High Strangeness: To Boldly Go...

Friday, December 12, 2014

To Boldly Go...

Holy shit! Just when I thought life couldn't possibly get any better, the new issue of Playboy comes out!

Wait, I didn't mean it that way. Not completely. What I mean is, just a few months after I achieved Hollywood immortality by having one of my Star Trek episodes ranked #72 in a list of science fiction author Charlie Jane Anders' "Top 100 Star Trek Episodes of All Time" on geek website io9.com, I have once again landed on a list of the best Star Trek Episodes of All Time at playboy.com !! And this time, all five of my episodes made the list!!!!
"Let's get the hell out of here"

I guess I should point out that the Playboy list actually ranks all 695 Star Trek episodes ever made, so if you want to get technical about it, every Star Trek episode ever made, including every one of the five I wrote, is one of the Best Star Trek Episodes Ever...

Still.

I didn't quite reach the dizzying heights of #72 this time around, but I'm pleased with my results, mostly. Might as well get the bad news out of the way first:

#670: "Second Sight" -- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
I love this episode, especially the over-the-top performance by guest star Richard Kiley, but the reviewer does not mince words: "Quite poor" is his final judgement.
(Remember, though, this is just one person's opinion, and his regular job at Playboy is writing the centerfolds' "Turn-Ons" and "Turn-Offs")

#664: "Meridian" -- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
I was not happy with the final product, to be honest. I was hired to write a script from someone else's lame-ass story treatment: Brigadoon in Outer Space, only without Fred Astaire and the musical numbers. The producers bought the story from an intern, which I never understood because they all hated it. No one wanted to write the script, so they assigned it to me, as a test or punishment or something. Thanks, guys.
(Fun Factoid: I actually was proud of the script I turned in, but the show runner hated it and had the whole damn thing rewritten -- so in the end I'm blameless, which is actually very cool!)

So much for the bad news. After this things start looking up considerably:

#393: "For the Cause" -- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
I'm pretty pleased with this one. The great Ron Moore of "Battlestar Galactica" fame wrote the script from my story. I had fun putting Cmdr. Sisko in a tight personal/professional bind in the Federation's conflict with the Maquis, and Ron added a whole lot more tension. 
(Fun Factoid: Ron's scene with Sisko trying to talk his girlfriend out of breaking the law to aid the Maquis, knowing all the while he's going to fail, is my favorite moment in the episode)

All the way up to 393! Not bad, eh? Then things get even more amazingly cool:

#176: "Timescape" -- Star Trek: The Next Generation
 "Maybe the most far-out TNG episode of all," wrote the reviewer, who I now suddenly love!
This was my first sale to Trek, and the only one where I didn't get my name in the credits. All they bought from me was a "story concept," because they needed a new script in 6 days or some absurd timeframe, and only producer Brannon Braga could kick out a script that fast. 
(Fun Factoid: The Writers Guild doesn't have rules for "story concepts," so Paramount didn't have to give me credit. Whatever -- they paid me a pretty dandy fee for one sentence. Good work if you can get it!)

#158: "Who Mourns for Morn?" -- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
"A gift to fans, celebrating the doofy lookin' guy in the bar who never speaks," the brilliant reviewer wrote.
What can I say? This episode hit #72 on Anders' list, and it's pretty damn high here among 694 other episodes. It was nearly impossible for an outside writer to successfully pitch a comedy episode, but I was determined and after several attempts I finally scored.
(Fun Factoid: Everybody wanted to do an episode about the silent alien barfly Morn, but nobody could figure out how. "Morn's" alien makeup was an unarticulated mask, and there was no way Paramount would pay for a new mask, or pay to have the actor, Mark Shepard, say any dialog. My solution? Kill off Morn before the episode even starts, then do the story as "Citizen Kane" in space, with Quark trying to figure out what Morn's personal "Rosebud" means)

All in all, Playboy's list is a nice little kick in the head :) I even agree with the reviewer's choice of #1, the classic Original Series episode "City on the Edge of Forever." But, I will commit blasphemy here by disagreeing with #2, the Next Generation episode in which Capt. Picard saves the day by learning to play "Frere Jacque" on the flute and make vegetable stew. This is good drama? It's not even a flute, for Christ's sake, it's a Goddamn recorder, like we all were forced to learn to play in third grade.

Anyway... I don't know why it's suddenly become so popular to rate Star Trek episodes, but I heartily encourage it. Can't wait to see where I place on the next list!!

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