Justin Snead

Thread for helping us cope with how different Discovery will be

56 posts in this topic

Can we talk about the Klingons? It certainly seems like the Klingons will be one of the changes we fans will need to cope with. DSC is shaping up to be a Klingon-centric Trek series. 

I don't care so much about the look. But I am curious about the way the species is depicted. Will they be the same TNG/DS9 Klingons? With houses and chancellors and high councils? Frankly I was bored with how one-note the Klingons became on DS9. 

TOS Klingons were genteel by comparison. I don't even know if there was enough depth to them to even get a concept of what a Klingon is. So I don't feel any need to pay homage to the TOS version. Still, I want more than just the Klingon stereotype of late Trek. What is everyone's hopes or expectations?       

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The Klingons have been reimagined several times in ST history; starting with their shocking new lobster-headed look in TMP and most recently in 2012's STID with the more alien-looking "Bling-ons."  This is no different.   There's nothing to cope with, other than the Klingons, once again, have changed looks.  It may or may not get an onscreen canonical explanation, but I really don't care if it does or doesn't; I look at the rich and wondrous varieties of human beings on Planet Earth and different looking Klingons really doesn't seem to be that big of a deal...

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I've thought about this a lot lately, as I recently did an analytical paper on the development of the Klingons over the course of TOS. I haven't had the pleasure of reviewing the later series much in the last few years, but I did pay special attention to each episode's portrayal of them.

I think a really important thing to note is in all of the Klingon-centric episodes, the focus was almost entirely on a commander, be it Kor, Koloth, Kang, Kras, etc. all written as basically the same character, with actor availability being the deciding factor just as makeup was a deciding factor in the Klingons graduating to recurring villains. The important thing though, is the additional Klingons usually served as little more than henchmen. Excluding Mara for obvious reasons, I believe in "Errand of Mercy" and "Day of the Dove" in particular, there's only one scene each of Klingons amongst only themselves.

I say this because I think it leads to a rather simple solution - the more familiar, bald TOS Klingons can be the commanders, with the ridged Klingons of the later series can be the warrior "caste" working behind them. The commanders are aggressive and brutal, while the warriors are more concerned with honor - perhaps even just about following orders. There is, of course, some room to mix up between the two, a ridged captain here, a bald warrior there, but I would imply that this is the usual fashion of things.

There's ways to develop this. The aggressive commanders are chosen explicitly because they can undermine the Federation and scare them, similar to theories I've heard existed before ENT - one could even connect them to the Klingon aristocracy and caste system that had been implied but muted in previous series. (Kruge as a 'Lord', reference by Spock to a 'warrior caste', etc.) You could easily develop conflict from here - warriors torn between following orders more concerned with posturing than honor, even fostering bigotry against their leadership, i.e. the conflicts from Undiscovered Country that are mostly hidden behind the curtain of mystery around Gorkon and Chang's intentions until the former's death and latter's defeat.

This allows, in my opinion, an easy way to separate and co-exist the two versions of the race in an interesting way, that remains open for future development and conflict into the society while still respecting the prime timeline's overall continuity. Featuring the two sides interacting directly in particular would open up a completely new way to see Klingon society, which up to this point has been a tad uniform, whether the portrayal is negative or positive.

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On May 9, 2017 at 6:22 PM, JVM said:

I've thought about this a lot lately, as I recently did an analytical paper on the development of the Klingons over the course of TOS. I haven't had the pleasure of reviewing the later series much in the last few years, but I did pay special attention to each episode's portrayal of them.

I think a really important thing to note is in all of the Klingon-centric episodes, the focus was almost entirely on a commander, be it Kor, Koloth, Kang, Kras, etc. all written as basically the same character, with actor availability being the deciding factor just as makeup was a deciding factor in the Klingons graduating to recurring villains. The important thing though, is the additional Klingons usually served as little more than henchmen. Excluding Mara for obvious reasons, I believe in "Errand of Mercy" and "Day of the Dove" in particular, there's only one scene each of Klingons amongst only themselves.

I say this because I think it leads to a rather simple solution - the more familiar, bald TOS Klingons can be the commanders, with the ridged Klingons of the later series can be the warrior "caste" working behind them. The commanders are aggressive and brutal, while the warriors are more concerned with honor - perhaps even just about following orders. There is, of course, some room to mix up between the two, a ridged captain here, a bald warrior there, but I would imply that this is the usual fashion of things.

There's ways to develop this. The aggressive commanders are chosen explicitly because they can undermine the Federation and scare them, similar to theories I've heard existed before ENT - one could even connect them to the Klingon aristocracy and caste system that had been implied but muted in previous series. (Kruge as a 'Lord', reference by Spock to a 'warrior caste', etc.) You could easily develop conflict from here - warriors torn between following orders more concerned with posturing than honor, even fostering bigotry against their leadership, i.e. the conflicts from Undiscovered Country that are mostly hidden behind the curtain of mystery around Gorkon and Chang's intentions until the former's death and latter's defeat.

This allows, in my opinion, an easy way to separate and co-exist the two versions of the race in an interesting way, that remains open for future development and conflict into the society while still respecting the prime timeline's overall continuity. Featuring the two sides interacting directly in particular would open up a completely new way to see Klingon society, which up to this point has been a tad uniform, whether the portrayal is negative or positive.

A good theory. But honestly I not that interested in retconning Klingons. What I am interested in is how the writers intend to use the Klingons to support the series themes. Undiscovered Coutnry, TNG and DS9 all crafted their own version of Klingon society in order to tell a particular story. Im less interested in all those versions being alike, as the next version being interesting and supporting an overall thematic vision. Since we know DSC is using Undiscovered Country as a touchstone, I believe this will be the case. It also may be why they chose to make the new Klingons even more alien and scary looking: it will be easier to tell a story about fear of the other with these guys than it would the cuddly TNG era Klingons.  

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I only just realized that when I wrote in the other thread:

I had to deal with this coping business before. For the first three years of being a ST fan, I didn't know any other production existed, but TOS. When I then saw the TOS movies for the first time, it was quite some shock. Because it was a radical stylistic departure, at very least visually, from TOS. And the Klingons were basically rebooted.

But somehow, I managed to embrace the TOS movies (and TNG/DS9/VOY that followed the TOS movie style to some extent) as a part of the same universe TOS is situated in (although I still feel TWOK is too u-boatish and lacking color, so I'm a little less fond of this movie as the general consensus seems to be).

That was 27 years ago, so I had almost forgotten about it. I now take it as granted that TOS and TOS movies/TNG/DS9/VOY are the same universe.

 

It looks like DSC will be a similar visual/stylistic reimagination, much like the step from TOS to the TOS movies. So what will it depend on whether fans will embrace the show or not?

I wasn't around then yet, but I read TMP got a mixed reception from TOS fans of the first generation back then. Mostly, because the characters appeared somewhat bland, they were lacking their TOS chemistry. TWOK was then a huge success, because it eased this deficit, by elevating the triumvirate again -- so most people even overlooked its radical stylistic departure that almost bordered on a reboot. (Older fans -- correct me if I'm wrong, please! :laugh: )

So what can DSC do to preserve the "heart" of Star Trek, much like TWOK revived the Kirk/Spock/Bones chemistry?

Guess with that question stands or falls the success of DSC among old fans. Not easy to answer, because the franchise is so varied by now, perhaps many people have a different idea what the "heart" of ST is.

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1 hour ago, Sim said:

I wasn't around then yet, but I read TMP got a mixed reception from TOS fans of the first generation back then. Mostly, because the characters appeared somewhat bland, they were lacking their TOS chemistry. TWOK was then a huge success, because it eased this deficit, by elevating the triumvirate again -- so most people even overlooked its radical stylistic departure that almost bordered on a reboot. (Older fans -- correct me if I'm wrong, please! :laugh: )

ST fans have a long history of being irked by change; TMP had a lot of folks complaining about the lack of character chemistry, etc.   Then I remember a handful of folks back in '82 complaining that TWOK was 'too militaristic' and that the alien slugs were too violent for little ones, etc.   Both movies were big hits (yes, contrary to popular myth, TMP made a boatload of money back in 1979/80).

The difference for the complaints about format changes for DSC are largely because DSC is supposed to 'fit' in preexisting canon (somehow); TMP and TWOK didn't have that issue, as they advanced the story forward, not backward.  

Now, if TWOK were supposed to be a prequel to TMP, I think it would've caused more than a few eyebrows to be raised.   But people accepted the new uniforms (which still look overly 'costume-y' to me) and Nick Meyer's new 'nautical-but-nice' tone as just another change in the nature of Starfleet somehow...

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