martes, 7 de julio de 2015

'Star Trek': The Story of the Most Daring Cliffhanger in 'Next Generation' History

Ron Moore, Jonathan Frakes and more reveal how writing themselves into a corner for "Best of Both Worlds" changed Trek forever: "All of us were quite thrilled they had the balls to leave Picard on the Borg cube."
In June 1990, many Trekkies considered the crew of the Enterprise-D pretenders to the throne.
Star Trek: The Next Generation was closing out its third season, and it was still struggling to step out of the shadow of Kirk's (William Shatner) Enterprise. That was about to change thanks to a daring cliffhanger pulled off in an era of television in which shocking deaths and major plot twists weren't par for the course.
When "Best of Both Worlds: Part I" aired 25 years ago this week, it was truly jarring to fans. The season three finale saw the return of The Borg, the seemingly unstoppable villain introduced a year earlier. The Borg captured Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and transformed him into Locutus of Borg, a de facto spokesperson for the collective consciousness. The episode ended with Picard's No. 1 Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) giving a shocking order ("Mr. Worf, fire.") and the screen cutting to the words "To be continued...", something it had never done.
Written by Michael Piller and directed by Cliff Bole, "Best of Both Worlds" is arguably the most influential arc in Next Generation history. Along with "Best of Both Worlds: Part II" and its aftermath episode "Family," the story introduced layers of psychological complexity, bold storytelling and emotional depth the show had not yet explored.
Ronald D. Moore, member of the writers room: The story really goes to Michael Piller, who was running the writing staff in the third season when I joined the show. In the writers room, we would often talk about revisiting the Borg. Piller said as the season went on that he thought there should be a cliffhanger, which Star Trek had never done.
Jonathan Frakes, Commander William T. Riker: All of us were quite thrilled they had the balls to leave Picard on the Borg cube. I don't know if they were trying to threaten Patrick with renegotiations. It's commonplace now. Shows like Lost and House of Cards — they'll kill off a regular and think nothing of it. This was 1990. It was not commonplace to be killing off any of your series regulars. That was a big "who shot J.R." type of plot.
Moore: It was the only show that year that we didn't actually sit in the room as a writing staff and break together. Michael said he wanted to go do it. Michael had a very personal connection to that particular story. The episode starts with Riker getting an offer to go command another ship. That's at the heart of it. Michael said very overtly that he was in a very similar place. He was the number two guy on the show, and he was debating whether or not to leave Star Trek and go and run his own show or if he wanted to remain second in command of the Enterprise, as it were. So he was Riker, and he wrote the story from that perspective.

Frakes: The episode was key to Riker's character. Previously, I thought it was not very cleverly handled to have Riker say in the first two seasons, "All I want is to have my own ship. I aspire to be a captain in Starfleet." But then, when offered the ship, the writers put in Riker's mouth that he didn't feel he was ready to captain, or he didn't want to leave his friends.
Michael Dorn, Lieutenant Worf: We didn't know how they were going to handle it in terms of the special effects with Patrick. At that point we trusted each other, we trusted the producers and we trusted the writers enough to know that it was going to be exciting.
Alan Sims, property master: My pride with those episodes would be the prosthetic arms, for which I created remote control apertures. You would see it flicker and flip back and forth. When the one Borg came to the Enterprise and captured Picard, that was me off camera with a little remote control with two control joysticks and antenna.
Michael Westmore, makeup artist: Patrick Stewart loved being in the makeup chair. He didn't care what it was — whether he was doing a Shakespearean character in the Holodeck or doing the old age makeup on "Inner Light," Patrick loved getting in the chair and getting made up. He would be putting his two cents in, "Oh, let's do a little more shading right here." He loved that part of the process.
Moore: My favorite moment was seeing Picard in that Borg outfit for the first time. When that reveal happens and he looks at the camera and he's a Borg, and he says, "I am Locutus." It was a shocking moment. You realize the show had gone someplace different. We all knew that internally and were like, "Woah, OK. This is going to break some molds."
Westmore: My son [Michael Westmore, Jr.] found the laser we mounted on Patrick's head for the end of "Part I." It cost $200. It was  a new product on the market and had never been used on TV previously.  We thought, "Oh this is going to be great," but we go into the set, and we can't see it at all. The special effects guy said, "Let me put a little smoke in." And oh my God, that light cut right through everything. They wanted Patrick to look directly in the lens, and nobody knew what was going to happen at all. Patrick turns to the camera, and the refraction between the laser and the mirrors in the camera made it look like it's just shattered everything. It's the one time [executive producer] Rick Berman called me and said, "This is fantastic! Oh my god." It blew Paramount away. If it was an optical, it would have cost thousands of dollars and we did it with a $200 laser.

The episode electrifies audiences when it begins airing on syndication June 18, 1990. Even Trekkies who refused to accept Next Generation as legitimate are buzzing. Rumors of Patrick Stewart's exit swirl, with fans waiting an agonizing three months for the conclusion to air in September. Meanwhile, the writers are tasked with figuring out how to follow up their first cliffhanger ever.
Moore: What people forget now is in the first couple of seasons of Next Generation, we were sort of not taken seriously as Star Trek. The fans were split on the acceptance of the show. You would go to conventions and there would be bumper stickers and t-shirts that basically said, "I'm a real Trekker. Forget the bald guy." Stuff like that. We were the second-tier Trek. When "Best of Both Worlds" came out, suddenly there was all this buzz. And it got in the press and there was all this tension and people were talking about the cliffhanger and Picard.
Jordan Hoffman, freelance writer/critic who specializes in Star Trek: After that "To be continued…" we felt, "Is Picard going to be killed?" After that episode, there was a lot of talk. Somehow we knew — there were rumors that Patrick Stewart was going to leave the show. That was definitely in the air. There would be somebody who goes, "You know Patrick Stewart is leaving?" How do you know this? "Everyone knows it."

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario