One prolific Star Trek writer felt limited by the rules of early Star Trek: The Next Generation, when it came to referencing characters from TOS.
- Executive Producer Rick Berman didn’t want the word “Spock” to be used in the TNG episode “Sarek,” going against Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s rule of not using characters from the original series.
- Writer Ira Steven Behr faced a struggle to include the word “Spock” in the script, but eventually convinced Berman to allow it, even though Berman couldn’t provide a reason for his initial objection.
- Behr left TNG because he felt limited by Berman’s rules and later found success as a writer and producer on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, writing more episodes than any other writer.
One writer on Star Trek: The Next Generation spoke about his experience working on the season 3 TNG episode “Sarek,” and how Executive Producer Rick Berman didn’t want the word “Spock” to be used. Following Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the USS Enterprise-D, TNG continued the legacy of Star Trek with a whole new crew of Starfleet officers. Although the TNG series premiere included a brief appearance by Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley), early TNG tried to distance itself from Star Trek: The Original Series.
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry wrote in the series bible for The Next Generation that the show should not use characters or aliens from Star Trek: The Original Series, and TNG executive producer Rick Berman wanted to stick to Roddenberry’s rules. In the Star Trek oral history, The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross, prolific Star Trek writer Ira Steven Behr discusses the struggles he faced working on one episode in particular – TNG season 3, episode 23, “Sarek.” Read his full quote below:
When we did the ‘Sarek’ rewrite, the fight over the word ‘Spock’ was insane. I was absolutely not allowed to use the word ‘Spock.’ Rick [Berman] made a big issue of it and said we can’t do it. There’s no way. We did it once. We had McCoy show up at the beginning, but no more. No references to the original series. I said, ‘It’s Spock’s father, we’re already in that territory.’ He said, ‘Absolutely not.’ About a week later, I was up in his office discussing something else, because there came a point where he only wanted to give me notes or have me there when he was giving other writers notes, so I had to be the one there all the time as he went through the script and went over his little red changes. We were talking about something, and it was kind of benign, and I just suddenly said to him, ‘Rick, tell me again, why can’t we say the word ‘Spock’?’ And his whole body language changed, he leaned back in his chair and flung his hands up behind the back of his head, and I could tell he did not want to have this discussion again. But he couldn’t think of a reason at that very moment, and he just said, ‘OK, you can say it once.’ It was ridiculous.
Ira Steven Behr served as a producer for TNG season 3, but left because he felt limited by Rick Berman’s rules. Behr later joined the writing staff of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, eventually taking over the roles of showrunner and executive producer. Behr wrote more DS9 episodes than any other writer, penning 53 out of 176 episodes.
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Modern Star Trek Shows Have Embraced Their Connections To TOS
Paramount+ has brought several new Star Trek shows to life, and many of them lean into their connections to Star Trek continuity. Not only did Star Trek: Discovery begin as a prequel to the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), but its main character, Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), also has connections to Spock (Ethan Peck) himself. With its second season, Discovery led to the spin-off Star Trek: Strange New Worlds which brought both new and classic Trek characters to life.
With Ethan Peck’s Spock, Paul Wesley’s James T. Kirk, and Celia Rose Gooding’s Nyota Uhura, Strange New Worlds has introduced wonderful updated versions of some of Star Trek’s most iconic characters. The animated comedy, Star Trek: Lower Decks, also embraces the shows that came before it, containing more Easter eggs and references to past Trek than any other series. The Star Trek franchise has become a many-headed beast, and the modern shows have chosen to embrace the past while also looking to Star Trek’s bright future.