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May 03 2005

Strange New World: No Star Trek. Very complimentary of Whedon and Abrams, can't say the same for Trek.

Surprised he doesnt mention Battlestar Galactica scifi's most shining star at the moment.
I'm still not convinced Lost deserves the praise, if the series manages to conclude a first season without providing answers to any of the questions raised I will be even less impressed than I already am, but that might just be me missing the point of the show.
Well Star Trek when it's done well, I've always found entertaining, Voyager and Enterprise was just 2 trips too many. Unlike Trek, the slayerverse shows of Buffy and Angel all have been masterminded with Joss and his friends, they work well together. I know alot of fans who dislike Rick Berman-producer of trek, who alot believe is responsible for the lack of interest lately, problem with Trek, you had good people, like those working on DS9, then alot of disagreements and inconsistency on voyager, enterprise, even the next generation's quality went up and down in any given season, there was no distinct person in charge, calling the big shots, and the quality suffered. I'm surprised Paramount continued to let Rick Berman stay in charge in their huge fanchise. I went from being a big trek fan to enjoying slayerverse shows more.

I remember Whedon praising DS9 in a quote once, the good thing about DS9 was Rick Berman wasn't totally hands on in that show, he let good people get on with it, the lack of interest he showed in Voyager and Enterprise, he ran a big fanchise into the ground. I still like alot of the films, and TNG, DS9, the original crew, but like the article said at the end, there's alot of intellectual sci-fi/fantasty thanks to Whedon, if Trek comes back sometime, they are gonna need some fresh people with fresh ideas, but for now, let it rest.

[ edited by SeanValen on 2005-05-03 14:22 ]
This again brings up the question of whether any of these shows are really sci-fi...

But, more importantly, how can this article belittle the original Star Trek and go on to praise Smallville?
What a idiot. And i'm not even a trekkie.
Oh, how i wish i could defend Trek and disagree with this article!

As a kid i was a definate borderline Trekkie. Not going as far as dressing up in the costumes or even going the convention route but i certainly knew the characters and episodes inside out. At my most Trek obsessed i could very easily describe to you how the warp engines worked, or the importance of boosting the annular confinement beam of the transporter under certain conditions in a planetary atmosphere. Seriously! I knew my way around the average Galaxy Class Starship like i knew my way around my school.

I couldn't get enough of Deep Space 9, easily the point where Trek came into it's own for quality storytelling. However Voyager didn't quite hold my interest in the same way. I'd started watching other, dare i say better, television series by that point and Trek became just another series to watch. By the time Enterprise began i was already heavily into Buffy and Angel. Stargate SG-1 was much higher on my list of science fiction preferences, simply because that series actually did what this article mentions Trek did not. It developed and grew whilst Trek stagnated.

These days i really find it hard to sit though an episode of the original Trek, TNG or Voyager. Many times i find myself cringing at the writing and acting, which is a shame because i really adored these shows as a kid and to feel the way i do now about them spoils those memories. Still, as much as i want to try ignore the truth i simply cannot avoid the fact i don't enjoy Star Trek anymore.

The time for Trek really is over though, i believe. It's a shame but the world is a different place now, people are more demanding and want more quality and realism in their shows, even those series that deal with fantasy. Joss and other writers like him have raised the bar and Trek was never going to keep up.
What a idiot. And i'm not even a trekkie.

Please remember our golden rule not to critice the writer only the article (especially when it's written by a very famous science fiction author).
So all the millions of Trek fans are just illiterate "high school" maniacs who are unable to recognize the greatness of the author's favourite TV shows (one of them being Smallville), is that what the article is saying?
I must admit, watching Buffy/Angel has killed my interest in Star Trek, eventhough I've been a fan since TOS. I now find it all nearly unwatchable - apart from some of the best DS9 episodes (... mostly involving Garak). I had great hope for Enterprise, hoped that the writers would take off from the examples set by Whedon and his team, but alas.
Well I disagree that the original Star Trek series was so bad. I was just a kid when it was first on TV but I believe it aired in the 60s and for its time I feel it was revolutionary. I haven't rewatched the original series for years but I remember the one where the alien had a half black, half white face, and the theme of the show was prejudice; he hated the other alien who also had a half white half black face but was black/white on the opposite side. In the end they fought each other to extinction – a pretty meaningful episode of TV during the 60s.

I’m sure there were more cutting edge books out there but what other TV shows during the 60s dealt with themes like the ones Star Trek did? Also a female black officer, hats off to Lucille Ball for having the nerve to get it on TV.
I don't think Star Trek was bad until this last series "Enterprise." I think that Star Trek has had a tremendous impact on the world of sci fi. I am going to miss it and pray that it isn't gone for too long. I think a new crop of writers and producers would do the world of Star Trek a LOT of good. I also don't think one can or should compare Star Trek to Buffy or Angel. They are very different.
jpr wrote:
I'm still not convinced Lost deserves the praise, if the series manages to conclude a first season without providing answers to any of the questions raised I will be even less impressed than I already am, but that might just be me missing the point of the show.

Yeah, I'm not sure the point of Lost is answering the big questions that flatly, and really, I wouldn't want them to. It's way too early on for that. So, don't get your hopes up.
"Lost," the finest television science fiction series of all time … so far.

Admittedly, I haven't watched a lot of "Lost," but what I have seen barely puts in the the realm of Sci Fi - it's there, certainly, but when I picture Sci Fi that show isn't what comes to mind. The finest of all time? For me, that's still Buffy. I wonder if they'll release the first season of Battlestar Galactica on DVD? I'd like to get caught up - I've missed too many episodes.
I agree with Passion, that in the sixties, ON TELEVISION Trek did deal with issues that everyone else seemed afraid to talk about. I also loved STTNG, and felt Patrick Stewart is a great actor and wonderful in it.

That said, there is NO comparison now for me to LOST Or especially Whedonverse.
Caroline, Garak was, without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite character on DS9. Actually i might go as far as to say my favourite Trek character altogether.

The duality in nature of Garak, as well as many of the other characters on DS9 (Dukat and Quark being other good examples) were what made the show stand out in comparison to the relatively two dimensional crews of the other four Trek series.

Tracy, i don't think it is that we are comparing the two shows, at least not in terms of their content. As far as what the shows are about is concerned then it really is a case of apples and oranges. The only comparison i'm making is in what the shows now say to me. What i take from watching them. With Buffy and Angel i feel like i can relate to what is being said whilst with Trek the connection i once had is no longer there. What is worse, i now find it very difficult to even remember exactly what the connection was in the first place.
Sorry Simon. It just seems so obtuse to make a whole article about how much trek sucks and how the original sucked too, and "nyah nyah, now its over". I haven't seen all Trek, but I've seen enough of the older shows to know it deserves its adoration from fans. When I went into the article I thought it would analyze why Trek is now bad but its just kicking the series (and its fans) in the gut and being smug about it.

I mean "inviting them to attend conventions and speak about the events on the series as if they had really happened, instead of being filmed on a tatty little set with cheesy special effects." that just looks like he's taking the piss.

[ edited by eddy on 2005-05-03 16:08 ]
The Watcher, I agree. I miss Buffy and Angel terribly more than I ever will Star Trek. I always enjoyed Star Trek: TNG and from the original series, Spock was always my hands-down favorite. But I never really enjoyed that series as much as I did and do everything from the Whedonverse. Joss Whedon's shows are the ONLY ones that I will stop what I am doing and watch despite the fact I have seen the episodes a zillion times (other than Gilmore Girls).
I couldn't stand TNG when it first came was just the 60s Star Trek sensibility with a lot more "hells" and "damns", and "can't we all just get along?"

I accidentally tuned in a few months later and was pleasantly surprised...the characters seemed more fluid, the acting less histrionic, and the stories more compelling. We wound up watching it regularly and enthusiastically.

That said, I always held that of every 10 TNG episodes, 6 or 7 were good and sometimes even great, 2 or 3 were borderline bad, and 1 was always a complete stiff.

The original series was ground-breaking for TV, but as Card notes, it was not particularly good. Even the so-called "classic" episodes have virtually no real dramatic impact, and the acting and writing are sophomoric, at best. They succeed only on a camp level now, and that's been the case for decades.

But I have to agree with some previous posters: Smallville?


As a Buffy/Angel AND Star Trek fan, I want to comment here.

First of all, Mr. Card, the original Star Trek wasn't ignorant of the great science fiction writers of the time--Roddenberry got scripts from huge talents in the field, writers like Harlan Ellison, Jerome Bixby, Theodore Sturgeon, Norman Spinrad, and a kid named David Gerrold ("The Trouble with Tribbles") who eventually went on to big success himself. Roddenberry also had talented writer/producers like Gene L. Coon, who took the bare bones of Roddenberry's concept and fleshed it out with dazzling detail and intelligence. (Call GLC Trek's Greenwalt.)

The original Trek was NOT a leftover from spaceship sci-fi of the 1930s. There were surface similiarities, but it was socially relevant TV of the 1960s--yes, perhaps a touch anvilicious at times, and made on a budget that wouldn't fill a dessert cart on a modern TV show. But it tried dealing with the issues of the day, and it did so with the assumption that mankind would eventually work out its internal difficulties and explore the stars. It was a distinctly optimistic view of a tumultuous and pessimistic time in the U.S. and that, by itself, gave the series a lot of well-deserved love.

The acting? Say what you will about The Shatner, but Nimoy and DeForest Kelley kept the series from taking off into the Overactor's Stratosphere. And the cast was one of the most ethnically diverse in TV history, in a era when blacks and whites sharing accommodations was still an unsettling idea for a good part of the viewing audience.

In short: original Trek? Good! (Everything past DS9? I don't want to talk about it.)

[ edited by cjl on 2005-05-03 18:13 ]

Which was a shame, because science fiction writing was incredibly fertile at the time, with writers like Harlan Ellison and Ursula LeGuin, Robert Silverberg and Larry Niven, Brian W. Aldiss and Michael Moorcock, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, and Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke creating so many different kinds of excellent science fiction that no one reader could keep track of it all.

What hogwash to set all these writers against Star Trek as though they were pure antagonists and Trek robbed literary sci-fi of attention. As cjl noted, Ellison wrote FOR the show (City on the Edge of Forever). Can't remember the title, but one of LeGuin's short story collections contains a Trek spoof that shows both great familiarity with and affection for it.

From what I know of the author, I doubt he admires Rodenberry's politics. I'm now forced to wonder if he also harbors some envy of the Great Bird's multimedia empire, so mean-spirited and inapt is this.

I can't watch Star Trek anymore, either. But that doesn't mean it wasn't what it once was.

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2005-05-03 17:09 ]

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2005-05-03 17:13 ]
I'm stuck between agreeing and disagreeing. While Trek was good in that it garnered more attention for scifi (imo), it also failed to ever reach all that much beyond itself. In large part, it failed to grasp for greater issues/relevance beyond its own insular world (not saying it never did, just saying it was more rare than I, for one, would prefer). It said some interesting things but none of them were as probing, as deep, as out there as the great scifi writers of the time. It is important to keep in mind that it was limited not only by its creator's sometimes stifling vision, but also by the unique politics of network tv and the ratings game.

I may be mistaken, but as I recall Ellison and others complained of the 'butchery' that occurred to their screenplays at the hands of the Great Bird and his cronies. My main problem with Gene is his insistence that this was 'the future' and that these characters shouldn't have flaws. These future people have overcome all character flaws, they are perfect --- yawn... What makes great scifi isn't the rubber aliens and the spaceship battles that constituted scifi in earlier days, but realistic people in fantastic situations. Not superheroic infallible automatons who always get the girl and save the world in the final act. Living, breathing characters.

None of this is to say that Trek didn't reach great heights - it certainly did when not being watched vigilantly by Berman and the other Keepers of Gene's Vision. Trek's best in my opinion was done by the crew on DS9 later on. Memorable characters with flaws who behaved believably, interesting arcs that asked the Big Questions, a willingness to go where other shows and other Trek in particular would not or could not. Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Rene Echevarria, Ira Steven Behr, Ron Moore (lately of BSG), and others (including our Jane E.) weren't afraid to go there, risking failure to bring their vision for what the show could be to life. Avery Brooks, Armin Shimerman, Rene Auberjonois, Jeff Combs, Andrew Robinson and others made the characters believable and, I hesitate to use the term considering, but, human.

Having said all of that, the piece is definitely looking back on it from the vantage point of now, which to some extent fails to consider what it was then. What it was then was something different enough from what came before to make it unique and something to celebrate. It broke a few barriers (Kirk/Uhura kiss anyone?) and was probably as challenging as it could be given the time and limitations imposed on it from within and without.

I don't think that Card's 'politics' agreeing or disagreeing with Roddenberry's really even enters into this and I would go so far as to say its disingenuous to posit such a thing. The question is really whether what he has to say has merit and relevance and it certainly does. But it also fails to confront other important considerations. Given that, it is an opinion piece and it certainly expresses an opinion. It got us all gabbing, didn't it?

p.s. -- I'm with Caroline, Andy Robinson was AMAZING as Garak. I also agree with Simon, let's not assault writers for expressing an opinion. As a sidenote if you choose to trash a writer, using incorrect grammar to do so causes irony overload :)

p.p.s. -- Hewitt WOlfe, Behr and Echevarria are also responsible for the 4400 which will be returning as an ongoing series if I'm not mistaken.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2005-05-03 17:53 ]

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2005-05-03 18:03 ]
Big fan of TOS here, probably because it makes me all nostalgic. The overacting Shatner, well, he's pleasant to look at whilst making me giggle.
I can't get past the writer of that article not acknowledging all the ways STTOS and some of the other versions were successful, as people here have already described. Don't the legions of Trekkies speak for themselves???? And the television industry has changed so much since TOS days you can't use today's standards to evaluate a show like STTOS anymore.
The one way Trekkies and Whedonites are alike is in their fandom. No doubt.
So sad when someone would praise Smallville over Trek. Huh? Smallville is good, but... 'nuff said.
looks like a certain author is looking to stir up some publicity for his new book, by slagging off a show that has millions of reactionary fans.
My favorite sci-fi of this decade so far has been the new Firefly/Serenity, Battlestar Galactica and the new Doctor Who. The new Trek bored me.

(btw did you know that Serenity appeared in the first 15 minutes of the 2003 Battlestar Galactica mini-series? very kewl trivia, the same CGI group does work for both shows and they slipped it in - it's when she find out she has cancer in the doctor's office, look up :-)
Being familiar with Card I very much doubt that this is a publicity thing. Given that he has a new column up somewhere every week or so and they are often a tad controversial, it seems unlikely to me.
being unfamiliar with Card he makes a wholly unfavourable first impression, and i'm not a trek fan by any stretch of the imagination. the article leaves one with absolutely no desire to learn more about the author.
Star Trek is not dead. It is a multi-billion dollar franchise for Paramount, and it's not going to remain on the bench for long. Berman? He's gone. Voyager and Enterprise guaranteed his exit. But just because Berman's out the door, that doesn't mean Trek is over. The high muckity-mucks from Paramount will patiently search for a showrunner who can give the Trek universe a BSG-style transformation, and update the franchise for the 21st century.
From the intel I've seen ont he Paramount muckity mucks it will get a several year rest. The rather silly hting is that having found Manny Coto and thus improved Enterprise three fold recently they then decided to can it. Anyone else see stuff on JMS of B5 fame trying to get meetings to launch his own Trek?
t r a c y: could you try to use caps in your sentences, please?

Good discussion, into which I can't dive with any authority since I haven't seen any Trek since TOS. But zeitgeist's and others' enthusiastic comments may lead me to check out DS9.

And by the by, Stephen King riffed, in a couple of long footnotes in his terrific horror-fan book, "Danse Macabre," about Harlan Ellison and his Star Trek script tribulations. Wish I had it in front of me so I could excerpt the relevant juicy section.
DS9 takes a long time to get going. It's when it goes all War & Peace that it gets complicated and interesting. Basically, Cardassians are the biz. Ignore the captain.
Ooh, I like War & Peace. So should I start from the beginning anyway, or jump in somewhere in the middle?
Like Buffy I'd recommend starting at the beginning and in order to understand the characters better when it gets far more interesting down the line.

And I liked Sisko.
I'd skip the first season.

I've never gone to conventions or anything, but I've watched Trek shows on TV since I was a kid. And even though Angel is my all time favourite TV show, I still enjoy TNG, DS9 and Enterprise.
As a Buffyverse fan and a Trek fan, I think while Card makes some interesting points about Trek, it doesn't make Trek any less entertaining. I've been a Trek fan since season 5 or 6 of TNG, and while I've grown up and realized that the human race will never actually reach that point of near perfection that Gene wanted to believe in, sometimes its nice to be able to sit back and believe that we really are capable of such great things.

Also, with DS9, I suggest starting with the first episode and then sort of skimming through the rest of the first season. Without Emmisary though, a lot of what happens with the Bajorans towards the very end of the show (Dukat and Kai Winn) won't make even a little sense.
I watch "Lost" every week and think it's a very good show but the best sci-fi show? Not by a long shot. I think once the mysteries of "Lost" are revealed there might not be that much incentive to want to rewatch the show on DVD. Firefly, on the other hand, with only a handful of episodes, is so intriguing that I can watch it over and over again. And maybe he hasn't seen the new Battlestar Galactica but that is one great show.

And I really loved Star Trek TOS. I found it fun to watch and very enjoyable and it was ground breaking for its time. Now, I also don't enjoy it as much now as I did then because TV has gotten so much better with both the acting and writing that TOS does seem so primative in a way. William Shatner was over the top (and still is) in his acting but the rest of the cast did make up for that big time. My favortie characters were also Spock and McCoy.

I really don't like TNG but I didn't watch it all the way through and I've heard people say it improved. And I wasn't able to catch DS9 when it aired because we didn't have the station that carried it. I did enjoy Voyager but again, not as good as any of Joss' shows or BSG (and here's a bit of trivia, Edward James Olmos was originally suppposed to be Janeway but he turned it down because he didn't want to do a sci-fi show) They then changed the character to a female.

I've seen Smallville and thought the first couple of seasons were good but with only a couple of actors on the show who were actually good actors I've lost interest. My favorite characters on that show were the Luthers and there just wasn't enough of them to keep me interested. So I don't quite get all the praise given to that show in this article.

And Enterprise was just bad. I really was hoping it would be good but it seemed like bad casting from the beginning. Not saying the actors were bad but basically, imo, all the male characters seemed to have the same personality. I know the show was supposed to be better this season but they had already lost most of the loyal Trekkie fan base by then.

I have heard good things about DS9 so maybe someday if I can catch it starting somewhere from the beginning I'll try and watch it.
I would recommend starting at the beginning. That way the joy of watching it blossom is yours to behold. It really does end up being very rich and deep and it was fun (for me anyway) to watch it progress and become way more than it was originally.
Thanks Zeitgeist! I also wanted to throw in some very much deserved praise for Farscape, another show that should've been mentioned in this article. Farscape is definitely a sci-fi show with colorful and interesting aliens but it has a very rich and detailed ongoing storyline that will keep you wanting more! I absolutely love Farscape almost as much as I do Firefly, Buffy and Angel.
Definately start from the beginning with DS9. The first two seasons are pretty much your standard alien/anomoly of the week but they do the job of setting up the basic politics of the Bajorans, Cardassians and the Federation's new role in that area of space. Plus it will give you time to get used to the cast before the main Dominion War arc kicks into high gear.

And i liked Sisko too, hehe! Okay, it took him a while to really click with me but once he was promoted to Captain, shaved his head and grew that goatee he improved one hundred percent, in my opinion.
Sisko was the lynchpin in my favorite Trek episode ever, Season 6's In the Pale Moonlight.
Which was to DS9 what Normal Again was to Buffy.

That episode is definately recommended viewing. Excellent Stuff!
Actually, scratch my above comment. Far Beyond the Stars was the DS9 equivalent of Normal Again.

Both episodes were exceptionally good though so my second point still stands, hehe. :)
For those of you who didn't see anything after the original series, I'd advise you to start with Season 3 of Next Generation. The first two seasons were mostly as bad as the worst of TOS Season 3 (yes, that bad), with only a few glimmers of hope that it could develop into something more than a pale imitation of the 1960s version. Fortunately, Season 3 kicked it up a number of notches: the writing staff and the cast both clicked, Berman escaped the shadow of the recently deceased Roddenberry, and TNG went on a run of quality eps that didn't break stride until the end of Season 6. In my view it's STILL the best run in Trek history. The franchise was alive and well. (DVD Recommendation: Seasons 3-6.)

DS9 started with the basics laid down by TNG and expanded into newer, darker frontiers. After an intriguing pilot episode ("Emissary"), the series trudged through a sluggish S1. Avery Brooks didn't seem to truly inhabit his role until S3, leaving the spotlight to Nana Visitor, Rene Auberjonois and Andy Robinson, who carried the flag admirably. The DS9 mythos--the complex combination of political, social, military and religious themes--didn't gel completely until S5 ("Rapture"), but when it all came together, it was like nothing you'd ever seen before. (Ron Moore, one of the architects of S5, has brought that same approach over to the new Battlestar Galactica.) Seasons 5-7, featuring the Federation's war with the shape-shifting Founders and their Dominion armies, was spectacular TV. (DVD Recommendation: Seasons 4-7.)

Voyager was absolutely maddening, a potential return to the "exploration of the unknown" of the original, scuttled by conservative choices by the showrunner (Berman) and his studio bosses. Flashes of brilliance, but mostly, mediocrity up and down the line for seven seasons. Excellent work by Robert Picardo and Jeri Ryan as the ship's holographic doctor and reformed Borg drone Seven of Nine, but the series seemed determined to short-circuit any possible excitement. Infuriating. (DVD Recommendation: none. See if you can catch "Scorpion"--Seven of Nine's introduction at the end of S3--on syndicated reruns some time.)

Enterprise? A prequel to the original, and practically dead on arrival. Unlike Brooks, Scott Bakula never managed to work his way into the role of a Starfleet captain, let alone the first great legend of the Federation. Berman's formula has lost its punch. Seven or eight good episodes out of 100. (DVD recommendations: none.)

[ edited by cjl on 2005-05-04 00:06 ]
Oh man, how could I forget about Farscape? Almost certainly the best SF show of the past decade, even including Firefly which had more potential but was never allowed to get to the level that Farscape got to. If you like DS9 or B5 (also an excellent show if you ignore S5, which was the biggest disappointment other than Firefly getting cancelled), you owe it to yourself to check out Farscape, especially now that ADV is starting to release it on DVDs which are worth the money (Starburst Edition).
I think Farscape is also going into syndicated repeats this fall. As they say in the business: check your local station.
I can't comment on anything Trek-related since I've never been much of a fan (I don't dislike or hate it either.) I understand that OSC likes Firefly, Buffy, and Angel. Good for him. But I take great issue with OSC identifying Firefly as a "1930s"-type scifi series, by which he means "spaceship adventure stories with little regard for science or deeper ideas." Huh? It is true that Firefly isn't the kind of scifi that is all about the science. But "deeper ideas?" What was Objects in Space if it wasn't metaphysical as all hell? If OSC can't divine the attention to the "deeper ideas" in Firefly then I have to wonder about his ability to detect deeper ideas elsewhere in TV.

Also, if he includes Buffy/Angel as scifi, I can't for the life of me defend his choice of Lost as best scifi show on TV ever. What? Over Buffy, Angel, and Firefly? I don't agree at all.

Finally, to echo Chris in Virginia and others, Smallville????
Farscape is on my wishlist.
Well, far be it from me to start a conflagration, and thanks to all those who posted thoughtful recommendations, but I'm not sure I have the patience or, frankly, the time to sit through two or three seasons of less-good stuff to get to great stuff. I get that y'all really really like the later seasons of DS9 and TNG and Farscape, but y'know . . .

I loved BtVS from the very first episode I saw (The Puppet Show), and that love never relinquished its hold on me. I loved Firefly from its opening scene ("Because we are so very pretty"). I'm just getting too old and cranky to sit through 10+ hours in order to get to the good stuff. I've tried, really I have. I watched four season one episodes of Farscape that I got from netflix. Sorry bl, and others, didn't like it at all.

So, note to self: get hooked on space sagas before having kids my next time around . . .
Any judgement of TOS has to be made within the context of it's time. Just as someone now driving the Model T Ford would find it pathetic compared to a modern car you cannot have expected Henry Ford to have sat down at the turn of the century and designed the 2005 Focus. Progress is a slow process of building on what came before, and TOS, in it's time, had some very good points. While as mentioned character development was zero and the white hats whiter than white it took risks with the gender, race and nationality of the starring crew. A black woman officer alongside a Russian in the early sixties was a brave move and the plots, from what I remember, weren't just "Look! Alien! Shoot it!" but dealt with actual issues. Compared to BtVS they were dealt with very simplisticaly and a white hat/black hat way but still, for the time...
Far Beyond the Stars - Watcher is SO right. One of the best episodes of tv EVER bar none.

SNT - I am with you on Farscape, though I promised a friend I would give it another try. We'll see :) I liked DS9 enough straight away to keep going, its just the first season has got nothing comparatively on the later ones. I wouldn't call it bad or slow or anything. It lays the necessary groundwork for the amazing developments to come. I thought even S1 well worth watching. Its like with Buffy - as much as I like the first season there are kinks to work out and a groove to settle in to :) I liken it more to that.
If you want to get into Farscape I'd definitely recommend that you start with an episode from season 2, 3 or 4, there's even a special that was made to help new viewers come in at the beginning of season 3, because there is a lot of continuity. Once you get to like the show you can go back and enjoy season 1, it is good, it's just definitely the weakest season. I watched an early episode of season 1 and then didn't watch it again till I flicked onto one of the last episodes of the season (by which time it had gotten much better), but I like season 1 now.

[ edited by Ghost Spike on 2005-05-03 21:27 ]
Wow, as a former Trek fan. Especially the first three shows. I feel somewhat insulted.
It's funny. Despite my original post in this thread expressing the fact that i regretted not being able to defend Star Trek from the claims made in this article, i've spent a fair amount of time doing exactly that, certainly with regards to Deep Space 9 anyway.

It's a strange animal, Star Trek. No matter how bad you can acknowledge it has become, it still brings out a sense of loyalty from all those that have watched it over the years. Funny how that is.
I think its because it was a lot of people introduction to genre fiction, The Watcher. I know that watching TNG in fifth grade was amazing for me, to see all the cool science-y stuff that I was such a geek about extrapolated out 400 years and on TV. As I said, I grew up and realized the naive view of humanity that it had, but it harkens back to the beginnings of my love affair with science fiction.
And it was a lot of people's first TV crush, no doubt.
Yeah, being the first tv crush for a lot of folks (followed soon after by Doctor Who for me) it definitely brings up a lot of feelings and an instinctive protectiveness :) hob, as a Neil Gaiman FREAK I applaud your handle/nick.
Everything everybody else said and...
To write about the TOS without considering the social and television environment of the time, and to dismiss the well-documented groundbreaking nature of what that show was doing seems a little strange. Of course TOS was cheesy and not very good science fiction compared to what was going on in print, but it also aspired to be more than mindless entertainment and was embraced and accepted by the mainstream public. That was something that science fiction had not managed to do in the visual arts on the scale Star Trek did.

Sure, good science fiction writers wrote for the show and had their work hacked to pieces for the screen. The stories of Harlan Ellison’s script from both sides have become legend, and good publicity for all. (Someone from the Star Trek camp once said that Ellison had Spock and Kirk dealing drugs to make money. ) But why did they write for the show in the first place? Simple. It was the biggest thing to happen to Science Fiction in decades. Isaac Asimov used to say nice things about Star Trek all the time. He loved the fact that it was making his art form acceptable and popular to the mainstream public. Star Trek got the general public to think of science fiction as something that might be worth watching.

The original characters of TOS were not perfect. They were actually very flawed. If you look closely there are also more cracks in the white hat/black hat way of looking at things than you see at first glance and that was very unusual for the time. There were some subversive things going on under all that over-the-top, low budget television.

The first show's charaters were also diverse in more than just ethnicity. The ethnicity was enough to catch everyone’s attention at the time and overwhelm everything else, but there was also diversity in the way the characters looked at and dealt with life. There was a lot there. To bad there was so much to cringe about at the same time. Gene Roddenberry didn’t really have the concept of “subtle” perfected and wrote as though the sledge hammer was the smallest tool in the box. He did however, create something that changed American television and movies in a big way.

Personally, I haven’t watched Star Trek, except with my son, for many, many years. I enjoyed TOS even while laughing at the cheese when it was relatively new. It was part of its charm. My favorite was DS9 (I thought Sisco was okay.) I had the same experience as someone else described with STNG. I thought it was awful when it started but tried it later and liked it much better. Voyager never did much for me and I never was able to watch a whole episode of Enterprise.

BTW I always hear that DS9 was considered the "failure" of the franchise and not very popular. Funny how the folks here seem to like it the best. I guess I finally found my people.

My oldest friend introduced me to TOS just after it went into reruns. We bonded over it when we were kids and it will always have a place in my heart. The last couple months have been funny because that bonding experience over a show didn’t happen between us again until I introduced her to Buffy a few months ago. That is a long dry spell but worth waiting for.
BTW I always hear that DS9 was considered the "failure" of the franchise and not very popular. Funny how the folks here seem to like it the best. I guess I finally found my people.

:) Indeed, I've always thought DS9 to be the best. Youa re absolutely spot on on Gene's hammer approach. Subtlety, not so much with the subtlety. Gene always said they should be perfect in TNG, that of course wasn't necessarily the case and less so as time went on, which is why it was mroe interesting later on.
Just catching up on all the posts. Wonderful reading.

The original Star Trek was very important to me when I was a kid growing up watching it. I loved the show.
My previous post only mentioned the original, so I will update here with the following:

Next Generation - I enjoyed many of these, the Captain and Data are my favorite characters.

Deep Space 9 - started watching it when it began but found it to be slow and lost interest. From the comments posted here it sounds like the show improved around season 3, I'm sure I was watching season 1.

Voyager - Not crazy about it but loved the Doctor and 7 of 9

Enterprise - tried to watch a couple but just didn't get into it at all.
Oh, dear God, I forgot Voyager...I always exppected the Captain to say, "We represent the Lollypop Guild". Could never get past that, so I never got to 7 of 9, damn her eyes (the Captain's, I mean!)
Voyager was absolutely maddening, a potential return to the "exploration of the unknown" of the original, scuttled by conservative choices by the showrunner

Maddening is definitely the word. One of the best eps I can remember is the one where they come across the Equinox. That setup, with the Federation ship really struggling to survive, would have been far better and Ransom was a brilliantly cast captain.
Voyager had a few good episodes. Year Of Hell was a two parter where they went through, well, hell. People dying, ship falling apart and so on. The trick reset was done well and worked as part of the story. But overall very little development. Most episodes you could watch in reverse order and they'd make as much sense.

But mostly I watched it for Seven Of Nine. Jery Ryan had a great subtle comic manner. And large breasts.
Well, SNT, at least you gave Farscape a try. Before I bought the first season I was reading some reviews on Amazon and one person, on the recommendation of some friends, bought the first three seasons all at once. He started watching the first season and was really regretting his decision because he wasn't getting into the show at all and then around the midpoint he said it really clicked for him and he fell in love with it. Maybe you were just a few episodes away from reaching that point but if not thanks for at least giving it a look.

I liked what I had seen of Voyager. I've never seen all the episodes and when I started watching 7 of 9 was already on the show. Maybe if I had started seeing it from the beginning I wouldn't have been as intrigued but I really liked that character, the doctor and Janeway.
I enjoyed Voyager, but it wasn't the must see that TNG was. Picard, frankly, rules. Timing was also a factor. (Personal stuff no one cares about ahead.)

My stepfather entered my life shortly after TNG started. And wer really bonded over TNG, which was of absolutely no interest to mom at all. "Make it so" and "Engage" - with the finger motion - are still common between the two of us. "Hey, you want a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner?" "Make it so." Dorky giggles immediately follow.

Right up to the end, I loved TNG. I still pull out the finale on tape and watch it on occasion.

After Picard was no more, my fascination with Trek faded, and I never did catch DS9. I may have to give it a try now. I would love to try Farscape too, but I don't even want to bother renting a series that is soooo expensive, in fear that I'll love it and then break the bank trying to buy it all. What is the deal with the price anyway?
Picard was the one thing I loved about TNG! I bought my Farscape DVDs from Ebay. Had to really be patient to get some good deals but I did! Hopefully the prices will come down soon. From what I can see all these Star Trek series are ridiculously over priced too!
You're absolutely right FF - Trek DVDs are stupid expensive too. I didn't even think about that when commenting about the Farscape DVDs, because while I enjoyed TNG, and miss Picard, I have no burning need to buy any of the Trek DVDs. I find my Christmas ornament with Patrick Stewart's voice is sufficient.
To me it's 1. TNG, 2. DS9 3. TOS. 4. Voyager 5. Enterprise

TNG for several things. Mostly because Data is my favorite and got me into Star Trek. And I love Picard. And it's the episode wise themed based approach that I like.

DS9 had the best characterization and plot. My favorites are Nog and Garek. (I very much see it as a mild form of Xander/Spike relation.) The Captain is also an amazing character as his nemesis.

TOS. It's the original one. What can I say. Love Spock and Bones. And Kirk is legendary.

Voyager. I just can't get into the characters. Love the doctor and Seven, but that about it. But, I mostly am very annoyed by the explanation at the end of an episode. Usually done whenever the doctor of Seven had learned something of humanity and Janewane gave them then one her child-like explanation. That's not showing. It's telling. Anya was the perfect way how to introduce a character into the human world. Or Q. And I also don't like how they have overused and abused The Borg. That said, the action is great and I love the premis of the whole show.

Enterprise. I watch it and that's it. I don't get really pulled into the show.

[ edited by Koos on 2005-05-04 02:12 ]

[ edited by Koos on 2005-05-04 02:13 ]

[ edited by Koos on 2005-05-04 02:45 ]
Its always been a tossup between TNG and DS9 as far as best Trek for me. TNG because it was my first love and because the actors were amazing (I had the pleasure to see Brent Spiner as John Adams in 1776 on Broadway years later and he was outstanding, so funny) and DS9 because of the long arc stories that started when the Dominion showed up. After that comes TOS because the Kirk/Spock/McCoy triumvirate was just fantastic, and it was so original. And I know that its pretty campy, but it was really original at the time and a lot of those episodes still hold up (Passion mentioned the episode with the half white, half black people). Voyager and Enterprise...ick. I gave up on Voyager during the third season and I couldn't even get through one season of Enterprise.

PS - Thanks for all the comments on my nick. I use this all over the net and this is the first time anyone knows who it is :)
I haven't actually watched much Star Trek, so I can't comment on that. I do wonder if OSC has seem Battlestar Galactica, and if he hasn't, someone should point him to it b/c I'd think it'd be right up his alley as far as using Sci-fi to explore real societal and human issues.

I'm not actually that terribly surprised by OSC's views on scifi in this article, b/c if you've read the forewords to any of the scifi anthologies he's compiled, you'd know he has very strong opinions on what good scifi is, and when the best sci-fi was being produced. In fact, what he writes here sounds remarkably like one of those forewords, only with a television bent.

I think what I personally found of interest here is that OSC has watched Buffy and Firefly. I think I knew about Firefly, but I'd wondered about Buffy. I also wonder if Stephen King has seen Buffy, though I seem to remember reading somewhere that he hadn't (or was that OSC?). Even though I tend to disagree a lot with OSC's personal opinions (I like most of his books, at least up until recently), it's still cool to me that he's seen and appreciates Buffy. I'm kind of easy to please that way ;).

I don't like the first three seasons of Voyager either, but it gets better from S4 on. It's not up to par, but there are some outstanding episodes.
I also have to come down in favour of DS9 - these days I'm forced to wonder how great it could've been without Rick Berman running the show. Michael Piller went on to create the excellent Dead Zone (tv show, not book of course) and Ron Moore is running the outstanding BSG. Since DS9 managed a wonderful arc and interesting characters with a decent amount of development even with Berman pushing the guidelines set out by Gene, I'd love to have seen what they could've managed without his influence. I guess BSG is as close as we're going to get.

As for the poor early seasons of Farscape, I watched the 1st episode when it 1st aired over here and hated it, didn't bother watching another episode - I seem to recall describing it as Buck Rogers with puppets, not flattering. A couple of my friends were fans however and kept telling me how good it was and I would occasionally read good things about it on the internet. So when I found that the fan campaign had worked and they were getting a min-series I decided I'd check it out. I downloaded all 4 seasons and one weekend decided to try a couple of ep's. Still wasn't impressed with the pilot, but I expected that and so I pressed on. Didn't see much improvement at 1st and I can't even tell you when the turning point was, but next thing I knew I couldn't stop watching and had made my way through all 4 seasons in around 20 days (while still going to the office every day and keeping up with whatever else I was watching at the time, which was Angel s5 amongst other things). I now own seasons 1 and 2 on dvd and await the day seasons 3 and 4 are more reasonably priced so I can buy them as well. As Ghost Spike said, I also now like s1, probably because the characters are so good that it's a pleasure to watch their eaerly interactions.

Back to Trek: I really liked TNG, actually stopped watching Voyager around about the time they were routinely spanking the previously almost unbeatable borg (the only tv show I can remember actually watching faithfully and then giving up on). Came very close to giving up on Enterprise during s2 but stuck it out and am glad I did so as s3 was far superior and s4 has also been most enjoyable. DS9 is still the only Trek show I want on dvd but certainly not for the prices currently being asked.

Only set out to write the 1st paragraph but seem to have found myself on a roll :)
Sorry, Simon...AND:
Not that any more comments are needed, but I think maybe Simon is being a little too hard on us, if we're not to criticize the author. The authority (and possibly existence) of the article depends on its author.
And I am a longtime Card fan: the first book I always recommend to readers who think they don't/won't like science fiction is "Ender's Game" (and its various incarnations)....But I've never seen the point of trashing all the lightweight would-be sci-fi (and yes, including the Trek paperbacks) in the demand that people read great science fiction--or leave it alone entirely.

And so to drag Mr. Card (who is, btw, not pushing a new book but supposedly slaving away at the screenplay to the "Ender's" movie) back into the fray, I think it's fair to say that a lot of the Star Trek world was a lot better science fiction than a lot of Card's ouevre. Those who live in glass etc....

As for "Lost", I watch it. But I think we'll all have to wait for the DVD to see whether the commercials are slicing it into barely intelligible, if intruiging, skits, which (like "Firefly") will coalesce into a wondrous whole when excised. Or if it will only seem pretentious without the car ads.
Having read.. most... of all that, I have to comment. When I was a kid, I remember my Dad watching Star Trek every time it was on. (I'm 23.) He would tape it, because he works too much and would watch it on Sunday afternoons.. we'd sit together and watch it and it seemed familiar and normal. I remember thinking, wow, he really loves that show. Recently (ha!) having been.. slightly obsessed with the Buffyverse and thus far everything JJ Abrahms can put out, I can see where he was. I wasnt a huge fan then, (I was under 10 when TNG was on and in my teens when Voyager was on..), but occasionally now, if Dad has it on and I'm home, it just makes me feel.. normal to watch it. You know that feeling, when its familiar and comforting? Star Trek is comforting to me and mine (and at least one person in every family in America, I'm sure!) and I'm glad that it was on for as long as it has been. I hope, for my father's sake that they make another. And maybe this time, it.. won't be low grade. (Seriously, I liked TNG and (sadly) Voyager, but Enterprise was not up to those, at least for me..) Thank you, thank you. :exits:
Wow, Mr Card is probably on the list of some hardcore Trekkies after they read this article! Well, while I agree with him on some levels, I do think the original show was better than he gives it credit for. You must always judge something by the time it was current in first, and I don't think there were that many other shows out back then that were better.

I'm not a Trekkie by any means, and I can mainly watch that show with a nice dose of nostalgia, but I do notice some of those ideas and plots were pretty cool even if the backgrounds were obviously all carboard and such.

I never got into Voyager (annoying captain) or DS9 (too many aliens that just look like deseased and malformed humans and too static overall) but I do enjoy the better eps of TNG mainly thanks to Patrick Stewart making for a cool and powerful character.

Still, I never will be a Trekkie because there's still something too stiff and clean about the whole style of it all. I infinitely prefer Firefly style, which is so much more human and realistic.

Still, while I don't miss the 'verse' of ST, and I think he has a point about that 'rut',(Never watched a second of Enterprise and from what I read, I haven't missed much) there were some very cool ideas and stories in there, and I know it well enough to 'get' all the references the Troika made in BtVS;-)

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