GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Article on Star Trek & Sci-Fi. Firefly mentioned.

POSTED BY: BEATLE
UPDATED: Wednesday, May 11, 2005 20:34
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Tuesday, May 3, 2005 1:00 PM

BEATLE


http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-card3may03,0,6007
802.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions


By Orson Scott Card, Orson Scott Card is the author of "Ender's Shadow" (Tor Books, 2000) and "Ender's Game" (Tor Books, 1994). His most recent book is "Shadow of the Giant" (Tor Books, 2005).


So they've gone and killed "Star Trek." And it's about time.

They tried it before, remember. The network flushed William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy down into the great septic tank of broadcast waste, from which no traveler…. No, wait, let's get this right: from which rotting ideas and aging actors return with depressing regularity.

It was the fans who saved "Star Trek" from oblivion. They just wouldn't let go.

This was in the days before VCRs, and way before DVDs. You couldn't go out and buy the boxed set of all three seasons. When a show was canceled, the only way you could see it again was if some local station picked it up in syndication.

A few stations did just that. And the hungry fans called their friends and they watched it faithfully. They memorized the episodes. I swear I've heard of people who quit their jobs and moved just so they could live in a city that had "Star Trek" running every day.

And then the madness really got underway.

They started making costumes and wearing pointy ears. They wrote messages in Klingon, they wrote their own stories about the characters, filling in what was left out — including, in one truly specialized subgenre, the "Kirk-Spock" stories in which their relationship was not as platonic and emotionless as the TV show depicted it.

Mostly, though, they wrote and wrote and wrote letters. To the networks. To the production company. To the stars and minor characters and guest stars and grips of the series, 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.

So out of the ashes the series rose again. Here's the question: Why?

The original "Star Trek," created by Gene Roddenberry, was, with a few exceptions, bad in every way that a science fiction television show could be bad. Nimoy was the only charismatic actor in the cast and, ironically, he played the only character not allowed to register emotion.

This was in the days before series characters were allowed to grow and change, before episodic television was allowed to have a through line. So it didn't matter which episode you might be watching, from which year — the characters were exactly the same.

As science fiction, the series was trapped in the 1930s — a throwback to spaceship adventure stories with little regard for science or deeper ideas. It was sci-fi as seen by Hollywood: all spectacle, no substance.

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.

Little of this seeped into the original "Star Trek." The later spinoffs were much better performed, but the content continued to be stuck in Roddenberry's rut. So why did the Trekkies throw themselves into this poorly imagined, weakly written, badly acted television series with such commitment and dedication? Why did it last so long?

Here's what I think: Most people weren't reading all that brilliant science fiction. Most people weren't reading at all. So when they saw "Star Trek," primitive as it was, it was their first glimpse of science fiction. It was grade school for those who had let the whole science fiction revolution pass them by.

Now we finally have first-rate science fiction film and television that are every bit as good as anything going on in print.

Charlie Kaufman created the two finest science fiction films of all time so far: "Being John Malkovich" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof have created "Lost," the finest television science fiction series of all time … so far.

Through-line series like Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and Alfred Gough's and Miles Millar's "Smallville" have raised our expectations of what episodic sci-fi and fantasy ought to be. Whedon's "Firefly" showed us that even 1930s sci-fi can be well acted and tell a compelling long-term story.

Screen sci-fi has finally caught up with written science fiction. We're in college now. High school is over. There's just no need for "Star Trek" anymore.




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Tuesday, May 3, 2005 1:15 PM

CHRISISALL


Shields up.
Phasers armed.
Photon torpedoes loaded.

"Bad in every way..."??
WTF was he lookin' at?? Starlost??

City on the Edge of Forever, anyone?
The Motion Picture, anyone?
Spock's Brain -er, okay, NOT Spock's Brain...
Anyway,

Firefly's great, but ST paved some of the way, didn't it?

You can't take the pointed ears from me Chrisisall

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Tuesday, May 3, 2005 3:06 PM

REGINAROADIE


I see this as typical of Orson Scott Card. I've boned up on his literature and his opinions, and he semms like one of those guys that likes to trash pop culture institutions because it's deemed fashionable or to make himself look intellectual.

I've learned not to take anything he says really seriously. I mean, anyone who describes Kaylee's attitude as moronic obviously doesn't get it.



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And wow! Hey! What's this thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like ... ow ... ound ... round ... ground! That's it! That's a good name - ground! I wonder if it will be friends with me?

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Tuesday, May 3, 2005 3:34 PM

SIGMANUNKI


@ReginaRoadie:
I've only just read some of his works and this, but I would tend to agree that he seems to be one of the types of people to trash anything that isn't totally perfect.

I have a friend like that (noticed when we spoke about Gladiator).

You know the type. When you say movie, they "correct" you with film. They have an opinion about everything, usually negative. But when confronted about what they would do differently, it's all a blank.



----
"Canada being mad at you is like Mr. Rogers throwing a brick through your window." -Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

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Tuesday, May 3, 2005 3:37 PM

SIGMANUNKI


Quote:

Originally posted by chrisisall:

Firefly's great, but ST paved some of the way, didn't it?



First on TV inter-racial kiss. I'd call that a big deal! Not to mention that it was loaded with general social commentary. In fact, all the ST's have had that component.

Bah, I say, Bah!

----
"Canada being mad at you is like Mr. Rogers throwing a brick through your window." -Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

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Tuesday, May 3, 2005 3:59 PM

JUJU451


Errr...I hope you're not implying that the Motion Picture was good. I used to be a major fan, but the Motion Picture almost made me quit the franchise. Star Trek had some great moments, mainly later on. But if you ask me, the disaster that was the first movie was a major mountain they had to surmount.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2005 8:03 PM

SIGMANUNKI


I was speaking more broadly than just one movie or episode. I'd rather not get into a FF vs ST or even just a comparison or into any detail at all really.

----
"Canada being mad at you is like Mr. Rogers throwing a brick through your window." -Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

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Wednesday, May 4, 2005 3:57 AM

CYBERSNARK


At first I thought Card was channelling Harlan "Everything Without My Name On It Sucks" Ellison.

I think I'm largely noticing the print/film bias: print SF authors generally hate anything on film, while film SF creators. . . Actually most of them are okay with print. So it's a one-sided war.

-----
We applied the cortical electrodes but were unable to get a neural reaction from either patient.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2005 3:57 AM

CHRISISALL


Quote:

Originally posted by juju451:
Errr...I hope you're not implying that the Motion Picture was good. I used to be a major fan, but the Motion Picture almost made me quit the franchise. Star Trek had some great moments, mainly later on. But if you ask me, the disaster that was the first movie was a major mountain they had to surmount.



TMP was unexpectedly cerebral and low on action. Part of what I loved about the series, the humour, action, and the lightheartedness gave way in this film for a harder sci-fi approach. Not entirely pleased with it on the first go-round, but with the advent of the special edition which fixed shots, tightened up the film (cutting the endless V'ger cloud FX), and added certain takes, it has become my favourite Trek film. In a perfect world, I would've added some elements to it that made Undiscovered County so excellent, but we can't have everything (until the BDM, anyway!).

Kahn had Dandy hair Chrisisall

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Wednesday, May 4, 2005 4:24 AM

CHRISISALL


Reginaroadie, not bein' a fanciful knowledgeable computer-like person, it's all I can do to make sure the stuff I type even makes it to the FFF site! Hell, I don't even know what Yahoo Messenger is, let alone if I can access it!

As we're highjacking this thread for Trek purposes...

#1 TMP -sci-fi at it's best. Computers evolving into living beings before it was fashionable (on film), meaning of life- little things like that.(see post above)
#2 Undiscovered Country - best characterization mixed with political message-what original series did best!(the above two are the only ones IMHO that are on par with the best of the series)
#3 Search for Spock - Jim, your name is Jim.
#4 Wrath o' Khan -best MADE Trek, but Ricardo's hair was problematic, needed to be fixed. Perhaps a future version with normalized cgi hair...
#5 -Voyage Home -funny, but the 'nuclear wessles' and fish-out-of-water gags got done to death in a single film (didn't they seem to be able to blend in well enough in Assignment Earth?)!
#6 last and least, Final Frontier - a good effort with lots of good moments, but a production nightmare, last second rewrites, FX, don't hate it, though. Far from it.

Wait, what am I typing for? Card said it was all garbage! He must be right, I mean he's him , right?

Put my cards face down on the table Chrisisall

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Wednesday, May 4, 2005 4:40 AM

SHINEY


I'm gonna chock it up to apples and oranges. They're fruit but they aren't the same. Sometimes ya want an orange (Firefly) and sometimes you wouldn't mind a little slice of apple (Star Trek), and then there's peaches but I don't want to complicate things.

"Oh My God It's Grotesque! Oh And There's Something In A Jar."

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Wednesday, May 4, 2005 7:52 AM

CHRISISALL


I'm guessin' peaches to be of the Skywalker variety, hmm?

So on a scale o' 10:
Oranges get 10, 'cause every one is sweet and juicy.
Apples get a 8, 'cause many are excellent, but more'n a few got worms in 'em.
Peaches get a 7, 'cause the first few was tasty, but the last three were all sour and unrecognizable.

Fruity Chrisisall

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Wednesday, May 4, 2005 12:38 PM

CHRISISALL


And Galactica is berries, but they ain't ripe, yet.

Tooty fruity Chrisisall

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Wednesday, May 4, 2005 5:59 PM

SHINEY


I love my fruit and I think Kaylee would agree as well. =goes off to the land of the space monkeys=

"Oh My God It's Grotesque! Oh And There's Something In A Jar."

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005 6:04 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


I agree with almost all of Card's assessment of the original Star Trek. That's how I felt about it when it was originally broadcast, but I watched much of it 'cause it was the only SF on TV. The only thing I disagree with is Leonard Nimoy's charisma. I didn't find him charismatic as Paris in 'Mission: Impossible', nor as the psychiatrist in the remake of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers', nor as Theo in his one-man show "Vincent". I don't remember him in anything else.

Keep the Shiny Side Up . . . (wutzon) Little Feat, "Roll Um Easy", from "Hotcakes & Outtakes"

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005 8:34 PM

SNEAKER98


The fellow who wrote this is an idiot, plain and simple. You can't piss on 30+ years worth of star trek lore without looking foolish, when you claim it's all in bad taste. It obviously caught on for a reason, aside from "the first sci-fi".

Too bad the author of this particular column is too narrow-minded to see why.

"I do the job... and then I get paid. Go run your little world."
-Malcolm Reynolds

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