Should Picard have died? Part 2: How Trek goes on without him

 

In my last article, I spoke about my disappointment with the Star Trek franchise, and how years of playing it safe produced steadily diminishing creative returns. In my opinion, this can all be traced back to a lack of risk-taking.

By the time the series got into its later seasons, Star Trek: The Next Generation was such a massive hit, and the concurrent original series movies were doing so well that producers were likely convinced that Trek fans would watch anything no matter how incredibly boring it was, as long as they stuck the Star Trek name on it. Go back and watch the first two seasons of Deep Space Nine; I dare you to tell me all that Bajoran and Cardassian political crap wasn’t sleep inducing.

Caption contributed by Thomas

I triple dog dare you!

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And I won’t lie; this attitude carried over to the TOS movies as well. As a reader pointed out, by the end of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, everyone was back on the Enterprise, all in their former ranks and roles, and everyone seemed to be just fine with that. Sure, I suppose the happiness we saw was really relief that they weren’t going to jail for the rest of their lives. But Sulu becoming captain in Star Trek VI just seems like an afterthought. I never thought I’d say this, but after the abortion that is the Abrams-directed Star Trek movies, maybe Spock should have stayed dead after Star Trek II.

Caption contributed by Thomas

“It’s okay. I’m sure he didn’t mean it.”

Last time around, I hypothesized that having Captain Picard die at the end of the “Best of Both Worlds” two-parter might have been better for the overall health of the franchise. With that in mind, I’m going to indulge in wild speculation here in regards to what the Star Trek franchise could have looked like without Picard. And that involves treating the entire Star Trek franchise as one whole story.

What if someone could plot out not just a series, but all the series? And all the movies? What if that person could use any actor who had ever appeared in the franchise? What if you had a producer with drive and vision who was thinking years ahead about the longevity of a franchise and wanted to deliver as good a product as possible, and wasn’t merely thinking about the next paycheck?

This isn’t as crazy an idea as you might suppose. Back during the same era of TV that gave us TNG and DS9, there were guys like J. Michael Straczynski, who had a five-year plan for Babylon 5, and Chris Carter, whose X-Files also had a goal that went beyond a single season. So it wasn’t unheard of, even in the ‘90s, for producers to have an overall vision for their shows.

But be forewarned: my overall vision for Star Trek in the aftermath of Picard’s death is taxing even the limits of my own imagination.

So picture this: it’s the final scene of “The Best of Both Worlds”. Rather than Picard sitting quietly in his ready room receiving a debriefing, he’s in sickbay with Dr. Crusher, who’s valiantly fighting to save his life. But it’s no use; the Borg implants are too tightly integrated into his body, and Picard dies. His last act is to provide the critical clue to stop the Borg, but he’s gone now. The episode ends with Crusher’s devastated expression. First Tasha, and now Jean-Luc. No music, fade to black.

Next episode, we find the crew handling the loss. Riker receives his official appointment to captain of the Enterprise, and he has a difficult choice to make; who should be his first officer? Ultimately, he decides to keep Shelby, because he realizes that he needs her challenging him, and pushing him, and he needs an experienced officer at Ops. Meanwhile, Deanna travels to France to meet Jean-Luc’s family and to offer her condolences. The episode ends with Picard’s funeral, attended by crew and family. Jean-Luc is laid to rest at his family home in La Barre, France.

Season four plays out largely the way it originally did, culminating in the Klingon civil war. However, instead of things being resolved in the season premiere, I see the war lasting at least halfway through season five. When “Unification” airs, it’s Worf who’s in command of the Klingon cruiser that ferries himself and Data to Romulus. The Klingon war subplot then allows us to get a better glimpse into Klingon culture. We all know that Worf belongs to the House of Mogh, but what, exactly, is a house? What does being part of a house entail? Are all houses alike, or are different houses involved in different aspects of Klingon culture?

What if there are shipbuilding houses, houses of science, of commerce, of diplomacy, of farming and food production? What are Worf’s responsibilities and obligations as head of one? Perhaps this stuff was covered in the Star Trek novels, but it was never elaborated on in the series at all. What happened with Worf is an echo of what happened with Picard: a desire to return to the status quo as quickly as possible.

Instead, I see the civil war ending with Worf being forced to leave the Klingon Empire when he finds himself falling out of favor with Gowron.

Should Picard have died? Part 2: How Trek goes on without him

Gowron accepts some of Duras’ followers back into the council in order to end the war before the Empire becomes so weakened that the Romulans are able to roll in and take over. Worf places his brother Kurn as head of their house, and he finds himself back in Starfleet… in his old position, at his old rank. All of his accomplishments during the war are barely noted by his superiors. A man who commanded ships in the heat of battle is now once more a subordinate, and it burns.

Over the course of seasons five through seven, we see the producers making a concerted effort to flesh out the supporting cast; characters like Lt. Barclay are given larger roles. Meanwhile, Geordi and Worf are growing increasingly discontent. Both realize that perhaps they want more than what they have.

Ultimately, when the position of Strategic Ops opens up on Deep Space Nine, Worf decides to take it. It’s his opportunity to perhaps at last achieve a command of his own within Starfleet, and he takes Chief O’Brien with him. In Worf’s place (here’s where the speculation gets wild), a lieutenant named Tuvok is assigned to the Enterprise. By series’ end, Geordi has accepted a position as XO on another ship, with Barclay named as his replacement, and Shelby has accepted command of the USS Voyager, taking Tuvok with her.

What’s been going on over at Deep Space Nine during this time? As I said, the first two seasons were boring as hell, and I would have changed the format of the show entirely. Rather than the wormhole opening up in the pilot, I would have had it occur in the first season finale. The entire first season would have involved the fallout from the Cardassian departure and the political upheaval they left behind. But beyond that, I’d have it hinted that the reason why Gul Dukat was so reluctant to leave was because he suspected the wormhole’s existence. Have a mystery unfold that culminates in the reveal of the wormhole.

Season two of DS9 should involve the changing of the political landscape of Bajor and its sector, now that there’s this new frontier to explore. Starfleet should be both excited and apprehensive, as what they thought of as a stable sector along their borders is now a potential route for invasion. What if the Borg come streaming out of that wormhole? What if another equally hostile race does? Why isn’t anyone more concerned about this?

Accordingly, Gul Dukat offers Cardassia’s services to the Federation to defend this sector. The Romulans are a growing threat, and the Klingon Empire is still rebuilding after their devastating civil war. And the Federation now has the Borg to worry about, seeing as how defeating their attacking cube makes Starfleet the Borg’s biggest threat in this quadrant. I would have shown Dukat as a master politician angling to take control of the wormhole, not through military might, but through diplomacy. Make Gul Dukat a legitimate threat, dammit! Play him up as a scheming manipulator from day one, who’s every bit Sisko’s intellectual equal, not his punching bag.

Caption contributed by Thomas

Ouch.

This plot isn’t as farfetched as you might think. The Federation was willing to give up cloaking technology in exchange for peace. They cut a deal with the Cardassians to give them concessions regarding their shared border to avoid another war, because of their concern over the Borg threat. Asking the Cardassians to take on the responsibility of handling wormhole security doesn’t sound all that unbelievable, based on some of the other military/diplomatic decisions made over the course of the franchise.

Back to Dukat. Over time, slowly make him into something more than just a two-dimensional villain; introduce his daughter, tease his reformation, and then reveal his alliance with the Dominion. Only this time, do a much better job of explaining how he thinks enslaving his people is a good idea (if you can). Ultimately, have his daughter die, and then instead of turning Dukat into a ridiculous caricature of his former self, kill him off. By season six, he’s served his purpose, and there would be no better time for him to exit stage left.

But wait! You may say. Without Dukat, who becomes the tool of the Pah Wraiths? Why, Kai Winn, of course.

Should Picard have died? Part 2: How Trek goes on without him

Yes, Kai Winn. During season one, they could have shown Kai Winn in a political battle with Kai Opaka for leadership of Bajor’s religious sect. And with Opaka’s enforced departure, we could have seen Kai’s star rise… that is, until the wormhole revelation and Sisko becoming the emissary derails her plans.

Winn grows bitter as a cult of personality forms around Benjamin Sisko, and she’s forced to either denounce him as a fraud and demand he and Starfleet leave Deep Space Nine, or support him because Starfleet’s departure would mean Dukat wins. Her reluctant support of Sisko should fester, and ultimately, it should lead to Winn’s final devastating fall as she succumbs to her hatred and the Pah Wraiths take hold of her very soul.

Oh, and one more thing: I would have gotten rid of Vic Fontaine.

Caption contributed by Thomas

I wanted to do that to his face from the first moment I saw him.

I have nothing against James Darren. I think he’s a good actor and I’ve liked him in other stuff. But I hated the whole concept of people repeatedly going to a ‘60s Vegas nightclub, because quite frankly, I hate that sort of music. A rat packer, I am not. Okay, sure, have your Vic Fontaine episode. But maybe have James Darren make repeat appearances in other roles on the Holodeck? Have him appear as the host of the equivalent of a Klingon beer hall, or a Bajoran chef preparing his special Hasperat. Use the Holodeck to show other cultures. Having a ‘60s Vegas nightclub seems, I dunno, speciesist to me. And dumb. Very dumb.

Now we come to Voyager, with Captain Shelby in command. She’s taken along some familiar faces, such as Lt. Tuvok and Nurse Ogawa. They’re on the hunt for a particular Maquis criminal, one Shelby has quite a grudge against: Ro Laren.

Should Picard have died? Part 2: How Trek goes on without him

Following a tip, they track her to the Badlands, where they’re all whisked away to the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker. There are many deaths, and Ogawa discovers she’s now the ship’s chief medical officer by default. Imagine the awesome responsibility heaped upon a senior nurse who’s now being called upon to act as a ship’s medical officer. Also, imagine the personal stresses she would now be subjected to: Ogawa had been pregnant at the end of The Next Generation. In this scenario, she’ll have given birth soon before coming aboard Voyager, on what’s meant to be a temporary assignment, with her leaving her child in the care of her husband. Imagine what she would have to endure, not seeing her child, and not being able to tell her husband she’s alive. Imagine the bitterness she would feel directed at Shelby.

Also, imagine the mind-blowing implications of having two Asian actors playing major roles on the same show at the same time! Honestly, how often does that happen? I think you might have to go back to the original Hawaii Five-O to see something like that. It happens about as often as a black actor being cast in a sci-fi series without having to wear a stupid prosthetic on his/her head.

Caption contributed by Thomas

Even Ben Sisko had to wear something on his head that made him look less cool.

So Voyager and Ro Laren’s people defeat the Kazon, and now we come to the aftermath, and it isn’t pretty. Shelby hates Laren’s guts. She hasn’t liked her since they first met, has never been impressed by her, and her betraying Riker and defecting to the Maquis has stuck in Shelby’s craw. But she needs warm bodies to fill out the ranks, and Laren essentially blackmails her: “Make me your executive officer, or you won’t get any cooperation.” Shelby has to agree, and now she finds herself in the unenviable position of having a first officer she simply cannot trust.

One of Voyager’s (many) flaws was the lack of effective conflict within the cast. Yes, it cropped up from time to time, but ultimately, it was a show devoid of any real tension. The ship was always fixed by the next episode, and there was never a feeling of desperation regarding resources. People could jump onto the Holodeck any time they wanted, because for some reason Holodeck energy wasn’t like other energy. Shuttles crashed and were easily replaced. Screw all that.

I want to see food rationed, power carefully allocated, and each photon torpedo treated as a precious commodity. And Ro Laren should be a ruthless taskmaster, going so far as to whack a Maquis who simply doesn’t get the fact that the people on the ship are living a marginal existence. Ro Laren is a frightening woman willing to do anything to get home. She has a war to get back to, and woe be to anyone who gets in the way of that, and if it means cutting deals with aliens of the week to do so, then so be it.

Shelby would adhere to the ideals of Starfleet, and let Ro know that her reprehensible actions make her no better than the Cardassians who oppressed her people, as it’s the Cardassians who see “any means to an end” as a philosophy. Ultimately, their feud comes to a head in the season two finale, when in a bit of irony, Ro is betrayed by her sidekick Seska, who turns out to be a Cardassian. Ro and Shelby come to an understanding as they leave the Kazon behind.

Caption contributed by Thomas

In my Star Trek: Voyager, the Kazon would be much cooler and less… derpy.

And then they move on to the next threat. Each season would involve a different major bad guy, as the ship makes definite progress towards home (honestly, look at the first two seasons—Voyager pretty much goes nowhere. Why isn’t there a mutiny? Because producer Jeri Taylor thought her creation, Kathryn Janeway, walked on water). As the Kazon are left behind, Voyager soon faces the Vidiians. After the crew survives the Vidiians, they face the Hirogen. And when they finally depart Hirogen space, they face their ultimate test: the Borg.

The ship gains new crew members, explorers, and ambassadors eager to see new sights and visit this “Federation”. The ship itself slowly changes as it adopts new technologies and weapons to replace what’s been lost. By series’ end, Shelby and Ro have formed an awesome womance culminating in them sacrificing themselves in an stunning finale, as they detonate a chronobomb to destroy the Borg, and Voyager rides the temporal shockwave home. (Chronobombs don’t exist in the Star Trek universe. But dammit, they should!)

Oh, and what about Neelix? I’d keep him.

Should Picard have died? Part 2: How Trek goes on without him

Yeah, I was just as shocked when I realized that. But looking back, there was really nothing wrong with the concept of Neelix. The problem lay in the execution. Instead of being a savvy trader/salvager getting by on his wits, Neelix appeared to be utterly witless, a failure at even being comic relief. Keep the makeup, keep the silly clothes. Have it all hide a scheming, ruthless manipulator out for himself. A manipulator who ultimately comes to respect the Voyager crew and is reformed by witnessing their repeated acts of courage and nobility. The cynical bastard comes to realize there’s more to the universe than dog-eat-dog.

If you look at the four TNG-era films, they range from mediocre (First Contact) to utter trash (Insurrection and Nemesis are tied, with Star Trek V being only marginally worse. “Marginally”, as in by a hair). Generations is simply not a very good film. Think about it; TNG had two movies in a row that used a time travel plot device. And all those good feelings generated by the end of Star Trek VI with the crew of the Enterprise cruising off into the stars? Pissed away with Kirk’s ignoble death. Instead of dying on the bridge, he dies on a bridge. Seriously, I give whichever of the three writers responsible a big middle finger for that.

Should Picard have died? Part 2: How Trek goes on without him

If you really must have a story involving the original cast, then be creative. Instead of time travel, why not use flashbacks? Why not tell us what became of the likes of Chekov, Sulu, and Uhura? Or why not involve the present-day Scotty, McCoy, and Spock, who are all still alive in TNG’s timeframe?

A creative way to get Geordi back into the story might be to have him visit Scotty and gain a clue regarding the past. Perhaps the story involves the search for Kirk. Perhaps we discover James T. had died on a distant world, saving its people, and leaving behind a legacy where he violated the Prime Directive to do what he thought was right. What if information came to light painting Kirk as a war criminal, and these three survivors—Spock, McCoy, and Scotty—went to Riker for help to clear Kirk’s name? There are all sorts of ideas that could involve the old cast and new without relying on the crutch of time travel.

First Contact? I would have gotten rid of Alfre Woodard. Honestly, she’s a useless, unnecessary audience-insert character, and every minute she’s onscreen robs a cast member of more time. Bring back Geordi and anyone else as survivors of the Borg attack. It would be great to see Geordi and Barclay bickering over the construction of the Phoenix, and we could see how far Reg has come.

Insurrection? Screw that. Make a Dominion War movie. Have multiple ships involved, with a big cast mixing characters from both TNG and DS9, and make it feel utterly epic in scope. Why not? The X-Files had a successful movie in between seasons; the same thing could work here. And the consequences of the movie could then impact the Deep Space Nine TV series.

Nemesis? Not a bad plot overall, but again, the execution is weak. I would have used Lore rather than B4. Bring back Sela as Shizon’s advisor, and involve Tom Riker. Have Data preparing for his first command, and have Captain La Forge and Ambassador Worf along for the ride as part of the wedding party on their way to Risa. And have Barclay die in the chaos, with Geordi having to step up as Chief Engineer once more.

And for an audience-insert character, use Data’s replacement, a young, hotshot commander who has to be brought up to speed on who these characters are. “Lore? My evil brother.” “Thomas Riker? He’s the result of a transporter accident.” “Sela? She’s the daughter of a dead crew member from another timeline.” Having cast members explain this stuff with a straight face would be priceless.

The premise of Nemesis could still be about duality, and one of the storylines could be Will attempting to bring Tom back from the dark side. Sela dies, Shizon dies, and Data ultimately dies in a final confrontation with Lore. Tom saves Will’s life. Make the movie dark, but also leave us with the feeling that life does go on.

And now we come to the final entry in the original Roddenberry/Rick Berman-led Star Trek franchise: Enterprise. I realize the show was inevitable; Paramount still needed a Star Trek series for their floundering UPN network, so the show would have come into existence in one way or another. So, how would I have handled it? This is what I would have done differently:

Vulcans would not be portrayed as dicks.

Travel distance would be a big deal. Enterprise was always where they needed to be, exactly when they needed to be there. Screw that. Unless you want to finally make “warp highways” canon. Also, communication would often be a problem as well, so it should have sometimes taken many hours or days to receive messages from faraway Earth.

T’Pol should have been in a less ridiculous costume, and should not have been wearing high heels. And let Jolene Blalock wear her real hair rather than that stupid wig. The franchise established as far back as the original series that Vulcan women could have long hair.

Should Picard have died? Part 2: How Trek goes on without him

Also, don’t call it Enterprise! The very existence of the name raises all sorts of headaches regarding canon.

Give the ship a different look than the Akiraprise. If you want saucer-shaped ships, then show the Andorians employing that design. In fact, hint that the first Enterprise is a combination of technologies: the Vulcan cigar shape, the Andorian saucer, and Earth’s warp nacelles. Show us that Earthlings stumbled upon a more efficient and effective warp field generator with the nacelles than the comparatively primitive Vulcan/Andorian warp rings.

While we’re on the look of the not-Enterprise, I would have changed the interior as well. Why does the bridge layout look just like any other bridge in the franchise? Instead, why not make it look like the control center of a submarine, and show the slow evolution to a modern Star Trek bridge?

Have the stories focus on the formation of the Federation by involving the Tellarites and Andorians early on.

None of this is entirely impossible, people. J. Michael Straczynski designed Babylon 5 as a five-season story. He had the show pretty much plotted out from day one, with contingency plans to take into account actors leaving and other potential unforeseen circumstances.

Look at what’s going on with the Marvel movie franchise; The Avengers was teased as early as Iron Man. Thanos, the ultimate Marvel villain, was teased in the first Avengers film, and we just witnessed the introduction of his weapons of choice, the Infinity Gems.

Planning a franchise is possible if you have producers with talent and vision who aren’t afraid to take a few chances and can think beyond the next season or movie.

TV Show: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Tag: Should Picard have died?

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  • Gallen Dugall

    “Go back and watch the first two seasons of Deep Space Nine”
    The only way I was ever able to watch that show at all, and just this year, was by following an episode guide that told you which episodes to skip – all but two episodes of seasons one and two, then half of each of the remaining seasons.

  • Gallen Dugall

    “J. Michael Straczynski, who had a five-year plan for Babylon 5”
    Which made for great television once it was boiled down to two and a half seasons.
    Also I’ll just add – Babylon 5 needs to be rebooted.

  • Gallen Dugall

    “instead of things being resolved in the season premiere, I see the war lasting at least halfway through season five”
    which is the other error they made – Michael Dorn should have gotten the first spin off.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Eh, I wouldn’t have gone quite that far. I do think Worf gets marginalized as the series wears on. In season four he’s such a critical component of the series and really he never approaches that level ever again. Even him becoming lieutenant Commander in Generations really doesn’t mean anything.

      • Gallen Dugall

        Dorn is one of the few actors that could have carried his own show between him being a very hyper energetic actor always willing to do more and the character with his many facets most of which, like his son, were just kinda dropped

  • Gallen Dugall

    “I would have gotten rid of Vic Fontaine.”
    We agree on that – skipped those grossly overrated episodes after a few minutes. You’re in the future where all of humanities internal problems have been solved and you want to go back to one of the greatest periods of social upheaval? Wha? More like some baby boomers were writing poorly conceived nostalgia episodes.

    • They seem to jump around to a lot of different time periods in the holo-suite. They mention kayaking, the battle of the Alamo, vikings, and Camelot in the show. People in the future like to look back on different time periods to play in… just like how fiction works now.

      • Gallen Dugall

        You make a solid argument, but I still put it down to uncreative writing. I’m biased, because I found everything after TNG to be… not my cup of tea. I had to force myself to watch the DS9 shows, and even then ended up skipping most of them.

        • CaptainCalvinCat

          At least you’re honest about your motivation. ^^

        • That is fine. I liked most of TNG, but the only series I have watched entirely is DS9 because it appealed to me more.

        • Muthsarah

          Skipping…because you’d already seen them and remembered not liking them?

          Skipping…because you read up on them, and they didn’t sound very interesting?

          Skipping…because you watched a whole bunch of episodes, then lost interest in the series as a whole and left the others unwatched?

          You mentioned above that you didn’t like the de-Trekking of Trek, especially how the writers seemed more interested in turning the Federation dark and gritty and stuff. I’m curious, but did you get around to seeing “Duet”, “Necessary Evil”, “The Wire”, or “Improbable Cause/The Die is Cast”? These are all fantastic episodes that do go “dark”, but are centered around non-Federation characters. Even the original series portrayed the Klingons and many planets-of-the-week and such as a twisted, troubled race (or heavily implied they were). It might be a nice compromise, meet the writers on their terms, but in a way that doesn’t fly in the face of a TOS-era Trek fan’s expectations of the show’s main hero-types.

          Also, “The Visitor” should be good for anyone to enjoy, as it’s not about politics at all, but about a father-son bond. And, if you can roll with the lovingly-meant joke, “Trials and Tribble-ations” could be a lot of fun.

          I think I can understand fully how alienating DS9 can be, especially when it really gets into the war stuff. But there are some gems that have nothing to do with twisting Gene’s vision, just in finding interesting stories to tell on the margins of his universe.

          • Gallen Dugall

            skipping because even the best episodes are pretty bad so wading through the ones that even the fans don’t recommend wasn’t going to be something I was going to do
            let’s be fair
            the franchise isn’t what it was, that’s fine because things change
            I don’t like what it has become, it’s not enjoyable to me. I don’t like the characters, the stories, the sets or the costumes. Doesn’t seem like any of it fits in the setting as I understood it.Too dark and gritty. Way too much “who’s sleeping with who”. It’s just not my cup of tea.

  • Neelix as Han Solo. Hmm.

  • Gallen Dugall

    “Vulcans would not be portrayed as dicks.”
    Unfortunately that was a necessary part of the de-Treking of Trek, which is why I don’t think it could be saved. It was the writers, who openly hated that optimistic vision of the future and wanted to make it dark and gritty, because if Batman teaches us anything it’s that everything should be dark and gritty. So we got the Dominion War where ships vaporize like snowflakes in a blast furnace and high ranking Federation officers promote killing civilians as part of a terror war to get what they want.
    Killing off Picard, or better yet promoting back to a desk at Starfleet so they could keep an eye on him, as you suggested, is a better alternative. The first spin off should be Dorn’s Worf show dealing with the Kingon’s painful reforging of their warrior heritage into an ethical and responsible starfaring civilization. Dump DS9. Dump Voyager. Do a show about Starfleet academy following a group of cadets.
    Most importantly fire the writers that Berman brought onboard to kiss his butt and then fire Berman.

    • Gallen Dugall

      No idea what to do about Enterprise as that show, instead of focusing on simple exploration and discovery stories, decided to do some insanely epic crap that no one ever talks about again in the future in spite of it being pretty critical and all encompassing to everything.

      • Thomas Stockel

        Yeah, that’s the problem with prequels; you already know where they are going. It’s very tough writing them effectively. That’s one of the reasons why Lucas’ second trilogy hasn’t aged very well.

        • Gallen Dugall

          I’ll only disagree in so much as The Clone Wars redeems the prequels and actually makes them interesting… the bad guy’s plans still don’t make a lick of sense, but there’s a much needed depth there now.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            What doesn’t make sense about their plan?

            Seems pretty straightforward to me- Palpatine pits the Republic and Confederacy against each other so that no matter who win, he comes on top and rules an intergalactic dictatorship.

          • Gallen Dugall

            His plans don’t ever actually lead anywhere except when they are lucky thwarted by the Jedi and things turn out okay.
            Phantom Menace – his plan is to have the Trade Federation take over Naboo and kick him out of the senate so that he could never hope to rise to the position of Chancellor

            Attack of the Clones – actually has no plan at all in this film. It’s pretty amazing. The Jedi just run around learning backstory until it ends.

            Revenge of the Sith – get captured by people where only one knows you’re on their side and hope none of them does anything stupid and hope that one particular Jedi comes to rescue you so you can pit your two potential apprentices against each other… why does this require that you get captured? The Jedi have been actively seeking to confront Dooku so it couldn’t have been that convoluted to put together. Especially since Dooku can apparently come and go on Coruscant as he pleases.

            Reality is that the scripts are pretty bad. GL does best with simple stories – these clearly got away from him. He knew what he wanted to have happen but antagonist motivation wasn’t something he gave much thought to.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Phantom Menace – His plan was to drag the crisis out for as long as possible to justify the creation of a clone army that he was secretly building or preparing to build anyway (or if not clones, any kind of army), ideally he would have waiting until AotC-time wise to become Chancellor (because its a plot point in RotS that he’s been in office longer than is normal or legal). When Amidala escaped and arrived on Coruscant, he adapted and decided to go for the Chancellorship now while the opportunity presented itself.

            A Federation victory would never have seen him kicked out of the Senate; where did you get that idea? The Federation wanted Amidala as a puppet; they didn’t want to conquer the planet outright, and they were only acting on the orders of Sidious. If Palpatine thought he’d lose his job over this, he’d make sure it wouldn’t get that far.

            Attack of the Clones- The plan was to start the Clone Wars; that’s why he’s got Dooku gathering allies and spearheading a Separatist movement. This justifies the Republic creating an army (that’s already been made for them), which is something they didn’t have because they’ve had no external enemies for millennia, and thus justifies Palpatine getting himself Emergency Powers by manipulating Jar-Jar (though if Jar-Jar wasn’t there, another Senator would have done). If Obi–Wan and the Jedi Order hadn’t discovered Dooku up to no good on Geonosis, that’s fine- he can always engineer another crisis later. Obi-Wan was his pawn all along, uncovering exactly what Palpatine hoped he would, but if he failed there were plenty of other things he could have arranged.

            The point of the Clone Wars is so that when they are over, Palpatine can justify creating an Empire in the name of peace. Also, its an excellent opportunity to kill a lot of Jedi, as well as meaning he now has an army loyal only to him.

            RotS- Palpatine engineered his own capture, of course; the reason he did this was so he could pit Anakin and Dooku against each other and he correctly predicted that Anakin would kill Dooku, turning him further to the Dark Side and eliminating a pawn that had outlived its usefulness. He’d built a relationship with Anakin over the years so made it easier and more likely that he and Obi-Wan would be the ones to rescue him- and if there was nobody to rescue, the Jedi would not have shown up to fight Dooku; they would have focused on blasting that ship out of the sky. This way, Palpatine makes sure Dooku dies right in front of him, rather than risk he or his ship escaping, and he dies at Anakins’ hands.

            And the Jedi hardly KNOW that Dooku can come and go as he pleases; he’s able to do that only in secret, and with an inside man- who happens to be the Supreme Chancellor and the Dark Lord of the Sith. The Jedi would be AGHAST if they knew Dooku had been jaunting to Coruscant as he pleased.

            Palpy’s lackeys wouldn’t do anything stupid because even the ones ignorant of him being their leader are still under his control and orders as Sidious. Beyond that, Palpatine is the most powerful Sith Lord who ever lived- if anyone dared try something stupid with him, he’d kill them and any witnesses as well. He is also makes him cocky and prone to reckless behaviour, so letting himself get captured and be in the middle of the action makes sense to his character if nothing else.

            And if you think Palpatine would need to be psychic for half this stuff to work out…he IS psychic. He CAN see the future, and sense people through the Force. And the Dark Side clouds the Jedi’s ability to do likewise, so he has that in his favour as well.

            Its a flexible master plan that leaves some things to chance, but in general its a well thought-out and orchestrated one. Some of this stuff is explained / elaborated in the cartoons and books, I’ll grant you, but its not hard to make sense of things just within the movies.

          • Gallen Dugall

            You’ve clearly put more thought into it than GL, but you still can’t convince me his plan in PM makes any sense at all. If he’d succeeded he’d have been replaced in the senate that was the Trade Federation’s plan, to take over Naboo and have the it ratified as legal, at which point they represent Naboo and they don’t need Pal. It’s not complicated.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Back in ’99, I watched the Phantom Menace and thought “Well, it makes sense, you know? He is orchestrating the blockade of Naboo, allow the Queen and her entourage to escape, go to Tatooine first (in order to get Anakin) then go to Couruscant (and via own intervention cause the Chancillor to get a vote of mistrust).”

            Now it is 15 years later – and I still see the logic in this plan.
            I mean – if you think about it, the goal was to get rid of Valorum. Why? Probably, because the Chancillor wouldn’t have agreed to his plans.
            So – you get rid of him.
            How can you get rid of a political figure? You could kill him – which would not be that difficult, since you have Ray Park to help you. But this would cause a) an investigation and b) he would turn into an icon, something, the next chancillor would need to try to be like.
            So you need to get rid of him AND ruin his reputation.
            How do you do that?
            Well – via means of Politics, of course, since you’re not also a Sith Lord with Ray Park and Dracula helping you, but also a politician yourself.
            So – you shroud your presence as a Sith-Lord to the Jedi and then you’re good to go.

            Create something, it may not even be this important, what that “something” would be. More neat it would be though, if it would’ve something to do with the home world of the Chancillor.

            So – you direct the attention towards Naboo.
            Naboo is a small, relatively insignificant planet, BUT a) it is the homeworld of the Valorum and B) it is ruled by a young queen – a person, you think, would be “young and naive”. Added Bonus: If you’re a powerful sith-lord, I am willing to bet obscenely amounts of money, that you’re at least able to catch a few glimpses in the future. You see Anakin, who is “the chosen one” and you see his fate – well, not everything of it, but the highlights, for example: him turning into Darth Vader, who’ll be your right-hand man once you’re the Emperor. And who is helping you – though unwillingly and unnoticing – turning young, harmless Anakin Skywalker in the terror in black? Right – Amidala, who will be in love.

            So – you direct your attention towards Naboo AND approach the Trade Federation (as your other self – Darth Sidious), again, with the precise and specific goal of using the situation you created to weaken Valorums position AND getting rid of him.

            And you manage to do so – again – via manipulation.
            Remember the scene: Amidala is approaching the Senate, demanding, that actions are taken – and ambassadors of the Trade Federation approach, say, that they need proof and need to form a committee, which would take time.
            You know that, as Palpatine. And your goal is not to bring Naboo under the directorat of the Trade Federation, but get rid of Valorum – so you push Amidala to make a vote of mistrust.

            I’d call that pretty simple and logical – once you see it through the villains eyes.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Naboo wasn’t the home planet of Valorum; it was the home planet of Palpatine. He chose it because he knew it would gain him sympathy- he represents a planet that was invaded by a greedy Trade Federation, and the Chancellor was doing nothing. Valorum was Coruscant born and raised.

            Also, according to the EU, he didn’t know that Anakin would fall for Amidala (though he was aware of him, because he was the unintended result of a Sith experiment, the Force creating him to be the Chosen One as a backlash to Plagueis and Palpatine trying to seize control of all the midi-chlorians in the galaxy).

            He DID help engineer her rise to power though, so he was thinking far ahead regardless.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            “You’ve clearly put more thought into it than GL, but you still can’t convince me his plan in PM makes any sense at all. If he’d succeeded he’d have been replaced in the senate that was the Trade Federation’s plan, to take over Naboo and have the it ratified as legal, at which point they represent Naboo and they don’t need Pal. It’s not complicated.”

            a) The Federations plan wasn’t to make conquering Naboo legal; it was to make INVADING Naboo legal. There IS a difference- they could have forced the Naboo to agree to their trading terms (which was what the whole thing was- officially- about), and maybe left a garrison of representatives and troops behind to make sure they comply, but otherwise have left the Naboo to govern themselves as “normal”, or install a puppet ruler.

            b) The Federation are working for Darth Sidious, who is Palpatine. You say that the Federation would not need Palpatine after they take over the planet and have their conquest legalised, but even if that is true, it wouldn’t matter, because all Sidious has to do is say “Palpatine stays” and the Federation will go along with it, as long as they don’t have a death wish.

            Also, its not in the movie itself, but tie-ins to the film and other sources say that Palpatine represents multiple planets, not just Naboo, so his job is secure either way.

            And even if it was not, even if he was fired, there is nothing in the film that says the Chancellor HAS to be a serving Senator. And even if there was- he’s the Dark Lord of the Sith, and publicly a seasoned politician who would probably still have considerable wealth, power and influence even if he did lose his job as Senator, and its not like he couldn’t become a Senator again somewhere else down the line for some other planet (if you ignore the non-movie sources that he is a Senator of other planets already) if he wanted to (and its not like he’d be above cheating or murder to achieve such a goal, either).

            Palpy’s plan makes perfect sense- and even if he failed, as long as he covered up his involvement, he still had plenty of room to manoeuvre and gain some other advantage.

          • Gallen Dugall

            I disagree, the plan was to move the protagonists from scene to scene. The individual scenes were thought out. Everything else was an excuse for them to happen. Sure, you could rationalize it all, you can rationalize anything.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Whether Lucas had it all planned out and whether it made sense in-universe are two different things.

            It doesn’t really matter whether or not the plot was just an excuse to move the protagonists from A to B (and that is just your speculation; and given that the point of the entire prequel series was to chronicle the rise of Palpatine to Emperor, I’m willing to give Lucas the benefit of the doubt in this case that he had though some of this stuff out); that’s different from your original claim of the plans not making sense.

            Lack of information- whether that information exists in the mind of the writer or not- is not the same thing as a plot hole. Palpatine’s specific intentions may not have been entirely clear in The Phantom Menace, but what info we have is enough to make reasonable speculations. And regardless of that fact, the EU has filled in the blanks.

            Palpatine’s plans in that movie would only have not made sense if Lucas told us something that contradicted any logic in the plot, and he didn’t. At worst he’s guilty of not explaining why he went to such efforts to capture Amidala and orchestrated the blockade in the first place when Amidala arriving on Coruscant made him Chancellor- but in the hands of a more acclaimed director, that would be thought of as clever, letting the audience fill in the details for themselves, regardless of whether said director had an answer or not.

            Writers much better than George Lucas make stuff up as they go along and are praised for their intricate and detailed plotting (GRR Martin comes to mind- and he flat-out admitted he makes a lot of it up as he goes along) so I’m not going to hold anything against him for not explaining every intricacy of Palpatines master plan, particularly if we know enough to make sense of it ourselves (and even if we don’t, the EU eventually provided an explanation).

            You can call that rationalizing if you want, but I’ll throw that right back at you- you didn’t get the Dark Lord’s plan, and you rationalized it as the plan not making any sense, Lucas not knowing what he was doing, and any possible in-universe explanation not counting because you don’t accept plans that the writer didn’t a) map out before starting, and b) thoroughly explain in-universe.

            None of which is the same as “the bad guy’s plans still don’t make a lick of sense.”

    • Thomas Stockel

      You raise a good point about DS9 I never liked; flagships went down so easily. I remember the heady days of Star Trek II, with epic slugging matches against evenly matched ships. Now everything was Star Wars, with Federation flagships standing in for X-wing fighters.

  • Streetad

    Your Ducat sounds quite a lot like Londo Mollari….

    I always thought Voyager should have, at least initially, been a lot more about how the crew are scrabbling for survival so far away from any source of resupply. There should have also been much more conflict within the crew. Sort of like the BSG reboot without all the religious space robots,

    • Thomas Stockel

      Dukat would have been far more interesting with a little dash of Londo thrown in.

      And yeah, while I had my problems with BSG I credit Moore with him attempting to thrust home the hard existence the humans were subjected to. And the thing is, you see a hint of Jeri Taylor and Berman thinking along those lines early on; in an early episode Chakotay points out how few photon torpedoes they have, asking Janeway if she wants to waste one. Buuuuuuut that soon goes away.

  • Jonathan Campbell

    “and Chris Carter, whose X-Files also had a goal that went beyond a single season”

    I think Chris Carter is rather infamous for NOT having such a plan. He just made it SEEM LIKE he did.

    TV Tropes even calls this “The Chris Carter Effect”, when a writer / producer / director gives the impression that he has a plan, may even outright say he has a plan…and then it turns out “no I didn’t have a plan”. Or if they did, it got sidelined really, really quickly.

    Also..

    “By series’ end, Shelby and Ro have formed an awesome womance culminating in them sacrificing themselves in an stunning finale, as they detonate a chronobomb to destroy the Borg, and Voyager rides the temporal shockwave home. (Chronobombs don’t exist in the Star Trek universe. But dammit, they should!)”

    I think this would be a bit anti-climactic for the Borg.

    Voyager, much as it neutered the Borg, at least didn’t outright kill them off. One of the main reasons the Borg were problematic in Voyager was precisely that it was unconvincing that a single lost Federation ship would be any kind of convincing enemy to them. Having them actually DESTROY the Borg- implicitly a greater and more expansive threat than the entirety of the Romulan, Klingon, Cardassian and Dominion empires combined- that would be really, really hard to swallow.

  • Immortan Scott

    Why was there a ’60s style bar in the Holodeck? I know the out-of-universe reason (to appeal to audiences who remember going to these bars back in the day), but why would people in 2369 want to go to a bar from 400 years ago? Is it like a future version of those Colonial Villages were people pretend to live in the Colonial Era?

    • Jonathan Campbell

      It was Bashir that installed the program because its Bashir who is into that kind of thing, historical stuff. His off-screen friend Felix made the program and made Vic Fontaine self-aware as an experiment.

      The reason the rest of the cast kept using it is simply that Vic was popular and the bar had a kind of alien charm to them. Also, singing.

      • Capt. Harlock

        Star Trek version of a RenFaire public house…

  • Muthsarah

    “But wait! You may say. Without Dukat, who becomes the tool of the Pah Wraiths?”

    Nobody! Because the Pah-Wraiths are ****ing stupid.

    This Ro Laren sounds fun, but you’d have to re-work her character from the start. TNG softened her up from her first episode. In fact, she was never remotely this edgy or anti-social on the show, we’re just told that she was. Once. I still like her as a character, but she’s only a stand-out in that she isn’t a Girl Scout like most of the others.

    “If you look at the four TNG-era films, they range from mediocre (First Contact) […]”

    Bless you! That’s close enough to the truth for me.

    There’s just too much here to reply to, but, overall, I’m liking Thomas Stockel’s Star Trek better than most of what we got.

    …Course…I’d like to see you try your hand at actually writing a screenplay. I also have so many awesome ideas for movies and stuff, but when I actually try to write something detailed, they don’t quite seem to pan out. Dialogue’s hard.

  • Eliot Littlejohn

    hi tom to a less extent this is like when babylon 5 replaced michael o’hare with bruce boxlitner. I have no idea why they did that i guess they thought bruce had more street cred with tron. when they did that it really didnt change much. Thats why its not as controversial as your indecent proposal. If riker took over like other shows with a uninteresting captain like voyager. The show would suffer you can drive yourself crazy about the what ifs about shows but their was nothing wrong with tng. Its good that you focused on other shows that really needed fixing like voyager. Like how the kazons just went away but i think the writers realized voyager was just one ship. The kazons have several ships and planets. A final show down that would have been cool is voyager being forced to use salvaged species 8472 tech to devastate a kazon planet. You have alot of great ideas but picard dying wouldnt have worked just because you wanted it to

    • GreenLuthor

      The replacement of Michael O’Hare on Babylon 5 was… much more complicated than that. (And really quite sad.) As it turns out, O’Hare suffered from EXTREME psychological problems; paranoid delusions that caused hallucinations and erratic behavior, to the point where he could either continue with the show, or get medical treatment, but not both. Although JMS offered to halt production temporarily to allow him to get treatment, O’Hare felt that, being so early in the show’s run, the studio would just shut them down if they halted production, and he didn’t want to cause so many other people to lose work. So they agreed that O’Hare would finish out season one, then be replaced afterward. (Although JMS promised never to reveal the true story, O’Hare insisted that it be told after he passed away, to raise awareness of mental health issues. O’Hare passed away in 2012, and JMS told the story the next year.)

      So… yeah. That’s why O’Hare was replaced by Boxleitner. As I said, quite a sad story.

  • This sort of planning is far too grand to have ever been foreseeable. Unless they were adapting a huge series of novels or comics there would not have been enough of an existing story outline to start with to have such a massive undertaking be viable… Would have been cool though.

    To fix “Enterpise” just don’t make it. It was a step backward for a show that was about looking toward a brighter future. Rather than advancing the universe into a future timeline and evolving the galactic politics accordingly, they regressed and it killed the franchise (even now they continue to regress in the films by remaking the TOS characters instead of just making a film franchise with new characters and adventures).

    If you want the Federation to be weaker and an element of exploration to exist there are plenty of story elements that could be used for that purpose that still advance the timeline.
    Some possibilities:
    1) Have an invasion of crystalline entities ravage the galaxy leaving all galactic powers diminished and scrambling to regain territory.
    2) The warp field tears from the episode “Force of Nature” start to seriously handicap travel thru the galaxy… and then things start coming thru them.
    3) Invasion from the Mirror Universe.
    4) Invaders from the future return to ravage the past, turns out they are a Federation that went wrong wrecked the galaxy and are now trying to avert their own creation, they will have no home planets to work with, but better tech, they will also have cults rise up to help them stop the dark future from coming to pass.
    5) A society that mastered Omega has appeared on the galactic stage and wants to exterminate the galaxy.

  • Toby Clark

    “I dare you to tell me all that Bajoran and Cardassian political crap wasn’t sleep inducing.” Not even for a second, personally.

    • Jason J. Desrosiers

      I too didn’t find it boring, and they were doing that type of storyline before it became cliche and too close to the public consciousness (i.e. middle-east post 9/11, etc.)

  • CaptainCalvinCat

    “I dare you to tell me that all that Bajoran Cardassian political crap wasn’t sleep inducing.”
    Okay, “The Bajoran Cardassian ‘political crap’ was not sleep inducing”
    Sorry, if the story would’ve gone your way, I’d downright hated it.
    It goes all the way down to “grim and gritty” and… yeah, sorry, that is not really my type of story-telling.
    Surely, it has interesting possibilities, being interconnected, bringing characters from one show over to the other – as they did with O’Brien – but other things are just…. not my cup of tea, to say it simple.

    Take your idea for “Generations” for example. I wasn’t happy with the original movie either, but to be honest, the way I imagined it (I was something around 10 at that point), I just thought, that Kirk and Picard would just do something together and it would not just happening around the fast 10 minutes or so.

    Yeah, I was disappointed, because I felt cheated – but in the end: I think, whichever way you’d go, you’d cheat on the audience.
    Including them in flashbacks? “Booooo.”
    Work in those characters, who are alive now? “Booooo!”
    Kirk being framed as a war criminal? “Hey, what is this, Mission: Impossible or what?!”
    (Just a little sidenote: I was 12 at that point and even I noticed, that Phelps was the traitor.)

    Now over to Voyager – ugh.
    Sorry, as I stated previous: I don’t like shows, which end up with characters being on their throats – so I had no problem, with Voyager being goody two shoes.

    • I like Deep Space 9 and have never been able to watch too much of Voyager (and have not seen all of it). Voyager should have been darker and more continuity based.

    • Jonathan Campbell

      Actually, I think Voyager WAS a pretty dark show, all things considered.

      Pilot opens with a bunch of crewmen killed, multiple episodes are devoted to the tensions between the old crew and the new Marquis recruits, Seska turned out to be a Cardassian spy, the real Harry Kim DIED and never made it home (so, technically, they killed off one of their main characters), Chakotay was once abducted, tricked and brainwashed into joining a race war, Kes had slavery in her backstory, Neelix had genocide in HIS backstory, the entire crew later found out they had been assumed dead by Starfleet and Janeway discovered her fiancé married someone else, Seven of Nine was a friggin’ Borg drone…..I could go on.

      Yeah, Voyager was pretty dark. The problem was, the writing was so poor and the characters denied any real growth- and doing some damn dark or stupid things regularly- that nobody cared that much. Lack of any long-term consequences undermined it all and made it all pretty mean-spirited.

  • Cameron Vale

    I saw an excellent case made once that Trek’s optimistic vision was the key to its greater cultural relevance, and the franchise’s break with that vision from DS9 onward was a death sentence.

    • Jonathan Campbell

      Instinctively, can’t say I would agree with that case.

      Seems to overlook the problems Voyager and Enterprise had in their writings and direction. DS9 was a dark horse that may not have had the widespread popularity of something like TNG, or the original series, but still did a solid turn and is generally looked back on fondly by the fandom.
      Voyager and Enterprise are the culprits for ending the Trek series, particularly the former as the mere idea of doing a prequel series was a sign that things were not working out. If Voyager had been better, if it had been willing to play with the status quo and allow for DS9 style character development and plot arcs (the premise of Voyager should really have leant itself to this, but they tried to ape TNG despite the basic story of a ship lost in a hostile environment being much darker), then Voyager might have been looked back on with the same nostalgia.

      But there was also simple fatigue- TNG debuted in ’87 while Enterprise concluded in 2005; that’s nearly two decades of Trek shows, and only TNG was the true pop culture phenomenon of that era, the one that is widely known even outside the sci-fi genre. I don’t think DS9 or any other Trek show being as optimistic as TNG or the original series would have made much difference- it would simply have been more of the same. For me personally, I don’t think I even knew Enterprise existed until some time after it started, simply because by that time all the other Treks had concluded and often when you finish a story, you move on.

      Cultural relevance has to do with the time and place a story is told in. TNG and the original series were optimistic and that resonated with those who grew up during and after the Cold War. DS9 was relevant because it addressed issues reflected in the burgeoning Middle East crisis and the hard realities of a post-Cold War world, while Enterprise incorporated some 9/11 stuff into it (Voyager had…stuff, I’m sure). I suppose you could say the relevance of the original series was that it was an ANTIDOTE to Cold War paranoia, a form of escapism, but TNG came as the Cold War was finishing and thrived in an era of optimism itself, so that doesn’t entirely jive.

      DS9 quite deliberately cultivated and incorporated cultural relevance into its universe, having storylines about terrorism, racism, religion, outsider syndrome, societal conflict, war, genocide, peacekeeping, family etc. I don’t think DS9 could have had less cultural relevance if it tried.

      • Muthsarah

        “If Voyager had been better, if it had been willing to play with the status quo and allow for DS9 style character development and plot arcs (the premise of Voyager should really have leant itself to this, but they tried to ape TNG despite the basic story of a ship lost in a hostile environment being much darker), then Voyager might have been looked back on with the same nostalgia.”

        Voyager’s problems were more fundamental than that. Yeah, had the show been willing to go deeper, have actual continuity, force the characters to make difficult decisions that had long-term implications – in short, stay away from that accursed reset button – it absolutely would have been more fondly remembered than it is today.

        But that wouldn’t have helped the franchise. Whether you like the show or not (and I very much do), DS9 STILL hurt the franchise. It just failed to connect with a wide audience. Many Trek fans liked the turn to a serious, darker direction, but it should be clear from the ratings that many didn’t, and casuals clearly didn’t stick with it (though I suspect that was because of a combination of general fatigue, DS9’s rather poor start, and the fact that casual fans DO tend to prefer episodic fare, and DS9 got more and more continuity-heavy as it went along).

        DS9 wasn’t the kind of show that could keep Trek riding as high as TNG did, and by the time that was obvious to everyone, it was probably too late to change it. They made the best of it, though, re-tooling the show to keep just enough of an audience to keep it around, while giving a lot of the “hardcore” Trek fans what they wanted. It was the next series that was going to make or break Trek. VOY was TNG Mark II. VOY was the show that didn’t just HAVE to appeal to a wider audience, but was SUPPOSED to. It didn’t have long arcs. It didn’t dwell on alien spiritualism or complicated politics. It was built to be in the same mold as TOS and TNG – what 44-minute adventure on what strange and hostile planet with what exotic alien species with allusions to modern-day issues are we going to explore today? VOY was absolutely the right format for that.

        But it was too conservative, and run by the wrong people. Many a TNG episode was self-contained, but there was still a sense of character growth. Too many VOY episodes ended with seemingly nothing having changed, despite the ads and the first acts of episode after episode teasing that THIS WEEK, something big COULD happen. Which almost never would. Yep, we’re still a gazillion miles from home. Yep, the Kazon are probably coming back to threaten us again. Yep, Neelix is still here. Yep, we still have all the shuttles, or will again by next week. It worked for TNG, so why not for VOY?

        I think we know why. There’s really only one all-encapsulating reason: most people didn’t like the show. They didn’t like the characters. They didn’t find the stories interesting. They never got invested. They were rarely tempted to come back and see how Janeway’s motley crew were doing. It was a problem of basic, week-to-week content quality.

        Ratings started out just as high as the others upon debut, but sank like a stone. Lots of people DID give it a chance. But I think they even tended to trail DS9 ratings-wise. No doubt, being on UPN hurt badly (EDIT: For those not in the know, UPN, now the CW or whatever, was a national TV network started up by Paramount in 1995, and VOY was intended to be the network’s first big show, picking up where FOX’s TNG left off and trying to lure the exact same audience), but all that did was make that first impression all the more important; there was very little margin of error. FOX may have been #4 back then, but it was gaining ground on the others, and had lots of other popular shows (X-Files, Simpsons, 90210, Melrose Place, King of the Hill) that got ratings much higher than VOY’s, and on which you could advertise VOY episodes weekly. UPN had nothing. Paramount definitely made it hard for VOY to gradually win people over, but had it clicked from the start, that wouldn’t have been a problem. People had UPN. They just didn’t watch it for anything else, so how are you gonna tempt them to watch once your first impression fails to hook them?

        VOY’s premise was fine. Its episodic format was a good idea, especially after DS9’s early struggles. It just was never a quality show. It managed to stay on the air anyway, but I suspect that was because it was the ONLY show UPN had. It was the network FLAGSHIP. If Paramount bails on the show, they’d be bailing on the whole network, and everything they put into it. VOY was uncancellable.

        Nevertheless, the show’s producers didn’t take advantage of this invulnerability and, in response to criticism and low ratings, just circled the wagons and made its corner of the Trek universe into something truly small – a show based around two characters (arguably three), a show without continuity, and a show full of big promises but predictable payoffs and meaningless “character development”. That could have worked. It probably would have gone over with the casual fans and curious first-timers a hell of a lot better than DS9 did. But unlike TNG, it never had the charm or talent to pull that off.

        • Jonathan Campbell

          My argument is, DS9 or Voyager failing to grab the kind of audiences TNG did shouldn’t be seen as something that harmed the franchise, because that kind of magic was lightning in a bottle and hard to replicate. No matter what kind of show DS9 turned out to be, the odds of it reaching out to a wider audience they way its predecessors did were pretty low.

          It wasn’t DS9 that hurt the franchise, it was age and inevitability that did that.

          I agree that Voyager also simply suffered from bad writing and direction, but honestly I don’t think anything would have helped either that show or DS9 bring in those massive TNG numbers. General audiences simply wanted a break.

          As for this:

          “Voyager’s problems were more fundamental than that. Yeah, had the show been willing to go deeper, have actual continuity, force the characters to make difficult decisions that had long-term implications – in short, stay away from that accursed reset button – it absolutely would have been more fondly remembered than it was today.”

          Seems to contradict this:

          “VOY’s premise was fine. Its episodic format was a good idea, especially after DS9’s early struggles.”

          Do you mean that the episodic format was better for drawing in audiences then, while greater continuity and character development would have been better for the show itself (popularity vs quality)?

          • Muthsarah

            Basically, yes, though I don’t think those are mutually exclusive.

            Even though its ratings were hardly any better at the time, DS9 is absolutely more popular today than VOY is. There’s still a healthy debate over which is the best Trek series; VOY rarely comes up in these discussions. DS9 was a bit of a critical darling even during its day; it got a lot more nominations for writing and acting among sci-fi awards and stuff. VOY only got noms for makeup and stuff it was a shoo-in for, based purely on the genre and basic technical competence.

            After DS9’s struggles, it was crucial for the future of the franchise that VOY reach a wider audience. Beating out DS9’s ratings was certainly doable; I don’t think those were a good indicator of the franchise’s potential, even if TNG Seasons 5-7 were perhaps an aberration. During its genesis, it WAS treated as TNG Season 8, after all. And while I do personally prefer DS9’s focus on continuity, I don’t think that’s necessarily a better approach to a show, especially if there’s no real long-term appeal. One advantage of having “dueling” Treks was that they could aim for slightly different audiences and give everybody something they wanted while still being distinct shows.

            Since DS9 was already starting to veer towards continuity (or at the least had the potential for it, given the setting and the set-up), I think it was a great idea for VOY to be envisioned as a series of one-offs like TOS and TNG, so that’s one thing I don’t hold against the show….except in how it was so brazen about its lack of continuity, and just how often it would hit the reset button during the last couple of minutes, wiping away what little character development we’ve seen; these resets, at best, just showed us a little more about what these characters COULD be doing, what they were all along, but without any sense that the characters are actually changing. Which, itself, coulda maybe been fine, if the show was actually gripping, or funny, or charming in some way. Which it never really was. Half of the characters were extraneous (Chakotay, Harry, Kes, and Neelix never took off with the fans or writers), and the show didn’t even have a true “breakout character” until Season Four. The show just didn’t work from the start, not because of the premise, but because of the basic scripts and whatever hoops the writers had to jump through, much as TNG’s writers so infamously had to do during Gene’s tenure.

            I don’t think any of this was inevitable, simply because of “franchise fatigue”. I think that had a role to play in it, yes, as did being stuck on a really poor network. There was a lot going against the show from the start. But that doesn’t excuse, or even long distract from one fundamental issue: People watched it, didn’t like it, and didn’t return. The franchise needed a hit to stay on top, needed a visionary to re-invent the show and at least develop a reputation as an “underrated gem”. It got neither. And so, it wasn’t popular in its day, and it’s still not terribly popular today.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

            For myself, I don’t think that any amount of excellent writing or character development would have gotten Voyager TNG numbers. There were, and are, much better shows out there than TNG that fail to achieve such a result, and worse shows that surpassed it. Quality alone will never guarantee success.

            I don’t think the TNG general audience would have had the time, interest or the patience to invest themselves in yet another Star Trek series no matter how good it was; I can’t think of any franchise- TV, movie, cartoon or whatever- that has been able to do such a thing. When it concluded, they moved on and watched something else because they didn’t want to retread the same old universe, no matter what it brought to the table. Fact is, the same uniforms, the same aliens, the same kind of stories and conflicts….that was a turn off.

            Shows that become a mammoth success always inspire similar shows that almost never make the same sort of impact, because general audiences have GENERAL tastes, and aren’t going to explore an entire genre just because they like something. Voyager and DS9 were basically in the same boat as shows like FlashForward and The Event were with regards to Lost, except that they had the advantage of the Trek label. But that would only take them so far, and without the Star Trek name they probably would have gotten even smaller audiences no matter how good their show was.

            I don’t disagree that Voyager- and Enterprise- needed serious work, but I don’t think I can accept that DS9 having a different tone and format from TNG was the beginning of the end of the franchise. TNG was that lucky case of “right place, right time” and the quality of the show itself, while hardly irrelevant, wasn’t the only factor in its success. DS9 and Voyager could not have hoped to rival such a thing.

          • Muthsarah

            VOY didn’t need TNG numbers, but it needed better numbers than DS9 had if the franchise wasn’t to develop a reputation as one circling the drain. FOX gave DS9 enough time to eventually turn around and produce acceptable numbers (for 10:00), even though it must have been one of their more expensive shows, syndication or not. But after VOY did so poorly that any other network probably would have cancelled it, Trek was stuck on UPN, the lowest-rated network on basic television. It became a niche franchise again, and with the same people in charge, it was going to stay that way. Circling, circling.

            “I don’t think the TNG general audience would have had the time, interest
            or the patience to invest themselves in yet another Star Trek series no
            matter how good it was; I can’t think of any franchise- TV, movie,
            cartoon or whatever- that has been able to do such a thing.”

            Doctor Who managed it for quite a while. Sure, Britain, US, apples, oranges. But it did eventually catch on here, and it’s doing pretty well on both sides now (even if it’s still niche over here). The Law and Orders have had a long run as a hit franchise, and the CSIs. And the NCISs, though they’re a bit newer.

            Quality wouldn’t have guaranteed success, no, but it would have been a net positive. Again, I think the decision to switch back to episodic was a good one, as the franchise needed to win back the casuals, better appeal to new fans, and win back the ones that just didn’t care for DS9. VOY barely achieved one of those objectives, and it required going the cheesecake route.

            Had VOY been more like TNG quality-wise, I think it could have beaten DS9’s ratings and put the franchise in a much better place than it was when Enterprise was being planned. The franchise as a whole was basically done by then, as even the creators felt a major revamp was needed. Had TNG’s farewell been the beginning of the end, I don’t think the franchise woulda lasted for an additional decade as it did. Even if some fans felt it was done, there were still enough others to keep it alive.

            DS9 broke the momentum, VOY broke the franchise, and ENT broke its fall only when it hit rock-bottom.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Doctor Who did not manage it; Doctor Who is a continuation of one show and Old Who – Nu Who is more like Old Trek / TNG. The Who equivalent of Voyager and DS9 was Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures.

            I’ll half-concede Law and Order and shows like them but those are crime shows, which have a much broader popularity and are far more formulaic in principle. They are also, crucially, much simpler and easier to relate to because they are set in the “real” world. The don’t have the emotional or intellectual demands that a serialised drama has.

            The thing about DS9 breaking the momentum is, TNG wasn’t finished when DS9 debuted. TNG finished when DS9 was in its first or second season, so its less “breaking the momentum” as failing to pick it up, which I’ll still contend was because general audiences simply weren’t interested in more Trek, and not (just) because DS9 hadn’t quite found its feet. Saying DS9 was the beginning of the end and TNG’s finale wasn’t…

            Comparing it to the likes of Law and Order reveals the key differences between shows like Trek and other shows- its alien setting, its diversity of plots, and its character-driven storylines. Crimes shows like Law and Order, mystery shows, only really need their characters to be likeable and occasionally interesting; their main reason for existing is to solve the plot, and that’s what people keep coming back for. Even then, such shows usually last so long more because they have found a segment of the audience who will keep coming back, rather than due to widespread popularity (much like game shows).

            A franchise like Star Trek is a more complicated and expensive beast, and that’s why TNG magic is hard to replicate.

          • Muthsarah

            I know this was never a strong comparison, but both Old and NuWho were/are successful, long-running sci-fi series, much as Trek, one coming before and one coming after modern Trek’s run on TV. Both had frequent changes to the casts and show-runners. And, again, VOY was originally INTENDED to be more or less the new TNG, format-wise.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Sorry; damn comment was posted before I’d finished. Wasn’t meant to just write about Doctor Who…

            Thing about Who is, Who has a much smaller cast and easier plots; seasons are also much shorter, and the target audience is wider.

            More importantly, Old Who was cancelled, and it took over a decade to bring it back again. The Who momentum was broken, just as the Trek was.
            The crucial difference, though, its that its the same character, regardless of his new face, and he’s facing the same enemies. If Voyager was “more of less the new TNG, format wise”, Nu-Who was “TNG (or Star Trek TOS), better than ever”. Again, its not competing with the memory of its predecessor; its building on it. Voyager couldn’t do that because it was too similar in some respects (ship, crew, uniform) and too different in others (cast, alien races) along with simply being no where near as much FUN as Doctor Who can be.

            Basically, Star Trek just has features about it that give it its own set of inherent difficulties. When people start watching a new Trek show, they expect a beginning, middle and an end; when people watch something like Doctor Who, they expect it to last forever. The kind of investment audiences make is different, and that’s the deal breaker.

          • Muthsarah

            I’m not so easy to concede that TNG was purely a one-off thing. Yes, trends happen, and as I wasn’t a Trek fan (or, really, not even a viewer) back in these peak years, I can’t speak for how big TNG was on the greater pop cultural landscape; I didn’t really get into the show until the mid-late 90s, when Spike TV started showing three or four episodes every weekday.

            TNG was a big hit, and while anything popular will fade with time, its peak was so brief that I can’t so easily accept that 75% or so of the viewers were done with the franchise once Picard and Data were no longer in their living rooms. They must have been willing to give DS9 or VOY a shot and felt that just didn’t measure up. Even among fans of the former, the first two seasons are generally seen as pretty bad (I think they’re decent, FWIW, certainly better than TNG Season Seven, if only barely), and VOY fans seem to have a similar opinion on the first three seasons of that show. First impressions are huge.

            Which makes me genuinely curious about how TNG managed to transcend two wretched seasons and still BUILD an audience over time (especially since it seems many Trek fans still think Season 3 was only OK, and that “Best of Both Worlds” was the show’s real launching, a couple of good earlier eps notwithstanding). Were you, by any chance, watching back then?

          • Jonathan Campbell

            I was quite young, but yes I was watching back then.

            Of course, I’m not American, so there is that to consider as well; this is TNG as seen through the eyes of a young Scottish casual fanboy. Who watched it with his mum.

            I think the thing to remember is that regardless of quality, this was back when there were only a handful of channels on TV, so as long as TNG was half decent (as it started out) and reminded people of the original show (which barely lasted itself remember, and consensus seems to be that it didn’t end on a high note, yet it became a MASSIVE phenomenon regardless), they’d watch it. As it got better it became more popular still, but it really had few rivals to contend with and it was offering something both different and familiar, at a time people were open to it.

            Also it had Patrick Stewart, and he cannot be underestimated.

            The TV landscape had changed by the time DS9 and Voyager came around; there was a steady rise in variety in both channels and shows, not to mention imitators. Brutal honesty is, part of the reason of TNG’s success is that there was very little else on. Which isn’t to say that it wasn’t popular or genuinely good, but it might not have had the same impact in a different time or place.

            Its impossible to completely explain or predict which shows will be roaring success stories and which ones will not, but a show like TNG was banking on nostalgia as much as the quality of its product, and of course TOS movies. People WANTED a new Trek series, and they got it…and then it finished, and they’d had their fill.
            As you say, TNG’s first couple of seasons were not that great; the same was true of Voyager and DS9. The reason they were willing to stick with the former and not the latter two is that the other two came at a different time, and people weren’t as interested. Mysteries, sitcoms, soaps- there will always be a ton of these and they will always be more popular than sci-fi or fantasy, because that reflects the popularity of the genres.

            Honestly, part of the reason DS9 and Voyager are even as successful as they are is because they carry the Trek name, and Trek has a lot of good will from the public for various reasons. They are the public face of the genre, the one general audiences don’t mind indulging in because they are familiar with it. Familiarity is probably a big part of this- sci-fi and fantasy, after all, simply have world-building aspects that make them more demanding and harder to get into than most other genres; the likes of Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who are simply the sci-fi shows the general audience was exposed to most widely, for various reasons, and did the best, so they manage to avoid the dreaded ghetto.

            It really is a matter of timing and luck; that’s all it comes down to. Yes, quality matters and TNG would not have been as successful as it was if it didn’t have quality- the cast and characters were probably the main draw in that regard- but TNG lacked competition, came at a good time, and carried a good name that people hadn’t heard in a while. DS9 and Voyager were in-and-of themselves evidence that the name was EVERYWHERE by that time and this turned people off, making them less charitable towards it.

            Taste, timing and luck- that’s what I put it down to.

          • Rick Gutleber

            > Which makes me genuinely curious about how TNG managed to transcend two wretched seasons and still BUILD an audience over time

            When TNG first aired, Star Trek had been off the air for almost 20 years. I was there at the time and the mere existence of this show was a huge deal. Honestly, I think that fact alone gave them the first season for free. I recall thinking a lot more highly of the first season when it first aired than later on simply because of the novelty of it all… having been too young to experience Trek when it first aired in the 60s… and you have to recall TOS had its share of clunkers, too.

            Also, this was long enough ago that a show was actually given some time to get better before the plug was pulled. It was not uncommon, as late as the late 80s to give a fairly low-rated a show a whole season or even two to find an audience, and rise to the occasion. Nowadays you get a handful of episodes at best, and while some shows clearly need to be axed that quickly, that attitude in the past would have cost us some of the best (or at least most popular) TV shows ever made.

            I also disagree that the show wasn’t good until the 4th season. I felt it was pretty consistently excellent by the third, and there were plenty of good episodes in the second as well. But there’s no argument that show started off pretty awful and took a while to get good.

          • Muthsarah

            Oh, Season Three is easily my favorite. Out of 26 episodes, only 7 of them are average or worse as TNG goes, and none of them were particularly bad.

            Yeah, I’ve heard about several great shows back then that needed a coupla years to get going, but which became huge successes later. I just don’t get why the industry is so impatient these days. It’s not like they have good shows coming out of their ears; it shouldn’t hurt them to spare one or two that have good long-term potential. But they never do. You either catch fire or you’re axed. Seems so stupid.

          • Rick Gutleber

            When TNG started, new Trek hadn’t been on TV for almost 20 years. Sure, we’d had a few movies, including some really superb ones, but it was still a great desert for Star Trek fans. I know because I lived through it, having discovered the show in the mid 70s as a kid.

            Looking back, the first season of TNG kinda sucked, but at the time, it wasn’t a big deal because Star Trek was back on TV, and given the chance, the writers and producers were able to improve and grow the show through the first two seasons and make it consistently excellent by the third season. Then it had earned its place along with the original series as a great TV show.

            To contrast, by the time Voyager had come along we’d had 7 seasons of TNG; it had been on long enough that it was time to end it before it got stale. “DS9” was coming up to speed, and gaining a couple of TNG regulars, and while there was clearly room for more Trek on the air, it wasn’t 1987 any more. I think the producers felt “more of the same” was good enough, and I think the audience felt otherwise.

            Voyager had to do something TNG didn’t do. TNG was a fine show, but we’d had 7 years of it, and didn’t need the same formula with a different cast (and frankly some less interesting characters). Voyager promised to shake things up with its premise, but the writers consistently wimped out and pretty much punted on every aspect that would have made a show about a starship literally lost in space decades from friendly territory something different and new from what had gone on before. Say what you will about DS9 (and I loved it), it was definitely not the same format as TNG.

            I lost interest in Voyager pretty quickly and stopped watching it, even irregularly by season 4, or maybe season 3… and frankly, it didn’t bother me. “Enterprise” basically did the same thing again, promising to change the formula in interesting ways, but not really doing so, at least until the 3rd season, and especially the 4th season where I felt the show really came into its own. But of course, at that point, Trek had been on the air continuously for 18 years. That’s a long time, longer at the time than any other show or franchise since “Gunsmoke”. These days, I think Trek could be brought back again and succeed, but if the Abrams movies are any indication of what the franchise would look like in the twenty-tens, I would want no part of it.

          • Rob

            On my blog, I have my own theory as to why DS9 didn’t get the huge audience that TOS & TNG did.

            http://greatlittle-knownmovies.blogspot.com/2013/08/star-trek-deep-space-nine-1993-1999.html

      • Rick Gutleber

        I always felt DS9 got short shrift, and that it was the right thing to do at the time. The whole happy post-money post-material needs future had become played out in latter seasons of TNG because the lack of internal conflict eliminated so much potential for good stories. I thought DS9 was the perfect environment for a new show in order to mix things up and allow for story arcs, conflict among the primary cast and another culture to develop and explore. Although the show took time to get up to speed (and let’s not forget, TNG’s first season was pretty rough), I think it was the perfect addition to the world of Star Trek.

        In theory, so was Voyager, except the writers clearly wanted to play it safe and just phone in the plots for 7 years. It also didn’t help that the characters were fairly generic, although I did like Janeway (when written well) and Tuvok. Enterprise also often suffered from the same bland low-risk story-telling (I thought the pilot was pretty dreadful in a lot of ways), but they started taking chances in the third season by creating a season-long story arc and especially in the fourth where the show finally embraced its legacy as established in TOS. Then it was cancelled… which was a real shame, because it had finally found its niche.

        Almost 10 years later, we are at a point where some of the limitations of the format (e.g., that all aliens needed to be played by human actors wearing Silly Putty on their noses) could be overcome and given some brave writers who aren’t afraid to do something more daring, Trek could come back and be exciting again.

        But I’m not holding my breath because the direction now, as established by Abrams is that Star Trek is now the same kind of flashy, dumb action movie with incoherent plots and incomprehensible character motivations that dominate Hollywood right now (I mean more than usual). I think Abrams movies were worse than Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, because the latter aren’t trying to be anything other than a series of loosely connected action set pieces.

        JJTrek looks like Star Trek, has a lot of the same trappings as Star Trek, and even has some good actors involved (Karl Urban FTW!) but contains absolutely nothing of what made Star Trek great, including actual science fiction, which needs to be consistent. It’s like “Star Trek” if the Squire of Gothos had tried to recreate it… the surface appearances are all there, but none of the substance. Plus someone needs to hit the producers with a clue bazooka: There are more than 2 colors in the universe! I never saw so much orange and cyan in my life, especially in “Into Darkness”.

        If that’s the direction that the creators feel is required to keep Trek relevant and popular than I’d rather the franchise just go away.

  • Michael Weyer

    Pretty clear you’re basing your vision of Ro on Cain from BSG simply because they’re the same actress.

    Don’t get me wrong, some good ideas but you run into the same problem of so many fans rewriting shows, you think YOUR vision is what everyone else wants and the comments here show the wide likes and dislikes disproving that.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Well, the Ro I remember by the time we saw her leave could have easily changed into the Ro I would like to have seen portrayed in Voyager. This is a woman who was raised in privation and shown a better way to live, escaped that life. And then she was drawn into it again, turning her back on Picard to willingly fight a guerilla war. My feeling was that, like Captain Maxwell in The Wounded, war has embittered her. She sees Starfleet’s dismissal of the Maquis as a betrayal and she’s bitter about it.

      I hear where you are coming from regarding BSG. Thing is, I never saw Forbes on BSG. I was never a fan of the show and I tuned in only a handful of times.

  • Ken Blythe

    Yeah, even if we’re holding up Babylon 5 or X-Files as comparables, this is pretty impractical. Completely agree that the fall of Trek is largely in the hands of risk-adverse management but here we’re talking multiple casts across multiple settings with plot lines that would have started decades before other ones. Agree there’s a lot of Trek I’d prefer was “smoothed out” based on hindsight but I’ll grant the producers that some roughness came about out of necessity. Good example – Kira was originally supposed to be Ro Laren but the actress was ready to move on from the part. I would have loved to see that character carry over and grow, unfortunately what we’re left with is…kind of a depressing, anti-resolution for the character. Even Babylon 5 and X-Files suffered from this – Scully’s abduction was only because Gillian Anderson got pregnant and they had a tendency to flip-flop on the well-being of Mulder’s sister. With any long running franchise, you hit these kind of continuity snags. I think the larger issue is when that starts to undermine the integrity of the work (Enterprise, cough cough).

    I’ve heard about the potential Patrick Stewart departure before and I won’t lie, I considered similar “what if” scenarios. Ultimately I think it would have been to the franchise’s detriment though. The status quo mandate was already in the wind for Trek and even if the other series came to fruition they likely would have suffered the same fate – a slow and meandering spiral into awfulness. Even when later seasons of DS9 was pushing against the Trek ideals, it never really brought about larger change (may have even tempered them against it). The main problem (upper management) would have still been around. To put it another way, once Mulder left the X-Files did the show’s quality get better or worse?

    I know you mentioned this but I want to fanboy out, wouldn’t it have been a shame to lose all those great Picard episodes in the second half of the series, after Stewart pulled the stick out of his ass. I love comparing early Picard to later Picard because Patrick Stewart clearly had so much disdain for everything and everyone around him.

  • CosmicDestroyer

    SO, basically, darker, and more continuity-based, just like every comic book in the nineties and every new show made since 1998. Even Ron “war is awesome and magic solves everything” Moore said there was too much continuity- before he and Behr added way more continuity. There was way too much emphasis on the arcs as is. Killing, changing, and shipping characters every week doesn’t shake up the status quo, it just creates a new one where the characters don’t really matter and the tone never really changes or offers any catharsis. The Klingon high council episodes were among the most tedious and soapy in all the franchise- and, no, I don’t need to see what Klingon farming looks like.

    • Thomas Stockel

      I have to disagree with Ron Moore, the guy who gave us Battlestar Galactica, a show that relied just as heavily on continuity (In fact even moreso, IMO). TNG’s season four was arguably the strongest season and that was due in large part to the ongoing Romulan storyline. I’m sorry that you felt those Klingon episodes weren’t to your liking, but I thought they worked well.

      As for characters not mattering? The entire Klingon arc was in large part about giving Worf character development. And he did matter in that he was a mover and shaker in the story; his actions had tremendous consequences.

      • Rick Gutleber

        My wife and I always loved the Klingon stories. She even suggested an idea I thought was ridiculous at first, but then grew to love… that there should have been a spin-off show just about the Klingons.

        Worf was used too much for comic relief in the earlier seasons (like Gimli in the LoTR movies), but he really grew into a better character as the series progressed and the writers had more respect for his character. TNG can be credited with fleshing out the Klingon culture and politics and making them much more realistic, believable and interesting than the thinly-veiled ChiComs they were in the original series.

      • CosmicDestroyer

        I remember talks about the Neutral Zone and seeing Tasha Yar’s daughter a couple of times, but I never really thought of it as an “arc”. I just thought of them as episodes.

  • Zack_Dolan

    I actually agree with a lot of the ideas you had here. especially about voyager and the nemesis movie. something i always HATED about voyager is that they had this great premise of a single ship. lost deep in hostile territory and manned by a hodge podge crew of essentially bitter enemies. there should have been so much more conflict. it’s not i thought shelby was all that great, but she’d be better than janeway. plus someone like shelby who was prone to rash, cocksure and usually loud and violent solutions to things makes way more sense as the person who took an untrained crew on a temp assignment into enemy territory to bring in the Maquis all by herself like she’s wyatt friggin earp, and subsequently getting everyone caught in the ass end of unknown space. i liked the IDEA of chakotey’s character, but he was entirely wasted. i like the idea of ro being an unscrupulous war machine, concerned only with getting back to “her war” in the beginning and having to SLOWLY form a genuine alliance with the captain much better. i always thought it was ridiculous that chakotey’s gang was literally shooting and killing the people on this ship one week, then the next one they all have starfleet uniforms and are totally fine with taking orders from an arch rival. the only one who ever complained about it turned out to be an evil spy, and that makes it basically not even count.

    Also, while i’m not sure i’d bother with tom riker, i like the idea of nemesis including parallel universe tasha’s hybrid kid and Lore (b4 seemed like the most random and pointless idea and only existed bcs spiner had been saying repeatedly he wanted to stop being data before he became too fat and old to fool anyone into thinking he’s an immortal android and they knew he was gonna die, but they wanted to leave that back door JUUUUUUUUUUUUST in case…), but i would actually take it even further than that. Shinzon should remain the villain, but he should be played by patrick stewart. instead of “young undeveloped clone” he should have just been a straight up identical one. that way you could have some serious drama with the idea that riker, now older and wiser and basically over the death of his mentor, is now suddenly confronted with the fact that he has to FIGHT HIM. i think the problem with nemesis….ok one of the MANY problems with nemesis, the biggest one surely, was that it is a pale remake of wrath of khan. basically it was trying really hard to get a kirk vs khan rivalry between picard and shinzon, but it felt really weak bcs…well, they had no history. sure they are clone twins, but not in any meaningful way. they shared no experience. they never met before. the only history they have is the one shinzon keeps droning on about and we never connect to it. HOWEVER, if it was riker and a straight up fully developed picard clone, complete with all his tactical faculties, that would be something. you’d have a riker who was genuinely afraid for the first time in years he’s up against an enemy he stands no chance against based on his monumental respect for picard. a riker who has to struggle with himself to find out if he is even capable of killing his old mentor and losing him all over again. and shinzon using that to his full advantage. instead of annoying riker and troy through the old berman and braga standby the “PG insinuated psychic rape”, he could be manipulating riker and the entire crew, playing on their feelings of seeing their old friend and captain again and using the fact they fear and dread having to fight him to constantly stay ahead of them. and it would all culminate in a final confrontation between shinzon and riker where he could even get a badass “you’re NOT Picard” in there before he blows the shit out of him and finally completes his arc proving that he has become every bit the captain picard was

    shit man, thinking about that makes me REALLY sad that will never happen now haha. great article (as is this whole trek series you’ve been doing, especially the what makes a good/bad villain series) and while i don’t agree with every idea you have here, i think this would have been a much more entertaining trek landscape than we got for over half it’s existence on tv

    • Jonathan Campbell

      The problem with Janeway wasn’t really the character, or the actress, it was the writing. Doesn’t matter if it was Shelby or anyone else in charge; bad writing would have messed them up. The same thing happened with most other characters, and cast and crew had many off-screen conflicts relating to this.

      Janeway could have been awesome, but she was so inconsistently written that Kate Mulgrew said she played her as if she was Bi-Polar.

      • Zack_Dolan

        you are absolutely right about that. but i’m pretending the writing staff would change along with the characters in this fantasy plot, so i’m just gonna pretend it made a difference haha

      • Rick Gutleber

        Yeah, Kate Mulgrew is great, and I tried hard to like her character because of that… and sometimes I did, but the writing on Voyager went from OK to atrocious. It quickly became obvious that it was going to be “Gilligan’s Island” in space, with exactly the same amount of drama and that the Delta quadrant really wasn’t different from the Alpha quadrant, except that the aliens had a different style of Silly Putty appliques on their noses.

        There was never any drama with Voyager because you always knew the exact status quo ante would be re-established in the last 5 minutes of the episode. I thought Season 3 refreshed the show a bit by replacing the bland and uninteresting Kes with Seven of Nine (fan service aside, she _was_ a lot more interesting), but ultimately I lost interest in the show any way.

        But I still like Kate Mulgrew.

        * I’m not trying to put down “GI” because it never took itself any more seriously than a goofy, often stupid, sit-com (although it has some subtle depths that has helped it to remain popular for 50 years), but you _knew_ there would always an anti deus ex machina in the last act that would prevent them from getting rescued, and so it was with Voyager.

        • Muthsarah

          ” It quickly became obvious that it was going to be “Gilligan’s Island” in space.”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilligan%27s_Planet

          They actually had one of those.

          No, I don’t expect this to enrich your life. SOMEONE here was gonna mention it.

  • kuzefra

    The biggest loss to the series in this scheme is the Picard/Data interaction in his quest to be human. I suppose Riker could take that place (the very first scene introducing Data was Riker trying to teach him to whistle), but when it wasn’t Picard, it was usually Geordi and Wesley teaming up to help Data explore human behavior.

  • Lord ShinyPants

    I do think they could have taken more chances, but I can understand why they didn’t. I think they considered just the idea of a prequel series to be a risky one (and they were probably right).

    Look at Stargate: Universe. Not necessarily a bad show, but a big mood change from Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis. To the extent that, much like DS-9, the fans of one often aren’t fans of the others. But more so, and, probably, fatally so. There were admittedly confounding factors, in part significant ill-will toward the people behind SGU from the fans of Atlantis and SG-1, but SGU’s numbers still started high and slipped south quickly. The series, irrespective of some nebulous level of “quality,” pretty much left the fandom behind.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Sadly, I liked SGU. I was never really that big a fan of the other two series and this one was a refreshing departure for me. Still, I could see how it’s dour tone flew in the face of the prior two series’ unfailing optimism.

      I don’t know what sort of series they could have tackled other than a prequel. I had heard they had tossed a few ideas around, like a Section 31 series and another that would involve time cops. The prequel seemed like the safest, most conservative bet I guess.

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        It is okay, if you like that show, Thomas. Personally, SG:U is one of the shows, where I can get really unfair about and say “I’m so glad, that this travesty of a show is canned.”

        Sorry, but this show is causing me to go all “Yell at the internet”-critic about it.
        So me, SG:U is a show, that is indefensible, because every time, I want to watch it, with a new, fresh pair of eyes, with a more fair thought “Well, let’s give it a chance” it throws utter garbage at me. Characters that are dimwitted at best, downright pissing-me-off-to-no-end at worst – a concept, that sometimes forgot it even got a frakking stargate, lights that are non-existent, people speaking either too faint to hear or yell at the camera (Which is a bad habit they started in movies such as Matrix and still are using them – case in point: Noah) and – to me – it speaks volumes, when they frak up Jack O’Neill in his first episode in that show and in the last episode of season 1 bring him back as the Jack O’Neill that at least the fans of the classic-show know and love, and if THAT Jack O’Neill is basically saying “You know, I think, I should join your crew.” (and me not thinking “No, he would not fit in the ensemble” but “Yes, Jack, do that, maybe the show could be saved, if you, Carter, Teal’C and Daniel would be showing up.”)

        SG-1 was awesome… SG:A was a bit more dark, but not bad – it had its levity – only SG:U wants to be a lovechild from SG and BSG.

        SG:U is a show, that I watch and think “Boy, what a load of crap.”

        Concerning other concepts of the Star Trek Franchise: I liked the Prequel-Idea (I guess, I’m one of the few, who actually gave that show a chance), but I could’ve lived without it – I would’ve liked, if they’d stayed in the 24th century and would’ve introduced a new ship. Or maybe – just maybe – not cancel VOY after the seventh season, but tell us what happened, after the crew got in the alpha-quadrant.

  • Jason J. Desrosiers

    I think using too many characters from TNG to spin-off into DS9/VOY would have made the whole thing too insular, which is something the franchise already suffered from occasionally, maintaining that this is a wide-ranging Federation but we still end up with mostly humans and always the best of the best brought all together onto one ship/station. Having O’Brien over to DS9 worked because he was a minor TNG character and moving Worf made some sense, but nearly everyone in the following two series having only a couple of degrees of separation from Enterprise-D would be too insular.

    I do agree with a good number of the other points you made.

    Incidentally, wasn’t Kira originally supposed to be Ro but they couldn’t get the actress?

  • dosmastr

    I vote for a TNG reboot with you writing for it.

  • NameWithheldByRequest

    Honestly, I would have preferred it if Riker died. Picard was always the better character. That, or Riker should have been given his own command, taken Troi with him, and showed up occasionally for guest appearances. Shelby should have become first officer, they could have maybe even rotated first officers in and out every couple seasons, to shake up the character dynamics every now and then. Riker and Troi were always, in my opinion, the most useless characters on the show. The fact that they were relegated to tertiary characters in the movies, and nobody cared, really proves how unnecessary they really were…