I think it should be human-centered, but it is unrealistic to have a galaxy full of trillions of sentient beings, and an alliance with hundreds represented, and not have such beings as a major part of the story. I agree with you on the representation of the imperfect human.


5) Themes and styles that are challenging and controversial. Star Trek from the 1960's was very different and controversial for the times.


I agree, with a caveat. Controversy for the sake of controversy may have unintended consequences. Sometimes it is used as a device for a weak plot or to create buzz, but it may not incline viewers to keep watching.


 


It is curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which you do not want. - Spock

Treknoir

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Report this Jan. 31 2011, 12:58 pm

Fourth bucket are the canon-nites who are ever ready to call anyone who does not beleive and adhere to the ST gospel heretics.

These are the ones who get caught up on minutiae such as differences in warp factors, number and placement of nacelles, and other purely fictional ST advances.

It is curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which you do not want. - Spock

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