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JoshB
Mon, Jun 10, 2013, 2:49am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Totally agree on the courtroom stuff of course. Chilling show-trial stuff. I loved the nod to Adlai Stevenson ("Don't wait for the translation; answer me now!") from the Cuban Missile Crisis.
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JoshB
Mon, Jun 10, 2013, 2:48am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Kirk's escape from Rura Penthe was supposed to be too easy. That's why Kirk himself gets suspicious and slugs Marta. Chang helped engineer their jail-break so that he could have them both "killed while attempting escape."
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JoshB
Tue, Apr 30, 2013, 12:44am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: BSG S4: Deadlock

I know it's been a while since this episode aired. I'm rewatching the show and just read all the comments. I found this episode disappointing, to be sure, but as a TV writer myself (I've only worked on one show so far and it may never even air, sadly, and I sold a pilot that wasn't made, but hopefully those two things give me enough street cred to post this lengthy comment about the industry) I just wanted to defend Jane Espenson and give everyone a window into how writing episodic television works.

First off, every episode of a show like this is planned collaboratively in the writers room. The staff 'breaks' the story together, meaning that they decide what will happen in the episode scene-by-scene in great detail. So everyone has input from the beginning. These story breaking sessions are usually led by the showrunners -- these are the head writers of the show, and they always have the title 'Executive Producer'. In this case, Ron Moore or David Eick or both; although not every EP is necessarily a writer or a showrunner -- title bumps in writers' contracts often mean that if a show runs long enough and writers stay with it, you could have many, many Executive Producers who aren't necessarily the head writers.

If those showrunners need to delegate to one of their top lieutenants (while they're overseeing editing, or casting, or something on the set, or directing an episode, as Ron Moore did a few episodes before this one), they still review everything and make whatever changes they want, as they're the ultimate say on the show's content.

The episode will then usually go through an outline stage, which might start off with a lengthy synopsis, which will be written either by a showrunner or farmed out to another writer. But before it goes to the network for notes, it will be rewritten and signed off on by the showrunners. At that point, the network (and studio) will give their notes. Chances are by this point on BSG the network and studio probably weren't giving notes anymore, but they would still have to read and formally approve outlines and scripts.

At either rate, though, before a script is even written, it goes to a detailed outline, scene-by-scene, and often including some dialogue. Again the showrunners rewrite and sign off on every sentence, as do the network and studio (and sometimes production company, too!).

After that outline has been approved by the showrunners and the network and studio, only then does it go to a script. It will be assigned to someone on the writing staff. In stand-alone episode cases, it's sometimes the person who may have come up with the original idea, but that's not a definitive rule. In a serialized show like this, it's even less definitive.

A draft is then written by the writer assigned to it. There can be several drafts, and things can change dramatically. Completed drafts also sometimes wind up back in the writers room, where they are pored over by the whole staff and lines and entire scenes are rewritten. Sometimes what seemed good in the outline stage doesn't work structurally, and whole episodes will be restructured and reworked.

Other times the episode is handed off to another writer to do a new draft, as sometimes the first writer has done all they can, or they have another script to write, etc. To use an example from DS9, "In the Pale Moonlight," which is held to be one of the best episodes ever (and one of my favorites) bears Michael Taylor and Peter Allan Fields as its writers (story and teleplay, respectively, if I remember correctly) but Ron Moore, as a co-executive producer, was tasked by Ira Steven Behr with doing a complete rewrite from page one. Yet the original writers' names remained in the credits -- another common thing. (Showrunners often do complete rewrites of episodes and never put their names on them. Seth MacFarlane is known to do this for almost every episode of Family Guy.) In fact the original draft of "In the Pale Moonlight" centered on Jake, who I believe isn't even *in* the final episode (I'd have to go back and watch it).

The showrunners, once again, have the absolute final word on the assigned writer's work, and they have the ultimate responsibility in deciding what gets filmed.

So people can blame Jane Espenson if they like, but it's important to remember that she didn't just go into her office and write this episode from nothing, and it wasn't sent straight to the stage and shot. It is collaborative every step of the way, and every single line is subject to approval (and possible rewriting) by the showrunner.

Love your work, Jammer (I still remember the old ST: Hypertext days!), and everyone else -- great to see all the comments all these years later. :)

JoshB
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JoshB
Mon, Dec 3, 2012, 3:28pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The First Duty

@Independent George (great name, btw. I just put up my Festivus decorations.),

I agree in principle -- however, the creation of characters in a writer's room is MUCH more complicated process than who gets credit for the episode. The stories are usually all 'broken' by the entire room, meaning every writer contributes to how each scene will play out. Once that has been agreed to, only then do the writers go and write their draft. So Moore & Shankar, for all we know, may not have named *or* created the Locarno character.

It's also possible (but unlikely) that the episode was also rewritten by other members of the staff (like the Executive Producers/showrunners) after the writers have turned in their first draft.

What I'm getting at is that it's entirely possible that the character, name and backstory of Nicholas Locarno were created by Michael Piller and Rick Berman, who were running TNG at the time. So even though Moore & Shankar may have written the episode, the character might have been originated by the people who eventually went on to create VOY. And IF that is the case (and it's a big IF), then I would understand why they would change the character name to get around paying 7 years worth of residuals for a character that they created.

As I say, a pretty big if.
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JoshB
Wed, Jun 13, 2012, 1:43pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: Rascals

The bit where Riker tries to 'teach' the Enterprise's computer system to the Ferengi is hilarious. I think this episode - and the one after it - was fun. Nothing much to it, but fun.
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