Fan ReactionBy Fred Shedian
Posted at July 13, 2000 - 8:59 PM GMT
As many people are aware, I am a writer who loves to hear feedback. Whether it be someone stating their praise for an edition of A Take On Trek, or an individual who thinks I should go live on Mars, the diversity and unique viewpoints we all bring to situations deserves recognition. I praise folks who take the time to write a letter, discussing a topic I have written about. Even those who wish to write letters of hate, as I know my writing has (in some fashion) stirred up feelings and thoughts. From my perspective, that is all one can ask for.
Today, I would like to take the time to display some fan reaction to some recent columns of A Take On Trek. If you have written, but do not see your letter below, please remember that an official edition of the TrekNation Mailbag is due for release in the coming months.
If after reading the below, you have a remark or concern you would like to raise, feel free to voice your opinion. Using the TrekBBS is a wonderful tool, however I would personally recommend sending me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. This better allows me to give my thoughts and feelings, in a one-to-one setting.
Please be advised, this is a long column due to the mailbag feature. Enjoy the below and please let me know what you think of this feature.
Until next time....
WWW vs STARTREK.COM
Reader reaction to the May 27th edition of A Take On Trek, entitled WWW vs STARTREK.COM.
From: Ex Astris
I just read your Take on WWW vs STARTREK.COM, and as per usual I agree on everything you have said. But there's just one thing I don't get.
"Graphical and text information on ship classes, individual characters, episodes and more cannot be found."
Last time I checked STARTREK.COM did have a Library with graphical and text information on characters and episodes. And not just since the new version...
Jolan True Ex Astris
By the below mentioned remark, I am discussing the quality and variety presented. If you recall in the article, I mention a library I commonly use. In comparison to STARTREK.COM, this site offers multiple images of ships and detailed technical summaries/information. Material of this quality and caliber cannot be found on the official site. In comparison, STARWARS.COM does offer links leading to sites carrying this information. Thank you for writing.
Reader reaction to the June 16th edition of A Take On Trek, entitled Seasonal Development.
From: Shaun Aki
Actually, I like the first seasons of DS9 and VOY. The characters were naturally less mature and developed, the stories were focused on developing them rather than with the backdrop of what came before, but I'm probably in the minority in that I enjoyed almost every episode of DS9 and VOY's first season. It's 'vintage' to me. Nostalgic, simpler but still with complexity and a sort of imperfection, a youth I find refreshing and new. I remember the first time I saw and heard DS9. I actually *smelled* something different I haven't since, like I was stepping into this new place. I could feel the tension, see the unevenness of the sets and the 'old' personalities of the characters..Torres, Kira..but the acting was spot on. It flowed smoothly, harmoniously, each actor's line given in turn as the story unfolds. Perhaps it's just I've watched these episodes so many times they begin to feel like the 'right' ones. Anything different would be contrary to memory. The smooth flowing of banter through The Cloud, the efficiency of Phage, the baseball scene in Emissary, the camaradarie of The Circle 3-parter (Sisko and Kira's conversation, the chaos scene in Kira's room beginning the Circle, and Kira and Dax's pants in The Siege) and the Maquis 2-parter (Dukat, and Ops camaradarie) I know there were few standout episodes from an epic, deep science fiction standpoint. Duet, Emissary, Crossover and a few others from DS9. Caretaker, Death Wish, perhaps Emanations. They are all freshmen efforts, so they cannot stand the test of time to the best of each series. Hmm...continuity gets better in DS9 after season 2, and much less in Voy after season 2. Not that there isn't any, just less than the almost serial first couple seasons.
Why'd I not mention TNG? 'Cause I agree with you there. :) TNG was hyper early there. It almost suffers from late 80's hokey effects a la TOS, especially the early planetside scenes. And the acting, characters and sets seemed -very- unfinished to what they are at the end. Season 3 seemed to be a turning point for TNG. New uniforms, slicker stories and acting. TNG had a few good ones in its early years: Q Who?, Contagion, and..is there another? Probably. Why TNG? Perhaps I just haven't watched it enough recently.
What about TOS? That was many years ago, but did it get better after S1? Some believe it got worse in S3, which the exception of a very few episodes.
I imagine Andromeda and Series V will have a similar 'vintage' OH COOL!!! effect on me the first time I see it and when I watch it again as an older man.
Dalendax - Shaun Aki "It is /not/ linear."
Your point about The Original Series is indeed correct. Season Three did suffer, in part due to a budget which was cut in half and the fact Gene Roddenberry was no longer associated with the show. Regretfully, it was under his care that the characters of Kirk, Spock and McCoy developed as fast as they did in two seasons. By the time the first six episodes has been filmed, most of the character traits had been set...and were stuck with through Star Trek VI. However, the imaginative story telling simply wasn't present during Season 3.
As far as Deep Space Nine is concerned, I do see your points. However, I using the character of Quark as an example, his appearance in the pilot (character traits) is nothing like what he turned out to be. The "wrong direction" was chosen. In addition, it took far too long (in my opinion) for a friendship between Odo and Kira to develop.
I must say I agree with your observations about Series V and Andromeda. The inability to set a direction for a show seems to be a problem many TV series are finding ways to deal with. Although there will always be problems, I doubt we'll see a Season 1/2 of TNG again (although overall they weren't too bad, just not as good when compared to the rest of the show).
From: Kevin McCabe
So what happened in the original Star Trek series?
I believe The Original Series' version of this problem can be found in the first six episodes produced. During the 1960's, production methods and schedules were dramatically different from they are in modern times. By the time the first six filmed episodes were aired (which had all been filmed before the show's September premier), the writers had the basic character outlines established. It was clear from the beginning there was a relationship between Kirk and Spock, as well as the "comedy" relationship between Spock and McCoy. This is a setup which the series continued with throughout most of it's existence and into the movie franchise.
Therefor, in summary, TOS did have it's version of this problem. However, instead of lasting two or three seasons, I believe it was only present for the initial filmed six episodes.
i agree with your analysis of why it takes 3 or 4 seasons for a star trek cast to gel together.
but there's a problem -
why didnt it take the Original Series three seasons to get going ?
I believe the original series focused on one, maybe 2 characters - namely Captain Kirk and Mr Spock. The stories were dramatic, adventurous and romantic - concentrating on the attributes of the Captain and the attributes of the actor playing him. the stories were also featured pure Science fiction aspects. The conflicts of alien cultures with human values were reflected by Mr Spock and the actor playing him. The other characters were responsible for filling in the gaps - no disrespect to the actors and writers controlling these characters.
The later series had no such focus. They were basically a game of dice - throw in a couple of characters of varying complexity, fleshed out by actors of varying experience and see what happens.
this approach has been largely unsuccessful -
as a result - Michael Dorn joins DS9 4th season; Jeri Ryan joins Voyager 4th season. Patrick Stewart recreates Captain Picard in Captain Kirk's image during the 3rd season
I also think there was an economic reason for ensemble casting.
One of the main concerns of the movie series was the escalating pay checks of messrs Stewart, Spiner , Shatner and Nimoy.
the producers of Star trek do not want to pay weekly astronomical wages and suffer rising egos of High Profile Actors.
therefore the blame - if any - for 2 or 3 wasted years lie with producers and executives who wish to populate fairly unfocused stories with characters designed for economic reasons
One of the biggest complaints which has been put against Star Trek (all of the shows) is the focusing on a select group of the characters. However, this is something which is hard to avoid when you have a large cast. If you look at shows with this many actors outside of the science-fiction universe, you still find Doctor Green a standout character among the rest on ER.
The Original Series had it's starring personalities and then supporting cast members. Although it is hard for many to accept, when you look at the business/real/theatre side of it, "Supporting Cast Member" means an individual who's existence on the show is to help the main characters grow in whatever direction the script calls for. In the late 1960's, early 1970's, there was a movement on to try and stop putting priority on actors within productions. If you look at the Star Trek movies, for example, some of the early ones still said "Also Staring..." Using a perfect example, in Star Trek VI, George Takie was listed as "Also Staring" in the opening credits...as he was a supporting cast member in that film (not primary like, as you can tell, most of the others were.)
I believe The Original Series' version of "cast gel" problems can be found in the first six episodes produced. During the 1960's, production methods and schedules were dramatically different from they are in modern times. By the time the first six filmed episodes were aired (which had all been filmed before the show's September premier), the writers had the basic character outlines established. It was clear from the beginning there was a relationship between Kirk and Spock, as well as the "comedy" relationship between Spock and McCoy. This is a setup which the series continued with throughout most of it's existence and into the movie franchise. Even the supporting personalities Therefor, in summary, TOS did have it's version of this problem. However, instead of lasting two or three seasons, I believe it was only present for the initial filmed six episodes.
This is also an issue regarding money, and is a problem TV shows/theatre company's deal with on a daily basis. Not everyone can be "the star of the show." Too much, even stars, can ruin the best of scripts and intentions...just look at "Mars Attacks!"
In regard to The Next Generation, I don't think Stewart really created Picard in Kirk's image. I think by Season Three they (writers/actors) had determined that the character had to be a little bit more "open." Up to that point, he had been established as "your traditional 'seasoned' sailor Captain, duty bound, with a history the size of Texas." Using these guidelines, it is very hard to learn anything about "the person." Although we learned about his past, events can only tell one side of the story...emotions is where quality television comes from. By Season Three, they started to let Picard's feelings and emotions effect judgement/relationships. I think it was a needed change...and was handled in an "all right" manner.
In regard to Deep Space Nine, there was an entire series shift come Season 4. We went from the Bajoran/Cardassian/Federation diplomatic and socialistic problem conflict(s) to "Dominion are our version of the TOS Klingons, they are mad, this is the only way in or out....battle here we come." This was the time I think the series became "too dark", fittingly...close to the time TNG left the air and they attempted to get fans to "transfer" their viewership. Instead, the "great divide" was launched...one Berman admits now and says the next show will correct.
In regard to Voyager, as I have said many times, so much potential. It is really a shame that after the first season, they didn't take "that step up" onto the next level. Watching reruns of the second and third seasons, there were moments when I'm saying "Come on...toss in a curve ball and make it just .01% more interesting and we'll be on "Quality TV" standard! Just a little bit more..." It's sad and irritating the writers gave up on trying to reach that standard and instead turned to trying to raise 18-24 male viewers.
From: Ex Astris
I liked your Take on Seasonal Development of last June 16th, as I have been giving the subject a lot of thought myself. I agree with you on saying that the characters need to be developed. But I think you set the start line of the "developed episodes" a little too early. I think TNG, DS9 and Voyager have shown us that the first actual "good" season is always season 4. So judging from a Season 7 point of view, the series' pilots are actually "The Best of Both Worlds", "The Way of the Warrior" and "Scorpion" :-). In TNG, this frontier sort of went together with the change in uniforms, in DS9 this happened simultaneously to Worf's arrival at the station, and in Voyager, well, u know... [Future's End (season 3) is still my fave episode but generally speaking the story got "better" since Scorpion.] So when you say a series has developed after season two, I beg to differ... Open to discussion, of course...
Jolan True Ex Astris
I have to say I can see your point. There are always exceptions, however I believe "overall" most of the Star Trek incarnations do not come info focus until the fourth season. At this point, we really start to see some serious development between the characters, long term plot issues develop (ie: TNG's Borg, DS9's war, VOY's Seven of Nine).
It really is a problem I think the show will deal with for years to come. The only way to avoid it is to have quality planning for the show, something we have been missing for some time.
Fred Shedian writes a weekly 'A Take On Trek' column for the Trek Nation.