SciFi Friday: Star Trek Cardinal

Slice of SciFi reports on a new Star Trek television show being pitched to CBS by Project Cardinal. I am impressed with their ideas as they show more understanding of what made Star Trek successful than those who created some of the more recent sequels.

Simply pointing in a random direction and exploring no longer works for fans of today. Star Trek fans expect an engaging, fast moving story with a definite direction in mind. The story must have a purpose, a soul that interconnects the various stories. Everything must have meaning.

In that vein, we give you the crew of the USS Cardinal, a small vessel which is charged with the unglorified job of maintaining the Ferengi border, a small rectangle that also happens to connect the Romulans to the Cardassians in a smugglers corridor. The crew would be charged with chasing criminals and would-be invaders. If this were the be all and end all to the series, some Trek fans might burn the studio down in protest.

They are right that this by itself isn’t enough, but even before reading further I see hope. Star Trek is about starships. While Deep Space 9 had many fine points, the chances for success are much greater returning to a ship instead of a space station. Star Trek fans also want to move forward in the Star Trek universe we have seen in Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. We don’t want to see a ship stranded in another quadrant or a prequel which shows the past rather than the future as in Voyager and Enterprise.

Star Trek fans also care greatly about what was happened in the past series and do not want to see a total reboot as some such as J. Michael Straczynski have suggested. This idea might be best for the upcoming movie considering that there isn’t a current television show to base the movie on. The current plans to have the next Star Trek movie feature the characters of the original show played by new actors would be the best way of attracting both long time fans and a new audience. However, for an entire television series it would be preferable to move forward from where the last shows left off, maintaining the rich future history of the galaxy which has been presented.

This plan would continue the stories of the Federation, as well as the Ferengi, the Romulans, and the Cardassians, but they are right that so far this wouldn’t be enough. Fortunately the plan takes this further:

But it is not the be all and end all. We’re not just giving the crew a mission and leaving it to the writers to decide what random aliens they will encounter every week. Instead, the crew of the Cardinal is inadvertently placed in the center of events that will change the entire galaxy.

From the very beginning, the crew is faced with mysteries that don’t have solutions, mysteries that are causing powers to challenge other powers. The Cardinal is placed in the unenviable position of stopping a war, something that becomes increasingly harder until they are no longer able to stop it.

A former teacher of mine once told me that a good screenwriter never begins a script without knowing the ending, and this concept holds true to a series as well. Without a definite plan for seven seasons of storylines, the story may change direction too many times and lead in alternate routes. Instead of blindly moving forward, there is a definite plan that is brought to a logical conclusion at the end of season seven.

The site gives a run down of what is planned for an entire seven seasons. Those who have been disappointed in the endings of some Star Trek series will be pleased to read that seasons six and seven “begin to close the concepts we’ve opened in a proper fashion, without just throwing something together at the last minute.” There will also be more opportunities for stories by allowing more conflict among the crew:

For the crew of the Cardinal, this will involve a more realistic view of family than we are used to. One of the largest complaints about Star Trek: The Next Generation was the lack of conflict among the crew. The crew of a starship is a family, but families will hardly come together instantly after being placed in a difficult situation.

Instead, the crew is filled with characters that are constantly in conflict. Family is not chosen, after all, it is thrust upon you, and you need to make good with what you have. With each character in direct conflict with at least one other character, and a ship that forces interaction among the crew, we are left with a crew that must work past its problems with each other to solve the external problems facing the ship. As old conflicts are closed and forgotten, new ones arise to take their place. There will never be a lack of character conflict with a crew of this nature.

The crew in question is also not the best and the brightest we are used to seeing. Instead, they are those who could be the best and the brightest, if only they were given the chance. There are those plagued by their past, or fearful of their future, or perhaps even fearful of themselves. They are from different cultures, ages and sexes, and many of their differences cause a great deal of friction among other members of the crew.

There will be plenty of room for friction as proposed characters include a Klingon as second in command, a character who is half-Bajoran and half-Cardassian, and a Romulan defector with major quirks.

There certainly are many other potential scenarios for a new Star Trek series, but this one does contain many of the ideas which are needed. The one important aspect which I can’t tell from their proposal whether is continued is Gene Roddenberry’s liberal vision, but this was also missing from the later sequels.

SciFi Friday is a weekly feature at Liberal Values. Stories coming soon include Billie Piper’s replacement and the third season of Doctor Who, security surrounding Harry Potter, and top science fiction movies.

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22 Comments

  1. 1
    Arkady says:

    This is the television equivalent of vaporware.

    The ‘underground movement’ and ‘thousands of supporters’ that SLagonia has been claiming had had no proof to back it up, only very recently did he establish a website when other trek-related sites such as TrekBBS and Trek United openly questioned his methods and motives, so far there is only his ideas and claims that he has received ‘acclaim’ for other parts of the net. His posts on Manny Coto’s website practically beg for some kind of information on pitching this to CBS.

    This is a clever attempt at viral marketing for one person’s wild claims of being the ‘Leading Project for a new Series’

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    I’m not terribly optimistic about this ever taking off, but despite that I thought it was worthy of a blog post as it highlights the differences between what should and should not be done in a new Star Trek series. Realistically I think we are a few years away from when a new series will be considered. As I discussed JMS’s ideas a while back (which we know will not turn into a series) I thought it was worth providing an alternative view.

    I wouldn’t actually call this vaporware. I think of vaporware as software which has actually been promised but never comes to market. This is clearly posted as something he plans to pitch with no claims that a network is interested or that this show will be aired.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    I was interested in this proposal more as a launching point for saying what a new Star Trek series should include rather than as a report of anything I really expect to see in this form. Therefore I concentrated on the positive elements and didn’t bother noting the negative elements.

    The setting of the show is mixed. I think most fans want to see the full future Star Trek galaxy, not a small area such as in Deep Space 9. Placing it in such a border area does provide for the opportunity to involve races, and the arc with the war does allow it to involve more than just a minor region of the galaxy. This makes it a lot like DS9, in which everyone seemed to be in the neighborhood, and they ultimately did get involved in a major war.

    However one point of returning to a star ship as opposed to a space station is that they are not limited to one area. There could be an extended arc using this idea for a war, but there is no need for a series about a star ship to be limited to one area. It would also be preferable to see what happens in the future in many areas of the ST universe.

    While I agree with the idea that the crew should no longer be perfect as in ST:TNG, I disagree with their idea of a flawed ship. While we don’t want a ship which is so perfect and powerful that it would never face danger, we also don’t need artifically created drama from a ship that is flawed. While ST can over do the techno-babble, and not all of its science is very realistic, seeing the scientific advances is part of the fun. A new show should show what a Star Fleet ship can do, not have a ship which is intentionally flawed.

  4. 4
    Holy Dumb! says:

    Yeah, let’s promote what is essentially fan fiction as “news”.

    Okay.

    {expletive deleted}

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    Holy Dumb,

    You sure live up to the name by which you signed your comment. Did you bother to read this before posting a message like this?

    This is clearly not promoted as “news” but as a stepping stone for a discussion about what should be considered in a future Star Trek series. The first line makes it clear that this is just something being pitched, and no claims are made that this will be a show that will ever appear on the air.

    Considering that several blogs are discussing this also makes it worthy of commenting on. There is also certainly interest in the topic, judging by the number of links this post has received from Star Trek boards.

    In a week in which many blogs have been discussing civility on the blogs (a discussion I didn’t get into here purely due to being too booked up that day), this sure shows a minor example of the problem. I expect heated emotions in political debates, but why would someone care so much about whether someone’s ideas on a future Star Trek show are mentioned on a blog to even bother to send comments with profanities?

  6. 6
    Roger says:

    Wow, people, take it easy. It’s not like the article makes any misleading comments. It is a series pitch, it is in the works, it’s not a reality yet and I happen to think it’s really good.

  7. 7
    Count says:

    This is a fan series at best, the guy has been running around all the trek forums trying to get as much help as he can in getting CBS to even return his phone calls. So far he’s had no sucess and with the amount of information he has plastered over the net, CBS will NEVER accept it because all the plot, the character ideas and the general series idea has been thrown in the public domain (which means it’s nearly impossible to actually copyright now).

    This guy is 24 years old, has NO credits on IMDB, he claims to be a semi-professional screenwriter and has nothing to his credit. His “Agent” has never appeared or been spoken too and the guy refuses to provide any further information on the project proposal.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Technically it is not even a “fan series” as there is only an outline. It is simply an idea someone has which is unlikely to ever be sold as a show. As everyone agrees this proposal is unlikely to be purchased by CBS it really isn’t necessary to keep going why this isn’t going anywhere. As I noted above, the point of this isn’t to report on something which will air, but to provide a starting point to add to a discussion of what should be considered in a new Star Trek series. I’ve done the same with JMS’s proposals which are now dead, and might do it again if someone else puts out such a proposal.

    As this is only a speculative discussion of where a new show might go, Cardinal was adequate for this purpose. There is a fair amount of information available, and it is being discussed on various SF sites.

    My bet is that nobody is going to even think of buying a new Star Trek series until we see how the upcoming movie is received. I also doubt that someone without a lot of experience (and connections) has a shot at something as big as Star Trek.

  9. 9
    louis joseph shannon says:

    I like the idea of a new Trek series proposal to CBS. If it comes to pass it will mean that each of the three big networks will have done Trek in one form or another, ( albeit
    the animated Trek is not considered to have really occured in the universe of the twenty third century. But doesn’t this fact add to the history that Star Trek would be the first tv series done by all three? Or was Dragnet the first; not sure, maybe someone knows? )
    I would hope that the ship would be THE ENTERPRISE because the old series fans , as I am one , die hard. I would also hope that it would be state of the art FED. technology.
    It seems to me that these other factions would send state of the art vessels and technology to face the Federation no matter where it is situated.
    Being a would be writer of Trek stories I have found it is very difficult to remain 100% faithful to the over 600 or some Trek shows already aired and produced. ( How do you stay true to all of the history that has already passed. You are certainly bound to offend some fan somewhere no matter what you write.) We must give this pitch idea a chance even though it is so like DS9 in the fact that there will be another war. It has real possibilities and I intend on submitting material , if I recieve a writers guide.
    Haven’t we learned that leaving the optomistic vision that THE GREAT BIRD OF THE GALAXY envisioned is a flawed idea? Didn’t people from all walks of life flock to NBC on Wednesday nights at 7;30 pm. ( eastern standard time ) because Trek promised that , yes , we will survive and have a wonderful future? Setting up TREK in a series with a possibility of a sustained war is somewhat boreing for me.
    Sure there must be dramatic conflict but another sustained war like DS9 ? NO THANK YOU.
    Maybe it will work in all that it presents but CBS is the network to pitch to I think. GOOD LUCK TO THE U.S.S. CARDINAL AND MAY HER FEATHERS NOT GET TOO RUFFLED.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    From a marketing point of view, I agree it would make the most sense to call the new ship Enterprise. I also see little point in making this something less than state of the art, other than to create false drama by not having things work regularly. Back when DS9 was first started they talked about having alien technology which didn’t always work correctly for them, but this idea soon got dropped. People watch ST partially for the high tech gadgets, not to see a ship that doesn’t work right.

    I imagine that one thing that makes it hard to write ST stories is that they are generally in the same settings as the various shows. Having a new show with a new ship and crew set sometime after DS9 would be easier. There would still be a lot of history to try to avoid contradicting, but the day to day situations would be a lot different than writing stories with the crew from STTNG.

    We’d have to see the details of the stories, but also agree that a sustained war could take us away from what most like about ST. It might work more as a cold war type situation in the background while other types of stories are also told.

  11. 11
    louis joseph shannon says:

    As I stated previously, this is a good pitch for a new TREK series. But the term and statement ” has the unglorified duty ” leaves me concerned. Why say unglorified…A trash can and garbage hauling job are unglorified. Why set an optomistically based series in a dismal, drab, unglorified realm? You are cutting off some of the audience right off the bat. The female audience incidentally , I am sure.
    Why have a family type conflict on a supposedly star fleet co-operatively relationship trained personel in dealing with others? Wouldn’t their academy training prevent any open warfare from breaking out among crewmates? And wouldn’t the captain have enough of a
    problem with the mission rather than baby sitting enflamed
    over emotional crew personel? Wouldn’t it be a stab in the back to the captain after this , him or her seeing that they had failed in putting together a workable crew? Why set this series up like the first BATTLESTAR GALACTICA? ( A soap opera in outer space? Origonally from the nineteen seventies before the current version , ( WHICH I THINK STINKS ) )
    A STAR TREK SERIES CAN DO BETTER.
    Remember how awesome the first TREK was in the fact that all of the incidental music was directly geared to how that crew faction involved was feeling…It was funny sounding music where the show was comedic. It was uphoric where the show projected a love interest. After STAR WARS premiered , music on sci-fi series changed and became mundane. ( ALL MUSIC ON ALL SHOWS BEGAN TO SOUND ALIKE. )
    Let us return to a sound engineering section and composers who write music as I have said.
    Please send your comments on my comments , I look forward to all responses.
    LOUIS JOSEPH SHANNON

  12. 12
    louis joseph shannon says:

    Why set the crew population at a small number? Why make the ship small at all? I know I am contradicting what I said before but think of it . A seven season run? How many red shirts are there available to be killed off? With a small crew you cannot go kill happy and keep things believable because some fan somewhere is giong to say ” LOOK , AFTER 100
    EPISODES THEY HAVE KILLED OFF THE ENTIRE CREW? ”
    You have to start big to remain believable!! How many red shirts are available for this with a small crew complement?
    These asides are geared to help avoid mistakes made in recent TREK series.
    LOUIS JOSEPH SHANNON

  13. 13
    louis joseph shannon says:

    On the size of a new FEDERATION STARSHIP: We are tired of small ships . Voyager was a small ship. Enterprise was a small ship. Did the FEDERATION treasury go bust? Why make the starships small? Give the model makers and the set designers carte blanche and really come up with something special!! Something we will want to see every week. Not a run down , second rate, technologically inferior vessel. Again, if you base your ship the way it is planned, you cheat your audience. And I guarantee that the series will not run for seven years.

  14. 14
    southdakotaboy says:

    The next installment of Star Trek could be to retrace Voyager’s footsteps to re-establish contact with the Delta Quaderant. I know its not new territory, but you could have it as a colony mission with several ships and lots of people doing different things. Shorter story arcs the ability to bring in new people at different times.

  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    I could see that as a fan or novel series, but I hope that isn’t the next TV show. I’ve seen more of the Delta Quadrant than I’m interested in. I’d rather have a series moving forward in Federation space, rather than either the Delta Quadrant or moving back in time.

  16. 16
    Emily says:

    I love star trek because of the random direction and the surprise of new species and scientific discoveries. I don’t want the crew of the next series to be stationary. I want to see what happens to the federation and starfleet, and its development and progress, and the expansion of exploration. I don’t mind a mission to connect all the episodes, but the whole point of star trek is to boldly go where no man has gone before. i mean, isn’t it? Isn’t that why we like it? the universe is huge. why can’t they still be exploring? why can’t they perhaps make it to another galaxy this time, or at least to the edge of another quadrant? I am very upset by this.

  17. 17
    Ron Chusid says:

    Emily,

    I agree, we want to see the Federation, not just one small area.

    However, there is no reason to be upset by this. First of all, this is one person’s proposal and not anything planned. Secondly, DS9 was also limited to an area, but turned out to be one of the better spin offs, and wound up involving much of Federation space.

  18. 18
    Roger says:

    Uh, Count, he does have an IMDB page.

  19. 19
    Joe says:

    I’ve been a fan fr a long time. This is a great idea for a show.

    On the sbject of size, I don’t understand the argument that you need a bunch of faceless red shirts for the series to work. By keeping it small, we see everyone on the ship, from the captain down to the guy who scrubs the plasma conduits. This means anyone we lose is a deep personal loss.

    Secondly, I’m upset by how many people here obviously haven’t been to the website, or read much about the show. Some of these complaints aren’t based on anything. Some of you have taken small parts of the description, expanded them out of context, and complained about them.

    My one problem is that this is being billed as a ‘fan created series,’ and while he is a fan, and it’s based on his interaction, he’s actually an established writer, so marketing himself as an outsider seems like a bit of a marketing ploy.

  20. 20
    Joe said says:

    I don’t understand why anyone would think this is anything but a rip off of Firefly. Firefly had a crew that was disfunctional and fought all the time, and had an emotionally unsound crew…and the ship was small and falling apart…they were just surviving. This story is great but not for Star Trek. The whole point of Star Trek is that its an optimistic view of humanities future. Nobody wants to tune and and see that the future sucks and that people are “just making it” in space. Star Trek fans want SCIENCE and EXPLORATION in the series not a long war story about billions of people dying. DS9 was a good series but it lacked a lot of what makes Star Trek. Why not explore the Gamma quadrant in the new series? We barely saw the Gamma quadrant in DS9…maybe in the future there are a lot of Federation ships and bases in the Gamma quadrant. Why not have a state of the art ship like the Promethius or something even better with high tech gadgets? I seriously hope Star Trek Firefly I mean Cardinal doesnt see the light of day.

  21. 21
    Tony says:

    I do like the premise of the proposed new Star Trek.  Reality is reality no matter what point in time it occurs.  I think it is unrealistic to believe that ever ship in the Federation is top notch, cutting edge.  It stands to reason that some ships will be out-dated with system upgrades that don’t mesh perfectly with the pre-existing equipment.  Ships like these would, more than likely, be used for less than ideal assignments like patrolling for smugglers until they fell apart and would be decommissioned for a new, cutting edge replacement. 

    We’ve always seen cutting edge ships with top-of-the-class graduates of the academy for crew compliment.  But what of the crews made of those that were not top of the class?  I’m sure they would exist and would make up the majority of the Federation crew compliments.  The best and the brightest being assigned to the best ships with the most dangerous assignments.

    I think it would be refreshing to see what the average ship and average crew of the Federation would do facing situations that called for a higher class ship with a better capable crew.  My only real gripe is that the producer is trying to do too much with the crew, creating a ridiculously tense environment that the Federation would not allow regardless of where the crew was assigned.  A contingent of Klingon exchange personnel I can buy given the events of DSN and the Federation’s desire to foster better relations.  It would also make sense that this contingent would be sent to a smaller, average ship rather than a cutting edge starship where the possibility of espionage would be a huge issue.

    The fact that there would not be one but two Romulan defectors is a tough sell.  Especially when one is clearly intended to be mentally unstable.  I don’t see the Federation welcoming Romulan “defectors” into a Star Fleet crew given past relations with these people.  A tough sell to say the least and my biggest concern is that the producer is trying to manufacture as much drama as possible putting unlikely personnel together to see what happens.  I fear that fans will quickly tire of the incessant in-fighting with this crew which would detract from any external developments and tensions that are really at the heart of Star Trek.

  22. 22
    Ron Chusid says:

    I agree that this idea goes too far in attempting to create conflict (while ST:TNG went too far in the other direction in making people too perfect). I could see having ships in which everyone was not as perfect as the crew of the Enterprise, but this doesn’t mean that Star Fleet would allow just anyone in a crew, or keep a crew together which risks being dysfunctional.

    It was easier on Deep Space Nine to have a variety of characters as the cast included characters who were not in Star Fleet. There was also a realistic reason to have a Bajoran, who might not be as resistant to conflict as the typical Star Fleet officer. It is one thing to have a character who is mentally unstable. It would be less realistic to have them actually be a member of the crew.

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