08:03:37 on July 17 2002
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By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Enterprise | stenterprise.com
Speaking in the latest issue of the Star Trek Communicator, ENTERPRISE and VOYAGER writer Mike Sussman talks about writing about established continuity and has some interesting remarks about choices already made by the new series and those yet to come.
"We're very conscious of what's come before, and we always try to respect it. We're all fans of the other series, and we enjoy tossing in a future reference, even if only a handful of viewers will get it. I think Phyliss and I have dropped in more references in our scripts than anyone else this year. We mentioned the Malurians, Tellarites, Coridan. We even dropped in Spock's hometown of Shikahr from the animated series."
The Klingons showed up several times in the first season and caused various headaches for fans over perceived continuity violations.
"The Klingons are a race I imagine we'll revisit. The staff has talked about showing their evolution into the 'smooth headed' and more cutthroat Klingons of the TOS era. I don't know about the smooth foreheads, but I'd be interested in finding out why the Klingons never talked about honor in all the years Kirk dealt with them," Sussman posits. "They really seemed much more interested in glory and treachery than honor in those days. Maybe they found the whole 'honor' thing wasn't working for them. There are so many ways to go with the Klingons. I think the least interesting choice is to show them behaving in exactly the same way as they will in the 24th century, and I think we were a little guilty of that this season."
Sussman also talks about the reexamination of the Vulcans in ENTERPRISE, saying it's an effort to add some missing dimensionality to the venerable TREK aliens.
"Rick and Brannon did something interesting when we met the Vulcans in the pilot. These Vulcans weren't the friendly, helpful, Spock like characters we're familiar with; they were arrogant and condescending. It was a bold step to reexamine them, and it's not one that's always been popular with some of the fans. I think it was in 'Journey to Babel' when one of the characters said Vulcans don't believe peace should depend on force. But it seems pretty clear the Vulcans of this century have some different ideas. I imagine over the course of the show we'll see the Vulcan culture evolve...and maybe not always in the direction the audience might expect."
The writer is also quick to point out that even STAR TREK's own continuity is somewhat doubled up on itself, when defending the controversial appearance of the Ferengi last season.
"Meeting the Ferengi was probably one of the more controversial choices this season, but I think we structured the show in a way that preserves Picard's first contact with them. Besides, every DS9 fan knows Earth's real first contact with the Ferengi was in Roswell in 1947!"
Could we see the Tholians or other under-used races from the library of episodes? Sussman is cautious.
"There are lots of other aliens I'd love to tackle. Who wouldn't want to see first contact with the Tholians? But that's the challenge and the danger in writing for a prequel series. I think one of the reasons the Tholians are such a favorite is because they are mysterious; we only saw them one time on the viewscreen. Are they some kind of crystalline lifeform, or was that just a guy in a helmet? As soon as we start filling in the blanks, there's a risk they'll become a little less appealing. Some people have said that's what happened to the Borg after a couple of years."
Finally, Sussman says that one aspect of continuity that might deserve more attention is cloaking technology.
"I don't think we should be running into a lot of aliens with cloaking technology in the mid-22nd century. In 'Balance of Terror' it seemed the cloaking device was a brand new piece of technology and no one had it besides the Romulans. Kirk and Spock even talk about whether such a thing is theoretically possible. That does not seem to fit in with what we've seen on Enterprise. We've already run into a couple of stealthy ships. But then again, the Suliban have access to all sorts of future technology that Kirk and Spock know nothing about...but that opens up a whole can of worms about alternate timelines and I'm not going to go there!"
For the rest of this insightful interview, check out the latest issue of the Star Trek Communicator, on newsstands now with Scott Bakula on the cover. Thanks to TrekWeb visitor 'Cyrus' for the transcriptions.
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