And Lo, Picard Did Say to the Conn, "Shtep On It"
September 5, 2021 8:13 PM   Subscribe

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- loup

This is so exciting. Something I didn't know I wanted until I read the headline.

Downloading now. Fingers crossed.
posted by ®@ at 9:23 PM on September 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

These have been available online for a while now, but it's interesting that the official site is acknowledging them. Now, if they'd do the same for the current crop of shows...
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:31 PM on September 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm currently mid way through rewatching of voyager (S4E26 is on pause). And over the past 3? years I've rewatched / finished TNG, E, and DS9. I have yet to rewatch TOS because it was on in syndication in the early evening growing up, so I'm relatively certain I've seen it all.

I don't describe myself as a Trekkie - I've met them. I'm good friends with them. My commitment drops significantly short of them. But... there is a lot that Star Trek has gotten right about equality, ambition, and the improvement of the world (where world is described as an ever growing concept)... And then there are total blindspots the shows have had (ST-V: Retrospect leaps immediately to mind most recently in light with #metoo, but Avery Brooks criticism of his character arc towards the end of DS9 is also revealing)... Its a really complex show... or series or... world build. I'm honestly impressed that the show so clearly laid out *overall* some pretty progressive values. its amazing.

So I lied as well. I've also *slowly* been watching the newer Lower Decks and all its TV-MA nature... within the context of star trek guidelines and mistakes and tropes and what gets gotten wrong... I really hope that shows like it have a bible as well. Because there's a lot to it that isn't throw away and I hope breeds the same in-depth philosphical examination of society and structure and what it means to succeed in space... because Lower Decks really focuses on a very different aspect of the crew and it is one that is missed when the next evil is the focus...
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:39 PM on September 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Is it not a bit weird that the official site is linking to fan-hosted copies of the series bibles, given how litigious Star Trek’s corporate owner has been and continues to be over time?
posted by danhon at 10:18 PM on September 5, 2021 [4 favorites]

Some day they'll post a bible for Steven Universe, and a thousand questions I have will (hopefully) be answered.
posted by JHarris at 1:15 AM on September 6, 2021 [7 favorites]

Do these have any more details on cetacean astronavigation?
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 1:44 AM on September 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

The greatest generation podcast occasionally opens with some bits out of the show bible for whatever show they're on. It's always an interesting insight into what the writers thought their characters were like.

What's that bit about kes?
Neelix is always "sure she's standing up in a closet with a sailor"
Apart from that line Neelix most comes across a lot better in the show bible than on screen. He's a "scavenger, trader, procurer, con man, and sage" which I never quite got the impression that he was.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:50 AM on September 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

Some day they'll post a bible for Steven Universe, and a thousand questions I have will (hopefully) be answered.

Have you read Steven Universe: Art and Origins? Lots of great detail about the show's early conception and story and character development - on top of all the excellent art.
posted by Shatner's Bassoon at 4:51 AM on September 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

Just happened to have watched Galaxy Quest again last night, and it reminded me of my first encounters with Star Trek, growing up in the late 70s and early 80s. The show had been off the air for a decade or more, and my town was too small to have a UHF station showing cheap reruns until the mid-80s, and my family didn't have cable. But the library would show episodes on a 16mm projector every Saturday! And the school library had mass-market paperbacks that had been rebound as hardcovers with the James Blish adaptations of all the episodes! I was hooked. Cons were happening based on a failed 3-season series that seems very crudely drawn when watched now. But it planted seeds.

Those seeds have borne fruit not just in the world of Sci-Fi and the follow-on series. The vision of a largely peaceful multicultural post-capitalist future has made a huge impression on what we strive for. Star Trek is still struggling with how to close the gaps in its vision vis a vis gender, race, and especially colonialism. Despite the popular portrayal of Trekkies, fans have ALWAYS made fun of the show and themselves. But at its core, Trek has always tried to build an aspirational future that includes everybody. That's always been a radical vision, and that's why a dumb three-season 60s cheeseball TV show has spread so wide and so deep. We are all Thermians now.
posted by rikschell at 7:49 AM on September 6, 2021 [12 favorites]

Thanks for sharing - these are really interesting!

I've only read the TNG bible but the focus on the physical attributes of the characters, especially the physical attractiveness of the female characters, is really noticeable for someone who isn't immersed in the world of television writing and casting. The strong focus on Dr. Crusher's physical attractiveness is uncomfortable at best e.g., "Her wit and intelligence (and very female form) have not escaped the Captain's eye either." (p. 32), "The romantic Picard can not help noticing that Beverly's natural walk resembles that of a striptease queen..." (p. 33).

It's amusing that the biography of Wesley Crusher explicitly says that "[h]e most definitely is not a 'nerd.'" (p. 33). It's also amusing and bizarre that the bible also explicitly stresses that Data is "of the male gender, fully functional" (p. 27), a fact that becomes one of the strangest and most shocking plot points in an episode during the first season when the show was very uneven.
posted by ElKevbo at 7:55 AM on September 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

I read through the DS9 one. It's so thin! I always thought series bibles contained a lot more minute detail about production design, aesthetic themes, continuity. I guess those are ancillary documents.

Also surprised that apparently Terok Nor doesn't have a tailor. No mention of Garak that I saw, one of my favorite characters. Kai is also pretty thin in this treatment too. I've always wondered how much of the development of characters like that come from the actors who are doing what they can to make their supporting roles meatier so they get more work. We know for sure that's what happened for Garak.
posted by Nelson at 8:08 AM on September 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I second that that stuff squicked me out.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:09 AM on September 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

rikschell's comment reminded me of how when I was four or five years old, I used to think the reruns of TOS were just the lower budget, daytime version of TNG. It sort of made sense. The daytime version of Wheel of Fortune had a different host and wasn't as refined as the evening edition. Also, TNG aired just past my bedtime on Saturday evenings.

I also always thought it was really stupid that the Enterprise had a full bridge but every single alien ship was just two guys standing next to a desk with some flashing lights on it and instead of understanding the constraints of television budgets, I thought the aliens were just dumb and didn't know how to build big ships where you could walk around.

We are all Thermians now.

Better Thermians than Kelvans. Yeoman Thompson suffered one of the most casually disturbing deaths in the entire series, and I still can't watch that episode.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:16 AM on September 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

ElKevbo - I bet those passages about Dr. Crusher were written by Gene Roddenberry himself. I recall reading excerpts from Roddenberry's TOS series bible in a book (perhaps The Making of Star Trek?) where similar observations were made about Yeoman Rand's physique.
posted by Epixonti at 11:21 AM on September 6, 2021

Oh god, it's even worse about Riker: Riker "hasn't yet lived enough to understand how completely different the two sexes can be. He's not fully aware that human females have needs of their own." Then goes into this whole thing about "the female's need to be needed" and how Troi won't fall "helplessly in love with him" and how Data has the same problem.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:11 PM on September 6, 2021

I considered myself a Treknologist at one-time and reading all these brought back some memories. I remember ordering several scripts from... uh... which was the company ran by Majel Barrett way back when?
posted by kschang at 12:15 PM on September 6, 2021

Oh no, 28-year-old Tasha's "beau ideal" is 15-year-old Wes Crusher, who she "treats this boy like the most wonderful person imaginable. Wes is the childhood friend that Tasha never had."
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:15 PM on September 6, 2021

"Beverly's natural walk resembles that of a striptease queen."

I just feel whoever wrote this's BONER all over the place. I know it's the 80's, but ewwwwwwwwwwww. God, I hope the future Bibles are less bad.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:18 PM on September 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Deep Space NIne: where everyone wants to boink Jadzia Dax!

"Her sexually appealing new form will create a certain tension between her and Sisko, which they will both resist. After all, he's still having a hard time getting used to the fact that she's a three hundred year old worm."

Lwaxana Troi: "the Auntie Mame of the galaxy." LOL. Odo trying to discourage her sexually: "Ma'am, I turn into a liquid form at night." Her: "I can swim."

Well, not AS bad, I guess....
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:29 PM on September 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

The sexy stuff in Trek is fun though! Particularly Jadzia; every once in awhile she'd throw in some very saucy line or remind everyone that she used to be in a male host and everyone looks a little uncomfortable. And she's just totally confident and voracious and owns. I loved it.

But yeah the writing in the bible is gross. Testament to the cast and crew afterwards to turn, say, the creepy MILF sketch of Beverly into a real and sympathetic character (usually).
posted by Nelson at 12:42 PM on September 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

Over-sexualized descriptions of female characters in scripts & casting calls is DEFINITELY still a thing.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:30 PM on September 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I am happy to report that other than B'Elanna having "incandescent" sexuality, the Voyager read isn't nearly as squicky.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:49 PM on September 6, 2021

Now, if they'd do the same for the current crop of shows...

There would be a second-guessing shitshow if these details were available contemporaneously.
posted by rhizome at 2:10 PM on September 6, 2021

I’m coincidentally reading the novelization of the first DS9 episode, and the author pulled a lot of the descriptions of the station from the DS9 bible. Makes me wonder how Star Trek novels come about; are they mainly written by people who also write on the show?

Looking forward to getting to the Voyager one; I wonder if the character descriptions come across as bland as I find most of the characters (Seven and the Doctor being almost the only exceptions to me).
posted by acantha at 2:46 PM on September 6, 2021

There would be a second-guessing shitshow if these details were available contemporaneously.

Oh god, can you imagine the fandom arguments on Twitter and the like if they released the bibles for Picard or Discovery? It would be insufferable.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:58 PM on September 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

I was not surprised by the gross male gaze stuff. Bummed, but not surprised. Was surprised by how thin the DS9 was on world building. Also interesting that there wasn't a section on "how we avoid stepping on TNG's toes, since our first season(s?) overlap their final seasons." But maybe that wasn't planned at the time?

Both of these show bibles feel much more "outward facing" than I expected. TNG's even talks about 'buying' stories, so maybe this was circulated to agents repping writers?

Batman: TAS's bible is still my favorite, though I don't know a current link.
posted by ®@ at 3:19 PM on September 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

@acantha -- IIRC, the novelization writer was given access to the script and the series bible and a tight deadline. But then that's the way it usually is.
@*@ -- TNG had actually bought more than a few stories from pitch meetings that I recall. Silicon Avatar was one of them. I think I read the pitch story in one of those TNG magazines where the author explained he was pitching several stories and the producers like the idea of someone wanting to access Data's memories of one of the dead on Omicron Theta. The producers wanted the writer to make it the main plot instead of a subplot. I don't believe he actually finished the script, as the script was credited to Jeri Taylor, but Lawrence V Conley did get story credit.
posted by kschang at 5:06 PM on September 6, 2021

Found the reference. It was mentioned in one of the Starlog magazine issues. Conley met Piller and the various other writers. Originally his idea did not involve the Crystalline Entity, but rather the boy's memories took over data from some external trigger. Piller nixed the takeover idea, but liked the idea with the colonist's memories. Someone said "bring the Crystalline Entity back" (may have been Jeri Taylor) and voila Silicon Avatar. Conley at least got story credit.
posted by kschang at 5:14 PM on September 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Re: the TNG bible's squickiness: Readers of The Fifty-Year Mission can attest that Roddenberry was a horndog of truly galactic proportions. This topic came up in at least one of the first few TNG Fanfare rewatch threads; we're near the end of season 6 now.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:23 AM on September 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

One amusing stylistic tic I noticed in the TNG bible is that it sometimes speaks as writers/producers ("We do not do stories about psi-forces..." p. 10) and sometimes speaks as the characters ("We will protect ourselves and our mission whenever necessary, but we are not 'space meddlers.'" p. 11).

Also: no mention of Worf. I assume he was either added to the roster later, or they didn't plan for him to be a major character and had to change gears when Denise Crosby wanted off the show and they killed off Yar.

It's also interesting to see which rules on their list of "What Doesn't Work" they later bent a bit:
No stories about original characters -- besides Bones appearing in the pilot, later eps about Scotty, Spock, and Sarek
No sword & sorcery stories -- technically they kept to this, but there is that episode where Q transports everyone into the Robin Hood story
Plots involving whole civilizations rarely work -- there are at least a few stories where the Enterprise has to save an entire planet/civilization, and of course there are stories like the one with the Space Irish where Picard forces two civilizations to pair up and start breeding (of course, the total population of those 2 civilizations combined was like 150 people or less)
No wars with Romulans or Klingons, no Vulcan stories -- again, they kept to the letter of this, but they certainly get involved in Klingon and Romulan politics, and there's an ongoing Cold War with the Romulans that extends into DS9, and of course, Spock and Sarek.

But the last one: "Stories in which our characters must do something stupid or dangerous, or in which our technology breaks down in order to create a jeopardy."

Looked at from a certain angle, most of their stories brush pretty closely to this.

"Lt. LaForge, use our tech to science their polarity!"
"Sorry Captain, but their science has de-scienced our tech! I can't get a science-lock on their tech-capacitors."
"We need options. Lt. Data?"
"If we were to re-polarize our tech, we could out-science their capacitors, and tech their science, but if we science for longer than 30 seconds, our tech could science-explode."
"Make it so."
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:40 AM on September 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

"Stories... in which our technology breaks down in order to create a jeopardy" are out of bounds? The holodeck seemed to malfunction a lot.
posted by Epixonti at 2:20 PM on September 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Is it not a bit weird that the official site is linking to fan-hosted copies of the series bibles, given how litigious Star Trek’s corporate owner has been and continues to be over time?
posted by danhon at 12:18 AM on September 6 [4 favorites +] [!]

eh - this is just like when Western Europe pillaged Andalusia and took all the greats from Greek history and acted like it was part of the Grand Western Tradition instead of something they expurgated and then ransacked from those "heathens" (who upheld the tradition separately)...

Well, maybe not just like ... less murder and stuff.
posted by symbioid at 2:46 PM on September 7, 2021

To add to all the ickiness about the characterisation of women particularly in the TNG bible (and why is every single woman except Janeway across all of these series considered to be sexy? I guess sex really does sell), I was extremely squicked by the Enterprise bible making it absolutely explicit that the decon chamber was intended to be somewhere the characters would have intimate encounters.

I am however incredibly grateful to whoever decided that Tucker's nickname should be Trip and not Spike. Enterprise was bad enough without that as well.
posted by mathw at 5:49 AM on September 8, 2021

kschang, back in the days of the original series, the company was called Lincoln Enterprises.
I owned a treasured copy of The Star Trek Guide (the original series bible; printed under an orange cover) and a copy of the Amok Time script.
The Star Trek Writers Guide, 1967
posted by apartment dweller at 7:25 PM on September 9, 2021

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