Imagine if Captain Picard had pointed ears. Well, actually, imagine Captain Picard’s job was taken by someone with pointed ears. And in the 24th Century USS Enterprise wasn’t called that, but instead the USS Odyssey. All that and more could have almost happened in 1986. New documents have emerged detailing an alternate plan for a new Star Trek show in the Eighties that would have resulted in a very different Next Generation.
On Tuesday, the podcast called The Trek Files dropped a slew of tantalizing, and previously totally unknown, historical details: Several documents that outline what Paramount Pictures had planned for a Trek TV show in 1986. The concept was created without the participation of creator Gene Roddenberry and it doesn’t resemble anything what The Next Generation ended up looking like at all. Specifically, the Captain of the primary starship was named Captain Rhon, who is a Vulcan and he dies in the pilot episode.
According to the memo, “Capt. Rhon’s death in the pilot episode is a tragic moment, his loss felt deeply by the men and women who served under him. However, it is comforting to know that Capt. Rhon continues to ‘live’ in the ship’s computer — as a holographic image — from which he can be ‘summoned’ from consultation in times of great need.”
In addition to Rhon, the ship would have had another Vulcan character named Cadet Commander Brik, who would have been the ship’s science officer. The acting captain of the ship would have been a young guy named Richard Kincaid, and the Federation would have been involved in a huge war with the Klingon Empire. Interestingly, the most recent Trek series, Star Trek: Discovery, also featured a beloved Captain who dies in the pilot episode, while the Federation is at war with the Klingons.
This pitch also mentions a character named Lt. Commander Mynk, who is a Klingon that serves on the USS Odyssey. Of all the concepts in this pitch, this appears to be the only one that made it into the real The Next Generation. The canonical character of Worf is a Klingon who served in Starfleet and like the conceptual character of Mynk, he was also an orphan.
The host of the podcast, Trek historian and expert Larry Nemecek, explains that this proposal was created in 1986 by Greg Strangis, not Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. It was sent to Roddenberry by Paramount Pictures president John S. Pike, with the hopes that he would sign-off on the series and let Paramount develop it. Strangis went on to produce a TV series based on War of the Worlds which ran from 1988-1990. Obviously, his concept for The Next Generation never saw the light of day.
It’s hard to imagine Roddenberry going along with most of the ideas in this proposal. For one thing, the emphasis on depicting a war with the Klingons seems like something the Trek creator would have been opposed to. And, oddly enough, that very thing was a criticism many longtime devotees had of Discovery.
Captain Georgiou didn’t appear as a holographic computer program to Michael Burnham in Discovery, but she did appear as a hologram in the fourth episode of the series. Are the ghosts of Star Trek’s past still haunting the halls of its future? This latest science fiction artifact will give even casual fans a strange trip into what might have been.
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