Tag Archives: Television Series

SWIMMING UPSTREAM: A PARADIGM SHIFT IN NETWORK ENTERTAINMENT

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY
A look at Star Trek on TV, Discovery, streaming services, paid vs. ‘free’ content, and how we consume 23rd Century entertainment in the 21st Century.
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On CBS All Access, Discovery is breaking new ground in Star Trek storytelling. While Season One told a continuing story arc of epic proportions, many Star Trek fans felt something was missing. The sense of hope and wonder that is integral to Trek was subdued and/or nonexistent, depending on who you ask.
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Discovery’s producers heard what the fans had to say, and have made changes accordingly. The show is no longer quite so dark, has a damn-likable captain, is dealing with Star Trek-like questions about purpose and existence, and is showcasing a developing crew who work together as a team. Like every Trek sequel series before it, Discovery stumbled out of the gate but is now finding its footing as it moves forward within its second season.
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So, with the prospect of getting most of what they want from a Trek, why are some fans still refusing to watch?
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Principle.
OK, and money.
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Ten bars gold pressed latinum. Some complain that televised Star Trek has always been free. With the advent of CBS All Access you have to pay for a subscription (either $5.99 a month with commercials or $9.99 without) in order to see Discovery. On the surface, that complaint seems valid. Why should we pay for something that has always been free? However, let’s put that into perspective.
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Nothing is ever really free. In order to watch what you want in your home, at one time in your life, you may have paid for pay-per-view.
You might pay for HBO.
Right now, you could be paying for STARS, SHOWTIME, or other premium networks.
Maybe you pay for sports channels.
You pay for Netflix.
How about Hulu?
You might even pay for Amazon Prime.
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Watching ‘free’ stuff on Youtube? You’re at the least paying to access the internet, and if you want to say goodbye to those annoying commercials, there is a monthly fee. Most importantly, you likely pay for cable (I assure you that 99.9% of you are not using rabbit ears to get a free TV signal. I guarantee that the younger half of you just thought to yourself, “What are rabbit ears?”)
$This. We used to watch shows like this. The pointy things are rabbit ears. They sucked.
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The ins-and-outs of TV have changed. The old television network model doesn’t work anymore. In the past, companies would pay good money to advertise during a show’s broadcast, generating the revenue needed to create original programming. With so many channels to choose from today, not enough viewers tune in to any show to make advertising worth what it used to be. In short, commercials no longer pay the bills. At the end of the day, Star Trek, like everything else in entertainment, is a business. The streaming service model generates the income networks need to survive and to continue to bring us the shows we want to see. This is the new reality of delivering quality long-form entertainment.
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And so dies the cable box. Broadcast network channels are going away. Each network is going to have their own ‘all access.’ DISNEY is doing itthey are pulling their content from other providers (which is why Marvel Netflix shows are going away) and are planning new Marvel shows and at least two Star Wars television series. NBC is next. Better get used to it, Netflix and Amazon Prime proved there is more money to be made this way than on TV. Eventually, the concept of cable will go away, replaced with providers that offer access to a number of streaming servicesfor a price (Personally, I currently have CBS, HBO, STARS, and SHOWTIME as add-ons for my Amazon Prime). New technologies always beget new forms of entertainment. Remember when that damn tube-box ruined radio serials? No? Well, it did.
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“Why do you need special effects? Why can’t you just listen and see them in your mind? Why isn’t everything always the same? Why are things different?”
“Shut up, grandma’s grandma.”
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Remember when suddenly you had to have cable to have a decent TV signal? Or how about when you paid to go see a Star Trek in a movie theater?
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“You want me to pay money to go see this Star Trek Moving Picture? In my day, Star Trek was on the TV and was free!”
“Shut up, Grandpa’s grandpa.”
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Special Note: the verbal abuse aimed at the elderly as depicted on this page is intended for educational purposes only. Stay kind to your seniors and stay off their lawns. No old people were harmed during the writing of this essay. Thank you.
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The real reason Star Trek fans don’t want to pay for Discovery
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What am I paying for? The production quality of Discovery is that of a feature filmyou are getting a lot for your buck. If you pay $9.99 a month for CBS All Access in order to watch Discovery, and you are getting one episode a week, that’s four episodes every 30 days.  That means you are paying a whopping $2.50 per episode to watch new Star Trek. Better still, if you can stomach watching commercials, it’s only $5.99 a month! Break it down and it’s $1.50 an episode.
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This is a great price even if you hate Discovery. If you are actually watching DISCO when you complain about it all over facebook, you can back up your claims with empirical evidence. That’s $1.50-$2.50 for a week’s worth of trolling material! Like the show or not, that’s not bad, no matter how you slice it.
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Or you can wait until Season Two is over, join, and watch the entire show in one month. With two seasons and about thirty episodes at that point, you’d be paying between .19 and .34 cents an episode depending on your subscription plan.
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To reiterate.19 cents an episode.
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And the cost efficiency is getting better than that, even. With at least four planned Star Trek shows coming to All Access, your actual cost per content will soon be negligible.
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I’m sorry, why are you complaining, again? Just as entertainment itself evolves, the form in which it is delivered does as well. As always, the times are changing.
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TV is dead.
Long live TV.

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games. In addition to being the Senior Development Editor for Lion Forge comics and animation, he is a contributor to both their Quillion gaming department and their licensing team. 

blamventures.com | Twitter: @andrewecgaska | Facebook: AndrewECGaska

 

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CANON, INTERRUPTED: THEORIES ON KLINGON DEVOLUTION

0_0aaafwuxqa8qxtw9“Just as there are different races of humans, there are different races of Klingons, and the Klingons seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture are not the same race as the ones we saw on The Original Series.

 —Gene Roddenberry, The Great Bird of the Galaxy

“I wanted to lend a little more ferocity to their overall appearance, so I asked Rick Berman and Gene Roddenberry to let me try something different from what ‘had gone before.'”

—Michael Westmore, The Next Generation Make Up Artist

Star Trek: Discovery offered up a different look for the Klingons than audiences had previously been exposed to, causing an uproar in some factions of the fan community. Their proclamation—Discovery isn’t canon and it doesn’t take place in the Prime Timeline (i.e. the universe that the previous Trek TV series occur in).

“Not my Trek!” is the oft-used battlecry.

Truth be told, this isn’t the first time there have been multiple types of Klingons. For 25 years the difference between the smooth-headed Klingons in the original series and The Motion Picture cranial ridged Klingons went unexplained on film and TV—with only an acknowledgment of the differences in the Deep Space Nine episode, “Trials and Tribble-ations.” The explanation was simple, its execution flawless. “We do not talk about it with outsiders!”  said Mr. Worf, Son of Mog.

star-trek-worfNot a Merry man.

So, why the change?

“Gene Roddenberry wanted to redesign the look of the Klingons. That’s the real reason for the change in appearance.”

—Rick Berman

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES. The Klingon makeup has been altered or redesigned for The Motion Picture, Star Trek III, The Next Generation, and Star Treks V and VI before Discovery. All of these show different types of Klingons than the Original Series did, and all are considered canon by Star Trek’s masters. This essay explores what it means to be prime universe Klingon over five decades of Star Trek.

klingons

NORTHERN KLINGONS vs. SOUTHERN KLINGONS. Roddenberry himself once famously joked that the ridgeless Klingons were “Southern” Klingons and the ridged ones were “Northern” Klingons. That comment alone shows how much of a non-issue he felt it was. He later stated, “the original show had simply never had the budget and makeup technology to envision the species as it should have been seen, so the apparently new Klingons were just Klingons as they were always intended to have been.”

klingon_3_variants.jpgEssentially, the advice of Mystery Science Theatre 3000:  “Just repeat to yourself it’s just a show, I should really just relax.”

majqqci

RUFFLES HAVE RIDGES… BUT THEY DON’T FALL DOWN. The ridged brows on the Klingons were inspired by the alien race called the Kreeg as they appeared in Gene’s failed pilot ‘Planet Earth.’ Just like engineers love to change things, Gene loved to recycle them.

The bald and more reptilian look of the Discovery Klingons, as well as their layered armor, comes from Robert Fletcher’s extrapolation of the Kreeg designs for Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: Planet of the Titans. (more on that aborted Star Trek film in the link above). Indeed, it was Gene himself who suggested that the Klingon ridges wrap around their skulls as extensions of their spinal cords, just as former showrunner Bryan Fuller chose to explore on Discovery.tkumva-1Fletcher’s design vs. Discovery Klingon T’Kuvma. One of these things is much like the other.

THERE IS NOTHING IN THE DESERT, AND NOMEN NEED NOTHING. Another possible inspiration for The Motion Picture Klingons may have been the Borellian Nomen from the 1978 sci-fi television series Battlestar Galactica.  The Nomen were part of a fierce nomadic warrior tribe and came replete with bushy beards on their faces and bony ridges on their foreheads. They had customs, codes, and rituals that were integral to their aggressive culture, and physically looked to be the missing link between the Original Series Klingons and their Motion Picture compatriots.

ab1ab4bb84003e66a67c258100cde242Klingon cousins.

Battlestar alumni, actor and novelist Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo) also played Klingon Commander Karn in the Star Trek independent film project, Prelude to Axanar. Diving into the Klingon culture for the part, he often commented that he believed the Nomen and Klingons to be conceptually linked in appearance, culture, and demeanor. Whether or not it was a conscious choice made behind the scenes on Star Trek or was just a coincidence is unknown for sure. SFX wizard John Dykstra, illustrators Andrew Probert and Ralph McQuarrie, and other production crew all worked on both Trek and BSG in the 1970s, soto quote Spock—it is, “a distinct possibility.”

REFLECTIONS OF THE FASA FUSIONS. Sources such as the excellent Trek novel, The Final Reflection, by J.M. Ford, and the also excellent FASA Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game, explained the Klingon differences as the result of genetic experiments designed to help the Klingons face off against their various racial foes. There were Imperial Klingons, Human-fusion Klingons, and even a Romulan-fusion Klingon subspecies. According to these sources, such things eventually became frowned upon by the Empire, and the experiments were discontinued.

klingons

The appearance of classic Klingons Kor, Koloth, and Kang in DS9—sporting cranial ridges they never had in The Original Series—dispelled that theory, however.

dThe same three Klingons, twice. Second set of pics taken on a bad hair day.

A DIVERTING AFFLICTION. Ford and FASA’s theory was a pretty good one, and one that was accepted behind closed doors for decades.  It would be modified for the purposes of the final explanation of the Klingon change in appearance, offered during the Star Trek: Enterprise episode ‘Divergence.’ The Klingon race as we have mostly known it—let’s call them the Imperial Klingons—were the victims of a genetically mutated virus in the 2150s. The virus was accidentally created when ambitious Klingons got their hands on Human augment DNA—yes, the same stuff of Khan—and used it to try to create Super Klingons. It would have wiped out the entire Klingon Empire if not for the fast work of Dr. Phlox. Unfortunately, the cure had side effects—the familiar ridge-headed Klingons were genetically altered to look like the Klingons from The Original Series. Their cranial ridges dissolved and they became a little bit human and a lot less than Klingon. Phlox’s cure saved the race from annihilation but was an embarrassment for certain.

http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Klingon_augment_virus

As was suggested in the episode, it would be a long time until the Klingons could figure out a way to restore their Imperial appearance—and their offspring would likely be born with the same affliction. It was suggested that cranial ridge reconstruction might become a thing.

startrekenterpriseinamirrordarklyparti.0102Ridged Klingon is ridgeless. Thanks, Space Obama.

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW. Where does that leave us with the previously mentioned Discovery looking Klingons? You can take them as a visual reboot, which is pretty much what Discovery’s producers were going for, or you can sprinkle some sci-fi magic in to ease your canonical woes. Here are a few theories this humble author has hypothesized (that fit with the overall Trek universe) to maintain what some fans consider precious visual continuity.

0bc1c52be585e668-2048x1024Ceiling Klingon is judging you.

HYPOTHESIS No. 1: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE NEANDER-KLINGON. After the Imperial Klingons were altered by the virus to assume a human-like appearance, they were seen as less than Klingon. At this point, what was previously considered a lesser offshoot of their race—the Proto-Klingons, as seen in Discovery—begins to gain power. Considered the Klingon equivalent of Neanderthals, the Proto Klingons had previously been occupying comparatively menial roles in the Empire—such as mining or maintaining outposts on harsh worlds in the Klingon sector equivalent of Siberia.

The reason for my use of the term Proto-Klingon: Visually, Discovery Klingons fit as a missing link between the Prehistoric Klingon creature seen in the TNG episode ‘Genesis’ and The Imperial Klingons we have come to know.

worf-genesisPrehistoric, Proto, Imperiala Study in Klingon. Evolution’s a fickle bitch, am I right?

The irony in this scenario is that the Proto-Klingons are now more Klingon then their previous lords—the Imperial Klingons that had been altered by the human augment virus. This offshoot rises in dominance because their genes were in fact pure. Disgusted by the fact that a human virus (nevermind that the Klingons had tried to use it on themselves and almost killed their entire race with it) had changed the purity of the Klingon line, the Proto-Klingon battle cry of “Remain Klingon” became their rallying point.

Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 3.16.02 PM.pngMAKE AMERICAN GREAT AGAI—er, I mean, REMAIN KLINGON!

HYPOTHESIS No. 2: GENETIC MANIPULATION RUN AMOK. The time again is post Enterprise. Not knowing when to quit, Klingon scientists begin developing a retrovirus to restore Klingons to their once glorious appearance. It doesn’t exactly work correctly, however, and the Klingon race who are treated are accidentally reverted to a proto-Klingon appearance. The Empire goes into seclusion for almost 100 years because of this. Still, being proto-Klingon is better than being a Klingon altered with human DNA. Because of propaganda, Klingons like T’Kuvma see the virus as the Federation’s attempt to make the Klingons more like them. Hence, an alternate explanation for the rallying cry, “Reman Klingon!”   

klingon-stidI like this armor. Someone is going to be pissed I used a Kelvin Klingon here. Just you see.

HYPOTHESIS No. 3: DIVERSITY IN KLINGON. The simplest one. The Klingon Empire stretches over at least hundreds of worlds over a vast amount of space. There could very easily be species of Klingon we haven’t seen yet. We have never seen all 24 houses. As Gene suggested at one point, it’s possible that variant species of Klingons are spread across the Empire. In fact, rumors abound that future issues of Star Trek magazine might confirm as much.

bing-klingon-translator (1)Smiles, everyone. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and today is a good day to die.

WHICH WAY DID THEY GO, GEORGIOU? So, why no Proto-Klingons in the other Trek series? After the Proto-Klingons—whether the result of Hypothesis 1, 2, or 3—cause the war with the Federation and lose abysmally, they fall into disgrace. The altered augment Klingons reclaim control of the Empire. But where do the Protos go?

The Klingon Empire is not beyond genocide.

39868995094_503afedf40_bProto-Klingons, say hello to our little friend…

DARWIN WAS RIGHT. The Imperial Klingons could have decided that this subspecies was dangerous, and wiped them out by the time of Star Trek: The Motion Picture—the same time the means were discovered to undo the damage created by the augment virus and restore Imperial Klingons to their rightful appearance.

battle_of_the_binary_stars_fleets.jpgBattle of the Binary Stars. The Feds face an armada of atypical Klingon proto-crewed ships.

This would also explain the discontinuation of the ship designs the Klingons use in Discovery and the return to Imperial design lineages. The amazing Trek resource site, Ex Astris Scientia, has compiled a size chart of the Proto-Klingons’ ship designs. You can see that chart on that site. As for some insight into the difference in design philosophies…

dis-klingon-chartA tale of two Birds of Prey: gothic vs. classic—Proto-Klingon vs. Imperial. Who will win?  

AN EMPIRE TORN. Something else that will likely come up in complaints is the fact that L’Rell is in charge of the Klingon Empire. In the Season One Finale of Discovery, L’Rell holds the fate of Q’onoS in her hands—-literally. She forces the Empire to call off the war, and she assumes leadership. What’s wrong with that?

Fans will point out that “Women may not serve on the council,” was stated by Gowron in the TNG episode, “Redemption Part 1.” What if L’Rell is the reason for that? She forced the empire to listen to her, and the male council may not have been too happy about that. 

azetburWomen cannot serve on Coun—-oh wait…

In Star Trek VI, Azetbur was chancellor for a brief time after her father’s death, but, as was suggested in the Star Trek VI novelization by J.M. Dillard, that was likely a set up by the council who wished to have an easy patsy.  

(Dillard even went so far as to include Klingon cultural touches from TNG that STVI forgot about—as soon as Kirk and company are escorted away from the recently deceased Chancellor Gorkon, Chang and the other warriors present perform the Klingon death ritual, warning the dead that a Klingon warrior is about to arrive.  Originating on The Next Generation, the same ritual has been shown on DS9 and in Discovery. Incidentally, fans arguing that Klingons discard the bodies of their dead and do not prepare them for interment should check out Spock’s mention of a Klingon mummification glyph in Star Trek IV. It’s pretty clear in Discovery that more progressive Klingon factions see the body as nothing but a shell, but religious groups such as T’Kuvma’s follow older traditions and revere the bodies of the dead. When L’Rell finds that Kor has been piling Klingon corpses in the rubbish, she is horrified.)

dsc-klingons 2

klingon_death_ritualThese two acts? Same difference.

CONSULT THE FORTUNE COOKIES. As Season 2 of Discovery develops, it appears that L’Rell and the other Klingons will be undergoing yet another transformation—this one bringing them more in line with the Imperial species—and implying Hypothesis 2 as an answer (a shame, really, as I am partial to Hypothesis 1). It has been said that the Klingons in Season 1 had shaved their heads for war, although why the leaders of all shown houses heads were bald before the war started leaves me scratching their heads about that one.

43550480_475758626279197_2719868874753857383_nBecoming more Imperial every day. Viva L’Rellvolution!

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING. In science fiction, almost anything can have a workaround. All it takes is a little bit of imagination.

screen shot 2018-02-12 at 1.24.20 amAll images are ©2019 CBS Paramount or NBC Universal and are used for the purposes of commentary or review only unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

I’ll leave you with a closer look at the lovely Prehistoric Klingon as seen on TNG as well as some more pertinent Klingon quotes and information from both Discovery’s production team and those who worked on Treks of old:

genesis-worf-monster

“If you look at the Klingons, there is something fairly gothic and art deco about them,” Rodis pointed out. “If you notice, they never wear simple, undecorated costumes; it’s all kind of metallic and leather, with piping and stuff [….] Also, even though the Klingons aren’t green, they are definitely not blue. They lean more toward gray/green.”

—Nilo Rodis, Star Trek III Art Director

“The empire is very big. They don’t all grow up on Kronos. They don’t all live on the same planets and certainly, those different planets would have different environments. So how would the cultures have evolved differently? …we tried to come up with cultural axioms for each house so each looks different and they bear a cultural patina like our cultures do here on Earth.”

https://trekmovie.com/2017/08/03/stlv17-designers-explain-why-star-trek-discovery-klingons-are-bald-and-more/

“What can you say to reassure us that we’re not losing the Klingons we know and love?” a furtive audience member asked during the Q&A portion. Mitchell assured the crowd that the recent publicity still image released was of one Klingon, from one house. “We will see all 24 houses and the leaders among them,” he revealed. The houses will be explored, and the physical and ideological differences between them. L’Rell is part of two houses, Chieffo explained, and the conflicts arising therein, as well as how she is viewed by the Federation versus her own people, will be explored in depth.”

http://www.treknews.net/2017/08/03/star-trek-discovery-cast-klingon-houses-stlv/

From Memory Alpha:

Fred Phillips expected that the fans would wonder about how the Klingons could possibly have head ridges newly added to their faces, he and Roddenberry came up with the explanation of there being a variety of Klingon races, even before the release of The Motion Picture. Despite this, the transformation continued to be regarded as a mystery for decades to come. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 145, pp. 71-72)

Roddenberry also stipulated that the Klingons would preemptively attack any foreign entity discovered within Klingon space, such as they do to V’Ger in The Motion Picture. (audio commentary, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (The Director’s Edition))

Richard Snell was relieved that, in Star Trek VI, Nicholas Meyer gave him leeway to design the Klingons as slightly more diverse and grotesque than they had been in previous films. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 22, No. 5, p. 33)

k't'inga_class_studio_model

The once and future Klingon D-7. Just sayin’.

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games. In addition to being the Senior Development Editor for Lion Forge comics and animation, he is a contributor to both their Quillion gaming department and their licensing team

blamventures.com | Twitter: @andrewecgaska | Facebook: AndrewECGaska

 

 

STAR TREK sequels and prequels: A History of Hate… and Love.

Continuing a series of essays about Star Trek in honor of Discovery’s return this month.Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 8.53.10 PM

“I think of myself as something of a Star Trek purist, assuming there can be such a thing. I consider only the Original Series, the Animated Series, and the brilliant ST:TMP Director’s Edition to be pure canon, along with a very few publications such as the wonderful Star Trek Maps. For me, it is these properties that most purely constitute Star Trek. Concerning Paramount… Why the effort to forget or supplant the Original Series, the show that prompted the entire Star Trek phenomenon? I’m a great fan of the original, and I have not been happy with the way the current “powers that be” have taken such a revisionist stance with the universe the classic series created.”

—Shane Johnson, Author of the reference books ‘the Starfleet Uniform Recognition Manual’ (1985), ‘Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise’ (1986) and ‘Worlds of the Federation’ (1987)

From an interview in 2001.

Not about Star Trek: Enterprise. Not about Discovery.

About the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager era of Trek. The same evocation of emotion the current crop of Canonites feel about Discovery right now.

Many Discovery naysayers are not remembering (or their grandfathers were still in diapers for) the backlash Star Trek: The Next Generation got for its vast differences to the original Trek—differences that included tone, look, and continuity (Yes, continuity. And Enterprise isn’t the only culprit here. there are many instances where the series in the 1987-2005 Trek era referenced things that happened “100 years ago” or “200 years ago” that not only contradict events mentioned in The Original Series but in each other as well).  

“Watered down Trek,” older fans called it.  And there is documented proof of this in the form of newspapers and magazines from the era.

tngripped-563x640

Star Trek has even tried to warn us about holding on to the past before, in countless episodes and in the films. Even just looking at Star Trek II, III, VI and VIII, they touched upon Khan’s vengeance, Kirk dwelling in the past, Scotty’s bitterness over new technologies, the reluctance of members of the Federation and Klingons to let go of hatred, Picard’s obsession with the Borg, and more.

star-trek-mr-scotts-guide-to-the-enterprise-signed-by-james-doohan-scotty-mint-17501ae3b86a2d06e1dc4ed916078da6Star Trek: The Original Series purists felt the series from The Next Generation onward violated canon—that same canon that is now being touted as one cohesive all-inclusive piece until the arrival of Discovery.

While I disagree with Shane Johnson’s sentiments, his books are admittedly all fantastic and were a formative part of my teen Trek years. I’m sure some of today’s fans will use Mr. Johnson’s quote as justification for their continued Discovery bashing, but that argument only really holds water if they also dismiss everything post Star Trek: The Original Series—where the real deviations began. Otherwise, what’s happening here isn’t all that dissimilar to the past.

The only difference?

The internet.

Gone are the days of complaining via letter campaigns and convention get-togethers. Now fans can grouse in real time.

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 9.00.47 PM

Welcome to the same dawn of any new production era of TrekAll this has happened before, and it will all happen again.

Like the Borg before them, today’s fans will adapt.

Andrew E.C. Gaska

Nondisclosure of Family Matters: The Siblings of Spock and the Spouses of Sarek

Continuing a series of essays about Star Trek in honor of Discovery’s return this month.

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 8.26.37 PM

One of the fanboy outcries about Star Trek Discovery relates to series lead Michael Burnham being the hitherto unmentioned sibling of Spock.

“We have never heard of Spock having a human adopted sister before!” goes the cry. “This violates canonThere is no precedent for this!”

An outrage, for certain.

Just like in the second pilot of The Original Series, when it was revealed that Spock had a female ancestor of human descent. But a few episodes later, we found out it wasn’t an ancestor, it was his mother! There, he and Scotty spoke of Spock’s parents in the past tense.

SPOCK: “I regret not having learned more about this Balok. In some manner, he was reminiscent of my father.”

SCOTTY: “Then may heaven have helped your mother.”

SPOCK: “Quite the contrary. She considered herself a very fortunate Earth woman.

Or in 1967, when Spock’s parents, Sarek and Amanda, were shown alive and wellimplying that rather than having passed away happily married, she NO LONGER considered herself very fortunate to be married to Sarek. Also, young Spock had a pet when growing up that his mother equated to a teddy bearalthough Spock did clarify (thanks, Jim Espo):

SPOCK: “On Vulcan the ‘teddy bears’ are alive, and they have six-inch fangs.”

SaavikAnd in 1973, when we found out that Spock’s father Sarek had a cousin named Selek that was actually a time-traveling Spock! And Spock’s living teddy bear? It was actually more of a man-bear-pig… with one six-inch fang and one three-inch half job one.

Or in 1981, when we found out that Spock, Sarek, and Amanda had raised and sponsored a half Vulcan half Romulan orphan girl named Saavik from the Original Series times to the Wrath of Khan (It might not be in the final film, but Saavik’s backstory was in the script, scenes explaining it were shot but cut for pacing, and it was all detailed in the novelization)!

And in 1989 when we found out Spock had a half-brother from Sarek’s previous marriage!

.KIRK: “He’s your ‘brother’ brother? You made that up.”

SPOCK: “I did not.” slide_297725_2455138_free

KIRK: “You did, too. Sybok couldn’t possibly be your brother because I happen to know for a fact that you don’t have a brother.”

SPOCK: “Technically, you are correct. I do not have a brother. I have a half-brother.”

What? Sarek was married before Amanda? To a Vulcan Princess, no less! The outrage! Nevermind that he is married to another human woman named Perrin 100 years later, this is about the 23rd Century, not the 24th.

What did Spock say when he was asked why he never divulged any of this before?

SPOCK: “I was not disposed to discuss matters of a personal nature. For that, I am sorry.”

KIRK: “He’s sorry. See? He’s sorry. That makes everything all right.”

I mean, those things were all established previously in the pilot episode of the Original Series, right?

Oh, wait…

…I guess the Sareks just like to take in strays.

Spock is sorry.

Andrew E.C. Gaska

Spocks-ever-growing-familMissing from this family pic—Baby Saavik. Put some pants on, Kid-Spockyou are embarrassing your creepy-faced stepbrother and ‘not sure if want’-faced adopted sister. Also, your teddy man bear pig is high again.

Parody image created by Jonathan Lane at fanfilmfactor.com

STAR TREK DISCO: TO CANON OR NOT TO CANON? 

The first in a series of essays about Star Trek in honor of Discovery’s return this month.
23844778_1898570000157549_3335419285486940238_nAn open letter to Trek fans about STAR TREK DISCOVERY and its alleged violation of continuity.

Dear Star Trek enthusiasts,

To canon or not to canon? That is the question plaguing the fandom of Star Trek, specifically about Discovery.

On one hand, continuity is what binds a fictional universe together. We are more invested in a show whose legacy we already understand. Violating the rules of that universe is like violating the laws of physics—something Scotty specifically said couldn’t be done, right before a commercial break. Then he went and did it.

On the other, should good story stand still for canon? Should a show that is created now but takes place before a show that was crafted in the 60s have outdated special effects, or look as cutting edge for today’s audiences as that original show did back then for theirs?

Is Star Trek about reminiscing over TV shows past, or showing us our own future?

Excellent fiction can be crafted out of existing canon. It’s what people like Greg CoxDavid Mack and myself do all the time. I personally have been hired by movie studios to keep track of a franchise’s canon—and have made a career of fixing canonical faux pas in my published fiction.

And change for change sake is just as bad as dead storytelling. But change is also necessary for growth to take place.

The thing is, Trek is a strange animal. It has actually contradicted itself in-universe a billion times already. When discussing things that happened in the past, TOS went and violated itself over and over. It took three seasons to decide what to call things.

What planet is Spock from, Vulcan or Vulcanis?

The Vulcan Mind Meld or the Vulcan Mind Fusion?

Did one of Spock’s ancestors marry a human female, or was that his father who did so? Human great great great grandmother or human mother?

Does the Enterprise have warp drive or hyperdrive?

Is it impulse or ‘space normal speed?’ Or would that be thrusters only?

Can we go to warp inside a solar system, or is that some kind of risk? (None of the Treks’ could keep that one straight, even within their own series).

Is the government the UFP or the UESPA? United Federation of Planets or United Earth Space Probe Agency?

Is the Enterprise Starship Class or Constitution class? Is her refit also Consitution or is she Enterprise Class?

If the Enterprise is 20 years old as Morrow said in Star Trek III specifically stated as 15 years after the Enterprise came home from Kirk’s historic 5-year mission (15+5=20… seems legit), how was she captained by Pike 12 years before that? And Robert April before him? Those are things that were established before Star Trek III, during The Original Series and the Animated Series. Wouldn’t all that make her 40?

What’s up with the Klingons’ lobster heads? How about their blood?

Aside from the look of the Klingons changing from TOS To TMP, they have no honor in the films—just look at Kruge and Klaa. Their honor wasn’t developed until TNG. Then their blood was suddenly Pepto Bismol for Star Trek VI while being red for everything before and most after (except for the blood dripping off of Worf’s broken spine, which was dark purple. When Worf and other 24th Century Klingons get cut, it’s always red).

If the Klingon’s don’t take prisoners as per Kirk in Star Trek II, why does Kruge take prisoners in Star Trek III? Or Chang in Star Trek VI? Or Lursa and B’etor in The Next Generation and Generations? 

T’Pol says Klingon ships don’t have escape pods, but then there they are in Enterprise and Deep Space Nine.

Just how big is that Bird of Prey? It changes constantly for dramatic effect in Star Trek III, then starts Star Trek IV at 50m, only to balloon up to 200m when hovering over the whaling boat at the end (again for dramatic effect).

Why is the Bird of Prey’s bridge so different in Star Trek IV than in Star Trek III? It is the same ship, originally under the command of Kruge and commandeered by Admiral Kirk. It wasn’t refitted for Federation use because all the control panels were still in Klingon—and the old bridge looked more Starfleet anyway.

“The center of the galaxy can’t be reached,” says Kirk during Star Trek V. “No ship has ever gone into the Great BarrierNo probe has ever returned.” Then they proceed to go there.  But didn’t the Enterprise go there already during The Animated Series?

Vulcan has no moon? What’s that in the sky during Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: The Animated Series, buddy? And what the hell is Tuvok talking about in VOY when he says he was born on “the Vulcanis lunar colony?”

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Wait— Spock has a brother? You made that up.

Some people think Spock was the first Vulcan in Starfleet, something never actually stated on screen but was part of the background material for the original series—but the USS Intrepid—a Star Fleet vessel during TOS—has a crew of 400 of them. 400 Vulcans joined up and graduated after Spock during the dozen or so years before that TOS episode, and they crammed all the Vulcans in Star Fleet into one ship? And obviously at least one of them made Captain before Spock? For that matter, what’s T’Pol’s deal, then?

There are dozens more TOS VIOLATING TOS, as well as the other series violating TOS, examples.

Yes, TNG and DS9 seem to have a different timeline than TOS, and VOY and ENT also seem to have their own shared timeline. And all these violate themselves as well.

So Data was Soong’s only android. Wait—there was a prototype, Lore. Got it! Wait… there was a prototype of the prototype named B4? Ok, but their skin couldn’t be made to look or feel alive enough, that’s why they look the way they do. Remember they are machines who will never age—always set apart from living beings. Wait—Data can adjust the pigmentation of his skin and eyes to look Romulan? Data is getting fat and wrinkly… didn’t we know? Soong put in a program to mimic the effects of age. But what about when Data is 3000 years old? What will he look like then? Why burden the bot with thousands of years of decrepitude? Soong made an android of his girlfriend that had proper skin and eyes and ages as well and could pass for human? I thought he only made Data? I mean, Data and Lore and B-4? Well, Data has a sort of milky white blood circulating through his system. Prick him and he will leak. Troi shot him with an arrow and he didn’t leak? And he was shot with bullets in First Contact and didn’t leak? Does he leak?

Why does Data’s coveted and one-of-a-kind emotion chip look different in different episodes/movies? Why is he so special, anyhow? There were plenty of human-like androids in TOS, and they weren’t pasty white with yellow eyes.

For that matter, what the hell kind of cat is Spot, anyhow? What sex? Spot seems to be a nexus of realities, forever shifting.

If during Generations, Kirk was presumed dead when he was lost in the Nexus in front of Scotty before the engineer went into suspended animation in the transporter buffer, why does Scott think Kirk came to his rescue when the engineer is revived during TNG?

How did Seven’s family go hunting for the Borg with Federation funding if the Federation didn’t know who the Borg were until Picard and crew met them? Or was it when Archer and crew met them during ENT, 200 years prior? Wait, why didn’t Picard know about the Borg?

How did the Borg go from Daft Punk to the Walking Dead? ) What’s wrong with his face?

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What’s up with the Romulans’ foreheads?

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Why do the Trill in TNG have knobby heads and no spots when Dax has spots and a normal head? Dax violates canon!

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Why do the Tellarites no longer look like Porky Pig—oh my god the TOS one has no eyes.

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What of the Andorians ever-shifting shade of blue or grey or green, and changing foreheads, hairline, antenna—both their location and appearance? Since when do the antenna move?

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Again, there are at least dozens more. Is all this the result of the Temporal Cold War in Star Trek: Enterprise? Was said timeline-altering conflict created to cover these faux pas in the first place?

How do you resolve it?

Well, you have some fine authors craft tie-in materials that make it all make sense for those who care. A lot of this stuff has been covered over the years just like that. And that just what is being done in the Discovery novels right now.

Why are they using 3D hologram communications on Discovery instead of just using the view screen? Turns out the messages contained so much data they were using too much bandwidth, clogging subspace channels and tying up communications. They went back to viewscreens until DS9 times when it was finally perfected, and even then only used sparingly.

How is it they have holographic simulations you can walk around in (and play anti-Klingon laser tag with) in if the Holodeck isn’t created until TNG? Well, there was a precursor to the holodeck as early as the animated series—a holographic rec room. In Discovery the holographic training simulator’s projections weren’t solid and weren’t perfect. By TNG the holodeck makes these things indistinguishable from reality—another perfection of technology over a century.

Ship-to-ship, site-to-site, and intra-ship beaming? Didn’t they say it was risky in TOS? Well, obviously they learned that during Discovery season 1. They mention in the premiere of season two that pad-to-pad or pad-to-site transport is much safer.

Why are Discovery’s uniforms different than those worn by the crew of the Enterprise during the episode “The Cage,” which takes place in the same relative time period? Star Fleet was trying out new uniforms on the flagship fleet of Constitution class cruisers during this time (I assume it’s because they were leaning towards a time of peaceful exploration and the Klingon War caught them off guard. This delayed full implementation of the classic uniforms until years later).

If you care, buy Star Trek novels and comics. Buy them for all your favorite franchises. You keep reading them, we will keep writing them, and if we are doing our job right, you will get your answers.

If you don’t care, just sit back and enjoy Star Trek on TV and film. Our fandom is lucky enough to have both options.

Other things, such as the spore drive, will straighten themselves out before the series is over. And the Klingons… well, we went 25 years without an official explanation of their change in appearance—don’t expect an explanation for this one for another 25.

Star Trek looks forward to our future, even when telling stories in its fictional past. It gives us just a dash of what we know from before to provide us with a comfort zone. It doesn’t stagnate in nostalgia—that is the purview of the pretenders to the throne (the Orville, anyone? But that’s an open letter for another time).

Just remember that in Trek, continuity is fluid. It’s like that in any franchise that develops over decades. Has to be.

Star Trek: Discovery is in fact no more or less guilty than the Treks that precede it. The minor stuff is always shifting. The story is the key, and the legacy is enduring. Star Trek can survive a little change.

It’s called evolution.

Yours,
Andrew E.C. Gaska

Revised and updated Stardate 0120.19

Tellarite_screen_test,_The_Deadly_Years (2)Evolution: Something this TOS Tellarite is having a lot of trouble with. Oh, dear…