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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:27 pm 
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This week's issue of The Economist includes a review of Star Trek: Beyond in its Books, Arts, and Culture column, Prospero.

The reviewer doesn't seem to be interested in cinematography or action, plot or characterisation. Their only point is that Beyond fails to deliver the social criticism for which they admire the Original Series. Is that fair? Is it even relevant? Does science fiction have any obligation to deliver social commentary?

Now, The Left Hand of Darkness, he Dispossessed, and Forever War are among my favourite SF, and I still occasionally reflect on the points they made about sex, socialism, and war. But I think that e.g. Neutron Star and The Tower of Glass are also very worthwhile, stories that were built around scientific points or social/moral points that are drawn from blue-shy speculation and have nothing to do with issues that are presently of political concern. For that matter, some of my favourite science fiction is sheer adventure in an exotic setting, and I don't see anything wrong with that.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 1:43 pm 
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As a general rule, NO, SciFi is under no greater obligation to deliver social commentary.

BUT, Star Trek, as a franchise, built itself on the basis of providing that vision of the future that GR wanted. Recent interviews with the actors from ST-B indicate that they see the big difference between Star Trek and Star Wars as being that social commentary that ST brings.

If the movie failed to deliver on that central theme of the franchise, then I think that is a valid criticism of the film. Doesn't mean it won't be a fun and engaging film, just that it fails (in his opinion) to meet the self-imposed demands of the franchise.

On a personal note, I have thought that the entire reboot of Star Trek has lacked that moral voice. Sure there is action and even character development, but not those moral quandaries that were common in the ST series. To be fair though, most of the movies have lacked that moral story that we saw a lot in the original series, less in the follow-on stories and very little of in the movies. IMO.

I don't go into a Star Wars movie expecting a deep moral discussion on the treatment of aliens in a multi-species society, but I MIGHT expect that from a ST story... Both are still good SciFi, both are fun to watch and both will be enjoyed by millions.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 8:15 pm 
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I'm going to agree that sci-fi does not need to provide social commentary. It can be pure entertainment.

I'll also agree that the ST movies have lacked the exploration of the moral quandries that were present in the series. But I'll give it a pass. First and foremost, I want a good story. Secondly, there are different expectations and limitations for movies vs. TV shows.

Sci-fi movies tend to be big budget bonanzas. Yes, there are exceptions, but none of those exceptions are tied into franchises. People are paying over $10 for 90 minutes to two hours of entertainment. It has to be worth it. Those big budgets are an investment gambling on huge returns. Spending $70 million? You'll need to gross double that to be considered a hit.

TV shows have to fill 6-24 hours (minus commercials) of air time. Expectations are far different, and budgets are smaller. One has the freedom of time to explore moral quandries and offer social commentary. The pace of the series story arc, if there is one, is slower (Babylon 5). The pay off comes to those patient enough to ride it out, though there has to be enough there week-to-week to keep them coming back.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 11:27 pm 
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Science fiction in general does not need to provide social commentary unless it chooses to. While Star Trek did have several episodes which served as social commentary on the issues of the day, Star Trek was more a vehicle for expressing Gene Roddenberry's humanist ideals.

Humanism is defined as "an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems." While the social commentary was present, as previously mentioned, the show itself had a laser focus on these very ideals, whether it was the crew of the Enterprise having outgrown Apollo to Kirk "killing" Landru in order for the inhabitants of Beta III to realize their own worth.

Star Trek is a thinking person's science fiction, and the reboot series has failed to provide the human touches that made the original show and its sequels classics. CBS clearly doesn't give a damn about the franchise, as they now are going to have a new series that, like the movies, will have no heart. They just don't get it, and it's shocking when a fanbase understands a franchise better than the people who own it.

When the new RPG comes out, I will buy it, simply because the publisher has stated they will have no information from the JJverse in the book. But otherwise, I wash my hands of NuTrek, because it's as cold and unfeeling as a Borg implant.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 12:08 am 
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Wait, has anyone even said anything about the new TV series beyond the fact that it'll be made?

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 2:32 pm 
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Not much, except the possibility that this new series will be an anthology series, with each season being distinct from the others. However, given that these reboots all lack the humanity that is part and parcel of Star Trek, this new series won't be any better because the corporate overlords either simply don't get it or don't care (take your pick). I'll take my Star Trek from fan films like Star Trek Continues (which is still filming) and Star Trek New Voyages (as far as I know on hiatus for now). Both shows feel like Star Trek, unlike NuTrek.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 3:06 pm 
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So... we don't know much about it at all, but you're assuming it'll be like the reboots (which admittedly I'm not keen on either, except for the first one)? Don't you think that's a little unfair?

Personally I'm going to wait and see what the new series is like before judging it.

EDIT: There is this, which looks, um... interesting. Apparently it's very similar to the original Ralph McQuarrie design for the Enterprise. https://amp.twimg.com/v/e8cf88fe-c51d-4 ... fcb2ed157f

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 8:06 pm 
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I'm not alone in that regard. But I don't feel I'm being unfair at all. The reboots have been all fluff (i.e. looks) and no substance, and that is NOT Star Trek. What the reboot series happens to be is a generic science-fiction series that just happens to have a ship named USS Enterprise, people named Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, and an organization called Starfleet. But I don't know who these people are.

If they can't get the reboots right, they won't get an episodic series right. Changing the fluff around won't matter, because there still will be no substance. I don't have to reserve judgment, because after being a die-hard pretty much since I could talk, I know what Star Trek should be, and NuTrek isn't it. If the powers that be by some miracle manage to get the series right, then the question fans will need to ask is, "why in the heck couldn't you do this with the reboots?"

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 9:48 pm 
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Does anyone think that there is a missing opportunity to do a movie or TV series in the Star Trek setting that is about something other than cruising Space for Starfleet? What else does the setting afford? How else could you examine and display Roddenberry's humanist vision in it?

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 9:56 pm 
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The fan film Star Trek: Renegades is doing that. For the second and subsequent episodes they have to remove all references to Star Trek, but there weren't that many references to Star Trek to begin with. CBS should have taken a page out of their book, since Renegades has little to do with Starfleet and thus can express Roddenberry's humanist ideals without the military trappings. However, TPTB are choosing to stick with the tried and true formula with this new series.

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