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.


SciFi Friday

The newly remastered version of Journey to Babel airs tomorrow, and those who have seen the new portions say they are impressive. A list of affiliates carrying the remastered episodes of Star Trek is available here. The episode schedule is available here. The enhanced versions are scheduled for release on HD-DVD at the end of this year.

Chris Doohan, son of James Doohan has a suggestion for the casting of his father’s old character Scotty in Star Trek XI–himself. On his Myspace page he writes:

I just found out that they are going to make a new Star Trek Movie and are currently looking for a 30 something actor to play the role of , Scotty (yes, I’m a bit older :). They already signed Matt Damon for the role of Capt. Kirk and are considering James McAvoy as Scotty, but have not made the final decision yet.

They are not looking to fill ALL the spots with known actors, so I thought that maybe I would give it a try. Here’s why. 1.I kind of look like my Dad. 2. I can do a great scottish accent. 3. We share the last name. 4. I like money. 🙂 I didn’t know how to try out for this, or get an audition, so a friend in the business said that someone should start a write-in campaign and get a bunch of my friends to write to Paramount studios and J.J. Abrams (the producer) to try and persuade him/them to give me a try. Even if the role of Scotty has been taken, a small walk-on role would be fun.

Daybreak was pulled from ABC’s schedule before concluding the series. Four unaired episodes, in addition to the previous episodes, have been placed on line at ABC’s web site. Click here, and then click on Launch Now for a listing of ABC shows available.

Tim Kring has provided some information on Heroes at SciFi Wire. The current story arc involving predictions of a nuclear detonation in New York will be resolved and the season will end with a cliff hanger to set up season two. “Save the cheerleader, save the word” remains one of the top searches to reach here. I suspect that the new tag line, “are you on the list” might not catch on as well. There’s just something about both cheerleaders and the fate of the world that made the tag line for the first half of the season more compelling.

Trek Today reports on a TV Guide interview with George Takai about his work on Heroes, which includes information on the plans for the second season:

“I’m a big fan of Heroes,” Takei said. “I like to think we blazed a trail for it. Like Gene Roddenberry’s vision for Star Trek, Heroes tackles the big themes with a very diverse, multiethnic cast of characters.” But unlike Star Trek, which was cancelled after three years on NBC in the 1960s, “Heroes does something we never did — it gets great ratings!”

Takei explains that his character is extremely wealthy and wants Hiro to return to Japan to work as the industrial leader that his father has become. “Hiro has mysteriously vanished to the United States, and that is intolerable!” Takei explained. “My character is very old school and believes in learning the business from the bottom up. He was brought up that way by his father, and he wants his son raised that way, too.” This is why Hiro worked in a cubicle before he discovered his time-bending powers, even though he will likely inherit a fortune.

Heroes creator Tim Kring told Logan that the elder Nakamura opened a major story arc for the series’ next season, which will explore Hiro’s family background. “Isn’t that tantalizing?” asked Takei, noting that the Nakamura dynasty stretches far into the past: “In ancient times we were in the shogun class…only samurai were allowed to carry swords, and the upper echelon had the best of the swords, so therefore they became heirlooms.” Takei believes it is possible that the legendary sword for which Hiro is seeking may connect to his family, which pleases Takei, who has a “legendary samurai” in his own family tree.

As noted yesterday, the final installment in the Harry Potter series has been announced for release on July 21.

Sci Fi Friday: Ron Moore on Religion vs. Humanism in Star Trek and BSG

Interviews with Ron Moore are almost becoming a regular part of SciFi Friday. This week I have some excerpts from an interview conducted by Harlan Ellison:

Ellison: The parallels to current events are obvious; in particular, I think that the analogies to the Iraqi War are very clear. Did the parallels come from you or from some Sci-Fi [Channel] exec?

Moore: Fundamentally, they came from me. I felt, in that first week of thinking about it, that, okay, this is going to deal with 9-11 and a lot of the things we were going through as a society at that moment. It was just part of the premise. It was always going to be in the show, and once we were on that path, it just felt like we were going to keep doing this and we’re going to deal with things that are happening in our contemporary reality, but we were going to view them through a different prism.

The show was never going to be a direct allegory; Laura Roslin was not going to be George W. Bush, and the Cylons were not going to be al-Qaeda. But they were going to share elements. And part of the opportunity of doing a show like this was the opportunity to sort of move the pieces around the game board a little bit and say: “Well, we’ve all experienced this set of events. What if I move this piece over here, and put you over there? How would you feel about it then?”
There was a Sci-Fi [Channel] exec that had a key impact on the show, surprisingly enough. His name is Michael Jackson (no relation to the singer.) He worked for the network, and while I was working on the script for the miniseries, he read a line from Number Six, the blonde Cylon played by Tricia Helfer. She had a conversation with Baltar, and at one point she says, “God is love.” It was just something that I found on the page as I was writing it. And I wrote, and I was struck by it because it’s an odd thing for a robot to say. I liked it, but didn’t really know what it meant, and it wasn’t a focal point of the script.

But when Michael read the script, one of his notes was: “That’s fascinating. You already have elements of al-Qaeda and religious fanaticism hovering around the edges of what you’re doing. Why don’t you embrace that and go for that element because they don’t typically do that in Sci-Fi.” And my first reaction was: “Oh my God! Nobody ever gives you that kind of note, especially not an executive.”

So I just ran with it, and it became one of foundational elements of the show: the religious conflict between the two civilizations; the monotheism of the Cylons and the polytheism of the Colonials; what is God, what is human, and what does it mean to be alive. All of these metaphysical ideas and religious concepts sort of groove from that one line in the teleplay.

Ellison: My next question is about religion. The Cylons are the monotheists; they believe in God and are good Christian folk. And the crew, who are our heroes, are polytheists like the ancient Egyptians or Greeks. It was always interesting, but until recently there was never a third element; now the venue has changed and there’s a supernatural quality. A spiritual force is at work. Can you codify that?

Moore: I sort of felt that as the religious aspects of the show were becoming more common and started to dominate plot lines and certain character attributes, you sort of had to make a choice at some level about whether that was all bullshit or not. Does it mean something? Is all this worship just about talk and about made up religions that don’t mean anything? Or is there the possibility of something greater? These are the existential questions. Is this all that I am? Is there something more? Why am I here?

If all the characters on the show are asking themselves those questions, I felt that on some level I wanted to give a hint that maybe they’re not all fools. That maybe there’s some greater truth that they’re all struggling toward, that none of them can see perfectly. So I started to feather in ideas that could not be explained by rational means. While never really coming out and saying that God is behind the curtain, I wanted to have elements of it.

One of the things that I had noticed working on Star Trek, and in science fiction in general, was that mainstream science fiction tended to shy away from this as a subject. Gene Roddenberry felt very strongly that in the future of Star Trek, religions were all gone; that in 300 to 400 years mankind had evolved beyond it; that religions were all superstitions and were things of the past. It was a very secular humanist idea, which I don’t have a problem with philosophically, but I didn’t believe as a storyteller that in just a few centuries we would discard this fundamental thing that had informed our societies for so long.

So, I just felt that in this world in Galactica, which had nomenclature like Apollo and Athena and all these names of the Greek gods, it beggared the imagination to say that they didn’t really believe in it. And if they did believe it in, I wanted to give it some validity and show that there is something out there.

Variety reports that Battlestar Galactica executive producer David Eick is wroking on Them, an SF alien-invasion series for Fox Apparently if Fox News has been unsuccessful in leadilng the Republican invasion of Earth, their entertainment division will turn to a fictional invasion.The Spider-Man 3 trailer is available here. If you prefer DC to Marvel, the sequel to Superman Returns is expected for 2009.

By now most Lost fans are aware that they have to wait until next year for the season to pick up again and find out how the cliff hanger is resolved. Will Jack really ignore the Hippocratic Oath and allow Ben to die? Will his gamble work and allow all three of those captured by the others to escape? Fans of Jericho are about to be faced with a similar cliff hanger. The first half of Jericho‘s season will end November 29 with a cliffhanger, to be continued February 14. One good thing about this plan, for someone such as myself who hasn’t watched yet, is that this gives me time to watch the season to date on line and then follow when it returns. Having ways to catch missed shows is an excellent idea. The networks are learning that they must make some changes in how they present shows if they are to reduce their declining viewership.

Sci Fi Friday: Star Trek’s George Takai on the Political Climate

Star Trek was started in the 1960’s as a way for Gene Roddenberry to sneak discussions of political issues past the networks. Fortunately political issues are discussed more openly now. TrekToday reports on a recent interview with George Takai (Mr. Sulu). Takai has been in the news recently after revealling that he is gay, but he also has some comments on today’s political climate:

“I’m a Japanese-American. I grew up behind US barbed-wire fences,” Takei told Foley. “We were first taken to the horse stables of Santa Anita Race Track, because the camps weren’t built yet. And then when the camps were built, they transported us two-thirds of the way across the county to the swamps of Arkansas…and why were we incarcerated? There were no trials. There were no attorneys. There was no due process. Simply because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Yes, I know about racial profiling. And this administration has used fear to terrorize America. Yes, they are the ones who are terrorizing America. There are decent people who just happened to look like the ones who committed that terrible act on September 11, 2001, and they are being profiled and subjected to all these indignities.”

“You know, this administration came out with what they call the ‘Patriot Act’ which is the most disgusting name for an ‘Act’ that is so un-American,” the actor added. “I mean, due process and civil liberties have gone out the window. And this administration continues to tell us that we are terrorized. There are better ways do deal with this. Look at Britain. They caught the people before it happened. Intelligence is what’s really important.”

“And do you know what they are doing in this country? [The Military] are kicking out Arabic-speaking gay intelligence workers, just because they are gay! What is more important? National security or homophobia? In this administration, it’s clearly homophobia and not national security. This administration has it all wrong.”

A Fox News reporter noted that Takei seemed very passionate about this subject and asked him what he thought was the answer. “Britain has demonstrated that they can do it. Have good intelligence! By firing Arabic speaking intelligence officers, that is not the way to do it…look at the failure we have in Iraq. It is a disaster. Look at the incompetence we had in dealing with Katrina. In case after case, this administration has been the greatest threat to America.”

A recent post has another story on Takai under the fold. Additional Star Trek stories are reposted below.