Understanding the Star Trek Continuity

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arcticfox
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Understanding the Star Trek Continuity

Post by arcticfox » Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:37 pm

This is reposted form another forum I frequent. (Where all too often my Star Trek posts get derailed into Star Trek threads....)

I recently watched a video or two on YouTube by Midnight's Edge explaining a theory on how Star Trek continuity is supposed to work, based on licensing, rights, IP, and so on. The video is titled "Why the Star Trek Prime Timeline is NOT Canon Explained" I won't go into the deep details but suffice it to say the reason things are as convoluted as they are is because:
  • The rules for the license Bad Robot holds to make Star Trek content requires it to be distinct from the older Star Trek shows/movies by at least 25% (however that's measured)
  • Due to the unpopularity of the later movies/show, CBS doesn't want licensed merchandise form the old shows to be devalued.
  • Essentially, there are 3 separate continuities (you could think of them as separate universes, if it helps):
    The Original Timeline, consisting of Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager (Along with the movies up to Star Trek: Nemesis)
  • The Prime Timeline, consisting of Star Trek: Discovery and the timeline from 2009 Star Trek that Ambassador Spock and Nero came from, where Romulus was destroyed.
  • The Abramsverse, consisting of the 3 Star Trek movies produced and/or directed by JJ Abrams

The implications of that are as follows:
  • The Original Timeline is done. It ended with the last episode of Star Trek: Enterprise (chronologically by TV show airdate. Within the universe, it ends with Star Trek: Nemesis) and there will be no more in that timeline for the foreseeable future.
  • Star Trek: Discovery is in the same universe where Romulus will eventually be destroyed by the supernova. Ambassador Spock and Nero will go back in time through the black hole, which leads to the creation of:
  • The Abramsverse, which is the only timeline out of the 3 in which Vulcan is destroyed. It splits from the Prime timeline (NOT the original timeline) when the Narada arrives and destroys U.S.S. Kelvin. This timeline is also done, due to the unpopularity of the films.
  • Star Trek: Discovery and the new show coming out featuring Picard will be in the Prime Timeline, which is NOT the same as the Original. That means this new Picard will not be the same character as the one we know. (This has been openly stated by Patrick Stewart, among others.) He will be the Prime Timeline counterpart.
  • All other Star Trek TV series currently in development will be set in the Prime Timeline.

This explains the visual similarities between the interiors, uniforms and other details between Star Trek: Discovery and U.S.S. Kelvin. They are in the same universe. This also explains why there's a drastic difference between the look of the original U.S.S Enterprise and these ships. They are NOT the same universe. It also explains the major differences in appearance, scale and details of the original U.S.S. Enterprise across the three timelines.

It's true that the Klingons in the Prime timeline and the Abramsverse aren't quite the same, but they're far more similar to each other than the Klingons of the Original Timeline are to each other across Star Trek and later series, so we can take that in stride.

Note: Why would they call the new timeline the Prime timeline? Well, think about in math. If I have a variable x, and some other variable directly related to it but not the same, I might call it x' or "x prime." It isn't the original.

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Re: Understanding the Star Trek Continuity

Post by nova1972x » Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:25 pm

I remember seeing posts on a certain Star Trek site around the time of STID, people were wondering if Future Spock was from TOS/TMP era, or was an alternate Spock from the Kelvin universe, prior to Nero's incursion. If Discovery is the prime timeline of the Bad Reboot era, perhaps that is the universe that Future Spock came from. Makes sense to me, at least.

All I do know is that I never did consider the Kelvinverse, or Discoverse canon, anyway. So I am fine with those being different timelines/universes from what I consider the canon era (1966-2005).

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Re: Understanding the Star Trek Continuity

Post by patrickivan » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:39 pm

Makes sense to me as well.

There is clearly a well thought out effort to differentiate the movies and new Discovery Star Trek, from the continuity that we had (as much as possible- there are issues) from Star Trek to Star Trek: Enterprise and TNG movies. I don't know why that continuity needed to be dumped so dramatically. I think the big issue was the choice to make it take place during a time period that didn't need to be explored.

Post TNG was the way to go. It would have allowed for contemporary design aesthetic to fit into new production styles that would make sense with a post TNG setting. New aliens would be easier to create.

And I think most importantly, while new Star Trek isn't marketed to traditional fans, this would be a way to pander to new fans, while not dumping on old fans completely.

On a side note: I was watching this season of Discovery and it's run and gun ADHD action, filled in by it's long winded dramatic speeches, and it dawned on me. This "new" style of drama and serialized episodes consisting of a season or 2 of a main story, is NOTHING new... I'm watching these impassioned dramatic, on the verge of tears horrible dialogue, and I remembered something.... This is the EXACT format that the old 80's soap operas used. Every single day for weeks on end. DRAMA. Constant DRAMA with long winded dialogue teasing the story along at a snails pace to it's inevitable season end conclusion or super dramatic reveal.

We're watching !!!!!!!! Days of our Lives! Except in space with tonnes of pointless action scenes.

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Re: Understanding the Star Trek Continuity

Post by arcticfox » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:25 pm

patrickivan wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:39 pm
Post TNG was the way to go. It would have allowed for contemporary design aesthetic to fit into new production styles that would make sense with a post TNG setting. New aliens would be easier to create.
This is just my own personal speculation, but I think the reason they didn't go post-TNG is because the better the in-universe technology gets, the more contrived plot devices have to be thrown into the stories to keep the crew from just using tech to resolve the problem. How many times have we seen things like atmospheric interference, subspace instability, bad space weather, etc. used to deny the use of things like warp speed and transporters that could have been used to solve the problem of the week in like, 5 minutes?

It was bad in TOS, but only got worse in TNG onward as they had more and more high tech gizmos.

I think the only reason the Picard show is going to be a thing is that they're banking on Patrick Stewart bringing people back in.

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Re: Understanding the Star Trek Continuity

Post by Tesral » Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:35 pm

I'm going to dispute this as bad story telling. You can tell stories that the tech will not fix, if you tell people stories. Tech fix stories are about tech problem plots. Stay away from "Our Fizenblunder is going to blow up the planet" stories and that issue is over.

IMHO the best Star Trek is told at the personal level. No matter what is swirling around the characters the basic plot is man vs man, or man against himself. When you tell these stories no matter the tech background you will never run out. But, these stories require good writing to happen.
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Re: Understanding the Star Trek Continuity

Post by patrickivan » Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:58 pm

Tesral wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:35 pm
I'm going to dispute this as bad story telling. You can tell stories that the tech will not fix, if you tell people stories. Tech fix stories are about tech problem plots. Stay away from "Our Fizenblunder is going to blow up the planet" stories and that issue is over.

IMHO the best Star Trek is told at the personal level. No matter what is swirling around the characters the basic plot is man vs man, or man against himself. When you tell these stories no matter the tech background you will never run out. But, these stories require good writing to happen.
Good writing and the production team signing of on what they think is good writing for their vision.
arcticfox wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:25 pm
patrickivan wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:39 pm
Post TNG was the way to go. It would have allowed for contemporary design aesthetic to fit into new production styles that would make sense with a post TNG setting. New aliens would be easier to create.
This is just my own personal speculation, but I think the reason they didn't go post-TNG is because the better the in-universe technology gets, the more contrived plot devices have to be thrown into the stories to keep the crew from just using tech to resolve the problem. How many times have we seen things like atmospheric interference, subspace instability, bad space weather, etc. used to deny the use of things like warp speed and transporters that could have been used to solve the problem of the week in like, 5 minutes?

It was bad in TOS, but only got worse in TNG onward as they had more and more high tech gizmos.

I think the only reason the Picard show is going to be a thing is that they're banking on Patrick Stewart bringing people back in.
I get what you're saying. But part of sci-fi is supposed to make that speculation on future technology (that's not so much based on what we have now) and how humans interact with it. Of course the human dynamic is critical and that's exactly what I loved about TNG that so many people hated. I loved how the crew / actors fit so well together and conflict was resolved more with the word than with the PHOTORP (no one says PHOTORP anymore. Let's bring that back.).

And isn't your argument exactly what Discovery did? They introduced a new technology that let them pretty much allow the characters to travel instantly anywhere anytime. It was a horribly concept based as far as I am concerned, solely to open up the galaxy more for writers. And while I don't particularly like the concept for story writing and the time period, I do appreciate it as for a fantasy series (that it could have been under any other name than Star Trek pre original series time period). I appreciate that they tried to come up with something different.

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Re: Understanding the Star Trek Continuity

Post by arcticfox » Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:26 pm

Tesral wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:35 pm
I'm going to dispute this as bad story telling. You can tell stories that the tech will not fix, if you tell people stories. Tech fix stories are about tech problem plots. Stay away from "Our Fizenblunder is going to blow up the planet" stories and that issue is over.

IMHO the best Star Trek is told at the personal level. No matter what is swirling around the characters the basic plot is man vs man, or man against himself. When you tell these stories no matter the tech background you will never run out. But, these stories require good writing to happen.
I definitely agree that the character driven stories are the best. Good sci-fi handles social commentary (as opposed to pandering) and to do that effectively you need good characters that people can connect with.

The tricky part is doing it from a sci-fi perspective without introducing a scenario that wouldn't normally exist in that setting, because of tech or whatever else makes it a sci fi environment. My favorite example is "The Enemy Within." It's a fantastic episode because it examines the duality of human nature and how we're all a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde combo that finds a balance. The problem? Well, to add urgency to the situation we had a landing party freezing on the surface, stranded because of the transporter malfunction that caused the problem in the first place. People often like to make fun of that episode for not just using a shuttlecraft to retrieve the freezing men. Sloppy writing? Yeah, I'll acknowledge that. There are ways they could have worked around that which would have made more sense, but you'd still have a plot device contrived to deprive the story of the technological devices that would have saved the day. (I know the real reason was that they hadn't yet built a shuttlecraft set, but they still should have at least mentioned it. It's not like they didn't know the Enterprise was equipped with them.)

This is one of the reasons I really love the courtroom drama episodes. Those are almost entirely character driven stories with the technology only serving as a prop or a macguffin.

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Re: Understanding the Star Trek Continuity

Post by arcticfox » Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:34 pm

patrickivan wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:58 pm
I get what you're saying. But part of sci-fi is supposed to make that speculation on future technology (that's not so much based on what we have now) and how humans interact with it. Of course the human dynamic is critical and that's exactly what I loved about TNG that so many people hated. I loved how the crew / actors fit so well together and conflict was resolved more with the word than with the PHOTORP (no one says PHOTORP anymore. Let's bring that back.).
Yeah the way humans integrated with their tech in TNG was much more natural, and the personal interactions were great. I think that had a lot to do with the actors getting along well in real life. That kind of chemistry is gold.

I do think they sometimes went too far with the capabilities of the tech where they had to contrive it away sometimes or just pretend it wasn't a thing. I remember the first time in TNG they did a site to site transport and it was no big deal. I thought to myself "uh-oh..." Because in a time when you can just beam anybody from anywhere to anywhere at will, why would a medical team ever need to rush to anywhere? Every time somebody tapped that communicator badge and called for an emergency medical team to wherever, we have to pretend that we don't know that safe site to site transport is a thing. (I know they did it once in TOS, but they made a big deal of it being very dangerous to do, so we didn't expect it to become a common procedure.)

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not bagging on TNG for this. It's just one of the realities of television so it's one of those things we just let slide so we can get into the story.
patrickivan wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:58 pm
And isn't your argument exactly what Discovery did? They introduced a new technology that let them pretty much allow the characters to travel instantly anywhere anytime. It was a horribly concept based as far as I am concerned, solely to open up the galaxy more for writers. And while I don't particularly like the concept for story writing and the time period, I do appreciate it as for a fantasy series (that it could have been under any other name than Star Trek pre original series time period). I appreciate that they tried to come up with something different.
You're definitely right about that. I had a similar feeling when I first saw Discovery jump. I thought "How is this not going to be abused?" I guess we all knew that particular technology wasn't going to persist, it was just a matter of figuring out how it would be done away with.

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Re: Understanding the Star Trek Continuity

Post by patrickivan » Thu Mar 07, 2019 4:51 pm

arcticfox wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:34 pm
patrickivan wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:58 pm
I get what you're saying. But part of sci-fi is supposed to make that speculation on future technology (that's not so much based on what we have now) and how humans interact with it. Of course the human dynamic is critical and that's exactly what I loved about TNG that so many people hated. I loved how the crew / actors fit so well together and conflict was resolved more with the word than with the PHOTORP (no one says PHOTORP anymore. Let's bring that back.).
Yeah the way humans integrated with their tech in TNG was much more natural, and the personal interactions were great. I think that had a lot to do with the actors getting along well in real life. That kind of chemistry is gold.

I do think they sometimes went too far with the capabilities of the tech where they had to contrive it away sometimes or just pretend it wasn't a thing. I remember the first time in TNG they did a site to site transport and it was no big deal. I thought to myself "uh-oh..." Because in a time when you can just beam anybody from anywhere to anywhere at will, why would a medical team ever need to rush to anywhere? Every time somebody tapped that communicator badge and called for an emergency medical team to wherever, we have to pretend that we don't know that safe site to site transport is a thing. (I know they did it once in TOS, but they made a big deal of it being very dangerous to do, so we didn't expect it to become a common procedure.)

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not bagging on TNG for this. It's just one of the realities of television so it's one of those things we just let slide so we can get into the story.
patrickivan wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:58 pm
And isn't your argument exactly what Discovery did? They introduced a new technology that let them pretty much allow the characters to travel instantly anywhere anytime. It was a horribly concept based as far as I am concerned, solely to open up the galaxy more for writers. And while I don't particularly like the concept for story writing and the time period, I do appreciate it as for a fantasy series (that it could have been under any other name than Star Trek pre original series time period). I appreciate that they tried to come up with something different.
You're definitely right about that. I had a similar feeling when I first saw Discovery jump. I thought "How is this not going to be abused?" I guess we all knew that particular technology wasn't going to persist, it was just a matter of figuring out how it would be done away with.
That's always the one constant with Star Trek and so much history, having to forgive the little things like the Site to Site... That made me think of that incredibly stupid emergency transporter in Nemesis.

And I think that for all the continuity research that people undertake during the shows, I think some things get thrown out at various stages of development for the sake of the weekly direction and vision for that particular episode.

I just really expect more today. With records management being so incredible digitally accessible at a moment's notice, I'd think there are better ways to reconcile things while still keeping that story going and not bogging it down too much with history. There's a way around everything. Discovery is doing that with many things. Not so much with other things.

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