Sci Fi Friday: Star Trek Meets Heroes

Heroes must have lots of fans. After I recently had a brief story on it in a previous edition of Sci Fi Friday, “Save the Cheerleader Save the World” has become one of the biggest search engine hits for this site. I’ve more commonly had posts about classic SF shows such as Star Trek, but for this week I found something to combine the two. Comic Book Resources has an interview with Heroes writeer Brian Fuller who previously worked on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Fuller is excited about J.J. Abrams taking over Star Trek, but I wonder if he and the interviewer are the he only ones who prefers the Janeway/Seven relationship to Kirk/Spock. Here’s some portions of the interview:

Robert Taylor: Bryan, why did you want to become a writer?

Bryan Fuller: I went to film school for production, and there came a time when we all had to pitch a 20-minute short film, so that was the first time I actually sat down and wrote something with dialogue and I thought it was a lot of fun. I didn’t really take any classes on writing, I just enjoyed trying to mimic how people talk and what you would do if you were in a given situation. I never imagined I would be a writer.

Then one day I was watching “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and I thought I could do it. Something clicked, and I wrote a spec script and submitted it and wrote another one. I got invited in to pitch. I really didn’t want to be a television writer as much as I wanted to be a “Star Trek” writer. I had every action figure, so it was all about “Star Trek” for me.

I got very frustrated after years of working on the show and doing the same types of stories so I wrote, on spec, the “Dead Like Me” pilot.

RT: What do you think about the decline of the franchise and what about its place right now?

BF: I think the status right now is very encouraging, and I’m referring to the J.J. Abrams-helmed reinvention of the franchise, which it’s desperate for.

Basically what happened to the franchise was that it was in the hands of people who had done their thing with it and were continuing to do their thing with it and weren’t looking to expand. One of the promises of “Enterprise” was that it was going to be a whole new deal with different adventures and different characters. And then I saw the pilot and thought that they just changed the paradigm slightly enough that you could argue that it was different, but not under heavy scrutiny. The reason “Star Trek” was withering on the vine for so long was because it wasn’t getting enough nourishment, and J.J. Abrams is going to give it that burst of energy that it needs and it deserves.

The “Star Trek” universe is such a fertile place to tell stories. There were lots of new and innovative things going on during “Deep Space Nine” and that’s why it’s my favorite of the new series. It was much more character-based.

For me it goes original series, then “Deep Space Nine,” then “Next Generation,” and then “Voyager.” There are elements of “Voyager” that I loved, though. I think it hit its creative stride with Seven of Nine and the relationship with Janeway. I found it much more interesting than any other captain/crew relationship, including Kirk and Spock. Kirk and Spock have a great dynamic and I want to see them have adventures, but if you want to see me captivated and want me to continue watching as you pull back the layers of the onion then I think that Seven of Nine and Janeway’s relationship was much more complicated.

RT: I actually agree with that. More than Picard and Data even. I think, in some ways, it kept the series going much longer than it needed to, though.

BF: I completely agree. I loved Kirk and Spock. I love Picard and Data, even though they were just a variation on Kirk and Spock. And there was no iconic relationships on “Deep Space Nine” because all the characters were so strong, no two people really stood out.

If I was going to hang out with a captain from “Star Trek,” I would hang out with Janeway. She was the most fun. I loved the complexity of her character. I love that she went out there on her own and wasn’t always making the right decisions. Sometimes she was reacting emotionally and sometimes she was reacting strategically. She was much more flawed, and the show got criticism for that.

Oh, I’m sorry, I’m blah blah blahing about “Star Trek.” I could go on about it all day.

Later the interview got to Heroes:

RT: Okay, let’s move onto “Heroes.” How’d you get onboard with it?

BF: The show really isn’t a superhero show. It’s about regular people realizing they have superpowers and it’s about how they deal with it. What I was attracted to was the themes of destiny and fate and our individual roles in the universe. If you look at “Dead Like Me” or “Wonderfalls” you’ll see that the characters ask those same types of questions. I really related to that. Each and every character had a metaphor on their journey, like the indestructible teenager, the single mother who is spread too thin and needs two of her, the cop who can read people’s minds. There’s the big huge meta-questions and small questions like navigating the waters of being a cheerleader.

RT: How long are you planning on staying with the series, since right now you are only a consulting producer?

BF: Well, my title is consulting producer, but I’m actually working full-time on the show. There are a lot of times where it’s seven days a week and I’m only supposed to be here three days a week but I love the show and I love the writing staff. It’s been such a fantastic experience and the show seems like a juggernaut. It’s great to be part of a show that is being supported by a network.

The show is really “Magnolia” meets “X-Men.” I read the script and began to think where the stories could spin from there. The cheerleader character really hit home with me. Each of us takes a character and writes those stories, and then we combine that, so every writer works on every episode.

I just took to Claire and really liked her journey.

RT: What is a normal day like in the “Heroes” office?

BF: A normal day for me is sitting at my computer writing. We get into a rhythm of breaking the stories with different color marker on different cards for different characters, and then we all go off on our own to write our individual scenes and then we take those scenes, put them together, read the script, give the episode’s writer our notes and that is the process.

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