Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Executive Pitch | Accidental Scientist

Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Executive Pitch

Back in 1986, Paramount decided that on the back of its wonderfully successful set of Star Trek movies, it was time to revive the franchise as a series – partly because the original actors were demanding a huge slice of the action. But how on earth did we end up with the characters we ended up with?

I’m going to bet that it went down a little like this…

INT. PARAMOUNT BOARDROOM — DAY

Several EXECS are sitting around a rather nice polished walnut oval desk – one which has seen the demise of many a writer, as they slit their wrists and sprayed it with their own blood after being told “well… we’re not sure it hits the right four quadrants of our demographic”. It’s a deep cherry stain. In it, we see GENE RODDENBERRY’s face reflected.

RODDENBERRY

Well, I’m sorry to tell you guys, but what you have so far is shit.

COIFFEURED EXEC

Gene, Gene…! That’s why we brought you in! We need your touch! We need your magic!

RODDENBERRY

You need validation with the fans.

COIFFEURED EXEC

That too!

Roddenberry throw his satchel onto the table. Unbuckling the straps, he pulls out a large book of papers. The SHOW BIBLE.

RODDENBERRY

Fine. Where do you want to start?

COIFFEURED EXEC

Let’s start with the characters. First, what are you doing for eye candy?

RODDENBERRY

Eye candy?

COIFFEURED EXEC

Seriously. Look at the original Star Trek series. It’s a wish-fulfillment fantasy – most men want to be Kirk. We need to do that again, so we’re going to need some serious hotties on the crew for the new Captain to mac on.

RODDENBERRY

Mac on? You guys realize we’re not doing the same show, right? For a start, that’s not realistic – a Captain needs to be running the ship, not beaming down to the surface every five minutes and running away with every green alien harlot who bats an eyelid at him.

COIFFEURED EXEC

Wait what? So who’s your Kirk character?

RODDENBERRY

There is no Kirk character. Well, there’s the first officer. But he’s married.

COIFFEURED EXEC

This isn’t going to fly. We’re going to need to ditch the broad.

He looks around the room for consensus. The Execs are nodding violently.

COIFFEURED EXEC (CONT’D)

So let’s make him unmarried. Someone with a bad marriage that didn’t work out. Maybe he had a drug problem – too much coke! Maybe his wife caught him in the act, pants round his ankles. Then she divorced his ass, and he’s on the line for so much alimony that he had to sign up for Space Fleet!

An Exec (FRANK) runs out of the room, tears streaming down his face, bawling.

COIFFEURED EXEC (CONT’D)

Shit. Sorry Frank!

(to Roddenberry, conspiratorially)

Touched a nerve.

Roddenberry coughs.

RODDENBERRY

It’s “Star Fleet”. And no. There’s no money in the future. No alimony. Almost no marriage. Have you read any Heinlein? Never mind. Okay. He can be your Kirk character. We’ll make him unmarried. Anything to get this over with.

COIFFEURED EXEC

You’re the boss, Gene! That’s the spirit! Now, what about the Captain? He needs to be sexy too. Ideas?

Roddenberry is about to speak, but he’s cut off.

BALD EXEC

Make him bald. Bald is sexy.

COIFFEURED EXEC

And refined. Really refined. Let’s make him French or English or something. Something for the ladies – get their juices flowing.

RODDENBERY
(resignedly)

Which one? French or English?

COIFFEURED EXEC

Well, English is a damn sexy accent… and the French, well, you know… They’re raw sex, like a caged tiger ready to pounce, with mistresses all the way to Tahiti. Let’s hire a British guy. They’re solid actors, and they don’t charge much or ask for trailers. You can stick them in a Motel 6 and they’re fine, even if there’s no minibar. And you can charge them for the minibar purchases against their salaries. I fucking love British actors!

RODDENBERRY

Right. English actor then. Not French.

COIFFEURED EXEC

English actor playing a French character. Let’s get them both ways! You’re a genius Gene!

RODDENBERRY

Thanks.

BALD EXEC

And bald.

COIFFEURED EXEC

He got that, Larry. Okay, now what are we doing for the guys? We’re going to need some grade A ladies for this thing. Something to make the men drool – you know, like Uhura. Bold move putting a black woman on the bridge, but damn, you tapped into that whole jungle fever Blaxploitation movement like a pro! Every man in the audience wanted to get it on with that sweet, sweet, chocolate temptress.

Roddenberry’s eyes are wide as saucers. He can’t believe what he’s hearing.

RODDENBERRY

Yes. Er… we were ahead of our times. By about a decade. So. Female crew. I’ve been thinking about having the ship’s doctor be a woman.

COIFFEURED EXEC

Blonde or brunette?

RODDENBERRY

She’s a fucking redhead!

COIFFEURED EXEC

I like how you think, Gene! I like it! Fiery… Slightly crazy in the eyes… You never know if she’s going to heal you or play doctors and nurses with you. Exactly what we need! Right on the money! Excuse me a minute.

He pulls a metal cigarette case out of his pocket, and opens it. Inside, a plastic tube, a compact mirror, and a vial with cocaine in it. With the speed and precision of David Copperfield on amphetamines, he lays out a line and snorts it.

Shock fills Gene’s face.

COIFFEURED EXEC (CONT’D)

Shit man, I’m sorry, where are my manners. Want a bump?

RODDENBERRY
(incredulous)

No thank you. I’m good. I powdered my nose before I got here.

COIFFEURED EXEC

Good man! You don’t want this shit to become a habit – it’ll kill ya. So we’ve got our sultry redhead… Obviously we’re going to need a brunette and a blonde. Got to hit all of the demographics. But no Uhura this time. You know how they say once you go black you can’t go back? Well, we’ve done that, so we can’t go back to that well. We need new characters for this show! So who are our blonde and brunette?

RODDENBERRY

I only had one female in the regular cast!

FRANK sneaks back in and sits down, red-eyed.

COIFFEURED EXEC

Well what other characters do you have then?

RODDENBERRY

I’ve got a Klingon security officer. And a telepathic alien – a Betazed.

COIFFEURED EXEC

Hmmm… Let’s ditch the Klingon. Put the blonde in there. A strong woman. But vulnerable. Bad childhood, wrong side of the tracks, running from her past. Broken inside… abused. And she runs off to join Space Fleet so that she can get a job kicking the ass out of every alien man who gets in her way.

RODDENBERRY

Fine. Whatever. And the telepath becomes the brunette?

COIFFEURED EXEC

Yeah, but let’s make her safe. A therapist or something. Caring. Loving. Not too wild though – a mind reader’s dangerous! If she knows when you’re thinking about someone else, next thing you know she’ll be kicking you out the door and running off with half of everything.

Frank starts sobbing loudly.

COIFFEURED EXEC (CONT’D)

Shit I’m sorry man. Why don’t you go home?

Frank, still crying, grabs his stuff and leaves again.

The door closes behind him.

COIFFEURED EXEC

Where were we? Right. So we’ve got our women. We need some eye candy for the ladies now. You had one black woman last time… let’s up the ante! Two black guys! And they shouldn’t be receptionists this time. Give them real jobs!

RODDENBERRY

If you insist. The Klingon can be the tactical officer. And we’ll have the chief engineer too.

COIFFEURED EXEC

Now we’re jamming! Nice Gene! Subliminal! He’s got that ridgy forehead thing going on. Prominent. Reminiscent, but not too blatant. Sex appeal! But let’s tone down the engineer. Klingons are violent right? So we need to go against stereotype for the other! Can we make him blind or something?

RODDENBERRY

A blind engineer?

COIFFEURED EXEC

Yeah! It’s the future! He can still see, and he’ll be totally nonthreatening! Like Mister Rogers.

(a beat)

Fuck! I got it! We’ll hire that Reading Rainbow kid!

He does another line off the desk.

RODDENBERRY

There’s two more characters we’ve got on the bridge. A teenager – an ensign. Incredibly smart. Slightly nerdy.

COIFFEURED EXEC

Gene, you have your demographic segments down! You’re a pro at this! Something for them to identify with!

BALD EXEC

Do we have to? I hate nerdy kids.

COIFFEURED EXEC

That’s a character note for your Captain right there. He hates having the kid on the bridge. He’s annoyed by him because he reminds him of the kids he never had because he gave it all up for his career! And he sees a little of himself in him! Which he hates!
(beat)
What else?

RODDENBERRY

There’s an android. Gold skin, positronic brain. Like Spock; he’s our exposition guy.

COIFFEURED EXEC

Yeah, but what’s in it for the ladies? Oh wait! Shit! Can he vibrate? He’d have all the stamina they’d ever need! Perfect! Smart man!

Frank WAILS LOUDLY off-screen.

FADE TO BLACK.

No offense intended to anyone at Paramount, or anyone involved in ST:TNG; you guys gave me many hours of entertainment when I was younger… but you know… sometimes the comedy train comes along, and you just have to hop on 😉 This is a totally fictional parody of an event that didn’t happen.

About Simon Cooke

Simon Cooke is a video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker and all-round good egg in Seattle, WA. The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind.
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