Comparsions between the Original Series & Next Gen

Whitestar

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When Roddenberry's Original Series was greenlit, he didn't have total control of the show, it was a toss-up of him and the NBC executives. In contrast, in Next Gen, Roddenberry was given total control due to the success of the Original Series. It was because of this that Next Gen was actually closer to his vision of Star Trek. Many fans were pleased with this aspect, however, it didn't mean that the show was any better because what resulted were caricatures who were true blue hero types, squeaky clean characters who could never do no wrong. The problem with this is that the majority of the characters were never really well developed because there was no interpersonal conflict. As a result, they weren't fleshed out individuals that we could relate to and this was a waste because the writers had plenty of opportunities to do this during run of Next Gen seven seasons. Based on this evidence, it seems that the NBC executives were wise in preventing Roddenberry from having total control during the Original Series stint. Which means the Original Series did featured interpersonal conflict such as the love and hate relationship of Spock and McCoy. This is not to say that all the characters of the Original Series were developed, they weren't, but they just seemed somewhat more real to me. Kirk was a womanizer space cowboy captain, whose ego was writing checks his body couldn't cash, but overall, he was a decent man.

There was also bigotry in the Original Series and movies as well, particularly in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country when Kirk initially didn't want a peace treaty with the Klingons and would prefer to left them to their fate. This is was because his only son was killed by a Klingon and was blinded by his hatred for them. Not surpisingly, Roddenberry didn't like Star Trek VI because he hated the notion of Captain Kirk and crew being a bunch of biots, despite playing a pivotal role in the peace treaty between the Federation and Klingon Empire. Thus, in retrospect, the Original Series is perhaps far more realistic, believable, and grittier world than the idyllic, fluffy-wuffy, sterile, and stale era of Next Gen. And don't get me started on Voyager and Enterprise. The only sequel series to come close to the Original Series was Deep Space Nine. Both featured interpersonal conflict and flawed characters. As I mentioned earlier, the Original Series had the love and hate relationship of Spock and McCoy. In Deep Space Nine, it was Quark and Odo. These characters had their differences between them, but they also liked and respected each other as well.

Another gripe I have on Next Gen is when Starfleet began to include families and children on board the Enterprise D. What kind of idiots deliberately put children in danger on an exploration/pseudo-military starship?!? Space travel is a very dangerous business and its not a place for children to grow up in. I recalled an episode during the show's second season episode, "Contagion", where the Enterprise encounters its sister ship, the Yamato that explodes due to an alien computer virus, killing everyone on board, including the families and children. I was appalled by this episode and came to the conclusion that Starfleet doesn't give a hoot about its people and you can blame Roddenberry for that. Not only did it put Starfleet (and Roddenberry) in a bad light, but the idea of including children on a starship actually lacked the sense of the swashbuckling adventure that the Original Series had. For those who argue that the Original Series is inferior due to is low budget and campy overtone, and balking at Kirk whenever he violated the Prime Directive on countless occasions, you have to give the Starfleet/Federation (and the NBC executives) some credit for having the good sense for not including families on board Starfleet ships. One of the Enterprise crew members, Riker, I think, who said that the reason why the Federation has families on their ships is because the Enterprise was mostly a science/exploration vessel, (although its vast amount of weapons seem to imply the opposite). Even the pathetic Ferengi were appalled at the notion of the Federation/Starfleet bringin families onto their ships. What was Roddenberry smoking when he came up with this stupid idea?!? The writers attempted many ways to get the families and children off the ship, but Rodddenberry wouldn't have it. Apparently, this was his way of showing that Trek could be kind to familes and children, but so far, everything he's done suggest the opposite.

However, when Roddenberry passed away and Rick Berman took over, things began to improve. There was conflict (even though it came from an external source like the Borg, for instance, rather from within) and somewhat more character development for the secondary regulars.

As for the Prime Directive, this principle has always struck not just stupid, but inherently immoral too. If a race is dying out, and you have the means to save them and do not, that's immoral. If you have the chance to end a horrible cultural practice like Suttee or Child Sacrifice, and do not, then you become complicit in the murders. If you have the ability to end a famine or save billions of lives by knocking over some alien Adolph Hitler BEFORE he invades some alien Sudetenland, but don't, those deaths hang on your head.

But the worst part was the ever increasing use of technobabble. It was a vain attempt to ignore the manner in which real technical people speak, and it mutilates real science in an attempt to lend credibility to its plot points, which leads naive Star Trek fans to believe that much of this nonsense is actually based on real science. Here is an example of how Geordi's lame technobabble explanation is put to use by the Next Gen writers when they attempted to create futuristic terminology just for the sake of confusing us viewers:

Geordi: "We are currently monitoring a significant decrease in the electrostatic potential across the power coupling terminals on the secondary electron conduit."

Now here is Scotty's technobabble explanation:

Scotty: "Cap'tain! Scotty here. I don't know how much longer I canna hold it together!"

Even in Apollo 13 flick Jim Lovell's technobabble is kept within acceptable limits:

Lowell: "We have a main bus B undervolt."

See? Seven words, and he's done. Less is more. The Next Gen version of the dialogue wastes words, and if you hear something like that over the radio, the excessive word count actually makes it harder to understand what is going on. The human brain responds best to the most simplistic method of relaying a piece of information, which is one of the reasons that technical people quickly distill technical concepts into short forms, abbreviations, slang, and acronyms. Deep Space Nine was also plagued with technobabble, but Voyager wins hands down in that department. Many fans have complained about the dreaded technobabble to the writers and producers, but in their defense, they responded by stating that Rick Berman likes the technobabble.

No wonder the recent incarnations of Trek are loaded with techno jargon. The Original Series gets another point for not including technobabble into its stories. Its funny, when it came to producing the Next Gen flicks, Berman went out of his way to "dumb-down" them so he could make them accessible to a larger audience by providing idiotic storylines (although First Contact is perhaps the best Next Gen flick to date) and yet, he didn't bother to eliminate awful technobabble, which should have been the first thing he should have eliminated!

While its a good thing that Berman has stepped down as the head honcho for Trek, he should have done so many years ago. True, he's not currently the most popular guy in Paramount, considering the recent lackluster performance of Insurrection and Nemesis, and the shows Voyager and Enterprise, but he also deserves some credit for taking over the reins from Roddenberry and making it better than it was originally conceived. But his crowning achievement have been the aforementioned First Contact flick and the Deep Space Nine show.

Currently, J.J. Abrams is taking over the film franchise, but if his movie does well, I wouldn't be a bit surprise if Paramount lets him take over the TV franchise as well, considering his successful track record with creating shows such as Felicity and Lost. Now, I don't really know much about Mr. Abrams, but all the things I've been hearing about him makes me think that he may be the one to breathe new life into Star Trek lore. If Abrams can create a solid storyline with flawed, believeable characters, including no technobabble, then Star Trek may yet live long and prosper.
 

Harpo

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