You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Voyager is not true"

Okay then... strike "plausible within its own universe" and change that to "close enough to our own universe that we can see it is even remotely applicable".

Too much of Star Trek, for me, was like the economist marooned on a desert island with many crates of tinned food who said, "It's easy. First, we just have to assume a can opener".

Example: Synthehol vs ambrosia. Yes, yes, in 500 years time some genius may well have invented an intoxicating liquor that can be burned off in seconds when adrenalin kicks in, so no drunkenness or hangover. But for actually drama, it's better to have Tigh hitting his Jack Daniels when the Cylons attack, so he has to make decisions while sozzled.

Much of the super-snazzy Star Trek technology was devised by Sheen Rotten Perry in the 1960s and 1970s to arbitrarily cut through problems with the limited special effects of the time. Eg: transporters to avoid showing a toy shuttle on a fishing line "landing" on a papier-mache planet each week; food slots (replicators?) in the walls to avoid having to build a set for a ships' galley; comlinks on collars to avoid speaking into clunky old phones the way Gaeta does.

The problem is, over time these "solutions" create more problems for the screenwriters. As David Gerrold noted, the transporter made it too easy for Kirk et al to escape from danger. There were only two ways to generate tension: [a] have the aliens nullify his transporter so he couldn't beam out til after the final ad break, or [b] create some dramatic situation where he would choose not to beam out til a problem was solved. Guess which path the writers chose more often -- the easy or the hard.

True, the transporter did create some new story ideas -- especially "fused personality" ("Tuvix") and the parallel universe of "Mirror, Mirror".

John B wrote:

I think 'true' in this context equates with 'plausible within the context of the relevant fictional Universe'.

Personally, I always thought 'Voyager' was plausible in it's context because of -

(a) the virtually unlimited energy generated by the matter/ anti-matter reactions carried out in Voyager's warp core.

(b) the very advanced matter/ energy technology that underlies replicators, transporters and the holo-deck which meant that as long as Voyager was even partly functioning the crew could build or rebuild just about anything and make their own equipment, food and water out of thin air. (In fact, the thing I didn't consider realistic given this technology was that they had to ration use of the replicator.)

(c) the very advanced medical technology that allowed regeneration of limbs and organs or substitution of very effective bionic replacements which meant that the crew were very difficult to kill or incapacitate.

(d) the fundamental change to human society and values between the 22nd and 24th Centuries that made the crew more mentally stable than a star-lost 20th Century space ship crew could be. NB: I recall that in an episode of original Star Trek (I can't recall it's name but it featured the villain Garth of Izar) it was claimed that all human mental illness was now curable with proper treatment and in an episode of TNG (which involved mind-controlling aliens) that the human brain had been completely mapped.

Watching "Omen III: The Final Conflict" on DVD the other night -- Our most sernior Spouse and I agreed that, while we could believe Damien Thorn [*] being son of Satan, only being killable using N (1 > 7) of the Seven Daggers of Megiddo, etc, what we couldn't accept was that DT's henchperson "Dean's" wife, having worked out her husband is a long-standing Satanist who has just orchestrated the murder of a hundred babies, would do nothing more than trash his office... then sit there amidst the mess, cradling the newborn, wait for hubby to come back from work, and then say "Keep away from him, you murderer!" while unarmed. In reality (or in a more plausible script), she would be much more likely either to flee somewhere, or else to make hubby a cuppa laced with arsenic. Science and (on screen) magic powers may change -- human motivations don't.

Besides, aren't Satanic priests supposed to get allocated multiple Wives? Don't tell me Mike Warnke lied to his readers...!

Speaking of babies surviving... I think the Mooreon is right about Voyager, although I do note that New BSG is a bit fuzzy about how many Vipers the Fleet has left in its air [sic] wing, even though we get an (updated) population count with each episode.

[*] As played by Sam Neill, who looks especially [like mutual friend "K"] when smirking at his Satanic Amway Convention of followers, or chatting up a British journalist whose tightly curled perm looks like it would cause her to bounce if some evil nanny pushed her head-first from a third-floor hospital window. "K" has consistently been likened to two actors in particular: Sam Neill and Gabriel Byrne. Not only are both - of the Irish religion, but both have also played the Devil in human form.

This hits right at the heart of the "suspending disbelief" required of good fiction.

Of course droids, Jedi and Ewoks aren't real, but we choose to accept the premise because the human relationships are compelling.

If that fails, no number of technical gadgets will get past the cynics radar

The "wow" factor will never trump the "heart" factor

Star Wars 1, 2 and 3 as cases in point.

[...] Moore's re-imagining of Galactica is noted for taking a more serious tone than its predecessor, something that was foreshadowed in the January 2000 for Cinescape interview, where he discussed what he saw as the root problem with Voyager.

"The premise has a lot of possibilities. Before it aired, I was at a convention in Pasadena, and Sternbach and Okuda were on stage, and they were answering questions from the audience about the new ship. It was all very technical, and they were talking about the fact that in the premise this ship was going to have problems. It wasn't going to have unlimited sources of energy. It wasn't going to have all the doodads of the Enterprise. It was going to be rougher, fending for themselves more, having to trade to get supplies that they want. That didn't happen. It doesn't happen at all, and it's a lie to the audience. I think the audience intuitively knows when something is true and something is not true. Voyager is not true. If it were true, the ship would not look spic-and-span every week, after all these battles it goes through. How many times has the bridge been destroyed? How many shuttlecrafts have vanished, and another one just comes out of the oven? That kind of bullshitting the audience I think takes its toll. At some point the audience stops taking it seriously, because they know that this is not really the way this would happen. These people wouldn't act like this."

Generally, fans have seen Moore's treatment of the new "Battlestar Galactica" as addressing the criticisms of the Star Trek franchise which led to its cancellation. [...]

No comments: