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ToSeek
2005-Feb-15, 09:51 PM
Posted to Usenet:


I'm trying this via google to see if I can access the groups, since
I've been offline since AOL stopped carrying newsgroups.

I don't normally do this...in fact, I don't think I've ever done this
in any group before, because I've always kind of waited to make sure it
was worth doing, and that it would make a difference.

I'm sending this to both the B5 folks reading this and any Trek fans
looking on.

Bryce Zabel (recently the head of the Television Academy and
creator/executive producer of Dark Skies) and I share one thing in
common. We are both long-time Trek fans, from the earliest days, who
felt that the later iterations were not up to the standards set by the
original series. (I'm exempting TNG because that one worked nicely,
and was in many ways the truest to the original series because Gene was
still around to shepherd its creation and execution.)

Over time, Trek was treated like a porsche that's kept in the garage
all the time, for fear of scratching the finish. The stories were, for
the most part, safe, more about technology than what William Faulkner
described as "the human heart in conflict with itself." Yes, there
were always exceptions, but in general that trend became more and more
apparent with the passage of years. Which was why so often I came down
on the later stories, which I did openly, because I didn't feel they
lined up with what Trek was created to be. I don't apologize for it,
because that was what I felt as a fan of Trek. That's why I had Majel
appear on B5, to send a message: that I believe in what Gene created.

Because left to its own devices, allowed to go as far as it could,
telling the same kind of challenging stories Trek was always known for,
it could blow the doors off science fiction television. Think of it
for a moment, a series with a forty year solid name, guaranteed
markets...can you think of a better time when you take chances and can
tell daring, imaginative, challenging stories? Why play it safe?

When Enterprise went down, those involved shrugged and wrote it off to
"franchise fatigue," their phrase, not mine.

I don't believe that for a second. Neither does Bryce. There's a
tremendous hunger for Trek out there. It just has to be Trek done
*right*.

Last year, Bryce and I sat down and, on our own, out of a sheer love of
Trek as it was and should be, wrote a series bible/treatment for a
return to the roots of Trek. To re-boot the Trek universe.
Understand: writer/producers in TV just don't do that sort of thing on
their own, everybody always insists on doing it for vast sums of money.
We did it entirely on our own, setting aside other, paying deadlines
out of our passion for the series. We set out a full five-year arc.

But when it came time to bring it to Paramount, despite my track record
and Bryce's enormous and skillful record as a writer/producer, the
effort stalled out because of "political considerations," which was
explained to us as not wishing to offend the powers that be.

So on behalf of myself and Bryce, I'm taking the unusual step of going
right to the source...right to you guys, fueled in part by a number of
recent articles and polls, including one at www.scifi.com/scifiwire in
which nearly 18,000 fans voted their preference for a new Trek series,
and 48% of that figure called for a jms take on Trek. (The other
choices polled at about 18% or thereabouts.)

See, if somebody doesn't like a story, doesn't want to buy it, that's
all well and good, that's terrific, that's the way it's supposed to be.
But when "political considerations" are the basis...that just doesn't
parse.

So here's the deal, folks. If you want to see a new Trek series that's
true to Gene's original creation, helmed by myself and Bryce, with
challenging stories, contemporary themes, solid extrapolation, and the
infusion of some of our best and brightest SF prose writers, then you
need to let the folks at Paramount know that. If the 48% of the 18,000
folks who voted at scifi.com sent those sentiments to
Paramount...there'd be a new series in the works tomorrow.

I don't need the work, I have plenty of stuff on my plate through 2007
in TV, film and comics, so that's not an issue. But I'd set it all
aside for one shot at doing Trek right, and I know Bryce feels the
same.

If you want this to happen...it's up to the Trek and B5 fans to make it
so.

The rest I leave to the quiet turning of your considered conscience.

J. Michael Straczynski

Could be interesting. Couldn't be worse than Voyager.

TriangleMan
2005-Feb-15, 10:01 PM
While I appreciate his sentiment for trying to have a show that stays true to Gene Roddenbery's vision why not just try to incorporate that vision into a competely different non-trek show? Without having to stay within the Star Trek universe much of it could be fresh, much like Babylon 5 was.

Doodler
2005-Feb-15, 10:10 PM
Trek has a mythology about it, there's a story there that has a lot of unwritten chapters in a framework that carries a lot of appeal. The franchise is only as dead as the writing that carries it forward, and there's plenty of room for second opinions. Its long been greater than just the original vision according to Gene, its grown beyond that. The stagnation is the result of the core of writers left doing Trek who've run out of steam. It seems like they can't do a Star Trek story without rehashing something old or throwing time travel in the mix.

A new perspective, particularly one with the proven credentials of JMS, could very well bring things around.

Fortis
2005-Feb-15, 10:23 PM
It seems like they can't do a Star Trek story without rehashing something old or throwing time travel in the mix.
At least with Enterprise we were spared the regular holodeck episodes that plagued the other "new" shows.

Doodler
2005-Feb-15, 10:26 PM
I'm adding this, knowing that I might be throwing logs on a fire for which I'll be burned at the stake, but I like William Shatner's recent Trek books. Maybe they're a bunch of Kirk-ocentric stories, but lets face it, in none of his books has he messed with Time Travel or interfered in any way with the progression of any other Trek series, but he's coming up with some interesting and different ideas that no one else has touched on.

I'm actually looking forward to his next book series involving the Totality. It demonstrates that even if its not the highest caliber work that's ever been done with Star Trek, its at least trying to explore areas that haven't been touched on before while preserving the elements of the original mythos.

Really, look at what Shatner's done with his books:

1) A tie-in story with the Borg manipulating the Federation via the Romulans, that tied the V-Ger probe to the Borg Collective.

2) A biological attack on the Federation that very neatly tied in with some aspects of the original series. (Kirk's run-in with Kodos the Executioner.)

3) A series of books built around a major infiltration by the Mirror Universe which later tied in to the manipulations of the Preservers in the Federation's history, which took the very unique tack of tying psychohistory into the mix. All throughout which, he tapped on various elements from the original series, TNG, and DS9 in a manner I thought was very well done.

And now in his fourth set, he's working up something bigger, now drawing on aspects more tied completely within the Next Generation universe, but still built on a very consistent continuity.

Its not the best that's ever been done, but its at least original.

ToSeek
2005-Feb-15, 10:39 PM
Apparently he's backed off from volunteering: Paramount wants to rest Trek for a couple of years, and he's working on signing the contract for a series to start in 2006.

Kizarvexis
2005-Feb-15, 10:51 PM
Apparently he's backed off from volunteering: Paramount wants to rest Trek for a couple of years, and he's working on signing the contract for a series to start in 2006.

Yep, here's his quote from JMSNews.com (http://www.jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-17287).


>
> The rest I leave to the quiet turning of your considered conscience.
>
> J. Michael Straczynski

Actually...belay everything I just said.

In the 24 hours between the time I composed the prior note, and sent
it, and it made its way through the moderation software, two things
happened:

1) I heard from a trusted source that Paramount is giving the Trek TV
world a rest for maybe one to two years, depending on circumstances, no
matter who would come along to run it. So it's not right to have folks
putting in time doing something that ultimately would be pointless, I
don't think that's a proper use of anybody's time.

2) At the same time as the above, an offer came in to run a new TV
series for fall of '06, and since there's no way anything Trek can
happen in the interim, I've said yes (now we have to negotiate the
deal, but that should be fairly straightforward).

So on two counts, the whole thing is kind of moot.

We can reconvene a year or two down the road to see where this takes
us, but in the interim...my apologies for waking everybody up in the
middle of the night.

As you were.

Thanks and with great chagrinedness --

jms

Here's jms' standard disclaimer at the end of his qoutes.

(all message content (c) 2004 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)


Kizarvexis

Charly
2005-Feb-16, 10:17 PM
Who cares about Trek anymore.

TNG was great for its time.

I felt DS9 suffered for being Trek. They only started to take risks when B5 was hailed critically. That gave them licence to start writing "adult" stories and developing arcs. But it was still held back. It still had a reset button, it just got pressed a little less.

Enterprise failed because it was banal. How on earth the "writers" ever became writers is beyond me. You have to have drama, which stem from character conflict, or else it is just boring.

Roddenberry was good for his time, but his whole basis of mankind being hippys in the future makes it almost impossible to write interesting characters or stories.

In an age where we have 24, The West Wing, Six Foot Under, The Shield, and the Sopranos, I want my Sci-Fi to be similarly challanging.

It doesnt need flashy CGI effects, just good writing and reasonable acting.

The New Battlestar Galactica has show the way, lets hope any new shows can follow the lead.

Any "idea" for sci-fi *can* succeed, but I personally dont believe that the "rules" of writing Trek can possibly allow for anything worth watching in this day and age, and agree JMS should allow his talents to be used elsewhere, except when it involves a woman gurning inside a virtual weapons station.

Alan
2005-Feb-16, 10:46 PM
It seems like they can't do a Star Trek story without rehashing something old or throwing time travel in the mix.
At least with Enterprise we were spared the regular holodeck episodes that plagued the other "new" shows.

Well, in the first season, about the fourth of fifth show I think, Enterprise came across an alien ship where Trip was impregnated while in a holodeck on the alien ship. The story did not need the holodeck in any way and was inserted, in my opinion, only to meet the holodeck quota the writers needed to meet in a B&B ST series. I did not watch much after that as Enterprise did not have a feel of being pre-TOS but rather set in the outskirts of the Federation of the TNG/DS9/VOY time.

weatherc
2005-Feb-17, 12:04 AM
While I appreciate his sentiment for trying to have a show that stays true to Gene Roddenbery's vision why not just try to incorporate that vision into a competely different non-trek show? Without having to stay within the Star Trek universe much of it could be fresh, much like Babylon 5 was.

Absolutely. Or, better yet, come up with a different vision altogether. Trek has been on life support, then brain dead, for a long time. Now Trek is dead. Let it rest in peace. Please don't try to resuscitate it again.

Can somebody please come up with something new? Hopefully whatever Straczynski is working on will be worth watching. It seems the only good sci-fi show on TV is Stargate right now, and even that has lost some of its appeal for me. I haven't watched any Battlestar Galactica since the pilot miniseries, but it didn't get me too excited, either (why would a society with FTL drives not have invented the STEADYCAM? I hate shakey camera techniques).

archman
2005-Feb-17, 07:18 AM
Straczynski's supposed to produce the new Babylon 5 movie. Please don't distract the man until he's finished with this project. Last thing anyone wants to see is another "Legend of the Rangers" barf-fest. Lord I hope the man had nothing to do with that travesty of the B5 universe.

HAVOC451
2005-Feb-17, 10:41 AM
Anything Straczynski does is worth a watch.

Jpax2003
2005-Feb-17, 05:55 PM
I think Trek could make a comeback. First, we'd need to have a civil war in the UFP. I don't mean some one or two week mini-arc, I mean a down-and-dirty north-v-south brother-against-brother first-battle-of-the-ironclads civil war. It needn't be all war all the time, like the new BSG, but it should be a long term plot construct. At any rate, get rid of the Prime Directive... or at least show them breaking it for their own survival in a big way. You could base half a season on a couple damaged ships in orbit with stranded away teams struggling with natives in a pre-technological society that have taken sides in the "war of the gods" simply by the shape of the starships in orbit. (Oh wait, that sounds like the last season of Andromeda)

But we should keep some of the charm by having more civilians in the show. Perhaps it should be a drama based in the Trek universe, not just about the StarFleet military organization. And for heaven's sake, they should make Uhura's g-g-great granddaughter an admiral or senator or something. Throw in some russian, chinese, mexican, polish, indian, (etc) officers instead of using only american anglosaxons. Let's see how the other half lives. Or perhaps the other half didn't live to that century and that is the reason behind the Prime Directive... let's explore that!

Paul Beardsley
2005-Feb-18, 10:50 AM
Thoughts on Trek...

When the series first came out, our ideas of what the universe was like were very different to our ideas now. Back then, an M-Class planet was one with conditions some way between those of Earth and Mars. Real-life space exploration was in its infancy, and the general consensus (if not the scientific consensus) was that planets like Venus and Mars might be uncomfortable rather than hostile. On Venus, you’d have to wear your pac-a-mac to cope with the constant rain while you fled from prehistoric monsters on your way to the ocean; on Mars you’d probably have to wear a scarf to protect yourself from the chill as you trudged through the desert along a canal as you made your way to an ancient city.

Lovely stuff. But compare with Niven’s Known Space series, where even the inhabitable planets are sometimes 99% hostile.

TNG attempted to continue the story without actually contradicting what went before – even to the extent of remaking The Naked Time, which was based on a fundamental and obvious scientific error. Much of the time it achieved this by simply ignoring the universe, or filling it with totally non-exotic planets. Picard might inform us that the Enterprise is flying through a globular star cluster, for instance, but when we see the outside shots there’s no sign of this because the makers simply aren’t interested. Star Trek isn’t about seeking out new life and boldly going; it’s about fans obsessing over details (to the extent of learning a totally useless language, for goodness sake) and fancying members of the cast. As TV, it’s a soap that is ostensibly set in space because the setting gives it a bogus air of exoticism, but it’s not for people who are actually interested in what’s out there.

To me, the idea of reviving it is very unattractive. The series has its own history, but it also has a lot of baggage that it could do with dumping. Take the Transporters – they’ve become standard furniture, and have entered the public consciousness to the extent that the phrase “beam me up Scotty!” is used to mean “I wish I could get out of this situation!” by people who are not fans. But it wouldn’t work in real life, or, if it did, it would have such a colossal effect on society that we’d be changed beyond recognition. (e.g. People would routinely make copies of themselves whenever they were about to do something dangerous.)

What I’d like to see is a totally new vision. People heading for the stars as they really are, and discovering that everything is utterly alien. Maybe it wouldn’t work as a lengthy on-going series (but then I don’t think Star Trek does any more) – instead we could have one or more miniseries. One working model might be to imagine a situation such as that described in Solaris (the book, not the second movie!) or The Left Hand of Darkness, or any novel that really gets to grips with a credible extraterrestrial scenario. Combine that with the presentation of the Dune miniseries. And talk up to the audience! In theory, the 1970s production I, Claudius should not have worked – the sets looked like stage sets, and it was fairly demanding in terms of the general public’s grasp of history. Yet it proved very popular, and highly acclaimed.

In TV SF, I think the real killer is the technobabble. When Geordi says, “The isothermal flange joints are in phase array distortion,” the audience knows what he’s really saying: “I’m talking made-up science and deliberately making it sound like made-up science because I assume you are too uneducated to deal with real science and I don’t want to scare you.” We never got histobabble in I, Claudius, we just got the honest stuff, and as a result the audience didn’t feel patronised.

As for JMS – when he’s good, he’s great, and some of B5 was simply awesome. But when he’s bad... Honestly, there is nothing, nothing more embarrassing than a JMS “funny” bit when it goes wrong. Ivanova going “Boomshakalakalaka...” was probably the worst piece of TV ever.

eburacum45
2005-Feb-18, 11:39 AM
One working model might be to imagine a situation such as that described in Solaris (the book, not the second movie!) or The Left Hand of Darkness, or any novel that really gets to grips with a credible extraterrestrial scenario.

You know The Mote in God's Eye would work very well in the Trekkiverse; the naval discipline of the ships, the personalities of the crew and scientists permanently in conflict. The truly alien aliens... that is what Trek should have been like all along.

Paul Beardsley
2005-Feb-18, 12:22 PM
You know The Mote in God's Eye would work very well in the Trekkiverse; the naval discipline of the ships, the personalities of the crew and scientists permanently in conflict. The truly alien aliens... that is what Trek should have been like all along.

Well that's moved Mote up my reading list - I was put off it many years ago by its size, but I'm a faster reader than I used to be, and it does sound interesting.

Another thing, I'd like to move away from the Hilton mentality. A luxury cruise liner travelling on a regular route between two star systems (or two planets in a system) might possibly have artificial gravity, carpets, sizeable bedrooms and numerous leisure facilities.

Artificial gravity might be essential for long periods in space, and I accept that it's difficult to realise on TV and film (although there's nothing to prevent it being realistic - i.e. spinning craft). But The Enterprise (and the others) is supposed to be a pioneering craft, heading for unknown (and potentially hostile) locations. Let's have explorers who are prepared to put up with confined spaces, lack of privacy etc. OTOH some form of VR (not the holodeck) makes sense - a device not much bigger than a PlayStation2 could deal with most of the issues of boredom and claustrophobia.

Captain Kidd
2005-Feb-18, 12:46 PM
The whole "let's bring our spouses and childern with us even though we're suppose to be a deep space exploration ship which has a tendency to get into near-death situations and potentially disappear without a trace due to exploring something that shouldn't have been explored" idea bothered me from the get-go.

I'd rather JMS do another B5 spinoff series, afterall he says he plotted the storyline out 1000-2000 years either side of the 5-year main story arc.

But ST is a nearly unrefusable franchise no network would dare say no to versus B5 which almost didn't have the final fifth season until the last minute.

mid
2005-Feb-18, 02:42 PM
a device not much bigger than a PlayStation2 could deal with most of the issues of boredom and claustrophobia.

What, you mean a Gamecube? I agree :D

Still, given the way fuel requirement goes up every time you add more weight to a craft, I'm guessing they'll leave the XBox behind :D

Gas Giant
2005-Feb-18, 07:43 PM
Straczynski's supposed to produce the new Babylon 5 movie. Please don't distract the man until he's finished with this project. Last thing anyone wants to see is another "Legend of the Rangers" barf-fest. Lord I hope the man had nothing to do with that travesty of the B5 universe.
Unfortunately, he both wrote and executive produced it.

Doodler
2005-Feb-18, 07:55 PM
Straczynski's supposed to produce the new Babylon 5 movie. Please don't distract the man until he's finished with this project. Last thing anyone wants to see is another "Legend of the Rangers" barf-fest. Lord I hope the man had nothing to do with that travesty of the B5 universe.
Unfortunately, he both wrote and executive produced it.

Ok, so he got hooked into the "Dance, Dance, Revolution" craze early. At least it wasn't time travel.

Jpax2003
2005-Feb-18, 11:17 PM
I suppose JMS could take Trek and make it respectable again, but it'd be like taking your favorite stripper and making her Miss America, or taking Britney Spears and making her an operatic diva, or taking a hooker and making her queen... Then again, Pretty Woman did do well at the Box Office.

I can see it now, JMS brings Trek into alignment with real science and it becomes both respectable and popular to the masses. Then we'll see the original fans shun the terms Trekkie and Trekker both and go for the more elitist title of Trekearly.

archman
2005-Feb-18, 11:41 PM
Straczynski's supposed to produce the new Babylon 5 movie. Please don't distract the man until he's finished with this project. Last thing anyone wants to see is another "Legend of the Rangers" barf-fest. Lord I hope the man had nothing to do with that travesty of the B5 universe.
Unfortunately, he both wrote and executive produced it.

My respect for the man just plummeted. I'll keep low expectations for the upcoming 2006 movie.

Van Rijn
2005-Feb-18, 11:53 PM
Straczynski's supposed to produce the new Babylon 5 movie. Please don't distract the man until he's finished with this project. Last thing anyone wants to see is another "Legend of the Rangers" barf-fest. Lord I hope the man had nothing to do with that travesty of the B5 universe.
Unfortunately, he both wrote and executive produced it.

My respect for the man just plummeted. I'll keep low expectations for the upcoming 2006 movie.

That doesn't mean he had a free hand. Speculation I've seen suggest that a lot of the problems were due to constraints the SciFi channel execs put on him, pushing adventure and space battles over cerebral plot points. Mind you, I wasn't very impressed with the original B5 pilot, either, so I'm not sure if the series would have been as bad.

orion11349
2005-Feb-20, 02:08 AM
I will miss Enterprise,

Although, not as much as I once thought. It could have been so much better. Scott Bakula was the wrong choice to play the captain. If B&B wanted to do something different with Star Trek then they should have at the first said this series will be based on a different interpetation then Gene's version.

Freeing themselves from the timeline they would have had more freedom to do different stories.

I always thought however, that they should never have started the temporal war story arc. Just tell stories of how Humans became the dominant force in the Federation. There were and are thousands of stories to be told that would be interesting.

So sad that B&B couldn't expand their horizons and take a chance