In the first part of our exclusive interview with TNG star Wil Wheaton, we talked about his appearance at multiple events at this weekend’s Phoenix Comic Con, geeking out, voice acting and more. Now in Part 2 see what Wil had to say about his future writing plans, the early seasons of Next Generation, the changing of the guard from Gene Roddenberry to Michael Piller, and JJ Abrams new Star Trek movie
Interview: Wil Wheaton – Pt 2
TrekMovie.com: How are things going with your latest book, "Happiest Days of Our Lives," and is their a fourth book in your series of personal journals?
Wil Wheaton: Things are going really with "Happiest Days." I have sold out of two printings and there is a special expanded edition coming early this year from Subterranean Press. I am also going to do an audio versions of the expanded material that are going to be online for free released a little before the print book. We did an audio version of "Happiest Days" that is doing well and people seem to like it and I am really proud of it. I am not sure I am going to do another collection of narrative non-fiction stories. I have been wanting to write fiction for a long time. 2008 was supposed to be the year of writing fiction for me, but I had sinus surgery early in the year and it disrupted my rhythm so much to lose eight weeks to just recovery and then it was the summer with conventions and so by the time the Fall came and I started working on the stories I had planned to start in February, it was October. So it is very important for me to write fiction. I wanted to do it for a long time. I am really proud of "Happiest Days," and feel like I have done everything I want to do in the narrative non-fiction world, but obviously I will never say never, but my primary focus right now is working on a collection of science-fiction and other genre fiction short stories and novellas to be collected and will hopefully be out later this year.
Wheaton’s three collections of narrative non-fiction
The other book that’s coming out that will be interesting specifically to your readers is a collection of my Star Trek The Next Generation reviews/reminiscence/snark columns that I was doing for TVSquad. We are collecting them into a full season and releasing that as a book later this year, in time for summer.
TrekMovie.com: How many of those reviews have you done?
Wil Wheaton: I have done nineteen from the first season so far. I have two reviews from the forthcoming Star Trek reviews book that have never been seen anywhere that I am bringing with me to perform at the Phoenix Comic Con. People who have enjoyed my reviews will definitely want to come to the con to hear what I am bringing with me.
TrekMovie.com: The first season can be be brutal.
Wil Wheaton: Yeah. That is why the first season is kind of fun. Some of the episodes are really really bad and a few of the episodes are extremely good, even if you are not grading on a curve. For the most part — we are awkward — we are trying to figure out what our show is about. And you can see how we had so many different writers and creative power struggles while we figured out what we were going to be. We were really lucky we got a chance to do more than one season. If it wasn’t for the incredible cast and writers like Sandy Fries and Tracy Torme, we probably would not have gone past the second season.
TrekMovie.com: I am in the camp that thinks that Michael Piller, and writers like Ron Moore, really saved the show in the third season.
Wil Wheaton: They absolutely did.
TrekMovie.com: I know some don’t like to hear that Gene [Roddenberry] didn’t save the show. I love Gene Roddenberry, but for TNG I think the Michael was the best thing for the show.
Wil Wheaton: Gene had the presence of mind to know he was getting old and he knew that someone who loved Star Trek as much as he did could step in to take the reins. He hand picked Michael. He begged Michael at the end of season three to come back. Michael didn’t want to at first, but Gene said to him "I need you to make this show great, I can’t do it without you" and Michael agreed. And Michael had the open submissions policy, which is how Ron [Moore] came on, with "The Bonding." I don’t think it is inaccurate or unfair to give Michael a great deal of credit for making Next Generation great, but at the same time I think it is also fair and accurate to acknowledge that it was Gene Roddenberry who had the vision and presence of mind and the foresight to keep Michael Piller on and put him in a position to do what he did.
Wheaton as Wesley Crusher in 3rd season TNG episode "The Bonding"
TrekMovie.com: The last time we chatted we cross-posted a blog of yours about the new Star Trek movie. Since then have you been keeping up with the news, like the recent spoilers from Orci, did you see that?
Wil Wheaton: I have been working hard to avoid spoilers.
TrekMovie.com: But you have seen the trailer. What is your current geek level alert on the movie?
Wil Wheaton: I remain cautiously optimistic. Based on what I know, I am really excited to see it. I wasn’t crazy about the trailer, speaking strictly as a Star Trek fan. It felt like a sci-fi action movie, with Star Trek costumes. But I actually think that is a really good idea that they did the trailer that way. Guys like me are going to see the movie no matter what, they need to convince my kids to see it. And my kids are only going to see it if it is in a language they understand.
TrekMovie.com: So what did your kids think?
Wil Wheaton: They thought it was cool and exciting, so good job! They are not making the trailer for me — they are making it for this other audience and Star Trek fans should be really excited about that. They really need to get my kids and their friends, and a next generation, if you will pardon the pun, into the theater, so that Star Trek can keep going. If they are going to keep going, Star Trek has to be made relevant to the millennials.
Wheaton: cautiously optimistic about Star Trek 2009 – sees opportunity for another generation of fans
Trek stars this weekend at Phoenix Comic Con + Trek poster giveaway
Wheaton is one of four Trek celebs attending the excellent fan-run Phoenix Comic Con this weekend January 23-25th, being held the Mesa Convention Center in Mesa, AZ. On Saturday Wheaton will be on a panel with his TNG co-stars Marin Sirtis and Brent Spiner. Also attending the con is DS9’s Chase Masterson who will be showing her film Yesterday Was a Lie. Will has two other Phoenix panels planned: the Friday ‘geek out’ panel with Lowenthal and Douglas (mentioned above), a Saturday solo panel discussing his blogs and projects (probably where he will do his TNG review). Wil will also be joining with others in the ‘Rock Band Blowout’ playing the popular video game ‘Rock Band’ on stage Friday night. The Trek guests and panels are just a fraction of the sci-fi and genre programming for the weekend.
The con only costs $30 for a three day pass, and less for individual days. Photos with the stars are also available, see the site for schedule and prices.
There will also be a special Star Trek poster give-away at the con, sponsored by Rodenberry Productions. They are giving away 10,000 vintage Trek posters from the 80s and 90s.
10,000 Trek posters given away this weekend at Phoenix Comic Con
More info at www.phoenixcomicon.com
TrekMovie will be there
TrekMovie’s Kayla Iocovino will be reporting on happenings from Phoenix Comic Con this weekend, so check back for her reports.
ps: does anyone know what het does for al living besides writing books and going to conventions? Is he still in the movie business?
From what I can gather he mostly writes and does some voice acting for cartoons and video games.
His blog is here: http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/
Follow him on Twitter @wilw
He now owes me a beer for pimpin’ his sh…stuff
It seems like sometimes Wil Wheaton is the only Trek related person to give honest opinions about the new movie. Everyone else says its going to be awesome, without giving any reason why, but just that it is. But I think Wheaton says what is on the mind of a lot of us Trekkies, that we feel that the movie looks like a sifi action movie wrapped in a Starfleet uniform. And yes, its being marketed to non-trekkies because they know we’ll go see it no matter what. But I, like him, remain cautiously optimistic.
they should have spun off a series about academy life, starring wil, that ep when he and his pals got busted for that illegal flight stunt was great…
I remember that episode, The Bonding, where they had this wonderful scene (pictured above) in which Troi was trying to make Jeremy see how others delt with loss in their lives and moved on by accepting it and letting go. It was a little startling to see how wounded they all were (especially Wesley, who finally got his chance to give Picard his grief over the loss of his father and subsequent forgiveness; that scene between Stewart and Wheaton was priceless) but were made stronger because they were all part of the Enterprise family. And the final scene where Worf made the young lad a place in his family. Yes, TNG finally came around as great story telling of the human condition.
Well, if Wil wants to savage the first two seasons of TNG. there are a lot of putrid nuggets ripe for his wrath.
I think “Justice,” a quasi-Wes episode (half-naked blonde people who run everywhere, have stupid laws with only the death penalty, and a ‘God” who orbits the planet. Wes tramples someone’s garden, gets sentenced to death, and Picard solves it all by shouting) has got to be the low-point.
Who remembers “Bags of mostly water”, or the ep with Tasha that followed “Farpoint?” It’d be nice to hear Wheaton’s reviews, and have empathy from one of the stars about how bad TNG could be in those early years.
@7 – He’s already done those ;) http://www.tvsquad.com/2006/12/05/star-trek-the-next-generation-justice/ and http://www.tvsquad.com/2006/09/08/star-trek-the-next-generation-the-naked-now/
Full list was posted above at http://www.tvsquad.com/bloggers/wil-wheaton/
Thanks! Good stuff…
I don’t know how likely it is, but having read a couple of his reviews, I’d love to see him do the entire Next Generation series. Granted, he wouldn’t always have the behind-the-scenes memories for the later seasons, but I still think it’d be good fun.
Thank goodness he had a sense of humor while reviewing ‘Code of Honor’. The most non-Trek, offensive episode ever produced. I taste bile every time I think about it.
“They thought it was cool and exciting, so good job! They are not making the trailer for me — they are making it for this other audience and Star Trek fans should be really excited about that. They really need to get my kids and their friends, and a next generation, if you will pardon the pun, into the theater, so that Star Trek can keep going. If they are going to keep going, Star Trek has to be made relevant to the millennials.”
I really like most of Wheaton’s approach to the upcoming film. He absolutely right about that. That is a very grounded approach, and one that I share in regard to my own children and their peers.
Here is where he and I don’t quite see ‘eye-to-eye’:
“I wasn’t crazy about the trailer, speaking strictly as a Star Trek fan. It felt like a sci-fi action movie, with Star Trek costumes.”
He uses the descriptive term, “sci-fi action movie” in a pejorative manner. I don’t see it that way. The ‘Star Trek’ that I grew up with could easily be described as “sci-fi action”, so I’m not sure why he presents that term in a negative light .
TOS was sexy, romantic, adventurous, and truly unafraid of a good old fashioned bare-knuckled fistfight…Since that is the ‘Star Trek’ I love anyway, I hope that the upcoming film has those elements, along with fulfillment of the promise that the distinctly ‘Star Trek’ vision of an optimistic future will be left intact.
But I do respect his approach in general. It’s quite down to Earth.
Ah, Tracy Torme, son of the late great Mel Torme. Somebody I really miss from this world.
11. Sean, i remember the let-down coming off the the fanboy high of Farpoint, which in itself was crap, and then seeing “Code of Honor.”
I have never watched it since its original airing, so WW’s review served as a refresher.
TOS aside, I think the “episode 2” of every Trek series was a clunker. TNG rubbed it in, however, with “Naked Now,” “Justice” and “Angel One,” etc. It was a shame Tracy Torme didn’t stick around as “The Big Goodbye” was terrific.
And thank goodness they defied the Writers’ Guide and brought in the Klingons in “Heart of Glory.” Worse luck with the Romulans, playing second fiddle to some stupid unfrozen humans, and wearing horrid shoulderpads and bumpy foreheads. Ahh, history!
Seasons 1&2 really were a mixed bag. I like to think of it as growing pains, but ‘Code of Honor’ and ‘Angel One’ were unforgivable. ‘Justice’ is awful, BUT, one thing I do love about it is Picard’s speech in the end about there being no ‘justice so long as laws are absolute’. I always appreciated that moment, where he just sort of desperately cries to the heavens in an effort to appeal to reason. The story itself is bad (a society that kills a citizen for falling in a garden? Seriously???) but that moment feels very Trekian.
#14—Funny….My TiVo dvr picked up “The Naked Now” under ‘Suggestions’ this week!!!
Seasons 1 and 2 were uneven, without a doubt. And Wil’s right that TV shows don’t get the luxury of those teething seasons anymore. All the performances were good despite the patchy writing – but man, I hope whoever made the final decision on casting Patrick Stewart knows what a great thing he did for the show and the franchise. That performance alone would have made the early seasons worthwhile.
Like Wil Wheaton Ive have been working hard to avoid all spoilers as well.
Ive only seen the trailer and the first pic of the Enterprise !!!
I hope theres more Spoiler free fans out there !!
Its killing me,, but it will be worth it
17 – I’m definately there on thanking the guy who said “Go Stewart”.
Always makes me squee that Wil put me in his Code of Honor review (Twitter user @etherlad, at the end). (:
I distinctly remember my deep disappointment in 1988 when TNG first came on the air, and I saw how godawful the first episode was… and then how I hoped, with each successive episode, that the show would improve… but it didn’t. Instead, the entire first season was an atrocious embarrassment… and the second season was hardly any better. It puzzled me at first why this should be so, when the first season of TOS was so amazingly great, and the second season was, if anything, even better. Was the writing and production staff on TNG just terrible, whereas TOS had been great? Had Roddenberry lost all his skills over the years? Fixing blame was hard to do, but it was easy to recognize what was wrong–TOS had been–despite the stigma attached to sci fi at the time–a much more adult show, written by and produced by grown-up people who had had hard experiences in life (Roddenberry, Gene Coon, etc.) and were thus less likely to truck in nonsense. When *romance* showed up on TOS, it was more juvenile and one dimensional…with the occasional rare exception (City on the Edge of Forever, for instance)… but when it reached for other human themes, and action, it always fared far better. Writing and production and editing molded together to produce episodes that, on the scale of TV drama, were always closer to the high end. Hardly ever AT the high point–but close. Whereas TNG started out *always* juvenile and sophomoric and silly, and struggled and scratched its way up over 7 seasons to get away from that and closer to more adult drama. It hit it, a few times, where it managed to do a good job–but it was never consistently there. Instead we’d still have to suffer–right up to the end–appearances from the awful and ridiculous “Q” character–a character and a device right out of the worst periods of “Lost in Space” (which was not John DeLancie’s fault–he’s a good and very likeable actor–but the idea of the character and the overall concept was terrible and silly) and asides to other silly and poorly realized characters and situations. TNG never managed to fully get away from this. It was a much more juvenile show than TOS, but why? Just different times? But why should that be so? If anything, you’d expect the more jaded, less innocent, more cynical modern types to produce a show that was MORE adult than TOS, not less. Well, one answer, perhaps, is that sci-fi, while having long since thrown off its truly childish edge, has also gotten worse in regards to how it manages to depict real human situations, emotions, and characters. But again, this isn’t always the case. Was it the shift to Roddenberry’s overly touchy-feely vision of the future, from the more simple and general optimism of the 60’s TOS to the 80s, when the vision became sickeningly cultish and weird? But Roddenberry wasn’t doing all the writing, by any means. I place some blame on David Gerrold, who, if I’m not mistaken, wrote the bible for TNG in the early days–and Gerrold, I personally believe, has always been nothing but a one-trick pony who wrote one very good but lightweight episode of TOS, then did a less-than-stellar story editor job in the third season, and then went on to do a workmanlike job on Land of the Lost shortly after. (I forget what role, exactly, he played in the animated ST series). But that’s it. I tried reading some of his other works and found them dull or downright unbearable. And if he’s responsible for setting some of the tone and for creating or at least fleshing out some or all of the characters of TNG—then clearly there’s the origin of some of the problems right there. Gerrold, I understand, was the one responsible for inserting the insufferable character of the “Ship’s Counselor,” a ridiculous and pansy-ass concept if there ever was one (this is not a slur on Gerrold’s sexual orientation–I couldn’t care less about that–merely a comment on the nature of the “Ship’s Counselor’s” role, which was the worst “touchy-feely” cutesy aspect of the entire TNG) as was the idea of inserting children on the Enterprise, of the character of Wesley Crusher himself (which only served to further emphasize the childish or adolescent nature of the show and also served to make Picard look less realistic, as he walked around the whole first and second seasons treating Wesley like shit, when this was supposed to be the now-fatherless son of Picard’s freakin’ BEST friend) of Data, who was by *their own admittance* simply a mechanized Peter Pan (more child-crap) of the character of Natasha Yar, some idiot’s idea of what a “tough” woman should be like—of Geordi (stupid names were also stock… Read more »
Very smart and funny guy.
Moving on to a complete non sequitur: Is anyone else as upset as me that The Dark Knight got shut out of best pic in the Oscar nominations?
A note for Trekmovie’s Kayla Iocovino: If you are at the convention tonight, track me down at my SF Tube Talk panel at 8 pm.
Funny how an ex Star Trek actor has gone on to be (in my opinion) one of the most entertaining and on-the-money Star Trek critics.
How did Wil get cast as Wesley? I’ve never heard that story, but I think it would be interesting. If he releases his season 1 reviews as a book, he should definitely write an introduction recalling his audition experiences, to lead nicely into the Farpoint review.
Great interview. I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by Mr. Wheaton’s openness, honesty and candor about the franchise and his own fandom.
#22: I think the fact that after 700 some odd stories (on film alone) have been produced it is hard to come up with something new, fresh and innovative.
I have to say I disagree with your view about David Gerrold. I think one thing that hamstrung TNG early on was Roddenberry’s insistence that all of the main characters get along (the evolved man concept). That idea loosened up a little later on.
Another thing that hurt the show early on was the writer’s strike in its second season.
Funny thing that “Justice” would be pointed out as a weakness, as I remember reading fairly recently of a similar event (real time) that resulted in a harsh sentence (if not death). I wish I could recall the details (dammit!).
I’ve enjoyed all the various versions of TREK and have no doubt I will enjoy the upcoming film too but I agree with Will’s assessment about this maybe being an action film… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing… if they do it right.
Oddly enough AFN (Armed Forces Network) showed Star Trek V today.
I have to say that after this week I am more than ready to come home (we had a bombing right outside our camp last Saturday with one of our own being killed.. .and four more injured–one quite seriously– our own office space had a window broken out from the concussion of the blast).
AND in spite of that I am still quite hope for this country.
I hope you all enjoyed the inauguration… I’d have loved to have been there for it!
As they used to say in the 70s, “keep on trekkin!”
“Funny thing that “Justice” would be pointed out as a weakness, as I remember reading fairly recently of a similar event (real time) that resulted in a harsh sentence (if not death). I wish I could recall the details (dammit!).”
That’s a good point, Doug. I suppose there are a lot of ‘frivolous’ laws out there. I just found the concept of disobeying a ‘Don’t Walk on the Grass’ sign being punishable by death really goofy. Then again, maybe it was that the planet was full of blonde joggers that irked me more! ;)
I love TNG though, and I’ll disagree with Randall – I think Seasons 3-6 were outstanding, and featured stories and issues that TOS simply couldn’t have realistically dealt with. Each show was a reflection of the times they were produced in, and I think that’s what kept Trek going for a long time. To me, that was the misstep with VOY & ENT – I never felt they tied us back to today in a very interesting way. From TOS to TNG to DS9, I felt a very clear lineage and progression, whereas VOY & ENT both felt like TNG Lite (to me).
#27. Doug, you just put everything in perspective — I won’t be complaining about anything today. Thanks for that. And thanks for your sacrifices.
I grant that you’ve hit on a good point about VOY and ENT feeling like “TNG Lite”—that’s a good way to put it. And VERY “Lite” at that.
As for some of the seasons of TNG being “outstanding,” that’s a matter of opinion, of course–but I never said I hated TNG–I merely maintain that it was inferior overall to TOS for the reasons I gave. And I realize that’s MY opinion–but certainly no one can seriously or reasonably argue with a straight face that TNG wasn’t often very silly, stilted, and adolescent.
But this idea of each series being a “reflection of its time” is a cop-out. This should have nothing to do with good, grown-up storytelling and certainly should have nothing to do with talent and good ideas. And I most certainly cannot agree with your statement that TNG did ANY stories that TOS “couldn’t have realistically dealt with.” Frankly, I challenge you to present these–because when I wrack my memories of TNG, I can’t think of one.
Again—I don’t hate TNG. I think it was a GOOD show, after it’s first couple seasons (but for the first two, it was abysmal). But TOS was a *great* show—which is clearly evident from the fact that it was TOS which is still the cultural icon today–and had it never existed, and TNG had been the “first” Star Trek series—then Star Trek would not be the iconic phenomenon it is today–and has been for over 40 years. And there are numerous reasons to believe this—it isn’t simply a matter of preferring the old over the new.
I’m 43 and never had to serve in the military due to a threat to our country (other than the then-dying Cold War, there was no such threat in the early 80s, when I came to adulthood) and did not make the choice to serve. I will say, in any event, thank you, for doing what you’ve done–to give a piece of your life to service. I assume you’re younger than me (though perhaps not?) and I thus feel for you all the more, being over there risking your life at a young age. Come home safe, Doug.
Of course if you’re my age or near, I still implore you to come home safe. And I still thank you for doing what you’re doing.
Now… I agree that Roddenberry’s insistence on a crew that “got along” was one of the mistakes that screwed up TNG. But how does this let Gerrold off the hook? I’ve never heard of any indication that said he disagreed with Roddenberry on this—though if he did, fine. But it’s certainly also true that Gerrold WAS responsible–so it’s been my understanding–for not only the makeup of several of the characters (as I pointed out) but also for some of the overall feel and philosophy of the series–most notedly, the annoying and silly constant insistence over Riker being the one to go on “away teams” (another silly move away from the military terminology of “landing party,” which gave TOS a nicely traditional feel and to me never smacked of the “militarism” Roddenberry and Gerrold evidently hated so much) and the endless argument about this between Riker and Picard—because Gerrold was the one who had thought it “unrealistic” and “wrong” that Kirk had been the one to go out on these ventures in TOS. (But this is drama, not reality—and much of the dramatic force of a captain, as a character, is that he is a heroic figure who will, therefore, occasionally have to get into danger. Moreover, who the hell are we to say what will be considered appropriate 300 or 400 years from now, in space? Maybe it would be considered sensible to send the experienced, hard-fighting guy out to deal with shit. Granted, if you lose him, that sucks. But maybe in the future they have some unforeseen, high-tech way of judging who the human beings are that have the unique skills to survive in tight corners, and this is the very quality that MAKES a starship captain. Gerrold wasn’t thinking like a good writer—because in my opinion he isn’t one—and he was being far too mundanely prosaic). Also, as I noted earlier—supposedly it’s Gerrold who came up with the idea of the “ship’s counselor.” Puke.
Perhaps, as others have pointed out, there was no one of the caliber and quality of Gene Coon on TNG to push the show over into greatness. Imagine, after all, TOS with only Roddenberry and Gerrold. But TOS had Coon AND Dorothy Fontana (again, I can’t recall how much of a role she played on TNG) to keep Roddenberry’s vision on the straight and narrow—AND curb some of his more egregiously silly notions.
So sorry to hear the bad news, Doug, but glad to hear the good news that you’re OK and still able to get in touch with us!
#22 and #30—Randall, I share many of your opinions on TNG vs. TOS, and some of the reasons in particular as to why the show failed to resonate with you and I in the same way that TOS did. Here are just a few in my mind:
–the USS Hilton (aka Enterprise-D)
–lack of dissent and conflict (at least early on)
–a child on the bridge
–not ‘sexy’ at all
But the one element inherent to TOS which was never compensated for in TNG, IMO, was Kirk/Spock/McCoy. I fell in love with those characters. I was invested in them.
I never invested in the TNG characters. Patrick Stewart is a fine actor, but his character simply didn’t appeal to me.
Like you, I don’t “hate” TNG, but it just isn’t my Star Trek—-and I don’t mind being in the minority either. As for placing blame, I can’t say that I care…
I have to disagree with your slamming of TNG. The early years definitely sucked wind, but the early use of Q as a device grounded TNG firmly in the liberal camp during a conservative US presidency.
I think GR and DCF really wanted to throw that view into the face of the viewing public. “Here we are at a million per episode, and this is what we gotta say.” And John DeLancie channels Oliver North in the first 10 minutes. His bookending of the series in “All Good Things” was appropriate and well played.
It’s a given that TNG went through a few tough years. A writers’ strike and rumored internal turmoil did not help, either. But they did it anyway, and rejuvenated our show, so I’ll take the good with the bad.
Thank you. You enumerated some items that I failed to touch upon, and they only serve to reinforce the negative aspects, dramatically, of TNG.
And by the way—I think I called Data a “Petet Pan” character, but I misspoke (miswrote?). You’re right—he was a Pinocchio character. Just as bad.
The holodeck, the faux-posh-hotel look to the Enterprise itself, the lack of “sexiness”—all these things are further confirmation of what I was saying.
Stop and ask yourself (those of you who are reading this)… what do these things add up to? They add up to the boring and ultra-sanitized worldview of mediocre talents, who didn’t know–or had forgotten how–to create an exciting show with good and believable drama.
Closettrekker–don’t kid yourself. We’re not in the minority. We’re in the majority by leaps and bounds. Maybe not on a website like this—but out in the real world, if you mention “Star Trek,” people think immediately of Kirk and Spock and TOS. Hands down. That’s the icon to the world as a whole–TOS.
“the early use of Q as a device grounded TNG firmly in the liberal camp during a conservative US presidency.”
Huh? Come on AJ, quit smoking that stuff, it’s making your brain fuzzy.
A) Q was a ridiculous, silly character and concept, and not because he was really “meant” to be. As I said, it was a character and idea right out of Lost in Space. Take a look at the difference between TNG and TOS on this point. TNG: Q–a smarmy, cloying, cutesy character who is supposed to be a superior being. Do we really believe that for a moment? I certainly never did. It turned me off from the get-go. But TOS? The Organians, for just one example—serious, otherworldly, eerie, even creepy superbeings who, in the end, couldn’t stand to be near primitives like ourselves. THAT makes sense, and moreover is the ADULT way a story is told and a character is created. Q, on the other hand, was not only childISH, but was written as though a childish MIND had created him. In TOS, “Squire Trelane” (a character many have linked with the “Q”) even though he DID turn out to be a “child” of sorts, still acted twice as “grown up” than Q ever did–in the ways that it mattered. AND TOS dispensed with the character in ONE episode, because in those days that’s all such a character was worth.
B) Do you really think we needed to be reminded of Star Trek’s general political orientation? That’s just silly. Moreover, if you wanted to take a stance in that sense—well, to begin with, TOS was never political in that way–politics date and weigh down drama, AJ. But if you wanted to take such a stance, one would think you’d do it seriously and thoughtfully, not sophomorically and embarrassingly, the way it was done with Q. The concept is cringe-making, and even as satire it failed utterly. As I said, pure Lost in Space stuff.
“I think GR and DCF really wanted to throw that view into the face of the viewing public. “Here we are at a million per episode, and this is what we gotta say.” ”
Then they should have–and could have–said it with FAR more aplomb and class and style than inventing some moronic concept like “Q.” Whenever you have a character who can best be described as an “imp,” you know you’re in deep trouble, dramatically. You’ve in fact left the region of drama and entered the region of silly and pompous.
“And John DeLancie channels Oliver North in the first 10 minutes. His bookending of the series in “All Good Things” was appropriate and well played.”
Well, I disagree. You already know what I think of the character—but tell me how the final episode even made sense. To me it made none, and only served to remind us that TNG was NEVER a truly serious show–it was always more than a shade juvenile in presentation and outlook.
It was a fun episode, but logically didn’t cut it and dramatically was to me, a let down.
And I LIKE John DeLancie as an actor.
#36–“…politics date and weigh down drama, AJ. ”
In the interest of fairness, I have seen AJ’s thoughts on this particular issue, and he has–in the past–been adamant that this is one of the reasons that he feels TNG does not hold up against time quite as well as TOS. AJ can correct me if I am mistaken, but that is how I understand his position on the matter (having read his posts for a long time now).
You alluded to “The Squire Of Gothos”, and I agree with many that the character of ‘Q’ evolved from the idea of Trelane. And I think you touched upon an interesting point here:
“AND TOS dispensed with the character in ONE episode, because in those days that’s all such a character was worth. ”
I took ‘Q’ as a loose story arc for Picard, a recurring nemesis, if you will. Storytelling styles for a fictional series were different in the 1960’s. That’s a given. With the exception of Harry Mudd, I don’t recall any recurring villains (if you can even call him that). There were no story-arcs in TOS, and while we didn’t see true story-arcs in Star Trek until DS9, TNG did form somewhat of an arc with the recurring character of ‘Q’. So really, the only antagonist character that TOS did not dispose of in a single episode was Mudd, and I think his worth as anything more than fodder for Captain Kirk is questionable.
The point is that, even if Roddenberry had wanted to do something more with the concept of Trelane, it was never likely to happen in the 1960’s.
My knowledge of TNG is somewhat limited compared to that of Sean and AJ, as I haven’t seen many episodes more than once, but as I recall–the TNG finale did tie up the ends of the ‘Q inquisition’ depicted in “Encounter At Farpoint”, and served to prove that humanity had more to offer than Q gave it credit for.
Again, that doesn’t make me appreciate the show in any manner close to the way I value TOS, but I did think it made some dramatic sense.
#30 “but certainly no one can seriously or reasonably argue with a straight face that TNG wasn’t often very silly, stilted, and adolescent.” True Randall, but as the saying goes if you’re pointing a finger at TNG, you have 3 more pointing back at TOS. I’ve often said that TOS has what I’d essentially call 20-25 ‘great’ episodes, 20 or so ‘okay’ episodes, and roughly 30 real clunkers. You’re going to tell me ‘Not Morg. EYEmorg’ isn’t silly, stilted and adolescent? Silly and adolescent, at the very least. I loved TOS before there was a TNG, but I’m not afraid to look at it with a critical eye. “But this idea of each series being a “reflection of its time” is a cop-out. This should have nothing to do with good, grown-up storytelling and certainly should have nothing to do with talent and good ideas. And I most certainly cannot agree with your statement that TNG did ANY stories that TOS “couldn’t have realistically dealt with.” Frankly, I challenge you to present these–because when I wrack my memories of TNG, I can’t think of one.” I don’t see how that’s a copout. How can you possibly argue that TOS wasn’t a reflection of the 60s? Or that TNG was of the 80s? I didn’t imply that’s an excuse for bad storytelling. I just think that the fact that both shows were period pieces – of a sort – can help put certain idiosyncrasies into perspective. In terms of the kinds of stories TNG could do that I don’t believe TOS could ever have done (or likely would not have tackled), ‘The Inner Light’ comes instantly to mind. Sure, it might have a cousin twice removed in ‘The Paradise Syndrome’, but the former had an emotional resonance I’ve never seen repeated in any TOS episode (and also didn’t feature any ‘I AM KIROK’ proclamations), save possibly ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’. Still, it was one of the moments where I realized the show had surpassed its predecessor in some ways (that and seeing Star Trek V while TNG was entering its 3rd Season – ouch), in terms of the power of the storytelling. It worked on an emotional level that TOS had a tendency to stay far away from. The effects of that episode followed Picard for some time and continued to be referenced, whereas any trauma Kirk suffered was usually temporary and never referenced again. Famous – or should I say infamous – example: Spock giving Kirk the infamous ‘forget’ meld. A touching moment for the characters, but also a convenient plot point that would allow the writers to never have to acknowledge the events of the episode again. Not to mention the daft idea that Kirk somehow fell more in love with an android he’d barely just met and that it was having such an effect on him that his duties were suffering. We’re to believe this 5 minute love affair was more devastating than Edith Keeler? Carol Marcus? I digress… On a different front, I’d argue a show like ‘Lower Decks’ would never have worked on TOS, either. One of The Original Series’ strengths was the Kirk-Spock-McCoy troika, but it was also a weakness/limitation in that we rarely saw what life was like if you weren’t Kirk, Spock or McCoy. Oh, we got tastes of life for Scotty and Uhura and Sulu and Chekhov here and there, but those characters were rarely allowed to shine, and especially not brighter than the Big Three. TNG was a true ensemble, and apparently lacked the ‘line counting’ that notoriously took place on TOS behind the scenes. It’s a different formula, but one I could always appreciate. “Again—I don’t hate TNG. I think it was a GOOD show, after it’s first couple seasons (but for the first two, it was abysmal). But TOS was a *great* show—which is clearly evident from the fact that it was TOS which is still the cultural icon today–and had it never existed, and TNG had been the “first” Star Trek series—then Star Trek would not be the iconic phenomenon it is today–and has been for over 40 years. And there are numerous reasons to believe this—it isn’t simply a matter of preferring the old over the new.” Since we have no way of going back in time or trying out Bob’s Many Worlds theory, I don’t think anyone can say what it would have been like had TNG come first. But I think that’s missing the point anyway – TNG wouldn’t have been made in the 60s because it wasn’t in tune with the storytelling or nature of TV programming at the time. The same as you couldn’t have had DS9 before you had TNG. We can argue ‘what ifs’ ’till we’re blue in… Read more »
I’d also add that this is part of why the TNG movies *never* worked. The characters bore little resemblance to the characters in TNG. The movies couldn’t make up their mind if Picard was a complete dolt (Generations and to an extend the end of Nemesis) or a superhero (First Contact/Insurrection). The TOS movies had a firm grasp of who those characters were (aside from maybe TMP and obviously TFF) and didn’t really make any attempt to turn them into something contrary to what we knew they were. They typically rang true, whereas the TNG movies never felt ‘right’.
#38—” I’ve often said that TOS has what I’d essentially call 20-25 ‘great’ episodes, 20 or so ‘okay’ episodes, and roughly 30 real clunkers. You’re going to tell me ‘Not Morg. EYEmorg’ isn’t silly, stilted and adolescent? Silly and adolescent, at the very least. I loved TOS before there was a TNG, but I’m not afraid to look at it with a critical eye.”
Absolutely. You and I have always been on the same page with this (among other things!).
I’ll grant TOS (in only 3 seasons) 20 great episodes…and the rest range from decent to horrendous.
The difference for me is, I can’t name 20 episodes of TNG (in 7 seasons) that I can even sit through…but, as you say, a whole lot of people must disagree, since it generated enough interest to remain on the air for 7 seasons.
And I have always said that my investment in the characters of TOS allowed (and still allows) me to look past its weaker links. And of course, many of the worst episodes of TOS are so bad— they’re absolutely fantastic!!!
Gonna crack my knuckles
and jump for joy,
Gotta clean bill of health
from Dr. McCoy!
Brain? What is brain?
And I nearly fell out of my chair recently when I saw a clip from “Plato’s Stepchildren”.
In some ways, TOS isn’t as good without some of those “bad” moments…
Sean #38: “True Randall, but as the saying goes if you’re pointing a finger at TNG, you have 3 more pointing back at TOS.” Hardly. This was my very point—while TOS was by no means and was never high-class, level 10 drama, it was *overall* far closer to it than TNG. The point wasn’t that TOS wasn’t guilty of some crap and silliness. The point was that TNG was far MORE guilty of it, and that with TNG, it was built right into the fabric of the series from the start. Whereas with TOS, it was just an occasional hiccup. AND could be put down to less sophisticated storytelling techniques and talent of TV writing of the day. “I’ve often said that TOS has what I’d essentially call 20-25 ‘great’ episodes, 20 or so ‘okay’ episodes, and roughly 30 real clunkers.” Well, this is debatable, but probably not far from the mark of what I’d say, myself—though I wouldn’t place the number of “clunkers” that high. But remember–this is in a series that only went for 79 episodes–and I’d certainly say that way more than half were at least “okay”—and at least 30 of them were very good to great. Those are high percentages. “You’re going to tell me ‘Not Morg. EYEmorg’ isn’t silly, stilted and adolescent? Silly and adolescent, at the very least. I loved TOS before there was a TNG, but I’m not afraid to look at it with a critical eye.” Sean, I’m not at ALL afraid to look at TOS with a critical eye. This is, in fact, what I’ve done many times. Star Trek was not high drama. It was a very good, even great, entertaining TV series. It had its flaws. I could enumerate them for you. But cherrypicking little examples here and there, as you’ve done, proves nothing to negate what I was saying. TOS succeeded and became the cultural icon that it is because *overall* it was fun, but adult in nature. And sometimes it made us think and got at some emotions. TNG, on the other hand, failed at this *overall*—though occasionally it touched on that. “I don’t see how that’s a copout. How can you possibly argue that TOS wasn’t a reflection of the 60s?” I wasn’t saying that. I was saying that using this idea of a show being a “product of its times” as an EXCUSE for bad writing or bad concepts is a cop-out. Yes, the 60s and the 80s/90s were very different. Yes, the shows reflect some of the difference, of course. But in another sense, good ideas and good writing are just that, regardless of time frame. “In terms of the kinds of stories TNG could do that I don’t believe TOS could ever have done (or likely would not have tackled), ‘The Inner Light’ comes instantly to mind.” K, forgive me… I’m not that strongly TNG versed, though I’ve certainly seen every episode at least once. Was this the one where Picard “became” another person, in a sense, with all these false memories, and lived out a sort of alternative life? If so (but it hardly matters) I don’t see what point you’re making. Of course such a thing could have been written in the 60s. And it certainly could have been done on TOS. Would they have? Maybe, maybe not—but not because they were “incapable” of doing so. The idea that the sense of what’s dramatically resonant may have changed from the 60s to the 80s/90s doesn’t negate what I said—if anything it supports it. BY the 80s/90s TNG should have looked a LOT more like its own VERY BEST episodes *right from the start.* Because in the time since the 60s, we’d seen a lot more serious and adult and well-realized television, both dramatically and particularly in terms of sitcoms—TV had grown up a lot. But TNG failed to reflect this from the start, and was always hampered down from then on by the crap concepts that it was saddled with at the beginning. It was actually a shock that TOS was as good as it was, being produced in 1966—it could have just been a fun throwaway, like many other series of the day. But it managed to do more. I mean, that’s another reason why TOS was so huge back in the day. It was a step or two above the usual level of television—much, but certainly not all, of the time. TNG, in its day, could have and should have been brilliant from the start. Especially building on the legacy it was given. But it was just the opposite, and had to fight to get even close to it. “it was one of the moments where I realized the show had surpassed its predecessor in some ways (that and… Read more »
One other thing—I cannot agree that TNG was iconic. TOS, yes, certainly. But TNG, no. Nor was Deep Space, nor was VOY, nor was ENT. “Iconic” is more than popular. Something isn’t iconic just because it hits high ratings numbers.
TOS was iconic because it created new, interesting, sometimes surreal situations and characters. It stepped off the foundations of earlier sci fi and blended them with action/adventure into a new mix. And it took with it character archetypes, like the iconic hero (Kirk as both Hornblower and Hamlet, loner Sheriff in a Western and heroic WWII ship captain… Spock as the eternal man of two minds, at war with himself…. McCoy as the everyman, the ordinary guy, etc.) This stuff resonated deeply with generations and STILL DOES. That’s why Abrams has gone back to it.
Whereas TNG NEVER reached that level because it wasn’t based on that kind of stuff–to its detriment. Instead, if should have been. But it wasn’t. And in time it will be much more forgotten than remembered, whereas TOS will probably live on as much as it ever has.
“2008 was supposed to be the year of writing fiction for me, but I had sinus surgery early in the year and it disrupted my rhythm so much to lose eight weeks to just recovery and then it was the summer with conventions and so by the time the Fall came and I started working on the stories I had planned to start in February, it was October.”
Sinus surgery?! Are you kidding me?! I had sinus surgery in 2008 as well — because of my inability to use either of my primary sinuses for the past twenty years. I recovered in less than two weeks! WTH?! Did you have an action figure lodged up there? It’s sinus surgery! That’s an excuse?! Will, I have stood up for you several times when others here have bashed you for your outspokenness and oft-times extreme opinions — but really, sinus surgery?! As an excuse?! Dude, that is just lame and I don”‘ buy it. If you said you were gonna do something — even if it was just to yourself — don’t use some flimsy excuse like sinus surgery as your reason for not accomplishing a personal goal. That is just WEAK. Buck up, m’man! You shoulda been breathing well and feeling fine in no time.
Unless you got some sort of life-threatening infection after the fact. But wouldn’t we have heard about that? C’mon, man! No excuses! Sorry, I just can’t imagine an 8-week recover for sinus sugery. New nose?! WTH!!
I think this is a matter of perspective and can be argued. Many, many people identified with the characters and iconography of TNG. You didn’t, fair enough. My good buddy Closettrekker didn’t either. Some would argue, however, that TNG took TOS and built upon it, morphed it, molded it into something else that was nonetheless just as important. Picard or Data may not be icons to you, but they are to many. People remember those characters. They’re referenced, ruminated on and held in high esteem. They’ve appeared on the covers of countless magazines. There was a point in the 90s where Entertainment Weekly practically turned into TNG Weekly. Time had Picard & Kirk on the cover for ‘Generations’ – to the best of my knowledge the only time a Trek actor has appeared there.
Heck, look at the production team on this new movie – they’re mostly confessed TNG fans. As I said before, there’s an entire generation that grew up with TNG, not TOS, and that generation frequently thinks of TNG when they think Star Trek. In terms of the mainstream, TNG won nearly 20 Emmy Awards and was nomintated for over 60 during its run. The episode I mentioned previously, ‘The Inner Light’, was the first television program since the original Star Trek to win a Hugo. ‘All Good Things’ would go on to tie TOS by winning one as well. In the Christies auction of Star Trek memorabilia it was the Enterprise-D (no bloody A, B or C) that sold for the greatest amount. The freakin’ flute from ‘The Inner Light’ sold for nearly 50 grand! Look at Family Guy. It’s an incredibly mainstream show, and its Trek parodies are almost entirely TOS & TNG (I’d say they actually parody TNG even more, and the upcoming Star Trek-centric 1 hour episode will reassemble all 7 leads from TNG). If there was no recognition for the TNG characters, those jokes wouldn’t work with the audience.
I don’t use those facts to try to argue for a ‘better than’ status for TNG. I fully recognize TOS as the first, the biggest, the best, as far as recognition goes. The point I am trying to make is that given all the aforementioned facts, you have to recognize that there is a huge following for TNG inside as well as outside of Star Trek fandom and that it has become iconic in its own right. Regardless of whether you personally enjoy it or find it inferior.
I would also argue that Abrams decision to make his film based on TOS is more about that previously mentioned oversaturation than it was about TOS being ‘better’ than TNG. When a franchise suffers from bloat, it is not uncommon to go back to the beginning and essentially go for a fresh start to reacquaint your audience with the foundational elements. That’s why I have no problem with them ditching certain elements of the character histories in favor of streamlining but retaining the ‘core’ elements of the characters. Star Trek needed a ‘do over’.
Can’t you people remember how many times TOS came to fist a cuff?
Almost every ep, there’s a fight. Why, since this film was anounced, do people have a problem with Star trek being an Action sci-fi film?
Why so rigid?
Why cant a thoughtful, smart, mind bending sci-fi film, also be full of Action?
Since our contemporary Action films have evolved a great deal; figuratively pumped with steroids if you will, it may be hard to remember that films like Wrath of Kahn WERE considered Action sci-fi. Just go to any video store, circa ’86. Shit I’m sure even today it wouldn’t be hard to find Kahn placed in an Action sci-fi shelf.
I know the concern is: it will be nothing BUT a steroid pumped action film, but come on…Studios WANT there films to make money, and a sure way for this film to fail is to excise the trek elements and alienate the trek audience.
I always kind of balk at the characterizations of the Enterprise-D as “U.S.S. Hilton,” etc. The Galaxy Class was designed to be away from a starbase/habitable planet for years on end. Is it so hard to believe Starfleet might try to add some comfort to the ship?
45. SpocksinnerConflict –
I hear you. And you’d also think those folks up in arms would at least take a look at some of JJ’s other franchises for comparison. Lost, for example, has always had it’s share of punchups and shoot-em-ups but still remains primarily a character piece smooshed up with a very twisty and engaging mystery story. Trek has always been about challenging puzzles, character-driven stories and a lot of action. It’s part of tapestry folks, accept it!
Seriously, you are going to yell at Wil Wheaton for saying that surgery kept him from writing his fiction? I mean, really? Maybe it was some other issues, some kind of personal problem, maybe even a more serious medical event, that he might not wanted to have shared with you. I guess I just don’t get it when people question things like this of celebrities/writers/actors. I don’t know, why didn’t you accomplish everything you set out to do last year? Would you like to share every single reason/excuse with the WHOLE WORLD? I’d say he is doing pretty good attending so many conventions, writing on his blog, twittering, and publishing books, not to mention apparently putting a kid through college.
I guess I just don’t understand the complete negativity that comes across in many of these post lines, whether it be about one of the series, the new movie, or individuals involved in Star Trek. Not to say the criticism is a bad thing, because we should very much discuss pro’s and con’s. But sometimes I feel people get a little too wrapped up in discussing the bad, or what they “hate” (though I don’t understand why anyone posting on a Star Trek website, especially this one, would have such harsh feelings towards anything Trek), or bashing on writers/producers/actors. Look at Wil’s reviews. I mean, wow, they are f’ing hilarious, and seriously bash on TNG, but at the same time, he is able to step back, take a fair look, and examine the good in them. I know that ratings alone don’t give a show merit (otherwise reality television would be a god-send), but it does say that there must have been something there to keep people interested, which is worth examining.
Unless, of course, you subscribe to the arrogant notions of “people are stupid/sheep/worthless”, and the reason why the new movie is being “dumbed-down” for the masses, which I still don’t understand. Maybe left over high school angst at being made fun for being a nerd? I don’t know.
46. barrydancer –
RE: U.S.S. Hilton
I’ve dumped tons of rhetoric on this very idea on this site over the past couple years so those who recognize my name know I no longer identify with the utopia of the 24th century. Ah, the TNG Enterprise! The great shopping mall in the sky! Sorry, but I no longer find that notion compelling. Give me the hard-scrabble frontier of TOS instead. Despite it’s times TNG demonstrated that Reagan-era foreign policy — dominate and spread democracy wherever you go. Sorry, it’s just a tad bit imperialistic to me. You can almost see the throughline from Picard to Palpatine. Sure, you can condemn the American frontier days as also imperialistic but that idea of being on the frontier with no one to rely upon except yourself and your best mates really grabs me. TNG felt like a bureau cabinet in space.
48. Truthamador –
Sorry friend, I was talking directly to Wil. I have defended him so many times here I think I can call him on BS until he straightens it out. I like Wil. I read his stuff. And if you do, too, you’d know he’s one who also reacts to things from his own personal experience. That’s what I’m doing.
That having been said, C’mon, Wil? WTH?! Really? Sinus surgery? Was it really that bad? Were there complications?! Spit it out, man!