A recent poll of Red State America, conservatives who either vote GOP or TEA, has confirmed the excitement that producers of the new Star Trek Series, Star Trek: Reckoning, hoped would be there. The poll also scared the socks off them, one insider says. The poll–pondering the success of a Star Trek run by conservatives, with the real, honest to gosh, Sarah Palin playing Captain Nalia Fergus of the USS Steadfast–garnered a stunning 76% of TV viewers. These are viewers who may not have ever watched a Star Trek Series in their lives—they wouldn’t know a Klingon from a Ferengi, but they know Sarah Palin and they remember Captain Kirk. And somewhere that all makes sense with them.
Rarely have TV shows done polls before they even start filming the series, but producers of ST: RECK, as it’s being called, wanted to be sure where they were going. “We didn’t want to wait for a Nielsen Rating confirmation. We needed to know who was out there.” Understand, they only polled Conservatives. All us liberal, compassionate Democrats have not been polled. They’re assuming that any Star Trek series will be embraced by the fans. (So soon forgetting Enterprise?)
Our insider, though, has gone on to reveal to us what else the Poll says–and this is what scared producers: Those conservatives polled wanted to dismantle the Exploration side of the Federation, get rid of the Prime Directive, and see a healthier number of “Americans” on board the ships. Follow up questions revealed that by “Americans,” conservatives meant “white people”. Most didn’t know that Sisko or Uhura or Tuvok were black, or that Sulu or Kim were Asian. When told, many reported that “those people” could stay, but new ships should reflect more of a “middle America” profile.
“They definitely wanted us to put Montana in space…,” said one of the writers.
Those polled who were familiar with the show wanted more “kicking ass” around the universe, not so much diplomacy this time. They wanted a Star Trek like the Original Series. “More rough and tumble, you know?” said one respondent.
Overwhelmingly, conservatives loved the idea of a woman captain like Sarah Palin or Christine O’Donnell. They weren’t sure who would make good science officers, but many added that they should be “Christian scientists.” When asked for clarification on whether respondents meant “scientists who were Christian” or actual “Christian Scientists,” most respondents didn’t know.
Asked to rank the purpose for the Federation in order of importance, respondents chose Defense, Jobs, Economy in the top three positions and Diplomacy and Exploration (unless it was for oil) dead last. Some even hesitated to answer the question, not liking the term Federation, as it had, according to one respondent, “the sound of Socialism all over it.” I’m reminded of the word United in front of the word States….
The results of the poll weren’t what producers wanted. “This is much more radical than we thought,” said producers and writers who wanted to remain nameless. “We’re in a bit of a bind. We want to create the series, yes–obviously they would be interested, but we’d have to write it to please them. And what with the way that Star Trek has always challenged people’s long held prejudices and beliefs, we’re not sure they would approve if we tried any of that. They just want a confirmation, not a challenge, of their own values. And they want to rip up the ST universe.”
It seems then that Paramount and Fox have to either now sweep in the changes that their poll has revealed or risk alienating the people they were creating it for. But the radical revision of the Star Trek Universe would also seem to defeat the purpose of having the series. “The people we polled don’t already have a reverence for the way Star Trek was created–what it was created to be by its founding father, Gene Roddenberry. They just want to see the Star Trek they want. And damn the continuity.”
At least one writer I spoke to was optimistic. “I think there’s a compromise here. We writers can include a gang of characters like the ones they want–Sarah Palin, Gingrich, Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly–and they can still be the rogues…. but we just won’t reveal if they’ll win or not till the last, hopefully, seventh season. Keeping that tension alive may very well keep them watching.”
I’m sure that the GOP has already thought of this strategy, too.
Though Palin has hinted in public about the series, Paramount and Fox have yet to make an announcement. Production was scheduled to start this Fall, but all the writers have been told to go back to the drawing board and redraft the scripts. “Move everything to the Right!” say director and producers. “Plotlines, characters, motivations…. at least three feet more to the right than your first thoughts. You can’t solve the main plot problems by showing that Fergus is just too conservative and naive…” Writers were given old Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie episodes to watch. “Try to pick up some hints of the kinds of problems, situations and plotlines you find here.” Writers were struggling with writing plotlines that revolve around the 24th Century version of schoolteachers, sheriffs and preachers.
Palin, though, has already visited the writers once…and dropped off her own list of plotlines. A writer tells me, “She doesn’t want to stay on the starship for long… by season three she’s looking at her character, Fergus, becoming the Federation President. We tried to convince her to stay a Captain–that there’s actually more power behind a starship than in the biggest chair on Earth. Even Kirk taught us all that. Um….we’re kind of scared that she heard us.”
(see previous articles on Palin’s foray into the Star Trek Universe by clicking category ‘New Star Trek Series’ under Categories)