January 22, 2020

The Flaws of Star Trek

Timothy Birdnow

Star Trek - particularly the ones starting with Next Generation - are politically correct and often ridiculously so.  Warner Todd Houston made this observation on Facebook:

Has anyone noticed that in a future where everyone has supposedly gotten past race and ethnic differences, the Star Trek crew sure find a lot of planets that are strictly segregated with one ethnicity and the times they DON'T find that, the whole planet is usually in a race war?

I replied:

And the matter of money. They SAY all material problems have been solved and humans don't even use money, but there are traders in deep space hustling for "latinum" (Ferengui money) and the like. Funny how their socialism seems to fail to meet so many needs.

Nobody goes into deep space and busts their tail if they aren't going to profit from it.

Another commenter left the following remark:

They lost me when they started talking about enslaving animals for food production. That was early on in next generation.

Well, all those cattle have been waiting for a William Wallace or George Washington to organize their rebellion, I guess.

I loved Star Trek, but it sure stunk as a morality play.  Even the old Trek was dripping with liberal ideas and silly, soft-headed notions. But the newer ones were just dreadful in this regard.

I've always wished I were able to create my own series. There would be no aliens, or if there were they would be ALIEN, not people with putty on their noses. I would respect science, meaning no artificial gravity or warp drive. I would respect the dangers of space and the drive that leads people to go there - such as a need to acquire wealth (asteroid miners, say) or a sense of interplanetary manifest destiny or religion or whatnot.

Sort of like what they were trying to go for with Firefly, only I'd avoid some of the pitfalls of that show.

This solar system is quite enough to make terrific science fiction stories.

Be that as it may, I enjoy Star Trek but there are parts of it I have always had a hard time stomaching. For example, the ability of alien species to interbreed. Come on!  A human would have more luck breeding with a lizard than Spock's mother with his Vulcan father; the Lizard at least comes with the same DNA strands.

Frankly, inter species sex is an act of sodomy according to Church and Common Law and any rational society would consider it unacceptable.

That's why aliens would be aliens; multiple limbs, or two heads, or whatnot. (I'm thinking of the Pierson's Puppeteers in Niven's "Known Space" stories here.) Better yet do without, as Asimov did.

Speaking of Asimov, why hasn't anyone done HIS universe?  I LOVED all of his work, and he had no aliens and tried to largely respect the laws of science (well, when not using artificial gravity or hyperdrive). Someone really ought to do a series about Elijah Bailey.

At any rate, that is my rant for the morning.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 07:45 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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1 I loved the anachronisms of Firefly - space ships and six shooters. That is precisely what made it so delightful. Well, that and the awesome cast, of course.

Posted by: Bill H at January 22, 2020 09:41 AM (vMiSr)

2 To reply to these points out of sequence -- and thereby prove another point -- the only real problem with Firefly was that, right from the get-go, they broadcast the episodes out of order and confused all the viewers, including me. You had to wait for the movie "Serenity" to find out what was really going on.

As far as TNG, yes, there were all those anomalies, but be honest: did you really watch that show for any other reasons than to (1) gape at the loveliness of Lt. Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden), and (2) laugh your heads off during the all-too-few appearances of Majel Barrett as Troi's mother? Sirtis was certainly a looker, though sometimes they overdid her hair, and it wasn't until the fourth season at least that she learned anything about acting -- couldn't act her way out of a paper bag before that and not much better afterward -- but she was easy on the eyes. As for McFadden, it didn't hurt that she was a redhead.

I don't know about you, but Martha and I always used to hope that Barrett would be doing a turn as Troi's mother.

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at January 22, 2020 10:56 AM (9yEgJ)

3 Regarding the Asimov ouvre: I suspect the reason his stuff hasn't been turned into TV is that it's too far outside the usual lo-fo TV stuff. I'd certainly watch the "Lije" Baley / R. Daneel Olivaw books, but how many others do you know that would? Unlike most of Asimov's work, there is a romantic undertone, but it's a bit bumpy, almost as if Asimov wasn't comfortable with it. After all, Baley was married; somehow, I can't see a modern TV writer handling that with the required sensitivity.

And what network would put up the requisite $$$? This stuff would cost a whole lot more pesos than the usual cops-shoot-em-up-on-the-mean-streets-of-the-city stuff.

But there are a whole slew of books, by Asimov and his successors (with Asimov's name on them) that would make an interesting series if you had the right guy (sadly, Rod Serling had no successors that I know of) to bring them to reality.

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at January 22, 2020 11:08 AM (9yEgJ)

4 Firefly was a whole lot of fun and it probably was good it was canceled because Josh Wheaton is a big liberal and he would eventually have screwed up a great thing.  As you say, Bill, the anachronisms of Firefly was so much of it's charm.

Agreed on all points, Dana.  Yeah; Sirtis was a bad actress and they overdid her hair/makeup, but she sure was easy on the eyes.  Ditto Gates McFadden.  And Majel Barrett's character WAS a hoot.

The problem with doing Asimov is he appeals to thinkers and there usually isn't a whole lot of action. Hollywood wouldn't know how to translate that.

Another universe I'd like to see them do would be Larry Niven's Known Space stories. There is more action in those but again Hollywood would foul it all up.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at January 22, 2020 04:10 PM (Ja5aj)


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