Continuity in the Star Trek Universe

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I posted that Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski has given advice to Paramount about how to save the Star Trek universe. I have no idea what he said to them, but that together with all the time travel postings has got me thinking about what I think are the three biggest problems in the Star Trek universe. This has nothing to do with writing, character development, plots, acting, or anything someone evaluating a TV show or movie is likely to question. This is purely about the Star Trek universe itself, which will have serious continuity problems unless they can deal with these three issues.

First, why are there all these episodes that never happened? After all, most of the time travel episodes end with something changing the past so that the entire episode never happened. Then why did we watch it? Why did they bother filming it? And if it never happened, why did the events that it led to at the episode that canceled it all out get to the point that they canceled it?

Second, the fashion trends and technology seem to follow a strange progression. First, they have fashion trends moving from the early 2000s, then 100 years later we're in the 1960s, then we follow the right progression through to the 80s twenty years later. But then 100 years later we're moving from the 80s to the 90s and beyond. Sure, they throw enough futuristic-looking stuff to throw you off the scent, but it's obvious whenever you see civilian outfits, especially the extremely immodest ones worn by all those attractive young women. With technology, they tried to avoid problems by having large, hand-held communicators Enterprise, but they look so much cooler and more advanced than the TOS ones that it can't really be chronologically correct. The ship interiors in Enterprise are more advanced than in any other series, even with some attempts to make certain things more archaic. The real problem, though, is the computer displays. How is it that they could have the most advanced displays in the history of Star Trek as early as Enterprise, but then 100 years later they have stuff that makes Tron look like something ILM designed for Episode III?

Third, what's really going on with the Klingons? They looked like humans with bad makeup, and then suddenly 20 years later they looked pretty much the way they do now. But in Enterprise they had the same look they currently have. So something changed them in between and then changed them back? They even prevented the standard excuse that the portrayals in TOS might have been inaccurate when the DS9 crew traveled back in time to the Tribbles episode (which, by the way, is one of the few time travel episodes done right, and I'd forgotten to mention it in my previous post that covered Star Trek time travel). When Word started referring to the Klingons, O'Brien and the others looked around and wondering what he was talking about. Finally they figure out that the old-style look Klingons were Klingons, and O'Brien blurted out "Those are Klingons?" Worf responded, "We do not talk about it in public." So what's going on? Some have theorized two races of Klingons, but Kang, Kor, and Koloth all appeared in DS9 with the new look after having been in TOs with the old look. Some have suggested a genetic transformation sometime between TOS and the first movie. That doesn't explain Enterprise.

4 Comments

I really wanted to watch and enjoy Enterprise, but the continuity messed it up for me. I had a HUGE problem with the Klingon issue that you mentioned -- I'd actually been looking forward to the 'old-school' Klingon look. The tech problem I've seen in just about every sci-fi "prequel" that I've watched -- take a look at the Star Wars prequels.

The problem is, what to do about it? The horse has left the barn, unless everything that has happened in Enterprise has been a dream/bad timetravel plot/whatever. I think everyone is hoping that our disbelief will be suspended enough that we won't argue with them.

I just want them to offer an explanation. They wouldn't need to with the Klingons had it not been for that stupid (but extremely funny) scene in the DS9 episode. Now they do.

A minimalist aesthetic would explain it, but I'd like to see them say that. Dax came close in the DS9 episode with her comment about the communicators and the miniskirts, but she didn't quite say enough for me.

re: 1

Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Imagine that the camera is not following the history of a single universe, but rather it's following the course of a particular chain of causality, as it winds its way through multiple 'nearby' uni4tgbi2verses.

Yeah, that's about the only way to make sense of these episodes. But then it's inaccurate to call it time travel, and that's what the characters consistently call it, which is something worth criticizing.

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