TNG@20 – EW’s ‘Oral History’ Of TNG

There is a great feature article at EW today called "Star Trek: TNG: An oral history." It covers the development of the series and the pilot and has quotes from Robert Justman, Rick Berman, DC Fontana, Herman Zimmerman, Andrew Probert, Mike Okuda, Denise Crosby, LeVar Burton, and John DeLancie. There is too much in the article to just pull out the good stuff, so just go read the whole thing.  

 

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Wow…wait…..

and…

FIRST!

Cervantes ( ...ban the first posters!... )

Yes folks…the aintitcool site has a lot to answer for… ;)

snake

BERMAN Jonathan Frakes, who’s one of my closest friends, was the second choice for Riker. The first choice — an actor I’m sure you know who I will not mention — went in and read [for the studio first].

JUSTMAN He froze. So they gave him another chance seven days later. Failed again. He just didn’t have it. Jonathan Frakes was next up; I remember that we were up in the Paramount offices, and Frakes was waiting outside. As we left and went down the corridor, I looked at him and went like this. [He gives a thumbs up.] He grinned.

that must have been The Rocketeer (Bill Campbell)

God, that really took me back.

Macht would have been an interesting captain.

Great article. Good to see TNG getting its due. :)

Jackson Roykirk

#4 Dennis

That IS interesting, because I once thought that Stephen Macht’s son Gabriel would make a good Kirk for Abrams (however, being in his mid-30’s, he is a bit old)

reptileboy

We’ve had hundreds of tell all books from TOS, cushy behind-the-scenes tie-ins and backslapping making-ofs. But I really feel the true story of TNG and the modern era of Star Trek has yet to be told.

And this article just shows how interesting and diverse the creation of TNG was. I would love to see some insider articles like this expanded into full texts and published. Especially now that we are entering a completely new era of Star Trek.

CanuckLou

#3 Thanks for the info. I was wondering to whom Justman referring to.

It must have been cool to work on that show. :)

Rick

CmdrR.

FIRST — to snicker at the idea of Troi with 3 boobs. Talk about a fanboy fantasy!

I AM THX-1138

#8
It sure was fun to watch it. Thanks.

Spootbat

The actor to have first auditioned for Riker was Jeffrey Combs, who later played Weyoun, Brunt, and Shran.

CanuckLou

#11 Jeffrey Combs! Wow! That would have be an interesting choice. He’s comes off as pretty quirky. Playing a first officer against Stewart’s Picard would have been very interesting.

Drone #192056114

Great article. I grew up on that show. Nice to start the day with a little nostalgia. :)

Cygnus-X1

Regarding the set-design concept for the Enterprise-D bridge:

“One way that people try to show that things are advanced is you have a lot of blinky, flashing lights. I wanted to go in the opposite direction. I wanted to show that this ship was so advanced that it was simple.”

This reasoning I understand. But, this, on the other hand….

“We were criticized by the fans, who said it looked like a Hyatt Regency hotel. I was okay with that. Gene wanted light colors, he wanted space, he wanted it to feel like home. He did not want it to feel like a submarine.”

I’ve never understood the motive behind wanting the Enterprise-D bridge to look homey. I have no complaints about it, so, I suppose that it worked.

But, it seems counterintuitive to me – antithetical to a Sci-Fi adventure show, in fact – to have a calm, placid-looking look bridge, on which the likes of Martha Stewart might seem at home. I’d like to see a bit of elaboration as to the rationale behind that choice, i.e. WHY did they want the bridge of the new ship to be more open, homey, tranquil and inherently less exciting?

I’m SOOO glad that they didn’t cast Eric Menyuk – The Traveler – as Data. That really might have been a deal-breaker for me.

Not only did Brent Spiner bring more to the show, particularly in the way of humor, than I can imagine most actors bringing, but, while I’m sure that Eric Menyuk is a lovely fellow, The Traveler was THE most annoying character on TNG, for me.

The only thing more annoying, in the scenes with The Traveler, than The Traveler, himself, was Wesley exclaiming in his Mid-Western, epiglottis-exposing accent, “The Traaaveler!!!”

And, I’m by no means a Wesley-hater. But, that one line grates on my nerves.

Running a close second, in measure of annoyance, was the character, Darmok.

I will not watch that episode. And, hearing that character frustratedly reiterating, “Darmok. At. Tenagra!!” is a special form of torture.

Great article, by the way.

CmdrR.

Combs would have been cool. I liked Frakes by the second or third season. In season one, my namesake was wooden as hell. I think he benefitted from being around Stewart. Or else he just took a while to loosen up. (They should have let Genie Francis do a guest shot as an Orion slave girl.)

Harry Ballz

I remember reading that Christopher MacDonald (was in Yesterday’s Enterprise) had auditioned for the role of Riker. Personally, I think he would have been a much better choice than Frakes. MacDonald always seemed to have more charisma and better acting chops than Mr. Frakes. The bar of quality during the seven year run of the T.V. show would have been raised by Mr. MacDonald’s involvement!

Tom

Not as fun as a history of oral.

CmdrR.

Looking back at some of the episodes, I wonder whether the uniforms restrained some of the physical action that should have been there. In the early seasons, I can see awkward movements at times, as the actors try not give themselves wedgies. From season 3 onward, there’s a noticeable effort not to show the actors’ backs (and that GINORMOUS seam) which seems to affect the blocking at times. There are exceptions of course. But, there’s a lot more who-gives-a-poo-about-$2-velour in TOS. I miss all the gratuitous shirt ripping. (There are at least two times where Picard is wounded without his shirt getting mussed that really bother me — “Who Watches the Watchers” and the horrible one where Troi gets aged into a crone and stabs Picard.)

Harry Ballz

I remember the time I stayed up half the night cramming for a blood test!

Trekker670

I walked into my English class yesterday, and my teacher handed me the mini-magazine version of the article which was included in the Entertainment Weekly Magazine!

pizza hotdog

I would love to read something similar on the making of Star Trek 2008.

457 dtST

New Horizon

– WHY did they want the bridge of the new ship to be more open, homey, tranquil and inherently less exciting?

To contrast the dramatic nature of the show. It’s far more comforting driving into battle in a tank, than it is in a sedan! It made the audience feel at home, and in that sense..it brought the sense of comfort, awe, suspense…further into the living room than it would have had if the ship were more like the future sterile spin offs.

steve623

“I liked Frakes by the second or third season. In season one, my namesake was wooden as hell. I think he benefitted from being around Stewart. Or else he just took a while to loosen up. ”

It was the beard :-)

Cygnus-X1

#22 – New Horizon

— It’s far more comforting driving into battle in a tank, than it is in a sedan! It made the audience feel at home, and in that sense..it brought the sense of comfort, awe, suspense…further into the living room —

Interesting theory. The spacious, living-room-esque bridge lulls the audience into a false sense of security, as though they might be visiting with Grandma, and then….

BAM!! The Borg come along, in their technophobia-inducing Cube-ship and invade the sanctuary of Grandma’s living room, thus the creep-factor is maximized.

I’m not sure if it worked quite that way on me, but it seems plausible.

Question for everybody.

Was anyone on the old AOL Star Trek Message boards YEARS AGO?

I mean like 1997/98? I remember those things were hot right up until the end of DS9.

Having Robert Orci and others post on here reminds me very much of the days when Ron Moore (and Brannon Braga once in a while) used to reply to fans on those message boards.

I’m just curious if anyone is still around from those days.

-DJT

Nathan

That’s an awesome article, and its really neat to see Rick Sternbach posting on here.

Personally, I’ve always really liked the TNG bridge, cushy chairs in all…really, I love almost everything about the series (from season 3 onwards, that is…), so I guess I’m not exactly the most objective evaluator.

As for Jeffrey Combs as Riker, I’m a big fan of his, and especially of his Weyoun character, but I have to say I can’t imagine him as the true-blue Kirk substitute that is Riker. Ditto for the Traveler… really, I like Jonathan Frakes’s Riker better than I would any other actor’s take on the role.

So yeah, I’m a Trek apologist…but at least I’m not a rabid TOS-Kirk-Shatner fanboy….

flier1701

Frakes as Riker brings a familiar quality to the show, especially in the later seasons. To me, he was a combination of Kirk and McCoy rather than just a Kirk Clone. He had an everyman quality to him that was comforting. I think this has mostly to do with the way Frakes played him, rather than the writing or what was intended. But I am biased as Riker is my favorite character on that series.

Maybe after all this time, it’s hard to see another actor playing that role over the fifteen year journey that is The Next Generation.