7

I've seen/heard many comments about how Gene Roddenberry used Star Trek to promote a utopian vision of the future, where humanity is morally good, in general (conflict is typically provided by other races).

However, Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict is based on his stories and it is much more dystopian - although the aliens are responsible for much of the conflict in the show, there are many human characters who act against other humans, are power-hungry, and so on.

Is there any explanation for the disparity here? Rather than speculation, references to interviews (given the timing, probably with others) or other material would be ideal.

I'm wondering if the difference is due to the series being filmed after he died (perhaps the stories on which it is based put humanity in a better light?), and come more from Majel Barrett, or if his hope for humanity's future faded towards the end of his life. Did he feel that Star Trek covered the utopian view, and he wanted to explore a different possible future?

  • ...I can't believe they replaced the main actor after the first season, the show kind of lost me after that. – Mark Rogers Apr 27 '11 at 14:29
  • 5
    @MarkRogers it worked for Babylon 5! – user1027 Apr 27 '11 at 18:14
  • @Keen: lol... ... – Mark Rogers Apr 27 '11 at 18:17
  • @mark European shows do that much more often than US ones. He does come back in the final season. (Worked for Blake's 7, too!) – Tony Meyer Apr 27 '11 at 22:21
  • That's the thing that bugs me the most with BBC shows. The leads are constantly leaving or getting killed off and I lose interest. – BBlake Apr 28 '11 at 12:11
8

A lot of it could be attributed to time frame. Earth: Final Conflict is a near future, where things are pretty much as they are today and people are the same as they are now and just barely getting used to the idea of aliens and not being alone in the universe.

Star Trek takes place several hundred years into the future. It also occurs after another world war and the near total breakdown of civilization as we know it. At the time of the arrival of the Vulcan ship, humanity is well on its way to total destruction. The knowledge of extraterrestrial life results in humanity pulling itself together and the civilization that emerges from the ashes as a result is much stronger and unified.

I also think that you are right in that Earth: Final Conflict was influenced more by the absence of Gene and not everyone sharing in his utopian vision as much as he would have liked. If you look at later Star Trek, especially Deep Space Nine, it is much the same as Earth: Final Conflict in its darker tones and mood.

  • 1
    Something to remember is that in Star Trek's future history, the 90's had humanity living through rough times during the Eugenics Wars, which then paved the way for first contact and the start of the utopian future. It's not impossible that Earth: Final Conflict is just a story told earlier than Star Trek where humanity is on a similar trajectory. – user1027 Apr 27 '11 at 14:17
  • 1
    Also, DS9 was originally conceived of after J. Michael Straczynski pitched Babylon 5 to 20th Century Fox. The execs liked it but didn't want to compete with their own wildly successful Star Trek franchise, so they asked Straczynski if he'd put his story in the Star Trek universe. He refused and eventually was picked up by Warner Brothers, but the idea was still in Fox's head and so they decided to make their own closed-arc series for the Trekkies. – KeithS Sep 17 '11 at 0:57
1

Wow. You mention Blakes 7. (Why doesn't someone re-make that by the way!)

Every Sci-Fi universe is a parody. They are either designed to inspire hope that we are or will be mature as a people or to caution us against the direction we are going by filling us with despair. Often the writer will, in such cases give us a little hope at the end. Blakes 7 and Andromeda are just other examples of the presentation of a moralistic view born of the period in which they were written.

Gene's work on the Original Star Trek story was as it was becuase we were ready for it. It wouldn't have become a cult favourite or result in the enormous franchise that it did if there was no message there that people wanted to hear at the time.

Just think about what an American readership/audience might want in the second half of the 1960s! Think about the conflicts in the world at the time, the space race and the cold war in particular. Hopefulness was the order of the day.

Now think about the new, altered star trek 'reality' being told through the new movies. It is being told very differently. Is that because audiences today need something different? Of course it is! Is it becuase as a people we need something different? Americans talk about a complex and enigmatic enemy. This new story of struggle and hope is maybe just what they want.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.