The Five-Minute Forums

The Five-Minute Forums (
-   Science Fiction (
-   -   Create a new series premise (

Nate the Great 10-05-2007 11:36 AM

Create a new series premise
A sort-of game. Come up with an idea for a new Star Trek series that's actually NEW. By "new" I mean no Enterprise, space stations or marooned starships.

I'll get the inevitable Starfleet Academy series idea out of the way up front. Some of you guys think that it'd never work, "Saved by the Bell in Space," so to speak. I think otherwise. Remember that the Academy isn't JUST the main campus in San Francisco. These cadets go all over the world for field trips, train for weeks in the asteroid belt, no doubt they study abroad on Vulcan or Andor for a semester once in awhile. What about cadets that are from new member worlds, or even totally foreign governments? Remember that anyone from a non-Federation world can apply with a command officer recommendation. How would their upbringing compare and contrast with the standard Federation mindset? What about cadets that aren't young whippersnappers? In the wonderful book Sarek, Kirk's nephew Peter started at the Academy when he was almost thirty. He would've had experiences that younger guys wouldn't have had. How about someone who grew up in a colony ship, like that guy from NX-01? Suddenly moving from a small, isolated society to Earth would be quite a paradigm shift. Or go the other way; a character who grew up in a very closely-knit multigenerational household, suddenly having to only deal with one other person.

NAHTMMM 10-05-2007 04:41 PM

I think this could make for an excellent, timely (mini-)series.

Could, mind you. In reality the people producing it would almost inevitably screw up pretty badly, of course. But it could work wonders.

Here's the basic premise:


"And so the problem is this." Admiral Whitestone had had 84 years of life during which to practice stern expressions, and he seemed to put every day of practice into effect now as he looked each of the officers in the eye. "Very simply, every one of those eight planetoids is showing signs of impending depletion of the vorbium ore deposits."

"Ah. So that means less varbium," said Lubbock, jumping ahead as a bright, attention-paying Starfleet Officer should do.

"Less varbium would be mined, yes," agreed Whitestone, [...] "but as I said, that byproduct can be replicated to some extent. The true problem is the vorbium itself. It is one of those few substances which we still have yet to successfully replicate--in fact, I believe that we have not yet fully understood its structure, correct, Science Officer?"


"And yet, ironically, vorbium is essential to replicator technology, correct, Chief Engineer?"

"To modern replicator technology, yes." [...] "It's used in the construction process and in repairs to certain criticial components and subsystems. If the Federation were to totally lack any vorbium at all . . . well, sir, our lives would be severely disrupted. To say the very least. The existing replicators could continue to function for as long as they didn't need any repairs requiring vorbium, but after they all broke down we'd be left with prior replicator technology. The difference would be, oh . . . like the difference between modern warp drive and pre-dilithium warp drive that could barely make Warp 4."

"That is perhaps an overstatement, Chief Engineer," Whitestone said, "but you have summed the situation up well otherwise. Certainly there would be many Federation citizens who would agree with you. Vorbium technology has made possible the super-efficient replicators we depend upon today, and without the precision and other qualities those replicators afford, we would be unable to replicate many medicines, biomolecules, nanites, construction materials, experimental chemicals, and much more." A slight pause. "I trust you all understand the potential difficulties this presents us."
Social commentary in Star Trek? Whodathunkit?


"[...] We don't expect you to find any vorbium in the sector you will be exploring, but when you take into account that we have only ever detected it in abundance in thirteen planetoids in a grand total of nine star systems, you will understand that we can't afford to miss a single planet where it may be found. Also, you'll be doing a good deal of active scanning in a sector that borders space disputed by a race that, as rumors would have it, is working on a new superweapon."
Potential for big funky technobabble battles in Star Trek? Whodathunkit?

Gatac 10-05-2007 06:03 PM

I know it has potential to suffer extreme amounts of prequelitis, but here's my pitch:


Remember when Zefram Cochrane shook hands with the first Vulcan he'd ever seen after his warp flight? Yeah, we all cheered. That was great.

But what now?

The world's in shambles, we're still getting used to the fact that there's aliens, and just what the hell are supposed to do about it? So much to much to explore...and not two people who agree on how to do it.

This is mankind's greatest test - beyond experiments, beyond propaganda missions, beyond trials and scientific trivia. This is when we reach out for the stars.

I wonder what's out there...

Nate the Great 10-05-2007 09:19 PM

I'm not sure if I like the vorbium idea. There are too many shows already that rely on a basic premise of "we need to find MacGuffin X at all costs."

Second Idea:

A starship assigned to a new species. First Contact was only a year or so ago, and the natives still don't really understand Peace, Justice, and the Federation Way yet. Their culture, while not completely rigid, is extremely resistant to change. They have some moderately valuable resource. Certainly nothing that would cause the Romulans or somebody to declare war on the Federation for, but definately good enough to send in some spies and operatives, both known and unknown. Perhaps a safer variant of the ever-valuable bio-mimetic gel. Our starship crew is moderately isolated. Backup is perhaps a few days away, and even subspace transmissions will take hours to get a reply for. We've got to protect this resource, convince the natives to join the Federation, and keep the adversary away. In the meantime, this is still a new region of space, and there are other planets to explore. Perhaps one of them has a species with more technology but fewer resources. Some form of discrimination is preventing these two peoples from cooperating. Spies are sent back and forth to steal information or raw materials, depending on the direction. They won't work together, partially due to Romulan interferance. How can we bring them into the Federation?

NAHTMMM 10-06-2007 01:18 AM

The vorbium isn't a single item (which I suspect differentiates it from some of the "MacGuffin" examples I can think of, like BSG), and it wouldn't be the sole storyline (ideally) in the series. In the part I linked to, I've already set up various character relationships and potential factions and so on that only touch on the vorbium issue in passing.

Yours is a very interesting idea as well, one that would probably bring up a lot of the same sort of situations as mine.

Nate the Great 10-06-2007 06:46 AM

It just occured to me that it doesn't even HAVE to be the Federation. Pocket Books has published a series set aboard a Klingon starship. Granted, a series based around that would be A. Horribly expensive in terms of makeup, B. Horribly niche-based. Would anyone OTHER than a Trekkie want to dive into Klingon politics and interpersonal relationships?

Or how about a Federation starship that actually has humans as the minority faction? There are plenty of alien makeups that aren't too involved. Think about it. Vulcans, Rigellians, Bajorans, Betazoids. If we had, say, a Rigellian in command, he'd have a vastly different mindset than a human. What command choices would be different? There'd be cultural influences that we've never seen before affecting the plot.

I'd still like to see a series based in the TOS-timeline on another Constitution-class starship. We could have our remaining TOS actors cameo via audio transmissions. Perhaps there was a ship that sort of followed the Big E around, doing "cleanup," so to speak. What DID happen to our favorite TOS races after Kirk left? After all, when properly done, even the technology of the mid-23rd century was particularly effective. Besides, 1701 was in the Beta Quadrant a lot ("we're the only starship in the quadrant"), what was happening closer to home? We could see the setting up of the Nimbus III agreement. Perhaps see a preliminary design for Excelsior. When was the big breakthough in transwarp? Whose stupid idea were the grey pajamas?

Having greatly enjoyed the novel Sarek, I'd think even a series based on a Federation ambassador and his staff might be cool. Let's see the ambassador/starship captain interaction from the other side. Is there a traitor in his staff? What cultural snafus are still waiting to be made?

NAHTMMM 10-06-2007 03:23 PM

I've read the first two books in that Klingon series. They're pretty good yarns. :)

I suppose the Enterprise WOULD need a "cleanup" ship following her around. :D Gotta have someone on-hand to sweep up all the rubble of computer-controlled civilizations, broken hearts, and funky spacetime warpages left in her wake! ;)

Nate the Great 10-08-2007 01:15 AM

Yarns? "Come and listen to my story 'bout a man named Jed..."

ijdgaf 10-08-2007 07:58 AM

Way long ago I had an idea for a fanfic that I never wrote much of. At this point, I doubt I ever will so I don't really care if I spill the beans on the whole thing now. I think it's a pretty nifty premise that could be extended for a series length show.

I called it "Star Trek Polonius", though Polonius was simply the planet where the miniseries (six-part story) took place. The ship I called the Muskogee, but if the name weren't already taken, I think the idea for the series would best be summed up by the title "Star Trek: First Contact(s)"

Anyway, the series takes place somewhere in the decade following Nemesis. The U.S.S. Muskogee is a tiny patrol ship -- one of four of the same class (each with a different tribal name -- I always liked ship classes where the names were consistant) deployed by the Federation at this time to patrol the neutral zone -- the Romulans have once again secluded themselves to within their own territory. I don't recall the ship's class name, but I thought of it as a logical next-step from the Defiant. That's not to say the ship was anywhere near as powerful, of course. The Defiant was meant to be a heavily armed attack craft, while the Muskogee is moderately armed and geared more toward policing duties.

(thumbs through notes a bit)

The commander I named Rene Jacobsen. Yeah, just a commander -- that'll come into play in a sec. Grew up on a rural Danish farm. Been in charge of the Muskogee on several extended patrol duties for years. Finds it boring, but hasn't found much opportunity for advancement.

The first officer was Lt. L'Marra Durrx, of a new species I made up. Krevyn. The quirk with her race (every Trek species needs one) was that its members have virtually limitless memory. Character-wise, think of someone with a snarky personality (McCoy) mixed with practically encyclopedic knowledge on any given subject (Data).

The tactical officer was a timid, shy young woman named Jess Manning prone to aggressive rages when and if battle should occur. I also had a young Andorian helm officer named Thalvin, as a character who hadn't been away from his homeworld very long and has difficulty understanding humans (yeah, the standard cliche). Other characters like the engineer, doctor, and transporter chief were mostly set dressing... but might be fleshed out a bit if the concept were extended.

Anyway, the set-up goes something like this. This story would have spanned six parts, but I had the idea it would work as a pilot as well.

Somewhere at a Federation listening post, a warp signature is detected in the neutral zone. Everyone assumes some sort of Romulan aggression, but the signature is weak and brief and fits the profile one might expect of a civilization's first flight. This is quite unexpected, as the Federation monitors worlds that are on the brink of making such a flight, and none of these worlds are anywhere near this particular sector. As one might expect, the neutral zone is one of the most thoroughly explored regions of the quadrant, and the nearest planet to the signature has long been assumed uninhabited. The planet is something like 95% covered in oceans.

In any case, the Federation can't risk letting this matter sit for long, so they send their nearest ship, the Muskogee. Cmdr. Jacobsen sets course immediately, and upon arrival heads down to the planet with Durrx aboard a shuttle, to scout around.

Anyway, they fly around and detect large quantities of plotdevicium in the planet's ore -- something (and I borrowed this from some episode I don't remember) that obscures the ships' scanners. They notice this, and then suddenly find themselves under attack by a trio of ships emerging from the water -- submersable, flying craft. The shuttle is destroyed and we cut back to the ship.

Lt. Manning is in charge when a Federation shuttle warps in and requests permission to board. On board is a Captain Larson and Lieutenant Weiss from starfleet intelligence. Larson takes command, but it's clear he's spent most of his career at a desk.

Oh, and the shuttle they bring is an aqua shuttle. Like in TAS, but 24th century style.

Anyway, I'll cut this short and explain things in broader strokes. Jacobsen wakes up and undergoes several interrogations from the Polonian authorities. He eventually discovers the underwater civilization is extremely advanced but fanatically religious as well. Among the core tenants of their faith are a Polonius-centric universe where they are the Gods' only creation, and the skies above are desolate and unreachable. Thus, the civilization has advanced quite far in many different directions without achieving warp travel -- as such a feat is believed heretical and impossible. They have advanced planet-bound vehicles and transporters (which, unlike the Federations', work just fine with all the plotdeviceium in the planet's crust) -- and of course, this is how they managed to capture Jacobsen.

Ultimately, a resistance movement manages to get a hold of him, and he learns that this rogue scientific/political faction with radical beliefs contrary to the planet's monarchy has organized a warp flight from under their noses. They had planned to use this achievement to rally the masses against the government, but propaganda has created a skeptical public. By capturing Jacobsen, they think they can use him as evidence to stir up the population.

I'm forgetting a lot of the details here, but a command struggle occurs between Larson and Jacobsen. Larson makes Weiss operations officer (I forgot to mention, Jacobsen's operations officer is his nephew, who is on shore leave during this story -- Larson uses this opportunity to turn this into a transfer and to replace him with his own man). Durrx develops amnesia and it's later discovered that Weiss is a member of Section 31 (of course!) sent to stiffle sensitive information about this planet (of which Durrx is privy), and to use this event to provoke a war with the Romulans, ("while they're weak and cowering"). Larson has been dealing with the Polonian monarchy, and he and Jacobsen find themselves on opposite sides of an erupting civil war.

Eventually things work out, somehow. Jacobsen defies Larson's orders, undergoes a court martial, and manages to prove Larson's incompetance and regain control of the Muskogee. Jacobsen and his crew, instead of returning to the Neutral Zone, are sent to another tricky first contact situation after having proven worthy on this mission.

Anywho, I'm sure I could have summed that up like this: "How about a show that follows a ship and crew that specializes in tricky First Contact situations?" But of course I felt the need to give more detail. Especially when I worked it all out so long ago and never had outlet for it. Apologies.

But seriously, I always thought it would be an easy direction for a show to take. Focus on the exploration aspect, and on new worlds and new civilizations. I always wanted to see more episodes like "First Contact" and "Who Watches the Watchers", anyway. And as such, the series could do multi-part arcs for particularly interesting contacts, or short stand-alone episodes, or best yet, a mixture of the two.

PointyHairedJedi 10-08-2007 02:29 PM

I have idea. It's quite a simple one. Give Aaron Sorkin a pot of money and let him get on with it.

The show wouldn't last more than two seasons, of course, but they'd be two damn good seasons.

Nate the Great 10-08-2007 10:32 PM

Plotdevicium, that's a new one. I'm so used to Macguffinite. ;)

You're right, that's a miniseries. Not too bad of a premise by itself, but you'd never be able to get 178 episodes out of it.

It's that "nearest ship" thing that irks me. The premise as you set it up doesn't really compell action NOW, no matter what the ship, no matter what the commander. You'd have to come up with a new twist. I'd prefer something like in ST:V, "you're the best commander for the job, we need YOU out there NOW." Perhaps Jacobsen has some weird quirk that makes her (?) most qualified.

PointyHairedJedi 10-10-2007 02:33 PM

Perhaps it could be set in that period of TNG when high warp travel was prohibited?

ijdgaf 10-10-2007 05:20 PM


I dunno, I thought the threat was pretty grave. If there was any possibility of a Romulan threat, they'd need a ship there ASAP. And that's the whole reason they have those ships patrolling the Neutral Zone in the first place.

Oh, and Jacobsen is a dude. Though come to think of it, it doesn't really matter.

Nate the Great 10-11-2007 02:27 AM

Oh, did I HATE the warp speed limit. Hate hate hate. First of all, any reasonable plot requiring high warp would by its very nature be worth breaking the limit for. Second of all, it lead to those UGLY variable nacelles on Voyager. Quick poll, how many times did those things actually move outside of the credits?

Chancellor Valium 10-11-2007 02:03 PM

The one that I am sure will annoy the purists: DS9 II.

Let's say..ten years later. The Emissary is expelled suddenly from the Celestial Temple (i.e. carried in a shiny figure-of-eight to DS9), stripped of their favour, the wormhole seals, the Bajoran government is in disarray following embezzlement accusations leveled at First Minister Shakaar.

Meanwhile, the new Kai faces three major schisms, an ascendent Pah-Wraith cult, as well as an aggressive secularist movement bent upon removing any trace of the Bajoran faith from the business of the state, and with the final aim of destroying the faith altogether.

The Federation appears to be on the brink of recession, and, discovering a bill in the Council of Ministers to resurrect ancient moral strictures on Bajor that are deemed to go against the Federation Rights charter, threaten to pull out, while Section 31 is uncovered to have links to three major players at the top of Starfleet and the UFP government, and is embroiled in a failed assassination attempt against Supreme Chancellor Mar'tok.

The Romulans, with their usual timing, decide to angle towards the annexing the still-crippled Cardassia (and, presumably, the intervening sectors), and President Elim Garak is facing impeachment for the assumption of executive and directive power following the defeat of the Dominion. This may well cut Bajor and DS9 off from Federation space.

The Klingons have a war debt totalling quadrillions, and face ruin.

The Breen sign a compact with the Romulans.

The Mirror Universe Alliance, meanwhile, in a desperate bid to reverse the tide of the Insurrection, attempt to alter the timeline, and in so-doing, damage space-time in both universes.

Not sure how you get out of this one, but I would stagger each shoe dropped through the first three seasons. I'm thinking that DS9 is in a considerable shambles following terrorist bombings by anti-Federation mobs from Bajor (more of the colossal civil unrest), and that of the original crew, maybe only Kira, Ezri and either Bashir (who, if not, is on Cardassia and facing charges for aiding and abetting Garak), or O'Brien (otherwise assigned to the Enterprise G or whathaveyou), and a depressive Sisko, who may be having a nervous breakdown, but is definitely struggling with faith, hope, and even love. Jake and Cassie are driven away by the change in him.

Possibly he should come to a sort of Job-like resolution on the issues of his faith, with which he heals the schisms/dampens the Pah-Wraith cult - "The Prophets give, the Prophets take away. Blessed are the Prophets." Or something.

Bleak, I know, but I prefer that kind of dark thing. Once you resolve all of that, you could probably have the Dominion reinvade or something to kill off the last two seasons or somesuch. I'm envisaging a ten-year run.


That was longer than I thought it would be.

NAHTMMM 10-11-2007 04:11 PM

That could be quite interesting and even timely as well. :)

Nate the Great 10-11-2007 11:57 PM

Shiny figure eight? What's wrong with someone beaming out of an Orb like usual?

Chancellor Valium 10-12-2007 02:51 PM

See also: Emissary.

ijdgaf 10-12-2007 05:34 PM

I dunno, call me crazy (and out of character?) but I'd honestly prefer a new series where ongoing plots and continuity weren't as overpowering as DS9's. The show was great, but shows like that -- regardless of quality -- have a tendency to lose audiences eventually and get cancelled.

I'd prefer something with perhaps a few ongoing arcs, some extended multipart episodes, and some overarching themes perhaps, but also a show that could rely on and not suffer from stand-alone episodes.

I just, you know, want some quality out of it. Some good writing and good characterization.

Nate the Great 10-12-2007 09:30 PM

I can see how you might feel that way. I like plot arcs, but when they take it too far it can get VERY annoying. I particularly hated the "Let's ferret out the Maquis traiter by having Paris pretend to revert to jerk mode" arc way back in Season Two. Hated hated hated. A scene here, a scene there. Maybe it was okay when you're watching them in order on TV, but I have sporadic episodes on tape, and I almost always have to fast-forward through those scenes because they just don't matter. The entire plot could've easily fit into about four episodes.

On the other hand, NextGen was much too compartmentalized. Putting aside the two-part eps and the rare separated couplets (the Worf/K'heylar arc, the Worf's disgrace arc, the Worf/Troi arc, are we seeing a pattern here? :)), you could see the eps in almost any order and not get bogged down with details. At most you'd only have to "previously on Star Trek" about two eps worth. Voyager had to recap entire SEASONS.

How about a Lower Decks series? Think about it, the central characters would be the junior officers. The senior staff would be strictly in the background. We could have more long-term relationships a la Paris/Torres because a Science ensign and a Command ensign would never directly report to each other. It'd open up some interesting plots. Think about all of the episodes where the Captain gave mysterious orders that no one but the senior staff ever knew the particulars of. What would the junior officers think was happening? What do your ordinary Federation guys do on their vacations? You'd expect the junior officers to actually take their leave. We could even see transfers between ships of the same class if we wanted (or needed to change the senior staff actors).

Here's a backup question: How would technology advance if we pushed things into the 25th century? Of course we'd have those five-bar commbadges, but what else? I'd love to see transporter wristwatches. I mean, put a transporter satellite in orbit. You'd input the coordinates for home, the office, your best friend across the planet, the space station, etc. and just hit a button to trigger a remote transport.

All times are GMT. The time now is 06:05 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.