Note: for Part 1, see the post below
Part 3, with the episode bible, will be up soon-ish…
Notes: it’s important, I think, to have the characters played by fresh faces. Give new blood a chance, especially minority actors/actresses who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance in Hollywood. E.g. don’t cast Denzel Washington as the female Nigerian Captain.
Diversity is important, but don’t make it a plot point unless it’s relevant. Trek has always been a utopic vision, so modern politics should stay out of it.
Exceptions will probably be made for the following topics: religion, drugs, non-binary gender, gay rights, racism, sexism, socialism, wealth distribution, punishment of criminals vs rehabilitation, gender equality, animal welfare, the environment, corruption, classism, nepotism, censorship and safe sex.
Don’t fall back on sexual tension.
Don’t fabricate conflict where there is none. The characters are either varied/ideologically opposed or they are not.
Don’t let all the characters believe Starfleet is best.
Don’t make everyone perfect.
Add more sex.
Captain/ensign [Nigerian] – At the start of episode one, she’s the captain defending [unconvincingly] the Prime Directive and her ship against renegades from the new alien race. By mid-episode, four years later, she’s been demoted to ensign and is serving on a different ship. What the hell happened to this woman?
She was born in Lagos, home of the Institute of Quantum Physics & Other Stuff, the most prestigious institute in this field on Earth. One of the episodes might have her going back there to see their new discovery, which turns out to be a mini-black hole that can talk.
The idea behind showing Lagos as an advanced super-city is to make a counterpoint to people who think Africa is accurately represented by that naked guy shaking a spear at the fallen alien ship in Independence Day.
She spent a few years in Hong Kong, learning Cantonese. When people ask why, she tells them nothing. When they call her evasive and ask again, she says…what does she say? I don’t know. Haven’t really thought of a valid reason yet…I mostly want to give the character an interest in another language because that’s what I’m interested in…
Also, this focus on an Earth language can show that not everyone on Earth speaks American English in the 24th Century, and languages themselves still have value.
Actually, if the chance arises, which it might as I’m the one writing the episodes, I’d like to explore the different languages on other planets. Not everyone on Vulcan can be speaking Vulcan, right?
Though this is problematic in Trek. If you splinter the alien culture too much, you make it more difficult to define the culture as one…e.g. all Vulcans follow logic…this could lead to three dimensional characters not defined only by their race instead of walking ideologies…that’s a tough thing to keep a handle on.
Maybe just explore one other aspect of alien cultures, not various…
Back to the Cap…
As a character, she’s conflicted – she’s got the confidence of a captain, but also the humility of a person who’s fallen hard and is trying to get back up. Throughout the first season we follow her as she’s forced into the duties of an ensign and shows her frustration at being out of the loop [an extended echo of the TNG episode ‘Lower Decks’]. Obviously, there’s tension between her and…
New Captain [member of alien race with no gender] – a fierce disciple of the Prime Directive, but often finds itself cornered into ‘the greater good’ decisions, especially concerning the Klingons/new aliens. It became Captain by default when the previous Captain and First Officer were killed, and has kept the post since. This leads to a slight lack of confidence and a certain level of paranoia towards the Captain/ensign character. Okay, not too much paranoia, but enough to keep things interesting. It’s basically a decent alien, just feeling a lot of pressure.
During the first season, it tries to keep the Captain/ensign away from any meaningful duties, but towards the end it realises she can be useful. However, their relationship doesn’t change quickly – it still follows protocol and restricts the Captain/ensign the same way it would a normal ensign.
Ideologically, the Captain veers close to conservative. As its culture has no gender, choosing sexual partners is very subjective…the only conditions are: they don’t interbreed with other species and they don’t fuck workmates. As this is Star Trek, the Captain breaks the ‘no interbreeding’ part of this rule at the first sign of alien muff/cock. Possibly. Or maybe it would be more interesting if the Captain had no sexual desire for anyone, just like Spock or the entire crew of Blake’s 7.
Culture Officer [Cardassian?] – this character isn’t devious like the Cardassians from DS9, but she is suspiciously open at times. She joined Starfleet after the war with the Dominion because Cardassia was a mess and she didn’t want to waste her life on ‘rebuilding a planet’ duty. As a result, she’s seen as a traitor by her people, but she dismisses it with a shrug, saying, ‘she never supported the Dominion alliance anyway, and the State never supported her.’
There are also rumours about her quick rise through the ranks of Starfleet – some suspect she cheated/bribed her way through exams, others suggest it was positive discrimination. [I think this could be quite an interesting and humourous element of the series – the character has a level of self-awareness that lets her play with others’ suspicions about her].
There were already a lot of Cardassians on DS9. It might be seen as trying to repeat the magic of Garak/Dukat/Damar etc.
Make her a Breen? But then no one would be able to understand what she was saying. They wouldn’t even know she was female as she’d have a helmet on all the time. The only way to highlight her gender would be either, 1] use neat writing and well-defined characterisation, or 2] stick her in Jeri Ryan’s silver jumpsuit and point the camera at her chest.
That assumes Breen even have breasts…or binary gender…
Fuck it, Cardassian is better.
Security Officer [Slovene!] – A veteran of the Dominion War, he’s a brutal and very capable hand to hand fighter. He doesn’t fight for show, he fights to kill ‘krav maga’ style. He’s also an old friend of the Captain/ensign and doesn’t seem to mind revealing classified information from time to time. He’s not a big fan of the current captain, and generally believes everyone is out to screw over the Federation. Seems like he’d have a history with Section 31, but he despises the very idea of them. Is selectively xenophobic as he loves enigmatic cultures like Breen and Romulan, but doesn’t trust Vulcans or Cardassians.
He knows how to fight because he grew up on an asteroid, where people had to wear rocks as jackets and kill each other to make it to the breakfast table.
Or maybe he grew up on a Vulcan colony surrounded by the relatives and friends of that twat who challenged Sisko to a game of baseball. That would explain the racism towards Vulcans.
Actually, I’m really interested in having a racist character in Trek who is nominally one of the good guys. It’s been half done already with Worf vs Romulans and Chief O Brien vs Cardassians and Most characters vs Ferengi, but it wasn’t explored enough for my liking. I really want to get to the root of the problem and ask the question: should his crewmates constantly try to change his views or just give up and hope they don’t meet any Vulcans?
It would be a tightrope…I don’t want him to be unlikeable, but I also don’t want him to lose his racism as in my experience, people rarely do, they just cover it up and save it for when they’re surrounded by other racists.
But he’ll have qualities too…introduce him as a decent, likeable guy, make people warm to him, then wheel in the Vulcans…it’ll be different from the other examples of Trek racism above as the Vulcans are a well-liked race so it should make people uncomfortable, and the crew too…they like the guy, but they can’t be seen with him when Vulcans are near…would this work? Or is it too un-Trek?
Doctor [Klingon] – knows medicine and surgery and some science. Full Klingon. She’s an old friend of the Captain/ensign, and they may have even had a fling during the Dominion War. Actually, they did, but that was only because their outpost was under siege. The Captain/ensign confides in the doctor a lot.
Other Klingons mostly ignore her because she’s a doc. However other Klingon doctors resent her for conducting most of her research on Federation planets. They believe she should be helping to improve Klingon medicine and constantly encourage her to share her research with Klingon medics. [This gives her a comparison point with the Cardassian culture officer – they’ve both ‘betrayed their people’ to progress their careers/lives.
She’s quite pragmatic for a Klingon – she believes and likes Klingon honour/culture to an extent, but thinks the military caste take it way too far. During the War, she got into trouble when telling a general he was an idiot for not putting on the safety settings in a holosuite [she got beaten up by the general, which shows that she doesn’t know much about fighting but will still speak her mind if she thinks someone is doing something idiotic] What good is a warrior who falls to a fake enemy made of light?
She idolises famous Klingons who used their brain to improve Klingon culture, and notes that most of them came from the same region as her. She likes to remind people of this, especially Klingon warriors. Her and Worf would not be friends.
Her family expect her to marry, not realising she prefers women. This side of her is kept private and she rarely acts on it, though not out of fear as the crew know all about it and don’t bat an eyelid; this is the 24th Century, not the 21st. One episode [written by the bored ghost of Kafka] will focus on one of the crew trying to set her up with someone else, a Bolian female maybe, and the doc will get into trouble when she is accused of rejecting the Bolian because she’s a Bolian, and suddenly the whole ship will be full of pro-Bolian activists demanding her resignation from Starfleet.
Young Lieutenant [new alien race] – he’s young, he’s a lieutenant, he’s not Harry Kim, honest. He seems naïve at the start, but shows more and more that he’s fairly switched on. The close ties between the Federation and the Klingons reveals itself as he spent a year and a half serving on a Klingon colony planet. He becomes quite close to the Captain/ensign, almost like mother and son, though they’d both say it was more like ‘brother and sister.’ Of course they get possessed by alien entities in one episode and end up fucking, but they don’t dwell on it much. Has an infectious sense of adventure and likes to volunteer for a lot of things.
Has a crush on the doctor, mostly because she’s Klingon, and will obviously get nowhere as she’s gay. He doesn’t give up though as on his planet there are 17 genders and most of them fuck the other without prejudice.
This character is spun on its head at the end of the first season as he is captured by Romulans and doesn’t come back until the third season.
Chief Engineer [South East Asian? Chinese? Manx?]- doesn’t like engines much and isn’t particularly amazing at his job. Spends the first season trying and failing to switch positions or just leave the ship altogether. One episode is based around the idea of him fucking up in Engineering and putting the ship in danger. Would be transferred, but the ship isn’t anywhere near a starbase in the first season. A nice juxtaposition with the Ensign/Captain character, who’s trying to rise back up. [Needs fleshing out]
Actually, written as it is, this character seems closer to something from Galaxy Quest than Trek…make sure he doesn’t come across as completely incompetent.
Prisoners [aliens, mixed race] – two of these will be added at the end of the first season, transferred accidentally from the alien prison ship. The crew will have nowhere to ditch them as their home planet has changed irrevocably and their crimes are unknown.
Hopefully, this will lead to conflict and tension among the crew as Starfleet just doesn’t deal with these kinds of people. There will be class conflict as the prisoners are working class and slightly resentful of the Federation system. They will also ask questions about the millions of people who don’t make the cut at Starfleet, which is something I’ve always wondered about the Trek future of humanity.
No idea what to do with this lot. It’s probably best just to write the first season and let them interact with the main cast, see what beliefs and prejudices appear…
New alien race captain, female – Critical of the Federation and especially dislikes the Klingons. She sees the worst of them, which is the side the Federation always sweeps under the carpet [it must be a pretty lumpy carpet by now].
Klingon Commander – friends with Captain/ensign. Seems typically impulsive/aggressive, but actually has a tolerance to many things. Also, because he’s from a working class area, he treats the lower ranks in his crew like friends, which other members may take advantage of i.e. kill him when he’s not looking.
Romulan Commander – A pure, dyed in the xenophobic wool Rommie. Crops up now and again, but, just like the shark in ‘Jaws’, is mostly unseen/talked about.
Jeffrey Coombs – Not sure what he’ll play, but must find room for him somewhere.
NEXT: EPISODE BIBLE
[Including ‘The Engineer who knew too much’ and ‘Some of my best friends are Bolian’]