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Scott Atwell Star Trek Discussion thread (Series and Films)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Ockeghem, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. Blimpoy06

    Blimpoy06 Supporting Actor

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    Star Trek TNG "The Measure Of A Man"
    I had the pleasure of hearing Melinda Snodgrass speak to a room of about 12 people at a convention in Columbus, OH around the time Season 2 had just finished production. She is a well spoken and intelligent woman. A law background as I recall from that long ago day.

    I consider her script "The High Ground" to be the best material ever written for Beverly Crusher. She, along with Hans Biemler, Richard Manning and Ira Stephen Behr, left TNG after clashing with the style of 3rd Season Head Writer Michael Piller. I know many fans worship at the alter of Piller, but I thought he brought in a safe, mild and blander approach to the show. I wish those writers could have stayed with TNG longer, but two of them went on to do great thins with DS9.
     
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    Carabimero

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    I would be one of those. From a fan's perspective I can appreciate what you're saying, but I'd been trying to get hired in any capacity on that show for years and Michael hired me (and many others) when no one else would or did. So I will be loyal to the memory of Michael Piller till my dying breath. He didn't just teach me about writing. He looked at me like I was a real person and asked me what my dreams were. I couldn't believe it. He was the first genuine person (and one of very few genuine people) I ever met in Hollywood.
     
  3. Jeff Flugel

    Jeff Flugel Second Unit

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    I agree. Is this the best episode of Star Trek: TOS? Not by a long shot. It's silly in many ways, but it's a pretty entertaining watch, and far, FAR from the worst the series had to offer.

    Ditto "The Omega Glory."
     
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  4. Jeff Flugel

    Jeff Flugel Second Unit

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    Count me in as one who thinks Piller, at the very least, righted The Next Generation ship in season three. I agree that a sense of blandness crept in eventually, but I'd argue that those middle seasons of the show (3-5) have the largest share of good-to-great episodes in them. There was some good stuff in the first 2 seasons of the show, to be sure, but also a lot of not-so-good to outright bad, too.

    I do think it worked out for the best, as Ira Behr and company did some great things on Deep Space Nine.
     
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  5. Message #13125 of 13315 Feb 28, 2018
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    Carabimero

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    I admit THE APPLE is not a bad episode, but I always kinda put it in the middle of the pack. I particularly have a problem with THE OMEGA GLORY because I never bought into the parallel Earth device, which was only invented to explain why everything looked liked it was on Earth. If it had some bigger point, maybe it would have worked. MIRI got away with it because the story had nothing to do with Earth history (e.g. The Constitution). But it stretches the limits of credulity, IMO, to see an American flag at the end of THE OMEGA GLORY.
     
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  6. Blimpoy06

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    That's great. It's hard to get a foot in the door in the TV industry. I was going to take advantage of the open submission policy that Piller instigated myself. I just couldn't live up to my own high standards of originality. :blush:

    Writers are drawn to certain types of stories for Star Trek just like the fans are. Double so for the working environment. The impression I get is that Michael Piller was excellent in working with new talent, but tended to rub some of the veterans the wrong way. I wish I could remember the exact quote from first year writer Herbert Wright when he returned to TNG briefly in the 5th year. Something along the lines of, "I don't care if Worf is a good single parent. I just want cool sh*t to happen". That pretty much sums up my view of the latter years of TNG.
     
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  7. Message #13127 of 13315 Feb 28, 2018
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    Carabimero

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    I wish you would have written and submitted. After Pillar hired me he sat me down in front of a big pile of scripts and explained to me what a slush pile was. Every time I read a script I wanted so badly for it to knock me on my ass. It never happened. After a while I could tell from the first sentence how good (or usually bad) the script would be.

    The first sentence never lied. I must have read hundreds of scripts and only twice did I pass one up to Michael.

    So I could have used your script, Darin, if for nothing else a glimmer of light in a dark pile. From everything I can see about the writing sensibilities in your posts, your script would have been better than most of the ones I read in that never-ending unagented slush pile.
     
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  8. Blimpoy06

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    That was the one story telling device I wish Gene Roddenberry didn't use so often. I've read he was fond of Johnathan Swift and wanted to tell moral and political stories in a similar "same but different" style. Always thought Gene would have loved Sliders.

    The Omega Glory was a favorite of mine when I was little because of all the action. Morgan Woodward is just as commanding and charismatic a Captain as Kirk. And he kicks Kirk's ass! A lot.! The switch of who the viewer sides with as the "good guys" is handled pretty well. Thinking about an East vs. West Armageddon is still haunting today. But Gene goes one step too far in the coincidence category by having the same Declaration Of Independence on the planet. We have gone from clever to "Oh come on!".
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Carabimero

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    I agree Tracy was cool beans. Just his voice alone kicked Kirk's butt...
     
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  10. Blimpoy06

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    I'll tell you what I wanted to do, and why I couldn't break the story it to make it pay off. Turns out that a similar idea was used as the "B" story in the 4th season episode, "Data's Day". I gather that happened a lot.Stories being submitted with similar themes to what the staff was working on.

    Here's my pitch.This was before Section 31on DS9. I wanted to do the "Ice Station Zebra" of Star Trek. The Enterprise picks up the Federation version of a MI6 agent with impeccable credentials as well as a rapid action response team. Again, before Enterprise had MACO's. The announced mission to Picard: to recuse a survey team on a plant near the Romulan border being ravished by an ion or some astronomical type storm. . The reality, which Picard is unaware of: to pick up a Vulcan spy and information he has obtained from Romulus before crashing on the planet due to the storm. One of the response team members is Vulcan. A highly irregular vocation for his species. The Enterprise is sabotaged in route. Who among the new passengers could be responsible? Does Picard blindly follow orders or exercise his own judgement? How far will he press to discovery the truth about the mission? What will he do once he is there and finds out?
     
  11. Carabimero

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    Yes, that cost at least two writers I know of their job, because they read an unsolicited script when they should not have done so, which opened up the studio to a potential lawsuit, so those writers were summarily fired.

    That sounds like a compelling first-act pitch. Of course I realize it's one thing to pitch a good story and another thing to write a good script, but that sounds really good so far. You didn't say why you couldn't break the story to make it payoff.

    The part that gets most writers on the pitch is: they can't bring home the ending. And the ending, I have discovered, is usually the first thing successful writers start with: They define their ending and work backwards.
     
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  12. Blimpoy06

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    Have you seen the film "Ice Station Zebra"? The ending is pretty standard spy stuff of the Cold War Era. Neither side gets what they want. The problem in adapting it to Star Trek, and TNG in general. It is the same conflict you have in "The Pegasus", should the Federation be spying? And in "The Wounded", should Starfleet be aggressive and violate a treaty to maintain it's borders and safety of it's citizens. What information is so important for the Federation to take these big steps? It's also very similar to "Unification". See the similarities?
     
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    Jeff Flugel

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    Yes, Morgan Woodward is ferocious in "The Omega Glory." The whole episode is a fun action romp until it gets to that cringe-inducing "Declaration of Independence" speech Kirk gives at the end. One step too far in the suspension of disbelief sweepstakes, to be sure...but not enough to ruin the story for me.
     
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    Carabimero

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    Yes, but sometimes when I look for similarities, I find exactly what I am looking for, and seeing the similarities paralyze me from further writing, just as trying to consider all the consequences of a decision paralyze me if I think about them too much. When that happens I ask myself what my theme is about—what do I believe in so strongly that it puts fire in my belly. When I find that theme, and imagine dramatizing it, the similarities to other stories start to dissipate. The separation becomes complete when I turn my theme into a series of moral arguments developed through dialogue and resolved by action.

    Permit me to restate your questions as arguments. For example: The Federation should be spying; in fact, they must be spying, to save their citizens from enemy sneak attack. The argument is moral because, by definition, it’s designed to save people. Your counter argument, also moral, might be that spying starts people down a road that leads to paranoia and self-destruction). Granted these arguments are fairly standard, but what is not standard--or easy--is dramatizing both arguments in conflict through actions and their consequences.

    When I can dramatize my arguments--on both sides--and ultimately build my climax around the moral argument I believe in (the dominant moral argument of the DISCOVERY finale supported Federation principles), then those initial similarities I worried about disappear, stamped out by polar arguments springing from a dynamic theme. When I am stuck it is usually because I don't have a theme (or maybe I actually have one but haven't recognized it working in my story yet).

    Just my two cents. All that said, I like what you have, Darin, and admire you for putting it out here.
     
  15. Jason_V

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    Me. If you look at the whole of Seasons 1 and 2, the show as aimless. It had no idea what it was doing, really, and had the stories to prove that. Almost every episode in the first season ended with the crew all together on the bridge like the events of that episode didn't happen. Season 2 got better, with slight gradations in the storytelling, but it was still wildly uneven. (This isn't to say everything in the Piller years was A+. It wasn't.)

    But Season 3 was mature storytelling. Piller righted the ship, so to speak, after the mass firings and departures of the first two years. He took new writers under his wing (Ron Moore, for example) and I daresay even the people who didn't make it as writers don't say anything bad about him. At least, if they do, I haven't read it. Sure, the show got complacent later on, but I'd argue that was after Piller started devoting more time to DS9.

    He was the one who pushed for more arcs on Voyager; Jeri Taylor pushed back on them - hard. It was under Piller's watch that the open script submission policy came to be. It was under Piller that TNG tried new things, even if they weren't 100% successful. I liken him to TOS's Gene Coon or DS9's Ira Stephen Behr. Those other shows could have limped along and been successful without those writers. But with them, those shows became magic.
     
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  16. Blimpoy06

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    I would argue that the writing staff for Season 3 of Star Trek TNG was a mix of Season 1 and 2 veterans and several new writers. Many that still left. And it really isn't until Season 4 that the Michael Piller era truly begins Michael Wagner I believe was hired as show runner for the departing Maurice Hurley. Wagner left very early and Piller filled the void. I'm trying to be polite, but I have seen quotes of writers saying that Piller was insulting to some of the veteran writers in his approach to the show and that is why they left. Not trying to take sides. Everyone has their style and wants to surround themselves with compatible people. The Piiler era starts in force with the arrival of Jeri Taylor and the departure of Beimler, Manning, Snodgrass, Behr and David Kemper.

    I hear that argument a lot. I just don't see it. Perhaps Seasons 1 and 2 seem aimless because they aren't building on recurring characters and revisiting stories the way the latter years do? Five of the first seven episodes of Season 4 involve characters from earlier episodes. That's problem I have. I'd rather see new situations than re-visit old ones.
     
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  17. Blimpoy06

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    I don't mean to come across as a Michael Piller hater. I recognize the structure and import he brought to the show. I just feel the the Universe in Maurice Hurley's Star Trek was more unpredictable, full of wonder and dangerous. The later years are spent in more familiar well defined areas of space and at times feel stale because of it. I like risky first contact stories the best. Seemed those kind of went by the wayside.
     
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  18. Jason_V

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    Sure, he might have rubbed people the wrong way. Beimler and Behr both came back to Trek to success on a show co-created by Piller. So they could not have possibly had such a bad taste in their mouth they would turn down multi-year work. Wagner, I believe, had issues with everyone involved based on some director comments. Again, Trek isn't for everyone, especially TNG. A great many writers came and went over the years who just couldn't get on board with the way things were being done. Wagner also left early in S3; Piller become co-exec producer right afterward. I'd argue the Piller years started at that moment (The Bonding) and ran through the end of TNG since he was instrumental in bringing on board everyone who would work on the show from that point forward.

    Season 1 and 2 were...kiddie. Not kid stories, but the look, feel, acting and writing. It was amateur hour a lot of the time. There were flashes of brilliance, but those two years aren't remembered terribly fondly by fans. The beginning of S4, for me, built on what happened before. No single episode did something already done. It took what we knew and expanded it.

    I in no way get "hater." We all have different opinions and that's great!
     
  19. Blimpoy06

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    Thanks Jason. That's why I spend so much time here. Different views can be expressed without sides being drawn and people being considered less of because they don't conform to a given view of what "right" is. I admire the way everyone here can present their case in a well thought and rational way. I enjoy the discourse.
     
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    bmasters9

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    IIRC (unrelated to this topic), that's what made ABC News Nightline (at least as it was w/Ted Koppel) great way back when-- from Washington, Ted was able to manage a conversation that could go several ways, and no one shouted over one another; everything was incredibly civil.

    That's why, I recall reading, Ted swore off any and all questions that were prepared for him; he wanted to make sure he could manage the flow of the questioning, so he studied and perused anything and everything relating to what he was reporting on on a given night. That way, he was ready to go on whatever subject(s) he did (IINM).
     
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