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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 17 April 2018 at 10:40am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Leia flying thru space happened in 2017's top-grossing movie...in the world. Franchise killer? No. 

Unfortunate? Definitely. Mary Poppins references in space movies are only acceptable when intentional and played for laughs.



NEMESIS was kind of a horrible way to end TNG. I guess the general thought was there would be at least one more film after this, so, other than the safety-netted "death" of Data and the mention of Riker taking command of another ship, there's nothing much else to suggest they couldn't just keep plugging along at status quo (and even those could be worked around rather easily). 

But no. This is where we end. Sad.





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Bill Collins
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Posted: 17 April 2018 at 11:27am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Leia flying through space...as Carrie Fisher died, would
it not have made sense to use that scene to end her
story in the films?
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Steven McCauley
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Posted: 17 April 2018 at 2:07pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Greg, I have loved going through these with you.  Any plans to do the other series?  
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 17 April 2018 at 2:39pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Leia flying thru space happened in 2017's top-grossing movie...in the world. Franchise killer? No. 
++++++++

Shhhh...give it time. Give it time. The body is still twitching, and the money is still flowing. For now. The money is just masking the symptoms, and it won’t last. But, that’s a discussion for another time (and another forum), and I’m not even sure I want to bother, at this point. We’ll see. Oh, yes...we’ll see.



Anyway, I got a chance to listen to MISSION LOG’s TNG wrap-up episodes, which helped me to reflect on my own rewatch. I also listened to their interview with the lovely and talented Gates McFadden, who provided some interesting insights into the show and her time on it, particularly in terms of the show (and the staff’s) treatment of women. 

Not that I didn’t enjoy the show prior to this rewatch, but I do have a new appreciation for it, and what it did for TV genre storytelling in its day. Consider: STAR TREK (TOS) was a show that made history. It broke new ground in terms of what was possible for filmic science-fiction, and it defied all odds to become a massive success after it was already dead and gone, with the sort of rabid, cult fanbase that had never really existed before. It was and is one of the cornerstones of modern nerd culture.

To try and recapture that lightning in a bottle was a tricky proposition, to say the least. TNG could easily have gone the way of say, LOVE BOAT: THE NEXT WAVE. It didn’t. The first season was largely terrible, yet it didn’t. The ideas and the characters were there, even if the learning curve was very, very rocky.

There’s a great irony (and sadness) in that Gene Roddenberry’s baby had perhaps outgrown him, and that TNG only truly became a good show as he became less and less involved. Or maybe the show and it’s producers/audience just weren’t mature enough to keep up with his utopian/Humanist ideals. I suppose that all depends on one’s point of view. But, TNG did become a good show—even a legitimately great show, at times. 

The original STAR TREK is my favorite TV show of all time, without question. It has a magic to it, a timelessness. I find both the fictional universe and the real-world stories behind its production endlessly, well, fascinating. TNG is very much not TOS. It sorta-kinda tried to be, at first. An updated and “perfected” version of Roddenberry’s silly and campy rough draft from the chaotic 60s, as some would say. But, sometimes even a property’s creator can overthink things, and so the initial version of TNG didn’t really work. Yet, it quickly began to evolve, to become something else. Against the odds, it found its own identity and its own voice. And, in its own way, it became STAR TREK. A different kind of STAR TREK, to be sure, but one committed to the same core concept of the original series: using people of the future to explore the modern-day human condition. 

Certainly, there are people who will fight tooth and nail to defend one iteration of the franchise over another. For a great many fans, TNG is “their” STAR TREK, and, to quote Wayne Campbell, is in many ways superior, but will never be as recognized as the original. The former is debatable, but the latter has certainly proven true. All of the grave-robbing attempts at rebooting the franchise post-NEMESIS and post-ENTERPRISE have been rooted in the characters, concepts, and time-period of TOS. I highly doubt we’ll see any sort of reboot/remake of TNG anytime soon, if ever.

While TNG proved successful and popular enough to spawn off a number of movies (something the later shows did not), it has sort of become the middle child of the franchise: It lacks the pop-culture cache, marketability, and recognizability of TOS, but it is generally more fondly remembered and referenced than the other spin-off shows.

I found myself surprised by a good number of episodes during my rewatch. Some were far better and deeper than I remembered, some worse. Perhaps most surprising of all is how much the character of Deanna Troi finally clicked with me. For the first time, I really saw the interesting nuances and humanity of that character, as well as what Marina Sirtis brought to the table as an actress. Which is why it’s deeply regretful that Troi was to go-to character for mind-rapes/invasions, and served largely as sex-appeal and as a dated sign of the 1980s: a therapist hanging out on the Bridge of an ostensibly-military ship. 

With that in mind, all things are a product of their time, and TNG is no different. Spandex jumpsuits, big hair, use of synth music, a therapist on the Bridge, less gunboat/cowboy diplomacy, then-cutting-edge video/CG effects, and the cozy look of the Enterprise-D, to name but a few. On the flipside, I’ve often remarked at just how much modern genre TV fails to appeal to me, compared to the overall quality of TNG’s writing. The themes, characters, and ideas of TNG still resonate, 30 years later.

We now live in a world of sociopolitical extremes and rehashes of old properties, and I personally have no use whatsoever for STAR TREK DISCOVERY, its social-justice messages, or it’s plundering/vandalism of STAR TREK lore. TNG very consciously tried to (initially) stay away from TOS concepts/characters and build its own identity. The format itself was basically the same as TOS, but the detailing and execution was completely its own thing. More importantly, TNG (usually) did what the best of STAR TREK does: present social issues via metaphor, show both sides of the argument, and (usually) leave the audience to draw its own conclusions. TREK can certainly be preachy, to be sure, but that’s not really its primary function. It’s about generating conversation and understanding. Far too many modern shows (STD among them) are about preaching, not inviting conversation regarding difficult social issues.

TNG also served as a transitional series. It bridged the gap between the stand-alone, episodic adventures of TOS (which followed suit with TV storytelling of past decades) and the serialized, growth-and-change/continuity-heavy narratives of the later series. As such, TNG’s characters perhaps were not afforded the sort of complex, long-term exploration that they deserved. However, leaving the characters essentially intact from beginning to end made them perhaps a bit more iconic and larger-than-life than they might have been. After all, if Worf had been permanently crippled in “Ethics”, or had committed ritual suicide as a result of his injury, then the character would have been sacrificed on the altar of “realism” rather than being ready to go for next week’s thought-provoking adventure.

All in all, I’ve had a great time revisiting this show. There are highs and lows throughout the entire run, but I still find it far more entertaining and thought-provoking than most modern genre fare. TNG is the last TREK to involve Roddenberry, and it could be argued that the later shows are all missing that sense of positivity that he brought to the table. Far too many modern genre properties are far too eager to be negative and/or to drag its characters through the mud, and TNG’s eternal optimism is very much in the STAR TREK spirit, although it is tempered by the more complex storytelling of its era. 

At this point, I’d make lists of favorite episodes/characters/moments, but I’ve already sorta done that throughout this thread. Suffice it to say that, just as I felt going in, that seasons 3-5 are the best, and that Picard and Data are the most well-developed and interesting characters.


I’m tempted to revisit DS9 next (and started recording episodes as they’ve aired on Heroes & Icons channel), but A) I need a break! B) John and Ken of MISSION LOG have only just started covering DS9, and it will take them nearly four years to rewatch the entire series. I’d rather not confine myself to watching one episode per week just to keep pace with them, but I also enjoy their show so much that I really don’t want to move ahead without them! We’ll see how it goes. Maybe down the road, I’ll start a DS9 thread. I’d very much like to, since the first few seasons are extremely spotty in my memory, and this would almost be like watching them for the first time.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 17 April 2018 at 7:05pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

STAR TREK: TNG became a victim of it's own success.   What ended the show also contributed to the mostly low quality and creative bankrupcy of the films.

When TNG started out, the majority of the cast were unknowns.   Stewart was known from stage, though he wasn't really a name outside of the UK.   Frakes and Sirtis were pretty much in career slumps.  McFadden was mostly unknown.   Spiner had some traction from his NIGHT COURT appearances, Burton was known from READING RAINBOW, and Dorn was somewhat known from his character on C.H.I.P.'s.  Crosby was actively trying to distance herself from her familial Hollywood connections.

As TNG's popularity grew the actors became more famous and began to demand more money and other perks such as script and plotting input, directorial duties, and right of refusal for ancillary stuff like promotional work, special appearances in character, and their likenes on merchandise.  This eventually took its toll and the costs to produce episodes skyrocketed.  In the past they were able to buffer the costs to produce effects-heavy episodes by doing bottle shows, clip shows, or just character-driven episodes with minimal or the standing sets.  Now, with the actors salaries putting the per episode costs over the top it was impossible to keep TNG running.   The next logical and financial step was movies.

Jumping right into motion pictures meant higher stakes and less risks taken.  You need more bums in the seats beyond those of STAR TREK fans.  Stewart and Spiner were demanding bigger money and more script input -- and we ended up basically with Picard and Data movies, with Action Hero Picard and a Data that was almost a piss-take parody of his TV show character.**

It's hard to tell if Frakes just got lucky directing his first major motion picture by being blessed with a decent script and a surefire audience favorite villain in the Borg or if INSURRECTION was just a pigs ear of a script that couldn't be elevated from glorified TV series episode no matter the directorial skill.   The other half of the coin involves bringing in directors that are unfamiliar with STAR TREK and it's a bit of a gamble whether the final product ends up being poor STAR TREK, a poor film, or as in the case of NEMESIS -- both.

Hindsight is 20/20 but they should have moved to telling longer form stories as either TV movies or miniseries -- perhaps once or twice a year and made it an event that would command high advertising dollars to help balance the costs.   There was a missed opportunity to cross-pollinate with DS9 and help round out the Dominion War story and that could have fed back into the untapped potential of Romulan-centered stories in the immediate aftermath of the war.

Oh well, what could have been...


**let this be a lesson to any showrunner -- once the actors start calling the shots and having creative control the show is on it's way to being a dead duck.   Farscape turned into an awful mess once Ben Browder got his mitts on it.   Same for Stargate and Richard Dean Anderson.   This seems to happen a lot with Sci-fi shows for some reason....


Edited by Rob Ocelot on 17 April 2018 at 7:11pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 17 April 2018 at 9:38pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

When TNG started out, the majority of the cast were unknowns.   Stewart was known from stage, though he wasn't really a name outside of the UK.   Frakes and Sirtis were pretty much in career slumps.  McFadden was mostly unknown.   Spiner had some traction from his NIGHT COURT appearances, Burton was known from READING RAINBOW, and Dorn was somewhat known from his character on C.H.I.P.'s.  Crosby was actively trying to distance herself from her familial Hollywood connections.
++++++++

In the aforementioned MISSION LOG interview with McFadden, she mentions her background in theater, and how sci-fi wasn’t something she was really familiar with. She also mentions how, early on, a nice, good looking guy she didn’t know kept hanging around the set and talking to her. It took her some time to realize that this was Michael Dorn, sans Worf makeup. She’d only gotten to know him when he was IN makeup!
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 17 April 2018 at 9:41pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Whaaaaat? She didn`t recognise his distinctive voice?
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 17 April 2018 at 9:43pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

let this be a lesson to any showrunner -- once the actors start calling the shots and having creative control the show is on it's way to being a dead duck.   Farscape turned into an awful mess once Ben Browder got his mitts on it.   Same for Stargate and Richard Dean Anderson.   This seems to happen a lot with Sci-fi shows for some reason....
++++++++

It had started to happen with the TOS cast, too. Thanks to the “favored nations” clause in their contracts, both Shatner and Nimoy got to direct STAR TREK movies. By the STAR TREK VI, Nimoy was also co-producing and co-writing. Fortunately, he actually knew what he was doing, creatively, and was responsible for the biggest hit of the first six movies (THE VOYAGE HOME).

Shatner’s one and only entry, on the other hand, ending up being both the worst-received and lowest-grossing of the first six films. Although there’s a case to be made that not all of the blame for STAR TREK V’s failure lies at his feet.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 17 April 2018 at 9:50pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Whaaaaat? She didn`t recognise his distinctive voice?
+++++++

To be fair, Dorn’s in-character voice and demeanor are much deeper and more monotone than they are when he’s casually speaking.

I highly recommend the MISSION LOG interviews with McFadden, Wheaton, Sirtis, and others involved both in front of and behind the camera. And, as a lovely little treat for their final TNG wrap-up episode, they managed to interview Tracee Lee Cocco, the often-seen extra (she even made it into the TNG movies) who played Lieutenant Jae. Jae was constantly (and jokingly) mentioned during John and Ken’s coverage of TNG, so it’s only fitting that they’d actually talk to her so as to put a bow on the show.
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Joe Boster
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Posted: 20 April 2018 at 10:00am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Greg, I may have to take you up on the mission logs. The one thing missing from "The Fifty Year Mission" is the actors POV for the most part. missing. 
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