Note: this is the first of three parts. Next up will be the character bios and then the episode bible…
Image taken from a Trek comic, not sure which
The greatest threat to the Federation is not an opposing culture like the Borg, Klingons, Romulans etc.
It’s death by homogeny and blandness and everyone being almost exactly the same and standing around starships without any dialogue while the main cast talk about plasma manifolds and dilithium sex dolls and…
It’s a similar culture, exaggerated.
It’s an alien race that gives a shit about other races and is willing to interfere, no matter what stage of development they’re at.
It’s an enemy/friend that also believes the first rule of the Prime Directive is wrong.
What do these new aliens actually believe?
They believe that any race, no matter how primitive, should be contacted and assisted. They believe in education and improvement. They believe a species should not have to suffer war after war for centuries before enlightenment and Space travel.
They believe alien girls living on volcano planets should not be left to die or talked about like objects in Picard’s living room.
Basically: Any species is ready for the stars. It’s just a matter of education.
Their approach: Aggressively socialist [similar to Chavez or Cuba – they’re clearly a bit nuts, and stubborn, but they’re also moralistic towards the poor]
The dilemma for the Federation: Should they try and stop them?
So when is the series set?
The concept is adaptable, so it could be either:
i] 10-20 years after the Dominion War – The Federation, the Klingons and most of the Alpha Quadrant are a mess – the only ones who aren’t completely depleted are the Ferengi and the Romulans [it turns out they didn’t commit as much of their military to the war as they claimed, added to the fact that they were in the war for a shorter length of time]. The Federation is looking for new members/resources and explores a new area of Space where the new aliens have already set up a mini-alliance of 4-5 systems.
ii] In the rebooted movie universe – the Federation is looking for new members/resources to solidify its position in the Alpha Quadrant. The Klingon Empire could be in trouble earlier than in the other timeline, due to various factors [maybe their home planet has blown up too]. Or they could be bad guys, just like in the original series. All of the other aliens could be done with special effects and have no definable culture or personality and all episodes could just have the main crew talking like 30 something screenwriters pretending to be college students and then beaming down to a planet 30 billion light years away and shooting the first bumpy-headed fucker that looks at them funny.
iii] 25th Century – move forward another 100 years, keep the outline the same.
iv] 21st Century Earth – the main crew is sent back in time by whales and forced to set up a pseudo-federation in Brighton. They wear jeans and t-shirts and try to fit in by saying ‘rad’ and ‘fucking awesome’ a lot, but it doesn’t work so they have to adapt a little further and wear different clothes and have actual sex with men and women and smoke weed and promote socialism and feminism but not racism or sexism and shout at bigots on twitter and, eventually, they set up a radical zine info shop as a front for Federation HQ. Things are fine until suddenly they’re not, as the Klingons arrive, shoot glowing torpedoes, wipe everything out including California, and then piss off back to Q ‘onos pronounced with a ‘Kr’. The main cast then have to figure out a way to follow the rest of my series pitch without any decent technology or rational plot development or skipping any rent payments on their info shop.
For the sake of this pitch, I’ll assume the first option is the one used. But, like I said, it wouldn’t take much to adapt the central concept.
Where is it set?
This is optional. Either the Beta Quadrant or the area of Space near the Children of Tama [where grammar knows no bounds]. It has to be near-ish to the Klingon Empire and the outer edge of the galaxy so both areas can be incorporated into the plot.
Actually, it’s quite hard to picture the boundaries and territories of all the aliens in 3D as the only maps available are obviously in 2D. Must be tough to defend those borders if a ship can go up and down too…
Who are the main players?
The anti-Prime Directive aliens
Other new aliens
Sex-addicted blonde aliens from ‘Justice’
What’s the situation with everyone? They’re all allies now, right?
The Federation and Klingons are still close from fighting the war against the Dominion together. But the Klingons aren’t like the Federation – this is an empire that has conquered worlds and crushed any resistance. They might be entertaining to watch, but they’ve never been particularly ethical [the soldier caste, I mean].
Remember that episode of TNG where Geordi gets abducted by Romulans and is brainwashed into assassinating a Klingon governor? It was pretty low-key, but the background to that episode was a world called Krios rebelling against Klingon rule.
Switch back to this series, ten or so years after the Dominion War, the Klingons still trying to rebuild their fleet/economy etc…imagine how many worlds are rebelling now.
Answer: lots of them.
So, the Federation is stuck between a rock and a Klingon forehead. They don’t want to get sucked in, they’re still recovering themselves and it goes against the Prime Directive, but they also need the Klingons as allies.
Both sides spend most of their time spreading out further into new Space, looking for moons or planets with resources. They have a loose agreement to share development of each place found, but the Federation insists on upholding the Prime Directive in all cases: No conquering, no killing and no stepping on the rights of other species.
E.g if the planet is already occupied, move on to the next one.
This agreement seems to be holding at the start of the series, but it’s only a matter of time before it’s really tested.
To make things worse, the Romulans are cold war enemies again. They found out about Sisko/Garak tricking them into the Dominion War and they’re quite pissed off about it. If they thought they could take out the Federation with a direct strike, they would, but they can’t as they lost the blueprints for that ship from Scott Bakula Trek that could spin about a bit and was practically indestructible.
Instead, the Romulans’ main tactics are: further embrace the colour grey, offer covert assistance to the worlds fighting for independence from the Klingon Empire and try to weaken them bit by bit, as well as becoming allies with the newly independent worlds.
Other tactic: Find and claim moons and planets in the Beta Quadrant before the Federation/Klingons.
Basically, the whole series yo-yos back and forth between the Federation protecting what they’ve already got [as well as Klingon worlds], and exploring new areas of Space to find resources and new members.
In the background you have the Romulans and the new group of aliens, each one gradually becoming more of a threat until…2 seasons of war?
Well, that could happen. But this is Trek on TV, and DS9 already did the huge war plot, so…all the threats will lurk in a ‘Das Boot’ kind of way, piling on the pressure, using their ‘boot’ sometimes, but only in an understated, unbearably tense kind of way.
Therefore…you have the politics/depth of Deep Space Nine coupled with the exploration/adventure of TOS and TNG. The perfect balance. No Trek writer/director will ever get death threats again.
No. of episodes per season?
I would go with 13, just like the mighty Blake’s 7.
26 episodes are far too many and put too much pressure on writers to come up with enough ideas and make them work, which is almost impossible in the TV world. Also, past Trek history sounds a warning as it was this kind of long-drawn out season approach that led to Riker’s clip show, Masks and Beverly being fingered by a ghost, so…cut the number by half and it’s fixed.
NEXT: Character bios