Writer Goodman Discusses 'North Star' in PodcastBy Michelle
October 17, 2005 - 7:36 PM
A podcast commentary is now available for Star Trek: Enterprise's "North Star." In this third season episode, the crew discovers a colony of humans brought to serve as slaves to the alien Skagarans, who have now become tyrants on the planet.
Episode writer and producer David A. Goodman joined StarTrek.com editorial director Tim Gaskill to discuss the episode, whose beginning, Gaskill joked, "is not, by the way, the opening scene from the first episode of Deadwood." The sets are filled with staples of the Old West, including hangings, a saloon fight and an alien variation on cows.
Goodman explained that executive producer Brannon Braga "thought it would be a good idea to have a couple of non-Xindi episodes at least in the pipeline, in case they decided after five episodes we'd had enough with the Xindi and decided to end [the arc] early." He noted that Braga set a challenge for the writers: "He wanted the show to get back to old Star Trek roots, the original series." He told the staff that if anyone came up with a parallel Earth idea for Enterprise, "we're open to it, but it's got to work for our show."
Goodman's favourite original series episodes included several of the parallel Earth stories produced by Gene Roddenberry to save money on sets and costumes because the studio already owned the historical props. Such episodes as "Spectre of the Gun", "Patterns of Force" and "A Piece of the Action" found the crew on duplicates of Earth, and Goodman wanted to write something in that vein. "The one-liner of it was, 'A group of aliens some time in the past took a group of humans to be their slaves. They didn't know who they were messing with'", he explained.
Braga, who liked the idea of an episode with cowboys, took the idea to Rick Berman, who gave it the go-ahead. The town was created on the Universal Studios backlot around the corner from the Jaws ride. Goodman named one of the young students after his own daughter.
"North Star was supposed to be the name of a town, though we never actually said it in episode," Goodman said, appreciating the fact that the name is "sci-fi and Western at the same time" because it refers to the stars and also to celestial navigation (and the Underground Railroad). His original idea was that the freed slaves had been part of a wagon train, whose disappearance would not have been noted but attributed to natural disasters or attackers. "It really would be a wagon train to the stars," said Gaskill, relating the idea to Roddenberry's description of Star Trek as "a Wagon Train to the stars."
Emmy nominee Goodman had previously written "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", a Star Trek-themed episode of Futurama. The entire podcast can be downloaded from StarTrek.com or fans can subscribe to all podcasts here. iTunes also makes the podcasts available.