What if Star Trek never existed?
September 9, 2016 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Star Trek first aired on NBC on September 8, 1966. But what if Star Trek never existed?

"What if NBC hadn’t wanted another pilot? Or if Roddenberry had been too busy producing the first season of Police Story to make one? In that mirror universe, the next 50 years of sci-fi TV and movies look much different. So does the cultural breadth of television casts. So does your yearly pilgrimage to Comic-Con International. Our lives would be very different without Trek—and we almost didn’t get it."

And now that it does exist, over six (almost seven) different TV shows and thirteen movies, here's The Hollywood Reporter's list of 100 Best Star Trek episodes.
posted by crossoverman (125 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Edith Keeler lives!
posted by clavdivs at 5:50 PM on September 9, 2016 [12 favorites]


In case anybody doesn't know, BBC America is playing all of seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek TOS as I am writing this. They are showing Return of the Archons as we speak.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:01 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


What if Star Trek never existed?

That's a universe through a mirror, darkly. I have a goatee there.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:05 PM on September 9, 2016 [33 favorites]


They are showing Return of the Archons as we speak.

Festival!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:10 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Lucille Ball, who co-founded Desilu with her then-husband Desi Arnaz, agreed to help finance a new pilot over the objections of her own board of directors.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Gamergaters.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:10 PM on September 9, 2016 [68 favorites]


In the mirror universe the most successful science fiction movies are nothing more than spaced up fairy tales set in a universe where nothing ever really changes, where the heroes are determined by their bloodlines, diplomacy is weakness, democracy is folly, science is ignored, aristocracy is just, and there is only war.

It is a dark place to be sure. Thank goodness it's far far away.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:11 PM on September 9, 2016 [48 favorites]


Space Seed beginning now. I khant wait!
posted by Thorzdad at 6:13 PM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've been rewatching DS9 for the first time since it aired. I was young enough that I don't really remember any of it, so it's familiar, but I'm effectively watching it for the first time. And I love it! I think it's actually my favorite of the series.

Anyway, in a universe without Star Trek I wouldn't have the Star Trek wiki (Memory Alpha) app on my phone so I could answer burning questions like "what was the name of that fertility symbol Riker gave Picard in that vacation episode?"
posted by teponaztli at 6:20 PM on September 9, 2016 [10 favorites]


Which is to say, I wouldn't be the worldly, sophisticated person I am today.
posted by teponaztli at 6:21 PM on September 9, 2016 [13 favorites]


What if Star Trek never existed?

Surely a crew would find a way to go back in time and fix the error.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 6:25 PM on September 9, 2016 [24 favorites]


I think Star Trek is one of the best things TV had given us. It inspired a generation of scientists, inventors, astronauts, and leaders towards discovery and compassionate understanding. (It is no accident that it brought us the first televised interracial kiss.)

Star Trek is irrepressibly optimistic about the ability of human beings to make the world a better place in which to live. Star Trek believes in the ability of people with wildly different backgrounds and beliefs to make peace with former enemies and to, through hard work and effort, understand their different perspectives on the world.

Star Wars slays the evil dragon, Star Trek understands that the dragon is simply injured, removes the thorn from its paw, and sends it along its way.

I love it and am grateful for it. Star Trek has made us all better for its existence.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:31 PM on September 9, 2016 [48 favorites]


the Star Trek wiki (Memory Alpha) app

News to me.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:39 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Star Trek reruns were such a formative element of my childhood in the seventies that I'm not sure what my life would be like without them. Between Trek and 2001, I was really expecting a much better future than we ended up with here.
posted by octothorpe at 6:45 PM on September 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


If Star Trek hadn't existed, we'd have massive Space:1999 fan conventions instead. Now just try to tell me that's not a better mirror universe!

I mean, look, I'm just as upset about the 2009 reboot starring John Turturro and Angelina Jolie as anyone but

posted by phooky at 6:54 PM on September 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


I think that it's possible that something like Star Trek would have eventually come around, because something that CJA's otherwise decent article fails to mention is that it has its own clear antecedents: the Horatio Hornblower novels, Wagon Train (Roddenberry's elevator pitch for the series was "Wagon Train to the stars"), and Forbidden Planet, which Roddenberry acknowledged as an influence. It's easy to imagine someone coming across Forbidden Planet ten years later (it came out in 1956) may have had the idea to make a TV show with the same basic premise--faster-than-light starship with a circular "bridge" that goes exploring hither and yon--but with a more diverse crew, and maybe with scripts from some of the best science fiction writers of the time; but still, I think that it's highly unlikely that any such alternate space opera, without the same mix of the above elements and Roddenberry's own obsessions and ideals, would have the same staying power. ("Failure" or not, not only didn't TOS' two space opera rivals--Lost in Space and Space:1999--have any staying power themselves (LiS lasted for three seasons, S1999 for two), but they didn't stick around in syndication.)

So, what does that leave? Some serious-minded SF movies in the late sixties and the early seventies, which eventually devolve into cheesy postapocalyptic numbers such as Logan's Run and Damnation Alley and, yes, Planet of the Apes. It's a little more difficult to say what George Lucas might have done; he does acknowledge Trek as an influence, but it's difficult to say what he might have actually gotten from it (aside from how not to do space battles). His other influences--The Hidden Fortress, WWII movies, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers--seem to have much more of an influence on SW. Maybe what he got from Trek is the idea of an ensemble crew that have distinctive personalities that sometimes clash but ultimately work together for the greater good; it's not all about Studly Alpha Male Protagonist, All The Time. Maybe Lucas would have held out for Flash Gordon and eventually directed the movie, and it might have become a franchise. Or been even worse.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:16 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Lots and lots of Buck Rogers cosplay.
posted by benzenedream at 7:21 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


What if Star Trek never existed?

Lost in Space remains the apex of science fiction TV and most of the big box office hits of the last 35 years look very different. Gene Roddenberry is known as a B-list Jack Webb, and the boxed set of The Lieutenant DVDs has modest sales. William Shatner is a Canadian stage actor who goes on to some supporting roles in 1970s dramas; his apex in genre films is his role in the Esperanto curiosity Incubus (1966), although he is in a couple of good episodes of Twilight Zone.

Patrick Stewart is a Shakespearean actor who is best known to North Americans as Leodegrance in Excalibur (1981). The first space shuttle is named "Columbia."

Cell phones come along later and look different. Perpetual meme generator George Takei remains obscure, and without his voice the world is slightly more racist and homophobic. Fandom conventions probably never coalesce. And Jeri Ryan's ex-husband becomes a senator from Illinois in 2003, defeating opponent Barack Obama.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:22 PM on September 9, 2016 [46 favorites]


My old man used to watch Battlestar Galactica ('78) with me. One night he stood up and exclaimed "this is just Wagon Train in space!"

Don't think he said the same about Star Trek.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:25 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Wagon Train was pretty clearly meant as a show format, not some Firefly style business.
posted by Artw at 7:29 PM on September 9, 2016


Star Trek was Utopian SF unafraid to tackle big ideas. Anyone can do a reasonable dystopia. Look around, see what's wrong, magnify it. Utopias that are not naive wish-fulfillment are hard.

Star Trek, by modern standards was racist, sexist and homophobic.

By the standards of the time, there was a woman who was an important and essential officer, and she was black and not an American. There was an Asian man who was also an important and essential officer, and he did not know "karate" or "kung-fu" but was an expert with a fencing-saber, and in one episode, was overtly sexualized as virile and emotional. There was a white Southern Doctor who didn't give a good goddamn who or what was sick, so long as he could make them better.

The episodes asked difficult questions, and often did not have good answers. It had hard-and-fast ethical principles that would be overridden by ethical reasoning, and this was the hinge of the plot in many episodes!

This was the '60s. NOTHING else was doing this. Looking around, precious little is doing it today.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:42 PM on September 9, 2016 [46 favorites]


Lost in Space remains the apex of science fiction TV

So instead of "the needs of the many" we get "Crush. Kill. Destroy."

Why do I have a goatee?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:44 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


And Jeri Ryan's ex-husband becomes a senator from Illinois in 2003, defeating opponent Barack Obama.

Oh snap. How could I have forgotten about that?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:50 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Jeri Ryan's ex-husband becomes a senator from Illinois in 2003, defeating opponent Barack Obama.

No, because Jack Ryan was always an asshole. Not as much of an asshole as Alan Keyes--the most bizarrely wrong choice that the Illinois GOP has made, probably--and Obama would have won by less if Ryan's divorce papers hadn't been unsealed, but Star Trek had nothing to do with that chain of events.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:00 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


The episodes asked difficult questions, and often did not have good answers. It had hard-and-fast ethical principles that would be overridden by ethical reasoning, and this was the hinge of the plot in many episodes!

This was the '60s. NOTHING else was doing this. Looking around, precious little is doing it today.


What disturbs me the most is that which calls itself "Star Trek" today is not doing it; ethical decision making and reasoning alongside a ethos of exploration and rationality has been discarded in favor of blowing shit up.
posted by nubs at 8:04 PM on September 9, 2016 [27 favorites]


The first space shuttle is named "Columbia."

The original name of OV-101 was the Constitution. Columbia would still be the first space-worthy orbiter.
posted by MrGuilt at 8:05 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


What disturbs me the most is that which calls itself "Star Trek" today is not doing it; ethical decision making and reasoning alongside a ethos of exploration and rationality has been discarded in favor of blowing shit up.

*waits patiently for Star Trek: Discovery to fix this*
posted by crossoverman at 8:05 PM on September 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


William Shater is best known for his fine work in T.J. Hooker and Leonard Nimoy as a cult-fave recording artist and that guy from In Search Of ...
posted by octobersurprise at 8:08 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


If Star Trek had never existed, Jan Terri would never have a song where she says "beam me up, Scotty!" and my life would have that much less joy.
posted by teponaztli at 8:10 PM on September 9, 2016


The story of Lucille Ball making Star Trek The Original Series possible is classic (LUCY! YOU GOT A LOTTA 'SPLAININ' TO DO!), but this is also important. When TOS was cancelled after three seasons, it had barely enough episodes to go into syndication and few prospects for any future revival. But America's largest TV markets had multiple non-network stations and a need for LOTS of content. And in Los Angeles, where FOUR 'independents' were fighting for ratings and ad dollars, the station that ran reruns of "I Love Lucy" weeknights at 7PM (in Black and White!) was totally dominating the timeslot. And fourth-place Channel 13 was desperate for something, anything, and they made the then-considered-silly decision to run "Star Trek" opposite "Lucy"... and it succeeded!! Came closer to knocking Lucy out of first place than anything in years... encouraged more stations to pick up Trek and air it on the weekdays in early evening. And the resulting success of syndicated Star Trek begat the Animated Star Trek which begat the First Star Trek Movie, and the rest was future history. So you could say that Lucy saved Star Trek twice.

Also, a decade later, some fools tried to make a UHF station at Channel 52 compete in L.A. and in a state of even greater programming desperation, they tried airing reruns of another sci-fi show weeknights at 7PM. In that case, it was the mostly-unseen-in-America British show "Doctor Who" (they aired the first color episodes with the 3rd and 4th Doctors in their original half-hour serialized format). It didn't succeed nearly as well, but it convinced the local PBS station to steal it away (they were already airing lots of BBC imports) and run the Doctor in 90-minute blocks on weekend afternoons, and they were successful enough that soon lots of Public TV stations did the same.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:12 PM on September 9, 2016 [29 favorites]


Sorry Miri didn't make the list. Re-watched it recently & found it surprisingly engaging still.

Would love to see a 100 worst list too, with Spock's Brain near the top, though I love it anyway.

I saw The Tholian Web when I was very young (5?) when the show was in its initial run and it scared the CRAP out of me. The visage of Kirk floating in & out of the parallel dimensions in his space suit was indelibly etched on my young mind.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:15 PM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I saw Star Trek IV in 6th grade. Now I'm a physics professor.
posted by heatherlogan at 8:18 PM on September 9, 2016 [21 favorites]


I saw The Tholian Web when I was very young (5?) when the show was in its initial run and it scared the CRAP out of me

That was nothing compared to the elderly gent who just wanted his tricycle in Miri.

That still haunts me.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:24 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]




If Star Trek hadn't existed, we'd have massive Space:1999 fan conventions instead. Now just try to tell me that's not a better mirror universe!

I found a DVD box set of Space: 1999 this summer in a second hand store while on holidays. I never got into much myself, but my brother-in-law was a huge fan, so I picked it up in order to pass it along and watched a few episodes as my vacation went along.

The differences are fascinating (as a certain Vulcan might say). While Trek was depicting a universe in which logic and science worked as the means of solving problems, Space: 1999 was more focused on intuition and feeling; there's a skepticism in it towards inquiry in that the characters often discard rational action in favor of what their gut is telling them (Testament of Arkadia is so woo-filled...well, I can't think of how to describe something as being really woo-filled. But lots of woo, trust me. So much woo). They mistrust technology outright; where Trek was not afraid to show that technology could cause problems it also depicted a universe in which technology is a trusted ally in the mission. Trek conveys an optimism and warmth about humanity (usually, when tech runs amok on Trek it is the result of technology being cold and unfeeling and not under the direction/guidance/wisdom of humanity). Space: 1999 is more cynical in its outlook on humanity. (I also really want to sit down and watch all of them and keep a running tally of how many Eagles that moonbase went through)

Trek, of course, is not perfect on all of these. But there's a contrast there that I think is very reflective of the times each was made in, and I'm actually glad that the Trek vision has had the staying power, even if that vision seems pretty blurry and myopic to me in the present day incarnation.
posted by nubs at 8:48 PM on September 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


Nubs, I'm going to need you to quantify that woo, I'm a doctor not a mind reader!
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 8:54 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm a doctor, not a...

So many hilarious tropes we'd be missing if there were no Star Trek.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:58 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Nubs, I'm going to need you to quantify that woo, I'm a doctor not a mind reader!

If I ever watch it again, I'll make sure I have the woo-corder running.
posted by nubs at 9:02 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Star Trek is the story of a Human/Vulcan-supremacist expansionist empire dominated by its military with only a fig leaf of civilian government. In the course of its expansion, the Federation has warred at least once against every polity of similar power they've encountered.

For example, the plot of Deep Space Nine: Less than a decade after the first Federation-Cardassian war resolved in stalemate, a Federation commander is sent to annex the minor power of Bajor to gain an astropolitical advantage over the Cardassians. He unexpectedly discovers a passage to a realm unknown to the Federation, which the Federation immediately invades and colonizes. When the inhabitants of the Gamma Quadrant resist, the Federation attempts to commit genocide, even doing so before the full outbreak of hostilities and counterinvasion. The genocide is only prevented by the actions of a few rogue Starfleet personnel who had become friends with a Gamma Quadrant expatriate.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:09 PM on September 9, 2016 [25 favorites]


Counte-runiverse: In 1968, Columbia studios, desperate for a new hit, debuts "Lensman", based on the classic novels by EE Doc Smith. though it uses the same premise of super-powered space police fighting an alien foe, it quickly departs from the novels, following the trend f socially conscious programming, with many of the "Planet" stories reflecting then current news topics)

Many of the series writers come from the New Wave SF movement, including Leigh Bracket, Harlan Ellison, and J.G. Ballard. the series was also notable for having the first Black superior officer and a woman Lensman as regular cast members (the latter was quite controversial in the fan community as being a major departure from the novels, and is probably why Lensman never won a Hugo award in its run). Despite this, a large and enthusiastic fandom developed.

Though it only ran for four seasons, Lensman was considered to be a major influence on television and movies, including Aaron Spelling's "Psi Angels", Gene Roddenberries "Space Convoy", and George Lucas's "Star Warriors". The move revivals in the 1980s, and the animated series from the 1990s helped keep the series in the public eye.
posted by happyroach at 9:20 PM on September 9, 2016 [12 favorites]


If you're going to go into less-likely alternative universes, imagine if "The Jetsons" wasn't cancelled after a single season in prime time and became the template for television sci-fi for decades, reducing general interest in space travel in favor of subservient robot intelligence, flying cars, and constructing round buildings on tall pillars, which not only reduces interest in environmental issues altogether, but also ironically making things easier with the inevitable sea level rise...
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:41 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


What if Star Trek never existed?

Galaxy Quest would make very little sense.
posted by miyabo at 9:50 PM on September 9, 2016 [25 favorites]


Galaxy Quest would have been based on a parody of Lost in Space and Tim Allen would have played a 10-year-old boy with Sigourney Weaver as his robot friend and Alan Rickman as Dr. Smith.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:57 PM on September 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


When I was 11, I watched the first season of Star Trek when it debuted with my grandmother on her black and white set. She was born in the 19th century and had been a huge fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

My memory of the mid-1960s is that Star Trek arose in a culture awash with media science fiction and related artifacts and the assumption that one day our technological advancement would take us into space and strange (to us) new (to us) worlds, new (to us) life, and new (to us) civilzations.

I saw old SF movies on late night teevy and new ones at the cinema.

On teevee there The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond, and Science Fiction Theatre.

There was Voyage to the Bottom of The Sea, Astro Boy, Marine Boy, The Time Tunnel, My Favourite Martian, The Jetsons, The Living Doll, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Marvel Super Heroes, Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, UFO, Space Ghost, The Herculoids, Lost In Space, Johnny Quest, Land of the Giants, Batman, It's About Time, The Prisoner, The Invaders, UFO, Night Gallery, The Starlost, Search (Probe) . . .

Not including monster movies and disaster movies, between the time Star Trek was in production and the release of Star Wars in 1977, we saw The Time Machine, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Doppelgänger (Journey to the Far Side of the Sun), Fantastic Voyage, Andromeda Strain, Moon Zero Two, Dark Star, Crack in the World, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, the Quatermass films, 2001, Barbarella, Planet of the Apes and its sequels, Wild in the Streets, Colossus: The Forbin Project, THX1138, Silent Running, Slaughterhouse Five, Solaris, Day of the Dolphin, Sleeper, Soylent Green, Westworld, Flesh Gordon, Phase IV, Zardoz, A Boy and His Dog, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rollerball, The Stepford Wives, Logan's Run, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Wizards, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (released after, but conceived long before).

And this doesn't even address the massive volume of print science fiction available, in both long and short form.

In this millieu, it's easy to imagine that even absent Gene Roddenberry, surely at some point someone, inspired by both the 1960s space program and 1960s social changes, would have combined developments in social science fiction with advancements in television production to create a television series to tell optimistic idealistic stories about humanity's future in space while addressing issues of the day.

The results may have been very different. Maybe even better.

I'm already on record as believing that nearly everything Star Trek had to say about the future was covered in "The Corbomite Manouver".

We're going. We're going together. We won't have to turn ourselves into machines to go. It will be dangerous and it will be glorious. The people we meet will be hard to understand at first, but they'll be people -- not BEMs.

Roddenberry was a teevy person, but "The Corbomite Manouver" would have made a dynamite full-length late 1960s SF movie and -- much as I loved Star Trek at the time -- would have rendered the series and all of its sequels artistically superfluous.

There are days when I would trade.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:01 PM on September 9, 2016 [25 favorites]


A rather fun fanvid that just crossed my path and seems appropriate to put here: Starships!
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:59 PM on September 9, 2016 [12 favorites]


THAT WAS AWESOME, vmow... each time I recognized clips from another source - 2001, Doctor Who, Galaxy Quest, Spaceballs, Wall-E - and all such perfect clips, I was progressively more blown away...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:40 PM on September 9, 2016



Star Trek is irrepressibly optimistic about the ability of human beings to make the world a better place in which to live. Star Trek believes in the ability of people with wildly different backgrounds and beliefs to make peace with former enemies and to, through hard work and effort, understand their different perspectives on the world.


Star Trek is late capitalism's last grasp at the optimistic future in contrast to the future then offered by the Soviets. It arrived on the small screen a year before the moon landing did, and disappeared a year or two after, just as TINA was coming in to vogue. The progress and equality of the society of the Enterprise is the messianic hope of Capital's eschaton -- all identity flattened to the individual, and all individuals attuned to the goals of the organization: equality and difference in the service of the rational exploitation of existence.

It's simultaneously hopeful and horrible.
posted by notyou at 12:40 AM on September 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I wonder what Doctor Who wild have became without Star Trek. Would it have became the predominant sf show or would it have perisced without external inspirations?
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 12:55 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Clips list for the Starships fanvid is here.

There's a lot of clips there.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:39 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


What if Star Trek never existed?

William Shatner is a Canadian stage actor who goes on to some supporting roles in 1970s dramas...


...and Loblaws commercials.
posted by fairmettle at 1:41 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


But America's largest TV markets had multiple non-network stations and a need for LOTS of content.

AND they went dark at 1 or 2am. The world with only a few stations on the dial was a very different place.

Honeymooners
You Bet Your Life
Twilight Zone

for the best 11 - 12:30 scheduling anywhere. Even against Johnny.
posted by mikelieman at 1:44 AM on September 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


There's a lot of clips there.

I'm debating if this is a Facebook friends filter. If they don't recognize, say 100%, I don't want to be their friend.

Except for my Mom.
posted by mikelieman at 1:52 AM on September 10, 2016


The U.S. could have imported Doctor Who, and made do.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:07 AM on September 10, 2016


I thought of an American Version of Doctor Who as part of a Trek-less alternate universe, but worried that it would never go over with Yankee audiences in the '60s, considering an American co-production that gave us Doctor #8 didn't get past pilot/TV movie in the '90s, and it took several years after that to come back on the BBC.

But importing Thunderbirds in a real-people-not-puppets version sounds like it could've definitely rocked '60s America at least a little...
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:17 AM on September 10, 2016


I wonder what Doctor Who wild have became without Star Trek

Star Trek didn't show on BBC in the UK until July 1969, by which time Doctor Who had just finished its sixth season, with Patrick Troughton having just stepped down in the title role to be replaced by Jon Pertwee the following year. As such I suspect Who's popularity in the UK was well-established by the time Trek appeared and so in the short term I doubt if there would have been much difference. Longer term - who knows? (If you'll pardon the expression...)
posted by Major Clanger at 4:00 AM on September 10, 2016


In the mirror universe the most successful science fiction movies are nothing more than spaced up fairy tales set in a universe where nothing ever really changes, where the heroes are determined by their bloodlines, diplomacy is weakness, democracy is folly, science is ignored, aristocracy is just, and there is only war.

It is a dark place to be sure. Thank goodness it's far far away.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:11 PM on September 9


in response to that (slightly irreverently) This college humour animated clip: which is nerdier?
posted by freethefeet at 4:09 AM on September 10, 2016


If you want a utopic far-future to aim for besides the Star Trek civilization, read Iain M. Banks' Culture novels.
posted by heatherlogan at 4:40 AM on September 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Gene Roddenberries

hee hee
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:58 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Without Star Trek the Motorola Razr and the first touch-based tablets would have probably looked differntly.
posted by klischka at 6:33 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


What if Star Trek never existed?

Life, Jim, but not as we know it.

Is this something I'd need to own a SubjuncTV to understand?
posted by iotic at 6:45 AM on September 10, 2016


Star Wars slays the evil dragon, Star Trek understands that the dragon is simply injured, removes the thorn from its paw, and sends it along its way.

I must have missed the scene where Luke killed Darth Vader.
posted by Beholder at 6:53 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Star Trek is the story of a Human/Vulcan-supremacist expansionist empire dominated by its military with only a fig leaf of civilian government . . .

Star Trek is late capitalism's last grasp at the optimistic future . . .


I just love it when Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky check in to popular culture threads.

It arrived on the small screen a year before the moon landing did, and disappeared a year or two after

Star Trek ran from September 1966 to June 1969. The first moon landing was in July 1969.

In the course of its expansion, the Federation has warred at least once against every polity of similar power they've encountered.

This is not even remotely true. See "The Corbomite Manouever", mentioned above.

For example, the plot of Deep Space Nine:

One positive result of the parallel universe where Star Trek never existed: we would have been spared Eighties Trek, Nineties Trek, and all the movies. Oh, Ghod, the Trek movies.

Gene Roddenberries

hee hee


Yah, my dog gets roddenberries sometimes, but it's not his fault. They're Genetic.
 
posted by Herodios at 6:57 AM on September 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I must have missed the scene where Luke killed Darth Vader.

Vader was never the evil dragon; the evil dragon of Star Wars is the Dark Side of the Force. Luke slays that dragon (for himself) in the moment he casts his light sabre aside and declares himself a Jedi. The way of the Jedi is supposed to be peace; he casts aside his weapon and stands defenceless against his enemy because to continue to fight is to give into what his enemy wants.
posted by nubs at 7:02 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


If you want a utopic far-future to aim for besides the Star Trek civilization, read Iain M. Banks' Culture novels.
posted by heatherlogan


Watching TNG, I'm always really struck by the fact that it (mostly) works as an intermediate step towards the Culture. They've solved scarcity, eliminated money, and travel around deep space exploring in a giant ship full of civilians. Hell, in Data you even plausibly have an AI working its way towards Mind level while simultaneously establishing precedents for full AI citizenship.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 7:35 AM on September 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Wait a second.. Star Trek didn't exist in its SFnal universe. QED.
posted by joeyh at 7:38 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Watching TNG, I'm always really struck by the fact that it (mostly) works as an intermediate step towards the Culture. They've solved scarcity, eliminated money, and travel around deep space exploring in a giant ship full of civilians. Hell, in Data you even plausibly have an AI working its way towards Mind level while simultaneously establishing precedents for full AI citizenship.

This is why my dream Star Trek television show takes place hundreds of years after TNG, by which time irreverent AIs run the Federation, which has grown exponentially larger and more powerful. Weekly drama would come from the fact that in its power and arrogance, the Federation has cast aside the Prime Directive, interfering in less "enlightened" civilizations in an attempt to guide them towards civilization and away from barbarism, a project which thrusts Federation officers into morally ambiguous situations. Also, there are ringworlds. And knife missiles.
posted by IjonTichy at 7:44 AM on September 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


TV was pretty much a desert for science fiction during the years between TOS and Battlestar Galactica 1.0. Except for Space: 1999, which was very uneven and based on a ridiculous premise, it was all in the movies. The real question is whether Lucas would have made Star Wars in 1977. I have always seen that as Lucas' answer to what movies like 2001 and Silent Running were doing wrong dramatically, and there really isn't a lot of Trek influence in any of those films.

And it was Star Wars that begat Galactica and Battle Beyond the Stars which in turn drove a lot of the following not-Trek TV and movie projects. While Trek design and mythology are found in a lot of places you don't really see a lot of Trek's optimistic future in the non-Trek movies and TV series that have followed. Would Babylon 5, Farscape, the second BSG or the entire Stargate franchise have really been much different without Trek to influence them? I tend to doubt it. Trek's biggest influence has really been the perpetuation of its own franchise and canon. But it's actually harder to tell a dramatic story in a peaceful universe where people tend to get along than it is in a war-torn dystopia.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:58 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wait a second.. Star Trek didn't exist in its SFnal universe.

Didn't it?
posted by Etrigan at 8:00 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


About the only thing I liked about the most recent Trek movie is that a good chunk of it takes place in a beautifully rendered Culture orbital. Other than that it was just more angry men punching each other.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:06 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


my dream Star Trek television show takes place hundreds of years after TNG . . . and there are knife missiles.

Thanks to Melvin Belli and those darned kids, Sulu already knows what they look like.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:09 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


One wonders what a Space:1999 remake would look like.


Okay, if one doesn't wonder, I do.
posted by wittgenstein at 8:13 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Except for Space: 1999, which was very uneven and based on a ridiculous premise,

Heh. Beyond my brother-in-law, I have a good friend who was a huge Space:1999 fan, and one day he was telling me that it was so much more realistic than Star Trek because there was no faster than light travel; they were just stuck on the moon as it drifted between systems.

And I said "Seriously? Realistically, without faster than light travel everyone on that moon would be dead before they ever reached another star system."

We've never talked about it since.

One wonders what a Space:1999 remake would look like.

I have to admit I've been wondering that too; as much as I have problems with it I seem to have developed a weird fascination with it. And this probably deserves it's own FPP, but I just discovered this:

Space: 1999 The Complete Series
A Youtube playlist.

"Pysche made you do evil!"
posted by nubs at 8:50 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


My problem with Space 1999 was not being able to separate the stars from their previous roles; it was the husband/wife team from Mission: Impossible and the guy who chased The Fugitive for 120 episodes... in space! The first two Star Trek series had nobody I'd seen much of before; on Deep Space Nine, Sisko looked nothing like Hawk from Spenser: For Hire and Odo looked nothing like the Chief of Staff on Benson, but they both sure sounded familiar. Meanwhile, on Babylon 5, some seriously alien hair effectively disguised an actor I'd enjoyed in Animal House and St. Elsewhere (not to mention the total alien-izing of the grown-up Will Robinson), but that one pilot will always be a cabbie in Taxi to me and when Bruce Boxleitner joined the cast, that came close to ruining my suspension of disbelief (I thought Walter Koenig as the Evil Telepath was stunt casting, but at least he did it with an American accent). Okay, that's more a problem for me than most people... one memorable role on a TV series colors everything I ever see them in afterwards (much less so with movie roles). I'll never see David Tennant without thinking TARDIS and I just feel lucky I never watched Peter Capaldi in The Thick of It. And don't talk to me about Miami Vice's Lieutenant on Battlestar Galactica.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:36 AM on September 10, 2016


And Ben Cartwright on the first version of Galactica... total distraction.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:51 AM on September 10, 2016


With no James T. Kirk would have had Dylan Hunt in Genesis II .
posted by mfoight at 10:17 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


For example, the plot of Deep Space Nine: Less than a decade after the first Federation-Cardassian war resolved in stalemate, a Federation commander is sent to annex the minor power of Bajor to gain an astropolitical advantage over the Cardassians. He unexpectedly discovers a passage to a realm unknown to the Federation, which the Federation immediately invades and colonizes. When the inhabitants of the Gamma Quadrant resist, the Federation attempts to commit genocide, even doing so before the full outbreak of hostilities and counterinvasion. The genocide is only prevented by the actions of a few rogue Starfleet personnel who had become friends with a Gamma Quadrant expatriate.

Except... none of this actually happened? Bajor invited the Federation, the Federation never established any colonies in the Gamma Quadrant, and they stayed out of Dominion territory once they were told to. They didn't even know that the Dominion existed for two years. And it was a joint Obsidian Order-Tal Shiar fleet that tried to wipe out the Founders, not Starfleet.
posted by Automocar at 10:23 AM on September 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


Well, I probably wouldn't have participated in a Star Trek rap battle this week as MC Beverly Crusher, The Bae From Sickbay, that's for sure. (I destroyed Riker with these lyrics and then sang an Under The Sea-themed Bones McCoy lament called Way Out In Space.)

So what I'm saying is I'd probably be a more productive member of society, but I'm pretty okay with that.
posted by ilana at 10:31 AM on September 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


More Blake's Seven, more Perry Rhodan, more Raumpatrouille?
posted by meehawl at 10:41 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


No "Darmok"? Shaka, when the walls fell.
posted by The Tensor at 12:29 PM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Shaka, when the table flipped.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:47 PM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


No "Darmok"?

Shorthand, when the nerds had none.
posted by Artw at 1:01 PM on September 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


But for the saddest reality, imagine a world without Tribbles.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:10 PM on September 10, 2016



My problem with Space 1999 was not being able to separate the stars from their previous roles; it was the husband/wife team from Mission: Impossible and the guy who chased The Fugitive for 120 episodes... in space!


And the guy who looked like Grandpa from The Muensters
posted by thelonius at 1:11 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


You're talking about Nick Tate, who was NOT Al Lewis, whom I am old enough to remember before Grandpa on The Munsters was Officer Leo Schnauser on Car 54, Where Are You? which also starred the future Herman, Fred Gwynne, as Officer Francis Muldoon. And even with the makeup, it was weird seeing TWO TV comedy cops turned monsters. And The Addams Family wasn't much better, because it starred John Astin, whom I remembered as a funny carpenter on I'm Dickens, He's Fenster.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:26 PM on September 10, 2016


At the risk of losing what limited credibility I've accumulated on the Blue, I'm going to - with some hefty caveats - defend Space: 1999.

Yes, the basic premise was scientifically ridiculous. Yes, the writers appeared to ignore the implications of having 300 people marooned with no supplies or fresh personnel (not only did Moonbase Alpha have a seemingly infinite supply of Eagles, but a major new character was added in season two, having evidently been standing just out of shot all through season one.)

But... in an era when we're used to dark-and-gritty SF, its easy to forget that Space: 1999 was well ahead of its time in depicting characters grimly coping in an ongoing dire crisis. Martin Landau in particular put a hell of a lot into his portrayal of John Koenig, even if he was badly let down by some of the worse season two scripts. The special effects, as usual for a Gerry Anderson production, were at the cutting edge of what was practical on a TV budget, and the Eagle Transporter is one of the iconic TV spacecraft of the last fifty years. It also featured an impressive role of guest actors (Joan Collins! Christopher Lee! Peter Cushing! BRIAN BLESSED twice!!)

Much maligned it may have been, but for its time Space: 1999 had very high production values and often managed a surprisingly adult approach to a concept that could have easily been pure cheese.
posted by Major Clanger at 1:46 PM on September 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I have nothing against Space 1999. In fact, it being a Gerry & Sylvia Anderson joint is definitely a point in its favor for me. But I still wonder if the Trek-less Alternative Universe might have had a live-actor version of Thunderbirds. Just no major cast members recognizable from previous series, please.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:06 PM on September 10, 2016


I have lost many lovely things in my life, and have a policy of seeing such loss as part of the cosmic dance.

However, one thing I regret is a childhood gift from a family friend who worked as an aerospace consultant in the 60s and 70s. It was a very early design document for what became the ISS - a thick, typewritten, tape bound thing in red plastic covers. The various diagrams and graphs were mostly hand-drawn or typed.

A sketch I remember was of a potential internal layout, with a number of astronauts in shirtsleeves added for scale.

One of them, in his proper Science Officer uniform, was Spock.
posted by Devonian at 2:19 PM on September 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


Is Flash Gordon a bigger deal there? Or Buck Rogers? We've seen a post Star Trek version of Buck Rogers of course, but without its template would it look like that? Doctor Who would still exist, of course, and would still visit space as it has since its second story, but would it lean more historical? As for quasi-military space explorers, would Dan Dare thrive given more room to breathe?
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on September 10, 2016


Space 1999 also had the useless admiral from Empire Strikes Back ( Mr.Bronson if you prefer).
posted by biffa at 2:40 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Star Trek presented an overly optimistic view of what we are as a culture. It inspired generations of scientists to believe we're ultimately good. Our future now, with a decimated public space program and the largest percentage of citizens behind bars for nonviolent crime is our true face. Star Trek was brilliant US propaganda, and I love it, but it's not who we are at heart.
posted by formless at 2:42 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


From the script for the first episode of "Star Trek: Discovery"...

Number One: Captain, we have spotted a hostile ship dead ahead... and it looks like... a basket of deplorables!

[fake, but everything dovetails these days]
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:47 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, I have a very soft spot in my heart for Space:1999. As I said the 70's were a desert for SF on (at least American) TV, and 1999 was a bright spot of acting and production values if not awareness of the scale of the universe.

While Trek and the other biggies mostly had some idea that space is big and it takes a really expensive machine some time to travel between worlds, starting with Star Wars in Empire where Luke makes an interstellar journey in a single-seat fighter craft all of the biggies pretty much had little craft like that going interstellar when the plot required. While this isn't quite as ridiculous as knocking the entire Moon not just out of Earth's orbit but out of the Sun's gravitational field too, and then encountering a new star system every week or two with chemically propelled craft capable of visiting their worlds, it is still pretty ridiculous. It makes BSG Mark II look like a fucking science documentary.
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:57 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


GIANT GREEN HAND
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Kliph Nesteroff's awesome Showbiz/Nostalgia tumblr just reminded me of another short-lived '60s sci-fi series that might have thrived in a Trek-less universe: "The Invaders" (entire series on YouTube for over a year with 144K views and no takedown order), a Quinn Martin Production, but don't hold that against it. A little more paranoia in 1967 wouldn't have been THAT bad.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:28 PM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Verge: 13 science fiction authors on how Star Trek influenced their lives.

It certainly did mine. Awkward as some of the original series episodes are (as I was when I first saw them) ... struggling upwards toward a dimly-seen light ... they spring from the seeds of a greater being.

The refusal to take itself seriously (along with the lack of CGI) is one its great charms. I'm fonda Star Trek IV as a perfect example of that careless, heartfelt regard. Like Spock, Our Trek struggles to balance head and heart.

We'll never get there with impulse power alone. We're still ... Waiting For Zefram. Or ... was that Gene?
posted by Twang at 3:33 PM on September 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I remember watching the first Space:1999 ep on UK TV when it started, and I was sold, baby. I even contemplated asking my gran - a court seamstress - to make me one of those tops with the rank-signifier coloured sleeve. The basic science nonsense didn't bother me at the time - I didn't become a raging pedant until much later - but it was a New. Proper. Science. Fiction. Show.

I enjoyed it a lot at the time, but it didn't stick. Sapphire and Steel stuck, Quatermass stuck, The Prisoner stuck (and how). Blake's Seven didn't even get sticky at the start, Doctor Who stuck, then unstuck, but I'm back in the fold now. B5... well, I'm still unsure about that. I loathed ST:TNG and fled the franchise after sticking it out for the first series.

But ST:TOS? True magic. I can watch it for what it is these days, I know about 60s culture and studio politics and actor ego and the mechanics of getting and keeping stuff on air back then, and I know about scripts and compromises, and I know what's happening on the screen and why. I don't like a lot of it. I cringe at some of it.

But in the end - these ARE the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Kirk is my id, Spock my ego, and their universe is my universe. It was true when I was seven, it is true forty-cough years later, it will be true until the swollen sun turns the Earth to a cinder and starts the process of recycling my elements into the next accretion disk.

(Bonus link for SF theme tune fans - nothing to do with Trek, but just because. Oh, Parker...)
posted by Devonian at 3:37 PM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Today I went to the Air and Space Museum to see the Enterprise. I was surprisingly touched by looking at the model. I felt I knew every window.
posted by acrasis at 5:47 PM on September 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


I was and am still a big fan of Space:1999. If you've never partook and are interested in trying, I recommend Dragon's Domain, Death's Other Dominion, Mission of the Darians, The Dorcons, Journey to Where, and ( with some reservations) One Moment of Humanity as some of my favorites.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:16 PM on September 10, 2016


Space 1999 also had the useless admiral from Empire Strikes Back ( Mr.Bronson if you prefer).

?? The useless admiral was Ozzel ("As clumsy as he is stupid."), played by the late Michael Sheard; Sheard was never in Space:1999 to my knowledge. It did have an appearance by Julian Glover, the basically blameless and competent General Veers. Later generations will know him as Grand Maester Pycelle.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:29 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Right out of nowhere, what I love about Banks' Culture series, is that every ship has a Mind, and each one is so stratospherically beyond human cognition intelligent, yet they mostly use it to play math games and moves ships around. They are as blinkered and myopic as their makers, and very unclear as how to deal with people being people, but dedicated to actual biological people being people, influencing and living with completely non-human people. Dedicated to the point of war.

It's a conceit, but a conceit that works.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:49 PM on September 10, 2016


Iain Banks once wrote that he created the Culture deliberately to try to claim a stake in space opera for the left wing of politics. While he never stated it so baldly I suspect that is exactly what Gene Roddenberry was trying to do too.
posted by Bringer Tom at 8:18 PM on September 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Wait a second.. Star Trek didn't exist in its SFnal universe. QED.

If you think about it, no work of fiction exists in its own universe. They are all alternate universes.

Consider Friends, for example. Joey and Chandler never sat around the Central Perk and talked about last night's Friends episode, like any other couple of young(it) American males from that period, did they? Therefore, Friends depicts an alternate universe. QED.

Derail concluded - carry on...
posted by e-man at 8:37 PM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Without Star Trek the Motorola Razr and the first touch-based tablets would have probably looked differntly.

And 3 1/2 inch floppies that you can carry in a shirt pocket! And possibly the Bluetooth earpiece.
posted by heatherlogan at 8:46 PM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Star Trek presented an overly optimistic view of what we are as a culture. It inspired generations of scientists to believe we're ultimately good. Our future now, with a decimated public space program and the largest percentage of citizens behind bars for nonviolent crime is our true face. Star Trek was brilliant US propaganda, and I love it, but it's not who we are at heart.

But it's a model for what we should be, and what we can be if we work for it hard enough. It's a shining vision of our dreamed-of future to strive for. We need that, in addition to the cautionary tales of dystopias we hope to avoid.
posted by heatherlogan at 9:03 PM on September 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


If you think about it, no work of fiction exists in its own universe. They are all alternate universes.

Redshirts, sort of.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:13 PM on September 10, 2016


What if Star Trek never existed?

As long as we still had Pigs in Space we'd be ok, I think.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:29 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Galaxy Quest as well, in a way, thanks to the universe's most dedicated cosplayers.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:30 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


But Galaxy Quest, Redshirts, even Pigs in Space contain some of the DNA of Star Trek. Without Star Trek, they would have had to be built upon what? Lost in Space? Space Ghost? Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers? Or not exist at all, and the only comedy space operas would be Hitchhiker's Guide and Red Dwarf...
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:45 PM on September 10, 2016


Space:1999....I recommend Dragon's Domain

WARNING: DO NOT WATCH EPISODE FROM IN FRONT OF COUCH

ricochet biscuit, "Dragon's Domain" is the episode with Admiral Ozzel in it. S:1999 also has a recurring (well, twice) character played by Roy Dotrice, who viewers may know better as Father from Beauty and the Beast or Westley's father from Angel.
posted by The Tensor at 11:37 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you think about it, no work of fiction exists in its own universe. They are all alternate universes.

I don't know if it could be considered canon, but there's a short story, published under the official imprint on Bantam in the 70s, about Shatner and the rest of the cast going to the transporter room on set for a scene and somehow ending up on the bridge of a very real Enterprise facing off against some real Klingons. Though perhaps that still would be alternate universe stuff and not their future.

Having Star Trek exist in its own universe would be an interesting plot device for a reboot of the show. "Why is this starship called 'Enterprise'?" "Well, in part because some of the brass have a thing for WWII naval history, and in part because someone in Starfleet PR believed the public affection for the old and long-running show would help us clear budgetary hurdles."

The reverse would also be fun. Star Trek and other such optimistic scifi was written by someone, or a group of someones, who came here from an alternate universe and / or the future, and who is now trapped in this timeline. They write and produce shows as their way of surviving while stuck here, and in the hopes of uplifting the barbarians they're surrounded by. Their writing is essentially memoirs of their earlier lives, with 20th / 21st century cultural references & cultural mores tossed in the mix in order to keep their audience from being completely alienated.
posted by honestcoyote at 5:42 AM on September 11, 2016 [1 favorite]




Honestcoyote, that story is on the web here-

edit: trouble with the link.
posted by wittgenstein at 8:45 AM on September 11, 2016


At the risk of losing what limited credibility I've accumulated on the Blue, I'm going to - with some hefty caveats - defend Space: 1999.

Yeah, I'm not trying to slag Space: 1999; I'm more coming from a place of "hey, this show should be right in my wheelhouse - sf that's trying pretty earnestly to explore some big questions" - and yet, it doesn't work for me. And so I'm kind of morbidly picking at it to try to understand why, because Trek has some of the same flaws as Space: 1999 does, but it works for me.

Whatever anybody's jam is when it comes to sf, more power to them.

Star Trek presented an overly optimistic view of what we are as a culture. It inspired generations of scientists to believe we're ultimately good. Our future now, with a decimated public space program and the largest percentage of citizens behind bars for nonviolent crime is our true face. Star Trek was brilliant US propaganda, and I love it, but it's not who we are at heart.

I've had my moments of disllusionment with Trek; I fell in love with B5 in part because it came along at a time when I felt like I'd had enough of Trek's "perfection" and I felt B5's view of humanity in the future was closer to what we would probably be.

That being said, Trek's view of us is an aspirational one - one that says after centuries of struggle and stupidity, here is what we could be. In the Trek universe, it wasn't an straight line journey from the 1960s to the bridge of the Enterprise - there were wars that devastated the globe and the environment and acts of genocide - but the show was not holding up a mirror; it was holding up a picture and saying "this is where we could go" if we wanted. The humanity of Star Trek is, to a large extent, supposed to be a post-singularity humanity, having reached a level of not only technological but social development beyond us.

Now I like stories that have a grounded (perhaps more cynical) view of humanity, but I also think that it is important for SF to also give us stories about a humanity that is more aspirational and positive. And I think if you look at the history of SF in general, it kind of cycles back and forth between the more cynical and the more positive; I feel like we've been in a generally cynical cycle for a while now and I'm curious to see the feel and tone of the new ST series that comes into being at this time.
posted by nubs at 10:04 AM on September 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


honestcoyote,
I'm pretty sure your last scenario was played out in an episode of Stargate SG-1 (although don't quote me on that, I may have misremembered details as I was only a casual viewer at best).
posted by sardonyx at 11:38 AM on September 11, 2016


ricochet biscuit, "Dragon's Domain" is the episode with Admiral Ozzel in it. S:1999 also has a recurring (well, twice) character played by Roy Dotrice, who viewers may know better as Father from Beauty and the Beast or Westley's father from Angel.

Thanks Tensor. Apparently he also filmed some footage for episode 1 but this didn't make it into the final cut.

Since we're talking about Dragon's Domain, did anyone notice that the episode was directed by Charles Crichton, well known for the Ealing classic The Lavender Hill Mob and who would later direct A Fish Called Wanda.
posted by biffa at 11:42 AM on September 11, 2016


Obviously, the effect that the Star Trek franchise has had on moving forward progressive values in popular culture is well known. I think George Takei recently called it a metaphor for "Starship Earth". Minorities of all kinds have been elevated through its various incarnations and the idea of a multicultural society has been more commonly accepted.

Certainly, when it comes to modern popular culture, its hard to see how characters like Black Widow or projects like the upcoming Wonder Woman movie would have been achievable without the wider acceptance Star Trek helped create.
posted by ComicsSleepRepeat at 11:46 AM on September 11, 2016


Moonbase 3 (a six episode BBC series about a possibly haunted moon base, with a great twist ending) becomes a huge hit and runs for decades, covering the history of the colonization of the solar system in the process (yes, I know MB3 is from '73, I was just looking for an excuse to link that show)
posted by thatwhichfalls at 2:37 PM on September 11, 2016


If you think about it, no work of fiction exists in its own universe. They are all alternate universes.

Consider Friends, for example. Joey and Chandler never sat around the Central Perk and talked about last night's Friends episode, like any other couple of young(it) American males from that period, did they? Therefore, Friends depicts an alternate universe. QED.


I had much the same thought years ago.

ricochet biscuit, "Dragon's Domain" is the episode with Admiral Ozzel in it. S:1999 also has a recurring (well, twice) character played by Roy Dotrice, who viewers may know better as Father from Beauty and the Beast or Westley's father from Angel.


Mea culpa; I had totally forgotten him and when I looked at IMDb yesterday, I clearly overlooked that entry.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:24 PM on September 11, 2016


> If you think about it, no work of fiction exists in its own universe. They are all alternate universes.

Does that make Spaceballs science fact?
posted by fragmede at 5:43 PM on September 11, 2016


I don't see the weird hamfisted pedagogy in TNG-era Trek come up online much. Most episodes seem to have a plotline included where a someone (often a highly-capable adult) is reduced to a teenager with growing pains and proceeds to learn a Very Special Lesson from their nominated Space Parent about how "wanking over secret video of your friends is wrong, Geordie" or whatever. The character will have forgotten this lesson by next week, but of course it was never for them.

There's an episode where Worf's young son Alexander starts imitating Data to avoid dealing with his emotions and it's pretty good, not least because it's appropriate to his character's age and development. Nearly every character eventually receives that sort of plotline though. Granted Picard got a magic flute instead because ACTOR.

The shows had mixed results in creating plausibly socially-limited characters to hang those plots on, I'd say the mechanical Spocklikes (Data, The EMH and Seven) work best, although you still have to grit your teeth periodically. Then you have Child In A Woman's Body Kes, Wesley Ex Machina, Anger Problems Torres or Lieutenant Here To Spare Geordie These Plots Barclay.

This is likely selection bias, but I think DS9 is a bit better than the others for it, e.g. in that Bashir does eventually stop mooning over Time Lords, Odo gradually comes out of his bucketshell, Kira keeps her faith and the main things I remember Jake learning are photography, space-sailing and Dad-bonding. I did catch the tail end of an episode yesterday where Bashir was waiting for his prestigious award/exam results. Thankfully, no-one tried to give him the Inspector Gadget/He-Man PSA when he lost. I wish more TNG-era Trek had had that approach. Not to get all Reithian about it but a family show providing a springboard to talk to someone about your problems in amongst the sci-fi adventuring is a Good Thing and it's a shame that so many episodes don't do it well IMHO.
posted by comealongpole at 2:49 AM on September 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh and Doctor Who probably exists in the world of Doctor Who. Remembrance of The Daleks was set on the day the first ever episode aired and had a cheeky moment in it where the scene cuts just as a TV announcer is introducing the BBC's new sci-fi programme called....

I don't doubt the non-televised canon has all sorts of more meta stuff than that though.
posted by comealongpole at 2:55 AM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Original Series is amazing, like a trippy sci-fi antholgy series. If TNG and Voyager didn't exist, though, the sum total of boredom in the world would be reduced, and maybe Doctor Who would have brought about an alchemical transformation of the world.

But there might be no iPads and no Star Trek monologue from Breaking Bad, which would suck.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:39 PM on September 12, 2016


Badger's Star Trek Script, animated
posted by nubs at 2:50 PM on September 14, 2016


Star Trek Discovery delayed to May 2017. I have to say I'm not entirely surprised since they haven't even announced any cast yet, which seemed odd given the original January premiere date.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:47 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


They are only just now hiring an VFX crew, going by industry advertisements.
posted by Artw at 6:33 AM on September 15, 2016


I'm not really surprised. Considering how much post production the show is going to need, I'd assume that they'd have to be filming already to be ready for January and as you said, there isn't even a cast yet.
posted by octothorpe at 6:45 AM on September 15, 2016


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