Sunday, June 17, 2012

Star Trek: The Motion Picture vs. The Next Generation

Persis Khambatta ("Ilia") in a screen
test for Star Trek: Phase II

Have you ever noticed how similar Star Trek The Motion Picture is to Star Trek The Next Generation? Consider...

Decker / Riker: A hotshot first officer, young, impatient, sometimes at odds with the captain. Used to have a relationship with Ilia / Troi.

Ilia / Troi: An alien who used to have a relationship with the first officer. Possessed of special powers dealing with emotions (sexual in nature for Ilia, empathic in the case of Troi).

Spock / Data: Highly logical, dealing with emotions with which he is either uncomfortable or inexperienced, and giving us the view of humanity from the outsider's point of view.

Kirk / Picard: Very experienced captain who has the complete confidence of his crew.

Music: Perhaps the most direct comparison; the theme music is the same for both.

There's actually a reason for these similarities. Back in the mid to late 1970's, Paramount was considering doing a new television series called Star Trek Phase II. At the last minute, after the enormous success of Star Wars, the would-be series was transformed into Star Trek The Motion Picture. They built sets, made costumes, wrote scripts, casted actors, and wrote a series bible. When ST:TNG came around, they recycled many of these elements again for the new show.

More on that would-be series in just a bit...

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