What if Then was Now? Part 1

The Captains TOS to ENT

Back in the good old days, you had around six months of new Star Trek coming at you week after week, for between three to seven years, with the average season length being 26 episodes.

There was the odd deviation now and again, particularly with Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager, but their one or two truncated seasons were the exception not the rule.

Nowadays, regardless of genre, we’re used to between six and fifteen episodes a season, depending on the show.  Some network television entries might go for 22 or more episodes a season, but most of us are streaming our content these days to escape the ads and the general drivel the networks cook up.

Shorter seasons usually means there are no ‘filler’ episodes, and it means we can binge like crazy people on our favourite series’if that is our desire.

For a few months now I’ve been wondering what each incarnation of Star Trek would look like, season after season, if they were limited to say a twelve episode order every year?

Which episodes would make it and which wouldn’t?

If we’re honest with ourselves, every Star Trek series has a bunch of outstanding episodes, a handful of good episodes, a decent whack of average episodes, and few real clunkers.  Would it be possible to put together a shortened version of every season of each series that still served our characters and kept the overall themes of Star Trek intact, and still be good viewing?

As a bit of a mental exercise I thought I’d give it a shot, starting with Star Trek: The Next Generation, the series I grew up on.

The only rules I applied to the experiment were that the pilot and the finale episodes had to be part of the season order – but in those instances, those seasons would be thirteen episodes long rather than twelve.  So, Encounter at Farpoint and All Good Things stay in, no matter what.  I also felt that it would be a good idea to re-order the odd episode, so long as the pilot and finale were left untouched.

Following is my take on Season 1 of TNG.  Depending on the response to this, we might tackle Season 2 in a week or so, or jump over to TOS, DS9, VOY or ENT to shake things up a little.

Please note that the episodes synopses are totally tongue in cheek.

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 1
13 Episode Order

If Then Was Now Experiment Part 1

Star Trek Encounter at Farpoint

Episodes 1 & 2
Encounter at Farpoint
The iconic crew of the USS Enterprise-D come together to play with space jelly-fish, while visiting a futuristic shopping-mall and dodging an eccentric omnipotent being intent on putting humanity on trial for crimes against the known universe.  You know, things like the Kardashians, reality TV in general, the new Star Wars movies, and super-sized meal deals.

Star Trek Where No One Has Gone Before

Episode 3
Where No One Has Gone Before
The Enterprise is thrown into deep space thanks to an arrogant idiot and his enigmatic bestie (who thinks Wesley is the sweetest thing since peanut butter and chocolate met and made babies).  Off camera, someone releases some happy juice into the water supply and everyone starts to hallucinate.

Why include this episode?  There are some strong moments in this episode, and it’s an interesting idea that I personally enjoyed.  Plus, the Traveller pops up again later in the series to explain why Wesley goes away.

Episode 4
The Battle
A Ferengi puts a big pink bow on an old starship, the USS Stargazer, and gives it to Picard for Valentines Day.  Picard, still affected by the previous episode’s happy juice, starts to hallucinate again.  Tripping out, he jumps into his pressie and attacks the Enterprise for a laugh.

Why include this episode?  It gives us some pretty important back story on the character of Picard, and is a better introduction to the Ferengi than The Last Outpost.

Lwaxana and Deanna

Episode 5
Haven
A box with an animated face vomits jewels all over the Transporter Room and tells Deanna she’s about to get married.  Deanna’s mother, Lwaxana Troi, pops in for a visit soon after, with Deanna’s intended and his family, just as a bunch of disease ridden space hippies turn up and start talking about dreams.  Meanwhile, Riker does a lot of sulking and Lwaxana’s assistant does a lot of drinking. If anyone needed a good drink, it was probably Deanna and Picard!

Why include this episode?  One word.  Lwaxana.  If you want two words, Lwaxana Troi.  Deanna barely gets anything to do in the first season, and this is a nice episode that lets her character shine and gives us some of her back story.

Episode 6
Lonely Among Us
Pussy cats hate on a bunch of reptiles as an alien energy being possesses Beverly, but quickly jumps ship into Worf because she’s wearing some truly hideous eye wear.  Growing bored of Worf and frightened his persistent scowl might leave worry lines, it hops into Picard and shoots lightening at everyone, while doing its best to convince Picard he should beam himself off the ship as energy and into a nearby space cloud.

Why include this episodeLonely Among Us is pretty universally derided, but it does establish the whole “Bev can sack the Captain” concept and I actually enjoy watching the crew scramble to try and stay ahead of their possessed Captain.

Episode 7
The Naked Now
Everyone gets space-drunk on a familiar virus, while Wesley and some other guy play pick up sticks with engineering’s isolinear chips.  Meanwhile, Tasha and Data get jiggy with it, and a big shiny star fragment tries to get jiggy with the Enterprise.

Why include this episode?  I like it.  A lot of fans don’t, but I do.  I enjoy the stuff between Beverly and Picard and I get what the writing staff were trying to do: by seeing the crew in varying states of vulnerability, we learn a little something about them.  The episode just appears a little too early in the series run.

Episode 8
Datalore
The Enterprise finds another Data, called Lore, who might be a smidge psychotic.  Beverly discovers Data has an off switch, while her son thinks there’s something a little suss about Lore who likes to grin a lot and use contractions.  While all of this is going on, a big crystal snowflake that made friends with Lore ages ago turns up and tries to eat everyone.

Why include this episode?  Beverly gets to shoot someone.  Plus, this is possibly the best episode in the whole first season, besides The Big Goodbye.  Lore would go on and become a really interesting character, responsible for some excellent future episodes, and his introduction deserves a place in this shorter season one.

Episode 9
Heart of Glory
A bunch of feral Klingons with testosterone patches whacked all over their bodies, tell Worf he’s a sissy and then try to get him to help them steal the Enterprise.

Why include this episode?  It’s a great Worf episode, bringing his character to the forefront in a season where he doesn’t have a lot to do.  Also, I really love the camera work in the end, when the Klingon falls.  Nice work, Rob Bowman.

Star Trek The Big GoodbyeEpisode 10
The Big Goodbye
Picard, Beverly and Data skive off work and hit the Holodeck for some much needed rest and recreation.  Calling up one of Picard’s favourite programs, based on an old series of novels, they pretend to be in the 1940’s.  Eventually, the bad guys from the novel find out about the Enterprise and want to take it and the whole galaxy over.  Wesley saves the day, because why not?

Why include this episode?  It’s a great episode, and it’s the only Star Trek episode to ever win a Peabody Award.  On top of that, it won an Emmy for Outstanding Costumes for a Series.

Merritt Butrick

Episode 11
Symbiosis
Captain Kirk’s son has a bumpy nose and is a junkie.  Diana’s right hand man from the original V TV Series, who, funnily enough, was also Khan’s right hand man from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, is an ass about it.  The Enterprise crew get to pontificate a bit and look all smug and superior.

Why include this episode?  It’s not a bad little episode that builds the tension really well, and it stars Merritt Butrick who played Captain (Admiral) James T. Kirk’s son in two Star Trek feature films.  Merritt would, tragically, die a year later from toxoplasmosis, complicated by the AIDS virus.  The message is still relevant today, and there are incredibly strong performances throughout.

Episode 12
Skin of Evil
Deanna crash lands on a planet where a really nasty oil slick with some serious issues lives.  The oil slick torments the crap out of the Enterprise crew before killing Tasha Yar.

Why include this episode?  I loved Tasha, and this is a great episode that really hits you.  Plus, we need to explain why Tasha doesn’t appear in future seasons.

Episode 13
The Neutral Zone
The Enterprise bumps into a really old probe with a bunch of frozen people in it.  They were all about to die from something yuck, so Bev takes care of it and now they need to try and adjust to 24th Century life.  Meanwhile, the Romulans drop in for coffee and to show off their really awesome shoulder pads. They get a bit angsty about some outposts of theirs and threaten our crew with a full Romulan makeover.

Why include this episode?  All things considered, it wasn’t a terrible end to the first season.  Most importantly though, it reintroduces the Romulans who will go on to play a major part at varying points throughout the series.

There’s not much you can do with the first season of TNG. I don’t mind it, but it’s not great.

There are a few episodes I quite like that I didn’t include in this season, simply because they go and set up something interesting but those ideas are never followed through.  Namely, Coming of Age and Conspiracy.

Other episodes weren’t included simply because they didn’t really do much for the characters, or for the overall series.

The above is far from perfect, but at the very least it’s watchable.

What would your picks be for a shortened season one of Star Trek: The Next Generation?

Let me know, and I’ll stick them in a post.

Until next week, where we might take a look at season two or jump to another series, Live Long and Prosper.

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A Star Trek Update

Star Trek Update April 2018

A lot has been happening in the Star Trek universe of late – including the start of production on Star Trek: Discovery season two, and news on not one but two Kelvin-universe films in development.

Let’s start with Star Trek: Discovery!

In episode three of the first season, when the first half aired last year, we were all suddenly captivated by one tiny, fleeting little moment on screen – a moment that inspired a passionate and excited debate online.

The appearance of the mysterious “black delta.”

Section 31 Black Badge

For a long time, the leading theory was that it and the USS Discovery itself were somehow connected to the enigmatic and paranoid Section 31.

Finally, after months of speculation, one half of that leading fan theory was confirmed by actor Alan Van Sprang.

Alan appeared in the last episode of season one of Star Trek: Discovery, in a scene that was ultimately cut.  That scene appeared online as both a “bonus scene” and a teaser for season two.  The video has disappeared from a few places, but is still available on YouTube.  You can find it here.  Check it out, it is well worth a look.

The scene in question had Alan appearing as a “fake” Trill.  His character, Leland, recruits Mirror Universe Georgiou at a Klingon bar she now seems to be running, and hands her the black badge.  He tells her he is from Section 31 and that they could use someone like her.  So… someone megalomaniacal, devoid of compassion, morally bankrupt and vicious to the core?  Gotta love Section 31!

According to Van Sprang at an appearance he made at WonderCon earlier this year, his character will be featuring prominently in season two, alongside Section 31 and, we can only presume, former Emperor Philippa Georgiou.

So excited by that.  Any opportunity to get Michelle Yeoh back makes me very happy.

The only other piece of information Alan offered was via a later Instagram post where he stated that Leland “heads up” Section 31.

Alan Van Sprang Instagram Post

That’s not all.

With Star Trek: Discovery now about a month into production on season two, more news has come out and it is exciting.

Not one but two casting announcements have been made.

The first, and the one I’ve been waiting for, is that Anson Mount has been cast as Captain Christopher Pike, commanding officer of the original USS Enterprise.

To the joy of many a fan (myself included), Anson took to social media to share his feelings.  Using clips from “The Cage” and even an image of a Pike action figure, Anson showed the world that he is a fan of Trek and super excited to be a part of the family.

You may know Anson from Marvel’s Inhumans and the AMC series Hell on Wheels.

And yes, that is a version of the original series uniform that Anson is wearing in a shot I’ve screen capped from a “production has started” video that CBS released.  Is that Spock in blue off to the side?  Not a clue, we don’t get a good enough look at that character.

Before we get to that video though, click here to visit TrekMovie for more information on Anson’s casting.

The second casting announcement was that Tig Notaro, primarily known for her comedy work, has been cast as Chief Engineer Denise Reno of the USS Hiawatha.

Tig Notaro

Chief Engineer?  Does that mean Discovery gets an engineer?

We don’t know – we still don’t know who her captain will be!  I suspect, however, that something will happen to make Denise Reno board the Discovery and stay there.

In other news, Jonathan Frakes, our very own Commander William T. Riker, will return to direct two episodes this season, and he has let slip on social media that the scripts he has read so far are AMAZING!

Jonathan also had a visit from his former onscreen wife, Marina Sirtis, while on the set of Star Trek: Discovery where he was directing episode two of the second season.

Jonathan and Marina

As you would expect, this set the internet on fire.

Is Marina appearing in Star Trek: Discovery?  Is it just a coincidence?  No one knows, and that’s casting information the production team behind the show would keep close to their chests.

In some of Marina’s social media she called out to Mary Wiseman, which made some fans wonder if she might be following in Majel Barrett-Roddenberry’s footsteps and playing the mother of a major character (Tilly).  Tilly has mentioned her curly-hair-hating mother on more than one occasion, and both Mary and Marina’s comedy-chops are pretty damn good (watch Star Trek: First Contact to see just how hilarious Marina is).  Star Trek: Discovery could get a lot of play out of Mary and Marina on screen together.

My take?  We have a new ship popping up – the USS Hiawatha.  I would love for Marina to be playing that ship’s captain, and for that captain to be Tilly’s mum.  Alternatively, she could be a prominent member of the Enterprise crew who is Tilly’s mum. She could beam over for some quality time with her daughter while the Discovery and Enterprise are hanging around together.

Staying with Star Trek Discovery for the moment, the last thing I want to mention is a recent video treat courtesy of CBS All Access showing us some of what’s going on with the production.

Season 2 First Look 1

One thing, in particular, that was in that video should thrill every fan.  The appearance of the traditional gold, red and blue uniforms.

They have been modernised, but to me they appear to be quite faithful.  Still with a Star Trek: Discovery flair, but familiar and pleasantly so.

You’ll also notice that the rank braids are back, as is the solid badge.

The video also adds in to what Alan Van Sprang has said about Section 31 playing a prominent role in the second season.

The video briefly shows a shot of a sheaf of production drawings labelled “Section 31.”

Section 31 bridge, lab.  At least two designs for that.  An upper floor plan for something that may or may not be Section 31 related.

Season 2 First Look 3

Interesting.

Will we see a Section 31 starship?

The final takeaway from that video is what appears to be a computer interface from the much loved, fan favourite vessel the USS Enterprise.

It’s a graphic, and the style seems to draw a lot from the movie period of Star Trek V, Star Trek VI and Star Trek: Generations (the Kirk, Chekov and Scotty part of that film).

Season 2 First Look 4

There is a very gentle colour nod (one orange and one red touch button) to the original series in the display, but otherwise it is very Star Trek: Discovery with a hint of earlier films.

Last but not least, for some time now Quentin Tarantino’s name has been attached to the fourth Kelvin-verse film.

Quentin Tarantino, you say?  Yes.  He is a big Trek fan and would love a shot at directing one of the films.

Quentin Tarantino

As this story has played out, it appears more likely he wouldn’t be able to do the fourth Kelvin-verse film, but would instead be ready for a fifth were it to be green-lit.

No matter when, I am really excited to see what Tarantino would do with a Trek movie.  Hopefully nothing too bat-shit crazy, but he is a creative and visionary director with a gritty and stylistic approach that is engaging. And sometimes polarising.

The CEO of Paramount Pictures, Jim Gianopulos, has confirmed that not one but TWO Star Trek films are currently in development.

We have absolutely no information on what those two films are about, and to the best of our knowledge neither does anyone else – except for those people actually developing the two ideas.

What we do know is that the Tarantino idea is being written by Mark L. Smith, and the other is being written by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay and is most likely the much-rumoured return of George Kirk movie.

Mark L. Smith wrote The Revenant, and J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay were apparently uncredited writers on Star Trek: Beyond and did some work on the original Roberto Orci idea that was eventually scrapped in favour of Doug Jung and Simon Pegg’s script.

If you want more information on any of these stories, you can track down a variety of articles through Variety and Deadline, or head on over to TrekMovie or TrekCore – both fan sites have had some excellent coverage on all of the exciting events happening in Star Trek news!

We’ve got some amazing things to look forward to as fans.  Still no news on when season two of Star Trek: Discovery will air, but it looks like it could be later this year.

No news on the release date for the next movies either.

As news unfolds, we’ll chat about it right here.

Live long, and prosper.

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